The good and the bad 

What is it that makes you and I good people and him and her bad people? 

Can law abiding citizens equate to being good people? Laws are after all meant to upload societal values. But what if the law itself is structurally flawed?

When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty. 

And what about the people who are forced to break laws – steal from hunger, hurt for self-defence? People in desperation – are they bad people?

So maybe it comes down to ones intention? And here’s where it gets messy. Because even the terrorists think their intentions are right. They are striving for the what they believe to be the lesser of two evils. 

And with majority views on what evil even is fluctuating over time and space, differing so vastly around the globe – modesty, sexuality, responsibilities – how can humanity say what evil really is. 

So if we can’t judge what evil is – how can we judge what good is?

Iif we don’t even know what good is, how do we know if we are good people?

My bi brother 

My sister found my little brother’s phone still in his hand late on night. Light still on and headphones still plugged in. He was fast asleep. She reached to take the phone from his clutch and place it on the table besides him. And then she dropped it. 

He had been watching porn. And not just any porn but gay porn. 

Her little brother. 17, brown and Muslim. 

She didn’t know what to do and and came crying into my room. She gave me his phone. He had been messaging a older man. The man had sent him pictures and videos. And he had sent pictures back – but only of his face, fully clothed (as far as the pictures on record showed). 

I proceeded to printscreen and send to myself so I had this man’s number. A man who was sending naked images to minors. And accidently locked the phone. Fuck. 

The next morning my brother saw someone had messaged me the pictures. I called him into my room and explained I that I was simply worried about the pedophile and reassured him I still loved and cared for him. I apologised for going through his phone and told him he could speak to me if he wants. 

He told me he was bi. And I told him it was ok. He begged me not to tell mum and I promised him I wouldn’t. 

And I haven’t. 

But we haven’t spoken about it since. Not me and him. Not my sister and I. 

I have always been an advocate for liberation and this included LGBT+ rights as you cannot separate them. Yet as a straight, cis person – it has not been personal before as racism, disabilities, sexism and islamophobia have been. 

Since then I have been doing a lot of thinking about queerness. I do wonder if we are all born queer and socitial and other pressures lead us to live one way or another. For instance, LGBT+ communities were very prevalent and accepted in south Asian communities prior to western, Christian colonisation that outlawed it. And yet Islam specifically prohibits non-heterosexual relationships. It also prohibits all sexual relationships prior to marriage.

I guess it is easy to speak about rights that go against your culture when the two don’t have to intersect. This whole thing has made me question my allyship. Clearly more for show than I had previously realised. 

And of course this is not about me. I am sure my brother is going through a very complicated thought process, being outed without his choice and having to navigate life as a bi, brown, Muslim man. 

Yet that does not take away from me having to do a lot of learning and growing. 

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.

Ramadan diary: day 6

Yesterday I spent my morning watching the beautiful memorial service for Muhammad Ali. Never before had I seen an event with people from so many different faiths, tribes, cultures and backgrounds all there, unified under one cause. The loving stories they shared about this great man, this champ, welled me with tears. I had no idea just how generous and kind he was. A black man willing to believe in himself at a time when this was not meant to be possible. And later a Black Muslim who did not compromise on his faiths despite the threats and powers that stood in the way.

I cried and I cried. What a hero we have lost. And I promised myself that I would try to be just a little more resilient and a little more thoughtful and a little more loving just like him. Keep his legacy going.

“When a man passes away, his good deeds will also come to an end except for three: Sadaqah Jariyah (ceaseless charity); a knowledge which is beneficial, or a virtuous descendant who prays for him (for the deceased)” Narrated by Abu Hurairah, Sahih Muslim

Muhammed Ali has all these things – charities he built, peace be bought, people who he helped. The inspirational messages he spread to this day are used by people to love themselves, trust themselves, trust Allah. And as for children he has many.

Two thoughts crossed my mind once I had finished.

  1. What will people say about me when I die. What stories will they share? What good deeds will continue? How many peoples’ hearts will I have touched?
  2. I wish I had someone who could just hug me right now. I was emotionally drained and lying in bed in a ball. And all I wanted at that moment was to be a little spoon.

I spent almost the whole day on my phone yesterday. Either that or napping. Right now I feel angry and disappointed at myself. I just don’t understand why I have no self discipline. I know who I want to be and what I need to do it. So why do I still just sit there in bed on my phone? Please pray for me guys and give me your tips on making Ramadan productive. It’s nearly 10 days I am yet to memorise even a line. 😦 Feeling very low right now.

