Ramadan diary: day 30

And here we are – the last day. So I failed to keep a daily diary. Very apt since I kind of failed doing Ramadan this year.

Yesterday I found myself having to literally convince myself to get up and pray. It was an internal battle between my body and soul – I could physically feel myself having to rip away at whatever was holding me down. And once I stood it was a battle to keep standing. And every time I completed a section I had to fight to stand back up.

And I am terrified. Terrified that I won’t be able to keep steadfast. My soul won last night but barely.

When I started this month I knew it would be hard. When you have stayed away from prayer and His words for so long of course there will be some resistance. But what I found was my heart yearned for it. There was nothing I wanted more than to feel tranquillity and complete submission. There was however an almost physical barrier holding me back. And even after all these days I have not been able to break through.

And I know exactly why. I don’t think I have read even a page of the Quran. I have slept more than I have ever slept before. And I have spent more time on my phone than I have ever before. I wish I could say I was being productive – but no. I have literally been hooked to “watch me draw” videos – and I can’t draw and have no intention of getting into it so I have reached new levels of procrastination.

I know what I want but have not worked for it. And we all know the path to change is not easy. Essentially my insides feel hard and cold. And even though I know exactly how to change it, I haven’t. It’s that barrier – some sort of resistance that I have not been able to succumb the strength to smash.

As I write this, once again I am reminded of the power of words. Writing provides a clarity that no amount of shower thinking can give. I know what I have to do. I am currently in the process of deep cleaning my room – preparing for Eid. So, I can play out loud the surahs I have memorised already and read along. A small little action but a win for me nonetheless.

I pray you have all had a productive Ramadan. And if you haven’t then don’t loose hope. It has just hit me that I should be focused on doing little things – crawl before I try to run. Ease my body into it. Chip away at the barrier rather than smashing it immediately. Perhaps this method will be more sustainable?

“He who comes with a good deed, its reward will be ten like that or even more. And he who comes with vice, his reward will be only one like that, or I can forgive him. He who draws close to Me a hand’s span, I will draw close to him an arm’s length. And whoever draws near Me an arm’s length, I will draw near him a fathom’s length. And whoever comes to Me walking, I will go to him running. And whoever faces Me with sins nearly as great as the earth, I will meet him with forgiveness nearly as great as that, provided he does not worship something with me.” (Muslim)

And of course Eid Mubarak. Hope you all have a day full of blessings, fatty foods and surrounded by family. I will be spending the day at my “aunt” (mum’s best friend)’s house where all the family and friends will come together. The day will typically involve me dressing to the high heavens just to sit around and eat all day. And of course taking a new picture to finally change my social media display pics.

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Ramadan diary: day 24

The project I was meant to go on next week fell through so I won’t be going up North again. Of course this means I have to go through the struggles of trying to find a new project but in the short term it means I get to work from home. Hooray for staying in bed in my meski (pjs) all damn day.

Since I finally have some free time on my laptop I will be cashing out on my charity list. Charity is a big factor in Islam, and even more so in Ramadan. In the past I have tried to give something every day – no matter now small – so that charity is an everyday part of me. This year however I completely forgot but it’s not too late to start!

Of course charity is more than money – it is your youth, your time, your smile, your love. But I am focusing on financial aspect because alhamdulliah that is something I have at the moment. I truly believe that giving never decreases from you and any gifts we do have are only but a loan for us to use on bettering our world. And giving in Ramadan is extra special because we get extra rewards 😉

Here are a few of my favourite charities:

  • Nour: a London based charity helping BME Muslim communities deal with domestic violence including providing support to the women who are getting out. I know only too well the effects of Domestic Violence and though my own family did not use them, I wish I had known about them earlier.
  • Human Care Syria: focused on not only humanitarian relief (which is vital) but also long-term rehabilitation projects on the group.
  • CAGE: the only charity to have spoken out, supported, and actually researched on the awfully racist and corrupt “War on Terror” in the UK which has seen thousands of ordinary lives ruined – from imprisonment without trial, to being put on programmes to being forced into being a spy. This is no longer a far away fight affecting the few – it has been legalised and is affecting our students, our children, our sick and our activists.

