Sabr

Sabr or patience is something I often struggle with. Not because I am always impatient but because I struggle with how people define it and as a result what they say people should do in situations that require you to be patient.

Yes patience means that we endure the hardship without complaining about why you have been put through this, it’s a test from Allah and we all know the ayah that speaks about hardship. We are never given hardship without also being given ease.

“Verily, with hardship there is ease.” Quran (94:6)

But what I find astounding is how many people use that in situations of abuse, of someone living in a toxic environment. I have even heard people say that a person should patiently live in an abusive situation. It is something I often hear directed at women, stay and be patient, do it for the sake of the children. And I could never wrap my head around this. Why should she stay? How is staying equated to being patient?

Sabr is one of the greatest virtues to have as a Muslim, we all know this but sabr is not suffering in silence.

I think one of the reasons is that we forget that sabr is much more than patience, it also means endurance, perseverance and persistence. To know when to respond and when not to respond. Arabic is a much richer and complex language than English so words can lose some of their meaning in translation.

So sabr is not passive, we aren’t supposed to just stay in that situation that is toxic or abusive, it means we stand firm, that we take action to change our situation. So to take action, to stand firm, we need sabr, so we can persevere.

It reminds me of the hadith:

The Prophet (saw) said: Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” (Muslim)

This is how we should respond to abuse, and that means that if someone brings up the courage to come to us and say that are being abused we should take action. We should help them get out of that situation, not tell them to be patient.

It makes me so mad when I hear of situations where women aren’t given support and told to just endure it, using children to shackle them to the abusive husband. It goes against what we are taught and it will not benefit the wife or the children. How can children grow up safely in an abusive environment and how can that be better than living with a single parent but safe?

Sabr is not standing still. Sabr is not being passive. Sabr is the endurance necessary to make the change needed to move one step closer to where Allah wants us to be. – Yasmin Mogahed

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Am I Complete?

When I say that having children isn’t a priority for me right now. People will often tell me that I am not “complete” until I have kids.

Let me tell you this: I am complete. I do not need a husband or children to make me a complete human being. I am complete. God created me complete.

My reason for existence isn’t for my husband or for my children. There is only one reason for my existence.

To worship Allah.

And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me alone. (Quran 51:56)

Yes, children are a blessing but not everyone will have children. Does that mean those women have incomplete lives than those who have children?

It does not.

People are more than capable of living happily both with and without children. They can also be miserable with or without children. It really depends on how you look at it.

I am happy without children in my life right now. I am happy focusing on my marriage, my career, my health. This notion of being complete once you’re married with children needs to stop.

We should be teaching the youth that they are complete in and of themselves. That they should find themselves before they get married before they have children.

Because getting married or having a child is not a cure for completeness or happiness.

There are many examples of women who lived happy, complete lives; some were married, some were not. Some had children and some did not. The Mothers of the Believers are prime examples of living complete lives even though they didn’t have children.

No-one made them feel as though they were less because they didn’t have children, they weren’t continually told that they NEED to have children. They were celebrated for all that they did and achieved in life.

Maybe we should learn to mind our business and not tell girls and women these toxic messages that to be “complete” they need to get married or have kids. Everyone will have a different path in life and not everyone’s path will include marriage and children.

There are so many reasons as to why women don’t have children some because of a health condition which makes it dangerous or impossible, some out of choice.

Who are we to decide that they need to have children?

Just a note…

Hey everyone!

It’s been a long time since I posted on here but with moving and health issues it was put at the bottom of my priority. And then I started my own business which has kept me really busy and I have set up social media accounts for it too.

So my shop is online and is all about books! I make bookmarks, stickers, prints and natural soaps all book related.

But I have really been missing this blog so I thought I would try posting on here again. So expect a blog post soon!

As usual it will be about things I’ve been thinking about, things that make me passionate to speak up about.

But until then if you would like to check out my social media and shop here are the links:

Instagram

Instagram for etsy

Twitter

Blog

Etsy

Love, Hate and Other Filters Book Review

 

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*Major spoilers in the review*

Love, Hate and Other Filters was a book that I have been excited to read since I heard about it last year. I had heard a lot about it being a book about a Muslim teen and that for me was why I was so excited. I would finally see someone who was like me.

This book is about a Americal-Indian Muslim teenage girl, Maya Aziz who while she is in her final year of high school is victim to a hate crime after a terrorist attack happens near her small town. This book tackles some heavy topics, hate crime, islamophobia, racism.

I have such mixed feelings and I’m so torn as I really  wanted to like it but I think my expectations and how it was advertised left me feeling underwhelmed and just not liking the story or characters at all.

