Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tribute Awards-South Africa



I have decided to host the Tribute Awards-South Africa, for Muslim women bloggers that are making a difference with their words.


For those of you who are familiar with this blog, you’ll know that we had two previous Tribute Awards, but this time it will be slightly different, and here’s why.


This time the Tribute Award nominees will be restricted to South African blogs only. I apologise to all my international blogging sisters who are doing good things and spreading positivity, but this time I decided that it would be nice to motivate South African bloggers. Please do join in the voting though as this will be open to anyone.

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So here’s how the awards will work:

Nominees can be sent in by anyone, but they have to meet the following criteria:
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      Nominated blogs should be by a South African Muslim woman (because as you can see my blog is a tribute to Muslim women). Exceptions may be made if a blog is regarded as making a positive difference to all people with its general messages.

-          The blog has to be aiming to make a positive difference- that means we have to be able to learn and reflect on the writing. It should be discussing or illustrating important messages for example.

-          It should be uplifting- we have to be able to learn something that will help us improve our lives.


-          The genre doesn’t matter- it can be a fictional story, a motivational blog, real life story, even a photo blog, as long as it’s aiming to convey some sort of positive message and making people think about things differently.
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The Process:

Nominations should be e-mailed to zhassem1@yahoo.com by the 4th of January 2014.


Please note that a short motivation for your nomination has to be provided and I have the final say in deciding whether a nominated blog fits the criteria above. Please also add a link to your nominated blog.


Inshaa-Allah on Sunday 5th January 2014 the final list of nominees will be put up and public voting will take place for one week, i.e. until 12 January 2014.


Winners will be announced on my blog on Monday 13th January 2014, Inshaa-Allah.


The first place winner will be gifted with a copy of my book, “Butterfly Wings”.


There will be two runner-up’s who will be mentioned as well.


SO, DON’T DELAY, SEND IN THOSE NOMINATIONS NOW!!! E-MAIL zhassem1@yahoo.com

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Book Review: Sandcastles & Snowmen by Sahar el-Nadi


The first thing that attracted me to this book was the title. Sandcastles & Snowmen is an intriguing title and it’s almost as if it immediately invites the reader into a world of adventure. True to the title, the book did provide an interesting journey of discovery and even rediscovery, highlighting the fact that there are many different perspectives in the world, all worth learning and understanding.  


As a workshop facilitator and psychologist I would like to regard this book as a manual of sorts, something that I am sure will prove to be an important reference guide which I can refer to over again, for self-development as well as to assist other people with their own self development.


As a Muslim woman and researcher of issues relating to Muslim women, this book has personal significance and it sheds light on issues that are universal and applicable to Muslim women in diverse settings.


Yet the book is so much more than what it initially seems to be. Although written by a Muslim woman, it does not exclusively focus on issues relating to Muslims. Instead it offers information on a variety of topics, and helps the reader understand Islam as a whole system, and it does this in the most refreshing of ways.


The topics of discussion range from spiritual intelligence, the basics of Islam, ethics and morality to politics, trade and business and science, to arts and culture, and of course gender relations. Each chapter is written in a way that draws the reader in, making you want to read more.


Not only are the topics extremely well researched, but the author has somehow managed to bring it back to the average person’s everyday life experience in a manner that is practical and applicable to modern day times. After reading this book, no one can make the claim that Islam is a religion stuck in ancient times and that it does not relate to modern day people or societies.


The thing that stood out the most for me however, was Sahar el-Nadi’s insistence on unity. Not only did she consistently come back to the idea of all human beings as a unified race, as descendants of the same ancestors (i.e. Adam and Eve- may Allah’s peace be on them), but she focused on the unity of people and other creatures, and the unity of people and the environment. Moreover, she managed to eloquently present Islam as a unified and holistic system. A system which fits the natural inclinations of mankind, leaving the reader to think that if Islam is adopted and practised correctly then the end result can only be complete unity and of course peace would be the resultant effect.


To call this book inspiring would be doing an injustice to it, and I think that it was the appeal not only made to the readers emotions, but their intellect as well that provided the impetus for me to want to be a better person. That Islam appeals to people as whole beings to make use of their various talents, to research, study and learn, and mostly to ask about things that are uncertain was enlightening and a great reminder to me that as a Muslim it is my duty to be the best that I can be.