Please do check them out, and if you are able, please donate – even if it a pound. And if you are not able, please share their links and perhaps someone else who is able can donate. And the extra special thing – you will get the reward for it to iA.

“The likeness of those who spend for Allah’s sake is as the likeness of a grain of corn, it grows seven ears every single ear has a hundred grains, and Allah multiplies (increases the reward of) for whom He wills, and Allah is sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.” (Qur’an, 2:261)

Ramadan diary: day 18

So it seems timing mishaps are following me around. Last night I got back at 7. As I was sitting in the car, feeling the sunrays on my cheeks I felt motivated to go for a walk. The hotel has a golf course and beautiful greenery including a small pond I imagined sitting by and reading.

As it turns out, when I went into my room, I just could not be asked! So instead I planned to take a nap. A whole 2 hours – what a luxury! I decided what I was going to order that night, some Indian, and put an alarm on for 9 so I could order in time for Iftar.

I awoke naturally 10 mins before 9 – thought to myself, I have 10 more minutes, and closed my eyes once more. A thought process that always precipitates tragedy.

Next thing I hear is a phone call from my mum. In my sleepy state I thought it was 10 minutes past 9 so I rejected the call and quickly ordered my food – thinking it’ll still get here before Iftar. Called my mum back only to be told it’s 10 minutes past 10!


Checked my phone and it was true. I had set my alarm for 9am, not pm. Rookie mistake. I was late for Iftar and food was not arriving for another 45 minutes!

Thankfully I had water left over from last night. Broke my fast and went to pray. No harm done.

I had bought some snacks a few days ago  and was very much looking forward to some fruit. I don’t know if it’s the packaging or the fact I did not put it in the fridge (no fridge in this room) but it tasted very off. No fruit or walk for me.

So instead I snacked on some cheese twists – and ended up filling up on them. So moorish! Rookie mistake once again. By the time my food came I wasn’t even hungry and could not eat more than a few bites. So much food wasted!

I hope you all have an uneventful iftar – just a simple one with your loved ones or loved food.

I’m off home and will be spending the whole of next week there! Inshallah I can use the last few days to make up for the major fails I’ve had over the last few days.

Ramadan diary: day 16-17

Checked my phone this morning. 07.50. And my taxi is booked for 8. The guys are already in the car waiting.

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Repeating subhanAllah over and over and over again I ran around, adrenaline going, brushed my teeth, ironed my shirt (badly), put on the skirt from the night before (alhamdulliah I shower at night so no worries there!), scarf wrapped, socks on, laptop grabbed, face cream into the bag. And I was in the taxi by 8.05.

Great start to the morning.

InshaAllah the rest of the day will be much more relaxed. I have to travel up to a nearby town to help run a workshop but I am all prepped for that. The workload this morning is nice and easy. And my hot desk happens to be very far from my team so I can take my time doing it.

The day before I travelled down from one city to another with the ex-UKIP colleague. It was a beautiful route and although I was struggling to keep my eyes open, I am at least thankful he was doing the driving so I could relax. Regardless, all this travelling is taking its toll. Mix that with my general laziness and lack of motivation, I have been struggling to put into action all my goals.

The fardh prayers have been fine – and being a traveller they have actually been easy (since it is permissible for me to shorten and join them). It is my taraweeh, and reading and memorising the Quran that I have been missing. I usually get back with less than an hour before iftar. Winding down, showering and figuring out what I want to eat gobbles up that time. And before I know it I am just lying there with a few mins before breaking my fast, trying to desperately fill this void that should be filled with focus and to think of some prayers. My prayers feel empty and short-term – focused on the dunya (this world).

I am trying not to loose hope but the days are slipping away and I don’t know if I have improved at all this month. Thinking about it physically hurts my heart.

Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget or fall into error. Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us. Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Protector. Help us against those who stand against faith.” – Quran 2:286

How we live now

Seconds to minutes to hours to days to weeks to months to a whole year. A whole year has flown on by and here we are in a world void of so many that filled it with their breath and voice and movement.

