“He has the keys to the unseen: no one knows them but Him. He knows all that is in the land and sea. No leaf falls without His knowledge, nor is there a single grain in the darkness of the earth, or anything, fresh or withered, that is not written in a clear Record.”
— Noble Qur’an, (6:59).
It is snowing here in Cambridge. Somewhat lightly, but still:
And it isn’t technically Winter ‘anymore’: we are in March, it is Spring. Outside of this library, there is a cherry blossom tree, part-in-bloom, and part-bare. And skeletal, and these somewhat unmissable, primary-school-frozen-yoghurt-pink buds, which have blossomed: they speak of something like… resistance.
What is resistance?
It reminds me of: pushing through. With all that is ostensibly ‘working against you’: the light raspberry bud that emerges from its shell. Even in these cold, virus-causing Winters. Winters in Spring. Snow falling, perfectly, in perfect Divinely-tuned place, outside the library of an Islamic university in Cambridge, England.
God will Make for you, a way.
Can resistance be something gentle?
Do you remember… licking the lids of those little polystyrene ice-cream tubs? Primary school. Keep the lids: we can recycle them and make something out of them.
[And taking a bite or two out of the centre of a triangular slice of bread. To make a ‘camera’ out of it. Remember that?]
Resistance is a ‘shining through’, a sacred protecting of what is good, and graciously, defiantly, rejecting whatever is not. And don’t children, often, know so well how to do just this?
Yesterday, Sasha, my friend who is also my housemate here in Cambridge, met me at the masjid: Cambridge Central Masjid. We were ‘going’ to go to a talk together, about Muslim involvement in modern politics, over at Clare College, and hosted by the Cambridge University Islamic Society.
We ended up: staying for the Nasheed recital at the masjid. And for the Qur’an recitations. Inspiring, certainly, and meaningful. Beautiful.
The Nasheeds: sung by adorable, innocent, youthful children. All dressed in white. Julie, for example, has her characteristically pure way of saying hello. She seemed so happy, so excited, to have seen me in the audience. Her baby brother, Mika’il, had been in attendance too, cradled by their mother.
Julie’s father, who very much seems like a father who should not be messed with: protector, guard, overseer of his beautiful family — he had been right at the front, recording the recital, I think. And being there for his Princess child, Julie.
It is snowing quite a lot, now, in this moment. Flake after flake after flake: Divinely-Planned. Engineered, designed, and made. [I feel, at times, insignificant. What does it truly mean, to really matter?]
God Decided that it would snow, this morning, here in Cambridge, England, today. [And that I would be, here, a Muslim woman called Sadia.]
And I feel quite ‘cut off’ from the world. Lately, yes, and maybe even ‘forever’.
The moment when the children began singing: it felt like ‘uplift’. Like the soul being brought up, uplifted, like a white feather.
Things feel ‘messy’ at the moment, and I have felt ‘lost’. Let’s consider what that term actually means, and implies. Is the opposite of being ‘lost’, being… ‘found’? Am I walking in the ‘dark’, here, and not knowing my whereabouts? Do I accidentally come to convince myself that I am in the ‘wrong’ place, having taken a ‘wrong turn’, or perhaps even a hundred?
[Seek out the light. Always.]
God is the Lord of all that exists, and has ever existed, and will ever exist: in the Heavens and the Earth. Look. He is the Lord of writers like Anne Frank, and the God of the one who wrote… Narnia. The notion of a hidden, mystery, spiritually enchanting world… all behind the wardrobe door of a large house somewhere in rural England. The ostensibly sad situation of a family of children, and, yet, what is to be found, right there, behind the opening of a creaking oaken door…
Shall we talk, here, then: about Primordial Truths?
Am I not just a child, fascinated by snow, and enlivened, spiritually, and my smile, upon seeing the sunshine?
Am I not half skeletal, bare-branched, and so many little branches, overlapping, branching out: various parts. And part pink flowers: I cannot make complete ‘sense’ of myself. I am not a fictional character like that. Yet I can know that the branches, subtly messy, and bony, and spiny, and cold, are necessary. To hold those flowers, and to let them grow.
And resistance is: the world is dark. And there is light.
And: there are many reasons to be sorrowful, today. But we will follow the example of Muhammad -S-, and smile.
And: it is Spring, but we are allowed to experience hot cocoa and snowfall. Again, again, again. And new: as if for the first time. Charulata, a Body Shop At Home consultant whom I have on WhatsApp: today had been her young daughter’s first experience of seeing snowfall. Her first snow.
