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Re-veiled

It was hard to put up much of a fight, the fear factor had crept through all her friends and family that it was no longer a question of support to keep it on, but rather confidence to take it off. With a trip planned to a town that may have hardly ever seen any Muslims, let alone a hijabi, it would be too alien; even dangerous. Stories of attacks on veiled women hit her covered ear begging to uncover it, although none confirmed, the rumours spread like wild fire in her silky “piece of cloth”. And there it was, a decade or more of abiding to its modesty was reduced to no more than a piece of cloth. A fatwa was ready, to comfort her that it was nothing wrong, but an imminent threat to life would surely allow some change. ” You’re not giving up” they said, “it’s just temporary”.

And sure enough she remained as modest as ever, maxi skirts, long sleeves, just a brunette blending in. Her tie to prayer was stronger than ever, a coincided correlation mistaken for causation, an ambassador to Islam in a distant foreign land. But something didn’t feel right. Each time she covered from the cold or rain she felt a longing to her old self, her identity, her modesty complete. She questioned her choice day in, day out, but then was reminded, ” it’s just temporary “.

She can’t really remember why she passed those airport border gates without, something about her ID photo or what not, but there she was back home, unveiled still. The threat had long gone thousands of miles away, the fatwa no longer in anyway valid; but this was her new status quo. Praises and compliments on her new found “chic” hinted to a beauty that had long been hidden, as it should. “You look younger!” they said, giving up on the very promise they had once given. Yet what she dreaded was an inquisitive “why?” Whether or not judgemental, she had no intention to justify this fault, she had no reason to share the doubt. In a Muslim majority country, it seemed her old scarf was stranger than ever, confined to grandmas in her social class. Her free will to once wear it seemed far from free today, burdened by guilt, held back by a mid age peer pressure. One would think guilt would pave the way to repent, but in tides so strong she felt almost too embarrassed to return. “You don’t want to give up again” they said, “it’s just temporary, till you’re stronger”.

This time, her travels took her far more east, to a country she had hardly ever knew. An Arab Muslim community so rooted traditions, that the headdress was a dress code of national pride. She hated being mistaken for a non-Muslim sometimes, and wasn’t willing to conform to their norm of that so called slick hijab. It wasn’t real hijab, with a black cloth sliding off their silky night-sky locks, it seemed there was more showing than covered. ” It’s just temporary ” they said, explaining their uniform of revealed veils, “we take it off abroad”. It reassured that little voice inside her, how her niyyah must be in place before the veil would come to place. She even had her bag full of scarves, just in case. It only seemed she was moving further far from who she once was, she prayed and prayed for guidance.

She waited for a sign, a little push forward, she knew it took both will and grace to go through this step. Her struggles were shadowed with doubts and dilemmas, she wanted to do it right this time round, to wear it out of obedience to the One and Only Creator, not to her vanity nor to their fashion. She asked for a helping hand, a support system, for far few can take the journey alone; after all, she had to counter what “they said” with a league of her own. She prayed for the Prophetic metaphor, a musk holder.

And then it was, her Godsend gift of a friend. It was only then, she knew for the first time in forever what a true friend is really meant to be. It just happened to be that her new found friend was blessed to be a hijabi, true and through. Yet she never felt judged, they never really talked about it per se, she just truly caught the breeze of that musk, and the friendship grew to a much higher blessing from above, a sisterhood for His sake SWT. She put it on, never to forsake it again, inshaAllah

“No matter how far deep you hit the dark ocean bed, you may reemerge with pearls” – Ibn Al Qayyim.

This is to all the forgotten heroes and heroines who rise from their falls with Allah’s grace, in whichever good deeds hidden or shown, may we all ever be guided through the darkness into the light

Parental Guidance

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Being an avid animation fan, I find
myself tuning in from my seat height as an adult down through my toddler’s eyes. Cartoons are not automatically okay to plant your child in front of the screen with full consent; PG is not just a suggestion, your guidance is needed.

