بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
What bonds people, truly? A Shared-ness of identity, and of interests, things in common?
At the Cambridge Muslim College, in our single (relatively small. Nine people, I think,) class: we have a person from America. Someone from Manchester. Someone who’s ethnically Palestinian, grew up in Saudi. We have me, who am from East London.
We have a sister of three; a sister of one. We have a sister who is a mother of two: she’s worked in HR/Finance, and has lived in America also, for a given while. And one who is Pakistani, and whose wife, I think, is perhaps Malaysian. And he has two daughters, and one of them, the elder sister, reminds me quite of myself, when I was younger. Nawal is her name, Maa Shaa Allah.
We’ve got people whose parents have PhDs; we’ve got the son of a scholar. We’ve got at least one who has grown up in a rather ‘not-diverse’ part of England: Hertfordshire.
There is clear Design to all of this.
“O humanity! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may ˹get to˺ know one another. Surely the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware.“
— Qur’an, (49:13).
In our class of (I think,) nine: we have men, and we have women. Respectfully, in the same classroom. We have a qualified dentist, who is a naval officer, and she is from a relatively ‘fancy’ part of the country. We have people who have memorised the Noble Qur’an, Maa Shaa Allah, Tabaarak Allah.
And people whose faith, whose Islam, had been revived in whatever ways. Different Means(es) to the same End: God.
And we have the youngest member of the cohort, who is amazing at baking, Allah hummabārik. And I love how her family is so… connected, Maa Shaa Allah. She’s got the wisdom from her Daadu, her grandmother, and from her mother. And she’s learned a lot, Allah hummabārik.
And we’ve got a Linguistics Degree, and, I think, an International Relations one, in the room. We’ve got humour, for sure. And people who care about eating well, and about recycling, and about limiting plastic usage.
So: where do I fit into this?
I need to remember, actively, properly, that my Lord Chose for me to be there. Trust me, that is not for no reason. Now, I just need to trust Him.
For example: if I did not go through that ‘dark’ and difficult year, perhaps I wouldn’t have been called back to religion in that very way. And being at that workplace was significant, as was being at the bookshop, as was being on ‘Muslim Twitter’. I knew things; I barely knew very much at all, it seemed.
I needed that and that, to go there. And then that benefitted this life story of mine in X, Y, and Z ways. AlHamduliLlah. The wrong doors closed, closed, closed. While the right ones were made, from the Grace of my Lord, inevitable!
The way my Lord Taught me what I needed to know. How I’d been guided to, I don’t know: purchase that Arabic dictionary that day, from that bookshop. And the way my Lord Provided for me the means for it.
I technically failed the entrance (Arabic language) test for the Cambridge Muslim College the first time [sleep deprivation. It’s not fun]. It’s all been significant. Every moment: Divinely-Crafted.
Every ‘failure’: a win! And so on.
I, and everyone in my class, am from the same first human beings.
Ādam and his wife, Hawā.
And we were made ‘different’ so that we could get to know each other! Points of interest; talking (‘discursive’) points, and so on. Things to learn. Things to be fascinated by.
In that class, we are bonded by being Muslim. And by sharing the quality of caring about, being curious with regard to, thinking. The differences between us are cool too; we’re each different, and there is beauty in diversity.
With regard to righteousness: what is righteousness?
“Righteousness is not in turning your faces towards the east or the west.
Rather, the righteous are those who believe in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Books, and the prophets; who give charity out of their cherished wealth to relatives, orphans, the poor, ˹needy˺ travellers, beggars, and for freeing captives; who establish prayer, pay alms-tax, and keep the pledges they make; and who are patient in times of suffering, adversity, and in ˹the heat of˺ battle. It is they who are true ˹in faith˺, and it is they who are mindful ˹of Allah˺.”
— Qur’an, (2:177).
I know, with God, that I’m going to be okay.
From what I currently understand, people at CMC associate me with being ‘literary’, and I love that! AlHamduliLlah! And with being ‘soft-hearted’, according to one. [i.e. ‘Too soft-hearted’ to ‘interrogate’ a potential new Principal (Chief Executive) for our College as part of a requested student body of interviewers, apparently.]
Is what I am doing… meaningful?
