Category Archives: Writing

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

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.

 

Mini Issue One Aug 2014 Out Now

First Editor’s Bookshelf

Assalaam ‘alaykum/Peace be with you,

Welcome to our first Young Muslimah Magazine Mini Issue.

Our Mini Issues are publications via which we republish our writers’ articles that have been previously published elsewhere; we republish a guest series by Zainab bint Younus; we share inspirational articles by our Islamic Editor, Nadia Leona Yunis; and we look ahead to our forthcoming main issue in the form of book review introductions and opportunities for you to get involved insha’Allah.

Submissions for our October issue ‘Inner and Outer Me’ are now closed. However I encourage aspiring writers to think ahead with planning submissions for our February issue (theme and deadline to be announced via our Facebook group, email list, and submissions webpage insha’Allah).

Book reviews are an excellent place to start out as a writer. Writing publicly means entering a matrix of conversations that have been flowing for a very long time alhamdulillah. Writers are not expected or required to know everything. By bravely writing your unique beliefs, perspectives, and experiential knowledge you can connect with the readers and writers who are engaged in written conversations of your interest insha’Allah.

What better way to ease yourself in to writing publicly than by reviewing other people’s writing?

By writing a review you will be supporting another writer and the writing industry. You will be reaching out to support others in a way that you will need to be supported if you are to succeed as a writer. And you will learn about your own preferences of writing style and craft by observing yourself as a reader insha’Allah.

Insha’Allah twice a year I will offer a selection of specific books as gifts to aspiring review writers for the magazine. Here is my current selection:

Editor’s Bookshelf* ( Autumn/Winter 2014-2015)

For a young aspiring writer and book reviewer aged 13-24 (non-fiction): Sandcastles and Snowmen by Sahar El-Nadi

For a​ young aspiring writer and book reviewer aged 13-24 (fiction):

Soul of a Butterfly by Safaa Baig

​​For an aspiring writer and book reviewer aged 13 or over​:

Writing as a Way of Healing by Louise A DeSalvo

For an aspiring fiction writer and book reviewer aged 13 or over:

Story Physics by Larry Brooks

For an aspiring poet and book reviewer aged 13 or over

Many Poetic Voices, One Faith by Islamic Writers Alliance

*Aspiring female book reviewers are welcome to make submissions from anywhere in the world. However gifts books can only be offered to writers in the UK.

Please email me at editor@youngmuslimahmagazine to pitch your review if you are interested in writing a review and receiving a gift copy of a book from the above list. Please refer to our Writers’ Guidelines before you email me. Jazakillahkhayr.

Insha’Allah our next issue ‘Inner and Outer Me’ will be out mid Oct.

You can like and follow our Facebook page for updates.

To keep up to date with the Editor’s List you are welcome to join our Facebook group or email the above address to request to join our email list.

I hope you enjoy reading our mini issue and you discover new blogs/websites in the process insha’Allah.

I look forward to your submission insha’Allah.

Ma salaama,

Elizabeth Lymer (Editor)

Sa'diyya's photo

Turning Hurdles into Higher Aims and Successes

Sa’diyya Nesar reflects on transformation processes in nature and perceives opportunities for achievement within seeming obstacles

It cannot be denied that we all face hurdles in life. We are all bound to come across obstacles when walking on the path that we call life. One of us may be going through more hurdles than the other, with some of them being illnesses, the loss of life, poverty or even an emotional distress within the self – within our souls.

There will always be an uphill battle, slope, or mountain for us to climb on the paths of success. Our struggles do not mean that we are doomed to fall and stumble downhill but rather they may begin an increasing chance, hope and potential for us to come out stronger and achieve higher aims and successes in life.

Sa'diyya drawn roseEach thorn and prick on the stems of life’s journey might in actuality cause a more vibrant petal for my soul where it then forms into a flower to not only blossom but bloom – bloom into the achieved destination of higher aims and successes in life. Therefore every difficulty is a chance for me to change it into an opportunity where I can grow, flourish and climb to the path of success.