I felt like it was basically a fluff romance book for 90% of the time with some islamophobia and hate crime added in. It was also heavily advertised as a Muslim teen book yet Maya neither talks or acts on anything to do with her religion. The way it was advertised I was expecting there to be references that she is Muslim and she makes decisions or is struggling or something to do with her religion. But she never mentions it not even once. Her Indian culture is mentioned in her clothes or food or weddings etc but Indian culture is not the same as her religion.

There is even a scene where she’s at dinner with a boy that her parents have set her up with to meet and he orders wine and then says at least he isn’t eating pork. It can’t be justified by saying he doesn’t eat pork and it’s not even mentioned that just because he is drinking it (that’s his choice) it’s not actually allowed in Islam.

I also didn’t like the insta-love between her and Kareem and then the weird love triangle that continued for the first half of the book. I felt the fluff romance was far too dominating in the book and it just isnt my thing so I was really put off by it.

I also didn’t like Maya, she was a spoiled selfish brat. She was irresponsible and immature and acted like a 12 year old. She snuck around doing things behind her parents back and then was annoyed with her parents when they were upset with her about it. She didn’t tell them that she applied to NYU and when she dithery did eventually agree to let her go. Then after they were victims of a hate crime her parents were scared and changed their minds about letting her go. Instead of trying to maturely speak to them about it, she runs away! I understand that she has her passion and dreams but running away is no way to solve it especially in the middle of her parents dealing with the hate crime and fearing for their safety.

I felt like her parents were unfairly portrayed. She always complained about how her parents never understood her but I never actually read a single moment in which she actually tried to have a conversation and explain anything to them.

And throughout the story I didn’t see much character development aside from her finally telling her parents that she wants to go to NYU.

I also didn’t really see the relevance how the point of view from the bomber was relevant to the story. It was confusing to read and didn’t add to the story.

Okay so I know I’ve spoken a lot about what I didn’t like but I am glad that topics like islamophobia and hate crime are being discussed in books. It is needed, we need diverse books and diverse characters. And I’m glad there are more and more authors who are writing about these topics.

I also liked that there was references to Indian culture and I also really liked Maya’s friend Violet. She was a good and loyal friend. She defended and protected and supported Maya throughout the book. And I do wish we had got to see more of her.

I’m also glad that the author showed how much of an impact a hate crime can have on a family. It made them fear for their safety and how emotionally distressing it was. It showed how unfair it was to hold someone else responsible for a crime someone else commits.

Overall this book wasn’t for me. The advertising made it seem like the book was something it was not and this book was not for me. If you do like stories which has lots of romance then definitely give it a read but it was not my kind of book.

Rating: 2.5/5

 

The Lines We Cross Book Review

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*Contains mild spoilers*

The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah is set in Australia and follows the story of Mina and Michael. Mina is an Afghani-Australian who had arrived in Australia as a refugee as a young child. Michael comes from a family whose parents are opposed to allowing Muslim refugees into the country.

It is told from both their points of view so we get to see the story unforld from both their perspectives. Mina is given a scholarship to attend a private school and this is where their paths cross. It causes them to think and reflect on what they have grown up being told as the truth.

I really loved this book! Not only was it a great story but the message is incredibly important. As this topic is relevant no matter where you live in the world. We all hear about how refugees are trying to escape their war torn country and are trying to get their family to safety.we hear how some want to help and others are opposed to allowing them to enter. It shows all these differing opinions through Mina and Michael and their friends and family.

Although this story has a romance that develops between Mina and Michael after they initially dislike each other. Their developing feelings for each other is what furthers the story but the political issues that are interwoven into the story which also creates obstacles for them, makes it a much deeper and compelling story.

The character development for Michael was so great, he starts off as a teenager who just goes along with whatever his parents say, blindly believing them but by the end he has learnt to reflect and think deeply for himself. My main issue was with Mina’s character development where I feel there wasn’t as much development for her. I feel her main purpose was to show Michael that his beliefs may not be correct.

I also loved the friendships in this especially between Mina and Paula. It balances the serious issues with more lighthearted topics. There’s a scene where they have a LoTR marathon including cosplaying as the characters. It was such a fun scene and I loved that they were slightly nerdy.

I would definitely recommend everyone reading this book. Not only is the message so important it’s such a great book to read. I read it in two evenings. I couldn’t put the book down!

Rating: 4.5/5

If you do read it let me know what you think!

Managing my Anxiety

This post is something I have been wanting to write for a while now but I haven’t had a chance. I suffer from anxiety and depression and over the years I’ve been slowly learning how to manage it better so I can live a better quality life. So I wanted to share some of the ways in which I have learnt to manage my anxiety as it may help someone else too.
This is obviously not going to magically make everything fine but it still helps. I have good days and bad days and days when nothing seems to work but I have found that I am doing better than I was a couple years ago. I don’t have as many panic attacks and my low days don’t seem to last as long.
Of course these things may not work for everyone, I had to go through trial and error to see what worked well for me.

