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

Happy thoughts 

It only takes one thought, an unhappy thought, to slip and fall. Down down down. Into the depths and darkness. Gulping in the smoke and smog. Twisting and turning until I almost hit the ground. Where I will lie broken. 

And that’s where you may find me. Revitalise me with your happy thoughts. That become my happy thoughts. Teach me to float back up. Until I have the strength to fly and then soar. 

So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land! – Peter Pan

The first day 

I do find is weird how we humanise the years like a block of time scheduled by the western world has any control over the fate of the whole world. 2016 was an awful year we see all over social media. It was made into a comical horror “film”. It was 2016 that caused all the deaths of the celebrities and 2016 that caused Brexit and Trump.

2016 and not people. 

In this way we can shift the blame away from ourselves – the voters and non-voters. The friends of fascists and non-friends who did not organise. 

We mourn the names of those who’s names were in lights. And that is understandable and natural. Our heroes, the unfallable, now gone. 

But natural death comes to us all. And though we mourn their dates we do not mourn the deaths of those caused by our hands. Syria, Yemen and Palestine to name just a few. We watch humanity die live from our screens. In their homes, in the sea, in the hospitals. Outside our own doorsteps we have the homeless, unable to apply for help – dying from the cold and hunger. 

Now that we have entered a new year the suffering for the millions will not stop. 

Happy New Year. May we always be concious of our actions, throughout the entire year. 

Getting organised

I’ve been staring at beautiful bullet journals with green eyes. The motivational side quotes, the habit tracker, memories, blog ideas pages… And I very almost bought my very own but restrained myself just in time. For one thing, I have plenty of empty journals that I just needed to buy that would suffice – even if they’re not dotted. For another, neither my handwriting nor doodling skills are slick enough to give me the gratification I am seeking.

So for now I will keep using my post-it notes and satisfyingly crunching them up once I am done, or towering them up on the side of my laptop.

And as for the lists tracker and quotes I will need to start using my ideas journal. It has some handy squared pages and some speech boxes for my fav quotes. One of my recent additions:

Sometimes your light attracts moths and your warmth attracts parasites. Protect your space and energy – Warsan Shire

And as for journaling, I spent some time this morning rearranging my posts with new categories:

  • Being active: activism, racism, sexism, political think pieces
  • Being creative: short stories, poems and crafting
  • Being thoughtful: reminiscing of the past, personal and emotional pieces
  • Being here: daily or random posts about my daily life or work

Damn that took a while and I’m pretty sure no one cares besides me. But going back to when I started writing, it was a collection of my own thoughts for me so it was worth the time. Reading back was a nice trip down memory lane.

I’ve had this blog for just over a year now. I wrote about my first 10 followers and there are now over 250. Never did I think, with no advertisement, I could achieve that. But here I am. And here I stay.  So thank you to everyone who reads, comments and likes. In a world full of so many we can feel so alone with some thoughts so it’s comforting to know you’re all here.

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 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

Ramadan diary: day 7

Wow it’s already been a week! Today I finally got round to reading back on my posts last year and I was surprised to see how little progress I’ve made in one year. My post-Ramadan goals are the same ones I am practising again this year.

On the 10th day I wrote:

My heart feels void. Even after 10 days I do not have the Ramadan feeling that it so desperately earns for, that feeling I have basked in before and that feeling I hear people talk about now. My prayers feel empty, my mind distracted and my body reluctant.

I feel so alone in my thoughts. Whilst everyone is on their high, I am at my lowest. I had hoped to spend this time reading, contemplating and watching inspirational videos. Instead I’m spending my days in bed, on my phone. Even starting this blog is a procrastination tool!

Though I am struggling again with gaining that Ramadan vibe I have learnt now that this is a struggle that comes with growing up. Perhaps the days of what I used to feel are gone and maybe that’s not a bad thing? That feeling came with no other responsibilities. No exhaustion. No worries.

Part of the beauty of Ramadan this year is it is real. How I practise my faith this year is how I can realistically continue to do so after Ramadan leaves us.

Now of course I want to do more. The blessings are exponential. We have Taraweeh. It is the month of the Quran. It is the month of mercy, forgiveness and salvation. But I want to do more – and so I can do more. It’s up to me. I don’t need a feeling to do these things and I shouldn’t rely on a feeling to do it either.

And part of the beauty of Ramadan itself is how it’s never too late to try again. I pray all our efforts are accepted and we are one of the lucky ones who leave Ramadan as if we just accepted Islam.

I am adamant on one thing though – next year I do not want to be making it a goal to keep up with my prayers. I will be so gutted if it is. In my heart I don’t see prayer as a little bonus in my life. It’s something I need to survive and be myself. So I don’t understand why I keep letting it slip and in the process feel myself slipping.

Ramadan diary: day 5

I’m home! Well not right now because I’m working from the local office but home in the wider sense and it feels glorious. My work – both occupational and voluntary – means I travel up and down the country quite a bit so being away from home is not new to me. But being away during Ramadan is a different ballgame entirely and I was feeling very homesick.