Use the hurdles as stepping-stones

The path of success with its hurdles is as if we are climbing a mountain where we come across rocks – instead of looking at them as hurdles that would doom us to climb, we can look at them as gifted stepping-stones for us to use to climb towards higher aims and successes. The rocks may at first be hard to climb. They may scratch our skin and cause us to suffer but at such times I try to keep in mind that the process of the rock-climbing path is essential for me to reach even greater heights than imagined. An example could be the like of a cocoon for the caterpillar from the world below. The cocoon is there for the caterpillar to struggle and break free into a butterfly reaching greater heights than previously possible.

Sa'diyya yellow roseI try to recognize that, like the caterpillar, one has to go through the struggles to grow into a more developed individual with higher forms of successes. One has to use the hurdles as stepping-stones. I, myself, should not become an obstacle by refusing to climb due to a pitiful nature and negative attitude. This negative attitude would cause me to either not get anywhere or result in me stumbling down off my road to success onto the path of failure. I thus try to realise the reality of the mountain of life where I am bound to come across rocks that may cause me to struggle. I am bound to somewhat suffer but at such times I know that the rocks are there to help me climb into a brighter tomorrow.

There are those that are successful despite having a lot of hurdles and not having much given to them in life. They are successful because of their determined nature and positive attitude. They look at everything as a means to move forward while focussing on what they have to help them push into reaching their maximum potential. An example is one of those with physical ‘disabilities’. Some of those facing physical challenges focus on what they can do instead of being negative. Some might not be able to exercise at all but they might have the ability to slightly move their body and do influential things like writing.

Sa'diyya pink roseI personally developed a physical disability during my childhood where there was, at times, no hope for me. Instead of focussing on the hopelessness of my condition I tried to focus on what I could do; the result of which gave me hope. I was unable to climb steps but my focus was on my ability to walk even though it was slow. I was unable to exercise fully but my focus was on my ability to move to some extent and exercise my mind – even through writing. Realisation and acceptance that life is a struggle and that I have hurdles made me even more determined to overcome the obstacles in ways I could. I realised that we all have our individual mountain paths with our individual rocky hurdles – it’s just a matter of changing our hurdles to stepping-stones to reach our higher aims and successes.

The path towards Jannah consists of tests from the One above

You may start to look at your obstacles as stepping-stones to help you climb upon the mount of success but that does not mean there are not those who may try to pull you down. There might be people who tell you that your hurdles are unfortunate but do not get discouraged by what they say – they are just unaware of how you are able to turn your hurdles into things that may bring forth fortunes.

Sa'diyya white roseSuch people are not only unaware of your ability to change your misfortunes into fortunes but rather they are unaware of the reality of life – what constitutes the path to Jannah (Heaven). The path towards Jannah consists of tests from the One above. Therefore be consoled when coming across hurdles in life because the path to jannah is the ultimate success; its path is bound to have its twists and turns with stepping stones for you to climb on.

I try to tell myself that my will should be stronger than whatever skills or aims I have in life when climbing life’s mountain because it is my will and trust in Allah that will ultimately help me fulfil my aims which will then help me climb uphill to the path of success (if Allah wills). Therefore, realise the reality of life, accept its hurdles, turn them into stepping-stones, and have the will to climb – before you know it, you could be blooming on the mountain’s peak with higher aims and successes in life than imagined.

For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.

The Qur’an, Surah ash-Sharh (Chapter of the relief) 94:5

Sa'diyya's photoSa’diyya Nesar lives a life with physical ‘disabilities’, where she strives to help others cultivate and focus on their abilities. She writes both prose and poetry for magazines hoping to uplift souls into living a better tomorrow.

Sa'diyya path

Unexpected Path in Starting My Journey as an Aspiring Poetess

A year ago, if someone told Sa’diyya Nesar that she would now be frequently writing poetry and would have had some of her poems published in an anthology alongside other poetesses then she would have laughed – she would have laughed because of not believing them

I never once thought I would be writing poems let alone finding myself in the process of writing poetry. I was, and still am, the sort of person who enjoys painting out every detail in the form of prose at great length. I had never felt satisfied to express what I wanted to say in a few words. I felt it mandatory to pour out every word that I felt for readers to soak in and later swim in as if they were in the sea within my head – within my soul.

