FRI 24/02/23: There is a Way.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


My morning, today and yesterday, AlHamduliLlah, began in a very special way:

My beloved friend Sasha and I prayed Fajr next to one another. Very special, and an excellent way to start one’s day. It’s very nice to have a ‘Fajr buddy’: having Sasha there actually helped me to feel more energised, to get up and pray. We’re social beings, after all: not designed to be alone, but designed to flourish when we are together.

I’ve still got to properly wash my other prayer mat — the really nice one I’d purchased from Etsy. I also have a maroon ‘travel prayer mat’ here at my (new-ish) home in Cambridge. Plus, as far as I know: you can pray on any ground, any material, really, so long as it is pure.

*After praying, I wanted to have a lie-in, even though I didn’t really have the time to have a lie-in, what with CMC starting for the day soon. So Sasha did a countdown (10, … 9, … 8, …) and for some reason (maybe conditioning, from parents and from teachers. The expectation of negative consequences waiting for us at the end of a subtly ominous descending of numbers if we don’t listen,) … it worked! Countdowns work!

At CMC [Cambridge Muslim College], classroom ‘wins’ feel like ‘wins’: proposing the correct answer, or a good response. Then again: the goal of being a student of Sacred / traditional Islamic learning (Ṭālib-ul-ʿIlm) is not, and cannot be, ‘ego’. It has to be for God, by God, and with God.

I have loved the prayer room at CMC. The maroon red, the stillness and the gentle and True uplift of the soul.

It is currently 07:53 AM on a Thursday morning. My goal, in Dunya terms, is not to be ‘happy’ all the time [that’s a Jannah Reservation,] but to be content. Am currently in the kitchen with Sasha, after having prayed, and after having a lovely conversation with her. I love having conversations with Sasha.

Yesterday Sasha went to the Cambridge Uni Islamic Society, and she went to the prayer room: the CU ISOC had been handing out cute Welfare Packs for Muslim students. She got one for me too: they have stress balls in them, and we just started throwing them to one another yesterday, being weird, and our housemate Shirley just calmly observed (which is unusual, since: it has generally been that while Sasha and Shirley are being super energetic and laugh-y, I’m just there, calmly observing…).

The welfare pack also contained some sweeties, but: I couldn’t have them. Since: no-sugar challenge.

I’ve got £175 left to raise until I reach my £500 target In Shaa Allah.

I’ve been friends with Sasha for four or five months now. And AlHamduliLlah: what a major blessing she, in my life, has been. I’ve grown and changed and learned much from her, and she is a wonderful person to live with, Maa Shaa Allah.

Two of my favoured love languages are gifts and words. Yesterday Sasha said, while I’d been near the microwave I think:

That she thinks whoever ends up marrying me – In Shaa Allah – is going to be honestly so lucky, and she said this twice. It meant a lot to me, that she said/thinks this. And that he should be very grateful, and that if he isn’t then *aggression from Sasha*. Sasha also said that I deserve, like, a £30k Mahr. Not saying I’m materialistic like that but I shall believe what my best friend says about me, you know?

*’Accidentally’ spends most of it on food, stationery, headscarf accessories, gardening things, and books*.

Yesterday I had a long day, AlHamduliLlah.

And on Tuesday: we had Qur’an class, followed by Arabic, followed, later, by a lecture by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad on Pedagogy in Islam. Very, very interesting, AlHamduliLlah. I am glad I ‘overcame’ my inner reservations, and asked a question.

I asked: What advice would he [Shaykh AH] give to people who are thinking of going into Islamic Education [Pedagogy]?

He said, essentially: teach… organically. Choose the right moments. Kids learn, for example, quite intuitively. Like when, the Shaykh said, a group of kids who weren’t from a Muslim background had encountered a group of kids who had been from a Muslim background. And the former group had been wondering why Muslims wash their feet (i.e. during Wudhūʿ, the ablution). Well: when the former group had taken their shoes off to enter the masjid, like their from-Muslim-background friends… The smell of the children’s feet (i.e. of those who didn’t do Wudhūʿ as a practice) smelled really not pleasant…

We learn through experience.

Shaykh AH also emphasised the importance of memorisation. It is also good for the human being, and produces positive psychological effects, such as hormonal and enzymatic releases, and boosts our wellbeing.

I am, for one, for example, really quite impressed with the progress of one of my students at CCM. His ‘English name’ is Alex[ander], while his ‘Arabic name’ is Ali. Half-Kurdish, Half-Czech. From having gone from struggling with the Arabic letters, he is now picking up on, and memorising, lines from the first Surah of the last part of the Qur’an. We call this last part, this last Juzz, Juzz ʿAmma’. Ali recited from the blue Juzz ʿAmma book beautifully yesterday, Maa Shaa Allah: he’s already developing that recitative tone.

Plus, knowing Ali has taught me that: if you do not ask, you will not get. He asked that I allow him to progress, and to incorporate Qur’an reading into our lessons. He wants the challenge, and to thrive and flourish in the face of it: and not to ‘keep himself limited’. Very inspiring, Maa Shaa Allah.

