بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Wednesday 15th February 2023.
On Monday evening, I was back in Cambridge, from London. On the way back: I’d stopped at my nan’s house. A ‘plan’ I had for the day got cancelled, and I quite like ‘cancelled plans’ sometimes. They make way for added peace, and for… other plans. Namely: God’s.
My nan is someone who shows her love through, for one thing, food. At her house, I had pilau rice and roast chicken. She also gave me a container of four chicken pieces, marinaded and ready to be cooked. And a container of pilau rice to take with me too.
100 bus to Liverpool Street Station.
I stopped at the Holland & Barrett (‘health shop’) there again. Using the £20 my dad randomly gave me after I’d made him a cup of tea, I got a bar of ‘no-sugar’ chocolate. [Although it contained sweeteners. More on sweeteners soon, In Shaa Allah.]
And I also got a Burt’s Bees lip balm. I had a voucher from good old H&B to use too.
The brother at the counter had a beard. Strongly assuming he’s Muslim, I said As-Salaamu ʿalaikum.
He said Wa ʿalaikum Salaam.
I was slightly worried: would this interaction somehow be ‘too intense’ for the two people standing behind/near me in the queue? But it genuinely wasn’t.
After purchasing what I’d purchased, the brother at the counter said, Allah-hafiz to me. This means May God be your Guardian, essentially. So: may He Protect you.
I got a packet of biodegradable wipes (really handy! Wipes.) from Boots. Or was it SuperDrug? Boots, I’m pretty sure. [A ‘drugstore’ for any Americans who may be reading.]
I caught the right train at the right time. AlHamduliLlah. And attempted to nap, at least a little, on it.
After arriving at Cambridge Station, I went to the nearby Sainsbury’s to get some things for myself and my best friend Tasnim. Sometimes I prepare food for Tasnim; she certainly outshines my culinary capacities when she makes food for me, Maa Shaa Allah.
I ended up getting us some cherries, and some veggie samosas (good ingredients, no artificial preservatives and so on!) and a few other things. And I made my way to Tasnim’s house.
On my way to her house, and while my phone had been low on charge (classic me, consistently,) I walked past someone I knew before. I felt sad for a moment: a palpable feeling in the left side of my chest. Yet, equally, I felt fine, and strengthened, in walking peacefully past. In the aftermath of whatever happened: there isn’t ‘bad blood’ here. There isn’t ‘good blood’ either. Neutral. Peace.
And I went to Tasnim’s, whose home and company feel like… comfort to me. And like ‘celebration’. AlHamduliLlah. In Salaah and in the company of our beloved ones: we touch Paradise, don’t we? [An idea I picked up from the event from the following day. An interview between Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad and an author/extreme-marathon-runner, Paul Yunus Pringle.]
Tasnim and I had, together, the chicken and pilau rice that my Nan had sent with me. My Nan got really happy when she found out that that’s what we ate together. Tas and I also had samosas, and some salad. And cherries.
We watched the last part of a movie we’d been watching together. I’ve watched this movie a few times already: it’s about an Italian hairdresser from New Yo’k. Who, ‘by coincidence’, meets a prince. Of some made-up nation #Genovia tingz. An interesting thing about common-girl-turned-princess stories is that: the girls are princesses all along. But for their newer roles, sometimes they might just need a ‘makeover’, to realise the princess parts of them. To grow into our skins. Why is a 22-year-old speaking of princesses?
Well I’m never going to ‘outgrow’ the truest parts of me. ‘Fitrah’. And neither, probably, hopefully, will you. And why should we ever want to?!
AlHamduliLlah for provision. He will Provide for you from whence you did not expect.
AlHamduliLlah for Tasnim. And for good food. And for the fact that I’d seen, on the noticeboard that is above Tasnim’s desk, a picture of the two of us. From when we went to Nando’s together, maybe almost two years ago now. Our outlines, silhouettes, in the glass. My best friend: I never really saw her coming. But Allah had a Plan for us: she is a gift from up above. AlHamduliLlah.
The next day, for our evening meal: Tasnim had made… sushi!!!!!!!!! I love sushi!!!!! [And also: I couldn’t dip my sushi in the soy sauce, since it contained added sugar. The other sauce Tas had… also contained added sugar! Sugar! Sugar everywhere!!!!!]
On Tuesday (yesterday,) after hanging out at Tas’ a bit longer,
I headed out to go to CMC. I was going to be a student volunteer at an event that had been taking place there. I got there in good time, AlHamduliLlah. And started reading a book, while waiting for my duties to commence.
There was time. Good time. And this is a perk of arriving to places relatively early. [But: how early is good early?!!! Just: a respectable time. Respectable to them, and respecting, also, of your own time, and what you are there for.]