Sa'diyya sea sunriseThis was until sister Janette Isahah Grant, a sister who also happened to become one of the editors of the poetry anthology The Muslimah Speaks: Her Voice, Her Spiritpointed out when reading my prose that I may have a poetic touch and she therefore asked if I had written poetry or would consider giving it a try. I told her that I didn’t write poems, nor had I tried, and was not even sure if I ever could. However she encouraged me to give it a go, seeing that my pieces of prose had the underlying flow effect of poetic prose.

I remember how for months I was scared to even try – whenever I would begin to consider trying I would stop. Sa'diyya waves 1I did not even know where to begin or how to try and the thought of even trying began to slowly disappear from my mind until one night. Until one night when I could not seem to figure out what I was feeling and had the need to discover, unravel and pour out my soul to begin to understand what I felt – begin to understand myself.

I thought that whatever I would write to help me discover myself would be prose. However before I knew it there appeared verses in the form of couplets that would soon be continued with more couplets that would eventually be presented in the form of a poem.

Every line helped me understand what I felt where the more I dug the more I would unravel and the more I unraveled the more I poured. It was as if I pricked a scab – the wounds of my heart and soul – so that there would be a flow of words streaming out to form meaning, understanding, and growth. Growth to heal with a scab left stronger – unable to hurt or prick again.

No, it was more than that.
It was as if I dug beneath the dry Earth and a gush of water poured forth followed by a stream of verses for me to swim, soak and quench in the blessings. It was as if I dug deep beneath the mines and discovered a patch of gold waiting to be held and shown. It was as if I dived within the sea of my soul and returned to shore with gems and pearls waiting to be unlocked and held – waiting to be known.

Sa'diyya splashOnce I began to write poetry I was unable to stop and I would at times write six poems per day as if the cage within my soul was unlocked with the ocean of words that poured. Most of my poetry would start off displaying the conflicts of my soul and the ending of the poem would provide solutions and the overcoming of conflicts. Conflicts that would include drowning within the seas of life but with the poem then showing how to swim, or, the poem would start off showing the soul not being able to trust or regain strength but as the poem would proceed my soul would show me how to trust and regain strength again. My poems would not only help me discover but also cope – cope with my life with physical disabilities – or with any struggles faced in life. Whenever I would have a burst I would decide to share what I wrote on Facebook in the hope it might help others too.

I was able to find answers and express what I wanted to say both in detail but in a few words in the form of a poem. However if I tried to write in prose my focus lay in the detail rather than the discovery. The more I wrote poems the more my prose tended to develop a poetic sense. There would be, at times, a burst of poetic prose and every other line of paragraphs would rhyme with the next with matters that would either be deep or random like the struggles of the soul or the joy of drinking scented tea.

Janette MP TMS coverAt once, when I had written my first poem, I rushed to tell Sister Janette how through Allah’s (subhana wa ta’ala) Mercy I was able to write poetry – a form of writing I thought I would never do and an unexpected path I never thought I would take. Sister Janette then selected four of my poems to be published in the poetry anthology The Muslimah Speaks: Her Voice, Her Spirit alongside other more established poetesses. I felt incredibly blessed, humbly honoured and truly grateful to have been encouraged and included by Sister Janette and also guided by both editors of the anthology: Sister Janette and Sister Elizabeth. If it were not for their encouragement and support I would not have had the courage to continue writing especially in the form of poetry.

This unexpected path in starting my journey as an aspiring poetess has led me into the process of publishing my first book inshaAllah. I often post some of my poems on Facebook for a taste of what to expect and also in the hope of encouraging souls to discover and grow as my soul does so too.

Readers may join my unexpected path in starting my journey as an aspiring poetess by following me and receiving updates on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/sn.hk.9 

The Most Merciful

Taught the Qur’an,

Created man,

[And] taught him eloquence.

The Qur’an, Surah Ar-Rahman (Chapter of the Most Merciful) 55:1–4

Sa’diyya Nesar lives a life with physical ‘disabilities’, where she strives to help others cultivate and focus on their abilities. She writes both prose and poetry for magazines hoping to uplift souls into living a better tomorrowHer Tumblr is: sadiyyanesar.tumblr.com

Janette MWP Logo

Why Publishing?

