Day 1 Ayah 1

It is the start of the sacred month of Ramadan. This is the month in which Muslims all around the world fast from dawn until sunset. This year here in the UK it is 18 hours long. It sounds daunting and difficult to do but their is a sweetness in this month like no other.

Admittedly, if you have read through my recent posts I wrote about my apprehensions. Today I would like to share a reflection as this month is about the Quran, contemplation and reflection.

After the middle prayer (Asr) I read the following verses from the Quran:

All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifieth Allah; and He is the Mighty, the Wise. (Surah Hadid Ayah 1)

On reading the translation, these are the points that I found very moving and I related it to Ramadan. +It begins with saying that ‘all that is in the heaven and the earth gloriefieth Allah.’ When I heard a lecture by Nouman Ali Khan he mentioned that in this month we need to show gratitude to Allah. Subahanallah (glory be to Allah) there have been occassions I have read this but I have never really pondered over the grammatical structure and the words used. Being from a linguistics background it conveyed a deeper meaning. Use of the lexeme ‘all’ shows the status of the Al-mighty. It used to qualify the concrete nouns of ‘heavens’ and ‘earth.’ I could not fathom this as there are sooooooooo many billions of people on the earth and there are sooooooooo many spiritual beings in the unseen world that we cannot see. Then there are the animals, plants, mountains, valleys, oceans all glorifying Allah- and only He can say this as he created such things that we admire and take pictures of. Yet in one ayah Allah elevates above this admiration-hence why we should seek to admire Allah in the best way we can in this month of Ramadan.

Then there is the imagery that is created. When a person reads authors use words for the reader to be able to visualise the message. In English literature when I teach students literary techniques two of the things used by poets is metaphor and onomatopoeia. Metaphor is when something is implied to achieve depth in meaning. Onomatopoeia is when an inanimate object is given feelings oridinarily given to human beings to achieve a point the poet may be making. Here it is as though Allah has used these techniques but not in the same way as a poet would, rather to state a fact. This majesty is then reinforced by the attributes used in the Ayah of ‘mighty’ and ‘wise.’ Furthermore all of the words chosen to be used convey a similar semantic meaning.

Finally this is a reminder for me about believe in Allah which we strive to strengthen in Ramadan.

I am hoping to share more gems that benefit me this Ramadan. Please share if you think this was beneficial.

May Allah accept it from you and me. Ameen.

Inspiration

I have recently began teaching again and it has been the most remarkable source of inspiration. It was one student in particular that left me in awe. When I spoke to him and asked for his permission to write about him he was taken aback and had only one request that he remain anonymous. He also went onto to say that his story was a sad story. To me it was one of success and made me appreciate things that I have that are not being used.

The student achieved excellent grades in A’levels. However, shortly afterwards he became ill and his health deteriorated and he had heart surgery. After this he did go onto pursue studying as he believes that learning is a skill that should not be forgotten. With this in mind he pursued a course in Human Biology, completed a few Islamic courses and last September decided to embark on a university course. This period of achievement was then followed with sorrow as earlier on this year someone close to him passed away.

Hearing these things I experienced so many different emotions. The one that was most prominent was gratitude for things that I have. A piece of advise that the student spoke of was that if was to take anything away from his story was that he found Allah and it gave him purpose.

It was humbling for me-to find such devotion.

Nearly…but not quite

I looked out a the night sky today and was taken aback. We are in that time now where the days are longer and with the weather being milder the change from day to evening is enhanced with the contrasting gradients of blue. From my bedroom it looked picturesque with house lights turned on and the street lights also filling our cul-de-sac. It reminded me of a feeling that I have not felt for a long time. You see Ramadan is coming at the end of this week and I was (and still am) apprehensive.

As a new mother I was scared when the month approached as I felt I could not manage, but Allah made it easy for me-Alhumdulillah.

Looking out at the sky today gave me that warmth I get when breaking the fast (when I have a moment to myself.) Its that time where you can reflect and really appreciate aspects of life you otherwise take for granted. Its the serenity I think I feel as when my girls go to sleep I stay awake for sehri (dawn meal.) I am not saying that I accrue knowledge or spend this time worshipping I just have a few hours whereby I can work on connection (or think about what needs doing to make the next day easier.)