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 2

Last night was pretty difficult. But halfway through complaining to a friend I realised just how ungrateful I sounded. There I sat on a double bed, paid for by my company, snacks at the ready for when I was ready to break my fast, moaning away. Putting things into perspective and finding that silver lining really helped lift my mood. And the biggest silver lining of them all – the tougher the challenge the more satisfying the reward. Inshallah!

So yes the work here is very boring but it is easy to do and I have the opportunity to learn new skills.

So yes my taxi got lost for half an hour. But I got to see the beautiful countryside, the fields and the flowing river.

So yes my room has no fridge and is like a boiler but I have a family apartment size.

So yes everything bar the vegetarian pizza is haraam (and even that was burnt) but I have a 24 hour nisa local next door which I would not have had at the other hotel I was scheduled to stay at.

And yes I overslept so did not have time to have sehri but I somehow woke up just in time to have water and pray fajr. And I got to sleep for a little longer.

And through being thankful I could be full, able to get on enjoying what I do have.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said “Be satisfied with what Allah has apportioned for you and you will be the richest of people.” (Tirmidhi)

Ramadan dairy: day 1

For the last four years I have been unable to spend the whole of Ramadan with my family. Something always seems to pop up at the last minute.

One of the reasons I look so forward to this time – aside for the boost in faith and time to reflect – is how close we get as a family. Everyone eats together and prays together, something we never do throughout the year as we all have different schedules. I am very close to my family anyway but this time just to sit on the floor together, joking around whilst we wait for the Azaan is priceless.

But once again, I’m having to break my fasts alone. This time because I have been placed in another city for work. (I’ve been in London since January, eager to get out but there were no projects. How typical one comes along as soon as Ramadan is here).

Luckily I do have a friend here so I won’t be totally alone. And since she is also away from her family, we can keep each other company.

I did some thinking on my targets this year, and later on tonight I will look back on what my targets for last year. I wonder if I have improved at all? I do not think I have considering this year has been a very testing one in terms of practising my faith. But that is precisely what I love about this month – renewed intentions and a chance to try again.

For those of you who are fasting, what are your goals for this month? 

Abu Huraira related that the Prophet said: Allah the Majestic and Exalted said: “Every deed of man will receive ten to 700 times reward, except Siyam (fasting), for it is for Me and I shall reward it (as I like). There are two occasions of joy for one who fasts: one when he breaks the fast and the other when he will meet his Lord” (Muslim)

On the Paris bombings: the terror

My heart is heavy mourning the 158 lives lost so far and the many more lives shattered. The families and friends, the communities, the businesses and livelihoods. I remember the 7/7 bombings here in London – the absolute shock that rippled through and tore away so much.

And I am terrified for my brothers and sisters living in France, and to be honest – the rest of Europe. Paris is already a difficult place to be visibily Muslim and I can only imagine how much worse it can get. When you had a man pushing a women dressed in hijab onto a moving tube a few days ago in London and none of the mainstream newspapers reporting it, it makes you wonder what else will happen now. And at a time with so many Muslim refugees stranded in the jungle, what will happen to them?

How has this become so common that after such a tragedy which should consume all my thoughts, I think of the terror that will come after it? Waves and waves of terror – children bullied, women attacked, people who will be unable to get jobs.

And once again I am terrified at the capacity of humans to hurt other humans. I do wonder if the mental health of the men were intact. And I pray it wasn’t. For to think someone with good mental health could plan and execute a massacre on innocent humans does not bare thinking about.

I pray you all stay safe and those affected will have their faith restored.  

Staying hopeful

me to myself when I’m procrastinating. Source

Ramadan is amazing. I could write pages on how blessed this month is and how it magically transforms our souls. But people have already done this and they’ve done it way better than I ever could. So this post is about me.

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.

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The tale of two terrorists

Failed logic. Source

I loudly, unequivocally condemn ISIS. I condemn them because they twist my faith, they harm more of my brothers and sisters in Islam in the global south than they do the Western World, and I condemn them because I am a decent human being.

I hate that I need to start this blog like that but I will anyway because too many times Muslims talking about the issues I am about to are told they need to do more to stop terrorism. And whilst too many non-Muslims let islamophobia go on, and too many white people let white supremacy and state violence go on, it is of course Muslims who are continuously reminded to fix our own. Now I can dedicate a whole post on how problematic this is and why statement such as the one given by our own PM a few days ago is so reckless but I’ll save that for another day.

Today I want to ask as very simple question. Why does the government have policies and strategies and spend so much time and money on stopping Muslims from fighting in Syria but allow Jewish people to fight in the IDF?

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