At once, a thing of wonder and subtle announcements of “It’s snowing!” and something like awe. And chilly, cold feet, and tickled throats, and incoming colds. Viruses and flus. Not the best feeling, always: but there’s just something about Winters. The quiet ‘magic’ of them. Winters pair well, it seems, with that classic ‘British school’ aesthetic. The ‘smart’ uniforms, old buildings and windows, Gothic and brownish-grey, and the sense of structure, the individual communities that we will find ourselves part of: small worlds. Oh, and the sense of things happening: call it ‘adventure’.
Friendships blossoming, perhaps ‘unexpectedly’. Romances looming, maybe also ‘unexpectedly’. One of the most natural things in the world.
We want for our days, and what we are doing, to always feel meaningful.
I wonder: have I grown up ‘different’, and ‘wrong’? Have I done something ‘wrong’, ‘ruined things’; has this rendered me, over and over again, ‘unworthy’? I do not know, and I ask Allah to forgive me.
What is God’s Plan for me?
Have I corrupted this beautiful connection to the Almighty? Have I accidentally ‘ruined’ things, or: are all things exactly right, and on cue, and a beautiful mystery, requiring the gentle and exciting unwrapping of ribbons, the opening of a box?
May I be disproved about many of the things that I have thought? Snowfall, which has fallen into something like ‘belief’? I suppose I didn’t know, then, that perceived ‘reality’ could melt away. The noble, and majestic, emergence, of a Black Swan: that there will be snowfalls in Spring, and cherry blossom trees blooming along with it all?
What if things actually are other than what one has come to ‘believe’? What if ‘other than’ is actually how things have always been? And all it would take, to eventually, finally, realise this, is the witnessing of one single, graceful, gentle, black swan, stretching its wings on the water, as it has always done? But we, relatively unimportant observers, have only just now paid attention to, and noticed, it?
“His command, when He intends anything, is only to say to it: Be, so it is.”
— Noble Qur’an, (36:82).
How many times has it snowed, since the dawn of human being, to now?
How many snowfalls have I, here in England, (or, rather, mainly in East London,) thus far also witnessed?
About this snowfall event, today in the Spring of today: what is new? May I grow to be like the child, who has today witnessed this flurry, ice-cream view, for the first, first, first time?
And Allah is the Lord, the Creator and the Knower and the Decider, of every British Prime Minister there has ever been. And of Roald Dahl, the writer of Matilda. And of Jesus, Son of Mary, upon them both be Peace.
And of Anna, a girl I’d gone to school with for two years: a Christian girl who belongs to a family of nuns, and who wanted to go to Oxford University, Oriel College, and to then become a nun. In terms of old things, and institutions, their roots more ‘established’:
Like the manor-house-type building across from ours, the Cambridge Muslim College (and our college has once been a priest’s home. Built for him by his brother, an architect). That building, facing ours: is a prep school. The children’s uniform is blue, and you can look through some of their tall-ish windows, and catch a glimpse of colourful wall displays, a banner of world flags, perhaps, and such. A child swinging on his seat. These pupils will likely be looking outside at this same snow.
“It’s snowing outside!”
“Oh my goodness, it is!”
And people, hopefully irrespective of age and/or ‘maturity’, will gather and huddle, and peer outside, for visual confirmation of the bright white precipitation spectacle.
Things that are ‘older’ seem to have this tendency to feel as though they are, in a way, ‘truer’. And things that are ‘new’ – like novel experiences, for children, and like new-built houses (like the one Sasha and I had seen yesterday, on the way to Tesco, and after stopping a few times for Sasha to greet cats)… Well, actually, I realise that children cannot be compared to cold, plastic-wrapped, new-built houses. The former carry in and with them, intrinsically, the most ancient and pure Truth: knowing their Creator, and being close to primordial purity.
[In Jannah: will we be far more like… children?]
New houses are cold, soulless, until they are touched, and characterised, and warmed. Prayed in. But babies are born warm, and alive. Blood beating, faces red with life, and… warm. ‘Tabula rasa’ (blank slate) in some ways, readied to learn, and knowing, intuitively, of the highest degree humanly possible, in another.
We don’t know anything: we need to be guided, and explained to, and told. Readily grasping, flexing our hands, and also our rich, Maa Shaa Allah, cognitive faculties. We know
Everything we need to. Instinctively. To drink from the mother’s warm and embracing breast; to reach out, with our very fingertips, to be known; for love.
I remember when Anna told me something about how she had really enjoyed sitting in the library of our neighbour (‘partner’) school, Westminster School. Watching the snowfall, and cosy with books, by herself. Among authors whose works she’d enjoyed. Something like that: and the old, established brick and stone of the building. I remember vaguely, yet strongly, wondering at how someone could feel ‘at home’ in a space such as that one. How? I doubt I would, and ever could: it was unfortunately ‘not for me’.