When I found out on Wednesday I could come back, I decided to surprise my family. Watching my mum’s face light up as I walked in was priceless. And that hug was pure comfort.

Iftar was everything it should be. Us sitting on the floor, chatting and laughing and reminding each other of our faith through little tidbits. Dates and watermelons. Mum reminding us to go and pray Magrib but us wanting to stay and chat a little longer. Then all sitting on the sofas, content, reminiscing about funny memories like mum falling flat on her bottom (unhurt) that year it snowed, planning the future and of course a little hating on the Tories.

The Prophet said, “When a Muslim spends something on his family intending to receive Allah’s reward it is regarded as Sadaqa for him.” (Bukari)

In terms of faith boost – I did nothing yesterday but my sister introduced me to daily videos posted on Nouman Ali Khan’s Facebook so I will spend my breaks at work catching up with those! I also realised perhaps with my memorising the reason I’m not moving forward is because I’m not setting myself SMART objectives (you know those ones they make you set at school!). So from now on I am aiming to revise 5 short surahs a day and learn 3 new lines a day. InshaAllah.

And to all you queens spending Ramadan alone this year – perhaps you’re estranged from your family, perhaps you have to travel, perhaps you were just never close to your family – I pray Allah fills your heart with content and patience. Ameen.

Ramadan diary: day 3

I have had a slight headache today which I believe has been caused by lack of sleep last night. I often found I was in a trance-like state, when you know you’re dreaming but continue dreaming. It was so bad that I ended up missing my isha prayer last night.

This breaks my heart as I was really set on making it habitual to pray my daily prayers on time. I often find it difficult to pray at work – and in fact I don’t usually pray at work at all. This is due to a number of factors, primarily my laziness but also the hassle of cleansing oneself in the bathroom. (The troubles of bodna/lotta!) But I am using Ramadan as a chance to practice praying at work – and hope to continue after too. After all, 30 days of continual practice should make perfect.
Isha comes in at 11.30 where I’m staying. And it’s pretty difficult to try and stay away after work, when you’re bored alone and have a full stomach! But today I’ll say no to the nap and maybe watch some YouTube videos instead.

So why is prayer so important to me? Well the fact it is a commandment from God – one that takes around 5 minutes to do. But it’s so much more than that. Praying allows me to take a few minutes out of my day – when I wake up, after I eat, at the end of my work day, in the evening and before I sleep – to spend some time in solitude, just taking some time out to breath. Every so often I can refocus my energy. No matter how difficult or how amazing things are, I can remind myself of my ultimate purpose. I can ask for forgiveness for the sins I know I have committed and hope for forgiveness on those I am not even aware of. I am human after all!

My soul needs prayer. And I know this every time I miss a prayer. I feel myself slipping further and further away from who I want to be.

More often than I would hope I rush my prayer. But when I pray properly, remembering why I do it rather than just getting it over and done with, I find myself. I feel the weight of the world lessen on my shoulders. Tears fall naturally. My heart softens. I am who I am meant to be again.

I find it helps to sit for just a minute before starting my daily prayer on my prayer mat. Close my eyes. Think of the things I am grateful for. Think of the things I want to ask my Lord for. Think of the things I love about Him. And then I open my eyes and stand up. Ready to bow down to my Lord.

“O my Lord! make me one who establishes regular Prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring, O our Lord!, and accept Thou my Prayer.” – Holy Quran, Surah Ibráhím, ayah 40

The first thing that Shaytan will try to do is get you stop praying. You know why? Because he has to kill the guard if he is to penetrate the castle. Once the guard is gone then Shaytan can open the floodgate of evil. And he has a lot of patience. He has done this to many people before so he’s experienced as well. – Nouman Ali Khan

Home

Home is not where you were born. Home is where all your attempts to escape cease – Naguib Mahfouz

I was born in London – in fact not very far from where I live now. I am a ‘proper’ London-er by all lists and calculations. Everything outside the M25 is “up north”, I ignore all acts of friendliness in the streets and can’t stand people who don’t know how to use an escalator. London is my home.

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But I have so many conflated thoughts about it. This is my home. I have no other home. But when people ask where are you from? I instinctively know they mean why aren’t you white? But I play their game. London. No, where are you really from? Yes I was right. I have a pre-prepared answer now, “well I was born in London and lived here all my life but my parents were born in Bangladesh.”

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It is this other-ing, not just by that comments but in so many ways, like filling in forms – I will always be British something else* – my kids will always be British something else and their kids after them will be British something else, that makes me realise even though this is my home, I will never feel quite at home. I will always feel like I’m squatting.

Maybe I will be able to go a whole week without feeling it. But then something will pop up on the news, someone will say an off-the-cuff comment and I will be reminded.

*something else because what they call us changes over time.

I wonder if I will ever be allowed to feel at home. Probably not in my lifetime. But I wonder how many generations of children immigrant families have before this goes away.