* Currently in one of the CMC libraries, with my homie, my bronie (‘bros who like My Little Pony’) Sasha. AKA Alexandra, AKA Sashew el Cashew.
So, I’d been wondering if… I really ‘fit in’ at CMC. And Allah has Placed me where I am, within these very coordinates in space and in time: Perfectly. With Divine Reason and Intention.
(Bring yourself to different places and people!)
So, yes, I do belong, AlHamduliLlah. And: how to navigate this identity of mine, in light of the people around me, and of, for example, this beautiful institution of which I am now, I want to say, an important part?
I could have failed to get in, there. One of Allah’s Perfect Names/Attributes, which I love thinking about is this one:
Meaning: The Sublimely Subtle, and the Kind.
Allah has the Most intricate Knowledge possible. Of everything. Subhaan Allah.
He Knows what is best for you. His Compassion and Care for you, and His Knowledge: look at how well you have been looked after, and Provided for, by Al-Lateef. The One who is Subtle, Intricately Aware, and Most Kind.
Check this out, if you want:
Cambridge Muslim College: after an intensive six-month Arabic course (which certainly came with its obstacles, AlHamduliLlah, on my end,) I sat the Arabic exam to get in. I didn’t pass. The first time round: I’d written to staff to explain that we’d had a family emergency the previous evening, and I had to be transported to my nan’s house, and was experiencing bad sleep deprivation (the dizzying, weird kind!)
They let me sit the exam again (different paper, I’m pretty sure. But I wouldn’t have even been able to tell, probably, since: the sleep deprivation from the previous time… made me feel basically delirious. I couldn’t even answer basic questions, kept forgetting rudimentary (i.e. basic) things…)
I passed the second time round, AlHamduliLlah! And before then, we had to go through the application process, and be interviewed.
There had been three options for university, for my undergraduate studies, before this point. In retrospect, and, yes, to an extent even in the moment, I was able to see the unfolding, the unfurling, like a rose, of Al-Lateef’s Perfect Plan for me. It’s so completely and totally, utterly, beyond me, and I love it. AlHamduliLlah.
I need to remember that I have been selected to represent CMC before: when an Inspector from the British Accreditation Council came around. ‘Twas me and a classmate, Khalid. And maybe they’d simply picked our names out of a hat to represent the college. Or maybe: they didn’t. And wherever God has Placed you: you have unquestionable, God-Decided, and -Defined, value there! AlHamduliLlah!
Anyway, at Tuesday’s event: I started reading and making some notes at the welcome podium. And I told Aziz, one of the staff members, that I’d been fasting [Note: as Muslims, we fast during the Month of Ramadan. We can also fast outside of this month, voluntarily. Women also ‘make up’ a week’s worth of missed fasts: we don’t fast in Ramadan during our ‘time of the month’, but make them up later, before the next Ramadan].
I asked if I could go out and get some things for myself, from Tesco. He said that would be fine, essentially, and also that there’s a platter of sandwiches in the white fridge, and I could have those. So I did, for my Ifthār (breaking fast). And some juice. And it was good, AlHamduliLlah.
*And I have worried (quite a lot, probably,) about my being… really noticeably ‘awkward’. At the wedding from the other day, at this CMC event, and when Sasha and I had been walking near the masjid, and we saw James and Nurjahan and their kids in the car. I waved and said Salaam, and worried about my suspected extreme ‘awkwardness’.
But it’s typically simply in my head. Others are focused on other things: like their own places, in social settings and spheres. And with things like: their own… crying babies, their own random thoughts, and so on!
This is what my notification centre can look like these days. #Memories: life will never quite be the same again, will it? AlHamduliLlah.
Thursday 16th February 2023.
It just means a lot when people trust you with things. Like… with their own children, to teach/take care of them. Wow! What an Amānah (entrustment).
And… Sister Javeria let me put my things in her workspace, before she left for… Leicester, I think? [Why did cheese almost immediately come to mind when I thought of Leicester?]
I don’t know how to fully express how much I love CMC. AlHamduliLlah. The experience, thus far, has not been without its ‘struggles’, on my personal level. And actually: I really do think that experiencing struggles on the way of something… leads to our appreciating our places there, and so on, a lot more, in the end. AlHamduliLlah.
Zahra, another lovely, lovely staff member at CMC… requested, in response to one of the weekly bulletins (i.e. newsletters,) that I’d sent out: that I write a book review for CMC’s friends-and-patrons newsletter! I want to look more into the significance of institutions in any society, In Shaa Allah. It seems as though people, friends and patrons: commit to paying considerable sums of money, to keep CMC going. To keep us learning, and serving, and so on. What we are doing is significant, AlHamduliLlah. And sometimes ‘subtly’ so. It’s often the ‘little things’.
