Wardah A beauty

Wardah Abbas has been having fun ever since she launched her appearance into the green world. She loves beautiful things and beautiful people too

ACV’S BEAUTY MAGIC WAND

As much as I have always wanted to look extraordinary on my own part, it had always been trial and error with body lotions, body scrubs, cleansers, hair shampoos and conditioners, facial masks, body oils and a host of other skin beauty products. Until I discovered that I can achieve the best results if I do it the green way. And guess what, it has been fantastic. Realising that it will be selfish of me to keep these secrets to myself, I have decided to share them with you – and in this issue, I’m starting with apple cider vinegar.

Wardah A bathtubApple cider vinegar is my latest green beauty obsession. I have multiple jars of it all around the house so that it’s always within my reach whenever I need it. The wonderful thing about it is that it is very affordable; it serves so many functions and comes in handy even in unimaginable circumstances. Before I get started, let me emphasise that in order to gain the full benefits of this therapy, you need to get Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar as opposed to clear vinegar which has been processed. Here are the magical beauty transformations you can get from apple cider vinegar (ACV):

1. FACIAL SKIN

Wardah A womanAs a dark skinned person, my facial skin gets most sensitive during the hot weather. The more I get exposed to the sun, the darker my skin gets. So, ACV is just perfect for this. Apply a few drops of ACV to a cotton ball and rub on your therapy zone which can be any part of your body. Wash it off after thirty minutes. This prevents breakouts, minimizes blemishes and even tones your skin, giving it a brighter colour. ACV also helps to moisturize your skin especially for those of us who have dry, flaky skin.

For those of us who have oily skin, this is a great solution against acne. ACV kills bacteria and balances skin’s pH level as well because it absorbs excessive oil from the skin which is a leading cause of acne. Mix a cap of vinegar to ¼ glass of water, apply directly to your face with clean cotton pad and leave it there for about fifteen minutes, and then rinse. Repeat this two times a day. For excessive cases of acne, you can leave it overnight without rinsing.

Many of us get exposed to direct sunlight which causes skin redness for fair skinned people and blackness for dark skinned people. In this situation, ACV comes in to do a magical rescue by relieving the pain of a sun burn and minimizing peeling. Do this by applying a wash cloth soaked in a mixture of ACV and water to the burned area.

As a remedy for age spots, ACV contains sulphur that fights the effects of ageing. Just dab a cotton pad soaked in ACV to the age spot and leave overnight without rinsing until the next morning. If this causes you to feel a stinging sensation, dilute with water.

Lastly, the next time you get ready to slip into a warm bath, add one to two capfuls of ACV. It draws toxins out of the body and leaves behind toned and moisturised skin.

2. HAIR RINSE

Wardah A woman whiteMy hair catches the attention of a lot of my girlfriends and they just can’t stop asking me what my secret is. The truth is I have a lot of green hair secrets and ACV is just one of them. ACV balances hair’s pH level, removes build ups from conditioners, strengthens the hair shaft and leaves you with soft shiny strands. The acetic acid present in ACV also helps to eliminate dandruff in the air. Use ACV on your hair by diluting a cup of ACV in five cups of warm water and pour over your hair after shampooing. Leave it for about forty-five seconds before rinsing your hair with cold water to seal the hair shaft and create more shine.

3. TEETH WHITENER

A great smile is an asset for every woman and this is enhanced when you have healthy gums and shiny white teeth. As a lover of chocolates and sweets, I don’t part with my ACV when it comes to my oral therapy. ACV helps to remove stains, whiten teeth and kill bacteria in your mouth and gums. Do this by gargling with a mixture of ACV and water in the morning before brushing your mouth. Then brush as usual after you gargle.

BONUS: ACV is also very effective as an antiperspirant as it absorbs and neutralizes odours. Most commercial deodourants and underarm sprays block your ability to sweat which is dangerous to your health because sweat is one of your body’s natural means of detoxification. Rub in a bit of ACV under your arms. The smell of vinegar dissipates once it dries.

I really hope that you have benefited from this green and wonderful DIY beauty therapy. Expect more green secrets to come in the next issues of YMM Insha’Allah.

‘A’isha, the wife of Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him), reported Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: Kindness is not to be found in anything but that it adds to its beautyand it is not withdrawn from anything but it makes it defective.