Provided the most family friendly movie, there remains some themes and ideas that as a parent you may choose to highlight or talk about. It’s such a great way to bond with them on those favourite characters given your approval, and fair enough to take time and discuss what might be underlying through that 90 minute feature. It’s your responsibility to try and make it fun and safe.

Even with U rated cartoons,  there could be some crude humour that they don’t have to pick up. Subliminal messages sent range from body image to obsessing over the franchise merchandise, so it’s not really over after the movie. Though girls are very much more empowered than they were in the first ever Disney’s Snow White, there are mixed messages on dress codes that are hindering your hijab advice at a very young age.

As a Muslim, it remains a challenge to find representation in animation; so trying to keep up with the glitz and glamour of those Disney and Dreamworks heroes with real life narratives of our Islamic role models is proving ever so difficult.  Not just on screen, but also on page, despite having a growing base of brilliant Islamic books for the younger ones, tweens can be a target audience worth reaching for.

Of course there are other parents who would rather put a ban on the screen altogether which I totally respect; but as far as a balance may be possible, I hope to be able to watch responsibly and find alternative animations that tell our stories too. I wish to get him more off the passive production and into the  creative world of reading allowing his imagination to bloom and blossom. Finally, I pray may Allah guide us to inspire a generation happily ever after.

10 Tips to Brighten your Day ISA

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We all know that “woke up on the wrong side of bed” feeling all too well. Maybe
it’s stress, a series of unfortunate events or just pure mood swings that take a toll on our day. Yet most of the time given the right outlook to life, we can make a turn around with “tawakol” at heart and asking Allah for the strength and guidance to see the yellow flowers when the sky is grey.

Here are some tips and habits:

1. Start with Fajr and Athkar: the chance to catch the dawn of day with spirits high will keep Shaytan away. Also the early bird gets the worm, or in this case; “barakah”.
2. Have a hearty breakfast: not necessarily calorific, but hearty as in try to take the time to join the family table for the first meal and first smiles before your 9 to 5 or school runs.
3. Use your ” inside voice”: this tip is for you mummies freaking out over those all too-relaxed time oblivious kids, because really yelling won’t get them going. When trying keep up to schedule for school just try to work out what really saves time (like prepacked backpacks from the night before) rather than stressing out over the little stuff. Watch how that Japanese got her kid ready to go in 5 mins, it’s mind blowing!
4. Smile: research suggests that even if it’s a forced grin, your brain responds to the face muscles eventually and actually releases endorphins, so turn that frown upside down 🙂
5. Learn something new: unlike dogs, we’re never really too old to learn new tricks. Be it an online course on whatever sparks your interest or fits your passion, try Lynda.com or Cousera. You may even join a baking class.
6. Your daily dose of Quran: believe in how the Holy book reconnects you with His words SWT and how your heart is softened and worries are lifted with His will inshaAllah
7. Keep in touch with friends: and I don’t mean browsing Facebook aimlessly… Get in touch on a personal level, whether out for a cuppa or in for a call. And no backbiting 😛
8. Chocolate: instant endorphins 😀
9. Fresh air: a walk in the park or a city by the sea, and even if it’s rainy just keep your umbrella at hand. The exercise, the beauty of nature….Subhan Allah
10. Astaghfirullah for the past, Alhamdulillah for the present,InshaAllah for the future ❤

Day5: Once upon a Spring ((5Days 5Photos Challenge))

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It’s been four years today. Four years since she held me firmly in her hand with hopes so high. Four years since my ink sealed her choice and a dream of a better tomorrow. Four years since the ballot paper made history for the first time in forever, in the jewel of the Nile. Yet today seems ever so distant from that sweet spring day.

