Category Archives: Issue 2

Auumn Tree

Are You Releasing Or Recycling?

How do you deal with your emotions?

Are you releasing or recycling?

So I just learnt about this concept. When we are dealing with any of our challenges we are either actively releasing our emotions or recycling them.

Releasing is when we have dealt with our emotions – actively. And the time span for this is different for us all as we are all different. And then we get to a stage where we release our emotions and we begin to heal. This is when you start to feel ease, peace and calm within and you are actively getting on with your life – no more random tear sessions when hearing that song or seeing that picture.

Recycling is the stage where we keep repeating and repeating. We go through the whole ‘Why?’ syndrome. It is something I have also done and sometimes I have deliberately allowed myself to stay down this road longer than I should have and I have ‘suffered’ the consequences and yes recycled suffering is optional – we have within us the ability to switch into the now and be OK only if we give ourselves permission.

God has something awesome planned for us and that He does not burden our souls more than we can handle.

Many people stay stuck in the recycling stage and so did I – especially in my teens and twenties.

I guess it’s because it is comforting – as in, we get used to our comfort zone and don’t want to stretch ourselves but deep inside we know that if we do stretch ourselves we will learn and grow.

Releasing one’s emotions doesn’t happen overnight – especially when it involves the loss of a loved one. We naturally go through phases to understand it all and be OK.

Another thing is that many times we – yes females and males – were brought up to just ‘deal with it and get over it’ yet that same advice-giving person would be eating their own words. (We’ve all experienced that.)

Healing begins as soon as we accept that God has something awesome planned for us and that He does not burden our souls more than we can handle and that He already knows we can handle it and He is looking at our response – whether we’ll be grateful or ungrateful and how we will react. Healing begins when we understand our emotions and what triggers us and we realise that we have the power to change our state by changing our thoughts as we create our thoughts and we can direct them where we want.

Healing begins when we let go and let God.

I hope this helps! :)

O you who have believed, upon you is [responsibility for] yourselves. Those who have gone astray will not harm you when you have been guided. To Allah is your return all together; then He will inform you of what you used to do.

The Qur’an, Surah Al-Maa’idah (Chapter of the table spread) 5:105

Nadia Leona Yunis is YMM’s Islamic Editor; this transformational article was first published on her Islamic personal development site ‘We Be Inspired’.

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

Whispers Of The Dawn

Since childhood, I was a loving person. I was always willing to help others, be it with kind gestures or a smiling face; yet, no matter how much I tried to please the people I loved, I felt ignored and misunderstood by them. This emptiness within me was devastating. I wasn’t at peace with myself!

I spent countless nights – sleepless – trying to put my mind to rest, but in vain. Sometimes, my cheeks would be warm because of seemingly meaningless tears wetting my pillow. My days would be filled with misery and pain, afflicted by thoughts of dejection and self-pity.

The reason of this restlessness and dissatisfaction was unknown, until I ruminated over all aspects of my life. Soon, reality struck me hard that my religious life was that of a hypocrite!

I used to pray, but never with my heart. I would hastily perform wudu’ (ablution) and complete my salah, my dialogue with Allah, in a mere ten minutes. I would recite the Qur’an but it was without any understanding and without the beauty of tajweed (correct pronunciation). I used to fast but the intention was seldom pertaining to the pleasure of Allah SWT. Sleeping through most of the day during my fasts, I focussed more on the menu for cooking rather than getting my ibaadah (worship) correct.

I was so self-engrossed in pleasing the dunya (life of this world) that I had totally lost the tranquillity and happiness that only true remembrance of Allah SWT could bring into my life.

Having been failed by the dunya incessantly, I started talking to Allah SWT in solitude. I felt lighter and less miserable after each of my one-way communications with Him. I was discovering firsthand the beauty of the transformation one undergoes when the gap between the Creator and His slave is bridged. It was then that I started my pursuit of knowledge. Serenity overtook me. The light was guiding me.

“And He found you lost and guided [you].”

The Qur’an, Surah Ad-Duhaa (Chapter of the morning hours) 93:7

I started reading the Qur’an with increased involvement and enthusiasm. I began praying with greater concentration and regularity. I made a resolve that since salah(ritual prayer) was my means of communication with Allah SWT, I should try and beautify it to the best of my capability. I started revising all the long-forgotten, short surahs that I had learned when I was a child. Soon, a halo of peace began surrounding me.

The more I read the Qur’an with its meaning the more I became aware of the love and mercy of my Creator for me.

“And We have already created man … and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.”

The Qur’an, Surah Qaaf (Chapter of the letter ‘qaaf’) 50:16

In the past, sadness would overpower me to the extent that sometimes I would feel resentment towards Allah SWT – A’udhubillah (I seek refuge in Allah) – for testing me time and again. Gradually, I started to recognize that these trials were indeed a blessing of Allah SWT.

“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah , and indeed to Him we will return.”

(The Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah/Chapter of the cow 2:155)

 

My understanding of the deen (religious path) deepened with the sayings of the Prophet SAW:

Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri and Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that.”

Sahîh al-Bukhârî, Book 70, Hadith 545

Certainly, up until this time I was drowning in ignorance. I had worldly knowledge, but I had never strived to gain the more important knowledge – that of the Holy Quran – which is an obligation upon me, by virtue of me being a Muslim.

I started to mix with friends who were more God-fearing and practicing Muslims, than me. Their company, thoughts and actions continue to keep me on track even now. I have never in my life received more beautiful gifts than an abaya (long-sleeve full-length dress), a Holy Qur’an with translation, and a book on the Biography of the Holy Prophet SAW. Let alone the countless du’as and kind wishes that I have received in times of illness or anxiety, from all my well-wishers, some of whom I have not even met in person.

SubhanAllah for the selfless sincerity and overwhelming love that Allah SWT fills your life with, once you choose to spend your life His way.

Now, I may not be in the best state of physical health; however, my mind is at peace and my soul at rest. My heart is full of gratitude for the countless blessings that have been showered upon me. I am overwhelmed with my new found love – the only love which is truly reciprocated in this dunya and the next: the love of Allah SWT. Alhamdulillah.

“And We have already created man … and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.”
(The Qur’an, Surah Qaaf/ Chapter of the letter ‘qaaf’ 50:16)

And as each day ends now and I lay in my bed, tears still roll down my cheeks, wetting my pillow; however, they no longer feel purposeless. Every tear that I shed now shouts for Allah’s mercy and begs for His forgiveness over my past and future sins. And as the dawn whispers in my ears:

“Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah . Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.”

(The Qur’an, Surah Ar-Ra’d/Chapter of the thunder 13:28)

 

I wake up to lay the prayer mat to perform my salah with extreme gratitude and utmost indulgence, ALHAMDULILLAH!

Dear Readers: Let the whispers of the dawn immerse into your soul completely. Undoubtedly, it is Allah SWT who is the exclusive source of peaceful happiness in one’s life. Establish your relationship with Him. Talk to Him in salah. Acknowledge His speech in the Qur’an. Remember Him through consistent dhikr and solemn repentance.

He listens to words unspoken and responds to emotions unexpressed. He feels your intensified pain and answers silent tears. He understands your unexplainable anguish, frustrating helplessness, and tormenting anger. He rewards your patience and resolves your problems in the wink of an eye, but only if you trust Him entirely.

Submit sincerely to His grandeur. Appreciate His benevolent generosity in the most cherished moments of your life, and recognize His magnificent mercy in the most heart-wrenching hours. Believe me, in no time, you can see your life transform completely – bi’idhnillah (by Allah’s will).

Khudaija Nagaria is a teacher by profession, an MBA by degree, and a student of the Deen (alhamdulillah). She has found refuge and happiness in her writing. A few of her articles have been published in Pakistan’s prestigious Dawn newspaper’s magazine section. Currently, Khudaija has dedicated herself to serving her deen, using her passion of writing. She is extremely humbled to be a free lance writer and Contributing Editor for Muslimaat Magazine where this was first published, and a regular guest author of another Islamic magazine called Aaila Magazine. She also writes for a website called Gems of Islam, where she prefers to use her newly adopted pen name, after her parent’s name.

