بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
I had been struggling with myself. Wondering about certain things such as, let’s say, my own ‘lovability‘. You know: every human being on the face of this globe is… ‘fragile’. From the moments of our births, to that necessary other one: death. We’re actually really quite…
Fragile. I mean, I know I sure can be.
Recently, I’d been struggling with coming to terms with the idea or the fact that: sometimes, people will not like us. Sometimes, they may decide that they really do not like, or even that they actively dislike, us. And we find ourselves put into some sort of ‘box’. Firstly:
Others’ claims about us, and/or whatever ‘schema’ [a schema is basically a pattern of thought or behaviour. A structure or framework in place in your mind,] they may be operating on, regarding… you:
Hey! Doesn’t make it true.
Who ever died, and made them ‘The Knowers and Guardians of your very being and identity’?
Secondly: it can feel like… violence, sometimes. Unfair, and disproportionate, and maybe over something as encompassing and a complete non-‘issue’ as… the colour of your skin.
If I am honest, and duly grateful, then:
I love that Allah has made me with brown skin, and dark hair; I have learned to love the texture of my hair, and my height, and somebody else’s hair, and face, and being, is not what I aspire to. Except when it comes to good character, and the less ‘material’ things.
I love that I am Bengali; I love my family very much, AlHamduliLlah, and we are quite Bengali.
I suppose, in some people’s imaginations, we may be seen as other things. ‘Other’ things; #Orientalism, ‘colonial subjects’ and all. What are the stereotypes and excuses again? Ah, yes: that the colonial subject is ‘wild’ and untameable. ‘Savage’ and ‘barbaric’. Altogether, somebody, a people, who is… ‘uncivilised’, and in need of a ‘proper’ ‘education’.
[For one example: I eat rice and curry with my hand sometimes, and it tastes super nice this way. Some may frame this as being ‘uncivilised’. I frame it as being delicious, a way to connect, authentically, via and with delectable food. And cultured.]
The West has hegemony [hegemony: dominance,] over the world now, politically, culturally, not because of the superiority of its ‘post-Christian’ values, no no. Not because they truly were, ‘by nature’ and altogether, ‘superior’ in terms of hygiene, ‘manners’, intelligence, and so on.
Really: those colonial powers got good at spinning narratives about Others, and convincing people of the veracity [veracity: accuracy,] of them, including the subject themselves; the colonialists got ‘good’ at using lots of force, and organised violence. Subduing the ‘other’; the ‘White Man’s Burden’.
Let it be known that I am no ‘White Man’s’ – or ‘Woman’s’ – ‘Burden’.
*I mean, unless I marry a white man. In which case: yeah, I’ll be a white man’s burden [jk. Blessing.]
It is past 10PM and I have just had some wholegrain pasta in tomato sauce, plus some greens! AlHamduliLlah. Good meal, good meal.
Yesterday, I tutored my GCSE student Inaya, Maa Shaa Allah. I really love her: what a blessing she is, and her family are. Yesterday, we went through some Maths questions. And Inaya said, again, that we should meet up sometime, outside of tutoring. Which made me quite happy: a confirmation. To feel loved by the people you love, and whom your soul feels drawn towards! [In this case: in particular at a time when I’d been… questioning things. Are the people who seem quite committed to ‘disliking’ me… ‘right’?]
I’d say humanness is of central importance, when it comes to teaching. And to mentoring.
My sister/close friend Sasha is currently doing a Psychiatry placement at the University of Cambridge, Maa Shaa Allah, Allah hummabārik [may God bless her!]
And, recently: my girl Sasha became Muslim, AlHamduliLlah. She is very inspiring. And her mentor, a woman called Halima, cried when she’d heard that Sasha had accepted Islam!
From what I’ve heard: Halima and Sasha discuss all sorts in their conversations with one another. And this is surely important.
[Halima’s son jokes about with Halima and refers to his mother as Sister Halwa as a joke sometimes. Because she likes to eat sweet things: Halwa.]
Again, while I’d been feeling not-that-great, wondering what to do about the feeling that some may well put me in a ‘box’ that I understand, but don’t perceive as being true, or fair…
Sasha said to me, here in the kitchen:
‘Honestly. May Allah grant you the highest of Jannah’. She said she thinks I deserve it, and that I’m a blessing in her life!
Sasha is, and has been, such a major blessing in mine…
On the flip-side:
It feels like violence when you’re treated as being… a criminal, a wrongdoer, for something you never even did. The comments here and there, and the internal struggle: exert yourself to ‘prove them wrong’ somehow, or… just ‘accept’ it? What do you do?
It’s like… they’re perceiving you as being ‘low’, and it somehow doesn’t ‘matter’ how they treat you. They ‘are right’, and you… ‘deserve’ it.