Well, I have loved, for example: that Qur’an assignment. And the topic of my History one. And learning more about Fiqh (Islamic Law), and the sheer potentiality of what we are going to learn, In Shaa Allah.
Islamic Law, Theology, Social Sciences,
History, Hadith, Qur’an, Arabic, Logic.
Development, and other spiritually-centred classes.
May Second Year be, for us, considerably better than First Year. Āmeen.
Why are you in the exact place you are in? And century, and all the rest of it?
Allah’s Command brought you right here, to here. With everything you have, and are.
And Allah is our ‘Why’.
Today, I saw a procession — not an especially ‘Muslim-seeming’ one — of black cars, a funeral procession, along those parts of road that separate, really, the sort of masjid (Cambridge Central Mosque) area, and the tree-covered bike-pathway area, which leads us to our house.
That is where you end up, my friend. Make it a good one. Your deeds, and the state of your heart, are what remain. Everything else:
Divided, repossessed. I saw men in buttoned-up suits, neat and ironed and spotless. And a lady in, I think, the last of the black cars in the line: applying her mascara. We all have to go one day.
‘to define is to limit’. Oscar Wilde.
The word ‘incipient’, as I’ve learned today: means ‘beginning to happen or develop/in an early stage of existence’. Developing. Alternatively: nascent.
I also learned what an ‘Ebionite’ ‘Christian’ is: see its Wikipedia page here.
‘Indigence’ refers to a state of being very poor. We can also speak of ‘moral indigence’.
I believe in the power of love; of positive, empowering interactions. In reinforcing each other, to paraphrase something from Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad’s Development talk today. In complimenting one another; in speaking beauty when we see it in other people.
I think that beauty is something that is arresting. It’s disempowering. It captures you, and sometimes makes you stop right in your tracks. It’s also: empowering. It gives life to the spirit. It enlivens, and these are not ‘paradoxes’. Beauty is beyond us: we can only but stop in awe. And sometimes a bit of terror.
I think that I must learn, better, to see things for what they truly, truly are. And all things, actually, are from God. All good is from God; we will also be tested by Him.
Whom shall we prove ourselves to be, in each moment? Collectively, my friends, that is a life. [Now, who’s going to be applying mascara in the car on my funeral day? I wonder.]
I don’t know what to feel but… Sasha let me have her chocolate cake. The manager at the masjid, Genc, is leaving. So they had a leaving dinner for him today. Shahana, a local who often volunteers at the masjid, made four cakes for the event!
Allah is the Lovingkind.
He Provides what you couldn’t have foreseen or expected, from whence you couldn’t foresee, or have expected. It’s amazing,
And before I retire for the evening:
Some words of hope. Do not forget God’s Favours upon you. He Taught you and He Loves you, and He Guides you. Always. He is Beyond you.
Today: I read some of my current book-read. And made it on time for Qur’an, AlHamduliLlah. And then lunch. And hanging out with my baby girl, my little sister, my good friend A’iyshah, partially outside. And then double Arabic: my head struggles to compute. It’s a complex discipline, Maa Shaa Allah.
And then an hour-long Development lecture. And then, promptly, my walk back. To: Inayah, to tutor her. She’s got her Paper 1 English Lit [English Lit: it’s lit] exam tomorrow, In Shaa Allah. Jekyll and Hyde, and Macbeth.
I pray and hope she does really well in it, from the Grace of God Alone.
This girl is a brightness in my life, AlHamduliLlah. And a gift.
[Love. Most ‘effortlessly’. Beautifully. You don’t even need to ‘try‘: it just happens, it is just there, to and for you.]
Would I be happy, all things considered, if I were to die tomorrow?
Today, ‘trudging’ to College… there had been an opportunity or two for Khayr – goodness – presented to me. And so: things, even when they feel ‘bad’, are certainly not ‘all bad’.
I love post-it-notes. And tea, sometimes. And my boots. From Sainsbury’s. Which I’d bought in a ‘spot of difficulty’, when I’d worn trainers with a Selwar Kameez, travelling into London. And I love those boots; they were made… for… walkin’.
And old-ish charity bookshops. I like it. Maa Shaa Allah.