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

Winter Workout, Indoors

It’s raining, it’s pouring … but you still need to exercise!

Learning the hard way apparently builds strength of character. The kind of character that’s less easily defeated by adversities.

Let’s apply this theory to exercise: It’s cold, wet, and windy outside, so: Get some waterproof running gear on and out of that door you go! It doesn’t look very inviting but a 10–20 minute jog around your block will give you ROI guaranteed (Return On Investment. Clever Personal Training). Soon enough the weight will drop off and you won’t need the sun’s blessing to get out there!

However, if it’s too late in the evening, or it’s more of a monsoon than a drizzle, there is still a way, if you have the will. The Home Gym! Your home – your gym. Make a minimum of three appointments per week to visit your ‘Home Gym’ and give these exercises a go:

1. Step It Up: Whenever you need to use the stairs, go up and down them once or twice more just for exercise. Stepping calls upon your gluts, quads, calves, hamstrings, and even arms if you pump them vigorously enough. Keep your body upright and drive away with those heals from step to step. Take two steps at a time for a bigger workout and faster results in fat burn and toning.

2. Making cocoa: Making cocoa for your family (green tea for you!) will not only give you the feel good factor but it will also tone your bottom and calves IF you: Hold on to the counter, raise one heel up at a time, keeping the tippy toes planted the entire time (like a horse trotting!) and keeping your body nice and tall. Every now and again, raise both heels up and hold for five seconds and come back down. Keep going until the kettle is boiling and your calves are on fire!

3. Make more cocoa: Hold on to the counter, laterally raise your left leg (nice and straight with pointed foot) then lower, 30 times. This great for shaping the thighs and creating those nice dents on the side of your bottom. Repeat with right leg.

4. Sofasize: Grip onto the sides of your sofa/chair (either side of your bottom), tighten your core muscles, breathe in and then slip your bottom off, elbows close and pointing directly behind you staying close to the sofa. Then, whilst exhaling, push through your palms until your bottom is level with the sofa again. This is working the back of your arms (triceps), your shoulders, and your core.

5. Sofasize Two: Bunny Hops: Hold on to the side of the sofa, hands shoulder width apart. Jump, with legs together, from left to right, landing softly on the balls of your feet but squatting low so you can power a nice, high jump.

6. Cardio out of the cold: You don’t need a lot of space to get your heart rate up so to crack on with some decent cardio in the discomfort of your own home …  try jogging on the spot, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, skipping, crunches, or lunges. Do three of these for 30 seconds then repeat. Then, try another three!

7. CONSIDER THIS: KEEP THE WINDOW OPEN: According to a University of Utah study reported on by the New York Times, basal metabolic rate (calories you burn at rest) does increase slightly in colder temperatures as the effort to stay warm requires more work from your body. Keep the window open for better c-c-calorie burn! : )

So, in-keeping with the theme of this issue I have given you some tips on staying fit indoors and outdoors. Whatever the weather and however you’re feeling: You’ll never regret doing a little exercise but you will regret doing none.

“Indeed, Allah does not wrong the people at all, but it is the people who are wronging themselves.”

The Qur’an, Surah Younus (Chapter of Jonah) 10:44

Anna Reich is a fit person and as a result, a happy one. She is a Personal Trainer at her studio in London.

 

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

Why I Don’t Want To Be Green

TEENS ON GREEN DEEN

WHY I DON’T WANT TO BE GREEN

‘I yawned out loud as I lifted the curtains and stepped onto my balcony. My eyes were still feeling heavy and itchy: the result of having overworked myself the day before.

‘It was 8:30 am and I had just forced myself out of bed, and while I was still contemplating whether or not to return to sleep the voice of my next door neighbour suddenly cleared my eyes and drove away the drowsiness. I looked straight into her compound and saw her waving at me while she carefully lined up her baby’s cloth nappies. Her husband was also busy, tending their gardens while her four year old son busied himself by building sand castles right inside the garden. We exchanged pleasantries and then I began to wonder what two contrasting lifestyles we have.

‘The close relationship they have, their small house, the big gardens, the water hoses running around their compound and Oh my God! She uses cloth nappies? These are not my things. Being “GREEN” is what she called it on certain occasions when we’ve really had the time to talk deeply. Even though it appears beautiful to me, I just can’t bring myself to be like that. I don’t even want to think about it.’

Does this experience sound familiar to you? I will definitely get a, “YES” from most of you who are still having a hard time accepting Mother Earth’s engagement proposal. These are not words from my life, actually. Above is an excerpt from a Young Adult fiction I’m working on at present.

Pure natural ingredients, check; fair trade, check; no animal testing, check; does not contain parabens; check; does not contain phthalates, check; recyclable plastic, check.

I had the opportunity of having a close chat with a group of teenage girls, my kid sister being one of them, on what exactly was drawing them back from professing their total love for nature. Some of their responses in anonymity were quite overwhelming. But there was one thing in common for them all. Living green was going to prevent them from being funky and glam …

“I mean how would it feel to sit in the dining hall with my classmates and nibble at every grain of food left on my plate? It feels great to be in tune with nature but not in a strange way,” said Fadilah (15), who initially admitted that a green lifestyle was great but embracing it in public could be a choking and heart wrecking experience.

While some of the girls confessed how much they loved pets and detested ill – treatment of animals, they all felt it impossible to embrace a totally green lifestyle. Dammy (16) said “It’s fun actually when you own a pet and it becomes part and parcel of you. But then, I love shopping. I could be a product junkie when it comes to my looks and it’s fun for me too. But don’t you think that being too careful about what to – and what not to – buy can rip away all the fun?”

They all had me list out all the essential features of an eco-friendly beauty product and after the analysis, another girl, Eeman (14) made a funny remark: “So, to be a perfect eco-beauty shopper, I have to make a long list of what I’m trying to avoid. Pure natural ingredients, check; fair trade, check; no animal testing, check; does not contain parabens; check; does not contain phthalates, check; recyclable plastic, check and the list goes on and on without an end. May I give you my honest opinion? We can’t possibly get a product that meets all these requirements and even if there was [one], I can’t possibly spend all the time in the world product hunting.”

The other girls let out long laughter while concluding that it should be the responsibility of producers to ensure that their products are eco-compliant instead of consumers taking the pain.

Most importantly, all the girls think that being green is a bar to a life of comfort. “I hate cooking,” said Yusra (15), “so the idea of growing my own food or buying raw food to begin the whole process of preparation and preservation on my own is out of the question right now. I mean, can’t I just settle for ready-made instant food fixes that can be stored for long [periods] instead of going through that long process?”

The girl’s problems with living green began to make a whole lot of sense to me when most of them said that they were aspiring to pursue careers that required a lot of their time and effort and could not, as a result, make out the time to live green.

We talked on and on, touching various areas such as transportation, gardening, household waste, exercises, clothing, and many more, and the whole argument seemed like it wasn’t going to end. But in the end, I couldn’t possibly have let them go without having them make a little green resolution. Most of them resolved to limit the amount of food and water they waste while only one of them resolved to try out cycling as a means of green exercise and transportation.

It was fun talking to the girls as I learnt a lot from the various perspectives they had while respecting their decisions and praying for them to see things differently in order to embrace the green lifestyle someday in future. I have learnt that seeing things from the perspective of others will pave a way for offering solutions to dilemmas faced by them. Insha’Allah, in the next issues of YMM, we shall address some of these issues collectively.

“So remind, [O Muhammad]; you are only a reminder.

You are not over them a controller.”

The Fur’an, Surah Al-Ghaashiya (Chapter of the overwhelming) 88:21-22

Wardah Abbas is the Earth Care writer for Young Muslimah Magazine, she writes for SISTERS Magazine, and she celebrates Islam and highlights issues affecting women on her blog.

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

Open Sesame: The Magic Code

The very first time I came across sesame oil on a shelf in a grocery store, I remembered the magic words, “OPEN SESAME” which I first heard in ‘Ali Baba and the forty thieves’ as a TV animation I saw as a kid. So, I immediately became eager to discover the magic I could perform with it and now, here I am, unlocking all the secret codes to the benefits of this wonderful natural oil.