On that note I pray that Allah makes it easy for everyone to fast, I pray he accepts our humble supplications and efforts to come closer to him and I pray he places infinite barakah in our time and gives us the strength to worship Him in the manner that is most befitting for him. Ameen.

Unnoticed

I am a bit uncertain about the title of this post-but I wanted to write about a conversation I was had with a friend of mine. I had a query with regards to a matter which lead to the both us talking about personal aspects of our lives. This is the norm really; when you begin a conversation it naturally veers off into multiple different directions. It had been a long time since we had spoken like this and we realised that the two of us were in very similar situations in terms of our deen, how this related to our marriage and the impact of our culture.

It is only very recently (two years or so) that I have come to realise that those long held traditional beliefs are still very much ingrained in our culture and Bengali heritage. The Bengali culture has many traditions that I believe are great and love to be a part of- but it is when there is an expectation (I say loosely) that I think it goes against being nice and becomes cumbersome. The reason why I wanted to make this point- is because there are a new second generation of Bengali-British-Muslim girls that are getting married and having difficulty balancing all these elements.

I feel as though it is not discussed very much. This may out of respect, out of knowledge or to preserve the union of marriage or simply from fear. However, as Muslims it is hugely important to be honest and admittedly when things are to much. Ourself has a right upon us and by restraining ourselves we are not making the situation any better, rather we are in danger of oppressing ourselves and inadvertently everything around us is also effected. I am not condoning or suggesting that everyone should be outspoken and dismiss courtesy but being the martyr can lead to issues such as mental or emotional. Many a times I speak to friends who were once confident and full of life but have now become bitter, which is sad as this is not what marriage is about. It is a celebration of unity that lasts until eternity (this is a different blog post altogether.)

Really I wanted to say that these women should be shown appreciation in doing all of these things amongst as in reality they go unnoticed although they are ones holding onto the thread that binds everyone together. Of course Allah is the one who is Al-Raqib-the watchful, observing us and deciding whether these tiny deeds will be accepted in the hereafter.  At the same time giving ourselves a break or being shown recognition can make a difference that may just mean the world to someone.

Ordinary Moments

I feel as though I have not had the time to sit and write this past month or so. It has been a transitionary few months filled with visits from extended family, a family wedding, day trips here and there and of course the usual day-to-day activities.

During this time, both of my daughters have had chicken pox too. Any mother knows when your child is slightly ill it moves away from the steady momentum that you know to be family life and days and nights merge into one. Thankfully my husband, his family and my family were there to carry out tasks whilst I held them close, soothed them whilst they cried or managed to nap with them (an hour makes all the difference.) During this time it seems like it is never going to end but alhumdulillah my two girls got through it (although the younger one cried at night- which was expected.) However, I felt there was something else that made it easy for me. This I believe was my duaas that I make to Allah. Its not the ones I say after salad or anything but they are simply ones that I unconsciously speak of throughout the day or when I am presented with something unexpected (which when you you two youn’uns, live with extended can become the norm.)

It was at these times I was silently grateful for my children that were calm and also that I was able to attend my brothers wedding and be a part of the celebrations. It was important to me as I live away from my family and everything has become that much more prominent.

It is in such Ordinary Moments one realises the extraordinary power of Allah.

My mother reacted like me

In a previous post I discussed a section of a podcast I heard. In this post I am going to discuss another section. Nouman Ali Khan spoke about the slander faced about Aisha (RA may Allah be pleased with her.) I shall briefly (as brief as I can) write it here for those who are not familiar. During the time of the Prophet (SAW) it was customary for one the wives to accompany him on an expedition or battle. On one such occasion it just so happened that it was the turn of Aisha (RA.)  At this time the women would be carried by men in carriage with two poles either side. This would be covered so no one could see inside. Aisha (RA) was very light in weight so when the expedition had ended her carriage was lifted and taken without her being inside it. She was left stranded. A companion came across her, he turned away and allowed his camel to kneel down so she could be lead to army.