Here is a photo that beautiful A’iyshah took today, Maa Shaa Allah, Tabaarak Allah:
And I asked my Islamic Law teacher, Shaykh Salman, if he has any advice for ‘the struggling student’. He said:
scrutinise your intention[s].
And: sparks. Learning, educational journeys, naturally have their dips, and their moments of spark. Look out for the spark.
Where is this spark?! I hope: right around the corner, In Shaa Allah.
Resurgence: an increase or revival after a period of little activity, popularity, or occurrence.
Wednesday 17th May 2023.
When you ‘give something up’ for the sake of Allah, He Rewards you with better. I know that this is true: I have seen it in my own life, I have. [Like the chocolate cake from Sasha yesterday… Bro. Chocolate cake <3].
This morning, the microwave had a cleaning issue, which required tending to. Previously, I’ve wrongly attributed ‘responsibility’ to myself for a minor ‘house issue’: I thought it had been me who had left a bucket upstairs for ages. In any case: these things can be opportunities to obtain Ajr: reward from Allah. I used the disinfectant spray to clean the microwave. It may have been my fault; it may not have been.
And today, In Shaa Allah, I will buy some more washing-up liquid for the house. Today, this morning, I saw Shirley, and she went to mow the grass. ‘Mow the lawn’, as our friends the Americans may say.
I took a cab to the College today. If I didn’t, I may well have been late. And ‘late’ is not something that I want to be. I realise that teachers should be shown a great deal of respect. Including respect for their time. Shaykh Sulayman leaves his house early, to make it here on time.
AlHamduliLlah, I made it in on time. I made myself a cuppa, had some baklava that someone had very kindly left: that had been breakfast, for me. And things felt decent, AlHamduliLlah: things felt good. In Hadith class, I felt alert. Attuned, and a part of things.
Really, sometimes what it can take for the ‘spark‘ to be there, and to be maintained:
Is to really feel like you are a part of things; to feel loved, and like your place, in a given field and so on, matters.
I love my religion, and thus the disciplines that preserve, protect and are foundational to it: matter very much, to me. I love the English language too, AlHamduliLlah. I love English!
And I have also realised that:
When I have loved and – been – loved, which is something I need, for example to want to do well in a subject… I think this is when I thrive! In Shaa Allah. I do love these disciplines. And I need to have and nurture better bonds – in goodness – with teachers. God-Willing: In Shaa Allah.
What is agency?
It refers to the amount of ‘power’, control or ability that you have, in your own life, over your own life. Your own thoughts, your behaviour, and your ability to handle different things you do, and/or need to do.
AlHamduliLlah, I have agency. This is a blessing, from God. I’m not ‘forced’ to, for example, work for the majority of my days. I truly am doing something that has been Meant for me all along; something I love. In a place I love. In the Islam that I love, and with people whom I love.
A’iyshah’s favourite flowers are tulips, and she is adorable; I love her, Maa Shaa Allah. Yesterday, she started peeling a price sticker off of a dictionary from the library. Because her ‘compulsive thoughts’ ‘got the better of her’ or something. She’s actually so pure, bright, and at times, so funny, Maa Shaa Allah.
I’d say my favourite flowers are… Hmm. Sunflowers are classically beautiful in my eyes, and… I don’t know. But all flowers are beautiful. And tulips have felt important – significant – this season. Maa Shaa Allah.
I have a g e n c y. Subhaan Allah.
It’s so strange, in a good way. Why, it’s completely remarkable. To have…
What a gift; what a blessing. AlHamduliLlah.
And: what a fundamentally life-enriching thing to remember, and understanding, acknowledgement, to gratefully operate on. Revolutionary.
Fiqh and Hadīth:
The ‘why’ of things is so crucial. Fundamental.
With the help of? Allah.
From/of the Wisdom of? Allah.
Pssssst. You’ll be [more than] okay.
I’d like to know more, In Shaa Allah. More deeply and widely, rather than exclusively, primarily relying on others to ‘tell me’ what is meant… And so on.
Which Ahadith (sayings, actions, affirmations, attributed to the Prophet -S-) are most trustworthy?
What are the actual rules of… Salah? How do we preserve and protect this sacred doing, in the best way possible?