From achieving glowing, soft, and supple skin to brilliant, shiny, silky hair, sesame oil does wonders that most expensive beauty products are yet to achieve. And I am so excited to share this secret with you.

Sesame oil is extracted from the flower sesamum while the seeds on the pods are edible. It is mainly used in many Asian delicacies. However, the cosmetic secrets of this oil have not been unlocked by many of us. Just like a lot of natural beauty products, sesame oil is very affordable and has a very long shelf life, which means it can be stored for a long period of time.

Before I get started, let me state here that sesame oil has a very nutty fragrance but you need not be bothered, there are various ways of getting rid of it if you can’t put up with it. Here are the secrets to unlocking the magical doors of the sesame oil.

 

  • FACIAL SKIN

 

When I was going to resume studies at the Law School in Yola, Nigeria, everyone thought that I was going to return home with severely sun burnt skin. Yola is the sunniest city in Nigeria with very intense heat. However, it turned out that I returned home with a bright glowing face. The secret amongst secrets was sesame oil.

If you work or live in a continuously sunlight-exposed environment, you will need to apply sunscreen almost every day, and what better way to do this than the green way? Sesame oil will not only act as a sunscreen but will also protect you against oxidation and free radicals. It also slows down the skin aging process as it contains an antioxidant called sesamol which effectively prevents the appearances of wrinkles and fine lines. To achieve this, you need to use only 100% pure sesame oil.

For more advantages and to eliminate the nutty smell, mix it with other essential oils such as clove, rosemary, sweet orange, or lavender. The appropriate proportion is three drops of any of these essential oils per teaspoon of sesame oil. Simply apply the solution all over the face or body but be careful not to swallow or allow direct contact with eyes.

 

  • BODY MOISTURISER

 

Sesame oil acts as both moisturiser and emollient for full-body skincare and it reduces bacterial infections. It contains a lot of Vitamin E as well as linoleic acids and palmitic acids which nourish the skin. It is advised to use this oil all over the body every day for maximum results. You can do this by mixing it with a few drops of olive oil, castor oil, or almond oil to eliminate the nutty fragrance.

Choose which method works best for you. Personally, I do what is called ‘layering’. This means I apply sesame oil all over when my skin is slightly wet and leave it for about 2 minutes before applying my body butter. Another wonderful method I enjoy so much is by pouring some drops of it into my bath water. It works excellently for my dry skin as my skin feels soft and slippery after bath.

Apart from moisturising, sesame oil can also be used for detoxification as some toxins are soluble in oil. Warm a little amount of sesame oil and apply it on your skin, leaving it for 20 minutes. Then, wash off the oil with warm water without soap for best results.

 

  • HAIR TREATMENT

 

Naturally, I have a thick curly-coily hair as a dark-skinned person. I used to straighten my hair with relaxers because it was easier to maintain that way and that was how I used to feel beautiful with my hair … until recently, when I decided to go back to my roots – just the way Allah SWT created me and since then, it has been wonderful. I never imagined my natural hair being this beautiful. But let me tell you this: sesame oil is a major part of my hair beauty regimen as it has great penetrating properties and works a lot of wonders.

It helps to promote hair growth, deep conditions, treats premature greying, dryness, dandruff, head lice and hair loss, as well as giving your hair a shiny look. I use sesame oil for my hair in various ways. Most times, I only massage a few drops into my hair to add shine to it. When pre-pooing, I mix it with olive oil and palm-kernel oil in the ratio 3:1:1 and deeply massage it into my hair, leaving it for about 30 minutes before shampooing. When conditioning, I add a tablespoonful of it to hair mayonnaise and a capful of Apple cider vinegar. Then I apply it all over my hair and cover it with a plastic cap and a hot towel, leaving it for about 30 minutes before rinsing off. Sometimes, I use it for overnight deep conditioning with my natural hair smoothie and wash it off in the morning.

I advise you use sesame oil with other natural ingredients that work well for you. Explore and discover. A little trial and error may be fun too. That’s what being green is all about.

BONUS: Sesame oil can be used for massage therapy as it helps to repair damaged skin cells and improves blood circulation. Mix sesame oil with other types of vegetable oils for a soothing experience.

I wish you a fun-filled beauty adventure with this wonderful DIY secret. Expect more green secrets to come in the next issues of YMM insha’Allah.

“And have you seen that [seed] which you sow?

Is it you who makes it grow, or are We the grower?”

The Qur’an, Surah Al-Waaqi’ah (Chapter of the inevitable) 56:64-65

Wardah Abbas is the Earth Care writer for Young Muslimah Magazine, she writes for SISTERS Magazine, and she celebrates Islam and highlights issues affecting women on her blog.

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

Did I Make A Green Mark?

There are times in my life when I sit to review most of my activities within a certain period just to be sure that I’m actually still on the right track and moving forward.

One of these times is now. I have asked questions based on my spirituality, my academics, my health, and one question I can’t seem to leave out this time is whether or not I’ve made a green mark within the last few months.

This is because being green is not just about how it has benefitted you but how much impact it has made on others. I can’t count the number of my recent green activities right now but I remember a few remarkable ones which I hope actually made a lot of impact on the people around me, as well as in my environment, and on my deen. From the joint green iftar I organised in the Muslim Students’ Society to the long lasting green therapies I offered to my non-Muslim colleagues, I may not have an option but to admit that I have achieved something.

No matter how little the impact may have been, the fact that I feel I have been able to incorporate permaculture’s core ethics of people care and fair share is what keeps me going. The experiences are so fulfilling.

During this period, I may have indirectly taught a lot of my colleagues what it means to be eco-conscious.

So it was the times I brought together the Muslim students to foster brotherhood and unity amongst us. These times were moments of inspiration for us and the non-Muslims on campus too. The iftar gathering was colourful and fun-filled. The pre-Maghrib meal was like a fruit picnic with each and every one of us bringing various fruits to the masjid to share with our brothers and sisters. We all observed Maghrib in the masjid after which we trekked down to our temporary dining hall to take our main iftar. It brought us together so much.

We had our meals on reusable ceramic plates and we also used non-disposable cutleries. We tried as much as possible to ensure a zero-waste policy but there were down moments when I had to pack all the leftovers together and plead with some of us to use it as our suhoor. We ensured that there were no litters around and at the end of the period, most of us had gotten used to some of the ethics we learnt jointly at the iftar gatherings.

You never can tell what action of yours can trigger the change in others.

At the ‘Eid party, which we organised for all students including the non-Muslims, I had to take time to explain to my non-Muslim colleagues why we weren’t going to use disposable wares and they agreed with me after having analysed how much it would save us and our environment if we all ditched disposable culture. All we had for the period were just freshly cooked foods, fruits, and fruit drinks, and it cost us less since we were all involved in it together.

Much later, after Ramadan, there were times I walked into the restaurant to find that some of my colleagues were clearing their dishes to a no-grain level. I just smiled inside of me. After all, the whole efforts were worth the while. You never can tell what action of yours can trigger the change in others.

The best way to teach others is by personal practical example.

This was also the season when my colleagues in the hostel went through terrible hair loss. They had all sorts of products on their cosmetic tables that seemed to aggravate the situation. And it seemed that I was the only one in the chalet who was not going through this. They had to ask me, “How come?” But my answer was obvious from my cosmetic drawer. They knew I was using less chemical products for my hair but it took them a lot of courage to agree to try out my method. And guess what? From the day of their first hair steaming with my natural hair smoothie and shea butter treatment, they experienced a drastic improvement. And you know what? I didn’t need to tell them what to do next. They already had the answers.

Whenever I look back at these moments I realise that, no matter how long it takes, the right thing can one day become acceptable to the same people who rejected it and condemned you for doing it. And the best way to teach others is by personal practical example. And now, you can guarantee that the answer to my question ‘Have I made a green mark?’ will definitely be a, “YES”.

I believe I made a mark before leaving school. What about you? What do you wish to achieve on your journey to being green?

This is an excerpt from a fiction I’m still working on. I know that the process of saying yes does sound familiar to a lot of you who are still finding it hard to accept a marriage proposal from Mother Earth.

“And have you seen the water that you drink?