(Sahih Muslim, Book 32, Hadith 6274)

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: http://therosespen.wordpress.com/

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 245 user reviews.

Wardah A laurel bow

HOW I GOT MY “ECO–WEIRDO” TITLE

When Wardah Abbas looks back at some of the things that have happened on her journey into being green, she can’t help but let out a giggle while she forges ahead. The distance that has brought her here was not covered without encountering some ups and downs, highs and lows, and whatnot

Right now, as I stare at the keyboard in front of me, I remember how many of my colleagues at school looked at me askance with their lips curved downwards and called me an eco-weirdo with a spark of eco-madness. I guess you want to know what I did to earn that title. Trust me, it never bugged me. Instead, I called myself an eco-queen.


Wardah A laurelAs a matter of fact, I guess it is part of me to always want to totally embrace any way of life I adopt for myself. This explains my lifestyle. Knowing fully well what being totally green entails, I gave myself up for it. In all aspects of my life, I strive to be green. Water usage, food preservation, waste management, healthy lifestyle, fashion and beauty, and what have you.

So, it didn’t surprise me that the many times in a restaurant when I ate a plate of food without leaving a grain left, I attracted people’s attention to myself. Or that the many times I went shopping with my sister queens and I rejected their purchase suggestions because I was carefully looking out for eco-friendly substitutes, I got loud sighs as reactions. The many times I sat in the shade at the school to relax with a pack of chocolates and found myself handpicking the dirt and food wraps that littered the ground, I always had someone ask me if I had just been employed as a gardener.

I love the green experience. It has made me a better person and a better Muslim too

I remember a day I had to hold on to some biscuit wraps till I got to a hostel because I couldn’t get a waste bin on the way. My room mate asked me if I had suddenly gone nuts. My friends also discovered that I insisted on using my own plates and cutleries because I did not want to use the disposables which were used to serve our meals at restaurants and they just couldn’t comprehend the whole thing even after I had explained it to them. So, they embarked on a journey to honour me with a ‘befitting’ title.

I have decided to share my eco-experiences because I know that it may not be that easy for some of us to adapt quickly to the changes the world needs, more so that some people may make fun of us and cause us to change our minds. It’s first about loving what we do. I called myself an eco-queen because I love the green experience. It has made me a better person and a better Muslim too. So, I don’t really care about the stumbling blocks any more.

Wardah A natural decorationI am not saying that fun moments you will very much cherish won’t come your way. Of course, eco-living is fun-filled. But I want to just make you bear in mind that you will come across people who will criticise your new lifestyle. And isn’t that always expected especially when you are doing the right thing? Bear in mind that there is strength in standing out from the crowd for what is right. So, if tomorrow, someone decides to call you an eco-miser, don’t hesitate to change it to a more positive name that will boost your confidence.

If trying to build myself a mini garden in my backyard when everyone else concrete over their own, and trying to eat fresh raw foods and meats while everyone else prefers the processed ones, makes me stand out as an eco-weirdo, then I gladly embrace the title. So, the bottom line is that even in the down moments, there is fun and I won’t hesitate to share every bit of it with you in this series In the subsequent issues of YMM. In the end, I’m proud to be an eco-weirdo because I’m weird for what is right and that is what makes me an eco-queen.

Indeed, this Qur’an guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward.

The Qur’an, Surah Al-’Israa’ (Chapter of the night journey) 17:9

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: http://therosespen.wordpress.com/

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 204 user reviews.

Ayesha Yahya raspberries

Ayesha Yahya reflects on the loss of vital ingredients for barakah (blessings) in her local iftars (meals for opening the fast) over recent years and offers a recipe for improving the situation

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious the Most Merciful.

Ayesha Yahya quran

So the month of Ramadan is just around the corner alhamdulillah and I can feel butterflies in my stomach. The thought of reciting the beautiful Qur’an, and of trying to perfect my tajweed (elocution of the Qur’an). The countless hours of praying during the night and generally changing myself for the better through my actions and speech.

Hold up a second: the butterflies are fading. Now I’m feeling apprehensive at the thought of all the samosas, kebabs and chicken rolls I have been preparing for two months in advance. Will there be enough food or will I have to make some more?