How, best, should we live, here in this world?
Today, at the Cambridge Muslim College: we had raspberry-flavoured Mini Rolls.
One thing we are united in: a shared understanding that Mini Rolls are delicious, Maa Shaa Allah. Although: A’iyshah says Razz-brees. Mancunian-style.
And while I say: raaaaspb-erries. London-style.
Lunch had been: meat-and-okra curry, rice, salad, and spring rolls. I hadn’t been planning to eat lunch in the refectory (lunch room) today, however Iqra told me that A’iyshah had been ‘by herself’, and wanted for me to go and eat with her. So I did. And she sweetly made space for me, as she tends to do. Genuine, beautiful, kindness is one of A’iysh’s essential qualities, Maa Shaa Allah, Allah hummabārik.
And she’s a real Northerner, she, Maa Shaa Allah: openly kind, and able to converse with people.
[Meanwhile, I: get shy at times. Like when we’d seen little Sulayman at the College. When there are lots of people there: for me, it becomes a little stressful to process. For me, in the necessary realm of socialising, typically: less is more! Feels more… manageable; I have more… agency?]
And things make more… ‘sense’; relatively fewer means, I hope, that I am able to direct more of my energy, attention, and authentic love… to whomever is there.
Awwww, little Sulayman’s smile. May God bless him!
[Young Sulayman’s Ascribed ‘place in the world’, Maa Shaa Allah: both of his parents are scholars. His mother speaks to him in Arabic. His father is American, I think; his mother, Egyptian. He’s been to Turkey, he’s been to Saudi. He’s lived here in the UK for a while, and I think he may be moving to Egypt soon! In Shaa Allah.]
Laughter and Scorn.
Who deserves your… attention? Your ‘love’? Your interest and your respect?
People often behave with regard to titles. As in: if a man of wealth, and of high ‘social stature’, walks in… His coat may be taken, and people want for him to be truly comfortable, to approve of them, and so on.
What makes him ‘better’ than, say, a waiter without the same senior position?
His ‘hard work’, which got him there? Is it…
What he can give you?
A true, true, true test of character: is how one treats one who cannot ‘do’ anything for them, in Dunya terms. Someone who even… has grown out of a classically child’s cuteness, so cannot give you the pleasure of ‘adorableness’. Who: who
‘deserves’ your… ‘contempt’? Your treating them like they are… unimportant? Insignificant?
‘Not worth’ listening to, or even pausing for long enough so as to look them in the eyes?
Interest. Respect. Attention. Kindness.
[It’s a fine line, in actual fact. What seemingly ‘divides’ the highly-groomed, suited-and-booted, nice-car-driving ‘CEO of…’ or ‘Head of…’ ‘at…’. And: the couple who sleep outside, under any shelter they have found. Eating from whatever they can; surviving and ‘making do’, in whichever ways they well can.]
Patience. Our ‘best behaviour’. The Islamic argument is that: certainly, it is not ‘just’ Shaykhs, and doctors, and CEOs, and the children of such societally-high-status individuals, who deserve the best treatment. For us:
The ones who cannot ‘give’ us anything in terms of this fleeting and illusory Dunya: the orphans. The beggars. The poor, the indigent.
The widows. The cleaners.
The everybody. What is their status, in the Eyes of God? Are they really so ‘small’.
Treat them with such honour.
Human ‘power’. ‘Loftiness’ of status, of titles. ‘Ascendancies’ of ‘class’. They all fade, all temporary and of ‘face value’. And they all… fall to dust.
What we have done with our lives: our deeds, even an atom’s weight of good, even an atom’s weight of evil. This will remain. Eternally.
When you ask a question, you are… seeking something.
You want… to know.
It’s indicative of love, to have questions. To wish to know more. A healthy form and amount of curiosity is lovely.
And when we initiate conversations with other (‘other’) people:
There is at least one thing in common: humanity. And this is surely significant.
We share a meaning, a core, core centrality in common. Although: the forms, the skin colours, the heights, the whatever-else… may be, in these ways or in those (points of interest!), ‘different’.
Like: you work. They work.
They eat. You eat.
You sleep. They sleep.
You seek connection; they do too.