Listen here, beautiful, sensitive, child: you need not apologise for things that you did not even do. It’s a real shame, a pity, that some people’s senses of ‘security’ or even ‘superiority’ seem to need to come from… trying to belittle you.
Psssst… as ‘self-secure’ as the words of one who is not truthfully inclined to truth may sound: they’ll necessarily be the opposite of true. Extreme ‘self-security’ seems to tend to be, actually… compensatory. A voice to how… insecure… they may actually be feeling.
- AlHamduliLlah: the right people for you… will love, love, love you. Instinctively: it’s in their nature, to love your nature!
Last week, somebody accused me for being a series of things which I am not. She sounded very ‘self-secure’ in saying these things. Like I ‘deserved’ it all, and not respect.
And, on Sunday, I also tutored my other GCSE student, Yasin (online, unlike with Inaya, whom I see face-to-face, AlHamduliLlah. I love spending time with her, and our conversations!)
I tutor him in English (Language and Literature) and in Religious Studies. A rewarding part of teaching is this: that you will learn, too. Through teaching Yasin RS, I’ve learned more about… Christianity, for example. The points of overlap, with Islam.
And I learn more about Yasin. It’s nice when people tell you more about their lives, and when we develop good, harmonious, relationships with good people. Rooted in things like trust and understanding and lovingness, AlHamduliLlah.
It’s okay if you don’t ‘mesh’ with everybody: perhaps your souls are not quite compatible. You try, and then that is all you can really do. It’s typically not indicative of some major and overarching ‘flaw’ about you, if somebody ‘doesn’t like you’.
This story from my own life comes into mind:
When I realised that somebody really didn’t like me: seemed to not want to like me. It felt like her responses to me were unfair, and disproportionate. I could make a small mistake, such a tiny ‘issue’, but this would repeatedly be exaggerated and focused on by her. By choice. One way of dealing with another’s (human, natural) mistakes is to look upon them with an attitude of concern, care for them and after their wellbeing.
You want for them to be good, and better. And if you’re in an authority position above them: you mentor them, and there is a difference. Between this, and trying to keep people ‘down’. Until another might become wary of speaking around you: some seem quick to continuously ‘correct’, to misconstrue what you are saying, and to spin a particular narrative regarding you, which they will cling to. For a certain reason: they ‘need’ to.
*Intentions are important. Are we trying to resolve an issue here, or are you trying to erode another’s sense of wellbeing and confidence here? Be honest.
With regard to this particular story: one day, I received a long text from her. And she expressed that she felt as though she had to ‘work hard’ to get to where she is, whereas I… got there for free somehow? Like I didn’t ‘deserve’ it, so that’s where the resentment had been coming from. It was an insecurity thing. In terms of where we both were, and what we were doing: same thing, different routes to get there. I didn’t get there ‘for free’, but this is how she felt. And, through her actions and speech over time, she let me know, albeit indirectly, until she sent me that lengthy text.
*A bit like Snape’s ongoing negative treatment of Harry. There had been a greater personal reason behind it: Snape had been in love with Harry’s mother!
Intuition is important to me. I knew that something had been up, and part of my maturing is about separating myself, my true self, whom people like… my best friends Tasnim and Sasha, and my students, for example at the masjid, love, AlHamduliLlah. From what I will come to ‘represent’, according to some people’s internal schemas, in some people’s minds.
*In general: we respond better to positive feedback, and even constructive criticism, but when framed positively. Encouragingly. Compassionately. Negativity do be bad for the spirit though.
If someone seems like they are being somewhat ‘extreme’ in their ‘dislike’ of you:
Internally, we can say: ‘I’m sorry you feel that way about yourself’. [And if my presence is triggering such sentiments; unless I have genuinely harmed you, it’s not my responsibility. And even then: things ought to be just, and proportionate.]
Perhaps the best thing to do in response, as believers, is to try to sincerely pray for them.
And then: you… keep going! You’re clearly doing something right, AlHamduliLlah. Now: with the Help and Grace of Allah… keep going, and do good, and better! As you! You are so loved, AlHamduliLlah!!!!!
Harmony. I love the word, and the idea it stands for.
Things, even when they will be different, working together. Like me and my friend Sasha: we’re not quite ‘the same’.
She’s a very harmonious person, by nature, Maa Shaa Allah. She gets along with different types of people very well; is compassionate and appreciative of others, instead of enacting ‘superiority’ and so on.
Traditionally, schools have been connected to religion; to the pursuit of God.
A Madrasah is an Islamic school. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings: I teach kids at the Cambridge Central Masjid [masjid: Arabic for ‘mosque’].