Janette Grant, Owner of Mindworks Publishing, tells us why she became a publisher

Janette MP Book cover 3Writing has been a love of mine since discovering Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume books in elementary school but I had never considered getting into the publishing business. It wasn’t until my son began reading that the thought crossed my mind and only because of the difficulty I encountered when trying to find books that he would be interested in. There weren’t many books that spoke to the experiences of boys of colour and there were even fewer books that explored the concepts and principles of Islam.

Janette Grant Book cover 1As a firm believer in the saying, ‘You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution’, I decided to do what I could to be part of a solution in my community by establishing a desktop publishing company that produced works reflecting the experiences of the people around us. Mindworks Publishing is the fruit of my intention and it has been almost seven years in the making.

Truth breeds knowledge; knowledge creates unity; unity builds community; community yields Islam.

Janette MP Book cover 1Our company mission is to contribute to development of human potential through inspiring and informing people with the written word as it aligns with the principles of Islam; it is our intention to produce books that enlighten, encourage and spread joy. We also look to provide resources that support creativity within the community and among aspiring authors in their personal pursuit of their dreams. We believe that all growth starts with discovering truth which in turn leads to acquiring knowledge and the promotion of a unified community locally and abroad. Our motto is: truth breeds knowledge; knowledge creates unity; unity builds community; community yields Islam.

Janette I Love My Hijab faceless cover
(Facial details covered by YMM)


By the grace of Allah (SWT), I came across a website link to The Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA) soon after my light-bulb moment concerning Mindworks and, since then, I have been blessed to have received the encouragement, support and advice of Aishah Schwartz, the Founder and Director of MWA. Interacting with like-minded Muslim women writers and authors from the group has been an inspirational experience that has helped to propel me forward in striving for my dream.Janette MP TMS cover In addition, it was through MWA that I first came into contact with Creative Education and Publishing, the publisher of the first children’s book that I had ever written – having one of my stories accepted and applauded by someone outside of my family helped to give me the courage to try even harder.

The Holy Qur’an reads in Surah al-Hajj (Chapter of the pilgrimage) 22:78:

Strive in the Way of Allah as you ought to strive with sincerity and discipline

Janette Grant Hannah Book cover eyeless
(Eyes covered by YMM)

Ayahs such as this have been instrumental to my work and are a constant reminder and strength as I work to build Mindworks Publishing into an effective resource. I have learned much that I am grateful for during this endeavour despite the fact that book publishing has not been the easiest industry to break into. Throughout the few years that I have been actively pursuing the establishment of my business I have witnessed an encouraging shift as more readers are seeking electronic books and reading more online. As a result, more independent publishers and small scale publishing houses are able to produce a greater variety of books that can target a larger segment of people, subhanAllah.

 

(Eye covered by YMM)
(Eye covered by YMM)

The blessings that I have received from this process have been numerous and the challenges that I have faced have brought me closer to Allah (SWT). I have been permitted to meet and form friendships with many kind, intelligent, driven and exceptionally generous Muslims which has increased my faith in, and my love for, the beautiful religion of Islam. I’ve also had the privilege of seeing the joy reflected in the eyes of children who are excited to receive books that they can directly relate to.

 

(Facial features covered by YMM)
(Facial features covered by YMM)

With a total of seven books independently published by Mindworks Publishing, we are truly in the very early stages of production, but with the help and blessing of Allah (SWT) we will be able to contribute to the human family by producing good works that enlighten, inspire and encourage others to be their best self.

Janette Grant makes her publications available via createspace on the Mindworks Publishing website and on Amazon in the US and UK

Hend Hegazi Ideas thoughts and ideas flow

Gum Knocks Out Facebook in Round One

Writing Woes and Wows: Hend Hegazi shares a peak inside her writer’s world and some valuable tips for keeping focussed within yours

All great writing starts with a thought, an idea, an epiphany. Mostly these ideas come to me as I’m drifting off into sleep. (Apparently my brain doesn’t realize that sleep means ‘to rest,’ not ‘to work’!) They may come to you as you’re sitting at the computer checking your email, or maybe while you’re doing your homework. Some writers’ minds go into overdrive while they’re in the shower, or during their run. Ideas can hit you at anytime, but because those bright ideas may lead you to become the next Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling, or Maya Angelou, you must make sure you capture them as soon as possible.

