بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Sunday 12th February 2023.
Time: 15:11. Location: Baraka Eatery, Whitechapel, London.
Am currently at the wedding of somebody I barely even know. For context:
I’d ‘expected’ to have returned from Cambridge to London yesterday. Had my ticket booked and everything, but I was unwell. And also had a ‘sad day’. Sad days happen. I cried quite a bit, and I like when I can cry: it’s, for me, a perfect reminder of my being human.
What ‘cheered me up’, what helped me feel lighter, had been, AlHamduliLlah, crafts. Making a ‘zine’ (mini homemade magazine) about my no-sugar journey, fundraising for Cancer Research UK.
Colouring, writing, drawing arrows, cutting and sticking photos and also images from a magazine and a leaflet. That helped. Remembering Allah always helps.
Blogging helps. AlHamduliLlah.
And today, my dad came all the way down to Cambridge, to pick me up. We also: picked up my Lima Fufu (dad’s cousin, Aunt Lima) from Stratford. Ordinarily, she lives in Ipswich. But she was coming down to London for her best friend’s wedding. And my aunt wanted for me to come along with her. So here I am, having feared that I am underdressed. At my aunt’s friend’s wedding.
[Lima Fufu’s whole family was invited. So here I am, being the sole representative of… Lima Fufu’s whole entire family. “I contain multitudes”. Walt Whitman.]
Can’t eat the chocolates on the table; won’t touch the Coca-Cola. #no sugar tingz.
Update: couldn’t eat the dessert either. Pots of pudding. AlHamduliLlah: the things worth having, like good health and well-being, are often encircled by some difficulties. The eventual rewards, however: are far richer, and they (metaphorically) taste… sweet!
Nourishing, meaningful, and enriching.
So, my day yesterday [it’s now Monday,] had comprised of:
Waking up at 5AM. I’m normally somebody who loves sleep, but this time: I’d been resting in the living room. And it was cold, and that genuinely helped me with waking up with more energy, I’d say. Perhaps that’s a life hack: not being too warm at night. Just warm enough, and just cold enough, also: that you don’t feel especially incentivised to… stay in bed.
Waking up early certainly has its benefits, AlHamduliLlah. It’s something that I would like to commit to, and this will necessarily mean foregoing some things. e.g. if, say, family members are going on an outing in the evening: I may have to say no. Going to sleep between the hours of 9 and 10: means that I can wake up maybe between 4 and 5. In de AM. In Shaa Allah.
Anyway. Yesterday, I woke up, AlHamduliLlah. 5AM. Tidied up, worked on my ‘No Sugar Challenge zine‘, a crafts booklet of information. Did a spot of laundry. It felt good to have woken up early, AlHamduliLlah. Now: how best to sustain this, In Shaa Allah?
Monday 13th February 2023.
Difficulty with People.
“Speak to me nicely, or I’ll tickle you.”
A threat I have legitimately used against my ten-year-old brother. Today he (lightly. He knows I’m still physically stronger than him, I have the potentiality to beat him up,) kicked me, before promptly saying ‘Allahu Akbar’ and beginning his prayer. He knows he’s protected in that space: I can’t hit him back.
Living with one (1) human brother entails: tactics. Diplomacy. You need to be resilient. You may have articles such as the following thrown at you, at any given point in time:
I don’t like it (separately from speaking about my brother,) when it feels like people overstep. When people feel entitled, it seems: like they put you in a box. You’re ‘wrong’, you need ‘correcting’, maybe, in their eyes. I don’t like the practice of ‘fault-finding’, and… competition, in certain expressions of it, can feel somewhat suffocating too.
Sometimes, some people will behave towards you like they are ‘strong’, in a certain way. And you are ‘weak’. It seems as though some people’s ‘strength’ acquires its sustenance, its energy and ‘strength’, from seeking to damage, and erode, other people’s senses of ‘self’, their wellbeing, their confidence.
If they are ‘strong’, then you must be ‘weak’.
If they are ‘right’ (‘all the time’,) then you must be ‘wrong’.
If they are constantly ‘superior’, in ‘how they were brought up’, or in ‘their ‘politeness’ and morals”, and ‘how they do things’. Then: what are you, in their constructed ways of looking?
*Gentleness is not ‘weakness’. Allah loves gentleness. But I think some predators of power will perceive ‘gentleness’ as being an excuse for them to go ahead. Bully.