Is it you who brought it down from the clouds, or is it We who bring it down?

If We willed, We could make it bitter, so why are you not grateful?”

The Qur’an, Surah Al-Waaqi’ah (Chapter of the inevitable) 56:68-70

Wardah Abbas is the Earth Care writer for Young Muslimah Magazine, she writes for SISTERS Magazine, and she celebrates Islam and highlights issues affecting women on her blog.

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

Inner and Outer Balance Within Myself And My Community

I have been doing a lot of reaching out lately.

Alhamdulillah it is good to be supporting others, using my creativity to nurture others, and to feel like I am fulfilling my purpose. It is good when I am balanced.

“You need to learn to say no.”

“Make sure you take time for yourself.”

“Gosh, you’re busy.”

With hindsight comments like these were warnings that I had let things get out of control.

Instead of scheduling in activities within achievable time frames I decided I would neglect sleep and selectively ignore projects in order to finish the activities that I felt were needed most. That is how it started. But then I became focussed on the projects that provoked the most immediate feedback. It took me weeks to realise I was running on adrenaline more than any other sustenance.

Projects that had started slowly with istikhara (specific decision-making prayer) and, “Bismillah,” became hurried; when salah (ritual prayer) times began I finished my work before turning to my prayer just in time – a complete reversal of my former strategy. My altered priorities were evident in the way I handled my time but I didn’t want to recognise the truth.

I didn’t want to admit that my intentions had shifted. I didn’t want to have slipped into a negative pattern of reaching outwards into the dunya (life of this world) to satisfy my needs. I didn’t want to have effectively pursued failings.

I found my productivity satisfying and I was reluctant to let go of it. I wanted to cling to feeling that my work was necessary and could not be compromised. I had been sucked into product-focussed activity and I was comfortable. I encouraged myself to keep growing projects with self-talk like, “Well, I made istikhara at the start of this so I’ll go ahead and say yes to more.” I enjoyed moving swiftly.

Alhamdulillah for a body that needs to slow down and sleep. Alhamdulillah for a spiritual inner soul that cannot withstand neglect. And alhamdulillah for a depression that has provoked positive change.

I have remembered and accepted that I need to be balanced within myself, and within my family, in order to be able to sustain a supportive role for others in my community.

I have remembered that my action-by-action processes are my priority. That every small behaviour, utterance, and “Bismillah” is significant to Allah SWT. That it is His judgement, His perception of my productivity, that affords true value to what I do. That I need to please Allah SWT and I can be more certain of that than of any of my perceptions and projections about others’ needs.

So insha’Allah I am looking ahead to slow and simple changes in my responses to opportunities to support others’ needs. Insha’Allah I plan to maintain a schedule within which I can balance fulfilling my personal needs with supporting others’ needs. Insha’Allah I hope that being open about my struggles will support you in your struggles to depend upon Allah SWT, the Sustainer, the Satisfier of All Needs, the Witness.

Insha’Allah I’ll report back in February.

[He is] the cleaver of daybreak and has made the night for rest and the sun and moon for calculation. That is the determination of the Exalted in Might, the Knowing.

The Qur’an, Surah An-’An’aam (Chapter of the cattle) 6:96

Maria Limehouse is an aspiring novelist who likes to write cathartic posts on her blog. She has recently been through a period of depression alhamdulillah.

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

In My Own Words

Let’s distinguish between copying as plagiarism and copying as copywriting.

“Read this and write it out in your own words.”

Were you ever given these instruction by a teacher? One of the purposes of these instructions is to help writers to avoid plagiarism when utilising knowledge they have learned from the written work of others. If you followed the above instructions you probably noticed that the process of writing out sentences and passages in our own words is a useful way of consolidating learning of facts from reading non-fiction.

Is it a technique I believe is appropriate to use to write articles, poetry and fiction?

Can I decide I like the words of an article so much that I’ll re-order the paragraphs and the sentences, add in some extra sentences and quotes, and then call the new article my own work?

Can I decide I want to produce poetry like somebody else’s and so re-structure their poems and then call them my own?

Can I decide that I love the structure of somebody’s novel and so use it as an exact template to write the sentences, paragraphs and chapters of my own novel?

Absolutely no. Those techniques will help me to avoid plagiarism by its definition but not by its spirit. Those techniques are directly and intentionally served to copy another writer’s work, and copying another’s work and then crediting yourself as its author is plagiarism.

When I read the Qur’an to learn it, don’t I do so to try and please Allah SWT with my recitation of it? Afterwards I may re-phrase His words when talking with somebody about what is written in the Qur’an and I may enjoy the way I have structured my words. However I would not claim authorship over such re-phrasing.

Allah SWT is the witness of all my words.

If I want to learn from others’ writing styles directly I can spend time copywriting. I can copy out other writers’ works so that I observe closely and remember their techniques. Masha’Allah many great writers have spent sessions of time copywriting; they have been influenced greatly by the works they have copywritten from and developed rich styles of their own.

Great writers have not plagiarised others’ work. They have not included what they copied in their own work (unless they have been transparently interacting with another’s work). People who copy the work of others, or restructure the work of others, and then claim authorship over it, will never be great writers; they will only be copiers and liars. Allah will hold them to account on a Day when they cannot copy anyone’s else answers.

As a developing writer, your writing exercises of choice may or not not include copywriting. You can choose exercises that suit you and that will help you to improve and develop your own style for expressing your own words … and, with practice, perhaps you will find that in amongst all the hard work, you will become a great writer masha’Allah.

Indeed, Allah of what you do, is Seeing.

The Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah (Chapter of the cow) 2:110

Umm Hamza is a freelance writer who has written articles for SISTERS Magazine​.​ She used to copywrite verses from scripture in her teens and early twenties; she is contemplating taking up copywriting from authors of classic fiction to learn new techniques and to improve her memory inshaAllah. In the summer she missed the Counter Counterfeiting webinars co-facilitated by YMM Islamic Editor Nadia Leona Yunis and subsequently hopes to be able to attend one in future insha’Allah. 

 

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

If

If the world was without mirrors, what would we see? If there were no means to capture reflections how would the world be perceived?

If there was no critical eye, how would we portray ourselves? If there was no room for scrutiny, how much would we love ourselves?

If there were no trends, what would be the norm? If there was no competition, would we be perpetually bored?

If we were self-embracing, would there be more love? Or is there a need for less hatred to survive without self-constructed clubs?

If there was no noise, would we find comfort in silence? If peace didn’t exist, would we inherently shun violence?

If we were all from one mould, would we know there can be a difference? Or are all these constructions innate in our very existence?

So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people.

The Qur’an, Surah Ar-Rum (Chapter of the Romans) 30:30

LaYinka Sanni has been writing for longer than she can count on two hands, and has had her works of fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry published in various publications online and in print. Aside from being an EFL lecturer based in London, LaYinka is also a freelance editor, proofreader, and writing mentor. Her writing can be found on her blog where this was first published: http://FromTuesday.wordpress.com

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

From Passion To Action

Before I begin I want to tell you a little about my journey…

When I was a teenager, I went on a school trip to Westminster. I was in awe of what I saw so from that moment on, I decided that when I grew up, I would be back here to work and rub shoulders with some of the most powerful people in the world…and do dawa to them.

A degree in Economics, 200 job application forms, a 4 hr interview and beating 4000 other candidates, I achieved my childhood dream. I worked in Westminster, I rubbed shoulders with some of the most powerful people in the world, and I did do dawa to them.

Slowly in my spare time, I began to work with some of the most prominent Muslim speakers and organisations and began organising VIP Islamic awareness events in some of the most prestigious locations in British history, surely this would be my happy ever after? Wrong. After a couple of years, I was miserable and became deeply depressed because something was missing.

From the beginning, my intention had always been to make a difference. But all I was doing was laying on 5* catering and entertainment to an elite group of people who just wanted a free meal and soon forgot what the event was all about. In truth, I really wasn’t making any difference.

By a twist of fate, I resigned and left it all behind and moved to bonny Scotland where overnight I became a ‘nobody’. No one knew my name, where I had just come from or what I was capable of. And it was here, I tried from scratch to achieve my original dream. But this time, rather then working with leaders, I worked with the people at the grassroots, and I was happy to finally be making a difference.