It feels like Ramadan has become a competition about who can serve the best food

You see, the number of people I call for iftar is vast and is getting bigger now that my husband calls his friends over. Please do not take this the wrong way, I love visitors, especially for iftar. It’s amazing opening the fasts, having family and friends over to eat and accumulating all the blessings. But what I have noticed is, over the past few years, it feels like Ramadan has become a competition about who can serve the best food.

Ayesha Yahya raspberries

As we know, the Prophet (peace be upon him) never bad-mouthed food; he would eat and never complain. Surely this is the way we should be.

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (may peace be upon him) never criticised any food (he was invited to) but he used to eat if he liked the food, and leave it if he disliked.

Sahih Bukhari, Book 65, Hadith 320

Good, healthy food is a must, especially during Ramadan, as we can easily become constipated or bloated by not eating the right foods. Also important is the need to make an effort in the local community to inform others of the benefits of Ramadan. My favourite way to share the blessings of Ramadan is most definitely by sharing food with my neighbours. This way we build love and understanding between each other.

It is reported on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) observed: He who believes in Allah and the Last Day should either utter good words or better keep silence; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day should treat his neighbour with kindness and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day should show hospitality to his guest.

Sahih Muslim Book 1, Hadith 75

Ayesha Yahya black- bookOne of the best times I had in Ramadan was whilst studying at university. I met many sisters from different parts of the world. Needless to say we had very interesting iftars with lots of beautiful food. These iftars gave me opportunities to not only meet new sisters but learn how to cook all kinds of food. So if you’re at university and feeling lonely and missing your mum’s food during Ramadan then check out the Islamic society who always have something going on in Ramadan. It probably won’t beat the feeling of home but it will give you a sense of love and of the family that we are all a part of: the Ummah (community of Islam). Be first to welcome other sisters who are studying away from home – if you see them on their own invite them to iftar, as no one likes to eat on their own.

Why not make some cupcakes and deliver them to your neighbours?

If you are spending Ramadan in a family environment, try to be involved and get the younger children involved with the food preparations even if it’s setting the table or taking out the seeds from the dates before iftar. Make it a family affair so that everyone appreciates how much effort goes in to preparing the Ramadan food. Telling children to get involved can fall on deaf ears especially when children have been fasting all day – to help with this, ask them to choose the surahs to listen to whilst working or even ask them to recite the Qur’an whilst you prepare the food. My teenage niece loved setting the table and soon her mum did not need to tell her what jobs to undertake; she would do everything from setting the table to making decorations out of the napkins mashaAllah.

I have to admit a pet peeve I have is seeing people hand out food two doors down and leaving out the house in the middle due to reasons such as, “Oh they’re not Muslim, ” or, “They never give us food.” Seriously, it’s Ramadan. Let’s give food equally and not leave people out. Alienating neighbours has a lasting effect on the community. Especially during such a blessed month, isn’t this not only insensitive but also defeating the purpose of Ramadan?

Ayesha Yahya muffinAnd to the ladies who feel like they have no say in where the food goes because their mum, aunt, or grandma does all the cooking, why not make some cupcakes and deliver them to your neighbours? I’m sure they will be appreciated.

Narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas told Ibn az-Zubayr (Allah be pleased with him): “I heard the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘A man is not a believer who fills his stomach while his neighbour is hungry.’”

Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhar, IV 61, 112

I love the above hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him): simple, but at the same time an example of a true believer.

Ayesha Yahya quranSo whilst we are busy preparing food, let’s remember why we are doing so. To help keep your intentions present, how about having the Qur’an recited in the kitchen whilst you’re cooking and preparing food? We can memorise ayahs or hadiths and educate ourselves in Islam as we work. (Women excel at multi-tasking.) We are Muslim women who need to make a change for the better and be recognised by our Islamic character not by how well we cook.

Ayesha Yahya is a mother of two who has studied a community development degree at university, and worked for the council in social care. Her best jobs were her voluntary ones including teaching children who were visually impaired to read Arabic Braille. She is hoping to go back into education to study to be a midwife insha’Allah.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 222 user reviews.

Zeshan 1 balance

For some time, Zeshan Akhter had wanted to find out more about early pioneers from other lands who had travelled to Scotland and made their homes there. So when she heard about a Black History Month talk that was taking place at Edinburgh University Chaplaincy, she dropped everything to attend because it seemed like a perfect opportunity to fill in some of the blanks

The air that October evening seemed undeterred by clothing and the cold sent pangs of pain into my bones. So, it was with relief that I stepped into the warmth of the Chaplaincy building.

