Thursday, 26 August 2010

To a tree: (my first attempt at poetry!)

I’ve been trying to get creative this Ramadhan, not just because of the time of year, but mainly because my lack of meaningful activity these days is turning me in to a deskilled, demotivated, depressed insomniac! (too many adjectives? …, maybe, but all are true!).
Any way, as many of you know, I’m currently running a project which is designed to empower minority ethnic disabled people through access to the natural world around them. Part of this project will be a photographic exhibition, defining disability Identity through the environment. We want the photographs to be accompanied with quotations, personal stories, poetry etc, and so I thought I’d have a stab at it myself!
Although I’ve written short stories, reflective essays, articles and other commentary, I’ve never ever tried to write a poem, but below is my first stab (please don’t laugh!).

In this poem I use a tree to define the identity of a disabled woman, (i.e., me, that is!). The poem starts off in the negative, that is to say, on the basis of the stereotypes dished out to disabled people by society, before moving in to something more unique, constructive, and true!
Read on, and feel free to leave feedback below.
P.S: this poem doesn’t have a title yet, so, if you’ve any helpful suggestions, fire them over!

Oh Vacant humanity why can’t you see.
A disabled woman is alone like a tree.

Standing bent double, empty and bare,
No branches, no leaves and no flowers dwell there.

Devoid of destiny, Independence or choice,
No wind in her branches to give her a voice.

Occasionally green, but more frequently brown,
Determined by others, until she’s cut down.

No Purpose, no mission, no colour that’s me.
Unseen, unheard, ignored, like a tree.

Then one day it struck me, like a bolt of pure light,
Trees are so lovely, to those with insight.

They are tall, they are strong, they are powerful and free.
Unique, individuals, invaluable, like me.

Each tree is beautiful, different from the other,
Proud like a muslimah who chooses to cover.

Trees give us fruit, light, shelter and flowers,
Causing humans to ponder for hours and hours.

Disabled I may be, but oppressed I’m not,
Like a tree I’m my own soul, I cannot be bought.

With branches widespread and flowers to show,
I’m not scared of living, I’ve a long way to go.

Allah made trees, reaching up to the sun,
So precious their purpose, so treasured each one.

Disabled women bring colour to life,
They stand up victorious despite pain and strife.

They might appear different, baron and brown,
But they are always evolving, never really cut down.

Unique, Independent, zany, that’s me,
Celebrating my identity like a scented pine tree.

Oh vacant humanity, now can you see,
Behind each disabled woman, there’s a beautiful tree.

Its Ramadhan: and its never too late!

Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m finding it pretty terrifying how quickly Ramadhan seems to be slipping by! The first 10 days past at a normal speed it seems, but now the month is slipping out of reach as sand slips through the fingers. Remember, Ramadhan is much more than going without food and drink, its infinite blessings make it better and richer than any other month of the year. Each and every thing we do is multiplied during this month, thus good deeds in this month can be the difference between jannah or jahannam. My dear readers, I know you will by now be pretty tired, drained out, exhausted, run down etc, but don’t let these sacred days pass you by. None of us know if we will see Ramadhan again, so let it pass with a sense of satisfaction: though nothing we ever do is enough, but real effort performed with real dedication will truly change your life! It doesn’t matter if you are not religious either: its never too late to start! I don’t always do all that I should either, and Ramadhan is always the time I choose to refresh and renew my promises to my creator. If you are feeling a bit disconnected to your faith right now, (which isn’t surprising given the state of the world!), then take a listen to this nasheed: its one that inspires me, renews me and often makes me cry! Be moved, be empowered and be changed!

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Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Aisha's Inspirational journey

This is an old article, but a story that shines as a remarkable inspiration to us all, especially during this month of Ramadhan!
I actually heard this sister’s story, long before I became a Muslim, and later, had the honour of meeting her after my own reversion. I heard her interviewed on radio today, fast-forward 9 years since this article has been published, discussing her husband’s tragic death from cancer. Just as I said when Narges left us, the flowers of Jannah are the ones gathered quickest by Allah (SWT), and those that are tested the most are the ones most beloved to Allah, believe me when I say that pure noor/light radiates from this beautiful woman all the time, she has been my inspiration, and Insha Allah will become yours too, please remember her in your duas, and recite Fatiha for her late husband. If you’d like to hear her latest interview, visit and click listen again, then select today’s ‘live lounge.

Block quote start

My Journey to Islam

Aisha Bhutta

The Guardian Newspaper, England
Thursday 8th May 1997

A Woman on a Mission
Aisha Bhutta, also known as Debbie Rogers, is serene. She sits on the sofa in big front room of her tenement flat in Cowcaddens, Glasgow. The walls are
hung with quotations from the Koran, a special clock to remind the family of prayer times and posters of the Holy City of Mecca. Aisha's piercing blue
eyes sparkle with evangelical zeal, she smiles with a radiance only true believers possess. Her face is that of a strong Scots lass - no nonsense, good-humoured
- but it is carefully covered with a hijab.

For a good Christian girl to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim is extraordinary enough. But more than that, she has also converted her parents, most of
the rest of her family and at least 30 friends and neighbours.

Her family were austere Christians with whom Rogers regularly attended Salvation Army meetings. When all the other teenagers in Britain were kissing their
George Michael posters goodnight, Rogers had pictures of Jesus up on her wall. And yet she found that Christianity was not enough; there were too many
unanswered questions and she felt dissatisfied with the lack of disciplined structure for her beliefs. "There had to be more for me to obey than just doing
prayers when I felt like it."

Aisha had first seen her future husband, Mohammad Bhutta, when she was 10 and regular customer at the shop, run by his family. She would see him in the
back, praying. "There was contentment and peace in what he was doing. He said he was a Muslim. I said: What's a Muslim?".

Later with his help she began looking deeper into Islam. By the age of 17, she had read the entire Koran in Arabic. "Everything I read", she says, "was
making sense."