Some stand-out points for me, from being a student of traditional Islamic studies, at CMC:
- When I ‘coincidentally’ found Dawn, a staff member from the neighbouring Church. And she didn’t know how to get back, so we walked together. She had some religious questions, which, AlHamduliLlah, I’d been able to answer.
- When my wifi was down!!! So unexpectedly. And I needed to submit a Fiqh (Islamic Law) essay. The ‘struggle’, the adventurous journey: I think this helped me to appreciate Islamic essay-writing more, and being a student at CMC. Boosted my hope and morale for the next assignment I had to do: Hadīth. And from that experience, I learned, again, how important good time management skills are, towards completing such golden tasks!
- Sana, my former housemate, said she’s trying to come closer to religion: to God. She said she was inspired by how I practise Islam. This means a lot.
- My housemate Sasha is now Muslim, AlHamduliLlah. We’ve been living together for four months now, and she’s a major blessing from Allah, in my life. We’ve been to Jumʿuah (Friday congregational prayer,) together before. And Sasha is very intelligent and open-minded, Maa Shaa Allah. #Intellectual explorer tingz. Her grandma, also, back in Uzbekistan: is an accomplished Muslim (!) medical doctor.
- The early-morning book group/seminar we had, last Friday. Then: the discussion on the Orientalist conception of ‘whether Islam was ‘spread by the sword”. And the fact that one of our classmates got us pizza afterwards. I do love a good pizza. AlHamduliLlah!
These are just some golden, and stand-out moments. And God Knows Better; God Knows Best!
You are in the Perfect-est place, in the most Perfect time. He Knows you; He Knows what is Best for you!
Of the gorgeous, intricate, and fundamentally and clearly awesome creations of Allah:
Recently, via a great YouTube channel (‘Blogging Theology’, AKA Paul Williams,) I found out about a flower called… the skeleton flower. Its petals, which are ordinarily white in colour: become transparent when it rains!!!!!!! Subhaan Allah: incredible, no?! Awe-inspiring, Maa Shaa Allah.
How fortunate we are, to be a part of this God-Conscious, beating and unquestionably beautiful… Universe!
The event from the other day went well, AlHamduliLlah. A classmate of mine kindly let me borrow/have his copy of the author, Paul Pringle’s, book, since he said he was done reading it. He said I can give it to anybody else who might wish to read it, after me, too.
I was given a pretty little CMC lapel pin to wear. #Representing the college and all. I welcomed people in, ticked their names off. An interesting array of names and people:
English-sounding names, and Persian ones. And so on. And even a former Arabic teacher of mine: his name had been on the list. Dr Jubril Alao: his teaching skills are exceptional, Maa Shaa Allah, and May Allah Bless him.
So I was trusted to be the face of my place of study, CMC. And to welcome people in. I was also (embarrassingly! As soon as a camera is pointed in my direction… I switch to extreme awkward mode!!!) filmed by a member of the Comms team.
Breaking my fast at CMC was nice, AlHamduliLlah.
Seeing my beloved friend Rahma at the event was super nice! She saved a seat for me, and I love this woman, Maa Shaa Allah. What an incredible, lovely to the power of a gajillion, woman this is! Astrophysics PhD student at age 23! Allah hummabārik! May Allah Bless everything she does!
And! She gave up her seat for me, concerned that I wouldn’t be able to see the speakers well [she tall, Maa Shaa Allah. I: not. I love being babied by friends sometimes though.] So sweet!!!!
Rahma and I walked back together afterwards: she lives only seven minutes away from Tasnim. God does everything Perfectly, and after periods of difficulty, there is so much of goodness, beauty, and ease. AlHamduliLlah.
Paul Yunus Pringle’s story is that: [although I am yet to read this book of his, In Shaa Allah,]
He had struggled with alcohol and anxiety, as a young man. Many young people are very anxious these days, even when they don’t always ‘show’ it.
I think this is one reason as to why, for example, Jordan B. Peterson’s works have been so common among young men. They’re looking for… ‘security’, and for guidance.
Brother Paul used to go on extreme marathon races, for example 100 miles in the Sahara Desert, as far as I know. He talks about the transition from feeling very anxious to… I think, feeling so much more in tune with himself, realised, perhaps, and in his place in the Universe. Even through all the pain, like the blisters.
Some seven years ago, Paul accepted Islam. He took the Shahadah with his friend, Shaykh Abdal Hakim. Shaykh AH told Paul that he (Shaykh AH) wouldn’t be able to “guide” Paul, per se [it is God Alone who Guides,] but that he will be his “friend”. On the journey. This is something that Paul had recounted in the interview yesterday.