And I didn’t feel at home, or seen, or known, or truly seen and loved, in our History lessons either. Something about it all had been ‘cold’; something made it feel like I was incomprehensible, and un(able to be)known. I want to be valued; I love to be loved.
Will I not part with the amassment, the snowfalls over time, of whispers in my ear?
And let the sun shine one day, a moment, like on that Sunday: the beginning of Spring. Dawn of a new season: the season that has been Divinely engineered and ordained, for this exact here and now. And every single leaf, snowflake, atom, that has led to it. And the fact of every person who is right here too, experiencing it too. It may have been ‘other’ than this, yet God Wanted for it to be this.
So here it is.
Is, Is, Is.
Because of that Essential:
“Be! Be! Be!”
[But what if I’ve ruined something, or many things, or everything?
How could I ever know?
Are all things going ‘right’?]
The British schoolgirl who went and joined Daesh… Talk about her has come up on my YouTube feed lately. She: looks like me. Probably: like a lot of girls I know. Brown, Bengali. East London, specifically Tower Hamlets.
My friend Tasnim says that there’s some sort of ‘vibe’ or something about East London girls: we’re recognisable somehow. Distinguishable. Maybe part of this is… the East London ‘attitude’. A steeliness, and what may come across as ‘rudeness’. For many girls, maybe, this is a sense of ‘resistance’, but it may come across as being… a closed-off-ness, an impression of cynicism.
[Yet: look closer. In any ‘group’: look closer, to recognise the inherent diversity of people ‘within’ it. My first cousin and I, for one example, are quite different from one another, and yet still quite similar. We work!]
Do I ‘sympathise’ with this woman? The truth is: and although I fundamentally disagree with the group she’d travelled over to join, and with what her views seem to be…
I know ‘where she is coming from’. In the sense that: I am from there too. Secondary school in Tower Hamlets, East London. Bengali, and so on. And I think, and perhaps it is somewhat ‘selfish’ of me to consider my own ‘place’ in all of this:
But I think that I will be blamed for the actions of something that somebody else has done. And that when people see me, and if they have not met many, or even any, Muslims personally, and properly: whom will they see, when they see girls like me?
What do people (think they, or claim to,) ‘know’ of me, before knowing me?
I think I’ve quietly been wrestling with questions surrounding ‘identity’, lately. How does one come to know whom she is?
On Monday, my eldest cousin, my Didi, had a baby girl. Maa Shaa Allah, Tabaarak Allah. She and her husband, Sam, have named their baby: Saarah.
Already, Saarah, delicate, gentle, and sweet-faced: has some markers of identity assigned to her. ‘Ascribed’ to her: Maktoob, it has been Written.
Father: Sam. And mother: Juhi, my Didi. And her first home, and the people she is going to live with.
Her ethnicity: given. Her (in physical/material terms,) place in the world. Her name, Saarah. As far as I know: this means Princess. Surname: given.
Her religion. A Muslim baby is welcomed into Islam in a particular way. The Call to Prayer is read into the baby’s ear. She hears the Word of God. Whom is she?
As far as Baby Saarah goes, and will go: is she a fussy drinker/eater, or a calm and accepting one? Will she be an energetic personality, or a more relaxed, and centred, one? [What will be the continued impacts and impressions of her parents’ choices and doings, on her being?]
Then: what we are being tested on, by God, is our individual choices. Which determine the states of our very hearts.
You were not able to choose what your nose is going to look like. Or whom your parents would be, and their occupations. Or your ethnicity, or your ‘place in the world’. But, then again:
What are you, using all that you have been given, and what has been presented to you:
Going to make, your place in the world?
Lately, I have felt what it may feel like to be ‘disliked’, rejected and scorned: on account of whom (others think) you… are.
Associations: perhaps it is that I look a certain way, and belong to certain groups. And if a person truly does not ‘like’ people who are ‘foreign’ and so on: then I become something of a ‘representative’, in their minds, of whatever they do not like. It can feel… demoralising, eroding to the spirit. And frustrating, to essentially be tasked with separating truths from… fictions, about yourself, in your own understanding of yourself. Maybe especially when it seems as though the views that people might be operating on: have been made to seem so ‘true’ in their own views, and subsequent actions.
A fiction can become something like ‘truth’ if it is adhered to long enough. And adhered to as a decoy for truth long and convincingly enough.
If everything is very fine-tuned, and Divinely-Decided, then:
Every person being positioned in a distinctive point, place, in space and time: holds weight. Meaning, Divinely-Intended.