It was in last Ramadan that the world mourned for our dear brother, our leader and our friend Bashir Osman. Those who had met Bashir, even once, will tell you how they fell in love with his warmth, his humour, his character. He made everyone feel like his best friend. And for how well he was known and how much he achieved he still remained grounded and humble.

The response after his death was equally warming and numbing. He had messages from scholars across the world, people who did not even know him got to know him. People donated to the building well project he had started. It was truly exceptional to witness.

As I remember him now I remember one of his last tweets, hope simple yet so powerful.

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When I think of Bashir I think of the amazing life he led. But in all he did – leading FOSIS, all his charity work, the immense friend he was – he did as a student. A young person just like you and I. I wonder how I will be remembered after my inevitable demise. Will strangers sing my praises and wish to know me? Will my acquaintances mourn me even after a year? Will my loved one be proud of me? Will I have a legacy that can live on?

Bashir fills me with hope. We all have the potential to be like him. So let us take heed of his advice. Take advantage of today, worry not of the past.

The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Allah said: ‘O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.’ ” [Narrated by Tirmidhi]

This is my entry for Ramadan diary: day 15. 

Ramadan diary: day 12 – 14

I guess I’ve been having feelings that I didn’t want to share under my Ramadan blogs so I didn’t. Here’s a summary of what I’ve been up to instead.

This weekend I travelled to join some friends and strangers at an annual Iftar gathering. The atmosphere and the generosity of the family hosting was nothing short of beautiful. It was lovely catching up with like minded friends I had not seen in several months. And the food was banging! Inshallah if I have the capacity I hope I can host annual Iftar gatherings for friends and neighbours when I am living in my own house. Food really does bring people together and during Ramadan it is just like magic.

Some of my friends were driving back after fota (sehri/suhoor) and had a spare seat. I had a train booked for the next day but that would have meant I did not get home until 4 – less time to see mum. We stopped by at a local mosque to pray and I was pleasantly surprised to find not only did they have a women’s section (and a large one at that) but it was open for women for fajr. Even one of my local mosques which is one of the biggest in the country closes their women’s centre during fajr.

The drive back took several hours and was full of laughter and sharing stories. The sun was shining and the scenery was breath taking. At one point we did make a small stop to take it all in only to be attacked by little bugs. I did manage to capture this view though.

somewhere up north

By the time we got home it was just after 9 and I was shattered. I thought I would take a little nap and then wake up with everyone else. You see my mum was a little annoyed I had decided to go away for Iftar since I am working away anyway and we had a dawat (gathering) on Saturday. I know she could have used the help and I’m sure it wasn’t fun for her to explain I had decided to go out with friends to her friends and family. I was planning to make it up to her but next thing you know it was 5PM. Naturally she was annoyed I had wasted the whole day and was throwing me ample shade throughout the rest of the evening.

All is well now though. And I will remember to buy flowers of Friday inshallah just to quell any remaining remnants of anger.

I’m currently sitting in first class on my way up to the north. I hate sitting here and feel very conscious of my presence. As I walk in I know people are surprised I am even here. The man sitting next to me actually asked “this is your seat is it?” when I asked him if he could move his coat off of my seat. The man infront of me is taking up a significant portion of my leg room. I’m a small person so usually I’m ok to let people have a little more room. But he keeps moving his feet onto my mine every few minutes to the point I’m currently sitting crosslegged with one of my legs on the other side. The whole idea of “class” carriages annoy me. It’s not exactly about class anymore. I assume many of the people sitting here will be getting their tickets reimbursed. So it’s a better service – just call it that without gripping onto the horrible class segregation histories associated with the two carriages.

Damn I sound grumpy. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep.

Wishing everyone the best today – it’s the longest day of the year here so it only gets easier from here on out!

Ramadan diary: day 11

Yesterday was exhausting. I don’t know if it was simply from sitting through technical workshops trying not to yawn or my very unhealthy (but great) lunch of chips + baked beans but by the time I went back to the hotel I was done. Feeling refreshed after a quick wash I settled down to do some work on my bed and next thing you know I was out by 7.