I have to admit that I felt sad when I read through the rich historical accounts detailing remarkable achievements by Muslims. Sad, that Muslims today have divorced what they call “secular education” from “religious education”. I particularly enjoyed how the author revered knowledge and how she emphasised that Muslims should have knowledge in all fields and that in fact our love for the Quraan in itself should naturally incline us towards gaining knowledge in all fields. Perhaps in keeping with the theme of unity, this highlights the need for unity in knowledge as well. Knowledge in all areas of life is important for us to excel, not only as Muslims but as human beings. The author’s insistence that knowledge and good education is the key to many of the world’s problems today is something that vividly stands out for me.


At the same time, I was pleased that she did not leave out the causes of some of the problems we are faced with today, and the roots of the inferior education systems and some of the warped ideas that have become popular.


This book illustrates perfectly that values such as love, peace, caring for others, respect and tolerance is something that all human beings have in common, something that can connect us as fellow humans. In an atmosphere filled with negativity and division, it is refreshing to read a book which focuses on so many ways in which the people of the world can find common ground. Sahar el-Nadi gives credibility to her ideas because she actually lives and practices what she speaks about, emphasizing that her discussions are not merely idealistic discourses.


I cannot classify exactly what type of a book this is, but I think that’s a good thing. In keeping with its ever so dominant theme of unity, this book unites genres so it is all at once a book on spirituality and religion, self-discovery and motivational, a history book, a book on politics, science, art and culture.


The journey that Sandcastles & Snowmen takes you on is definitely a worthwhile one and I would recommend this book to anyone.

Monday, December 23, 2013

What If?


What if we all followed the rules of Islam to perfection?

Women wouldnt have the obsessive need to validate themselves by appealing to men. We wouldnt spend hours making ourselves look good so that males could be attracted to us (please note this does not apply to making yourself look attractive for your husband). We wouldnt put ourselves through physical and emotional pain just so that we can experience love and a feeling of belonging. We wouldnt try so hard to make unhealthy relationships work. We wouldnt risk our psychological well-being and more importantly our faith and religious beliefs simply so that we dont become old maids who never marry.


What would women be like then, if the rules of Islam were followed to perfection?


Its simple really, wed be like Queens. Precious pearls protected by beautiful shells. Men would have to first get permission to speak to us and even then, the interaction would ensure that they do not take advantage of us. Men would have to be straight up and honest because while they might get away with playing on the sympathy of us soft and caring females, our male relatives will be able to see right through deceit, lies and all types of falsehood. We wouldnt have to make ourselves look fake or spend hours trying to look like perfect supermodels. Instead, we would realize that we are a whole human being and that our piety, our character and our intellect is far more crucial than the way we look. We wouldnt care if some human being was impressed with us, because wed know that we should impress our Creator above anything else, and wed be certain that when we impress our Creator then He will put the right people in our lives.


In short, we wouldnt have to try so hard, wed be happier, wed be more accepting of ourselves, wed be grateful for all that we are and our self-esteem would be stable and healthy (as opposed to continuously receiving a bashing from none other than ourselves).

Islam has given women importance and respect, we have traded that importance for the illusion of love and attention.  So instead of spending our time becoming closer to Allah Almighty, we spend our time hopelessly waiting for messages from strange men, for signs and signals to show us that hes interested, for the time he will say he loves us and wants to spend his life with us, and more often than not the waiting is accompanied with the obsessive need to make ourselves better, just so that a mere mortal can be interested in us and give us love and attention, because somehow, somewhere, the message that a woman can only be validated or important if she has a man who adores her, has managed to be planted into our minds.  


But what if we focused instead on pleasing the One who will never let us down?
What if we tried hard each day to make ourselves better for Allah Almighty, Glory be to Him?


What if we stopped telling ourselves that we have failed if we did not manage to hook the perfect catch?


What if we understood that by forgoing the rules of Islam, we as women are giving away the royalty we have been afforded, by none other than the Creator! And by letting go of this we open the doors to being abused and used, physically and emotionally.


What if we reminded ourselves that we are beautiful enough for the One who has made us and we dont need to have the painful makeovers or incessant diets, or waxing and threading and lazer treatment and all the other things we do that a sane person wouldnt voluntarily put themselves through.


What if we gave ourselves more credit and focused on ourselves as a whole being?  



What if we truly understood the elevated role of a woman in Islam?


I for one can vouch that once we begin to understand the way Islam intends for a woman to be, then everything else becomes insignificant and instead of restlessness your life is filled with peace.



May Almighty Allah be our guide and help us to always see truth beyond the falsehood, and may we have the patience to accept what Allah has willed for us, Inshaa-Allah Ameen! 