Living things gotta breathe. Bullies gotta bully.
“Shall I not tell you of one forbidden for Hellfire or Hellfire is forbidden for him? It is everyone accessible, polite, and easy-going.”
—Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, according to Sunan At-Tirmidhi. Classified Sahih li ghayrihi (authentic, due to external evidence).
*We recently learned about ‘Sahih li ghayrihi’ at Cambridge Muslim College, (CMC). AlHamduliLlah.
I do think distance is a helpful solution, or at least part of it. And yes, I also trust my intuition: feeling ‘off’, uncomfortable, and so on, around certain energies, and in response to certain modes of behaviour. Intuition is a strong, protective, guiding and loving force, I’d say. Does it feel wrong?
Something may be up.
Some people just feel this drive, this ‘need’, to ‘be better’ than you. It can take a toll on you. And psssst… whatever their claims may be: why may they be so adamant about voicing it? Still, doesn’t make it true.
So my dad picked me up in the morning. And then we picked up my aunt, from Stratford.
And then we stopped at my dad’s shop: for about 10 years now, Maa Shaa Allah, he’s had and run a computer and phone shop on Commercial Road.
When I was younger, I used to really like going there, acting as though I’m somehow… ‘helping out’. I used to make and print out these mini ‘receipts’, which my dad has actually used, on at least one occasion.
Sometimes, I would go to suppliers with my dad too.
Yesterday, I found my brother at the shop. He’s learned how to make stickers from the computer [‘computer’ sounds like such an old (archaic) word now. “Whatcha doing, son? Are ya winning?”
“I’m on the… computer.”
“Are you living in 1958, son?”
“No, dad. Sorry dad.” The End.].
Saif made a sticker with a photo of one Lionel Messi on it, kissing the world cup. And he’s also been helping my dad, typing customers’ names and numbers onto stickers. Like below:
*Anas ibn Malik, a companion of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ’s, said that:
“I never saw anyone who was more compassionate towards children than Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him)”
My mum kindly gave me some money to get some food from Sainsbury’s. I looked around for good sugar-free options, but found that even the egg-and-cress sandwich there contained added sugar!
Even crisps that are marketed as being ‘healthful snacks’: added sugar.
So I ended up getting a big box of (plain) Shredded Wheat. Plus a small carton of (semi-skimmed) organic milk. Plus mango chunks, natural sweetness. There was honey at home too. Doing this no-sugar thing (and so far, it is Day Ten of thirty,) has meant that: a) I think I crave sugar far less, AlHamduliLlah. I didn’t really want chocolate yesterday, and not even the luxurious containers of chocolate cake I found at home.
And, b) I think that cutting down on the refined, added sugars has meant that: I’m able to appreciate the natural sweetness, for example of honey, more!
In the Qur’an, Allah tells us to:
“O humanity! Eat from what is lawful and good on the earth and do not follow Satan’s footsteps. He is truly your sworn enemy.”
—Noble Qur’an, (2:168).
And we also shouldn’t be excessive, and wasteful.
“And eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.”
—Noble Qur’an, (7:31).
*Today, I decided to make my dad a cup of tea. Just like old days, when I’d wake him up, to take me to school. My brother does the same now.
“Abbaaaa! Wake uuuuup!”
And, today: my dad called me to the kitchen to give me two £10 notes. To ‘buy sugar-free food with’ for myself! How sweet, Maa Shaa Allah! Gonna see my best friend later today, In Shaa Allah: and we gonn’ eat good, eat right, eat right.
At one point, the bride took my hand into hers, and held it. She is very lovely, Maa Shaa Allah. She asked that I make Duʿa for her. And I did.
My aunt, Lima, and she, the bride, Lija: have been best friends for 19 years now, Maa Shaa Allah, Allah hummabārik.
My aunt actually surprised her best friend at the wedding today: my aunt didn’t know, for a while, if she could make it to the wedding. But Allah made sure that both of their wishes would be fulfilled. My aunt walked in, holding a beautiful bouquet of flowers. And the bride was shaking as the two friends embraced.
They were best friends back in Bangladesh. That’s what Lima Fufu, my aunt, is associated with, in my mind:
The goodness of memories of Bangladesh: my parents were born there, and I’m Bengali. But I like to say that I’m British-Bengali. I was born here in London (England) and went to school here. Grew up here.