You love your children…
You seek out some pleasantness from life. Whether that means: eating lobster at a restaurant. Or eating curry chips by the canal.
Or: loving classical poetry. Or, yeah: some people like watching Eastenders.
At times, I think the world feels kinda cold. Kinda mean, even. Indifferent, and/or even abrasive.
And then we find our necessary retreats in: Qur’an, and nature, and good company. And remembering whom and how Muhammad -S- was. So beautiful; comforting.
Today, after Hadith, lunch, Tesco run [for Fairy liquid and for bakery goods], Fiqh, theology, library for a little bit, masjid, and the Education Room to teach the Madrasah girls…
I had a brief conversation with young Musa, who came up to me to hug me again, bless him. I actually, actually, don’t know why some of these kids… (like me so much. ????). Like Afra and Musa. But: what purity. What sustained beauty, and love, Maa Shaa Allah. AlHamduliLlah. Being truly loved is so effortless! It can be surprising, and also such a nice surprise! AlHamduliLlah.
[As is, I guess, being ‘disliked’. By all the wrong people, for you, your spirit.]
Any-whom. Musa told me about his Prime drink. I like that Prime makes little kids happy. Let them be happy. I know some adults bring their jaded rejecting cynicism into it: it’s ‘just a fad’ and so forth. Come on: we’ve all had our fads and phases, haven’t we?
Football cards, Go-Gos. Shambala bracelets. Fidget spinners. Let kids be kids; in a measured, healthy way… let them be happy! No?
Anyway, God bless Musa: he is so cute. And he was wearing a PlayStation coat.
Later, I spoke on the phone (FaceTime) with my own baby brother, who is ten years old, Maa Shaa Allah. Oh, I love him so.
And I walked here, to casa de Tasnim, my best friend. AlHamduliLlah. Since my world felt, for some small while today, kind of… cold. So I spoke to Musa for a while, and to my baby brother. And I migrated, like a bird or a penguin or something I suppose, towards where it is warm.
Here. [*location marker*].
I am as part of the ‘natural world’ as… a leaf is. Allah Created me; I just need to do the right thing, and remain, harmoniously, a part of the “cosmic symphony”, as my Qur’an teacher phrases it.
With the Qur’an in our hands, we’ve actually got the keys to the universe, in human terms, and to Jannah, in our hands.
We’ll be alright.
What a blessing it is, that my best friend is sat here beside me this evening. AlHamduliLlah. And: that I have Qur’an class tomorrow. And that we have things to do, and (in a healthy, realistic way,) look forward to.
When it comes to the spark I seek: with the Permission and Command of my Lord, it will come. I just need to do my part. [And] call upon my Rabb.
When it comes to my bonds with others: well, focus on what is the same and similar, and appreciate what is different. [And if the ‘differences’ are points of frustration or something: then… communicate. Well, healthily, beautifully.]
And, and, and: my blessed, blessed, blessed sense of agency. Subhaan Allah. Gift from Allah. What a blessing.
While sitting beside my beloved, beautiful and inspiring, Maa Shaa Allah and may Allah Bless her, A’iysh in the library today, I received an email:
RE: Chief Executive student stakeholder panel [I told A’iysh I’d only do it if I had to. She said, in the email, since I think Iqra may be busy on the day:]
You are the only other female. You will have to attend love!
Dinner for me, tonight, AlHamduliLlah, is… aubergine curry, made by my beloved Tas. Company this evening, AlHamduliLlah, is… beloved Tas. We’re watching the first Harry Potter together! And planning to forward all the……. inappropriate black-magicky parts. So, a lot of it, maybe.
Today I appreciated… learning the Duʿa for after we drink milk (we ask Allah for the blessing in it, and to grant us increase), and for when we see someone smiling (we can ask that Allah keeps them smiling!) With the girls at CCM.
I appreciated learning about the story of Prophet Salih. An upright man, sent to a haughty (proud) and polytheistic people. With the light of Truth. Some took heed; others did not.
Yes, we’ve got agency. Now: why not ask God. What to do? Which people to love, in proximity? Divine Inspiration is a wonderful, wonderful, and awe-inspiring principle, concept, and thing. Isn’t that why I’m here, this evening, at casa del Tas?