Image 1 from here
Image 2 from here

Monday, December 16, 2013

Blogging with a difference



Recently there’s been an upsurge of South African blogs by Muslims, mostly young Muslim women. Suddenly blogs are popping up all over the place and it seems like it’s ‘the new in-thing’. While I am glad that South African’s have finally decided to take to this platform to voice their opinions and share their views, the downside is that some of the blogs out there leave me a bit ill at ease.


First let me discuss my observations of this new blogging trend, then you can understand my reservations in context. Strangely most of these new blogs have taken on the nature of a fictional story. This is great, I have no problem with this, and how can I take up issue with this when I myself have found fiction to be a wonderful means of getting important discussions out there. The problem for me is that the emphasis in most of these blogs seems to be on ROMANCE and LOVE.


Now again, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, many bloggers out there are writing as a means of entertainment and we all know that nothing sells better than a good old romantic love story. I just find that a fictional blog story would've been the perfect move away from typical television programmes- that is if it didn't decide to adopt the very ideas and images of the American television shows we are all so easily taken by.


I personally think it would've been much better to stick to our roots and tell a South African story, because that is after all who we are. While there are a few blogs which attempt to tell a purely South African story, the majority have managed to intermingle South African and American ideas to such an extent that the story seems hard to place within a South African context and it very closely mimics television shows like ‘Gossip Girl’, ‘ 90210’ and the likes of it.


Many commenters on these blogs make it clear that if you don’t like what you are reading then it’s simple, just don’t read! Which of course is the most logical way to go about it, except that I have continued to read these blogs and probably will continue, because it gives me insight into what our people are thinking and the framework from which they function. And because admittedly I am a story addict and my addiction threshold for stories is very low.


Nonetheless, just as I was beginning to think that every blog I read is almost like the other, I got invited to read a new blog, and I must say this gives me hope that diverse thinking and unique story telling still does exist. This blog has managed to capture the perfect combination of seriousness and humour, while shedding light on issues that have affected us all or continue to affect us. It’s a brilliant read and definitely an educational experience. But since I always like to encourage people to form their own opinions, don’t take my word for it, please go and check it out for yourselves, the link is below:



Let me end by saying that I am still glad that South Africans and specifically South African Muslims have taken to blogging, it’s a brave thing on its own to put your writing out there and open it up to all sorts of comments and criticisms. However, I still believe that as South African’s we have a rich heritage and a unique perspective and the pseudo-American writing that has emerged does not do justice to this at all. I encourage bloggers to keep blogging, but do it on your own terms, please do not use Americanised television programmes as your frame of reference, create your own frame of reference, use unique experiences, focus on themes other than love and romance, create characters that do not match the typical blue-eyed, light haired, dreamy good looking ones, and use this platform to change minds and ideas. Love and romance may attract readers, but is this really the way to leave your mark? 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

My two cents on Nelson Mandela’s passing


In the late hours of Thursday evening/ early hours of Friday morning we heard the news that everyone knew was going to come, but no one knew exactly when. Nelson Mandela had passed away! People immediately hailed the ‘First Black President of South Africa’. His icon status seems to have skyrocketed with his death. All over the world people are in mourning. By donning the colours of the South African flag, even the Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building showed the world that they mourn the death of Mandela. News headlines are still filled news of his passing and events that have followed. The question has to be asked- What has made an otherwise ordinary man into a world hero? 


I envisage people saying- DUH! Why ask such a silly question, isn’t it obvious? And then I’ll get the usual answers to this question, you know, answers which include the 27 years spent in prison, the fight for freedom, the uniting of a country and of course, the fact that he was instrumental in the demise of horrid apartheid. These are of course correct answers, but I think the thing that what made Nelson Mandela so popular was his HUMANITY.



The simple human values, moral conscience, caring, kindness, warmth, empathy, the need for unity- these are things that stand out, these are the things that turned him from a leader into an icon. Whether people admit this or not, in the end, it is the basic humanity that everyone is attracted to, because deep down basic human goodness and kindness is what we all seek. It is this very basic humanity that is sorely absent in so many world leaders today, and the contrast is vivid. This is evident as masses of people are in mourning, millions of people loved Nelson Mandela because he in some way or the other he reminded people that if you are good and humble then you can change the world, and let’s face it, how many people today actually stand by that principle?


He’s left behind a legacy people are saying, and this reminds me that to leave behind a legacy you don’t have to be rich, famous or beautiful. To leave behind a legacy all you have to do is be a good person! Display good manners and good character to the world, treat everyone with respect and remain humble, the good news is that we all have the ability to do achieve this, which makes it a possibility for all of us to leave behind a legacy. This is reassuring for those of us who watch people get to the top through any means necessary (most of which don’t exactly fall under the category of goodness).


