I remember that day in January 2005 when everything appeared to be bleak. Days were morose and I felt I had no purpose. I simply was an alien to my own life. Eighteen I was then and I thought I knew what was happening, now many years on I realise the wisdom. I had never cried like that before. I was broken and hurt. That day I realised that only Allah could save me from the dismay and upheaval in emotion.
I had returned home from sixth form and performed the ablution. I then went to my room and took my prayer mat and made the intention to pray Maghrib (the fourth prayer.) It was then that the prayers had a renewed meaning. I knew my life was taking a new direction. The tears streamed down my face and I could not prevent them from falling. I did not know how to deal with this. Several times I staggered in the prayer sobbing quite hard. Unknowingly I place my prayer veil in my mouth as way to calm myself down but it would not stop. I just wanted an instant solution or to undo that which had been done but I could not. Instead I prayed.
At that time in that salaah I did not know what I was saying or the meaning of the verses I was reciting. It was then that my heart felt a little less heavy and that it would be ok. Then my journey of learning began. It was filled with new discoveries and findings that were profound to me. My actions were now based more so on spirituality. All these years I did not know how liberating the religion was and how much depth it contained.
There were things that I could not give up but eventually succumbed as obeying You was better than that which I desired. That day was a pivotal point in which I returned to Allah. Theres a gem a took with me from that experience. The gem is that no matter how bad or devastating a situation is Allah is there. We just have to call upon Him and rely upon Him.
May Allah give us the best in this duniya and the akhirah. Ameen.
My first encounter with modesty in which I began to understand modesty was in sixth form. Living in a predominantly Caucasian area I had an ambivalent attitude towards hijab, covering and modesty in general. At this point what I knew about Islam was very little. Yet at the age of sixteen I adorned the Khimar (headcovering.) It was more so for cultural purposes rather than a religious statement. However, I was amazed how many people were intrigued by this cloth. During this time in France they were banning religious symbols across schools I believe. I remember being in a French lesson and being questioned about my opinion. I had a liberal approach, as I was unfamiliar with the requirements in Islam.
Admittedly, during this period Islam was an entity that I viewed as being separate from my life. It was about Islam being cohesive and coherent with my life as opposed to the other way around how it should be. Gradually I began learning more about my own faith.
The journey was phenomenal and I am still taken aback by the expanse of depth it contains. Islam relates to every aspect of our lives. Even secular systems will in some way relate back to faith. Which brings me to modesty.
Being of ethnic minority as you can imagine in a Caucasian area came with its own self development. It involved creating an identity and retaining culture without breaking barriers whilst simultaneously adhering to familial customs! Adding spirtituality to that the boundaries where diversified even more so.
As I grew in knowledge the less judgemental I became- yet it seemed around me people were ever more judgemental. Concepts of covering to me meant that the inner hijab was crucial in fact essential if the outer garments were to be worn. The idea that a veiled woman was or is better than a non veiled woman was the first thing to leave my mind. It may sound strange but I had been conditioned to think this from a young age. Hence the confusion in my mind. It was only when I learnt to separate the action from faith that my mind opened to the inevitable.
Modesty was that which you preserved within yourself. It was you or is you valuing yourself to Allah- not to man. It is how you show your obedience to Allah. This is what is honoured in Islam this is why it was revealed in the Quran. Modesty is the veil that hides the beautiful secrets you only share with that special someone that enables you to be unique. Modesty brings the focus to your mind and intellect.
This week I have met two new people. They are both international and both have much to offer the wider community. It all began with a smile. When I am out and about I like to smile at strangers and have conversations. I always begin with a smile. Not only is it polite and courteous but it’s a Sunnah (teaching of the Prophet SAW.) Anyway the two ladies whom I met had resided in Bradford for a few months and were eager to prosper in the city. However they did not anybody so we’re restrained to staying within their own community.
Coincidentally, they both wanted to improve their English. How beautiful were these encounters? When we had wanted to begin the ESOL course previously there was little interest. However, now I had met two women in separate places wanting to learn.
I thanked Allah as I knew it was from him and renewed my intention again. Sometimes the decree has that we do not comprehend.
A few months ago I volunteered to help teach an ESOL (English for Speakers of another Language.) Before attending the meeting I prayed isthikhara (prayer for guidance.) I did this, as in this duaa (supplication) there’s a part that requires one to say and translates as “oh Allah give this to me if it is good for me in this world and the next.” You see I was anxious about committing, although it would be for few hours a week. I wanted to be able to manage my kids, husband and household responsibilities. By performing isthikhara I felt that Allah would aid me in this affair. I made ablution and focused on what I was about to do and thought about my intention. Since getting married I had not really spread my wings as I had imagined. One thing I did and do reflect on is that “marriage is half the deen.” I had thought of achieving this in a different manner. Prior to getting married when speaking to my husband- we spoke of attending courses pertaining to Islam and growing together. Yet five years and two children later I felt a sense of disorientation. Alhumdulillah we have made memories, formed relationships, grown to know each other but spiritually we had become sedentary. Through our marriage o had attended a few courses taking place in Bradford, but they would cease after a few weeks and my motivation would diminish.
I wanted to revisit those spiritual highs and rekindle my passion for knowledge. I hoped it would assist me in my marriage as I could encourage my husband too. I hoped I would meet people. I hoped I could contribute to people with the small skill that Allah had equipped me with.