Maybe I don’t have a big brand name or big organisation to boast about, but I’m fine with that. Because I don’t measure my success based BIG, I measure it by adding up all the small differences, especially the ones that have a domino effect. Due to my passion with food, I was able to teach people how to cook and eat healthily. Because of my passion to teach, people who didn’t know how to speak English could now communicate more confidently. Because of my passion for justice, after launching a humanitarian campaign, more people found out about what is happening to the children in Palestine. Because of my interest in motherhood, I set up a Muslim mums network using Facebook to get mums in the same area talking and meeting. Because of my passion to write and give dawa, I was able to set up my blog and get ideas and messages out to the world about Islam. These are just a few examples of how you can take something your passionate about and make it useful for others.

After 15 years of doing this, I can tell you that everyone has the potential to take one of their passions and turn it into an action. Very briefly I’m gonna run you through what I found works and what doesn’t from my experience.

No.1: Passion.

The first thing you need to identify is what you are passionate about? I’m not talking about hobbies or spare time; I’m talking what makes your blood boil, tears flow and gets you excited and creative? Take a piece of paper and write down the first things that come to mind?

To be honest, it’s actually this passion that will decide how successful your project is. And this passion is what will convince others and win you support for your idea.

No 2. Intention.

You know what your passionate about, and you want to do something about it, now ask yourself WHY? Is it to be famous? win awards? Be well known? Have status? Get praise? Or is it because you can’t sleep easy at night knowing you could’ve done something to help? Is it because you want to be rewarded by Allah? Or just simply to help others? Make sure your intention is everything BUT showing off, and then you’ll see the blessings in your work. To be honest, in my experience this is the make or break of your project. And even if things are sincere at the beginning, you could get sidetracked in the middle or end. Constantly ask yourself why are you doing this project especially when things are going good, as that’s the prime time for egos to grow and insincerity to breed. Be very careful of yours and all those who are involved in the projects intentions. Don’t go looking for attention, it will come to find you.

No 3. Keeping things Small and Simple

I do get very irritated that we keeping hearing only about the end results of success stories of multi-millionaire business and well funded and well branded organisations. Everyone wants to be Steve Jobs, however, no one ever really pays much attention to the fact that all these stories had very humble beginnings and suffered many failures. Its only once these small ideas got their foundations and formulas right, they were naturally able to expand, it never happened overnight. That is why it is important to start off small. I remember advising someone who wasn’t doing any exercise to start of a hobbie, when they chose their sport, they were already talking about competiting in the Olympics! Damn! Slow down! Thinking small helps projects to last longer than the Olympic ones which tend to cause immense pressure and make you feel overwhelmed until you abandon the project altogether. Doing small things in a simple and easy to understand kind of way, helps people feel able to join in, and you will get support much faster and quicker that way.

There are a lot of unsung hero amongst us who are in every sense of the word, successful, even if their projects are small. There is nothing wrong with that. Big doesn’t always mean successful and vice versa. Plus you should only be as big as you can manage, especially when we have to manage our several other responsibilities in life like health, marriage and family, job etc, we must have moderation in all things.

No 4. Use what you already have.

Don’t need to feel like you need special qualifications just to start up a project. Don’t underestimate yourself. If your a wife or a mum, you pretty much already have 99% of the skills you need to set up. Just cause you have certain certificates, doesn’t mean you don’t have the skills to get going. But if there are part time courses available or training opportunities, then go for it as this will earn you more credibility and you can learn something new.

When I first arrived to Edinburgh I did a teaching qualification. When I was 9 months pregnant I was on a child care course. When my son was 2 yrs old, I did food hygiene and nutritional courses. All these came into use once my son went into school.

No 5. Do local, not global.

When you want to start up a project, do it in your local area, with local people and organisations that you already know. Don’t even attempt to branch out until you got your local project up and running and most importantly WORKING.

No 6. Open your work up to all.

Don’t pigeon hole your work, be willing to engage people outside your own religious groups/community. This is actually a very Islamic concept especially in the field of charity and in the name of justice.

No 7. Feed into projects, work and organisations already existing.

Don’t need to start from scratch as this will save you the headache of all that boring paper work. Rather then setting up my own cooking classes, I volunteered with a community health project up the road from my house. This made it so much easier for me especially having a young child. Furthermore, when you feed into or volunteer into existing projects, you can request free childcare and training.

No 8. Being the boss, mean getting your hands dirty.

Time and time again I have come across people who just want to have the title of boss in the project, but when it comes to the hard graft, sacrificing time, money and energy – these dudes are nowhere to be seen. If you don’t want to do the hard graft, than don’t expect your project to get very far.

No 9. Expect problems and do your best to avoid them.

There maybe times where you may need to do your project on your lonesome (and it will be a test of your sincerity when this happenes, will you carryon regardless or give up? If your really passionate, numbers don’t really matter). You may need to problem solve, you may suffer criticism, people may even get jealousy or you and slander you, you may encounter failures after failures, you may even at one point have to walk away if its not working, this is all part of the learning process. Better to be prepared then shocked and paralyzed by these when they occur.

No 10. You need to know your stuff.

You may need to be outspoken, you may need to have strong opinions – in fact without these, you credibility will be cast into doubt. If people ask you questions, you need to know your project inside out to have the answers at the ready.

No 11. Don’t Give Up So Easily.

Once you start and do all the above, don’t give up unless there is a good reason to do so. These things are hard work but worthwhile. Because behind the scenes, you making connections, having beautiful thought and heart provoking conversations.

In conclusion, the most wonderful thing I found about converting an idea into an action was actually converting strangers into friends. And as much as I wanted to give out to make a difference. I got plenty in return that changed me for the better too.

Allah would not change a favour which He had bestowed upon a people until they change what is within themselves. And indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.

The Qur’an, Surah Al-’Anfaal (Chapter of the spoils of war) 8:53

Shabana Diouri is an aspiring writer and poet with a strong affinity toward the issues of women in Islam and spiritual needs of the heart. She is a qualified Economist and Statistician whose career began in Whitehall. Currently she spends her time in Edinburgh as a freelance writer and engages in outreach work with the University of Edinburgh to encourage a deeper understanding of Islam and Muslim culture. She currently manages ‘Muslimah Uninterrupted’, her personal blog where this was first published: http://muslimahuninterrupted.wordpress.com

 

 

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

Valuable Volunteering

Did you grow up wishing for that ‘dream job’? How close are you to achieving it?

If I wish to achieve something, but progress no further than wishing, I can only look to myself for blame when nothing develops. So, rather than simply wishing, I consult with Allah SWT and His servants, and make decisions and take action to achieve my goals. My ultimate hope of reward is with Allah SWT. After I have ensured sufficient income for my responsibilities, does it matter whether I undertake paid or voluntary employment to work towards my aims?

Looking at my CV today, voluntary work constitutes the experience on which I am striving to build my chosen career path as a writer. At the times I took those voluntary positions, I had no idea that they would map a possible route to a particular career path. I didn’t imagine that they would uncover my deep-seated desire for a specific career.

I started volunteering as a teenager, and became more active as a university student. The Volunteers Officer offered a huge diversity of local jobs, and I felt compelled to respond to certain voluntary roles and the needs they addressed. Soon, not only did my time fill up, but so did my CV. I was even able to use some of my voluntary work for my final year research project. Allah SWT made my voluntary work relevant and valuable at the time, and has continued to do so since.

Now, as an unemployed mother of young children, voluntary work protects my CV from uncomfortably large gaps in employment. And, alhamdulillah, even though I returned to volunteering as a mother in response to others’ needs in the community, the work is proving to be intrinsic to my growing prospects of developing my chosen career.

I now know what I want to be doing, insha’Allah, and have remembered that I always wanted it. I wished for it as a child, and as a teenager and as a young adult, but I buried the desire over and over again. Compared to other people, I felt I already had too little experience practising my skills to sufficiently develop the talent I hoped I possessed. So I opted to refrain from even entering the competition. It was easier for me to focus my work on supporting other people in their achievements.