Zeshan 1 frozenAs I saw the main auditorium where the talk was taking place, a feeling of comfort came over me. I knew I was supposed to be there at that time. It felt right.

Through the open doors I could see a semi-circle of people seated around a middle aged man of African looks and dappled greying hair. He was standing at the front of the room, a flip chart beside him. A young East Asian looking woman, clearly the event’s Chair, was sitting beside him. There was an air of hushed absorption in the room that made me rush to take a seat, all the while tuning into what the speaker was saying. I was anxious to not miss another word.

The speaker was Emeritus Professor Geoff Palmer of Herriot Watt University in Edinburgh. His research specialism is cereals and grains. He was wearing a dark coloured suit with a shirt open at the collar and no tie which gave him a relaxed look. My immediate overriding impression was that he was a man of kindness and gentleness. His humour became evident as his talk progressed.

There was no animosity in the Professor’s demeanour whilst recounting to us the abuses that he and others had suffered

He pointed to the flip chart and explained that he wasn’t going to use it much except to put up three dates on it.

Zeshan 1 flip chartThe first was 1940. This was the date of his birth. The second was 1955 when he left Jamaica, where he was born, in order to travel to the United Kingdom to join his mother for the chance of a better life. He explained that his mother had left Jamaica when he was a very young child and that when he was fourteen she had sent for him. Up until then, he said that he had not travelled further than five miles from his home in Jamaica. The entire trip from Jamaica to England in those days had cost his mother eighty six pounds. First he took a plane to New York from where boarded a ship to England. He was travelling in February/ March time, he said, and he hadn’t realized how cold it would be in England. Thankfully, he had an aunt in New York who had met him and arranged for him to have a coat.

He recalled embarking on the ship and seeing a white man with a gun enforcing segregation … black people could not board side by side with white people. He said that segregation was also enforced on the ship for the duration of the journey to England.

There was no animosity in the Professor’s demeanour whilst relating this story. In fact, he smiled often during his talk, whilst recounting to us even the abuses that he and others had suffered in their early days in Britain and in their careers.

He told us without a hint of self-consciousness that when he first arrived in Britain he could not read or write. I remember feeling shocked and also inspired by the journey the Professor had been on. The Professor caught our – the audience’s reaction – and explained that he worked and also went to night school and gradually gained more and more education. He said, “I didn’t kill myself but I worked.”

Zeshan 1 LAWThe third date the Professor wrote on the flip chart was 1976. This was the date that the first piece of race relations legislation came into force in Britain. He said that he was disappointed when this happened.

What?!” I could hear the unspoken question in the audience members’ minds explode in the room! “Why?” we all wondered. Bewildered looks were exchanged amongst us … our confusion uniting us across the divide of not necessarily knowing each other.

The Professor looked us keenly…. Of course, he knew his statement would elicit the reaction that it had. And suddenly not smiling, but seriously and earnestly, he asked us:

Zeshan 1 balanceDo you know why laws are made?”

The Professor had my deepest attention.

There was a shuffling in the room whilst brains were engaged…. Then the Professor explained that laws are made when a society is not automatically and naturally behaving in the right way. When a society’s attitude is not naturally correct, then the government or leadership will step in to rectify the situation and put laws into place. So effectively, the people are being told, do this and if you do not, then you will suffer the consequences under law.

So when a law is put into place it’s actually an occasion for sadness because something fundamental has gone wrong in society.

The Professor explained that the reason the race relations act was created in 1976 was that in the years leading up to that time, a great deal of unrest had taken place in Britain. There had been racist incidents, attacks, and claims that ethnic immigrants were taking British jobs and preventing natural born white British people from being able to work.

In the Professor’s opinion, racism is more hidden in Britain compared to in the States where it has been blatant. A person of colour could encounter racism in Britain without ever knowing it.

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah , witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.

The Qur’an, Surah Al-Ma’idah (Chapter of the table spread) 5:8

Zeshan has a degree in Zoology from Cardiff University and works with a government agency on national nature conservation policy in Scotland. Outside of her official work, Zeshan’s interests include a wide range of humanitarian issues that are challenging the world today. Zeshan is a woman of faith and believes that our purpose in life is to use our hands and feet to do the work that our soul would have us to since this is the part that is our true essence: eternal and from the Divine.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 187 user reviews.