So I attended the first meeting and chatted to the sister who was leading. We had a great team. Everybody was energised had much to contribute. We had a few meetings in which we discussed student enrolment, fees and resources. Alas, we staggered in the start date causing an anticipated delay. This caused a dip as I wanted to really pursue and aid the community. Then entered the person whom this blog is really about.
My friend (Qamar) who is the admin (really the heart the ties and holds things together) enquired what was going on and if I was still interested. I really wanted to teach so I replied in the affirmative. After an exchange of messages, another meeting was arranged. A new strategy was thought of and we decided to move ahead. It wasn’t the class that I was only enthused about but it was about meeting someone ( I know sentimental). Driving home I kept remembering the Hadith that the Prophet (SAW) said about the seven types of people who would be shaded by Allah. One group would be ‘a man or woman who meet for the sake of Allah and part for the sake of Allah.’ After that meeting that is exactly how I felt. It triggered many ahadith in my mind and I was grateful for sharing ideas.
It then allowed me to revisit my intentions once more as to why I embarked on volunteering and I thought Alhumdulillah Allah has blessed me with more.
Over recent weeks I have began to revisit languages that I once studied. Initially I wondered to myself how I would manage, alongside the children and life in general. As it happens this has so far been manageable. Doing this for myself has helped me in many ways. One benefit is that I am relearning and gaining the passion to now teach my children. By teaching them I am not solely referring to languages or the traditional educational pedagogy. I mean teaching them physically, emotionally and spiritually.
A few weeks ago I began course called HENRY. It focuses on nurturing positive relationships between parent and child by honing in on different elements. This includes the following five elements; physical, understanding, language, emotional and social development. Whilst in the session I found myself linking what the tutor was saying to the spiritual elements in our lives. I found cohesive links between a lecture I had listened to on parenting by Yasir Birjas and the information that was presented to me. In lecture he emphasised the point of interacting with our children from the beginning, which sadly at times we forget. Admittedly I am guilty of this. In the course this was touched upon alongside other points. I remember reflecting and thinking we already have these teachings if only we implemented tarbiyah and it became second nature.
In the third session the tutor emphasised how having time for oneself is as equally important as giving time to everyone. Again this formed cohesive link between something I had learnt at a ‘Being Me’ conference in 2012. The speaker spoke at length about self-development. And again I was grateful that Allah had equipped us with this. The reasons why I share these thoughts is to show that knowledge whether this is ‘spiritual’ or ‘secular’ eventually leads back to Islam and this eventually leads back to Allah. And this is what I want for my children to make the connection.
Moreover, I have started to renew my intention regarding actions whether they are small or big. I believe this may be just a minute element of what Allah has planned, but in his plan for me he is taking me back to my priorities.
Every time I go out I am taken aback at where Allah has lead me. Recently I have been pondering about how I am progressing in the different aspects of my life. I ask myself how am I doing as a mother? as a wife? as a believer? The initial aim of the blog was to act a diary for my daughter – Safiya. When you have your first child is born everything is special and you want to savour every moment. As a mother I wanted to document her development, her achievements, her contributions. I know, some may say rather high expectations for a three year old. I would supplicate for to Allah from the smallest of fears to the biggest of fears.
Now I have my second daughter and things are different. I am different. Life in general is different. Initially after her birth due to physical ailments I felt I could not devote myself to any of my children, my husband or to myself. Like any other mother after birth I experienced the high and then the low came. At the time with everything else that was happening I depleted greatly.
Growing up I had always been resilient and could refocus whatever was happening. Irrespective of happiness of sadness I would unconditionally supplicate to Allah. This time it was different I could see a way out. I felt everything was against me. Reflecting on this experience a few months later I realise what the wisdom was. I would not have appreciated aspects of my life that I had taken for granted. I would not have found solace and peace in my children as I do now. I would not have accessed the services to start the road to recovery in my winding road. I would not be getting stronger. I would not have counted the blessings of Allah. I would not have shown gratitude. I would not have had a nostalgic conversation with my mum about her experiences of motherhood.
I am still not where I want to be but I know the journey with my second daughter -Amanah who is a gift entrusted to me by Allah is going to be different. I have now began supplicating as I did during Safiya’s ‘growing’ time (she’s still only three.) Now I think of their upbringing collectively. I spent time feeling guilty as I could not provide them with that which I thought they needed. Really I am still learning what they need.
This picture was taken in July 2015. I had gone home to visit my family. From there I went to stay at my brothers house for a few nights. It was mainly for the children to spend time together whilst my sister in law and I had a catch up.
How things had changed from that time to now. On that particular day the weather was warm and the park was full of families. Safiya and Mikaeel immediately went for the swings. I quickly photographed the moments. It was not an extravagant or overly lavish activity but this time is something that makes me smile.
It also makes me think of the atrocities faced by other children around the world. Namely those in far away lands such as Palestine. There was the incident where a drone was dropped in a children’s playground. Alhumdulillah we do not have to think of such things.
My sister in law and I were making memories for our children something they could hold onto, capturing moments that we are grateful for. Yet, in the same world injustices are occurring that do not seem to stop.
Throughout the day an array of reflections like this occur in my head. In those times I am content as I feel I have the riches I need in front of me. Alhumdulillah.