I had a nightmare about missing work the next day so woke up disorientated and nervous. Frantically grabbed my phone and thank God it was only 3 AM. I had of course missed dinner and was feeling very thirsty. But as I was going to grab a drink I wondered if I should be fasting today.

See in the past my period has lasted an average of 10 days. But I noticed that for the last 2 months – the only 2 months I have recorded down – it lasted 8 days. And today is the 9th day. At 3 AM I was conflated on whether to fast anyway – even though I was super thirsty and the last meal I had eaten was lunch the day before. I would have attempted it but after some googling I found you shouldn’t fast until you are sure. Since I was unsure, and since my periods have typically lasted 10 days before, I thought it would be ok not to fast today.

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I’ll be travelling back home today anyway so can have a nice bath and get back at it tomorrow. Very excited to start fasting again – it’s just not the same not doing it.

I did catch the England v Wales game. Come on England! It’s weird how patriotic watching a ball being kicked around can make you. I was filled with gushing pride upon hearing the fans sing  the national anthem. It is interesting how many European anthems are about ruling and then you got the global south singing about the beauty of the land.

And on the topic of patriotism – my prayers are Jo Cox and her family. An MP who is fighting for her life after being attacked by a far-right, Britain First, terrorist. Of course this white man will not be named a terrorist. He is the wrong colour and follows the wrong religion for that. The hypocrisy is once again so clear and disheartening.

Terrorism has no religion or race. What it does seem to have is a gender. When we hear about an attack we automatically wonder about the race or the religion of the man. What was his motive? Never does it cross our mind that it could be a women. So when politicians consider banning or targeting a certain group, maybe they should consider that.

Edit: Jo Cox has passed away. My heart goes out for her two sons, husband and family. This was a political assassination yet is being reported as a stabbing. Not calling it what it is is unjust. 

Ramadan diary: day 10

Into double digits and we’re in the last days of mercy – stepping into the days of forgiveness.

Yesterday I had dinner with a colleague I am staying with. It’s just the two of us doing some work on this site for the week so we thought we’d go out rather than having hotel food.

Over dinner, the discussion of the EU and #Brexit came up. It’s pretty hard to avoid the topic – especially with the vote right around the corner. I was surprised to hear my colleague used to support UKIP, and much of his family members still do. I did ask why and was told, “well they’re a bit racist to be honest.” In other parts of the conversation, discussing parts of London he said “I have to be honest, it does annoy me when I’m walking in the street and I don’t understand what people are saying. I mean this is England but you wouldn’t know it sometimes.”

I was pretty taken aback but did the strenuous smile and nervous chuckle you may know too well. Not everyday dismantling racist views. Some days enjoy dinner. (Dinner itself was lovely – courtesy of my company expenses, thank you).

Normally these everyday reminders of living in a world that is so cruel is harsh and bares heavy on my soul. But I wanted to think of forgiveness. Often racist views are deep rooted in ignorance, upheld by racist structures. It is these structures that need to be dismantled and once we do this, I hope, we can start to rebuild a lovelier world.

Will we ever get there? Perhaps not. But we can hope. Does it hurt – absolutely. Is it our responsibility to teach others all the time – no, nobody has that much energy and self care comes first. But we can forgive them in our hearts and focus on the structures. Lets focus on dismantling the masters house.  

For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices. – Audre Lorde

And since we are on the topic, here are my views on Brexit –

The European Union is an inherently problematic. It upholds structures that are Eurocentric and this is detrimental to the global south. However, given that we currently have a Tory government, it is dangerous to have such an upheaval happen now. It will mean cuts and lives being destroyed. The Left-wing argument of reform will fail – and we cannot take that risk. Look at what happened after the financial crisis. Happy to explain further in comments.

Ramdan diary: day 9

The first 10 days of Ramadan focus on mercy. One of the biggest mercies Allah grants us is our mothers. Mothers who sacrifice all they have for their children. But migrant mothers in particular are simultaneously rocks and pillows.