Zeshan 2 different coloured pencils point to one spot

For some time, Zeshan Akhter had wanted to find out more about early pioneers from other lands who had travelled to Scotland and made their homes there. So when she heard about a Black History Month talk that was taking place at Edinburgh University Chaplaincy, she dropped everything to attend because it seemed like a perfect opportunity to fill in some of the blanks

Emeritus Professor Geoff Palmer explained that the reason the race relations act was created in 1976 was that. in the years leading up to that time, a great deal of unrest had taken place in Britain. There had been racist incidents, attacks, and claims that ethnic immigrants were taking British jobs and preventing natural born white British people from being able to work.

In the Professor’s opinion, racism is more hidden in Britain compared to in the States where it has been blatant. A person of colour could encounter racism in Britain without ever knowing it.

Zeshan 2 reading whiteIt might be a job interview after which a person is told they didn’t have enough experience in some key area of expertise or that somebody else had more … but a racist motive, if it existed, would be hidden. Whereas, in the States, although racism has resulted in unspeakable acts of violence and barbarism against black people, especially in the Southern States, it has also been possible for people like Colin Powell to be Secretary of State in the government and for a black man to be President of the most powerful country in the world. In contrast, the Professor conjectured that if Colin Powell had been born and brought up in the UK he would be a colonel in the army; his rise through the ranks would not have been possible. He also predicted that it would be a very long time indeed before a black person might be Prime Minister of Britain.

He recalled an incident in his own career. His boss had spoken to him one day and told him that a client had made a complaint against him. The Professor had realised instantly that the complaint was completely untrue. The person who had made the complaint was a brewery director whom the Professor knew well. What the Professor recounted next made me admire him. He had called the director and asked him how long it would take him to get from where he was to the Professor’s office in Edinburgh. “One and a half hours, ” replied the man. “You’ve got one and half hours to get to my office here on Chambers Street, ” had replied the Professor. The director came. When he did so, the Professor said he asked him a simple question: “Why did you do that?” The man had shrugged. The Professor had tried again: “No, really. I do a lot of work in race relations and I want to understand – why did you do that?” The man paused a second and then he replied, “I don’t like black people. I had a meeting with your boss – alone. I thought to myself: I have a chance here to make a complaint against you and then I wouldn’t have to work with you. So I did it”.

Zeshan 2 reading blackThe Professor was again smiling as he related this tale. “Some people, ” he said gently, “are just not OK with difference. When you live in a place in which you are aware that you are in some way different, it’s better not to be naïve about it. It’s better to be prepared so that if it happens to you, you can deal with it.”

What changed things was that people began to write about their experiences

He recounted another occasion in Edinburgh when a senior manager at a major brewery contacted him for help. The manager wanted the Professor to recommend able students who would be able to carry out research in a particular area. The manager asked that he not be sent any ‘blue noses’. This term apparently, is used to denote Protestant Christians. The manager wanted only students who were Catholics. The Professor said he was astonished at this flagrant expression of prejudice especially since the manager knew that the Professor actively defended his students from discrimination. The Professor did not comply with the manager’s prejudiced request and instead sent him details of both Protestant and Catholic students who he felt had the right level of skills and knowledge required to carry out the research.

Surprisingly, the manager appointed a Protestant student. Perhaps he did this because he realised that the Professor now knew of his prejudicial religious preference and would not be likely to keep silent if a Catholic student was appointed from a Catholic only list of candidates. The Professor was sad in recounting this story. He ended by wondering how often prejudice had prevented able people from progressing in their careers and lives – instances when nobody had known that prejudice was at work or where nobody felt able to stand up to the discrimination.

Zeshan 2 writeIn America, said the Professor, what changed things was that people began to write about their experiences.

Think about Martin Luther King’s speech: ‘I have a dream’, ” said the Professor. “It’s famous the world over.”

He told the assembled group, which was made up of many university students, to write about their experiences. “Start a student magazine, ” he said. “It doesn’t have to be good! But write.” The Professor was very intense now.

Then he asked us to think about Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. “If you really want to change society write a Hamlet.”

What was so powerful and moving about this was that the Professor truly believed in the people present. It is nourishing at the deepest core levels to feel somebody’s belief in you. It’s much like coming into the light and warmth of a safe room after the stinging cold of a frosty environment.