And in our struggle to make a difference, in our insistence to leave a legacy of our own, we should not and cannot forget that the actions of every man is recorded by the greatest Being. Allah Almighty sees all that we do, Allah hears all that we say, Allah watches all of our actions and sometimes the people who have seemingly left nothing behind, those that we overlook and regard as insignificant- sometimes those people have left a greater legacy than any of us can fathom.


I do not minimize the efforts of Nelson Mandela when I say this, I simply point this out to remind us all that perhaps we don’t have to strive to be recognized by people. Surely Mandela didn’t sit back and say, ‘hey I want to become a world icon so let me fight for freedom and justice’.  The world icon status was a by-product of him standing up for what was right, and at the time, this cost him his freedom and he was regarded as an outcast, a terrorist even. So yeah, sometimes standing up for what is right is the hardest thing to do, but it needs to be done, because doing the right thing in all circumstances whether you are the lowest of people or the highest, this is what turns ordinary people into legends.



And in our quest to do what’s right and while we work to achieve our mission of leaving something good behind, let us try and remember that our intentions are the most important and if we choose to act so that people can recognize us then we may end up wasting our lives, but if we perform deeds because we want Allah Almighty to recognize us, then well, we will be legends in our own way because anything done to please Allah will never go unnoticed.


When we remember Nelson Mandela, let us remember the good lessons that he has taught and let us practice upon it, otherwise, well, his legacy will just be a part of history and his efforts will not live on. The world needs good people, people who are unselfish and who put others before themselves, it’s time we make an effort to become these good people that the world longingly awaits.


May Almighty Allah always be our Guide, Inshaa-Allah!

Images from here


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Most things in life are overrated


 Life has the ability to disappoint you. Sometimes you look forward to things, believing that it will be wonderful, just to be reminded that it wasn't such a big deal in the first place. This can apply to big things and small.


For a while I wanted to buy the new Magnum Black Espresso ice-cream. The adverts of it made it seem divine. The mouth-watering, rich ice-cream, with perfect coffee flavoured swirls covered in intense dark chocolate almost made me drool. Who wouldn't be attracted to such a pleasure?  So yesterday my sister decided to buy it for me (May Allah reward her), and I finally got to taste it. I’d be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it, but after a short while I came to this realization- MOST THINGS IN LIFE ARE HIGHLY OVERRATED!



The ice-cream was obviously not as enjoyable as it was made to look, and of course that should be expected since advertising is a huge industry and those people really do their jobs well. But this is a reminder to us all, the things of this world are all like that. It provides the promise of something wonderful, just for you to come to learn that in fact, it’s not that great after all.

Let’s look at bigger things, because deriving life lessons from a simple ice-cream may seem silly to some people.

What about something like marriage? We look forward to getting married with a firm belief that it will be perfect. We dream of having the best spouse and a life that will make others long to be us. Only to find that it’s more work than fun and the dream does not match the reality at all. Same thing with having children. It’s a pleasure and a blessing, but it’s no walk in the park and parents will tell you that their concerns, worries and work never end.

The same can apply to almost anything in life, anything material that is. The promises of joy when it comes to things in this world will always be overrated, but I think it has to be that way. How can we enjoy everlasting Paradise if we get satisfaction in this temporary world? How can we understand truth without first having lived through the illusion? This world is merely a preparation, and this means that everything in it is flawed, and so of course when we expect perfection from things in this imperfect world then we will end up feeling disappointed and perhaps even cheated.

But while most things in life are overrated, we can expect there to be the opposite of this and so Inshaa-Allah we will find that things of the hereafter will not be overrated at all. Yes, I know that I have not actually experienced the hereafter, but I have the promise of my Creator and that means that the descriptions of Paradise is not some truth laced with a whole load of illusion (as is the case in this world). When Allah Almighty tells us something, then we can be assured that it is pure and absolute truth, and so things will be exactly how they have been described to be. No misleading advertising, no glamorous ploys, no emotional manipulation, just the plain down truth, and we are told something to the effect that our expectations of Jannah (Paradise) will never be accurate, it will always be surpassed because we do not have the ability to comprehend things of the Hereafter. So Inshaa-Allah what we expect from Jannah will be much, much better than our expectations, and obviously then “overrated” will not even feature.

The lesson in short:
Things of this world will always continue to disappoint us but things of the Hereafter will be the opposite.

MAY ALMIGHTY ALLAH GUIDE US, HELP US AND ALLOW US TO EXPERIENCE THE TRUE PLEASURES OF JANNAH, INSHAA-ALLAH!