After this, there were some people who spread rumours about Aisha (RA) and the companion. She was unaware of this until one of the other female sahahabi’s informed her. Her world came crumbling down she cried for three consecutive days and resided with her parents. The Prophet (SAW) was not coming near her either and eventually when he did he said that ‘if you are innocent seek forgiveness and if she is guilty then she should seek forgiveness.’ Upon hearing this, she turned to her parents and asked them to speak on behalf of her, they could not respond. After seeing everyone’s reaction Aisha (RA) says that her tears ‘dried up.’ It her reaction that I want to draw attention to-she said to her parents and the Prophet (SAW) that God would declare her inoncence and and turned away from them likening them to the Islraelites who did not believe Musa. She was angry and she responded. Now I have heard about this incident several times but I was not aware of how she had reacted.

When I was listening to Nouman Ali Khan he described her reaction and then related it to the Qur’an. We are told if you raise your voice to the Prophet (SAW) then the consequence is that all your good deeds are wiped away. We are also told (which is used against us much of the time) not to raise our voices to our parents. I struggle with the latter a lot. Now I am not an angry person but if a situation requires I can become egregious and indignant. As and when this has happened I have thought myself to be ‘wrong’ spiritually in some way. Hearing Aisha (RA) also reacted in the same manner as me, made me feel hopeful and less ‘wrong.’ (I am no way near the level of Aisha (RA.)

Now I am not saying that we should all go around and disrespect our parents, or the Messengers. I would not condone something like that. What I am saying is that we should be less harsh on ourselves and understand more about hadith’s, Quranic ayah before we advise someone else.

Echoes of my thoughts

I listened to one and a half podcast’s today whilst ironing (as you do.) The speaker echoed some things that I believe are invaluable. He began by providing a history of his relationship with the Qur’an (the Muslim holy scripture.) I was astonished to find that his journey was similar to mine and he also began understanding the Qur’an dismissing some teaching and practices he had encountered whilst growing up. The reason as to why I was astonished was because he too found that the Qur’an and Islam had much to contribute and was not restricted. This was contrary to how it was portrayed to me as a child and a young women growing up in a western country. I always find it refreshing when I listen to speakers and they are able to relate to contemporary issues faced by Muslims and the community as a whole but take examples from the Qur’an.

The podcast was entitled Sabr through action not emotion. He began by talking about Musa (AS) and the time when he lead the Israelites to the desert to escape Firaun (Pharoah.) The Israelites faced many hardships and the hardship that really struck a chord in my heart was that of having their children murdered in front of them. No parent can withstand their child going through the smallest of pains and these parents had to physically see this and then live with it day in day out. At this point I thought of what was happening around the world. Parents are being tested differently with their children. A community I thought of was that of the Syrians and Palestians. We all see across social media the devastation that is occuring. We may only feel the pain whilst scrolling through our feeds and become indignant and outraged at that time and then continue with our daily tasks but we should try our best to remember them in our supplications (that’s the least we can do.) This then made me think about a poem written by Carol Ann Duffy about war. I remember her writing something about ‘reading about the catastrophes and the turning over to the next section’ (this is not a direct quote I am just taking from what I remember.)

Going back to Musa (AS) and the Israelites in the desert, there are a few important lessons we can take. Not only did they see their children being murdered and undergo torture, they now were on a desert not knowing what the future had in store for them. However, Musa (AS) had escaped tyranny before and gone to the desert. As I was listening to the speaker I was thinking what would be Musa (AS) advise? I was pleasantly surprised that it was an echo of my own thought. Musa (AS) advised them to be grateful and Allah will increase. Often times when faced with calamity and we ask for nasihah (advise) we are told to be patient. I do not know about anyone else but when I am not able to exhibit this I do feel spiritually deficient too. The speaker (Nouman Ali Khan) pointed out that to feel these emotions and be sad is a part of being patient. The precursor of this is gratitude-because this shows you what you do have and what Allah has done for you and where he has brought you. In saying this Nouman Ali Khan highlighted the importance of a persons mental and psychological state which I feel is at times overlooked.

I guess I wanted to share this with everyone and illustrate that our religion has answers and caters for all individuals we just have to search.