And so, when I’d seen, for a brief moment, Raiyan with (presumably,) his fairly-new wife at Tesco yesterday evening [they’d been at the self-service checkout bit, backs turned, while I’d been waiting for Sasha to acquire her things,] that had been meaningful. I am yet to meet Hamuda, Raiyan’s wife.
[Update: I did get to meet Hamuda, AlHamduliLlah. At Ifthār at the Cambridge Central Mosque. And she’s recently followed me on Instagram too! She is very pretty and nice, Maa Shaa Allah, Tabaarak Allah. I’ve also seen her in the Sisters’ Library, and got to tell her that I think she’s really pretty! I believe in speaking beauty, if you see it.]
Somewhat separately, I’ll be honest: I look at some of the goodness that people have, and the fact that they have love [i.e. someone else has made a decisive decision about them: to marry them,] and I think: this is not for me. Is it? Could it be?
On the one hand: environmental factors, and worries that they may be ‘barriers’. On the other hand: the sheer undeniable power of nature. Of fitrah. I will accept what my beloved Jade, Inayah, and Sasha have told me, regarding myself. May I be an excellent Muslimah, and friend and sister and wife. And mother. I can’t wait to be a wife and mother, if my Lord Decrees it for me. I am already in love, in advance.
And teacher! It’s in my nature. AlHamduliLlah. And writer.
Allah Knows. And there is more that I do not know, than what I do. But Allah Knows.
And, look: I cannot ‘begin a new story’; cannot shed myself of aspects of the past that I would deem to have been less-than-favourable. It’s all… a part of this, this perfectly-imperfect journey through this imperfect place, Dunya.
I am not Hermione at Hogwarts. Besides, maybe it’s true that the role of ‘Hermione’ has already been taken, by Ish. Maa Shaa Allah, Tabaarak Allah: that girl, my sister.
Yet I know that I am precisely, and exactly, crucially, what and whom and how and where and when Allah Wants for me to be.
This is a test: to have gone from… primary-and-secondary-school me, ‘foremost’, let’s say, and top of the class in pretty much everything. I don’t say that, I hope, in a ‘cocky’ way.
But: AlHamduliLlah. I’ve had that experience. And then I got sick, and things changed. Things changed, in Year Twelve, somewhat, and then especially in Year Thirteen. Except, perhaps, in English. I ‘missed out’ on those two Oxbridge offers (two different years). Test, interview, offer; test, interview. Offer. ‘Missed’. Divine Plan. AlHamduliLlah. I did try; I wasn’t sure exactly what to shoot for, and aim at. And strive towards, and be happy about. Did I not review my decisions, continually, in light of… ‘what other people would think’?
And then I came to Islam, ‘properly’. ‘Gap year’, 2019 and 2020: when I worked, first at that… dastardly… tuition centre all the way in Ilford. And then I’d been in Whitechapel, and saw that vacancy sign in the window of the new-ish Islamic bookshop, Ajwa.
I worked there. Divinely-Writ, and I know it had been, since I didn’t even meet the two criteria for hiring that they’d clearly advertised: 1) someone who had retail experience (not me) and 2) someone who speaks Bengali well. Again, not me. My Bengali skills are ‘okay’ at best. Substandard, really. And borderline embarrassing, at worst.
Bengali with something like an English accent or something.
At least one person I know has said that she used to feel… ‘spiritual’ when in Westminster Abbey. We used to have some assemblies there: for sixth form I went to Harris Westminster, for which the Abbey is right up the road.
I wouldn’t say I, personally, felt ‘spiritual’ there. Statues of people, ‘great’ people, and tombs underfoot. There is a lot of empty space, hot air, overhead in that building: ‘hallowed’, in terms of architectural inspiration, maybe. But: ‘hollow’, really and ultimately. If lacking in a connection, ultimately and primarily, to Truth. How close is such a place and what is done there, really, to God?
I remember being quite afraid, walking into the Abbey. I was afraid on the street too, the lead-up to the train station. And at the train station also. ‘In my head’. Anxious.
For example: approaching the security table, the small tent, before the Abbey. [‘What if they’re suspicious of me? And think I’m hiding a bomb, or maybe some other weapon, or something?’] Oh, and I remember at least one of the snow days of back then. The freezing cold, the feeling that I ‘should’ be having fun. But, inside, I was empty, and cold, and numb and dull.
“We will certainly test you with a touch of fear and famine and loss of property, life, and crops. Give good news to those who patiently endure —
who, when faced with a disaster, say, “Surely to Allah we belong and to Him we will ˹all˺ return.”
They are the ones who will receive Allah’s blessings and mercy. And it is they who are ˹rightly˺ guided.”
— Noble Qur’an, (2:155—157).
It is Saturday, 11th March 2023, and I have a lot to do, I guess. Reading Hamzah’s dissertation: that’s one thing. This Logic group project, that is another. Plus general tidying and life management. Oh, and writing to the council, re council tax negation, on account of my student status: how it ought to be waived for us, me, Shirley, and Sasha.
At just before 4PM, In Shaa Allah, Sasha and I will leave for the tote-bag-designing workshop, at Downing College. We are both fasting today. Sasha managed to have water for Suhūr, and it is her very first day of fasting today.
I managed to have… water, plus two chicken wings, which I’d baked the night before. Chicken, lovingly given and marinated [I’ve been getting confused between ‘marinated’ and ‘marinaded’,] by Sweetie (my maternal, in both senses of the word, Maa Shaa Allah, auntie).
Again, I feel like there is so much to write, and to capture, and to hope that I can preserve it all, in writing and imagination.
So I write about yesterday: I prayed to Allah to help me with Logic. I’d missed two (held consecutively, one a ‘make-up’ one) lessons, just previously. Circumstances which could not be helped, and, likely, a test. [This Dunya do be testing though: this is its purpose, and its nature.] How on Earth was I going to keep up with this class?
Dr Najah has high expectations for us. As does Dr Mariam, and I want to meet them! I’ve been unwell, spiritually sick, the tied-up knots in my brain and so on.
But the previous evening, I’d recited Ayat-ul-Kursi as well as my three Quls. And I’d gone to sleep with Wudhu. So that was good, and Allah Protected me. I also made Du’a for help, and Allah really helped me. I enjoyed that lesson: material logic. And its benefit in terms of debating. I’d actually been thinking about debate, and about how much I have liked it. [Like the time Jemima, Rehab and I were on a team together, debating about private schools. And, Subhaan Allah: we won that one!]
Allah Knows. He has a Plan for me.
That morning, it had been snowing. Quite a lot, and it was (expectedly,) quite cold. AlHamduliLlah, although I thought I wouldn’t make it to the College on time: I’d walked towards Perne, and found Ayesha and A’iyshah just entering the car! Subhaan Allah! I thought I’d been so far away from Perne, and that I’d be unable to get there on time!
Okay, in the relative rush of today, and with the things I have, to get done:
I’d like to record some things, here, that I have found beautiful.
Look: this life is a struggle. Through darker mornings, and through low energy and motivation, and through snowstorms.
Yet there are moments of beauty. Like when Kay, who is in G1 at CCM, hugs me, and wants to hold my hand and call me “Auuuun-tie,” and tell me things. And how she made me laugh, for example hilariously laying over her textbook, on the advice of her friend, so as to straighten it out somehow.
I write about the woman, the ‘stranger’, who’d smiled at me, on the street. As though she’d been quite happy to see me. That was beautiful, and uplifting.
[And, when I’d been en route, walking, to my aunt’s house, post-Eid. Holding a bouqet of roses, from my mum to give to my aunt, from us. “You look really lovely holding them flowers, darling,” a woman I did not know had said to me, and this had really been unexpected; it really made my day, AlHamduliLlah. The sheer good that is unexpected!!!! >>>>>]
And when Ayesha proposed that syllogism in that Logic class, yesterday. She said, “All women are beautiful. Sadia is a woman. Therefore Sadia is beautiful.” I said a jokey “Awww!” out loud, but I did mean it. I do think Ayesha thinks that I am beautiful, and this really means a lot to me. She is very kind towards me: the car drop-offs, the sending-over of lecture recordings. She gave me £20, in-hand, towards my Cancer Research fundraising thing, when she’d seen me at the masjid, yesterday.
Some kindnesses are enough to make you want to cry, no?
I write about breaking my fast on Thursday. It feels good to keep lunch aside for yourself, and to anticipate breaking your fast with it. Delicious vegetable curry that day, and rice. And two veggie spring rolls/pastries at the bottom of the container, waiting to be eaten. My lunch hour on Thursday, a lot of it, had been freed up as a result of not eating that day. I’m happy about the blue container I have, AlHamduliLlah. It has a little knife and fork that come with it.
Even all the ‘subtle’ things: Allah has a Plan for it all, and for you. I bought that container a while ago, not knowing about the Plan for its future usage. And Allah is Al-Latīf, the Subtle, the Generous.
He is All-Knowing, Acquainted, and Loving.