Yesterday, I had my usual class: the youngest boys’ class (Class B1). And before we’d begun: some other boys from one of the other classes had been playing football in our space. A boy called Sufyan, and his younger brother. And Hamza, I think his name is: our friend Adam’s elder brother. [Adam is so cute, Maa Shaa Allah. His smile! Maa Shaa Allah. Last time, at Madrasah, his mother had been in the room. And she’d been concerned that her son is causing distraction, but: we love having him with us, as a guest. Whether in class, or when the boys are playing football.] Adam’s family are Egyptian, and also speak French since they’re from Belgium.
*I love it when kids are running around, laughing, having fun in the masjid! Being close to Fitrah, being kids!! Cambridge Central Masjid reminds me of the beautiful mosque in Madina. Kids play so freely, so wonderfully. They’re Protected and Beloved, in the House of the One who Made and Loves them: God.
Yesterday, Dr Najah’s (one of our teachers,) toddler son had been at the masjid. With his weekly babysitter, Sr Maryam. One of my six-year-old students played with Sr (‘Aunty’) Maryam, and she is very sweet, Maa Shaa Allah. And Sulayman pretended that Ayaat’s (Harry Potter) tin pencil case had been a phone, and he’d been speaking on it. Both of young Sulayman’s parents are scholars, Maa Shaa Allah.
I also had to merge my class with another yesterday, since one of the other teachers had been unwell. This was such a sweet class: G2. Like one of the girls, Amānah. What a confident, and cute, and clever, girl, Maa Shaa Allah! So polite, and good at conversation! She’s eight years old, small [aw!!!], and uses words like… [was it ‘spectacular’ that she’d said?]
A Muslim Hermione Granger in the making, our Amanah, and/or a Matilda? She told me she is into/’quite likes’ her books. Bless her, Maa Shaa Allah. She certainly inspires me.
I also spoke to Zara in the class. We high-fived when we learned that we are both Bengali! She is so lovely, Maa Shaa Allah. Such good energy.
Good vibes, good vibes all around. AlHamduliLlah.
And oh, the contrast between good vibes and not-so-good ones… is real.
Be patient [something we spoke about in Madrasah yesterday. The significance of Sabr, and how Allah Rewards it!]. The occurrence of one person who seems to have decided that they will quite dislike you: does not ‘cancel out’ all of the real, good, from others in your life.
And this is one reason why blogging, writing, is invaluable to me, AlHamduliLlah. Recording cherished memories; writing about the people whom I so love.
Afra and Inaaya.
Afra and Inaaya are students from my former class at CCM: before we had a reshuffle, and before I got moved to teaching the youngest boys’ class. I used to teach the eight-year-old boys and girls.
Like my adorable students Haneefa, Belal, Iyaad (whom I saw again yesterday, and we said Salaam to one another!! Aw!!).
And Afra and Inaaya: these two girls are complete blessings to their respective parents, Maa Shaa Allah. So, so pure-hearted; may Allah bless them eternally, and preserve them in goodness.
Afra’s bright eyes, and her kindness, Maa Shaa Allah. So inspiring.
And Inaaya: what a beautiful young soul. She recently returned from Umrah (‘semi-pilgrimage’, let’s say. Makkah and Madina,) and she’d shared sweets out to the class, giving me several (which I can’t eat at the moment! No sugar challenge… But my housemates can have them!)
Inaaya also [and this Inaaya is a different one, of course, from my GCSE tutee,] had a gift from Saudi… for… me? She calls me Sister Sadia. And the gift, in such a cute, pretty lil box: had been…
A Tasbeeh, in the colours of the Palestinian flag!!!! AWWWWWW!!! And a note, on which Inaaya had drawn a beautiful mosque:
I told Inaaya about how much I love that… she remembered me, over there. [What???!!!] She even made Duʿa for me!!!!! That Allah gives me a good life! And I told her that she will be rewarded each time I use the tasbeeh: after our daily prayers, it’s encouraged that we say
Subhaan Allah (Glory be to God,) 33 times.
And AlHamduliLlah (Praise be to God,) 33 times.
And Allahu Akbar (God is Great,) 34 times.
This is why a tasbeeh tends to have 33 beads, and another major one, making it 34 in total. Allah is the Greatest. Some Tasbeehs: have 33 + 33 + 34 beads, so 100. I love this Tasbeeh.
Other Tasbeehs I’ve been given as presents: one that my dad bought for me, in Istanbul. A Syrian person, a refugee, had been selling them. And I’d been going through an especially defining, difficult-in-the-moment, time, then. As always: I needed God.
And, also: my friend A’iyshah has also given me a Tasbeeh, not too long ago. A wooden one. Also from Turkey, where her parents and brother live.
The 5 established love languages (in no particular order), plus what I would add, in light of what I now know about love:
- Quality time
- Words (of affirmation)
- Acts of service
- Making Duʿa for someone.
