SAT 11/02/23: An Early Start, The Bulletin, Insecurities, and Niyyah.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Yesterday (Friday,) at 07:30 AM, I’d been… In the library.

In the Arabic library at CMC, which contains lines and lines of books whose words and contents are, at present: a mystery to me. But ‘small’, incremental, step by step by step, I’m getting there, In Shaa Allah.

I think yesterday had been my first time ever being in a library so early. In fact: I ended up getting there early. Two other people had arrived already, by the time I’d gotten there. And four had been yet to arrive.

We each have our own keys to this Arabic library, AlHamduliLlah. So it’s like coming home, walking in.

We were there for a new book group/seminar we’re going to have once a week In Shaa Allah. Headed by Khalid, who is a native Arabic speaker. And who also has lots of knowledge, Maa Shaa Allah.

At CMC, in my (small) cohort alone, Maa Shaa Allah, we have:

Someone who is from America, and whose mother (I think he’d been saying,) founded her own ‘flexi-education’ system (between home and schooling). His father is a scholar, and also used to work with the British Library.

We’ve got a father of two in our cohort too, and I think he runs his own bookshop. He drives into Cambridge every college day, from London.

We’ve also got a mother of two, who has a degree from LSE, Maa Shaa Allah, and whose background is in Human Resources. Specifically, in the Finance sector, I think.

There’s Khalid, whose mother has a PhD, Maa Shaa Allah. He’d grown up in Saudi Arabia, and also has German citizenship, I think. He’s someone who finds such genuine joy in learning; he also has a Physics degree from Manchester University, Maa Shaa Allah.

Iqra, the one who has memorised the Qur’an (and so have two others in my cohort, I think) Maa Shaa Allah. She’s a dentist, a graduate of Islamic Sciences from Pakistan, and she’s an officer in the British Royal Navy [she’s there for training for two weeks beginning this week]. Moreover, sometimes Iqra teaches Qur’an, online, right after Fajr, Maa Shaa Allah. She drives a nice BMW, and when someone from CMC requested some support with looking after his children when he’d been quite unwell: she’d been there, from the morning to the night.

A’iyshah’s run her own weekend Qur’an class for children before, Allah hummabārik: she’s also currently teaching a CMC staff member’s sons. She plays the daf drum, and also teaches people how to play it. In the above library picture: towards the right, there is a bottle. A ‘potion’: i.e., a herbal concoction A’iysh had made, for people who may be coming down with something at this time in the year. A’iyshah’s mother, after having been a scientist (for example, having worked at AstraZeneca,) became a teacher and a Hakeem, a ‘natural doctor’. Her father has a PhD in biochemistry, I think she’d said, Maa Shaa Allah. And she’d grown up knowing different types of people, for example via Islamic learning circles. I’d say A’iyshah is an Islamic scholarly genius, Maa Shaa Allah, Allah hummabārik. She’s also incredible at baking!

Raiyan doesn’t like plastic usage. At yesterday’s group gathering, when we’d stopped at the word in Arabic for ‘what-is-ness’. And Raiyan offered an equivalent for it in English: ‘quiddity‘. I’d never come across this word before, I don’t think. ‘Quiddity’ means ‘the inherent nature or essence of someone or something‘. Raiyan studied Linguistics at University College London (UCL) and then International Relations at the University of Cambridge. Or the other way around: International Relations at UCL, Linguistics at Cambridge, I can’t quite remember. He was a civil servant, working for the British government, Maa Shaa Allah, and then he decided he wanted to live life in a better way; he came to CMC. Raiyan is also engaged at the moment, Allah hummabārik: he’s getting married soon. Yesterday, for lunch, after a student-led (by Khalid,) discussion on the Orientalist conception that ‘Islam was ‘spread by the sword”, Raiyan just quietly ordered pizzas for us all. From Domino’s: vegan ‘meat’. He also anonymously donated to my Cancer Research fundraising thing. But I knew it was him because on my page: the names of anonymous donators do come up.

Zuhair brings a flask of chai into the college every day. Sometimes made by his mum, sometimes made by himself. He studied Arabic for an academic year, and was going to study Computer Science at university, but decided to study Islamic Studies at CMC instead.

So these are the people whom I’m surrounded by at the moment. There are more people in the cohort above ours, and they are awesome too, Allah hummabārik.

They greatly inspire me; may Allah allow for the fragrance of their goodness to affect me too, sincerely.

I don’t know what to think of myself, at least at times. Who am I, for example in light of where I am now, and in light of the good people I am now surrounded by?

I worry, at least at times, that I am literally nobody. That I’m being quiet and forgettable. I’m not even finishing my sentences properly: and do I even belong?

I question my ‘intelligence’, and I fear I may lack it. I think I’m of a different socioeconomic background to a lot of the people I’m around now. I fear people won’t, and maybe don’t, like me. Negligible.