Alhamdulillah, it seems that through volunteering to meet others’ needs, I began feeling connected to the vocational purpose that I continue to feel Allah I demands of me.

Looking ahead at how much work I have to do, insha’Allah, I am usually inspired and motivated by the challenges. There are, however, despondent moments when I look around at others who already have the accomplishments on their CVs that I long for on mine. At those times, (after asking Allah SWT to bless and protect those people from the evil eye) I find it useful to look at how far I have come. If I removed my volunteering experience from the pages of my CV, I would still have so far to go. So far that I may not even have unearthed my childhood dream to be a writer, and may still be wondering what I “should” be doing.

Sometimes action does start with a wish. Our childhood hopes and dreams are not always fickle fantasies influenced by the attractions surrounding us, or by our desires to please our peers and guardians. Sometimes our childhood wishes may be Allah-given inspiration of the kind of work He has planned for us. In spite of us burying them, these wishes re-emerge when we are busy focusing on trying to please Allah SWT. Following them demands dedication, hard work, and working with and for the benefit of others. But every turn of the process offers occasions to thank Allah SWT and incites wonderful feelings of satisfaction.

When we are raised from our graves for the Day of Judgement, we will have to answer for the ways we used our talents, our time and our opportunities. I work in the hope of gaining satisfaction, in the next life as well as this, for acting voluntarily to make good wishes come true.

If you are interested in volunteering for a particular community or local voluntary organisation or charity, why not make polite enquiries directly by email, telephone, and in person?

Readers in the UK who are interested in volunteering may like to visit http://www.do-it.org.uk/ and to search opportunities on their local council websites.

And if any strive (with might and main), they do so for their own souls: for Allah is free of all needs from all creation.

The Qur’an, Surah Al-’Ankaboot (Chapter of the spider) 29:6

Umm Hamza is a pen name Maria Limehouse uses for non-fiction articles. She has volunteered for various organisations over many years. She aspires to use inspirational metaphors in her non-fiction writing and she sometimes writes for SISTERS Magazine where this article was first published.

 

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

A Story Is Never Just A Story

One of the most beautiful, freeing elements of writing is that our options are endless. We can write about ourselves, or people we know very well. We can write about others, people we’ve never met, living lives we’ve only envisioned. We can write to shed light, open eyes to see new things, some positive and uplifting, others negative. We can tell stories of the pious, or the sinner. Our imaginations know no limits!

For example, I’m currently in the middle of a story that’s so juicy, it’ll have my audience dreaming of what may happen next! It’s about the son of a Native American tribal chief who suffers from kleptomania – he robs all the members of his tribe late at night. When a member of the neighbouring tribe exposes him, the Chief is put in a difficult position about how to deal with the scandal.

You may be thinking, “Interesting topic. Are you familiar with Native American tribes and their systems of laws and penalties?”

And I’ll say, “Well, I did some research: I read some books, looked up some info on the internet, and I even managed to interview one Native American chief.”

Upon learning that, you’re undoubtedly thinking one of two things. Either you’re of the opinion that, “As long as you’ve done your research and portray that information in your story, then go for it.” Or you’re shouting out, “Learning about it through books and interviews does not make you an expert and you may find that you misrepresent, even unintentionally.” So which side is right? Just because we CAN write about anything, does that give us the RIGHT to? As someone who is not at all familiar with the Native American way of life, should I be writing about them, highlighting shortcomings in a scenario which I’ve completely made up? My personal opinion, is that it all depends on our intentions and the manner in which we fulfil them.

Being a mindful reader will lead you to be a more conscious writer.

As we are, first and foremost, Muslims, then our intention upon beginning any task, should be that it is for the sake of Allah SWT. You can undoubtedly have more than one intention: I want to write this to increase non-Muslim awareness/understanding of Islam AND I want to make people laugh, because laughter leads to happiness. I want to increase Muslim faith AND I want to reach a wider audience, I want to get reactions for my writing. I want to show support for my sisters and brothers in humanity, in hopes that perhaps one day they will be my sisters and brothers in Islam. I want to expose the crimes against humanity by the enemies of Islam so that societies will recognise that they are enemies to all of humankind. By making sure your main intention is for Allah SWT you will be more aware of how others will interpret it.

So what does that mean for me, in my story? I wanted to write about the Native Americans because so much of their daily lives coincide with our beliefs as Muslims; to be kind not only to one-another, but also to the earth. I wanted to highlight some of the similarities and, maybe by focussing on them as my audience, I could increase their awareness of Islam. Can I do that in the story I’ve outlined?

If I focus on laws which have been broken and strict consequences which must be applied, and depict my characters as an austere people, then I will probably fail all of my intentions. If I highlight them as heretics who only find God when an outsider comes to them, then I will surely lose them as an audience. But maybe, if I focus on the responsibilities all humans have to fulfil ramifications for their actions, understanding our own shortcomings through repentance and forgiveness, then maybe I can pull off an entertaining story that fulfils its purpose.

Just as you must be aware of your intentions and your message as a writer, you must be equally vigilant as a reader. Most stories, even fiction, require you to read between the lines to get to the author’s intentions. Just as you would keep questioning yourself as you write, as you read you should also keep asking, “Why is the author writing this? Why is so-and-so the hero and not the other character? What is the author’s purpose? Does she fulfill it? Do I agree with it?” Being a mindful reader will lead you to be a more conscious writer.

Always be aware that a story is never just a story; there will always be a message that you illustrate, probably more than one. By making your intention first and foremost for the sake of Allah SWT, He will bless your words so that the outcome of your piece will provide benefit both for you and your readers.

“And it is He who has made you successors upon the earth and has raised some of you above others in rank that He may try you through what He has given you.

Indeed, your Lord is swift in penalty; but indeed, He is Forgiving and Merciful.”

The Qur’an, Surah Al-’An’aam (Chapter of the Cattle) 6:165

Hend Hegazi is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in magazines such as Azizah and SISTERS. She was born and raised in Attleboro, Massachusetts and graduated from Smith College with a degree in biology. Her first novel, Normal Calm, was published in January 2014 by FB Publishing. Hend currently resides in Alexandria, Egypt with her husband and four children. You can catch her blogging at hendhegazi.wordpress.com.

 

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

So Where Is The Human Being Anyway?

Every day as I walk home from school, I pass a group of men and, if I’m unlucky that day, I will have the pleasure of hearing all sorts of profanities hurled at me, and I will do what I usually do which is play the excellent art of ignoring them and I will be okay with what just happened.

But when did it become okay to insult someone?

I have realised there are a lot of things that are ‘okay’ that are NOT! So I’m going to highlight small things that I think we should be doing without being told so:

POLITE IS RIGHT

We have completely forgotten what politeness means. We have to return to our courteous ways: politeness in speech, in action, and in behaviour.

Don’t be the person that’s shoving everyone at the busy mall, seriously, what’s with the shoving these days? Is there a shoving competition I don’t know about? Manners is what differentiates us from other animals so start being polite in the slightest things.

THE ART OF SPEAKING ONLY GOOD

We need this more than we can imagine. Keep quiet when we have nothing good to say especially when it comes to friends. Give your friends a pass when something they said or did hurt you, don’t go around being vengeful with your tongue, why do you have to be a catalyst? You don’t even like chemistry! Rather, quell explosive situations by keeping quiet when you have nothing good to say.

FAMILY COMES FIRST

This needs a whole extensive article because the institute of what family means has been shattered. People have two personalities, Moses to the rest of the world but Pharaoh to their own blood. My cousin once told me, “Family is home.” It’s cliché, I know, but when you’ve been shoved the whole day at the mall, nothing feels better than to be home with people who actually listen to you whine about the shoving at the mall.

WHAT IS YOURS IS MINE

You’ve heard it many times, “Treat people as you would like to be treated.” This goes for property too; take care not to damage people’s property especially when you borrow it and please return it. Some of you take ‘Goods once taken, not returned’ literally, to some new levels!

CONSEQUENCES OF ACTIONS

Let’s just put the religious part of it out. As a person, you need to feel bad when you know an action of yours is going to hurt someone else. Once you start drowning that voice that’s at the back of your mind when you’re doing something wrong, you open yourself to more atrocious acts. All over the news there are unimaginably horrible things happening and you wonder what kind of people would be capable of that, people who turned off the voice of reason. Take control of your actions!