*Brother Paul also spoke about the significance of ‘initiation’, and men being there to aid and support boys as they grow into becoming men. Men are often borne of boys through going through ordeals: there’s much of benefit, and goodness, that comes from our ‘struggles’.
‘Boys’ can’t do it ‘alone’. We can scarcely do many things, as human beings, ‘alone’. We need help, support, comfort and reassurance, and guidance.
This morning, we received an Amazon delivery at our house. A black headscarf, which my housemate Sasha ordered for herself. It came with a (complimentary, I think,) pretty pin.
I love my friend Sasha, and what a blessing, from Allah, she is.
Yesterday, we went to Tesco together, in search of no-added-sugar food for me to break my fast with. Got a raw fruit and nut bar, by the brand Nakd. So many products contain added sugar. Including these cheese rolls:
One meal Tasnim and I shared this week, AlHamduliLlah:
You know, I still don’t know how to use chopsticks properly. Me *handshake* lacking practical intelligence.
And here’s when I made a fire-pit in our garden. One of my hobbies is I like burning things. I love smelling like fire too. In part, it reminds me of my childhood: going to a local ‘adventure park’, and the daily campfires there.
It’s not good to be ‘cooped up indoors’ so much. So sometimes, when I’m feeling not-all-that-great in terms of my mental wellbeing: it would be very good to… step outside. Sit on the ground: it’s grounding. Set some things on fire, you know.
Also this week:
- I looked up the etymology (origins) of the word… peng.
You know, a boy at secondary school used to call me ‘Penguin’. Like every single time he saw me. #trauma. He was so annoying, in doing this. But, perspectives: penguins are adorable, so I accept it as a compliment, in hindsight.
This is when, last night, my brother made me laugh (again). From my dad’s phone, he sent me an edit of a photo of him and my dad, from when my brother was an infant:
Check out the watermark on the image…
This is what Sasha and I found at the CMC library: snacks, to share. A norm at Islamic institutions, it seems, Maa Shaa Allah: people share food!
[But I couldn’t eat any of these. No (added) sugar challenge, this month. Am currently, from the Lovingkindness of God and from the goodness of people who believe in and love Him: on £315 out of my target £500! AlHamduliLlah!!
I also did a spot of personal investigation/research. A lot of the products that are marketed as containing ‘no added sugar’ contain, instead, artificial sweeteners. Like: ‘stevia’, ‘sorbitol’, and aspartame.
My best friend Tasnim lives with three medical students, Maa Shaa Allah. One of them, Anika: we ended up talking a little about sweeteners with one another. Turns out: sweeteners are not always… the best. They’re artificial; they can cause damage to our gut health (and the gut: it’s our ‘second brain’! And contains, according to Sasha, roughly the same, or more, of the number of neurones in a cat’s brain!!!!!!! The human gut!!!!!) and to our bodies’ abilities to respond to sugar well.
I also read a paper, online, about diabetes / lifestyle habits among British-Bangladeshis living in East London (Tower Hamlets, my home London borough). Interesting stuff. In Shaa Allah, I’m working on making a homemade booklet for the people who have donated to the aforesaid Cancer Research project, featuring some things I have found on the topics of food/sugar, and cancer and diabetes.
*This morning, I was clearly quite tired, since I ended up sleeping for like, 12 hours. But this means that I was tired: the body is intuitive, and knows what it needs. Sasha points out that, at the beginning of Reading Week, I did travel back to London. And then I had that wedding to go to. Then travelled back, and went to Tas’. Then the event, and went back to Tas’. And then came home, and the next day Sashew and I went to CMC together.
I need to get better at streamlining, In Shaa Allah. And politely, respectfully, saying no to some opportunities: can’t do everything.
Today, for breakfast, I had protein bagels, with spreadable cheese. Cravings from yesterday satisfied, AlHamduliLlah!!!! And no added sugar.
The Uber Driver from Dagestan.
Coming back from Tasnim’s house at night the other day: she didn’t want for me walking home in the dark. She was going to pay for a cab to take me home, but I insisted on paying for it this time. [My best friend, may Allah Preserve her in her goodness and beauty and awesomeness.]
The driver: ended up being a Russian Muslim. Samir. From Dagestan, the Land of the Fighters.
I’d asked. And he said yes, like Khabib [Khabib Nurmagomedov. Mixed martial artist from Dagestan].
This brother has four daughters. He said he doesn’t always quite know what to teach them: his wife is good at those things. But he sits with his daughters for tea parties, and knows about tea party etiquette by now, I think he’d mentioned.
He’s also teaching his eldest two how to fight. So that’s cool, Maa Shaa Allah.
I came home to a blessed, beloved conversation. With my friend Sasha. A beautiful person, and God has Chosen her, by name, to be acquainted with the Truth, and a member of His Religion.
We Don’t Lose, by Giving: