بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Personally: if I do not write… I wonder… would I just end up losing my mind? Would it lose its lid, with all the pressure, all the words and thoughts and feelings left unsaid, unwritten, un-solidified into inky, or typed and uploaded, truths?
People have marks on their bodies, which show what they do love. Some people have prayer marks on their faces, and perhaps on their knees, from making Sajdah to Allah for so long.
Some have bended spines, and strained eyes, from either reading so much, or looking at their phones so much. Or, perhaps both: phones and books do coexist in this age, this fascinating point in time.
Lovers have marks on their bodies. Footballers get injured… [My brother, at age 10, has already been injured, probably a decent number of times… as a result of the beautiful game.] and they don’t mind. It’s ‘worth it’; the mark of a lover. They take their art, their sport, their discipline… seriously.
Mothers have bags beneath their eyes, from where they did not sleep. And children might have grazes on their knees, from where they’d fallen on their bicycles. But this is how you learn.
In any case: what we love… makes an imprint on us. We may: walk for ages, to get there. Blisters and aches: but we love.
And it may be difficult to wake up and do things — execute, deliver, all that needs to be done. Yet: love. It makes itself known, an imprint, on our day-to-day. Our timetables, our schedules. What is a day, without its necessary prayers?
What is love, from a baby, if he does not accidentally scratch your face? And from a cat, too.
My skin is soft and ‘bruised’ on the part of my hand where my pen sits. My pen: God has blessed me with the love of the pen. I love to write, AlHamduliLlah. It brings life to my spirit. Practically daily, I find ink marks all over my palms. I can type without looking at the keyboard, AlHamduliLlah. And people have remarked that it sounds like I am ‘angry’ at the keyboard or something. But that’s love for you: that is passion. It is furious, in a soft, and love-filled, kind of way.
A’iyshah has accidentally burnt herself from baking/cooking “more than five, less than ten” times. [She is so cute, Maa Shaa Allah, and May Allah Bless her.] “More so from big cake orders”. When she has had to bake multiple layers at a time.
It is not that love is never painful. But it’s a nice kind of discomfort: a mark, a proof, that you have loved. I hope the Pen loves me right back.
He makes me feel real. I love this: that sometimes in this world, you can feel far away from such things as… feeling real. And/or ‘properly human’. Or: solid. And: known, and know-able. And then I am with my Pen, and most human things, to me, make sense again. I am real.
I am most real when my forehead touches the ground. Dear friend, that is a love story. It is worth losing sleep for. I touch Paradise when I pray; when I write; when I am in the company of Loved ones. And children: how precious children are, Maa Shaa Allah.
And the mark of one who loves to sew may be: some of its related injuries. They may know best: to wear a thimble on the thumb. The mark of one who loves archery: a special sort of tape, wrapping the thumb. I did do archery yesterday. I made myself go, AlHamduliLlah, and found A’iyshah, Nidaa, and Farah (whose company I am really fond of, AlHamduliLlah!) there.
Sidi [that’s, let’s say, a Turkish-style form of honorary address. Like saying ‘Sir’ or ‘Mister’, in a way,] Jehad is the archery instructor. He taught us some things. Like about the fact that our Beloved Prophet -S-… used to name things. Camel, archer’s bow, sword, donkey. Names.
And a green archer’s bow was meant to be mine, yesterday. I named him – when the moment of inspiration came -… Kareem. He has this gentle deep green colour about him. ‘Kareem’ means: honourable, noble, generous.
Meanwhile, the sturdy black umbrella of mine, [the story of that umbrella: it was raining a lot, here in Cambridge. I needed to walk to Inayah’s house, for tutoring. I stopped at Sainsbury’s, and found this large and sturdy umbrella. Original price: £10. Discounted, as it so happened, to £3, despite having no defects!] I have named this umbrella… [the word/name ‘Ayyoub’ came to mind, and then I thought…] Salah-ud-deen Ayyubi.
I’d accidentally left ‘him’ behind last time, here at the CMC sisters’ accommodation, along with my (protective, blue-light-blocking) screen glasses. The screen glasses were returned to me, AlHamduliLlah, while the large umbrella stayed. Bless: the sisters here have been using it, so that is good. I think it had been Farah who had walked to the masjid with him the other day, so he has been serving a noble purpose, AlHamduliLlah.
From knowing men, I know a thing or two about injuries that can occur as a result of… football. My aunt, also, had once injured herself… skateboarding down a mountain (with trained instructors,) in an ‘Abaya, no less.
My other aunt – my father’s first cousin – has injured herself skateboarding, also. The worst of my own injuries, in this life of mine: has been… when I fell off that large see-saw and really bumped my head. And when I’d twisted my ankle, playing football. Cut myself, cutting fruit.
My cousin once poked me in the eye, with either a Power Rangers or Harry Potter sword, way back when. I think I fell down the stairs trying to climb down them like Spider-Man.
Fairly more recently, a few years ago: I decided to sit inside a cot. Yes, a baby’s cot. And injured myself on the way out. What an injury. I suppose some injuries are borne more of love: nobler injuries. And some: from… subtle stupidity?
Ah, but to love to play is not stupidity, surely? And maybe, in a way, all love is a little bit ‘stupid’, except the one where our foreheads are in Submission to the One and Only Creator.
Love can burn, and sting, and hurt. Still: scars are cool!
*Saffiyya from CMC fell off a horse, and that is what earned her this terrible injury she has. A bruised bone!
Perhaps the worst of love’s marks, which I feel I have borne: are the ones that cannot always be seen immediately. When it is the heart that is bleeding, ‘most everywhere, and less so the hands, or any other visible skin-sealed thing.
And when you have tried to love, and when a noble and necessary thing did not love you back. Did they… not know how to? Did you do something wrong so as to have ‘un-earned’ it, in such a cold and unforeseeable way? Had it ever, then, really been there?
I cannot do, I don’t think: without feeling loved in return.
Muhammad -S- had been a sensitive child, according to what I have learned, from at least two sources. He had lost both his father and his mother by around the age of six. Six years old. That is adorable Ayaat from the masjid’s age right now, as far as I know. And what a precious little child, Maa Shaa Allah. He deserves so much, of love.
Where did he -S- ‘find himself’? He -S- had those family members of his.
He -S- had been a shepherd, with such noble, honourable character, Maa Shaa Allah. He -S- did find an especially nourishing, God-Gifted, love in the arms of Khadijah -RA-.
He -S- did like to go to the cave, ‘alone’, in the mountain, to reflect on things. To think. To be ‘alone’.
He -S- loved prayer. And: women – his wives – and perfume. He -S- loved these things. The mark of one who loves prayer is light. The mark of one who loves his/her spouse[s] is love. The mark of one who loves perfume is… a nice smell that clings to you, perhaps. Like when you waltz, walking, into Lush, and come out smelling wonderful!
What is the mark of someone who loves… money? You’ll likely see it, in his day-to-day. What he gives priority to, and so forth.
What is the mark of someone who smiles? Lines, maybe. And a muscle memory: for them, smiling is ‘effortless’.
And for someone who paints: paint marks on their clothes, probably.
Someone who gardens, and takes care of plants: maybe a ‘green thumb’ is not always so ‘visible’. But when they begin to talk about what they love. Love leads you to truly get to know, or at least want to know, something. Or someone.
I should not underestimate how special this is, AlHamduliLlah: that often, and even when I feel ’empty’ or ‘less-than’ or comparatively… un-… anything. Give me a pen, and a notebook or a stack of papers. And I am a woman in love. I feel like I could go on forever.
And the mark of me, who loves my baby brother, and hanging out with and taking care of kids: is probably that I talk like a kid. I’m 22. And I probably have a kiddish sense of humour too! I bought a Kids’ Meal from Pepe’s the other day. First of all: overpriced. Over £7! And second of all: the toy had been less-than-optimally-satisfying. But I love the idea of receiving such surprises!
[‘Grow up?!’ And favour… black-and-white things, instead of houseware adorned with strawberries? No, thank you, ma’am. No, thank you.]
There is a shop in Cambridge called Miniso. And my, oh my, am I in love. ‘Kiddie’ space-themed cups and so on?! At decent, reasonable prices? Count me in.
I think, in a world that seems to prize ‘branding’ things, and defining ourselves in terms of what we ‘can do’ and our ‘koala-fications’:
Perhaps, really, it is less than a reified ‘list’ of things. And maybe, at least sometimes, it is okay to just love things… ‘effortlessly’. To love the art, the discipline, of archery without… being, or ‘aspiring’ to be, an archer in the Olympics. And so on. It is good, and noble, enough: to love.
Though love/passion plus structure, (e.g. archery every Saturday. e.g. a love for studying Islam, plus an actual course of study, and given assignments and exams…) why that is a recipe for a win, win, win.
The fences and the flowers: each strengthening and beautifying the other, eh?
Really, I’m writing on here since I’ve left my (thick, blue) journal ‘at home’: ‘Cambridge home’. Which has been a blessing, AlHamduliLlah. I also feel as though… it has run its course. I hope to have a new place to live in, for the next, coming, academic year.
First Year has been tough. Perhaps, on the human level, I, and my beloved friend who is also currently my housemate, know this best. It’s been a time of growth and new learning, certainly, AlHamduliLlah. Of wonderful moments, and of much hope. I have loved the idea that I could learn, for example, about Islamic Law, and History, and about the Qur’an, in such an impeccably structured way. AlHamduliLlah.
Yet: reality. I’ve also been sick, and quietly afraid at times. I’ve felt ‘lost’, at times not quite knowing what to do. But some people experience, say, a couple of ‘difficult’ years. Before, maybe, one or two breakthrough, and relatively smoother, ones. And We learn to place our trust in God Alone.
To me, some memorable moments from fairly ‘recently’ this year have included:
- Hearing Br Asif’s wife say that she reads the newsletter, which I send out every week. Br Asif is in my class at CMC. It is nice to know that what I’ve been producing has maybe helped to keep families in touch with what we are doing.
- Saisha and/or Tariq (the Comms team) said that lots of people read it, and have good things to say about it, AlHamduliLlah. Mina said she likes my “voice” in it. Maybe it’s okay that sometimes, I ‘speak less’, verbally. Sometimes: my Pen can do the talking. Qalamee, in ‘Arabee.
- The tea I made Javeria the other day… she really complimented it! She said something like, ordinarily, she really only enjoys her own tea. But that she really liked the one I made her! Made with two tea bags, and with love, I hope! I have loved when my dad has complimented the tea I have made too!
- Fairly recently, I had an ‘exhausted’ day. I took some time to myself, and I am glad: the next day, I felt… energised, AlHamduliLlah. And, after one relatively ‘difficult’ day… the very next day, I felt more upbeat. And I’d discovered that the Social Sciences presentation that I thought I’d flopped with a capital F… I’d actually received the highest grade I’ve ever received at CMC thus far, for it! A 78. What???!!! I love positive surprises; when things are radically different to what you have fearfully ‘thought’. And the fact that I can be, and certainly have been, very wrong about these things, despite my personal ‘convictions’. God Knows better!
- That day, also, someone from CMC gifted me a book, since I, and another person in my class, volunteered to proofread a piece of work for him. A whole book! A brand new one: Road to Mecca. Some people love to smell new books. Not I, personally, but still. [Smells I do, however, find I so love: the smell of burning wood. And of coffee! And of the stony, cobbled Earth, after rain! There’s a name for this gleeful smell: it’s called petrichor.]
- A few days later, I think: another not-great-feeling start to a day. I don’t know: like, exhausted, numb-ish, don’t-know-what-to-do-mate. And I’d exerted myself, AlHamduliLlah, to go to that event for which Jade and I had tickets. I took the bus; I went. Hearing the talk was very beneficial, AlHamduliLlah. And then Jade bought a big pouch of sweeties for me: #energy boost.
- We prayed upstairs. And: which of the favours of my One Lord do I ‘deny’? Jadey has invited me to go, after her wedding earlier this year, Maa Shaa Allah: to Yorkshire (in like, July?) to attend her Civil Ceremony!!!!!!!!!!! In Shaa Allah! I am planning to take the train. I LOVE TRAINS, and being a (*pretentious hat on*) writer on them. I love the idea of travelling around beautiful parts of the country, having a wee adventure. AlHamduliLlah. Yet: I am currently planning not to stay there, in Yorkshire, overnight, since, from my current understanding… women should not travel for a day and a night or more, without a Mahram with her. [If I want to stay there in Yorkshire: whom would I take? My dad? My uncle? My brother is 10 years old at the moment… Or I could get married before then. Life is surprising. AlHamduliLlah]
- After that, we decided to eat something together, Jade and I. The queue for the food counter at the event was quite lengthy, and so it had been between a classic East London chicken-and-chips [Jadey is basically an East Londoner at this point. The Yorkshire girl has been nativised here, successfully!] or… Momos, Nepalese-style dumplings. We could not make a decision, and so I made the mini Istikhārah Du’a, I think: asking God to choose whichever of the options is good, and better. We went to Momos. Our conversation was interesting, and necessary, and meaningful. Just like my (‘unexpected’) conversation with Isma yesterday, AlHamduliLlah.
- At times, I have found myself (unreasonably! Un-reasonably, young lady!) worrying about my ‘future’, about being ‘likeable’ enough, about my own… marital prospects. My tutee Inayah is so sweet: she really wants to attend my ‘future wedding’, In Shaa Allah. She said she thinks I’d make for a ‘really beautiful’ bride! And she, Sasha, and some of the young girl students at the masjid… have said that they would personally not let anybody hurt me!!!! How sweet!!!! So now… I have something of an army of people whom I love, and who love me, Maa Shaa Allah! Anyway. At that café, I had a chicken pastry and a karak chai, while Jadey had dumplings and chai. When we were getting up to leave, the barista (to whom I’d only said a few words, like asking for a spoon, since there were no more wooden stirrers left,) handed me a brown bag with cake/pastries in it. He was speaking to me, not to Jade, even though we’d been standing next to one another (which can actually be a little offensive. Like… if there are two people there then…………… maybe……..) and made me promise that I would go back to the café. So now he has my word. Jade remarked that maybe this is it: maybe I meet my future husband in a café like that. Although he was nice, however, and I do enjoy gifts in the form of edible treats… I had not been romantically attracted to him. A super sweet gesture, however. I gave Jadey a pastel de nata to take home, and then the other two things in the bag ended up going to a person who had been asking for money on the train. God favours us by presenting us with good opportunities, AlHamduliLlah, and why have a surplus of food, when others around you have a lack. And then I went to a local shop to get a hygiene product. Some might call it hygiene ‘issues’, but yes, I care about hygiene.
- My little brother remarked that the barista had just been giving me expiring things to take home. Fair. Cynicism. I suppose my mind goes there too. Yet, equally, I know that Jade’s right: it did seem like a fairly deliberate gesture.
- At 03:27 AM the next (morning), my cousin Maryam had surprised me by informing me that when they’d gone to the Netherlands, she, and my little cousin Isa, and my little brother Saif, had picked out a postcard for me! She sent me a picture of it, and it made my day! AlHamduliLlah! I used to collect postcards, and write messages to ‘my future self’ on them. I love the idea: of going to places, maybe via train. And finding nice cafés, and pondering over certain things at them, with the right person/people. And finding souvenir shops and museums [the souvenir shop is the main event at museums, for me, personally!] I suppose I do still collect postcards. But, alas: where to put them?!
- Sana Khan, whose talk Jadey and I had attended: ‘liked’ a comment of mine on el Instagram. So that was cool, I guess.
- My dad made me breakfast. So sweet! AlHamduliLlah. Two crumpets, with butter and organic honey. He also: gave me £30 before I left. A direct answer to one of my Tahajjud Du’as the previous early morning: I used some of this money to purchase my train tickets at the station. The life of a ‘Student of Knowledge’ scarcely did run ‘cheap’, it seems.
What else, what else? Which else are the blessings of my Lord, which I ought not ever ‘deny’? Maybe: when Dr Ramon commented that my contributions to the class discussion had been “excellent” that time. Maybe I have missed academic validation [!!!]. Maybe I have missed… myself, and want to truly flourish, In Shaa Allah, as myself. But I know that I need… love, secure, stable and unwavering, in order to do so. Like how a tulip requires the right kind of soil, you see. I am looking forward to seeing whom I truly am, in true love, In Shaa Allah.
Maybe all I need are some pointers in the right directions, from Allah, the Most Subtle, All-Aware, Most Kind. And the right person whose hand to hold along the way, and the right people.
Next month, In Shaa Allah, I may also… (what??!!! I’m shy. And worried, I guess, that I am not ‘good enough’,) be chairing a discussion with a poet, at a Muslim Literary event over in Manchester. May God bless that journey, in any case. Aspects of this life haven’t always ‘felt’ ‘the best’, and, yet…
Allah Provides for you, from whence you could scarcely ever expect. Yesterday, Shirley, one of my housemates, had, like 50 things from Tesco at home. She’s volunteering with ‘Olio’: saving food waste, and then people came to the door of the house, to collect some of those items. From this Provision, I ended up having two chocolate croissants, and a chocolate twist, for breakfast yesterday.
Later in the day, I made the ‘marriage CV’ my dad had requested. But, for some, perhaps Divinely-Planned, reason: I struggled with actually sending it over to my dad. I also made and sent out this week’s CMC Weekly Bulletin (the newsletter).
I had a needed conversation with Isma, AlHamduliLlah: a beautiful soul, she. Don’t worry about ‘not being ‘enough”, or about ‘being too much’. Don’t fundamentally alter your principles, if they are in the way of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. Allah, the Bestower of… unexpected free pastries! And a surprise postcard!!!! On you… will not let you down, ma’am. He Will not.
In any case: it’s interesting. To Iqra, for example, I come across as a ‘reticent’ person, she’d mentioned. Yet, to Sasha: I really am not. Different eyes and hearts perceive different things; different people will necessarily ‘know’ you differently! Whom will you take, as your close friend[s]?
A’iyshah invited me over to the CMC sisters’ accommodation, Perne. She is so, so, so hospitable as a host and friend, Maa Shaa Allah. She served me homemade kebabs with paratha and carrots, and I enjoyed her company! AlHamduliLlah! She is so pure, Maa Shaa Allah, and so effortlessly hilarious at times. One of the other sisters gave out fruit tarts, and then A’iysh made us tea, too.
Some things change; some things stay, essentially, ‘the same’. I quite like archery. Yes, I’ve quite liked such characters as… Susan from Narnia. The princess Archer.
[I know I need a lot of help in life. Structure, and stability, and older, wiser, more senior, people to learn from. How to be a Muslim, in the best way. How to flourish, In Shaa Allah, as me. How to be a woman; wife and mother, God-Willing. How to, how to, how to. And love and support, crucially. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” [Proverbs, (27:17)]. I suppose a real fear of mine has been: but do I have anything at all, to offer? Anything of substance? Do I have any ‘solidity’, any ‘identity’ of value, about me, to give from? Am I, by contrast, only ‘weak’, (and to what extent may I blame illness? How best ought I, to have hope?) and unconscientious, and so on? I hope, like fears of mine have certainly been unfounded in the past: that this is yet another unfounded worry, too.
I hope I can ‘pay it back’, in a good, not ‘transactional’, way, too. Like, to A’iyshah. And Sasha. I would like to know whom I am when I am better than I have been this year, In Shaa Allah. And I want to significantly partake in the nurture and raising of my little brother. A decade old, and always my baby brother, adorable little love of my life, to me.
Oh! And Donatello the turtle. What is his fate, God-Willing? Currently, he just swims around in that confined tank, really, at my nan’s. Could I partake in giving him a better life, and better ‘soil’?
On that note: my plant Max requires a bigger pot, now. Things need a. care and attention. Or they die. And b. money.]
I stayed over here, at Perne, last night. I did some ‘soul-searching’. Worried that I’d ‘wasted time’. I talked to Allah, in the hour before Fajr, AlHamduliLlah. And things have led me here. With difficulty, there is ease. And so: what, from the Wisdom of God Alone, is next?