I feel moved to write this:
About the sister, Aisha, who had visited the Cambridge Muslim College stall that we’d held at the masjid on Friday.
Aisha attends Anglia Ruskin University here in Cambridge, studying Psychology. She’d come into the masjid with the hood of her hoodie covering her hair. She is really sincere, Maa Shaa Allah, and said that this had actually been the first time that she’d been visiting the Cambridge Central Masjid for Jumʿuah. And that her current degree: it’s ‘for her parents’, but she is interested in the Cambridge Muslim College. Perhaps that, as she’d said, is a reason as to why Allah Called her, Brought her, to Jumʿuah that day.
Aisha is very pretty, Maa Shaa Allah. Arab beauty – feminine beauty – involves, I think, beauty of the eyes, and strength of one’s features: eyebrows, facial structure, overall boldness, I’d say. Beautiful. Although I have struggled with my looks for a while, I realised over time that I do fit into more Middle Eastern ‘standards of beauty’, AlHamduliLlah.
On that day, Friday, Ayesha had also been at the masjid: she’d handed me that £20 that she’d been meaning to give towards my Cancer Research fundraising project. Oh wait, I realised that I’ve already written about this, above. Ah, well: such kindness deserves to be written about again.
Yesterday (Monday 11th March 2023 CE) had been quite the adventure, AlHamduliLlah. I woke up slightly ‘late’ – about maybe closer to 10 AM. And I: got the weekly bulletin done and sent out. Did some admin.
Sasha and I had both been fasting, and we’ve both been praying Fajr together too, AlHamduliLlah.
Yesterday, we: got an Uber to Downing College, where we’d attended the 93Club tote-bag-making session. The 93 Club is a club that’s designed for former students of state schools, since 93% of the British population, I think it is, had attended state schools, yet a smaller percentage than this is represented at Oxbridge.
At Downing College, I’d been feeling a weird internal feeling. Something like anxiety. Like people wouldn’t ‘like’ me. You know: like maybe the only Muslim women like me they’d really had, in their minds, maybe, as reference points… would be those specific ones featured in the mass media, for being ‘terrorists’ and so on.
I feel that anxiety when I am around white people, and people of a different (‘higher’) social class than I am. You know: the ‘jokes’ about the brown Muslim in the room, and so on. The feeling of being recognisably ‘different’. [A fellow CMC student once, in walking conversation, mentioned to me that, when she’d lived in a Muslim country: this had been the first time she had gone out onto the streets feeling “properly human”. And, yes, sometimes, in Britain, though perhaps less so here in Cambridge: people may tut and sigh. Or even barge, sometimes. And say something.]
I don’t like feeling like an ‘alien’ in a room, or like the ‘elephant’. And nor do I want to feel ‘unliked’ before even being given a chance to be… myself. [Who is… ‘me’?]
It can be silently exhausting: to have to ‘prove’ or ‘disprove’ things, where I go, where I am ‘unfamiliar’. Anyway. The painting workshop was nice:
Sasha painted a silhouette image of the Uzbek skyline, with a masjid, on her tote-bag. And I painted that slogan that Sasha and I both relate to: “This be Dunya after all.” Plus a black umbrella, and some rough-lookin’ flowers.
At the event yesterday: we met a girl called Mel, whom I’d assumed had been Spanish, but she is actually Turkish, and was able to tell us the exact year when the post-Tanzimāt reforms had been taking place in Turkey. 1923: the end of the Ottoman Empire.
And we met Ritu, the first-year History student with blue lipstick. And Ewan, also first-year History: his character is very pure, Maa Shaa Allah. He’d painted oranges on his tote-bag, with the phrase: “Orange you looking good today?”
And we even had a brief conversation about Gilmore Girls together. Ritu and Ewan had been sitting across from me and Sasha.
And then Miji joined our table: a girl from Bermondsey (London), and she smelled very nice. Mel had also been at our table, designing a tote-bag about cats [Turks do seem to love their cats!] and there’d been others at different tables. Sitting on those old, let’s say somewhat ‘bougie’, leather sofas with the arguably (in Mel’s view,) fading skins. In my view: sofas that belong in some sort of World War politicians’ war bunker or underground drawing room or something.
Sasha and I broke our fasts with the snacks that had been there, for us, on offer. Kinder Buenos [nom nom! Delicious], and Sensations crisps, and Capri-Suns…
And afterwards, we went to the Tesco near CMC, and got ourselves those vegan Bombay veggie pasties; we had these, and some fruit pieces, in the CMC English library.
Last night, I’d fallen asleep listening to Qur’an again.