JUST REPLY!

My best friend was going to kill me if I didn’t include this one: replying to people’s messages. I personally do find it annoying as well when you put in effort to text somebody and no reply! So the only sensible thing I can say about this is JUST REPLY! You all know the drill, someone spends time to type that email or message, the least you could do is take some of your time and reply. JUST REPLY!

Are you being the best you can be to those around you? ALLAH SAYS IN THE QU’RAN,

“We have certainly created man in the best of stature.”

Surah At-Tin (Chapter of the fig) 95:5

So the big question is where is this human being? Let it be you.

Fatima Abdulrazak will return with the next instalment of her new rant column in February insha’Allah.

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

The Mumbler

She had just wound down for the night. It was already getting late. She followed her usual bedtime routine; quick shower, into pyjamas, brush teeth, complete night prayers and jump into bed for a quick read.

She yawned uncontrollably, it was time to turn out the lights. Submerged in darkness and complete silence, she nestled into her warm blanket. Slowly drifting off into slumber, she turned onto her left to get comfortable.

The silence was broken. She heard and felt a hot sweaty breath mumbling gibberish into her right ear, she couldn’t make out a single annoying word it was saying. She couldn’t believe it. Her younger brother must’ve snuck into her room to play a school boy prank. With her eyes closed, she lashed out with her right arm and ordered “Get out of my room, its midnight for goodness sake. I have to go work in the morning!” Silence again, she must’ve scared him away.

As soon as she turned over to find the same spot of comfort, there the hot breath was again. Mumbling gibberish into her ear, louder this time. Taunting in a disgusting invasive manner, almost spitting into her ear.

She had had enough. She leapt from her bed, unlocking and trying to keep up with him as he dashed through the door. She bursted into his bedroom. He had already jumped under his duvet.

“Just wait till the morning! I’m telling dad what you’ve been doing! Once was enough, but twice?! Grow up!” She screamed at the top of her voice.

He pulled the duvet cover from his head. And with a dopey sleepy tone, all he could muster was a questioning “huh?” as he felt around for his glasses on his bedside table.

“Ten out of ten for acting.” She scoffed with sarcasm. Clapping as though to applaud his dramatic display. “You just wait till the morning son.” And with her nerves in tatters, she slunk off to bed and tried once again to nod off to sleep.

Her alarm went off, she prayed her morning prayer and went down for breakfast. As soon as she heard her father stirring, she went to tell him of her younger brothers silly antics last night. He was furious. Her brother was summoned to explain himself. He insisted on his innocence, he said he had no idea what she was talking about, this just made his punishment even harsher. To resort to lying, he had hit a new low. He was forced to apologise and promise to never to do such an idiotic stunt again. Begrudgingly he did as he was told.

She sat on the tube on her way to work. She reflected on the incident step by step. Her blood ran cold. “It couldn’t have been him” she thought to herself. She remembered that before she could chase the mumbler out of her room, she had to unlock her bedroom door, from the inside. Therefore, the mumbler would have been locked in with her, in her bedroom…the whole time.

“Say, ‘I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind,

The Sovereign of mankind.

The God of mankind,

From the evil of the retreating whisperer –

Who whispers [evil] into the breasts of mankind –

From among the jinn and mankind.’”

The Qur’an, Surah An-Naas (Chapter of the mankind) 114:1–6

Shabana Diouri is an aspiring writer and poet with a strong affinity toward the issues of women in Islam and spiritual needs of the heart. She is a qualified Economist and Statistician whose career began in Whitehall. Currently she spends her time in Edinburgh as a freelance writer and engages in outreach work with the University of Edinburgh to encourage a deeper understanding of Islam and Muslim culture. She currently manages ‘Muslimah Uninterrupted’, her personal blog where this was first published: http://muslimahuninterrupted.wordpress.com

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

My Crown Jewel

O, how I love wearing my crown jewel.

To protect and connect me with The Protecting One,

And to shade me from the wrath of this cruel world’s deception.

This is my faith, my choice and my haven.

In this materialistic world where we live, your worth is judged and your looks sneered at.

My crown covers me from this world’s gaze, but why must society set this ablaze?

This is my protection and connection with the light.

We are guided by the Quran with its uplifting comfort,

Its spiritual sustenance and abundance.

I call out to The Glorious and I kneel down to pray,

Asking Him to ease my pathway.

My jewel is my crown; I wear it to guard my modesty,

To help me gain purity and security from evil eyes.

It’s my well guarded pearl, draped like an embrace from above, and finely covered.

Because we are jewels with purity, maturity and beauty that’s undiscovered.

And remember your Lord within yourself in humility and in fear without being apparent in speech – in the mornings and the evenings. And do not be among the heedless.

The Qur’an, Surah Al-’A’raaf (Chapter of the heights) 7:205

Saira Anwar is from Manchester, England and is trained and qualified as a nursery nurse, childminder/centre worker. She is also a recognised creative poet and author. Dedicating her time to writing and sharing inspirational content online, through her service ‘Saira Anwar Inspired Poetry’. She continues to inspire many people everyday. She has had several poems recognised for creativity, originality, imagery and expression  as a result she has had many published works to date.

http://www.sairaanwar.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/inspiredpoetry

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

As I Strive On Your Path

O My Rubb

The world comes with its imperfection,

And taunts me for my faults,

Judging me for my flaws,

Merciless with its claws,

While You, despite Your perfection,

Console me with Your compassion,

Judging me by the best of my actions,

As I strive on Your path.

 

O My Rubb,

What would I have done,

Had you left me at this world’s mercy,

Letting me wallow in self pity,

Had You ever forsaken me?

But You show only acceptance,

When I turn to you in repentance,

So why would I not show appreciation,

As I strive on Your path.

“Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.”

The Qur’an, Surah Ar-Ra’d (Chapter of the thunder) 13:28

Rahma K is a freelance writer and Deputy Editor at Muslimaat Magazine. She also shares short reflections on Muslimaat Facebook page regularly.

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

Finding My Dream

A beautiful night

A dream

That seemed so real

A cock’s crow

Depriving me of fantasies

 

An inspiration

Travelling

Beyond the dream world

The wonderful sight

Still enthralls me

 

Beyond flowing garments

The beautiful Ummah

Strikes me more

The humility

Sways me off my feet

 

Selfless people

Whose greetings

Convey a strong prayer

Lofty ideologies and magnificent virtues

Provoke my anxiety

 

An unknown force

A strange voice

Beckons me on

To comb the narrow roads

To find my dream

 

They ask me

About my sleepless nights

They know all

About my adventures

But I am scared

 

I can’t fail

To embark

On this treasure hunt

But my voice travels far

Across borders

 

My voice

Reaches their souls

They know the why

They understand my sweat

But they turn their backs

 

Brothers and sisters

Folding their arms

Cold stares at me

I can’t help but tremble

Will I find my dream?

And upon Allah let the believers rely.

The Qur’an, Surah Al-Maa’idah (Chapter of the table spread) 5:11

Wardah Abbas is the Earth Care writer for Young Muslimah Magazine, she writes for SISTERS Magazine, and she celebrates Islam and highlights issues affecting women on her blog.

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

Why Am I Not Grateful?

Sisters, this poem is for you,

So I can share what I know too.

I hope this does touch a nerve,

As this poem has a purpose to serve.

 

Every day we complain about what is wrong,

To get through it, we will listen to a song.

Very rarely do we pick up our holy book,

This sisters, is something Allah will not overlook.

 

We have other priorities or ‘don’t have time’,

We’re busy making pounds, cents or a dime.

We tend to forget who we should be grateful to,

Grateful, to the one and only Allah – this isn’t something new.

 

We are constantly put through tests and trials,

Our deed list is never-ending and goes on for miles.

We miss our salah because we are doing other things,

Responding to texts, calls, whatsapp msgs and pings.

 

I agree we live in this dunya, and every day is a fight,

This is why, we as an ummah, need to stay tight.

We need to shield our religion; appreciate and respect it,

Following the Qur’an and the Sunnah, is the only pathway lit.