Hend Hegazi notebook

I have a notebook which I fill with ideas. I also have a file in my computer titled ‘Ideas.’ It doesn’t make a difference where I write them, it only matters that I get them down as quickly as they come to me. If for any reason I put off recording them, I find that the idea loses its eloquence, or is missing that one perfect example which had occurred to me. I simply cannot recall it. Capturing that idea right away is essential.

Hend Hegazi Cloud

Once I have that thought, that idea that keeps swimming in my head, the one that keeps me company everywhere I go, I must begin to feed it. This includes, of course, the actual writing, but even before I write, I spend time just thinking, brainstorming, planning the road that my idea might take. It may become an editorial, or a short story, or even a novel. Nothing is set in stone, and the path it takes continues to alter its course. But that’s normal … that’s my imagination at work. None of that hinders me … I simply keep nurturing my growing idea with time and effort. I sit at my computer and write. I grab a pen and notebook, and write. Click click click click … tap tap tap. Pause. Click click click. Tap tap tap. Tap tap. Click. Pause.

Sometimes my pauses are to re-read, re-word. Sometimes they are dedicated to more brainstorming. But at the end of my writing sessions, I look down at my hands and realize that those pauses have also included something physically painful, and I’ve actually managed to draw blood on occasion. (Gross, I know.) I admit to having the ugly, subconscious habit of biting my fingernails, and unfortunately, the surrounding skin is never spared either. I do it without even realizing, and I do it ALL THE TIME when I write. So, what’s the solution? A pack of gum. A pack of gum in my laptop bag, right near where I write. A pack of gum near the notebook by my bed, where I might decide to write. A pack of gum saves my fingernails. Busying my teeth with something other than my own nails protects me from a painful habit. During Ramadan I can’t use that crutch, of course. But I can try to schedule my writing after iftar, so no need to worry.

Hend Hegazi keyboard

So now I’m sitting at my computer writing … writing and chewing my gum. Click click click. Tap tap tap. Pause (chew chew chew). Click click. Tap. Everything’s going along smoothly, then I hear it – that too good to resist sound: ding! Facebook is telling me I have a notification! So exciting, right?!

So I check it. And I read all the new posts on the news feed. (There’s a great webinar I can’t wait to attend!) And I chat for a few minutes with my brother. It was his message that I’d received the notification for. (He just told me how his son describes him as being ‘the donut man.’ Isn’t that so funny?) I check my email while I’m at it. (My best friend wrote to me! I haven’t seen her in a while so I miss her so much; I just had to respond to her message right away.) Okay, okay … I’m all done. That was only twenty minutes … time to get back to work.

Hend Hegazi black thought cloud

I click back to the document. And I start to–… okay, first I have to remember where I was. Let’s see. Okay, I think I was here. Yes, definitely. Or … no? Where was I??!??!

Do you see what happened here, my friends? I got sucked into the internet trap. If you do not resist that urge to check Facebook and email and Twitter and all the other social networks, you will lose your train of thought and your momentum. You’ll waste precious time that you’ve set aside specifically to hone your talent, to develop the idea which may lead YOU to become the next Nobel Prize winner. (Yes, it could happen.)

Hend Hegazi Laptop

Now I’m trying … trying to exhibit discipline in my craft, trying to avoid the attractive distractions which will only impede my progress. I have a browser page open to an online dictionary/thesaurus, and another to a grammar site which I sometimes check. I tell myself I can check my Facebook and email when I finish with a specific piece. It’s going to take practice … but I’m trying.

Sticking to my gum, avoiding Facebook, and here I am … click click click. Tap tap tap. Chew chew chew.

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 was born and raised in Massachusetts (USA) and graduated from Smith College with a degree in biology. She currently lives in Egypt with her husband and four children. Hend’s first novel, Normal Calm, is now available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can catch her blogging at hendhegazi.wordpress.com

Forgotton Empty box

Sleep or Write?

Forgotton Empty box

When it is past time to sleep and Hend Hegazi’s mind begins rushing with ideas to write about, she consults her memory to decide what to do

Why is it that all of the ideas I get come to me when I’m just about to fall asleep?

I spend hours tossing and turning, then, just as sleep begins to tug at my eyelids, the ideas start racing through my mind. I’m caught between giving myself up to slumber, or taking the one step it would take for me to get to my notebook and pen. Yes, it’s just one step … but it’s one step too many at 2:30 am.