And, in the morning, I’d awoken to find that the SoundCloud playlist had taken me to a talk by Nouman Ali Khan, and then one by Omar Suleiman. Very beneficial talks, and certainly, in Al-Latīf’s Way, part of my Rizq (His Provision for me)!
In that gentle half-sleeping state, I’d awoken to these scholars speaking about such things as… love, and how much parents do for their children. Allah is More: He Does so much for us, and He Loves to be asked.
Shaykh Dr Omar Suleiman had spoken about miracles, for example about how his mother had been told, by doctors, that she could not have a child. But she’d laughed in the face of such a claim: she knew exactly Whom her Creator is. And then her son Omar was born: a healthy child.
I believe in ‘miracles’: I really, really, deeply, do. I, myself, and not in an ‘arrogant’ way, am a miracle. Hey! Look at my hands, yo! Wow. Subhaan Allah.
I could have been born a cactus. And yet, here I am. Here is me.
Gary. I spoke to a man who sells Big Issue magazines outside Sainsbury’s. People weren’t really buying magazines from him. He said something about how he wants to be forgiven by God. God is the Most Forgiving. Gary asked me if I had a copy of the Qur’an I could give him. Note to self: give Gary a copy of the (English translation of) the Qur’an.
Maybe this relates to when I’d been wondering why I am at the Cambridge Muslim College. And I’d happened across Dawn on Mill Road: Dawn, who works at the neighbouring Church. And she wasn’t quite sure on how to get back to the Church, and then we’d walked together. She had some questions about Islam, for example one on the nature of the Qur’anic Revelation. Interesting. AlHamduliLlah.
Sasha embraced Islam: this is major.
And, today (a day in May,) Shirley, Sasha and I had a good conversation. On the topic, essentially, of feeling bonded via our similarities. What unites us. To quote the late, beautiful, Jo Cox MP:
“We have more in common than that which divides us.”
I feel a little stressed out with how much I would like to write. And document things, and ‘make them immortal’, somehow. But my deeds, and the intentions underlying them, are what shall live on, In Shaa Allah. In Shaa Allah, In Shaa Allah. There is only Allah; only He remains. Everything else is, and will inevitably fall to, dust.
Friday 12th May 2023
I believe in miracles. I do, I really do. One benefit, AlHamduliLlah, of having kept a blog, and little written pieces about the unpredictable goings-on of this life of mine… Is that I can remember. At least a small number of the favours of my Lord, upon me.
Which of them do I ‘deny’?
I haven’t been feeling the best about things, for a part of today. And then: young adorable Inaaya at the masjid… delivered her baby brother Usman, for a number of precious, precious, precious moments, into my hands. AlHamduliLlah. What a perfect baby, Maa Shaa Allah, Allah hummabārik. A perfect little being, and so precious to hold.
And! When we’d been outside the Education Room, in the Atrium part of the masjid, waiting for the children’s parents to pick them up… young (six-year-old?) Musa stood up from his seat, with his class, to give me a hug! What a sweetheart Maa Shaa Allah. I get this kinda love, from certain very special individuals, for free! AlHamduliLlah!
Earlier in the day: James, who is in Year Three at the Cambridge Muslim College, had brought his five-year-old son Muhammad into the college. Young Muhammad had been playing about, running, saying characteristically adorable things, (and eating biryani! He is half-Bengali!) bless him, Maa Shaa Allah.
And I: thought that he was his younger brother. Mustafa. I think I’ve done this at least once before: mistaken him for his brother. Then again: they are brothers. And James says that even he has done the same at times.
Today, the girls at the masjid wrote notes to me again. Inaaya and Afra this time, I think. I really, actually can’t understand why they would like me this much. But let me not allow ‘cynicism’ to butt in to this happy, AlHamduliLlah, story. You mind yo’ business, Cynicism. U loser.
I’ve been feeling some kind of way about certain things. At times: fairly ‘alone in the world’. AlHamduliLlah, I have friends. I feel a part of the ‘community’ here, although sometimes I don’t [is there something wrong with me?!]. Today, a girl at the masjid — the one whose father is a doctor, Maa Shaa Allah, and the one who reads a lot — told me something like how she ‘quite likes chatting to me’. We talked about books, and she also said that she doesn’t ‘quite know where to place my accent’. I think she is eight years old.
Anyway. Perhaps it is true that I don’t have an ‘accent’ that is always associated with… ‘mainstream’ ‘Britishness’. The girl said she’s bad with guessing these things, I think, but she guessed… Pakistan? She said something like how my accent sounds ‘in the middle’: from here, and from elsewhere.