I forget where I came across this idea, but I think it fits my experience so well. It doesn’t make ‘sense’ for me to say I’m ‘British’, without that hyphen, adding ‘Bengali’. And it does not make sense for me to call myself myself Bengali, without having that other explaining part of the term: ‘British–‘.
I’ve visited Bangladesh a total of three times now (as an infant, then in Year Six, and then in Year Nine,) and I would like to go again, In Shaa Allah. Soon.
*Lima Fufu: she would make campfires, and make delicious soup for us over them. I would make these ‘teepees’ for over the fire, and decorate it.
Lima Fufu’s father is my grandfather’s late brother, Allahu Yerhamuhu. In Bangladesh, Lima Fufu’s family live right next to my grandfather’s home. And their other brother, I think this grandfather is, lives on the other side of my grandfather’s. Three houses, together. And a pond, where they go fishing and swimming. Banana trees. Lime. And a shed for the cows. And there’s chickens too.
At the wedding yesterday, my aunt had her seat, and I was sitting beside her. We got our plates of starters, and Lima Fufu’s coat had even been on her chair. When: a lady dressed in purple, black-rimmed eyes, rather ‘self-assuredly’ plumped herself down in Lima Fufu’s chair, and quickly started eating from Lima Fufu’s plate of food. So I explained, oh, my aunt’s sitting there.
The lady said my aunt can just sit there instead: i.e., on the seat on the other side of me. I thought that rude, but as a Muslim, I should think well of others. Maybe she had diabetes, and needed to eat, right there and then. Anyway. I much admire my aunt’s grace with dealing with that situation: in such an effortlessly easygoing manner, she said something like: ‘It’s okay’ and just carried on with her life.
My aunt and I were then invited to go and sit with the bride, at her table. So we did, and it was nice, AlHamduliLlah. To feel so loved at a wedding because your aunt is so loved by her best friend.
Later, the lady in purple said something to me like:
[In Bengali. Language and culture are inextricably, importantly, linked. To have dual, or even three or four, languages, is to have dual cultures, ways of seeing. There’s overlap, sure, and there are differences.]
I wasn’t really fond of the lady’s display of… attitude. Tone is so important, and perhaps I ought to take a leaf out of my aunt’s book, and be far more easygoing. Just accept these things happening. [Like the recent incident on the bus, with the white English lady, speaking normally to her husband, and then stopping at me, coming closer, and making a sinister, angry face at me. You wanna fight, lady?
Yet God, in the Qur’an, tells me to respond to ignorance with peace: that’s better.]
When that woman-in-purple, and a mink coat, asked me to move: I half-moved, half stood still.
Nobody on Earth owns the Earth. Not even a part of it.
But sometimes, some things: are interesting to… observe.
Yesterday, at the wedding, I felt awkward, partly because… I was just wearing casual ‘everyday’ clothes. At a wedding! But the bride seemed happy that my aunt and I were there; she didn’t mind how I was dressed. And she even recognised me, by name, from when she’d come and visited me in Bangladesh!
Someone else also recognised me, somehow: a sister called Nurjahan (two other Noorjahans/Nurjahans I know: CMC colleague James’ wife, and also one of my former colleagues from an Islamic secondary school I’ve worked at).
This Nurjahan and I, turns out: were at JMC together. ‘Junior Muslim Circle’, which my (other) aunt, family nickname Sweetie, used to teach at, and which I used to attend! At East London Mosque.
Nurjahan recognised me after ten years! It’s been about ten years since our having been at JMC together: every Saturday, if I recall correctly. We remember the JMC room in the basement of the London Muslim Centre: there was a snooker/pool table there, and a PlayStation or something. A foosball table, and ping-pong.
We learned, (for example, I learned about the concept of God’s ‘Wisdom’, there,) and we had a tuck-shop during breaks. Crisps for 30p, for example.
And there Nurjahan and I were, about a decade on from JMC: in a restaurant that is attached to the wider mosque building.
Mosque classes, holiday clubs, and groups are important:
*One of the older women at the wedding, about my nan’s age: when I’d been shyly explaining that I hadn’t quite been expecting to attend a wedding today… remarked that I look quite like “Sheuli”. I don’t know who this Sheuli is, but she called one or two people to ask them, don’t I look rather like Sheuli? My eyes and my smile, they’d agreed: I look like someone called Sheuli. Somewhere in the world. We share ancestors after all, you know. #Children of Ādam and Hawaa, upon them be peace.