She made the decision to convert at16. "When I said the words, it was like a big burden I had been carrying on my shoulders had been thrown off. I felt like
a new-born baby."

Despite her conversion however, Mohammed's parents were against their marrying. They saw her as a Western woman who would lead their eldest son astray and
give the family a bad name; she was, Mohammed's father believed, "the biggest enemy."

Nevertheless, the couple married in the local mosque. Aisha wore a dress hand-sewn by Mohammed's mother and sisters who sneaked into the ceremony against
the wishes of his father who refused to attend.

It was his elderly grandmother who paved the way for a bond between the women. She arrived from Pakistan where mixed-race marriages were even more taboo,
and insisted on meeting Aisha. She was so impressed by the fact that she had learned the Koran and Punjabi that she convinced the others; slowly, Aisha,
now 32, became one of the family.

Aisha's parents, Michael and Marjory Rogers, though did attend the wedding, were more concerned with the clothes their daughter was now wearing (the traditional
shalwaar kameez) and what the neighbours would think. Six years later, Aisha embarked on a mission to convert them and the rest of her family, bar her
sister ("I'm still working on her). "My husband and I worked on my mum and dad, telling them about Islam and they saw the changes in me, like I stopped
answering back!"

Her mother soon followed in her footsteps. Marjory Rogers changed her name to Sumayyah and became a devout Muslim. "She wore the hijab and did her prayers
on time and nothing ever mattered to her except her connections with God."

Aisha's father proved a more difficult recruit, so she enlisted the help of her newly converted mother (who has since died of cancer). "My mum and I used
to talk to my father about Islam and we were sitting in the sofa in the kitchen one day and he said: "What are the words you say when you become a Muslim?"
"Me and my mum just jumped on top of him." Three years later, Aisha's brother converted "over the telephone - thanks to BT", then his wife and children
followed, followed by her sister's son.

It didn't stop there. Her family converted, Aisha turned her attention to Cowcaddens, with its tightly packed rows of crumbling, grey tenement flats. Every
Monday for the past 13 years, Aisha has held classes in

Islam for Scottish women. So far she has helped to convert over 30. The women come from a bewildering array of backgrounds. Trudy, a lecturer at the University
of Glasgow and a former Catholic, attended Aisha's classes purely because she was commissioned to carry out some research. But after six months of classes
she converted, deciding that

Christianity was riddled with "logical inconsistencies". "I could tell she was beginning to be affected by the talks", Aisha says. How could she tell? "I
don't know, it was just a feeling."

The classes include Muslim girls tempted by Western ideals and needing salvation, practicing Muslim women who want an open forum for discussion denied them
at the local male-dominated mosque, and those simply interested in Islam. Aisha welcomes questions. "We cannot expect people blindly to believe."

Her husband, Mohammad Bhutta, now 41, does not seem so driven to convert Scottish lads to Muslim brothers. He occasionally helps out in the family restaurant,
but his main aim in life is to ensure the couple's five children grow up as Muslims. The eldest, Safia, "nearly 14, alhumidlillah (Praise be to God!)",
is not averse to a spot of recruiting herself. One day she met a woman in the street and carried her shopping, the woman attended Aisha's classes and is
now a Muslim.

"I can honestly say I have never regretted it", Aisha says of her conversion to Islam. "Every marriage has its ups and downs and sometimes you need something
to pull you out of any hardship. But the Prophet Peace by upon him, said: 'Every hardship has an ease.' So when you're going through a difficult stage,
you work for that ease to come."

Mohammed is more romantic: "I feel we have known each other for centuries and must never part from one another. According to Islam, you are not just partners
for life, you can be partners in heaven as well, for ever. Its a beautiful thing, you know."
Block quote end

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

So: do you think you are accepted?

Last night, I found myself participating in a Radio Ramadhan Glasgow discussion, regarding whether or not Muslim Reverts/Converts are accepted within the indigenous Muslim Community. Its an interesting subject, and one that all seem to have something to say on, whether they know a Revert or not!
The discussion got me thinking about my own experiences over the past 14 years I’ve been Muslim, and though I’ve written, spoken and pondered this subject many times, last night made me delve much deeper in to whether or not change has really happened.