*Right when I wrote that, I received an email, from a very kind brother from the cohort above. I sent out the weekly CMC newsletter yesterday, and he wrote back:

Walaykum Salaam Sadia,

What a phenomenal newsletter! This was packed with heartwarming moments. This must take a lot of effort and I’m very grateful for it. 

Hamzah, as well as James, tried to nominate me as one of the ‘Heroes of the Week’. But this week, I decided to give Hamzah the title of one of the Year Three Heroes of the Week. He wrote back:

I’m also quite flattered at you nominating me for hero of the week. It is very kind of you, though I’m no hero. 

It is also not lost on me that you’ve pulled a fast one on me and not put down yourself as the hero of the week. I will find a different way to celebrate your heroics iA 🙂 

Keep me in your duas, 


[Hamzah also anonymously donated to my no-sugar fundraising project. But I knew it was him, because, again: even when someone donates anonymously, it comes up for me on my personal dashboard

May Allah bless the amazing good people at CMC; may He bless our institution, and make us, and it, truly and sincerely fruitful forever. Āmeen.]

I’m really happy that the awesome people with beautiful hearts at CMC enjoy reading the newsletter, AlHamduliLlah.

That’s a part of whom I am: writing. And… teaching. At the moment, I have two GCSE students, and I also teach kids at the Cambridge Central Mosque: a place that I have found beautiful, and had no idea that God would bring me close to it, and within it.

I don’t know who I am, always, and sometimes my mind will lie to myself. But Allah Knows who I am; I hope the people whom He Loves, and who love Him, will also love me.

[But what if they don’t?!!!!!

Ah, but dear worried, concerned, apprehensive child: what if they do?]

My CCM (Cambridge Central Mosque) student Ayaat, and his sister, raised a whole heavy money tin of funds for victims of the recent Turkey/Syria/Lebanon… earthquake. Ayaat gave it to me, to give to the mosque, which was collecting for said victims.

And then, my student Ali: he took his Juz ʿAmma to school, and he read from it to his class. Which is so inspiring and incredible: that confidence. He was given a sticker, at school, for his confidence, Maa Shaa Allah.

Ali told me that when he grows up: he wants to be someone who reads Qur’an to people through a microphone. Maybe he’ll be an Imām (a Muslim leader,) as well as an engineer: he also wants to be an engineer. Ali told me he finds Qur’an, and prayer, ‘relaxing’.

What do I think I ‘bring’ to CMC, and to the world in general?

I find that it seems like we often don’t quite ‘know’ whom we are: it’s just a part of us, but others may note things they ‘know’ about us. I’ve been told that people think I seem quite ‘relaxed’ and calm.

And at least one of my classmates associates me with using words like ‘subcorpus’. I do love words.

*Today, my housemate Sasha made me cry (happy-cry,) internally. Bless her: she got me a jar of (organic!!) chicory drink granules, a drink that tastes like coffee. It has organic ingredients in it: chicory root, wheat, acorn, fig… And it tastes better than coffee! How lovely, how wonderfully kind of her, right?

Recently, Sasha also tried to give me a (Tunnocks brand,) teacake. But she’d forgotten that I’m doing this ‘no-sugar’ thing. The next time: she’d gotten me something. A really nice looking yoghurt, with honey in it. But we discovered that sugar had been an added ingredient in it. The thought had been so, well… sweet, right?!

Today: this jar of chicory root drink. Back in Uzebkistan, where Sasha spent the first nine years of her life, her grandma used to give her chicory root drink as a substitute for coffee, when Sasha wanted to maybe act like a grown up, and drink coffee. Sasha’s grandma is/had been a doctor in Uzbekistan. Cool woman, Maa Shaa Allah.

I am very fortunate, AlHamduliLlah. To be a Muslim, and to be a student at CMC, and to know the kids at CCM, and to know James’ kids, for example. And to have the housemates I do. [Thank you Sashew!]

A poll re the ‘sugar-free challenge’:

I want to know Arabic, but I want to go through that journey with the right intentions. Do I want to push myself to excel at CMC, In Shaa Allah? Yes. But I must do so with the right

intentions. Sincerity. And the journey will likely not be ‘easy’. But it will be worthwhile, and I believe I will appreciate far more what I have struggled with and through, and what I have exerted myself, and ‘sacrificed’/foregone some things, for.

Challenges are opportunities; as difficult as things can feel at times, Allah tailors your unique challenges and environments and so on, and they are right for you. He does not Do a single thing without Reason.


07:30 AM: Our session in the library. It felt good to start ‘early’. We concluded with a Duʿa, led by Khalid.

09:00 AM: Logic lesson, which I actually felt a part of, and ‘got’, although maybe not… in its entirety. Syllogisms: three/four different ‘figures’ of them.

Anjum and I went to Jumʿuah (congregational Friday prayer,) at Cambridge Central Masjid. There, we saw Rahma.

Rahma invited me to go to hers for lunch. As a Muslim, we’re meant to accept invitations, when we are invited for meals. I went. I walked slower than Anjum and Rahma: I’d been wearing my boots that day, and not my trainers.