I’ve grown up in East London. A lot of the people I’ve grown up among and know — though not all of them — have been Sylheti people. My friend Sasha said, upon being asked, that she can hear, at times, ‘the Bengali’, essentially, in my accent. And it is something I should be happy about: aspects of whom I am, if they are good, are not for me to attempt to ‘erase’. Accents are interesting, since they almost have this ‘fluid’ nature to them. People’s accents can be changed, at least slightly, through migrations. Through… watching a lot of American TV shows [a girl I knew, ethnically from Thailand, I think: had an ‘American accent’, which she attributes to… watching a lot of American TV shows]. And so on.
At times, I feel, I think: shy to speak forth, and be whom I am. Who even is me? My father owns a small business: a phone and computer shop on Commercial Road. I have grown up in and around Wapping, Shadwell, and Whitechapel. My personal policy is… that I do not have ‘friends who are guys’. I do not listen to music: I asked God for guidance on this matter. And did some personal research. And so, goodbye Shawn Mendes. Adieu.
Altogether, I have at least some kind of idea as to the sort of ‘typing’, the ‘box’ that some may place me in, as a result of such considerations. What am I? Somewhat ‘ghettoised’? Having lived ‘in a bubble’ for much of my life? Naïve, in that sense? Do I require a better ‘education’? More ‘refinement’? [I accept the notion of religious refinement, of course: purification. But: whom, and what am I trying to ‘grow’ towards being more like? What are my values, and which ideals do I value?]
Do I speak in defence when people say or suggest uncomfortable things? Or what if it’s just ‘in my head’? Where do I go? What do I do? What do I hold onto?
Well, of course: I hold onto…
What would the Prophet -S- do?
What is the best thing to do? What will God love me for?
I hope it is only true when I say that I am ‘afraid’ of no man, or woman. Or situation or anything. My Lord made me; to Him do we belong, and return. And the cleaner of a masjid, which is what my grandfather would do, may well be far more beloved to Allah than any ‘professional’ with a dazzling car (though that’s cool too! Maa Shaa Allah ) anywhere.
Recently, my dad asked me to make a CV for myself. A ‘marriage CV’. [The phone conversation went something like: me assuming, for some reason, that my dad meant a ‘work CV’. For himself. I got quite excited, and was super happy to do it!
Then he said… he meant, for me.
So I asked: like… work CV… or marriage CV?
He said: let’s say… marriage CV. And I am happy to do it. I asked God for guidance: for which means I should take. Perhaps this is it.]
If someone is to ask for my hand, In Shaa Allah, then I am glad: it will perhaps not be ‘because of whom my parents are known to be’, ‘in terms of ‘social status”, by ‘standing’ or ‘reputation’, nor due to how much money we have. It won’t be based on loftiness of ‘class background’; we are certainly from Sylhet. ‘Dhaka’ is not what I aspire to, personally. It will not be due to the fairness of my mere skin.
In any case, I don’t think I care much for… whether or not someone likes classical poetry or eating lobster or not, and so on. In any case, many of these things are only ‘accidental’, incidental. [In the Muslim’s mind, we understand that they are of the Divine Wisdom of Allah Alone]. Whom yer parents are; where you have grown up, and around whom. Certainly interesting things, and they are Intentional and thus Meaningful.
Yet the Means are not the Ends.
I believe that we can really be friends with virtually anyone. We already have a lot in common, even if it does not seem like it. What friendship necessitates is mutual respect, and one not considering themselves to be ‘superior’ above the other. Note to self: go and be where you are loved, truly. Sometimes, that may well only be… with Allah. In prayer, and with the Qur’an.
What God is looking for and at: is our actions. What we do in each given situation. And: the states of our hearts.
[Today: I may have some Tesco pastries for breakfast. Not the best choice, and Amina’s healthful eating has certainly been a source of inspiration for me. Still: not the worst choice either. I also have a bunch o’ admin to do, In Shaa Allah, as well as callings to my One Lord, to make.
At 13:30, God-Willing, I may be doing el archery over at the College. And I might tutor today. Thank God for goodnesses, and for opportunities, which are good. After life’s necessary troughs and dips and dull darknesses. I… am also anaemic; it makes me tired, and Sasha has kindly gifted me a pouch of Spatone iron water. Which I should have. Before I faint or something. Again.
I’m not sure about everything at the moment. But Allah Knows, and what best I ought to do is: pray and observe patience. A beautiful patience: Sabrun Jameel. I believe that not having something, for example, love, in any given space or place or time: renders us that much more understanding and grateful when we are with it. Surrounded by it. When our very hearts are enraptured by it. AlHamduliLlah.
Peace out! As-Salaamu ʿalaikum, amigos!]