Image from here 


Monday, November 4, 2013

A New Year Dawns- All The Best for 1435

Image from here

New Year Duaa (Prayer)

Oh Allah you are the EVER-LASTING, the ETERNAL, the FIRST, and your Magnificent great bounties and the nobility of your independent generosity. This new year has approached and I ask thee protection during the year from shaytaan and his friends and I ask thee assistance of this evil nafs (of mine) and assist me to do such actions that will bring me closer to thee, O the POSSESSOR OF GREATNESS AND HONOUR!


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Whoever recites the above duaa at the beginning of the year, the shaytaan says:

“This person has safeguarded himself from me.”


Extracted from page 56 from the kitaab “Youm Aashoroli Or Uskaa Hookam” By Hazrat Moulana Ahmed Saeed Sahib Dahliwi (Rahmatullah Alay)

How do things become “Fashion?”



My most recent musings led me to ask myself this question as I wondered about the origin of Red Velvet Cakes (out of all things). See most recently the trend in baking has been red velvet, suddenly it’s all everybody talks about, and making the most perfect red velvet cakes is testimony to your excellent baking skills. Now I have never tried making these myself, mainly because I’ve tasted it and really can’t understand the obsession. I will always remain a chocolate cake loyalist.



It got me thinking though- Does everybody really prefer eating red velvet cakes above all else. I mean do they actually love the way it tastes, or has this just become the latest fashion? Now I get that people need diversity in life, that’s all well and good, even I would get sick of eating chocolate cake all the time. But when something suddenly takes the world by storm and becomes the latest craze, I usually look at it with a good dose of scepticism, being the anti-fashion person that I am.


Red velvets aside, I can name many other things that have taken people by storm and this is as diverse as a particular hairstyle to the type of water bottle that people use. Yes, you’ve heard me correctly, even water bottles can come into fashion. A while back I saw this glass water bottle being sold and wanted to buy it for my mother, unbeknownst to me, this very bottle was the latest craze. Soon I saw it all over the place and everyone was suddenly using them. I had to wonder how come so many people suddenly understood that drinking water is healthier than any other drink, but anyway, at least people were drinking water right?


It would be interesting to know where things originated from. Who first decided to try out red velvet cupcakes and how did it manage to become a craze? Which person thought of the idea of selling funky glass water bottles? Who decided that beaded bookmarks would be cool?...
Where exactly do all these “fashions” or perhaps they are more aptly referred to as “fads” come about? And how does a simple idea suddenly become so popular?


I’d like to hear different thoughts on this and at the same time, the next time you’re about to eat a red velvet cupcake, I would like you to consider whether you really like it for what it tastes like or do you like it because it somehow makes you feel like you are part of the “in thing”? And of course this applies to every other “fashion trend” which so often surfaces.



Let’s start thinking about whether our choices are our own or if they are simply choices made under the influence of others, as bizarre as that may sound. 


Image 1 from here
Image 2 from here

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The basic essentials of brainwashing




It’s something we all think about in negative terms, something we all insist will never happen to us, something we may think involves a long process, yet I see it happening more and more these days. People just seem to be brainwashed in so many ways and the ease at which it is done is actually something to be really scared about.

So I decided to do my own little analysis about this problem and I bring you what I term, The Basic Essentials of Brainwashing”.

1.   Have the desire to sell something, whether it’s an object, a lifestyle even an idea, it doesn’t matter what it is at this point, the focus is to sell this to as many people as possible.

2.   Give the thing you want to sell an image. This would involve a considerable amount of manipulation, but that’s not a problem, because that can easily be achieved in the next step.

3.   This step involves one of the biggest tools of manipulation. It’s called ADVERTISING. So this is where you portray your product, idea, lifestyle etc to others in a way that they would actually begin to like it, long for it and eventually do anything to get it. This is where you turn your otherwise ordinary thing into a brand.

4.   This step is linked closely to the one above, here, you’d need your brand (product, lifestyle, idea etc) to be associated with someone who is rich, famous or good looking. Either one of these criteria can be used, it doesn’t really matter as long as the person or people associated with your brand has the ability to make it seem like the world cannot revolve without it.

5.   Okay, so once you have decided what you want to sell, you’ve given your thing and image, advertised it, in association with a particular type of person/s then it’s time to start the actual full scale brainwashing. Now this is where you already have people hooked and in this step, you start sending out your messages. Any message you’d like to send out will be accepted at this point. It doesn’t even matter if your messages are negative, harmful or even plain down nonsense. Why? Because your brand has the status of an “in thing”, everybody is talking about it, and naturally everybody wants to have it, or live it, or think it.

