…..Closeness…..

A few months ago I was having a conversation with my sister in law. She said “do you know I read something?” I enquired what it was, she said “I came across a post on Instagram and it said ‘spend time with newborn children as they have spent the most time with God.” The words really struck me as I had been contemplating the ups and downs of motherhood (as you do and never stop.) I was feeling as though I had reached somewhat of a plato. On the one hand I am aware of the tantamount of blessings associated with motherhood, but at the same time there are other things I want to explore and aspirations I want to fulfil.

Then at the same time I do have the usual ‘mum guilt’ that accompanies me and I’m sure accompanies other mothers too. I think about the dichotomy and try and do a balancing act. It usual begins positively but I encounter obstacles sometimes and then it dissipates. Hearing this did give me a renewed vigour for motherhood. It was something small and I am not the type of person who seeks compliments or reassurance but having this perspective is nice at times. It helped me in that moment as it drew upon spirituality which is equally as important as anything else in parenting I believe.

Are there any mothers who also feel like this please leave your comments below.

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Mindful minutes

With the era of high paced technology, the influence of social media and convenience at our finger tips you would think that people would have peace of mind. I do not not know about anyone else but I myself feel as though it can be a cause of isolation and give rise to unknown worries that you did not know you had especially in the new generation of teenagers that are growing up.

I remember growing up and my cousins share little snippets of gossip they had heard. Celebrities were inaccessible except through TV and websites that you had use dial-up connection to access. When you came home from school MSN was THE way of communicating with friends. I even remember writing letters to cousins who resided in London and looking forward to a response. Yet at this time I felt secure and confident. I did not feel as though there was a need to ‘be’ a certain way. Of course there was peer pressure. Growing up in a predominantly ethnic-minority less area came with its own obstacles. Now it is different (this I will expand upon in another post.)

I am not condemning social media or technology I think they are great tools and have many advantages. You can see your beloved ones on FaceTime, share pictures on whatsAPP, update events on snapchat and express yourself how you want. It would be ironic if I was to do this as I am using this platform myself to engage with people. I guess a part of me misses the proximity of the old ways. Another part of me is a worried mum. I have two young girls and do not want them to be consumed by the ‘idealistic’ (I say loosely for want of a better word) images presented on these social media sites.

I have been thinking about it for a while and encourage my eldest daughter that she is beautiful just the way she is and also encourage her to be confident. At the same time I see my adolescent nieces and my heart churns when I see the turmoil of pressure there is. I was recently teaching past exam papers at work and the sample text was a letter written to a daughter from a mother. The advise she gave echoed my own thoughts.

I am just a bit skeptical of the exposure to ‘perfectness’ (I know this isn’t a word.) With the way APPs are developing I think the social media is only going to escalate. What does that mean for parents who just want their child to create a secure identity? If anybody has any further thoughts please share 🙂

Something ordinary

We awoke today at around 08:00am. Given that I only slept for a few hours after the dawn prayer and its Ramadan I wanted to desperately retreat into my bed. Alas! my daughters thought differently. Whilst lying down I remembered that my eldest daughter was given a project to complete. It was centred around a story called ‘Jasper and the Beanstalk’ and she was asked to make a flower that could be placed upon a display.

Reluctantly, rising from the bed I decided to make this into a lesson about growth and related it to Ramadan. However, as we began preparing, drawing, tracing, cutting, gluing, sticking, taping and finally painting (long list I know) subconsciously my mind had already made other links. My husband clambered down the stairs and sat down beside our youngest daughter and I could not wait to inform him of my analogy.

So I began explaining. When I came downstairs I looked in the storeroom for miscellaneous items that could be used. I thought it would be good to do this to encourage the use of materials at home. I then asked my daughter what does a flower look like and she found a flower hair slide to answer my question. Then the three of us went about preparing the items we would require for the activity. Similar to this we are recommended to prepare for this month, not just spiritually but physically and mentally. Although, we may not prepare in terms of gathering items like my daughter did, we do prepare for the meal after we break the fast and this is a blessing that Allah has given us.

Once we sat down we began to draw around the shapes that we had found. Now going on a tangent when I do things with my children I like to encourage autonomy. I do this for their own sake but recent research into child development promotes child lead activities. This is also promoted in Islam. As we are encouraged to raise our children with independence, be it through attempting the salaah or praising them for doing a good deed (this is another topic I will write about in another post inshallah.)