We stopped at the local Co-Op, where I got sugar-free Vimto. Anjum bought flowers for Rahma, as well as dessert. Since I’m doing this sugar-free thing: they also got a sugar-free cranberry juice drink, as well as some fruits. #the sweet things of nature, friends.

For lunch, we had lentils, prepared deliciously, Maa Shaa Allah, by Rahma. Plus rice and cucumber slices. Cranberry juice drink/Vimto, both ‘sugar-free’. And then they had chocolate cake, and we also had strawberries and grapes. Rahma squeezed some lemon juice on the strawberries, and put some honey onto them also.

I worked on the CMC bulletin at Rahma’s [she lives in the same house as A’iyshah, Iqra, and Ayesha,] and then went to teach at CCM, 6 to 8.

Today, In Shaa Allah, I’m going to London. And my Didi (eldest cousin sister,) is staying over at my other cousins’ house. Nayyor: a Bengali tradition, an invitation for a sleepover! I may join this. ‘Spontaneity’, but really, it’s Allah Planning, and we are ‘Ibn al-Waqt’, sons/children of the time’. What does Allah Present us with, in the present moment?

And how best to respond?

*There was a typo on the last page of this week’s bulletin. I accidentally wrote down two translations of Qur’an, (2:155).

I’m going to die. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow. I belong to my Lord; to Him is my return.

I’m trying to read a book, which my aunt had told me about. Written by someone who had been diagnosed with cancer, and then he passed away six months later. I think the book had been published just before he had returned to his Lord.

The book is called ‘Muhammad (s): 11 Leadership Qualities that Changed the World‘. By Nabeel Al-Azami.

Raiyan said that the author is his first cousin. [They do have the same surname]. He was diagnosed with cancer in January 2019, passed on in June or July 2019, Allahu Yerhamuhu. And I think Raiyan visited the site of his cousin’s grave, perhaps recently.

If Allah Wants good for you: sometimes, you may have to go through what, on the surface, may look like a lot of difficulty. Raiyan said his cousin Nabeel showed a high level of trust in Allah while he’d been in hospital, in his final days. He would pray Tahajjud, and people would like to visit him, because of the good spiritual state he’d been in.

It’s warming when people speak of the ones who have passed on in ‘present’ terms. ‘That’s my cousin’. Not ‘was’: from Allah we come, with Allah we journey through, and to Allah we return.

I’m not rich, in monetary terms. [True wealth is richness of the soul/contentment of the heart!]

At CMC, I would not say I’m the ‘smartest in the room’, at all. I’m not the most ‘outgoing’ in the class.

Am I doing it for Allah? When, [to quote Native Deen,] I’m looking deep deep down, inside.

Do I have the right Niyyah?

It’s not about ‘speed’. It’s not about having the ‘most’ wealth, or knowledge or other things. It’s not about producing the most books, or having my name writ across the most projects and so on. Quality > quantity. Niyyah > quantifiable outcomes. Allah Knows Best.

Don’t give up: wherever you are, Allah brought you right there, precisely, with such incredible, Intentional, reason.


Things I learned this week:

  • ‘Patronising’ is linguistically from ‘father’, i.e. patr-onising, instead of ‘matronising’. Learnt that from my housemate, Amina.
  • I learned from Sasha that oil, in a pan on the stove, spits when the oil is too hot. I do like being something of a ‘tabula rasa’, a ‘blank slate’, in terms of learning things!
  • I learned from Rahma that: oil, in your hair, is for your scalp. And leave-in conditioner is for your actual hair.

Today, I feel quite tired. Why? Maybe a vitamin deficiency somewhere; maybe the (‘subtle’?) eventfulness of this week, catching up with me. In any case: I’m glad I rest when it’s good for me, AlHamduliLlah, for the night, which is a cover, and in part for our rest. And for the day, and for the season of Spring, when the sun appears in the sky again, and nature begins to sing once more.

*Gotta go to London! At some point today! In Shaa Allah.

A poem that someone from CMC wrote ‘for context, many years ago, not recently’. Maa Shaa Allah:


I saw trees of green,

Red roses too.

I didn’t know

What on earth to do.

Do you know what it would feel like if you

Saw Cambridge

And felt nothing inside

Read Shakespeare

And felt nothing inside

Heard poetry

And had nowhere to hide?

I remember a time I heard a teacher confide,

She said nature and butterflies could make her cry

I was mystified, and looked to the side

And most of the guys had tears in their eyes!

So I asked a friend of mine

To show me the light,

“How do I lead a more spiritual life?”

At first he seemed surprised, and when he replied,

He mentioned a book by a man who died

In medieval Persia, around 1109;

This man knew why he was alive.

Shocked by his pride, dissatisfied,

He decided to decode how to be kind,

To discipline one’s soul and break one’s desires,

To remember God and pray at night.

I read his advice and started to find

That things were no longer so black and white.

I look out the window and see the divine

And am no longer inclined to reduce and define.

So I think to myself, I have so much to learn.

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

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