6.   So all that’s left is to continue the brainwashing process, over and over, until eventually the initial steps are not even necessary any more. At this point, you can introduce new things to sell and it won’t even be questioned at all.


This sounds a bit crazy doesn’t it?

Yet, I see the effects of this very process, so blatant and it’s just getting worse and worse. This is why people can so easily see a particular thing or lifestyle on a popular TV show and suddenly wish to become like the people they see, long to own the things that these people have and even wish to have the type of relationships that these people have. And they don’t stop to consider, not once, that in fact they have been brainwashed into believing that what they see is wonderful, even though it opposes their values, and their beliefs like the cold opposes the heat.

And then, people’s standard becomes what they have been manipulated into believing is perfect and when they get what’s real instead of the imagined fantasy, they are not happy and they become miserable, depressed, despondent and so on.

The worst part however is that when anyone decides to point out that in fact this is systematic brainwashing, they get shut down so quickly they are probably left wondering how that happened. And the people who are able to see through the brainwashing of course are the ones who are boring, old-fashioned, clueless and who knows what else.

So here’s my challenge to you:

 Take a look at your life, a proper look, one of those deep, life-changing, analytical kind of looks, and ask yourself, how much of the things in your life is actually who you are?

How many of your ideas and opinions are your own?

How many of your desires are free from the brainwashing that’s so rampant in our societies?

Be honest with yourself and where you have to, admit that you have been brainwashed! Admittance is the first step to change after all.

And after reading what I’ve written here, I urge you-
Don’t just blindly accept what I’m saying- please, think about this for yourself and come up with your own opinion, because like I said, it’s so very easy to be brainwashed in today’s world!  

And one more thing, please don’t be afraid to be the only one who thinks differently, society achieves nothing if all the people think the same.

May Allah Almighty save us all Inshaa-Allah!


Image from here

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The death of respect



I don’t know how many times I have to ask “What is going on in this world?”
Everywhere you look, with so many things it just seems that people are losing their minds, and I can’t help but long for the good old days, even though it makes me sound like an old person who can’t ‘get with the times’.


This time the crazy, shocking events has to do with respect for teachers. A short while ago a video about a school boy assaulting his own teacher and forcing him to leave the classroom, while his fellow classmates laughed and cheered on, went viral, shortly thereafter another schoolboy punched his teacher… How many more of these incidents are we going to hear about?


It’s shocking for me because I come from a time when children were so scared to even speak to their teachers because we never knew what would be perceived as rudeness and if you were rude, there’d be consequences. Now I’m not saying that teachers should be given freedom to beat children up the way they want to. I clearly remember a teacher of mine who had a broken belt, which he even named, and he used it to hit children if they did something wrong. One time he hit a girl in my class so badly that she was bruised. So yeah, I’m all for stopping teachers beating pupils to the extent that it causes harm, but what has happened is that we’ve moved from one extreme to another, which is never a good thing. Now children’s rights are emphasized to the extent that teachers’ rights are trampled on, and this state of imbalance is obviously having its repercussions.


At the same time, I also don’t believe that respect is earned through intimidation, you know what they say, ‘respect demands respect’. So the thing is that both teachers and pupils should be treated with respect, if we lived in an ideal world, perhaps this would be common practice. A beautiful teaching of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) comes to mind. He (pbuh) taught us to respect our elders and to look at those younger than us with kindness. So there’s the answer, a state of balance, respect and kindness, everyone’s rights are fulfilled, and roles are clearly defined. If only people of today could follow the advices of the past.


It all goes back to the loss of values. There was a time when children were taught to respect adults, and to respect their teachers more than any ordinary adult. There was a time when adults didn't abuse the rights of children, sure there were a few cases of ‘misdemeanour’ but it wasn't the general rule as it seems to be today. Then everything went crazy, and now it seems like the world is spinning so fast and so madly that everything’s becoming jumbled and instead of having a clear picture of things, the crayons have melted and the colours have merged causing not a pretty picture, but a merged up mess.


As politicians are scrambling to try and get people to vote for them, and ordinary citizens feel despondent and hopeless because change seems to only be a word in the dictionary, which conveniently gets used only at election time, I can’t help but be the ‘conspiracy theorist’, reminding people that all the Prophecies about the end of time are indeed coming true. All the things we thought were so far away, are now a part of our reality, and all that’s left for us to do is face the facts and hold on to our values, very, very tightly.