People come to Islam in many different ways and via many diverse paths, according to Allah (SWT)’s Grand Design. For me, I actually came through Radio Ramadhan its self: I loved Hindi Music, and when I saw adds for the station, I figured they’d be playing some of my favourite tunes! What I heard of course, was something very different! I later did some work shadowing at the station, and the people I met demonstrated that Muslims really were a world away from the look-warm Christians I knew at home. It would take me a further year however to finally take the plunge as it were, and say my shahada. Because the radio had largely been my support, almost all of the Muslims in my local community either knew me or heard of me! The love, dinner invitations and prayers were overwhelming, yet beautiful! I was always receiving gifts, and could never walk in Muslim areas without being stopped and congratulated! I was flying on air, and it didn’t matter to me that my family were rejecting me, and planning to throw me out of the house, I had a new family, a community, and an ummah I could depend on, and needed nothing else! But, as any revert reading this will tell you, the euphemistically named “honeymoon period”, new Muslims experience rarely last, and ¾ months in, I was on my own! I had prayers to learn, hijab to think about, qur’an to study, all kinds of Islamic laws and rules to take on, lifestyle changes to make, and a family who hated each and every one of these and did every thing to block my path. I had no one to talk to, no one who had walked my path, no one to teach me or to let me sound off. Things only got worse when I got married: every one who had previously desired a piece of me, got angry that I’d accepted this proposal without consulting them (heck! You had left me to it, I was using my initiative!). My family weren’t happy either, and so I was left, with this unknown, strange husband who didn’t speak my language, and who had been thrown together with me, for better for worse, till death do us part (or so I thought!).
As the years slipped by, I realised that it was up to me to build my community, to carve a place for myself. My husband’s lack of English meant I picked up Urdu remarkably quickly! I also enrolled in a counselling course with a local Muslim NGO, and started working there on a voluntary basis, counselling a range of women, many who were in a similar position to me! The training gave me confidence and self belief, and taught me that whether I had community or not, I could survive on my own, I could make it, with or without them! I got a good job, built a journalistic career as per my desires and even got myself through my divorce when that came, ., but, …, where was Islam in this you may ask? Good question! And I’m ashamed to say, no where! I prayed through my marriage (never did get around to wearing the hijab), I attended the occasional masjid event, always said Insha Allah and fasted in Ramadhan, but that’s as far as it went! I believed in God alright, I identified as a Muslim, but in reality there was nothing to distinguish me from any non-Muslim on the street. I had iman, (an infinitesimally small amount), and nothing was happening to intensify that at all. The interesting thing was, whenever I did meet other reverts like myself, they always seemed to pool me down even further! When I was married, the reverts I met were middle aged, divorced women, who were angry, bitter and twisted, isolated and naturally cynical about the so-called Muslim Community. Their negativity made me angry, yet a few years later I’d find myself in the exact same position, with the self-same feelings! When the marriage ends, the revert partner is ignored, cut out from the community and most are of the view that she will leave Islam any way! (as though one’s faith is inextricably linked to marriage, whether you converted in advance or not!).
Fast-forward 14 years: I’ve got my Islam back, I’ve finally taken on the hijab! I’ve found the school of thought where I belong, I’ve remarried (to the right person this time!), and above all, have a much stronger, balanced knowledge of my faith than I ever had before! I’m not perfect, but I’ve a desire to grow, evolve and change, and I never stop studying!
Contrary to what some might be thinking, I don’t look at this journey with a conceited sense of “didn’t I do well!”, there is nothing remarkable about my journey: I did what I did because there was no other way to do it! I muddled through as best I could, and had a great many knocks, the like of which many born Muslims will never have to experience, simply because they have support and family around to cushion the many blows.
Most of us have our own anecdotal evidence to prove whether or not reverts are fitting in, but a significant piece of research was undertaken by the Markfield Dawa Centre 3 years ago, regarding the acceptance and retention of New Muslims. Shockingly, around half of those surveyed had left the faith within the first 2 years, sighting a lack of acceptance, isolation, racism and prejudice as being the main factors that pushed them out. On the ground, I see a wealth of New Muslim support projects, a heightened awareness of the faith and more resources on the net than we ever had before, but despite this, the majority of guests participating last night said they still don’t feel like they are part of the community! From my own experience, the bulk of this apparent discrimination stems from the fact that most born Muslims grow up unable to distinguish Islam from Culture, as parents battle to instil both in to the core fabric of raising their children. If the culture is rejected, then Islam is too, and if any thing remains, it is mere remnants of the mix: salwar kameez, eid prayers and khatam dinners for their dead! Converts find themselves stuck between the Islam they thought they knew, from the books, from the scholars, and the Islam they find on the ground, while at the same time, trying to persuade their families and friends that they know what they are doing (even though they really don’t!). You either accept the culture as a vehicle to fitting in (as I did), or you reject it and go it alone, but either way you’ll still be the odd one out! After all, how many reverts do you see marrying in to the families of born Muslims? How many parents choose culture, cast, wealth etc over whether or not a prospective partner for their son or daughter is a person of faith and good character. Even if they do, the partners are usually isolated from the main family, included as a token gesture, but never really feeling part of things. Their children grow up in this half-way house, and the confusion drives many away from the faith and the community. 14 years on, if I’m honest, I don’t see the real and lasting changes I’d hoped to, rather I just see history repeating its self! And as my journey was tough, I do want the reverts of the future to have better than I did.
You might say, that things can’t be all bad, after all, didn’t I just speak about new Muslim groups and online support?
And you are right!, These things didn’t appear out of mid-air! The younger generations are indeed making and shaping the changes! They study with new Muslims at Universities, involve them in their student societies, and sometimes even marry them! These shifts are, however, still few and far between, and you still hear the shock and the lowered voices when an elder talks with shame about their gora Muslim relation! While I do believe in the younger generation, and their ability to make changes, I worry about how consistent it will be: after all, when the parents are filling their heads with hatred, discrimination and prejudice, how many of them will shed such ideas when they reach adulthood? How many of them will be strong enough to break the mould, when such risks can lead to their own isolation and abandonment from their families?
When I first entered the Ahlulbayt (A.S) school of Islam, I was so desperate to prove that we were different, that we didn’t discriminate, that these things didn’t go on etc, but the problem was equally widespread, and, whether fortunately or unfortunately, seems to span all ethnic communities of Muslims on equal levels of discrimination. Many reverts have in fact come to the conclusion that Muslims are simply racist, (we even had an Asian participant trying to justify this racism by saying that it is fair enough, as “some white people aren’t very nice!”).
While this is indeed true, the issue is not about one’s niceness (or lack of it), I rather feel the discrimination comes from fear of the unknown! In reality, most Muslims have never met a revert, and if they have, their interaction doesn’t ever grow much beyond their awe of the other person. There is also a fear in some sections of the community that a revert will do just that, i.e., revert back to their old ways, and isn’t generally sincere about their religion, especially if they take some time in adjusting to all of the required lifestyle changes.