So I say to my brain, “Brain … Can you please remember this for tomorrow?”

And she answers, “Of course.”

“Brain,” I stress, “you cannot forget. Are you sure you can do that? Are you sure you’ll remember?”

“Yes, yes…of course. You can count on me,” she replies confidently.

So I give in to sleep. Some time the following day, while I’m performing a mundane task like washing the dishes, it occurs to me that I had an epiphany just before I fell asleep the night before.

“Brain! What were you supposed to remember from last night?” I call.

No answer.

“Brain! Brain! What ideas came to me yesterday?”

She replies through a yawn: “Huh … What? Did you say something?”

Hend Hegazi is the author of the novel ‘Normal Calm’. InshaAllah this article is just the beginning of her column for YMM

[Gabriel said], “And we [angels] descend not except by the order of your Lord. To Him belongs that before us and that behind us and what is in between. And never is your Lord forgetful -

Lord of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them – so worship Him and have patience for His worship. Do you know of any similarity to Him?”} The Qur’an 19:64-65

Writing

Overcoming Nerves and Self Doubt

Writing

Aisha Davies writes candidly about her own self-doubts in solidarity with yours and shows you how to get past these limits to start achieving

Everyone suffers from writer’s block and nerves at some point in their writing career. Even me. Although I am a writer for a popular Muslimah magazine I haven’t written a single article. Talk about writer’s block.

Why, you may ask?

My own self-limiting belief that I am not as good, as talented or even as worthy as the other established sisters on the roll. Masha Allah their writings are articulate, highly intelligent and just darn good. It’s certainly a lot to live up to!

You may wonder then, why I am writing this. Well several reasons.

One: because my self-limiting belief isn’t necessarily true at all. It’s my own opinion and not necessarily that of others.

Two: How will I know if I am capable of writing read-worthy material unless I actually write?

The gentle reminder often helps. It seems the starting is the hardest part but once you pass the first hurdle the rest of the journey seems easy somehow.”

A sister recently gave me a great piece of advice. She said, “Don’t worry about getting it right, just write.” Wow, so simple and so seemingly obvious. And that is what I am doing. Over time insha Allah, through practice, I will find writing becomes easier and that I have established my style and a certain level of sophistication.

Another sister commented to me that we all have to start somewhere. Again fairly obvious but the gentle reminder often helps. It seems the starting is the hardest part but once you pass the first hurdle the rest of the journey seems easy somehow.

Three: To inspire young talented Muslimahs such as yourself to simply start and do your best. Not try but DO. It’s the doing that is the most important part and will eventually take you somewhere far away from the mere thought of writing to a physical piece published in a magazine, on a blog or in your very own book. Think of the possibilities!

So let’s look at your own limited beliefs.

As a young Muslimah you may feel that:

You’re too young.

No one will take you seriously.

That your writing isn’t good enough.

You may have several more limited beliefs but these tend to be the common ones most people have.

Ok so let’s analyse your limited beliefs. You’re simply too young to forge a writing career and because you’re so young your writing won’t be of a high standard nor will anyone take you seriously.

I’ve been calling these negative thoughts limited beliefs which is what they are, but it may be that my negative self-talk started with waswasa, whispers of Shaytan, our avowed enemy who till the Day of Judgement simply does not want any believing man or woman to succeed in anything positive.

I say kick these thoughts and Shaytan to the curb!

Whenever you get one of these self-limiting thoughts remember that you are a believer whom Shaytan is jealous of. Recite isti’adha (a’uthubillahi minashaytanir rajeem). And believe you can achieve refuge with Allah SWT from Shaytan, the accursed. Believe you can achieve and know that Allah SWT has given you abilities and skills to achieve.

You are not too young, your writing through your passion will be of a high standard and you will get taken seriously if that passion and love for writing shines through in your work. It isn’t always about paragraph structure or an impressive vocabulary. It’s about you, your message and love for what you do.

So go ahead, pick up that pen and paper, say bismillah and write!

Aisha Davies is the Adviser for Young Muslimah Magazine and a staff writer so you can anticipate more articles from her as she actively overcomes hurdles to achieving her writing career insha Allah

{And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him.} The Qur’an 65:3