Our mothers moved through mountains. Literally. They left everything they know – the greenary they grew up around, the families they grew up with, the cultures they grew up in. Spat in the face. Ridiculed in the street. Ignored by the state. The trauma.

They taught us maths and they taught us to write neatly. They bought us books whilst they wore less. They taught us our values – patience, humility, respect. They shared the things they knew – kameez, plaits, curries, oils. We rejected. Straighteners and jeans, pizza and chips. English is cool. The trauma.

They stay with violent and controlling men. Continued to suppress their dreams to feed ours. Unable to leave and destined to stay. For us. So we could have the things we need and the things we want. The trauma.

All the trauma they face. The anxiety and depressions they suffer with silently. How many of them describe physical heart pain? Unable to distinguish the anguish in their heart.

And yet we are so harsh of their minor omissions. So unforgiving of their misunderstanding. So impatient when they call us.

Ami tumrar lagi shoba korsi (I did it all for you). – my mother

Ammu I can never tell you often enough. All the beatings you took so we could eat. Using the little money he would give you to use as our tutoring money. Turning him away for our safety even when the community talked trash about you. Pushing me to never quit – at college, at university, from work. My rock and my pillow. Reminding me constantly of who I am, what is important, what will always matter. Everything I gratefully am and everything I am gratefully not is because of you. Our mercy.

Even a few days ago my taxi driver gave me a recipt without the total on it. I had partially shared a journey so only had to pay half. Of course the expenses team do not know this even the driver hinted I could make back £20. Cash money – easy. My friend said I deserved it, it’s taking from the rich, think of it like a little blessing. My mum reminded me that every penny I take that does not belong to me is money that can never bring me any good. My mercy.

Oh Allah. Have mercy on our mothers. Let us be coolness of their eyes. Let us be the righteous children they deserve. 

Ramadan diary: day 8

Ramadan, naturally, is centred around food. The eating of it and the abstention of it. I remember when we were young iftar would be a feast. All types of fried food, several curries, several types of rice (pilau, plain, rice pudding), and of course mishti (bengali sweets). My mum would spend hours everyday, slaving away, preparing in the kitchen.

We have now changed our priorities. That much rich food, everyday, is not only unhealthy, wasteful and expensive, but simply unnecessary. Eating to bursting point and then struggling with prayer – what is the point!

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“No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath.” – Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) (Tirmidhi)

Now we enjoy one main food, some light side dishes (preferably grilled rather than fried) and fruit too. We all help out before iftar so mum does not have to spend hours. In fact, some days my sister will take over completely. Mum has time to relax, and more importantly to her – to read her prayers and reflect on the day.

Each of us has our own task so that the whole thing happens quickly. My brother has his role too. He cuts the watermelon, takes the plates of food into the living room, and prepares the sheets that we sit in. Three simple tasks yet every little bit makes the job go quicker. In so many households it is the women who are expected to do everything while the men sleep waiting for the food. We must teach our sons to be better – to do better. For the sake of our daughters if not for their own sake.

Iftar is a special family moment, but there is no reason why the whole process cannot be so – from the preparation, to the minutes before when you’re hungrily eyeing up the food with date in hand, and to when we actually take the first sweet bite or gulp that first cold sip.

What we eat is something we rarely consider outside of eating halal (lawful). Yet the obligation of eating halal came with and good:

And eat of what Allah has provided for you [which is] lawful and good. And fear Allah , in whom you are believers. (The Holy Quran, 5:88)

For a few years now my family have been exploring the and good part of this command. It is interesting how often this part is completely ignored and our teachings focus on the halal. How is the produce treated? Where does it come from (it’s carbon footprint)? And what is actually in it? We try to eat organic fruits and foods. We have tried to reduce the amount of oils, chilly and salt we consume. Unfortunately organic meat is too expensive for us to afford, and of course I understand how eating healthy is a privilege in itself. We still consume too much meat and this is something we are working on.

What healthy tips do you have for Ramadan and otherwise?

Today I will be breaking my fast alone again. But alhamdulliah I do not have to prepare any food and will be ordering room service 😛