1) Counselling – Not seeking help from professionals was probably what delayed me in being able to manage my anxiety sooner. I was completely lost and didn’t know how to help myself but I attended regular counselling sessions on the recommendation of my doctor and it was the first time I felt I had help in learning to cope. There’s several different types of counselling and I attended group therapy where the focus was teaching us to manage our anxiety and teaching us what anxiety is and how it affects us. We were given practical techniques every week and lots of information. And it really helped me.

2) Someone to talk to – this is someone who is close to you and someone you trust. For me it’s my husband, who I can go to and say I’m struggling and feeling like this. He doesn’t judge me or tell me to “get over it” he listens to me and will try to help me, whether it’s that I’ve said I feel low or that I have zero motivation to do anything.

3) Nature always helps me to feel a little better. Whether it’s flowers at home or going to the park. The smell and look of flowers and greenery helps me to feel relaxed. I don’t know what it is about flowers but having them on my table in a vase makes me smile.

4) Unplug from social media. It can be so amazing to just unplug for a while. I’m bombarded with notifications all day and just putting your phone and laptop away and doing something you enjoy is so helpful.

5) So following on from my last point, do something you enjoy. Something that is therapeutic for you. For me it’s a variety of things. I like to colour or paint and it helps me to re-focus and stop worrying and stressing about the hundred things that are running through my head. It just helps me take a step back from everything. But my favourite thing to do is to read. I love reading in the evening to help me to relax. I normally clear the area I’m sitting at so there’s no distractions. Light a candle and dive into my book.

6) The things I’ve mentioned so far have been all things I do at home, but sometimes I end up being stuck in the house for too long when my anxiety acts up and I find it hard to get out of my bed let alone leave the house. So I found that having a place that you find relaxing to go to or doing something that you truly enjoy can motivate me to get myself up and leave the house. For me those things are of course book related. I love attending book events or just going to the library or book store. I’ve even discovered a cute cafe that has a bookshop in it. There’s armchairs and sofas for you to just come and sit and you can read or study and hang out. Also going to hang out with friends is something that usually gets me out of the house too. Or planning a “date night” with my husband. These range from going to the sea life centre to parks to discovering new places in our area.

7) Praying and reading Quran. So for me this goes without saying that my faith has kept me from completely despairing of ever get through my difficult times. Especially when I was at my lowest the only thing that kept my thought of self harm at bay was my faith in God. It’s so hard at that point to think of anything positive and the only thing that kept me going was knowing that this time too will pass and He will help me through it all.

8) The last thing I want to mention is something that completely surprised me. I would never have thought that having a cat would help me with my anxiety and depression. I have never been an animal person so when I finally caved and let my husband adopt the stray that had started living in our garden I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I fell in love with him. He’s such a cutie and love having him around. It’s just so relaxing to have him chilling with you and cuddles are the best! Plus he’s so entertaining and never fails to lift my mood!

So these are the things I do to help me manage my anxiety. I hope that by sharing my experience it helps others and I would love to hear from you about what you do to help manage in your everyday life.

I also want to mention that reading, learning and understanding anxiety and depression has helped me a lot too. I would definitely recommend picking up a book and learning a bit more about it.

She Wore Red Trainers book review

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I recently read She Wore Red Trainers by Na’ima B Robert for Ramadan Readathon. I had read this book a few years ago but I decided to reread it as I absolutely love this story. If you want a halal love story then this is the book for you!

This book centres around 18 year old Ali and Amirah. They are both coping with their life and family situations and it leads to them bumping into each other. The story then continues to show how they both develop feelings for each other but constantly try to keep everything halal.

This story gave me so many feels! I related to Amirah so much and the struggles she was going through in trying to battle out her feelings for Ali and wanting to pursue her goals in life. I loved how it showed that you can keep it halal but still choose who you want to marry.

It dealt with issues that many young Muslims face in today’s society. From learning to balance deen and dunya to lowering your gaze to not being judgemental of other Muslims and so much more. A lot of misconceptions regarding women were also so wonderfully woven into the story. None of it feels like a lecture and only what’s relevant to the story is mentioned.

For anyone wondering how Muslims can get married to someone without dating then this book explains it so well. It reminded me of when I got married and one the one side my colleagues were shocked that I hadn’t dated my (now) husband before deciding to get married but people in the Muslim community made remarks about how “I wear a hijab” but I chose my own husband so how “practicing” could I be. That because we knew each other (we were in the same class at uni) we must have dated. So reading this book was so great as it deals with all these assumptions within the Muslim community and helps non Muslims understand how we can marry someone without dating.

It was funny and adorable and it gave me butterflies. I would definitely recommend everyone to read this book.

Rating: 4.5/5