Real change will only come when born Muslims realise that they too were reverts once upon a time: after all, most of the sub-continental Muslims out there descended from traditional Hindu families, who made the switch once upon a time. All of the companions, the great Islamic figures from history made a choice to accept Islam when it was revealed to them, yet we hold them in high regard and don’t look down upon them because of the pasts they once had. Some people last night discussed mentoring programmes, and more tailored support for reverts, and that would make a difference, but in truth, we can establish as many support programmes as we want, its only when Muslims learn to see people as people that we’ll get any where. We all do discriminate, no one can eradicate this tendency completely, its how aware we are of it, and how much we desire to train it so that it doesn’t cloud our judgements of others and the level at which we support and interact with them. If some one is not your brother in faith, he is your brother in humanity, and perhaps that would be a good place to start!
If you’d like to check out the discussion, log on to and select the listen again option, then choose late night live, for Monday 16th August. Oh and if you do listen, be sure to leave me your comments!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

duas, Plz! (snif snif)

This is just a little plea for duas really! Despite my best efforts, planning and diet control, I’ve developed the dreaded Ramadhan bug! I don’t quite know how it happened: but I started throwing up etc about 5 PM yesterday and had to break my fast, and I’ve been feeling utterly dreadful ever since! I’m tired, drained, with horrific stomach pain and get dizzy if I try to do any thing! My doctor fears it may be to do with my going without medication for so long: (something she advised against), but I hadn’t wanted to hear that as I was so desperate to fast, but perhaps she’s right! The worst part is, I’ve got loads to do, I have to visit family tonight and my father, in his wisdom, asked me to retrieve a roll of felt he used to lay my kitchen floor 5 years ago from the back of the cupboard! No kidding! I’d even forgotten about that left-over roll, but now he’s doing up the bathroom and wants it, and wants it now!! I began by explaining my illness, but as its Ramadhan related, he’s decided that is self-inflicted, and, because Ramadhan is all about giving and good deeds, I said bismillah and started emptying the cupboard! Mashallah I found what he was after, but I’m feeling like death now and could use a few prayers please! Insha Allah your fasts are easy for you and your in a better place!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Your Ramadhan questions Answered!

My Thanks to Brother Ali for passing this on. I thought I’d post it here and share it with you as its an excellent reference guide for those unanswered questions related to fasting. May Allah bless you all and accept your efforts, aameen.

From ‘Uyyun Akhbar E Reza by Shaykh Sudooq (May Allah bless him and grant him peace).

And if he asks, ‘Why have we been ordered to fast?’ It is said, ‘It is so that you can realize the feeling of hunger, thirst, and poverty in the Hereafter.
It is also because by fasting you show reverence, humbleness and submissiveness, so that you patiently and knowingly benefit from your suffering thirst
and hunger. In addition, fasting serves as a means of the elimination of lust; and acts as an advisor for you for the present; a practice for you to perform
your duties and a proof for the Hereafter. Also fasting is a means for you to realize the extent of hardships suffered from poverty in this world, so as
give to the poor the portion of your property which God has made incumbent upon you to pay to them.’

And if he asks, ‘Why is fasting established to be done in the (Arabic) month of Ramadhan and not in the other months?’

It is said, ‘It is because Ramadhan is the month in which the Sublime God sent down the Qur’an in which there exists what would distinguish between right
and wrong as the Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs)
for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong)…’ [179] The revelations were revealed to Muhammad (s) in that month. The Night of Power (‘Qadr) is
better than a thousand months and ‘In the (Night) is made distinct every affair of wisdom.’ [180] It is the beginning of the year on which everything -
whether good or bad, loss or gain, life or death - is destined. That is why it is called the Night of Power (‘Qadr).’

And if he asks, ‘Why we have been ordered to fast during the (Arabic) month of Ramadhan - no more and no less?’

It is said, ‘It is because that is the extent of fasting which both the weak ones and the strong ones can tolerate. God has made incumbent upon man the
obligatory deeds to the extent that the majority of the people can do them. Then He has given the weak ones some leeway and has encouraged the strong ones
to do more. If less than this was better for them, God would have made less than this incumbent upon them and if more than this was better for them, God
would have made more than this incumbent upon them.’

And if he asks, ‘Why is it the case that for someone who is ill during the (Arabic) month of Ramadhan and does not get better until the next Ramadhan, or
is on a journey during the (Arabic) month of Ramadhan and does not end his journey up until the next Ramadhan, the fasting days he missed should not be
made up, and it suffices for him to pay for the compensation of it? Why is it the case that if such a person gets well or his journey ends before the next
Ramadhan should make up his missed fasts and also pay for the compensation?’

It is said, ‘Fasting was incumbent upon him during the (Arabic) month of Ramadhan of that year. It was put off to a later time since he was ill or on a
journey. He is excused from fasting since he did not get better during the year or his journey did not end, but he must pay for the compensation of his
missed fasting days. This is because the Sublime God has sent the illness upon him and he has not found a way to get better. God has not left any means
of performing his duty for him, since an ill person cannot fast. One who is on a journey should not fast either. Therefore, he is excused from fasting.
The same holds true for anything else which God brings upon him such as becoming unconscious. Let’s suppose someone is unconscious for one day. He does
not have to make up the prayers for that day as (Imam) As-Sadiq (s) said, ‘God has excused His servants from anything which God Himself descends upon him.’
Since at the beginning of Ramadhan, he has been excused from fasting and this excuse has remained valid until the next year, then he must pay the compensation,
and he does not have to make up the fasts. He is like someone who is always unable to fast as the Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘And if any has not (the
wherewithal), he should fast for two months consecutively before they touch each other. But if any is unable to do so, he should feed sixty indigent ones…’

And as the Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘…(He should) in compensation either fast, or feed the poor, or offer sacrifice…’ Here giving charity has been
established as a compensation for fasting when the Hajj pilgrim is in a distressful state.’

And if he asks, ‘What if he was not able to make it up then, but is able to do so now?

It is said, ‘Since his excuse has remained valid until the next Ramadhan, God’s decree regarding him is that he pay the compensation for the missed days
of fasting. He is considered to be like someone who must pay the compensation for missing his fasts due to some act and cannot fast. Thus he does not have
to fast, but he must pay the compensation. However, if he gets well before the next Ramadhan, but does not make up the days for the missed fasting days,
he must make up the fasting and pay the compensation that is due to be paid by him, since he has been able to make up that fasting.’

And if he asks, ‘Why are there recommendable fasts?’

It is said, ‘They exist so as to complete the obligatory fasts.’

