Written in the Stars review

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I recently read Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed for Ramadan Readathon and it was one of the most emotional books I ever read. This book is about forced marriages that unfortunately can still happen especially within the south Asian community. The family and main character in this book are Pakistani but living in America. This does contain some spoilers.

The story begins where her parents find out that she has secretly been going out with a boy called Saif and decide to take her and her brother to Pakistan to see their family in Pakistan. Naila thinks it’s just a holiday but really it’s so they can get her married.

We follow Naila through her story and how her family force her to get married and the life she is forced to live. Her story ends when she is safely back in America but in reality this may not happen to everyone and some may spend the rest of their lives suffering.

She is drugged and locked in a room, unable to see anyone and then after she is married she lives in a little village with her in laws where she is unable to study or speak to anyone outside and her mother and sister in law try to control and dictate what she can and cannot do.

This story was so heart wrenching, but it’s a much needed story as it helps to raise awareness of the situation that these young girls and boys face. The reason which was repeatedly told to Naila as to why they were doing this to her was that it’s because they know what’s best for her and that she should have thought about the family honour.

Thankfully it is not as common as it was but it still exists, there are still people who believe they have the right to force their children to marry who they choose, by whatever means necessary and that women do not need to receive an education as their purpose in life is to look after the home and children.

Growing up I had heard of girls that are forced to get married but I never knew what they went through, after reading Nailas story it is even more heart wrenching thinking about it.

This story showed how it not only tore apart Nailas life but also affected her whole family and Saif and his family too. It did not bring back Nailas “family honour” instead it permanently damaged Nailas relationship with her parents.

I would definitely recommend everyone to read this book as it has some much needed insight into what it is like for someone who has been forced to get married and raise awareness for this issue.

I do also want to point out that although this does happen it is not the norm for every Pakistani girl. The majority are not forced into marriage and are able to pursue education and build careers. To be independent, I am Pakistani and in my house education is far more important than getting married and I know this is the same for my friends too.

Rating: 4.5/5

Also I just want to clarify that arranged marriages and forced marriages are not the same thing. An arranged marriage is where the bride and groom meet on several occasions and happily consent to the marriage. A forced marriage is where often the bride is given no choice and may even be drugged or threatened with her life to keep her docile to ensure she signs the marriage papers.

Ramadan Reflection

I was told by the doctor that due to my health condition I will not be able to fast the whole of Ramadan as I need to take my medication regularly and should not miss them. I was really upset by this and felt that I would be missing out on this month. So I insisted on fasting the first day, and yes it was a mistake. It took me several days to recover from it.

But over this week what I’ve realised is that I don’t need to miss out on this month even though I’m not fasting. I can still pray and do all the other acts of worship. And that this is a blessing from Allah that he has allowed those that are ill to not fast as it will be too difficult for them and worsen their condition.

That I had sincerely wanted to fast and that the Prophet (saw) has told us that those who sincerely want to do something good but a prevented will still get the reward of doing that good deed.

So I am not missing out at all. But that Allah has made it easier for me to fulfill other acts of worship in which I can still gain rewards from. Something that I definitely wouldn’t be able to do if i was fasting.

That Allah knows what is best for us even if we think we know better.

What Would my Mates Think?

What Would My Mates Think?
Paul, from the UK, had been an Islamophobe. But when life took a turn for the worst, an increase in spirituality ignited his interest in Islam. But how would his friends react if he embraced it?

Be inspired by Paul’s short interview and share it to inspire others.

check out http://www.overcome.tv

Would Islam Affect My Cultures?

Would Islam Affect My Cultures?
Isa, originally from Colombia, was impressed by the knowledge of God that young Muslims had. And he liked how Islam encouraged questions, whilst his previous faith discouraged them.

But could he make the changes Islam asked of him? And would Islam be compatible with his British / Colombian culture?

Be inspired by Isa’s short interview and share it to inspire others.

Diseases of the Heart part 4

In this post I will be discussing Ghibah (backbiting), it is especially important to discuss this as it is so prevalent in our society.

Someone people may think that backbiting is a sin of the tongue, not the heart but we need to understand that the tongue is a reflection of what is in the heart.

The tongue is a mirror for what is contained within the heart. – Arab saying

So from this we can see that there is a direct link between our tongues and our hearts. We cannot purify the heart until we purify the tongue.

The prophet (saw) said: “A persons imaan will not be upright until their heart is upright and strong. The heart will not be upright and strong until the tongue is upright and strong.” (Al-Bayhaqi)

Sins of the tongue have become widespread within our society. Foul language, backbiting, slander, lying etc are just some of the sins we have normalised within society and we so easily fall into those sins. These sins are not only harmful to ourselves but also have the power to ruin relationships.

The prophet (saw) said: “When the son of Adam gets up in the morning, all of the organs of his body submit Toni’s tongue and say, ‘Fear Allah with us for our condition is according to you. If you are good, we will be good; and if you are bad, we will become bad.'” (At-Tirmidhi)

We should remember that every single word we say is recorded and we will be held accountable for.

