Acid attacks

I am terrified. They come at us from cars, on motorbikes or run up to you. You’re just driving, a passenger or a pedestrian. They throw a liquid at you and then you burn. 

There is nothing you can do. No defence you can learn. No potion you can carry. Nowhere you can hide. 

Carry a bottle of water I read. But a bottle is not enough to wash away the chemicals and in many cases will only make it worse. We are defenceless. We are helpless. 

This is happening here. In ends. Our home. Places we can’t avoid. And there is nothing we can do about it. Defenceless. Helpless. 

Yesterday I sat at the back of a cab on my way home from the station and made sure my window was shut. My throats was chocking in the heat but I could not bare to risk opening my window. Whatsapp buzzing with news of a new attack. 4 in the last 48 hours in areas, 5-15 minutes walk away from home. 

As I walked to the train station this afternoon, I watched every man with a bottle of water with suspicion, keeping my ears peeled for approaching cars and bikes. 

We have endured spitting. We have enduring beatings. We have endured the death of our elders coming home from prayer and our children going to pray. We have endured unborn children being lost in attacks. We have endured women being pushed into train tracks. 

How much more are we to endure? 

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Everyday 

I am struggling to make my days productive. This is fustrating enough of a normal day but even more so in Ramadan. So I made my ideal day – visualise what I want to achieve, set myself realistic targets and know what is possible. 
I hope everyone of you are having a blessed and light filled Ramadan. Start everyday with a fresh heart, ready to be a new. End everyday with reflection, ready to let go. 

News and thoughts 

The last few months have been an onslaught of news – the systematic rise of democratically and legal oppression. Everything from Trump (and how much of a focus there was on the individual rather than the mainstream ideology he represents) followed by the #MuslimBan to the recent EU hijab ban. It’s all been a tidal wave of news after fake news. Exhausting. 

So I have stayed away from it all. I have been doing a lot of thinking – around the political climate we find ourselves in, whether there can be hope in all this – we have seen successes and a uniting of people’s in ways we haven’t seen, when is violence acceptable (following the split in opinion over the punching of the far-right “alt-right” leader), and why are people forced to prove themselves worthy of humanity for people to care (where doctors being affect by the #MuslimBan were seen as more worthy of their citizenship compared to a house wife on welfare for example). 

And I appreciate the above is all a word vomit. Especially on a day like today when we mourn the death of innocent people and wonder again what happened to humanity.  

On our screens we see a hatefilled terrorist who murdered and hurt too many innocent lives. And it’s painful – the waste and cruelty of it all. So twisted and confusing. MUSLIM TERRORIST they shout as soon as they see brown skin. No further evidence needed. It seems this has now been proven false and it is still unknown whether this was a politically motivated attack. 

But news is news, who needs facts when propaganda material is so readily available. Let us headline Tommy Robinson, not an expert not witness but someone who blames “Asian culture” and “Islam” for what happened. 

And I am filled in deep sorrow knowing what is to come. The increase in racism and islamophobia – spitting on the streets, girls hijabs pulled off their head, old men beaten up as they return home from prayer. The strengthing of racist and islamophobic laws. The fuel required by the rising powers to keep on rising. Towering over us with their watchful eyes as they strip away our rights and justice. 

Tighten the borders they should. *But he was born here*. Ship them all out is what they mean. 

And no one will say anything because they are scared. 
Any hope is hard to muster and I can’t help but know darker days are to come

#BurkiniBan

I am sick of women’s bodies being used as collateral to make points. What a women wears or does not wear should not be the choice of any person – certainly not of any man. 

For the mayor of Cannes to ban the Burkina whilst saying the Burkini is a”symbol of Islamic extremism” demonstrates the move towards demonising Islam as a religion – as opposed to demonising the very few who have extreme views. It once again ignores the statistics in global terrorism and ignores the academic literature on what causes extremism. News flash – Islam itself is not the cause. 

I find it extremely hyprocitical for a person to claim they will help women who are forced to wear something by forcing them not to wear what they want. The covering of the hair, arms and legs is a very common practise amongst Muslims – and is no way a sign of extremism. Linking the two only fuels the already heightened rhetoric on how a women in a hijab must be an extremist. 

I wear my hijab as a sign of my devotion to my Lord. No one asked me to wear it – and yes I was inspired by my mother and the strong faithed people around me. But they also inspired me to study hard, to be brave, to love myself. I am also inspired by other women who do not wear the hijab – Malia Bouattia, the first Muslim women as NUS president – for example. And I am inspired by non-Muslims – both women and men. 

Taking inspiration from people does not make you an extremist. This banning of an item of clothing once again assumes that Muslim women are weak, that they are not smart enough to make decisions about what they wear, that they don’t have the free will in their communities to choose what their wear. 

How far from the truth. It is the women, our mothers and aunts, who propel us to be where we are. Strong and fearless women who push us, make sure we don’t settle for anything less and keep us going. If only they knew. 

This ban has not liberated anyone or stopped any kind of “Islamic” extremism. What it has done is stopped women enjoying a swim, provided further ammo for gendered islamophobia and and once again shown the political system does not ask the opinions of those it effects. 

I find it very telling that there has been silence amongst many “feminist” groups about this. No outrage in support of their sisters who are having their autonomy stripped from them. Once again highlighting just how white mainstream feminism is. 

When, as happened in France, an attempt is made to coerce women out of the burqa rather than creating a situation in which a women can choose what she wishes to do, it’s not about liberating her, but about unclothing her. 

It becomes an act of humiliation and cultural imperialism. 

It’s not about the burqa. It’s about coercion. Coercing a women out of her burqa is as bad as coercing her into one. – Arundhati Roy

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.

selfie

Ramadan diary: day 22-23

Only a few days left! I can’t believe how quickly this month has flown by. And what a difference a month can make!

Despite the gloom that is my last post, and the continual increase of attacks I am hearing about, I have been feeling a little more hopeful today. I guess I have accepted the inevitable changes that are to come and have decided to instead focus my energies of two things – being happy with myself (and this is on both a spiritual and worldly level) and doing all that I have energy for to improve the world around me.

But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners. – Quran (8:30)

Yesterday I attended the London rally supporting Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. I don’t think Jeremy is the messiah. I believe in his politics. I believe in his mandate. I believe he can provide an actual opposition to the same kind of politics we’ve heard year in and year out, ever since I can remember.

We are continuously told he is a decent man but not a good leader. The 10,000 people gathered with under 24 hours and over 200,000 signing a petition would say otherwise. He is a leader. Just not the type we often associate with politicians.


I then went out for Iftar with old friends and new. Saying the food wasn’t great would be an overstatement but alhamdulliah the company made up for that. Again, reenergising my happiness battery.

Reflecting on yesterday I realise though the actions of people can make you loose hope in humanity, equally they can fill you right back up again. I am under no illusions that we have a fight in our hands and the country is in turmoil.

But at the very least we have our friends, our families and Twitter banter to keep us going.

And on that note here are my favourite two from the tragically beautiful Euro loss last night –

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.

a27vwy

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!