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.

The Qur’an, Surah Al-Ma’idah (Chapter of the table spread) 5:8

Zeshan has a degree in Zoology from Cardiff University and works with a government agency on national nature conservation policy in Scotland. Outside of her official work, Zeshan’s interests include a wide range of humanitarian issues that are challenging the world today. Zeshan is a woman of faith and believes that our purpose in life is to use our hands and feet to do the work that our soul would have us to since this is the part that is our true essence: eternal and from the Divine.

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 208 user reviews.

Sa'diyya's photo

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.

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 226 user reviews.

Sa'diyya path

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 Spirit,  pointed 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

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 186 user reviews.

Janette MWP Logo

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

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 212 user reviews.

LaYinka image4

LaYinka Sanni looks to Safiyyah bint Abdul-Muttalib in her first instalment of a series about inspirational Muslim women

LaYinka image1

I raised my fists, one in front of the other; my legs were bent and my gaze focussed intently on my opponent. Jabs and thrusts were blocked, kicks sidestepped, and a secret smile was tucked beneath my stern demeanour.

This isn’t the typical image of a Muslim woman – women who are so often solely attributed to flowery, pretty things – I had shed my earrings and flowing dress, wrapped up my hair, and donned my pristine karate attire. My mind was switched off from chores, bills, and cooking, and zoned on my next move against the person before me.

LaYinka image5

I had a very specific goal when I started karate classes: to get fit and strong. If I were to come into harm’s way I wanted to be able to stand up and defend myself with the vivacity of Safiyyah bint Abdul-Muttalib, whose fierceness and determination inspires me. So often we think of the women around the Prophet (Peace be upon him) as being solely under the instruction of men, yet Safiyyah was proof that women are not pushovers, because she most certainly wasn’t.

She demonstrated this perfectly during the Battle of the Trench, where the womenfolk were protected within fortresses guarded by designated companions. A Jewish man climbed the fortress where women in the Prophet’s (Peace be upon him) family were being safeguarded, and gained access so he could see them. Hassan ibn Thabit was assigned to guard and protect the women, yet refused to kill the intruder as Safiyyah demanded. What is a woman to do in such a situation? Perhaps go with the women to seek shelter from a possible attack? Not Safiyyah – the matter had become a personal concern she had to deal with.

LaYinka image2

Safiyyah rose and slammed a plank of wood over the intruder’s head until he fell dead. She chopped off his head to be taken to the Jews so they were fully aware that they had picked the wrong fortress to mess with, however Hassan refused to drag the head back to the enemy stationed at the bottom of the fort. So what is a woman to do in such circumstances? Perhaps dust her hands, shrug her shoulders, and join the rest of the womenfolk? Not Safiyyah – she bent and dragged the severed head and threw it to his comrades.

The Jews turned back saying, “We knew that this man (the Prophet [Peace be upon him]) would not leave his family without someone to look after them, ” not knowing that the person they were referring to was in fact Safiyyah bint Abdul-Muttalib, not a mighty male warrior.

LaYinka image4

Safiyyah was a woman of physical stamina, yet this didn’t make her any less of a woman. It was only due to the Prophet’s (Peace be upon him) love for her as his aunt that he commanded her son to remove her from the battlefield during the fierce battle of Uhud. She was deep within the throngs of battle, with a spear in hand as she attacked the faces of polytheists.

It wasn’t due to her ‘weakness’ as a woman that he (Peace be upon him) called for her removal, otherwise she wouldn’t have been amongst the male soldiers in battle. This very fact fuels my personal pursuit of physical strength in the footsteps of Safiyyah, because physical weakness is not a trait of womanhood.

The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those – Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.

The Qur’an, Surah At-Tawbah (Chapter of the repentance) 9:71

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: http://FromTuesday.wordpress.com

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 207 user reviews.

Hend Hegazi Ideas thoughts and ideas flow

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

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 190 user reviews.

Saira Anwar lighthouse

Saira Anwar expresses her dependence upon Allah through poetry

Saira Anwar sea lights

The Guiding Light

You’re the one that guided me.
When I was lost in the darkness of light.
When I was adrift on a sea of doubt and lost in hope.
You were my strength.

You were one who heard
my cry for help when
my words were held within.
You were the one who
calmed me when my world came crashing in.