I don’t know how much worse things are going to get, I think it has to get really bad before it can get better, that’s the way of things it seems, the swing of the pendulum. And what do we do in the meantime, we certainly cannot sit back and become a product of the messed up societies in which we live, we cannot accept the norms as if it cannot be changed. We must fight back against the moral deterioration which is so widespread. How do we do this? It’s simple- we hold on to teachings of goodness like our lives depend on it! We stick to the sunnah way of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), we stick to the teachings of the Blessed Quraan, we stick to religion and ethics, we stick to the values our parents have instilled in us so fervently, we remember to look for goodness in everyone and to make excuses for other people’s faults, because when it comes to it, the truth is that;

We can create new norms if we really try hard enough!

Things like respect, values, and honour can be resurrected even though we may believe that it is dead. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The creation of ‘monsters’


Somehow the topic of ‘the veil’, just keeps coming up. The discussion of whether or not the veil should be banned has come up in Britain once again. Recently a young Muslim woman in France who wears niqab was assaulted by two men, just weeks earlier a pregnant Muslim woman in Sweden was attacked so badly that her head was bashed against a car. Women in Sweden were outraged, not only Muslim women showed solidarity, but non-Muslim women also decided to stand in solidarity for this cause.

I find it shocking that anyone could attack a woman like that. It’s really not normal to just decide to attack a woman who hasn’t even done any harm. But when I think about this issue in more depth, it makes a lot of sense.

You see, all the media hype about the veil has succeeded in turning covered Muslim women into monster type creatures. They have dehumanised women who wear the veil with all their talk of banning and liberation and what not and so instead of seeing a woman, with a life, feelings and choices, all people see are faceless beings who are going against the law and thus can be assaulted at will.

But, while women have been turned into ‘monsters’, all of this has also managed to somehow unleash hatred and aggression in people and they in turn have become ‘monster type’ people. Those who assault innocent women, who swear at women who have done nothing to them, who insult, curse and mock at women, simply because she’s chosen to cover her face, these people have displayed such negativity and aggression with the belief that they have a right to do so, and so we see that all the discussion, all the claims for liberation and freedom has once again resulted in Muslim women being the ones who end up suffering.

We need to question the world we live in when things like this happen. It seems that all the debating is useless when it comes down to what’s actually happening on a practical level. Clearly, the only thing that is happening from all this ‘discussion’ is that Muslim women are made even more voiceless and now to top it off, they are seen as less human than ever before.


If people want the world’s problems to be solved, they are first going to have to look deeply at the monsters they are creating in society, both physically and on an ideological level. Only once we remove all the stereotypes, all the negativity and all the false assertions, then only can we start looking at making changes that matter, until then, we will be faced with an increase of monster type behaviour, and while this thought is saddening, it is unfortunately, a reality.


May Almighty Allah save us all, protect us from harm and make it easy for all people to see the truth! Inshaa-Allah 

Image 1 from here
Image 2 from here

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Why I miss Ramadhaan



It’s already half way into the month of Shawaal and still I’m sad that Ramadhaan is gone. It seems that it just came and went so quickly, like a breath of fresh air, a momentary breeze and then it was just gone. I’m not complaining about these days, Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah) these days are good too and there’s always the opportunity for worship but somehow Ramadhaan is just special, and no matter how hard you may try after Ramadhaan there’s just no way of getting the same feeling.

Ramadhaan is filled with peace and blessings and it’s as if you can feel the Mercy of Allah most Glorious all around. People seem to be more patient and more giving, time seems to have more blessings and even though you eat so much less, you somehow are able to do so much more.

People may see this month as a month of restriction- where Muslims are stifled and forced to go through difficulty, but it is so far from that. In fact, Ramadhaan is a month where human beings are given a glimpse into their true potential. Where the restrictions that we usually place upon ourselves are lifted. Where we realise that the material things of this world, such as food, are actually the things that hold us back and which stifle our spirituality and productivity.

Somehow you are able to perform extra Salaah, recite extra Quraan, make extra duaa (prayers) and still achieve all your work for the day. It’s like this is a reminder that when we let go of the worldy things with the intention of pleasing Allah Almighty, then Allah raises us and shows us that we are actually spiritual beings with huge potential. This is why those who are closest to Allah Almighty (like Prophets (peace be upon them), saints and so on) were able to achieve so many miracles and amazing things in their lifetime- they could do things that we could only dream of because they gave up this world and its glamour, to achieve closeness to Allah Almighty, all Glorious.

Ramadhaan comes to wake us up, to revitalise us, to cleanse us and to make us more aware, and although this vigour and enthusiasm lasts for a while after Ramadhaan, a few months down the line it’s gone again and we need another Ramadhaan to remind us once more.