- ‘Meanness’. As a joke. It’s such an expression of love, when it comes from a place of love.
Inaaya made Duʿa for me — lots of Duʿa for me! — while on ʿUmrah! Subhaan Allah!
And while Satanic whispers, sometimes in the form of ‘cynicisms’ from old hurts, and exhortations to deny due gratitude, and so on, may incline us to believe that we are not, (how could we be?!) that loveable…
Allah says we are. So we are. I love Inaaya so much: may Allah give her the besssst in this life and the next. This means so much to me!
The Cambridge Central Masjid is such a blessing, AlHamduliLlah.
We flourish when we feel secure in love.
I’d say this is necessarily true.
I love how happy Kauthar’s dad is, when he comes to pick her up. And that time they’d high-fived one another when Kauthar was so excited that one of her friends was going to be in her class!
And how Afra’s mum’s face, also, lights up when she’s arrived to pick Afra up. She’ll smile at me too: such a genuine, illuminated and illuminat-ing, smile, Maa Shaa Allah.
I know that some parents aren’t entirely always like this. Still, Allah is more Lovingkind towards us than the most merciful, and lovingkind, parent will, and could, ever be, to his/her own child.
Am I loveable? Am I loved?
[Will I die alone? That’s been a recurring fear of mine, not gonna lie. Will I be loved, truly, and forever?
‘Vulnerability’ is important: we’re all fragile, we’re all human. All feel scared, at times, and all feel sad sometimes. Don’t we all, from the deepest parts of ourselves, just want to be kissed on the forehead and called a cute, special nickname?]
You’re human. You’re filled with… laughter, and tears, and with various idiosyncrasies [things that make you unique]. Allah Loves you, His beloved, beautiful creation ❤ ❤ <3. If we believe and do good deeds: the Angels will love us too. And so will the good, and the best, people of the Earth!
- You make mistakes – human error – here and there. That’s okay: these things happen. Spilt milk? It’s okay, cloths exist for a reason my love. How cute: you spilt a bit o’ milk. U are adorable. And plus the table gets a free wipe!
Oh, and in your humanness (awkwardness, ‘mistakes’, spillages, and the essential rest,) and as a result of whom you are: you are so very, truly, greatly loved. AlHamduliLlah.
A memorialised conversation betwixt two Muslim homies: [me and Sasha. I’m not obsessed with her! She’s obsessed with…… (me. Jk)]
From when I couldn’t eat the plant-based burgers I’d bought for our Sunday House Dinner, since I’d found that they too contained added sugar. And then I’d picked Sasha up from the masjid, like a mother picking up my baby child:
- Here is an actual frog I saw on the path, on the way home:
- As well as a lady, a sister/aunty at the masjid, seeing if Sasha would want to marry her son: other Muslim/hijābi experiences Sasha has experienced thus far have included… A cashier at B&M being weirdly cold with her. No “hi”, no receipt even though she’d wanted one. Also: periodically looking into a mirror to fix her hijāb.
- As well as seeing a frog (which startled me,) here in Cambridge… I’ve seen a mouse or a few, in the bushes. I’m terrified of mice. This experience of living in Cambridge, England: is different from what I’ve otherwise known. For the first two decades of my life, I’ve lived in Tower Hamlets, London. This is different; this is new.
- ‘Less-than-favourable’, on the face of them, experiences here thus far have included: some indirect, but still intuitively obvious, experiences of racism and classism. Two guys on electric scooters: one of them had been looking at me, and then said, ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he passed by. All good: God is indeed the Greatest. What else, what else? Yesterday, while I’d been walking home after 8PM, some guy on the back of a bike exclaimed, “BOO!” at me, and this startled me for a tiny moment.
A secondary school boy decided to stop me to say that he’s looking for a future wife for his friend who’d been there with him, and would I be interested. I just said, “no,” and carried on walking.
#Cambridge Muslim Adventures. AlHamduliLlah. And the love here, between the believers, is incredible, Maa Shaa Allah!
This is Inaaya’s drawing of the two of us in a masjid together [how is this even real?!!!! My heart could cry.]
Here is one of the first conversations Sasha and I ever had with one another, some five months ago, now, AlHamduliLlah:
When I told her about my Islamic Studies course at CMC, and she told me about her Psychiatry placement at Cambridge University…
And then, here are two bunches of flowers, put together, that our housemate Shirley got from Sainsbury’s. After the day that is marketed as being the ‘Day of Love’, [Valentine’s,] these bunches of flowers had been on sale for… 1p – a penny – each!
Feat. my Shredded Wheat. I grew up a Weetabix gal. But it is now all about… Shredded Wheat for mey, personally. With (organic) honey! Delicious, AlHamduliLlah.