You are the one I talked
to when no-one understood.
You’re the one that walked
with me in my darkest times.

You held my trembling hand.

You are the one who heard
and saw my pain and lifted
me up in my weakest
and painful times.

You made me who I am today.
Your blessings carved me
into a person with
a towering strength.

Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.

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

Saira Anwar shoreSaira 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

 

 

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 152 user reviews.

Sabeeha mountains

Sabeeha Parack uses poetry to reflect upon her relationship with Allah subhana wa ta’ala (glorified and exalted be He)

Sabeeha sunset

In His Praise

My closest confidant are you,
A power deep within.
Oh Allah, In your praise,
Where shall I possibly begin?

You know what thought runs in my mind,
You know what I shall be.
You know me more than I could know,
My every breath do you see.

In sickness do you stand by me,
You bless me more in health.
You care for me when no one’s around,
It only increases when people are there.

For a loving father have you blessed me with,
My mother’s love a fraction of yours.
Brothers and sisters who stay by me,
To whom can I my heart pour.

Like a shadow do you accompany me,
A constant reminder inside.
There’s no denying your presence around.
Where could I from myself hide?

I see you in the morning light,
I see you in the eve.
I see you all throughout the day
I see you as I sleep.

You’re present in the sound of the wind,
You’re present as I write,
Watching as I submit my will,
In prayer shall I abide.

Your kindness is exemplary,
Your full might I shan’t know.
Your guidance helps me through my life,
Seeds of hope do you sow.

You believe the best of me always,
You teach me how to forgive.
Your love for me knows no bound,
Beyond this life that I live.

For in the afterlife you’ve said,
For those who shan’t sin.
Shall catch a little glimpse of me,
If my heart shall you win.

Sabeeha mosque

[All] praise is [due] to Allah, Lord of the worlds

The Qur’an, Surah Al-Fatihah (Chapter of the opening) 1:2

Sabeeha Parack blogs at: http://midnightscribbless.blogspot.in/

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 286 user reviews.

Maria Limehouse Charity earring

Maria Limehouse shares an excerpt from a YA novel she is currently drafting

Charity

Sister, if you want to break into the market, you should do reclaimed stuff. I’m only buying this ’cause it’s for charity.” Her bracelets chink together as she rummages around in her pink sequinned bag. I check my display of handmade jewellery. Except for the necklace clasps, everything I’ve used is reclaimed – the metal, the jewels, the beads. But she didn’t ask me and I can’t advertise this fact because people will question my source.

She finds her purse: a tired pink leather that clashes with her hemp bag. “So, how much goes to charity, anyway?” she asks, raising her eyebrows and tilting her head down to me over her money.

All of it.” I answer, trying not to look at the protruding bank notes.

This charity?”

Half to this one, and half to another, ” I answer. She slightly closes her purse.

Not some terrorist organisation!” She laughs at her own awful joke. I put on a smile, lips twitching at the edges with the nervous demands I’ve embodied from train travellers wanting to know the contents of my bag.

To a sister in need, ” I reply, “in the community.” I look around the hall at the clusters of sisters standing above the other stallholders. Lots of black abayas topped with gaudy, glittery scarves that can incite a migraine like over-pungent cheese. Gosh, where’s my kindness? I am a part of this interwoven spiral of souls, clothed by a diversity of interpretations, modesty and tastes – a mere flavour of our personal spectrums of earnestness and privileges. That’s a bit better.

The pink sister pays me and moves to the next stall that sells children’s books. “My toddler group would love these, ” I hear her remark. I hate my own thinking, stare at the floor and defocus the marble effect into heavy clouds that could maybe rain me kind. Astaghfirallah.

Tasneem knows I’ve already done ‘Isha’ so I can’t ask for a prayer break to go and make more repentance. I shunt some pairs of earrings along the black velvet display cloth to fill the gap. Should I get more earrings out of my rucksack? No. Don’t get stressed again about what to display. None of my jewels match the hijab colours in here.

I concentrate on the entrance where the head scarves are most congested and try to change my focus to blend the different colours into something earthy.

Er-salaam alaykum, ” someone blurts, a little high pitched, and I sweep my display as I turn to look. “Er, ” she says again. Her scarf matches the purple beads in the unfinished necklace on my desk at home. Like me, she’s wearing a baggy patterned dress and long cardigan. Her dark brown eyes looked grounded.