For me Ramadhaan is a beautiful time. I see people who are willing to give and help as much as possible. I see people who are caring and loving, patient and content. People are just naturally better and this makes so much sense when you realise that this is as a result of people whose main concern is connecting with their Lord. When people are constantly conscious of their Creator then they generally tend to be concerned about bettering themselves as well as uplifting others.

So the most special thing about Ramadhaan is our constant connection to Allah Almighty. It’s like we give up the world to focus on Allah for twenty nine or thirty days. Everything else can take a back seat, we think, because our time is for Allah. Ramadhaan lasts for one month, what a glorious month! But can you imagine how much we could achieve if all our days were like the days of Ramadhaan, can you imagine what amazing people the world would be filled with?

“But then Ramadhaan wouldn't be special”, I hear you responding. And of course I cannot disagree, every day could never be like Ramadhaan because we would definitely lose momentum and get bored. Human beings have a low attention span after all.


So all we can do is try our hardest to better ourselves for the rest of the year, so that Inshaa-Allah if we live to see another beautiful month of Ramadhaan, then we will be better people and thus our month will be more amazing than it was this year.


I guess it’s time to let go of Ramadhaan, but I pray that we never let go of the goodness that we have received in the Blessed month. 

Image from here

Sunday, August 11, 2013

HOPE

So now that the Blessed month of Ramadhaan is over (way too quickly), I have a little more time to do extra things, like blogging. I hope that everyone has been well over the past month and I hope that Ramadhaan brought many blessings and a lot of peace to all of you. (Inshaa-Allah I plan to do a post on Ramadhaan soon, but we’ll have to wait for that J

Anyway… As regular readers of this blog would’ve noticed (since it’s blatantly obvious) I have decided to change my blog template after a very long while. I was comfortable with my old template and it took me so long to find something I was happy with that I decided it was way too much effort to change it. See, I have to complicate life by insisting on things being symbolic and meaningful (instead of just choosing something because it looks nice, or for the fun of it). In any case, after searching some other sites for templates I got irritated and decided to see what blogger has to offer and there it was, the template I’ve chosen now, RAIN- This was perfect and I’ll tell you why!


Rain symbolises growth, the beginning of new things… but perhaps the most of all, it symbolises HOPE! Hope for a brighter tomorrow, for new life, for clean air, a clean slate, hope for many things- The perfection of rain water, emerging from dark grey clouds, translucent drops of perfection- SubhanAllah (Glory be to Allah), if rain doesn’t remind us that anything is possible, then what does?


This Ramadhaan I’ve been hearing about hope a lot, even today while listening to a lecture by Mufti Menk, I was reminded about hope once more. Mufti Menk spoke about how Allah Almighty wants people to be hopeful and that people should always have hope in Allah, because without hope faith can quickly disappear.


I find this so beautiful, and so reassuring. Imagine that the All Glorious Creator, who is Self Sufficient, expects us, weak human beings, to hope for Allah’s mercy, to hope that Allah will help us, to hope that things will be good if we turn to Allah. SubhanAllah! HOPE!!!


So today and all the days after this, let us remember to have HOPE. Let us hope that Allah will favour us and shower His special mercy on us, let us hope to be amongst the Ummah (community) of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on the Day of Judgement, let us hope that Our prayers will be answered, and that we will have a good life and a good death and the best in the Hereafter. Let us hope for anything that we want to, because Allah Almighty is generous and there are no ends to Allah’s bounties and there is no impossibilities for Allah! SubhanAllah!!!


LET US HAVE HOPE IN ALLAH, LET THE BEAUTIFUL RAIN BE A REMINDER FOR US THAT THERE CAN ALWAYS BE NEW BEGINNINGS, THAT COMPLETE BEAUTY CAN EMERGE FROM DARKNESS, THAT HOPE CAN SUSTAIN US, BECAUSE AFTER ALL, ALLAH ALMIGHTY SAYS SOMETHING TO THE EFFECT THAT – ‘I AM AS MY SERVANT THINKS I AM’, SO LET US THINK OF ALLAH ALMIGHTY AS THE MOST GENEROUS, THE MOST MERCIFUL AND THE ONE WHO CAN MAKE ANYTHING HAPPEN FOR US, AND INSHAA-ALLAH WE WILL SEE THAT WHEN WE HAVE HOPE IN ALLAH, THEN TRULY, THE SKY IS NOT THE LIMIT!



MAY WE ALWAYS BE OF THOSE WHO CONTINUE TO HAVE HOPE, INSHAA-ALLAH AMEEN! 

Image from here