My third language, In Shaa Allah: is Arabic. The most important one.
The language of my religion, which is my complete and perfect Way of Life.
My housemate Sasha texted me asking if I have an English translation of the Qur’an. I wonder why, but I also know why: she’s open-minded, Maa Shaa Allah. And Islam is beautiful. Goodness; the Truth.
The thing about translations is that: one language, and its culture, will not fit ‘perfectly’ into another. There are assumptions, and values, and ways, that each culture, and language, will know, which may be a little different to those of others. An English translation of the Qur’an is a good place to start, for me, personally.
Yet the Qur’an is in (pure, ‘classical’,) Arabic, for perfect Reason. And so, learn Arabic, and love it so much, I must. In Shaa Allah!
While my mind whirrs, and thinks about ‘what to include’ in this particular blog post:
There were kids at the wedding yesterday. Playing. And, from the corner of my eye, while my aunt and I had been outside, while the bride was getting ready to go to her husband’s home in Manchester…
I saw a boy who looked like my brother. From the corner of my eye. He had a can or two of silly spray in his hand, so I started talking to him about it. That was sweet, AlHamduliLlah.
There was a baby at the wedding who reminded me of (did you guess?) my brother also, at that age. A peaceful slumber, and chubby cheeks.
And, among the other children playing:
There was a little boy with no hands, and no feet. He was still playing, climbing, and doing things with the other kiddos. And he had no hands, no feet. Subhaan Allah. The happiest of us are the most content of us, right? How happy this boy had been! Laughing, playing, and exuding joy.
It’s often the ‘poor’ who smile the most, and who like to play outside, and who are happy, maybe somewhere in Sylhet, Bangladesh, when it rains. It’s often those who ‘have less’, on the face, or the body, of it: who have the most, most, most.
AlHamduliLlah. For contentment of the heart, and richness of the soul. AlHamduliLlah for friendship, and for fun! And for the fact that our ‘challenges’: are tailored to us, by God Himself. We’re strong enough to even flourish in the face of them.
“They’re cutting the cake with a machete.”
Quote. A young (adorable, Maa Shaa Allah,) girl at yesterday’s wedding.
The knife did indeed look a lot like said tool/weapon.
Words, too: the words people use will tell others about them.
Words are tools: they can also be used as weapons.
My aunt, Lima Fufu, calls me ‘[her] Garden of Paradise’. Because my name (‘home name’. A Bengali thing,) is Jannath. Jannath-ul-Firdaws means ‘Garden of Paradise’.
Yesterday, my aunt, alongside the bouquet she’d bought for her best friend, the bride:
Gave my mum and me a single red rose each. I cherish this beautiful rose, Maa Shaa Allah.
Anyway. Here’s a photo that features a king:
My cousin Isa, far left. Oh, and King Charles. So one, two kings.
[Isa, ‘romanised’, is ‘Jesus’. So: Jesus and Charles. Isa and [what might the ‘Arabised’ version of Charles be? تشارلز, apparently, according to a quick Google search]. In one photo, and sharing one world. Between us and anyone: there’s overlap, and there are differences. That is how Allah Made us]
“O humanity! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may ˹get to˺ know one another. Surely the most noble/honoured of you in the sight of Allah is the most God-conscious/righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware.”
—Noble Qur’an, (49:13).
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَٰكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَٰكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَآئِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوٓا۟ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتْقَىٰكُمْ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
And… in Bengali…
Well, I don’t know how to read or write in Bengali. When it comes to Bengali, I’m illiterate.
But I found a Bengali translation via (‘Professor’) Google:
হে মানব, আমি তোমাদেরকে এক পুরুষ ও এক নারী থেকে সৃষ্টি করেছি এবং তোমাদেরকে বিভিন্ন জাতি ও গোত্রে বিভক্ত করেছি, যাতে তোমরা পরস্পরে পরিচিতি হও। নিশ্চয় আল্লাহর কাছে সে-ই সর্বাধিক সম্ভ্রান্ত যে সর্বাধিক পরহেযগার। নিশ্চয় আল্লাহ সর্বজ্ঞ, সবকিছুর খবর রাখেন।