They called it an Arab Spring, and what better fit for me to have blossomed. The peoples voices have been heard and the dictator ousted. My role in this play was refetrendum day, when a hasty amendment begged to be approved and over with. Yet she believed in change. She believed in a new beginning, a new beckoning of power by the people for the people in a constitution. Normally, different views are the makes of democracy, yet politics fueled fast a deafening divide. The roots of the ousted were far too deep for a flower like me; it conquered hearts and minds. The people were soon labeled, in templates so demonizing each from their focal lenses. And soon enough the spring was painted in crimson, and burnt in the blazing heat of hatred.

Every man for himself, the unite was broken, and more pacts and deals were made with the fire blight despite common sense and values. They blame my thorns for the blood shed, they say my Spring should have never sprung, they twist the tales and branches, sentence hundreds to be hung. They want to start anew oblivious to the past, but my hope in justice is blooming and my evergreen will last…
In’sha’Allah

Memories of that funny flower pen of mine in a darker note of a conflicting Egyptian reality.

Day4: Swimming Swan ((5Days 5Photos Challenge))

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As you lead the way in our harmonious swim, I look back at the day you were but a hatchling. A tiny fuzz of feathers so full of life. I remember your first swim, your hesitant paddles, and your tracing my every move. Today your confidence is gaining, and the clinging is waning, quite enough to speed the pace, leaving me behind; reassuringly there but independently flowing through the stream. I know you’re not that settled yet, gradually discovering the lake, carefully peeping over your wings to find me nearby.

A milestone for you but more so for mummy, as emotions beyond my words soar inside. They grow so fast, and Spring won’t last, feeling blissful beyond compare. I’m proud to call you my own, not mine to keep, but mine to hold in my heart and release in the wild, into the water, into the wind. I pray I never fail you, and never lose sight of the bounties of this blessing.

I’ll miss that grey ‘duckling’ never ugly in my sight, as joy and wonder takes me in the follow of your first white flight.

Day3: My Deer ((5Days 5Photos Challenge))

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My deer you may be different
As white as winter snow…
My deer they’ll treat you different
And in a way that’ll show…
Some people will take photos
In wonder and in awe…
But deer will just see ‘different’
Is a threat to all they know…

To stand out in the herd
If danger lurks below…
In the shade of golden brown
You will shine and you will glow…
But to every story, perception
Is key to friend and foe…
So don’t you drive away deer
And don’t you scare the doe…

At times you will be tested
As once a time ago…
You wished you’d be the same
As all the deer you know…
But blessings in disguise
Are hard to spot although…
Quite soon enough they’ll realise
You are a ‘dear’ so “beau”

to the sweet white deer I spotted in the park that day, Subhan Allah forever and always

Day2: Baby Shower ((5Days 5Photos))

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Photo taken by Hassan Kassem

Those tiny socks have a whole new meaning. A whole new feeling. As a little kick goes on inside me, my heart jumps. The miracle of life. Subhan Allah.

I can’t wait to meet you, hold you, hug you and cry. Tears of joy, yet maybe there’s some worry too. I wonder if I could ever be worthy enough. If I could ever be grateful enough. Alhamdulillah forever and always.

These past few months have been a transformation, both physical and emotional. I stand on swollen feet I can hardly see, as you block my view in this little bump you are. For once I have only imagined how selfless a parent can be, today, your father and I both know it now for real. “And Allah has made for you mates (and companions) of your own nature, and made for you, out of them, sons and daughters and grandchildren, and provided for you sustenance of the best” this verse rings in my ears loud and true, praise be to Allah, may you be raised in His guidance. Waiting, anticipating, appreciating your grandparents with a mere metre in their shoes. Such a joy, such a journey and such a responsibility.

I sense a new chapter of my life unfold, still to be told. I fear I might not be up to the challenge; and the change might be overbearing. But this is the only constant there is, change. I pray I may get the chance to be around and watch you write your own story, as you may grow out of my arms but never out of my heart.

photo credits go out to my other half, and his wonderful photoshoot in my ninth month… May Allah bless us, guide us, my little family.