Now here is a masjid that Musa, Ayaat and our friend Adam worked on together, while the rest of us had been praying ʿIshāʾ (the last of the Five Daily Prayers):

Isn’t it soooo cute when children write their lowercase ‘Ds’ as ‘Bs‘?

Social Sciences had been quite interesting yesterday, AlHamduliLlah. Our teacher, Dr. Amin, his teaching is awesome, Maa Shaa Allah.

Yesterday, we learned about the British(-Polish) anthropologist Malinowski. Very fascinating indeed. This anthropologist gave me bad vibes, and my intuition turned out to have been correct: he’d been just as much of a narcissist, when it had come to encounters with people who are different to him, as his ‘sociological’/’anthropological’ comrades had been.

We also had a sort of ‘spiritual masterclass’ yesterday, delivered by Shaykh Sulayman. Very beneficial, AlHamduliLlah. And then Tajwīd, which is when we work on our pronunciation and recitation of the Qur’an. Final class of the day: Arabic, with our former teacher again (AlHamduliLlah!) Shaykh Dr. Jubril. He told us about when he studied Arabic and Islam, first at uni, and then, for example, in Syria. What a jam-packed schedule he had, then: from the early hours, to after Ishāʾ.

*How to ‘remember what we read’: Love and Passion, according to Shaykh AHM, and I definitely agree when it comes to myself. You remember what… sparks a light in your mind, and love and passion in your heart.

Where there is no Light: there is only darkness.

Love and passion will also help us with our challenges, with getting through tasks, and with making what we do more enjoyable.

*And: How to memorise? Through reading over and over again, and writing over and over again. An Arabic saying goes something like: ‘Even a donkey can learn, through repetition’.

And immersion: posters, conversations, listening to things in our target language[s], and/or about our chosen fields…

After school, I’d gone to CCM [Cambridge Central Masjid,] to teach.

Ali’s sister Zaynab joined our class yesterday.

And, aw, Julie from the other class (G1) told her teacher that she wanted to tell me something. So, at the right moment, she did: she told me that her baby brother had been unwell, but that he’s better now. Bless! It meant a lot that she wanted to tell me: we’ve spoken about how I, too, have just one sibling, a baby brother. [Just remembered to call my dad and him now. It’s 08:36, let’s see if I can catch them before Saif’s school.

*My dad was really happy upon hearing the news that Sasha is Muslim now! He said that they need to get a gift for her. One of Sasha’s love languages is indeed gifts, and this is one of her mother’s too, hence the awesome packages of presents Sasha will receive in the mail from time to time.

Sasha also really likes hugs. She’s making me like hugs more too, just by nature of her being, Maa Shaa Allah.]

Our class at CCM had also been visited by… two sisters, Fatima and [I’m not that great with names. I forget the name of Fatima’s sister,] and their baby brother Muhammad. Sooooo cute, a little infant, with chubby cheeks. I just wanted to hold him. And yes, he reminded me of my baby brother when he was small <3. My ‘Ishkum Bishkum’. Apple of my eye, AlHamduliLlah.

Muhammad’s sister stayed for the last part of our lesson, while she’d been standing there, holding her baby brother up by his wittle hands <3.

Then I’d come home to my homies Sasha and Shirley. And to a delicious evening meal, which I’d been looking forward to.

And then Sasha and I were up for Fajr this morning. AlHamduliLlah.

*You know: about six hours of sleep… seems good! Even if it’s difficult to get up for a tiny moment. Having a Fajr buddy (after, like 2 decades of not really having one!) is amazing! AlHamduliLlah! I love my friendo/homie/SISTERHOOD Sashew el Cashew. AKA Alexandra. AKA Sasha. Her name, in short, could have been ‘Alex’. But she prefers Sasha. I guess ‘Sasha’ has more of an ‘oomph’ quality about it.

“And it’s what Allah has chosen is best for you.

Whatever it may be. Allah is in Perfect, Total and Complete Control. We just have to do our part, do our best (and this necessarily will include rest,) and leave it to Him.

Courage is a virtue.

And this is something that I need to remember. To have the courage to do the right/the best thing, at a given moment.

“If you never try, you’ll never know.”

*Am very inspired by how quickly Sasha is learning how to pray Salah, Maa Shaa Allah. #Love and passion

*We have to ask the right questions, to get good outcomes. To understand things better; to enact the changes we would like to be, and see. Sometimes, or even oftentimes: things will take us by surprise. If you have the courage to do something. ‘Difficult’ for just a moment – a test of courage – and then, In Shaa Allah, will come the fruits.

Yesterday, my besfriend (that should be a word. @OxfordEnglishDictionaries) and I FaceTimed, amid a time of stress and ‘busy-ness’ for the both of us, respectively. But as our teacher Dr Amin said that time: there is no real such a thing as ‘busy’ in that sense. If we want to: we will find a way In Shaa Allah.

Anyway. Tasnim told me about a sister who had reverted to Islam at the age of 18, Maa Shaa Allah. And she: went to Damascus, and learned Islam there, for 10 years. In an unfamiliar land, and with an unknown language. She did it:

If we are sincere and really want something, then trust me, by God, there is a way.

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