And if he asks, ‘Why are there three designated days (for recommendable fasts) each month and one day (for recommendable fasts) in each ten days of the

It is said, ‘It is because the Blessed the Sublime God says, ‘He that doeth good shall have ten times as much to his credit…’ Therefore, whoever fasts one
day out of each ten days, it is as if he has fasted the whole year long as Salman al-Farsi - may God have Mercy upon him - said, ‘Fasting three days each
month is considered to be fasting all the time. Whoever finds more time should fast more.’’

And if he asks, ‘Why are recommendable fasts set for the Thursdays of the first and the last ten days of the month, as well as the Wednesdays of the second
ten days of the month?’

It is said, ‘As for Thursday (Imam) As-Sadiq (s) said, ‘A servant’s (i.e. a person’s) deeds are presented to the Honorable the Exalted God each Thursday.
Thus God likes His servants to be fasting when the servants’ deeds are presented to the Sublime God.”’

And if he asks: ‘Why are recommendable fasts set for the last Thursday of the month?’

It is said, ‘Since it is better during the third ten days of the month if the servant’s deeds for the last eight days are presented to God while he has
fasted than if his deeds for only two days are of his deeds presented to God while he has fasted. Also Wednesday has been set in the middle ten days of
each month, since (Imam) As-Sadiq (s) narrated, ‘The Honorable the Exalted God created Fire on this day. He destroyed the previous nations (who sinned)
on that day. It is a day which always has (been considered to be a ) bad omen. And God likes his servant to fend off the bad omen from himself by fasting.’’

And if he asks, ‘Why is it incumbent upon those who do not have the financial means to fast as expiation. Why can’t they go on the Hajj pilgrimage, pray
or do other (good) deeds as expiation?’

It is said, ‘It is because praying, going on the Hajj pilgrimage and other obligatory deeds would hinder one from attending to his worldly affairs and improving
his life. The same reason cited for making up the fast of the semi-menstruant who should only make up her fast not her prayers applies here, too.’

And if he asks, ‘Why has the expiation been established to be fasting for two consecutive months? Why is it not one month or three months?’

It is said, ‘It is because God has made fasting for one month incumbent upon the people. He doubled the fasting days to be an expiation so as to emphasize
the importance of fasting and be stern.’

If he asks, ‘Why did He establish the compensation for fasting to be two consecutive months?’

It is said, ‘It is so that they do not underestimate fasting. If the fasting is performed spread over a span of time, it would not seem to be that difficult.’
P.S, for more in-depth Ramadan articles, visit our group blog at:

The Precious gems of life!

Some one sent me this Email earlier on today, and it made me cry more than I’ve cried in a very long time! Its not that this forward is sad (though it is rather), but it really made me give thanks to Allah (SWT) for what I have and the small miracles he (SWT) grants me every day, the things I don’t think about, yet would be truly lost without! There surely isn’t a better time than Ramadhan to take stock of the things that really matter: its easy to get lost in detail, lamenting over what might have been or what you wish you had instead, but Allah (SWT) has given you your due, and has given you the best of the best, according to your circumstances, so give thanks and enjoy the small mercies, the priceless things, which cost nothing but mean so much, and when times get tough, especially with respect to family/marriage, hold on even tighter, because most of us never really know what we’ve got till its gone, and don’t let that be you! If you tell your spouse you love them every day, then tell them twice! And if you don’t tell them, then make that phone call, send that Email or take the one you love in your arms, you’ll thank me for this advice, believe me!

Marriage: to those who are married, those who are single and those soon-to-be-married:

When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, I've got something to tell you... She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed
the hurt in her eyes.

Suddenly I didn't know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking. I want a divorce... I raised the topic calmly.

She didn't seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, why?

I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chop sticks and shouted at me, you are not a man! That night, we didn't talk to each other.
She was weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart
to Dew. I didn't love her anymore. I just pitied her!

With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company...

She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted
time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said for I loved Dew so dearly. Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what
I had expected to see. To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and
clearer now.

The next day, I came back home very late and found her writing something at the table. I didn't have supper but went straight to sleep and fell asleep very
fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Dew.

When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again.

In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn't want anything from me, but needed a month's notice before the divorce.

She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month's
time and she didn't want to disrupt him with our broken marriage.

This was agreeable to me. But she had something more, she asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal room on our wedding day.

She requested that everyday for the month's duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door every morning. I thought she was going crazy... Just
to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request.

I told Dew about my wife's divorce conditions... She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. No matter what tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce,
she said scornfully...

My wife and I hadn't had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared
clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, daddy is holding mummy in his arms. His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then
to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly; don't tell our son about the divorce. I nodded, feeling
somewhat upset. I put her down outside the door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office.

On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn't looked
at this woman carefully for a long time... I realized she was not young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! Our marriage
had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.

On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me.

On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. I didn't tell Dew about this. It became easier to carry her as the
month slipped by. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger.

She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, "all my dresses have grown
bigger…” I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily.

Suddenly it hit me... she had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head.

Our son came in at the moment and said, Dad, it's time to carry mum out. To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part
of his life. My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this
last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally.
I held her body tightly; it was just like our wedding day.

But her much lighter weight made me sad. On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her
tightly and said, I hadn't noticed that our life lacked intimacy.

I drove to office.... jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind.... I walked upstairs.
Dew opened the door and I said to her, Sorry, Dew, I do not want the divorce anymore.

She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my forehead. Do you have a fever? She said. I moved her hand off my head. Sorry, Dew, I said, I won't divorce.
My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn't value the details of our lives, not because we didn't love each other any more. Now I realize
that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death does apart.

Dew seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked downstairs and drove away.

At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife. The sales girl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote, I'll carry
you out every morning until death do us apart.

That evening I arrived home, flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I ran up stairs, only to find my wife in the bed - dead....... I cried and cried uncontrollably
and carried her for the last time from the room to the hall with tears streaming down my face and gazing at my only son, his tears rolling from his eyes,
they made me cry even more. I had lost my love, my wife and a loving and caring mother and nothing I could do now to put the clock backward... I had all
the time now to look at her motionless body in detail but I knew it was going to be only for a short while until she made her last journey to the Lord.....
I held my son and wept again and again thinking of all the things I did not do for her when she was still alive....... & placed gently the flowers in her
hands with my tears trickling on them....... she was gone forever, all my tears would not bring her back .