 

We see our brothers and sisters struggling,

But this is a long-term, worldwide thing.

There is a risk of us all straying from our deen,

So we all need to make an effort and be keen.

 

We have so much and take advantage of everything,

We should follow Allah’s Islamic law, not that of any king.

We don’t appreciate the little things, or every morning we wake,

Let alone appreciating every single breath we take.

 

Being grateful will not hurt us, ruin us or break us down,

So why do we turn our deen into a joke? You are not a clown.

We need to learn to respect Islam and its beauty,

Being a Muslim, this is our duty.

 

We need to better ourselves for the aakhirah,

Take a second, to look back at ourselves in the mirror.

We should use ourselves as our motivation and our tool,

Look back and ask yourself this one question: WHY AM I NOT GRATEFUL?
Humera Amir  is a young poet; she has more poems scheduled for publication by Young Muslimah Magazine.

Reclaim Your Heart Cover

Reclaim Your Heart

‘Reclaim Your Heart’ by Yasmin Mogahed is not just a self-help book but a reflective guide for the heart’s journey in the ocean of life.

It is a guide on how to prevent one’s heart from drowning out of feeling overwhelmed with grief and pain.

It is not only a guide but a manual on how cope, react, as well as heal, in situations of heartbreak and dismay.

Reclaim Your Heart Cover‘Reclaim Your Heart’ is a book which pours advice from one heart to another on how to prepare for challenges in our lives by putting both the realities of life and its obstacles in perspective so that we may not only heal but reclaim and protect what is ours – our hearts: our soul’s most valued possession.

Yasmin Mogahed shares her reflections on liberating the heart and soul through the use of personal experiences as well as wisdoms derived from the Qur’an and prophetic traditions (Hadith) in a beautified and simple way for readers to be moved with understanding.

Her use of personal experiences allows readers to connect and resonate with her words wherein they hope to discover more. The references and use of analogies from the Qur’an and Hadith provide deepened insight which serve as a guide on how to reflect upon our lives while giving us hope that those in the past endured similar hardships but overcame them due to understanding life’s realities.

Yasmin’s reflections further show that she too is going through a journey with us; as she discovers we discover – discover how to reclaim our hearts to a safe abode.

Be patient after reflecting the real purpose of life.

The book is divided into sections delving into the harms of being too attached to the world and being too attached to a person out of love. It describes how one has unnecessary fear, anxieties, and heartache out of fear of losing whatever is obtained due to feeling too attached and not understanding the temporary nature of this world. Yasmin Mogahed provides solutions by redirecting us to focus on our relationship with Allah SWT and understanding the realities of this temporary life so that our hearts may not cling to material means.

The book, therefore, is a means to show how to live life without letting life own/trap our hearts and souls into a state of dismalness and hopelessness. The book thus gives hope and encouragement by showing that no matter how deep we sink we must also detach ourselves from life’s anchors in order to flow back to the surface and breathe – in order for our hearts to break free.

Yasmin Mogahed acknowledges the hardships faced when trying to break free from life’s shackles and waves. For example, she advises that when in despair one must be patient after reflecting the real purpose of life. That after understanding life’s temporary reality one must not be distracted by the glitters of this world. ‘Reclaim Your Heart,’ is thus a means to free your heart from anxieties when facing life’s struggles by pointing out life’s deceptive traps. For this world is an illusory pleasure in which you might lose possessions or get hurt by people. However, if you are steadfast and mindful of Allah SWT with patience you will be able to easily cope without heartache.

‘Reclaim Your Heart,’ is a must read for both Muslims and readers of other faiths alike in spite of the references to the Qur’an because we all, as humans, go through suffering and pain during which we all seek comfort and solutions. The advice given by Yasmin Mogahed is both practical and logical, and it is poured in a beautified way so that hearts may be soothed and souls may be moved with comfort and hope.

There are, however, sections towards the end of the book that delve into the status of women and into issues in the Muslim community where the state of the Muslim world is unraveled in reflection. Mogahed uses her life’s experiences with Qur’anic references to empower the status of women and explain the issues of modern day feminism while also addressing the issues in the Muslim world. She reflects on successes despite the downturns as a means to give hope for the further betterment of tomorrow.

After reading this book I feel readers will be bound to leave it with hearts comforted and hopeful out of feeling ease that there are solutions to avoid heartaches. Readers can also expect to feel left with clarity and better understanding as to why we feel the way we feel and how to not only prevent pain but grow. How to not only avoid loss but reclaim – reclaim our hearts into feeling whole.

O you who have believed, respond to Allah and to the Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life. And know that Allah intervenes between a man and his heart and that to Him you will be gathered.

Surah Al-’Anfaal (The Spoils of War) 8:24

Sa’diyya Nesar lives with physical ‘disabilities’; she writes articles, prose, and poetry in hopes to uplift souls into living a better tomorrow. She posts on Tumblr and Facebook. The first part of this review of Reclaim Your Heart was published in the August mini issue of Young Muslimah Magazine.

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

Gaza

Today

You have opened

My heart

To grief.

Oh, Lord!

And I will

Just let it be.

 

I have seen

Many bomb blasts.

Torn apart bodies.

Grimacing faces.

 

I have seen

Fire and smoke

That rise up

Above the city.

 

Like a menacing monster.

 

I have grown

Numb.

I have absorbed

Too much death

And destruction.

 

A man carrying

An ash-coloured thing

That was once

A human baby.

 

A little girl

In red

Collecting her books

Buried in the rubble

That was once

Her home.

 

My eyes are

Bleeding.

There is no rescue.

There is no respite.

 

What have we done

To ourselves?

 

Today I am open

To grief.

And I shy away

From harrowing tales

Of an oppressed people.

 

We do not forget.

We look away

Lest our bubble bursts.

 

History repeats itself.

And this much I know –

Good times will prevail

Again.

 

I have grown numb.

Out of my numbness

Grows determination.

Like the promise

Of a big tree

Hidden inside

A tiny seed.

 

I shy away

From scrolling screens

That offer

Bits and pieces

Of carnage here.

And massacre there.

 

Lost dreams,

Shattered houses,

Messed up minds

Of children in shock.

 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Quite a mouthful,

No?

 

What can I offer

To this world?

These are

Troubled times.

 

I am losing

My grip

On everyday things.

 

Deadlines,

Promises,

Responsibilities.

I am nowhere to be found.

 

Just for some time.

Let me be lost

In the nowhere space

Inside my head.

 

Let me stare

Blankly

At nothing at all.

 

Perhaps

All I need is

Just a little break.

 

To collect myself

Again.

 

I can feel

The uneasy stillness

Before a storm

That is brewing.

 

Inside

Me.

“Our Lord, pour upon us patience and let us die as Muslims [in submission to You].”

The Qur’an, Surah Al-’A’raaf (Chapter of the heights) 7:126

Sanjida Shaheed publishes her poetry on her blog Eight Feet Tall where this poem was first published. Four of her poems have been published in the anthology The Muslimah Speaks: Her Voice, Her Spirit book 1. Sanjida is self-employed at Studio Hubb, which is her studio where she designs for deen, aiming to spread the message of Islam creatively. www.studiohubb.com. She is also the Founder and CEO of Muslimah Creatives, which is THE hub for creative Muslim women. www.muslimahcreatives.com.

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

Palestine Rainbow

I have read about children who cannot sing

With their friends who died from orange fired

Rockets with yellow edges and have been

Buried under the earth and its green grass

Under the noses, eyes, ears and blue stars

Of people who talk like they’re indigo

And sing violets to their friends.

And I have noted the red blood.

When the earth is shaken with its [final] earthquake

And the earth discharges its burdens

And man says, “What is [wrong] with it?” –

That Day, it will report its news

The Qur’an, Surah Az-Zalzalah (Chapter of the earthquake) 99:1–4

Elizabeth Lymer is Editor of Young Muslimah Magazine, where – as you can see – she is happy to publish poetry. (Check out http://youngmuslimahmagazine/submissions.) She writes nursery rhymes prolifically and is looking forward to the launch of her collection of Abrahamic rhymes next month insha’Allah. This poem was first published on her writer’s website.