“Man does not utter a word except with him is an observer prepared (to record).” Quran (50:18)

The tongue has the ability to lead us to Jannah or the Hellfire

The prophet (saw) said: “A man utters a word pleasing to Allah without considering it of any significance for which Allah exalts his ranks (in Jannah); another one speaks a word displeasing to Allah without considering it of any importance, and for this reason he will sink down into Hell.” (Bukhari)

The prophet (saw) gave us a very important piece of advice regarding how we speak. He (saw) said: “He who believes in Allah and the last day should either speak good or remain silent.” (Bukhari)

So we need to remember this everytime we are about to say something. Is this a good thing to say? Will it be hurtful to someone? Is it my business to be speaking about this?

One of the great scholars, al-Fudayl ibn ‘Iyad said: There is no jihad which is more difficult that withholding the tongue.

The Quran also teaches us how vile backbiting is. In Surah Hujarat; ayah 12, Allah says: “…And do not backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would detest it…”

Allah mentions eating flesh because doing that will only hurt you not the dead person. Just like we incur sin by backbiting but nothing happens to the person we backbite about. We would never eat the flesh of a person so why do we backbite? Allah also specifies the flesh of a dead person because a dead person can’t defend themselves, just like if a person backbit someone they can’t defend themselves.

So I’ve spoken about how much Allah dislikes backbiting but what is backbiting?

The prophet (saw) asked his companions: “Do you know what is meant by backbiting?” They said, “Allah and His messenger know best.” He said, “To say something about your brother which he dislikes.” One asked, “Even if what I say is true about my brother?” He replied, “If such defects you say are true about him, then you have backbitten him, and if he doesn’t have what you say, then you have committed slander against him.” (Muslim)

So how do we fall into Backbiting?

It is so easy to fall into backbiting in your everyday life so we need to become aware of them so we can learn to avoid them.

1) Anger – if you feel wronged by someone you may start speaking bad about them out of anger.

2) Your peers are doing it – if people around you are backbiting it is so easy for you to join in. This is why it is so important to surround yourself with good company as the prophet (saw) told us that we are on the religion of our friends.

3) Envy – if you begin to envy someone who is getting attention, praise or love then you may start to say bad things about them to stop that praise and love.

4) To make yourself feel better about yourself – You may degrade someone by saying that they aren’t smart to show how smart you are.

These are only some of the ways in which we can fall into backbiting so we should be careful of what we say.

So how do we stop ourselves from backbiting?

1) Understand the severity of what backbiting is – we can’t resolve the issue until we acknowledge the issue. We should remember that we will be held accountable for all that we say.

2) Cure the cause of the backbiting – is the backbiting due to envy? Anger? Pride? Curing the root cause will help to cure the symptoms, in this caste the symptoms are backbiting.

3) Give yourself a punishment – Everytime you backbite you need to give yourself a punishment but it has to be something that works for you. So it could be that you fast for a day or you donate money. This was done by the salad to prevent themselves from committing these sins.

4) Change your company – It is so important to have good friends, people who will tell you if you are doing something wrong not encourage it. If people around you are backbiting then you will fall into it too.

There are however times when it is permissible to backbite.

1) If you are oppressed you are allowed to go to speak to a person in a position to help end it.

2) Seeking help to change what is wrong and saving a sinful person from committing a sin. So you can go to speak to someone to get help if someone has done something wrong.

3) Seeking advice or fatwa – So you can tell the scholar if someone has wronged you to seek advice.

4) Warning people of someone’s evil – you can highlight whether someone has bad qualities to someone who is looking into marrying that person for example.

5) If a person openly commits evil or bid’ah – if someone takes someone’s wealth unlawfully for example it is permissible to speak about what he has done openly but we cannot speak about him in any other way.

The prophet (saw) told us what happens on the day of judgement to the one who spends his life backbiting others so it is imperative that we do not backbite.

The prophet (saw) said to his companions, “Do you know who is bankrupt?” They said, “The one without money or goods is bankrupt.” The Prophet said, “Verily, the bankrupt of my nation are those who come on the Day of Resurrection with prayers, fasting, and charity, but also with insults, slander, consuming wealth, shedding blood, and beating others. The oppressed will each be given from his good deeds. If his good deeds run out before justice is fulfilled, then their sins will be cast upon him and he will be thrown into the Hellfire.” (Muslim)

So sorry for taking so long to post this! I’ve been crazy busy! I have a couple more posts on this series and I will get them out as soon as possible!

From Rastafarianism to Islam

From Rastafarianism to Islam
When traditional Christianity proved confusing, Serrant from Jamaica became a Rastafarian. But he always felt something was missing… until someone gave him a Quran.

Be inspired by Serrant’s short interview and share it to inspire others.

Make sure you check out http://www.overcome.tv for more inspiring stories

When a 16 year old embraces Islam…

When a 16 year old embraces Islam…
At 16, Nisha from the UK finally found the confidence to proclaim herself a Muslim.

Be inspired by Nisha’s short interview and share it to inspire others.

Check out other videos at: http://www.overcome.tv