The small details of your lives are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansion, the car, property, the money in the bank. These create
an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves. So find time to be your spouse's friend and do those little things for
each other that build intimacy. Do have a real happy marriage!

If you don't share this, nothing will happen to you. If you do, you might just save a marriage.

To those who are married… Not married... and soon to be married


Moral of the story is to value all the things we possess, once they are gone we have nothing but regrets!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

So! am I really a terrorist?

“Are you worried about terrorism?
Concerned that you might be living next door to the next suicide bomber?
Are you afraid your suspicions are unfounded and are looking for some guidance on how to identify the warning signs?
Fear not! You are not a freak! You are not jumping to Conclusions! If some one you know is aloof, quiet and doesn’t interact with his neighbours, if he/she tends to pay for every thing using cash rather than a credit card, or if he/she generally keeps their curtains closed at home, then, you may well be living next door to your community’s next big threat! Don’t be shy! Its your duty! Report them Now, don’t wait till its too late! Call …….,”

You might think I was being flippant just there, but believe it or not, the above lines were taken from an advertisement which was presented to Ofcom 2 months ago. The UK government wished to launch a national campaign, encouraging the public to identify Muslim terrorists from amongst them, and the above would apparently empower Jo-Public with the relevant pointers he/she could use to filter out negative elements and label those who needed watching, by dobbing them in to the government!! Fantastic! After all, I am not too friendly with my neighbours in this block, its not because they are mostly drug addicts, or because the private rentals next to me mean that tenants change quicker than the weather, its because I’m too busy building weapons of mass destruction in my bed!!
Oh and the fact that I keep my lounge curtains closed has nothing to do with the fact that I live in a ground floor apartment, its because I don’t want passers by to see the copious amounts of uranium I’m storing in there! and the cash thing? Well, that’s nothing to do with the fact that I’m jobless, and don’t own a credit card, its because I don’t want the authorities uncovering the multiple identity cards I own: I’m saving those up for when I need to book my plane tickets when I head out to the next terrorist training camp!!! (OK, so I was being flippant that time).
As Ramadhan draws closer, the behaviour of Muslims becomes all the more pronounced, especially for those in public life, or those who simply have to work along-side non-Muslim colleagues, and as a result, I’m sure I’m not the only one who is concerned by such inflammatory and baseless campaigns!
Moreover, it appears to have become entirely acceptable to categorise, judge and discriminate against Muslims, that is, providing the uneducated majority have their fears put to rest, presumably the end somehow justifies the means!
Believe it or not, I do have sympathy with the terrified: I’m scared of terrorists too! And as many of you will know from my earlier posts, the new wahabi uprisings we see across the world fill me with nothing but dread! But does that give me the right to discriminate? Or, as a non-Muslim, is the best reaction to remain ignorant and fearful of things that I’ve never even tired to understand?
Not every one has taken this stand, when I had the fortune of working for ‘Meem Consultancy, we were inundated with requests for Islam awareness training. Every one from chief Executives to taxi drivers wanted to understand Islam, Muslims and where terrorism fitted in (if any where!). I was initially terrified of facing what I assumed would be a completely hostile audience, but by the end, we had all warmed to each other, and most importantly, had brushed up and thrown away those unfounded, preconceived notions we had of one another! Change is coming, but in other parts of the world, the ignorance is only spreading further, the walls between communities get higher, and the government rhetoric spouts only more hot air!
The below article extracted from yesterday’s ‘Huffington post, illustrates the scale of the problem far better than I can, I only pray that this Ramadhan, Muslims use their coming together as a platform to change, challenge and battle some of the prejudice we seem to be encountering on an almost daily basis, rather than remaining silent and becoming a part of the barriers we are supposed to be fighting!


A Threat To American Values?

By: John L. Esposito
University Professor and Founding Director of the
Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University