Anyhow going back to what I was writing about. As my daughter drew around the shapes to create the petals (which were in an array of colours), she started to cut around the lines and then we assembled them. In the process my daughter could not wait and was eager to simply paint. On seeing the final piece she smiled. It made me think of Ramadan. This is because just like my daughter cut the paper to make the petals the first fast (for me anyway) is like a sharp cut- as we struggle. Some struggle as they have work, some struggle due to ill health, some struggle as they have young children and there are unknown struggles too. By the end we hope that our souls are rejuvenated and our spirituality is assembled (or reassembled in our case) like the flower its just that like my daughter we are eager to see the result and undermine the process which is not something ordinary.

 

Dispute

I began reading Surah Mujadilah today. On reading the translation I could not grasp what Allah was referring to so I decided to read the tafseer (commentary) of this particular chapter (which I would do with any chapter as I do not have a high calibre of knowledge.)

When I read the background I was amazed at the reason behind the revelation of this chapter. It was sent to the Prophet (SAW) after a women had come to him and sought advice regarding a dispute that had taken place between her and her husband. Before the verses were revealed the Prophet (SAW) advised her to have Taqwa (fear) as her husband was old. However, whilst she was there the Wahi (revelation) came down and what the husband had said to his wife was refuted. Writing these things now I am thinking that whoever is going to read may think what is so amazing about this? Well why I was amazed was because marital discord is common not only in the Bengali community but across all communities and often one party is given precedence according to the societal norms. Words are dismissed alongside the feelings of a person leading to resentment and in some cases further conflict. Here by admonishing what was said, Allah provides a balance.

When speaking to my husband later and explaining what I had found out and stating how if we understood and lived by the Quran life would be more simple-he simply agreed.

I realised that even behind dispute there is harmony.

Contemplation

 His is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth; He quickeneth and He giveth death; and He is Able to do all things. (2) He is the First and the Last, and the Outward and the Inward; and He is Knower of all things. (3) He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days; then He mounted the Throne. He knoweth all that entereth the earth and all that emergeth therefrom and all that cometh down from the sky and all that ascendeth therein; and He is with you wheresoever ye may be. And Allah is Seer of what ye do. (4) His is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth, and unto Allah (all) things are brought back. (5) He causeth the night to pass into the day, and He causeth the day to pass into the night, and He is knower of all that is in the breasts. (6) Believe in Allah and His messenger, and spend of that whereof He hath made you trustees; and such of you as believe and spend (aright), theirs will be a great reward. (7) What aileth you that ye believe not in Allah, when the messenger calleth you to believe in your Lord, and He hath already made a covenant with you, if ye are believers? (8) He it is Who sendeth down clear revelations unto His slave, that He may bring you forth from darkness unto light; and lo! for you, Allah is Full of Pity, Merciful. (9) And what aileth you that ye spend not in the way of Allah when unto Allah belongeth the inheritance of the heavens and the earth? Those who spent and fought before the victory are not upon a level (with the rest of you). Such are greater in rank than those who spent and fought afterwards. Unto each hath Allah promised good. And Allah is informed of what ye do. (10) Who is he that will lend unto Allah a goodly loan, that He may double it for him and his may be a rich reward? (11)

I just could not sleep tonight without writing what I had taken away from reading these verses. There is a theme of ‘knowing’ that emanates from the verses that impacted upon my approach to fasting. There was a time when I could fast and I did not think about the duration I could focus on the Quran. However, I lost this and do want it back but reading these verses provided me with a reassurance in trying and appreciating the process of trying for the end reward. The above ayahs have made me re-evaluate where I am and where I want to be and if all of this will enable me to gain eternal reward.

It is as if Allah has given me so much or rather given everybody bounty upon bounty and yet we digress. Allah says in this chapter that ‘He it is who sendeth down clear revelations unto his slaves.’ Words such as ‘revelation’ corresponds with the month we are in at this moment in time. As I thought about these links it made me smile and gave me a spiritual lift that I was in need of, however, I do acknowledge that I have a long way to go but I guess I wanted to simply share this insight.

May Allah accept it from you and from me. Ameen.

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.