Posted at The Huffington Post: August 10, 2010

We are passing through difficult and dangerous times. The impact of staggering economic crisis and fears of a continued terrorist threat have spawned a
culture of hate that threatens the future of our American way of life and values.
The legacy of the 9/11 and post 9/11 terrorist attacks has been exploited by media commentators, hard-line Christian Zionists and political candidates whose
fear-mongering targets Islam and Muslims. Islamophobia is fast becoming for Muslims what anti-Semitism is for Jews. Rooted in hostility and intolerance
towards religious and cultural beliefs and a religious or racial group, it threatens the democratic fabric of American and European societies. Like anti-Semites
and racists, Islamophobes are the first to protest that their stereotyping and scapegoating of these "others" as a threat to all of us, incapable of integration
or loyalty, are not Islamophobic. Yet, examples that illustrate the social cancer of Islamophobia that is spreading across the United States, infringing
upon the constitutional rights of American citizens, abound:
List of 7 items
• Across the US a major debate has erupted over building an Islamic community center a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Center. Amidst the voices
opposing this venture, even the ADL (the organization devoted to fighting defamation and prejudice) decided to oppose the building, not because Muslims
do not have a right to build the center but rather to protect the feelings of those opposed! Is this a criterion the ADL has used or would subscribe to
in its own struggles against anti-Semitism? The ADL's position contrasted sharply with that of J Street, rabbis and Jewish activists
• Today, opposition to mosque construction with claims that all mosques are "monuments to terrorism" and "house embedded cells" in locations from NYC and
Staten Island, to Tennessee and California, has become not just a local but a national political issue.
• In California, a Tea Party Rally to protest an Islamic Center in Temecula, encouraged protesters to bring their dogs because Muslims allegedly hate Jews,
Christians, women, and dogs.
• Christians from a right wing church in Dallas, Texas traveled to Bridgeport, Conn. Mosque to confront worshippers. These Christians, shouted "Murderers!"
at the young children leaving the mosque. Carrying placards, they angrily declared "Islam is a lie," ..."Jesus hates Muslims" ... "This is a war in America
and we are taking it to the mosques around the country."
• Politicians use fear of Islam as a political football. Newt Gingrich warned of the danger of Shariah taking over American courts. Republican Rex Duncan
of Oklahoma, declared there is a "war for the survival of America," to keep the Shariah from creeping into the American court system. Even the new Justice
Kagan is being accused of being "Justice Shariah"
• Congresswoman Sue Myrick from NC and Congressman Paul Broun from Georgia recklessly charged that Muslim student interns were part of a secret infiltration
of Muslim spies into key national security committees on Capitol Hill
• Hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise across the country.
list end
What constitutes an Islamophobe? Islamophobes believes that:
List of 7 items
• Islam, not just a small minority of extremists and terrorists, is the problem and a threat to the West
• The religion of Islam has no common values with the West.
• Islam and Muslims are inferior to Judaism and Christianity
• Islam is an inherently violent religion and political ideology rather than a source of faith and spirituality
• Muslims cannot integrate and become loyal citizens
• Most mosques should be monitored for embedded cells
• Islam encourages its followers to launch a global jihad against all non-Muslims but in particular against the West
list end
What fuels the fires of discrimination against Muslims?
There is no lack of hate speech in the media and in print to empower Islamophobia. The media, whose primary driver is sales and circulations, caters to
explosive, headline events: "What bleeds, leads." The primary focus is often not balanced reporting, or even coverage of positive news about Muslims but
on highlighting acts and statements of political and religious extremists. Political and religious commentators write and speak out publicly about Islam
and Muslims, asserting with impunity what would never appear in mainstream broadcast or print media about Jews, Christians and other established ethnic
groups. If one takes out the word "Muslim" and substitutes "Jew" or "Catholic" in many of the articles targeting Muslims, the negative public reaction
would be monumental
The net result? All Muslims have been reduced to stereotypes of Islam against the West, Islam's war with modernity, and Muslim rage, extremism, fanaticism,
and terrorism. The rhetoric and hatred of a violent minority has been equated with the "Anti-Americanism or anti-Westernism of a peaceful, mainstream majority,
all lumped together in the question (more a belief) "Why do they hate us?" Islam and Muslims, not just the small minority of Muslim extremists and terrorists,
are cast as the peculiar and demonized "other" with serious international and domestic consequences.
What do many Americans think about Islam?
In the Gallup World Poll, when U.S. respondents were asked what they admire about the Muslim world, the most common response was "nothing" (33 percent);
the second most common was "I don't know" (22 percent). Despite major polling by Gallup and PEW that show that American Muslims are well integrated economically
and politically, a January 2010 Gallup Center for Muslim Studies report found that more than 4 in 10 Americans (43%) admit to feeling at least "a little"
prejudice toward Muslims -- more than twice the number who say the same about Christians (18%), Jews (15%) and Buddhists (14%). Nine percent of Americans
admitted feeling "a great deal" of prejudice towards Muslims, while 20% admitted feeling "some" prejudice. Surprisingly, Gallup data revealed a link between
anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, that contempt for Jews makes a person "about 32 times as likely to report the same level of prejudice toward Muslims."
Islamophobia, like anti-Semitism, will not be eradicated easily or soon. We all (governments, policymakers, the media, educational institutions, religious
and corporate leaders) have a critical role to play in countering the voices of hate, the exclusivist theologies and ideologies. Islamophobic campaigns
force even the most moderate and open-minded Muslims to question the value of integrating into the larger society when the leaders of that society look
at all Muslims with suspicion and prejudice. This is not reconcilable either with Judeo-Christian ethics or the civic moral values of America and Europe.
Attempts to limit public discourse and debate, to silence alternative voices speaking out against ignorance, stereotyping and demonization of Islam, discrimination,
hate crimes or threats to the civil liberties of Muslims must be turned back if America is to be preserved as the country of unity in diversity and free
speech and opportunity for all. Education in our schools and universities and seminaries (as well as our churches and synagogues) that train the next generation
of policymakers, religious leaders, educators, and citizens will be critical. What is at stake is the very core of who and what we are as a nation and
a society, the foundation of our identity. Islamophobia and its culture of hate is not only a threat to the civil liberties of Muslims but also the very
fabric of who we are and what we stand for, the principles and values embodied in our constitution and which have historically made our democracy strong.

Twas the night before Ramadhan!

It was the night before Ramadhan, when all through the house, …., well, I’m not going to continue that train of thought you’ll be pleased to know, its too reminiscent of Christmas!
Any way, what I do want to do is to wish you all a very happy, healthy and blessed Ramadhan wherever you are, and however you spend this month, may it grant you all the good things you wish for yourselves and your families, and may you emerge from it refreshed, energised and reborn spiritually, with new energy and higher aspirations from yourselves and others, Insha Allah.
Its hard to be hopeful, wakeful and optimistic when so much misery pervades the world right now, but as I always say here, small ripples make big waves: Insha Allah this month of blessings will bring some much needed peace to us all!
Ramadhan is a time to reflect on the year gone by, the successes and those areas needing some work! Since last Ramadhan, I’ve lost my job, but I’ve gained a beautiful husband and an equally wonderful set of in-laws! I’ve become poor (in terms of wealth), but Allah has increased me in consciousness and granted me the time and space to draw close to him. I’ve been weak in health, yet have grown so much spiritually! I’ve learned who my true friends are, and I’ve learned that I don’t have to do every thing on my own! Being an island doesn’t make you a better person, and while those close to me may not have helped, Allah (SWT) has sent me some very special people who have lifted my spirits and helped me where I could not help myself. The fasting this year is long, the days are tough and the fatigue is great, but what we gain for this hardship and this most elevated form of worship is infinite, for those who choose to meditate upon it!
Your actions during this month need not be many, but those things you do should be carried out with a sincere heart, and a desire to become better. Reflect on the year gone by and use this month to give thanks for the blessings, and forgiveness for those moments when you fell short. Hold fast to every sacred moment: those hidden night prayers, the recitation of qur’an, the reflective reading, the eftar invitations and the packed nights at the mosque, treasure them all, for truly none of us knows if we will see the miracle that is Ramadhan next year. Strive hard during this month, do your best, the very best that you can, so that when the celebration that is eid comes around, we can give thanks for a month during which, we became victorious Insha Allah!
Ramadhan mubarak one and all, my duas will be with you, and I pray I feature in some of yours too!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Group Blog for Ramadhan!

I only had to mention Ramadhan preparations and …, well, here’s one to get you started! SR Masooma and a few others have set up a wonderful Ramadhan group blog. The idea is to create a resource for learning, sharing and growing together during this blessed month. The blog will contain information about Ramadhan, Fiqh and answers to most commonly asked questions, as well as duas and supplications, Ramadhan reading, reflection, some tasty recipes and of course personal stories about growth and lessons learned during this month. You can view the blog or join up at you can of course comment on the articles, and also contribute material of your own! Do check it out, and contact Masooma with any comments or questions you may have. There is allot of excellent stuff on the blog already, even though its only a couple of days old, so stay busy and happy reading!

... I really am back, Honest!

I am turning in to the most neglectful, ultimate useless blogger there ever was!!! Even the utterly beyond help bloggers who only update once an eternity have updated more frequently than me of late, and with more substance! Its not that I’ve not had stuff to write about, I’ve had loads in fact: I’ve even got posts I began before I left for Iran and keep meaning to finish! But the thing is, I’ve just been so depressed since I got home. Living without my new husband has proven allot more painful and stressful than I anticipated! Its not just being without him that is hard, the uncertainty is incredibly difficult: initially, we estimated that within ¾ months, all the visa business would be done and dusted, but its not quite working out that way (the best laid plans, and all that!). Normally, when couples marry overseas, they can submit their papers to the British Embassy in the country of the spouse, and then the partner is issued with a visa, he/she comes to the UK, and all is right with the world! The problem we had though, was that the Iranian authorities would not permit us to register our marriage through conventional channels, owing to the fact that I was not an Iranian citizen! I tried to research this online, but all of the official websites were only in Farsi, and the British Embassy told me they couldn’t overrule what the Iranian authorities were demanding! I then thought, that if I submitted our niqah certificate (all signed and correct) to the authorities, that they would accept that, but according to the embassy, its not a recognised document! This meant, that our only option was for my husband to come to the UK on another type of visa, and for us then to get married here. I can’t sponsor him through a fiancĂ©e visa or any thing of that nature because I still have no job and no money, so the most realistic proposition looked like the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP). This would enable my husband to come and work here, and for us to then marry here when he was settled. It would also mean his visa was not marriage dependent if you know what I mean, thus alleviating my parent’s scepticism about him only wanting a visa. Only problem with this is, the other half’s company don’t keep proper business records, they don’t issue pay slips, and even the bank statements my husband has don’t demonstrate his salary properly. You would think that Embassy staff would be familiar with the haphazard nature of proceedings in countries like Azerbaijan, but they are not giving us even an inch, and have been even more unhelpful than the Iranians have. Reza for his part, doesn’t worry about any of this. He is a stronger person than me, and with much greater Iman. He constantly reminds me that none of it is in our hands, that we will sort it out and that Allah (SWT) will provide, and while I know all that is absolutely true, its hard to focus on it and remain routed in optimism. I’ve been really down, I’m tired and fed-up of being alone and tramping around in circles. I’ve not been out much, don’t feel like talking, meeting friends etc. I’ve seen my parents, but they too are really bringing me down for all kinds of reasons that I’ll write about some other time. The family problems remind me that its not just Reza I’m missing: despite all my fears and anxiety about meeting Reza’s parents, I totally fell in love with them: they became my parents, not my in-laws. They gave me more love than I’d ever known, and filled the huge void that has come between my parents and I over the years. I also gained a brother-in-law and sister-in-law, and 2 little nieces who I totally adore, and there isn’t a day where I don’t cry and miss them all. I’d dearly love to settle in Iran, but Reza just feels the political/economic situation there would be pretty difficult, and make it hard for us to build a life and most importantly, for him to find work. I don’t speak Farsi, and so would be restricted socially and would struggle to get a job, but that doesn’t stop me missing them all. Its easy to feel like I’m the only one going through this, but of course I’m not, God bless SR Ellen over at ‘steadily emerging with Grace, for all her posts on this very topic, it helps me allot to read them. Please pray for us at this difficult time, and pray for my work situation: I’ve still no job and while money has never mattered to me, making ends meet is something we have to do.

In other news, I will promise to start writing up the Iran trip as soon as I can, and will not be so depressing next time! After all, no matter how tough things are, I do have so much to be grateful for: you only have to look at the terrible disaster in Pakistan to realise how much we have been blessed with. Pakistan was my home for 3 years, and part of my heart will always remain there. The internal trauma brought about by the floods, coupled with the external trauma created by the British PM trying to gain some acumen through cashing in on the misfortune is just too much for such a fragile and already struggling nation. I urge every one reading this to speak out against these things, and certainly to give whatever you can to your local aid organisations. You too might be struggling financially, but if we all give a little of what we have, those who are in need will gain allot: remember, where there is sincerity within giving, there is always baraqa, so do what you can. If you are struggling to find an aid organisation you trust, why don’t you check out: I’ve been supporting this organisation for a few years now, and in particular, I love the fact that they have no running costs: 100% of all donations go directly to those in need, plus they demonstrate excellent accountability, so do consider supporting them.
In the meantime, I pray you are all gaining from the rich blessings held within the month of Shaban, and striving towards your Ramadhan preparations. As for mine, well, I’ve not even bought my dates yet, so need to get moving, like yesterday!