Wa alaykum salaam, ” I say quickly. “Can I help you?” Then I distract myself with the earrings.

Are you Asma Deen?” she asks. I look straight back up.

What can I do for you?”

Oh, umm. I’m in your college. I …” She stops talking but holds her gaze. Unusual. People mostly avert their eyes when they falter over their words of condolence. Embarrassed of my mechanical sales-assistant question, I resist saying it for her: Innaa lillahi wa innaa ilayhi raji’oon. I gratefully accept her soft, moist, dark brown recognition of sorrow and connection. I can’t help but smile into her glow. Be my neighbour in Jannah, I want to scream. She smiles back.

Tasneem pulls my sleeve. “My brother just texted me.” Standing up, with her phone in hand, she flashes me a playful grin. “See if you can sell one of my bags while I’m gone.”

Yeah, right, they never sell, ” I reply.

Never say never!” she calls behind her, and chuckles. “Ma salaama.”

Ma salaam.” Her black scarf is easy to watch in the crowd but I feel the girl waiting. Infused with a little playfulness, I turn. “So, what’s your name?”

Oh, umm –” she starts. But a sister who I have seen around college stops her with a smack on her shoulders with her hands.

Come on, ” she cajoles. “Talk’s starting.” She flings herself over her friend’s purple scarf, laughs and turns her away.

The purple sister’s glow remains in my mind’s eye as she joins the tide of sisters exiting.

I’m alone at the stall table in a hall with only a handful of seated stallholders. A hanger crashes to the floor on the other side of a rail of black abayas. I flinch.

I replay the purple sister leaving and realise she flinched too – when her friend arrived suddenly. Is she scared like me? I imagine skipping across the hall after her to get her number while I sit motionless in my seat.

Ibn ‘Abbas reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) was the most generous of people in charity, but he was generous to the utmost in the month of Ramadan. Gabriel (peace be upon him) would meet him every year during the month of Ramadan until it ended, and Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) recited to him the Qur’an; and when Gabriel met him Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) was most generous in giving charity like the blowing wind.

(Sahih Muslim, Book 30, Hadith 5718)

Maria Limehouse is working on a YA novel and is an active blogger

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 226 user reviews.

Review Saira Inspired Poetry

Elizabeth Lymer reviews her own experience of being a teenager to evaluate Saira Anwar’s first book, Death of a Beautiful Dream

I got into reading and writing poetry when I was a teenager but I didn’t really comprehend that I was surrounded by living, breathing, working poets. As is not uncommon for a teenager, I assumed that no one else could really understand my experiences, and that no one had experienced similar things to me. I wrongly assumed that valuable poetry was written by poets who were either dead (like Elizabeth Barratt Browning) or somehow institutionalised within their writing canon so as to make them unreachable.

I was a teenager in the days before the internet took off with all its social media tools that authors can use to connect with their readers.

Review Saira roseSaira Anwar established her Inspired Poetry Facebook page when she self-published her first book in January. From there she posts snippets of poetry, warm words, and positive quotations several times a day. So, from her page, she endears potential readers with flavours of her book and gifts extras to her established readership who know and want to engage with her work and with her.

Reading The Death of a Beautiful Dream I tried to imagine receiving a copy of the book back when I was a teenager…. Did I know the common metaphors for women that are used repeatedly in the book? As a girl who was awkwardly growing into womanhood, did I need to be spoken to about my feminine beauty, and delicate strength and value, in the way that Saira speaks to her readers? Would I have been inspired by this book?

Well, as I have said, my perception of my experiences as common among my peers was a limited, almost non-existent, perception during my teenage years. My common knowledge was also limited, and my limits were exacerbated by my decided unwillingness to include myself in any beautiful generalisations that I discovered about females, let alone contemplate myself as being like a valuable jewel or a flower. Like many teenage girls I felt I was hurting and breaking and struggling to keep going. Teenage years are not easy and it is hard to bear them out. I think I would have benefited very much from Saira’s positive messages and pretty imagery about women.

Review diamondI think I would have been inspired to use my pain to drive my writing, as she has done, and to dare to maybe rediscover beauty through this process. Saira speaks openly about having started to compile her book after experiencing a marriage breakdown. I imagine that, from my place of pain, I would have gratefully connected to her words grown out of her pain – and I hope that her repeated metaphors would have made their way through to me.

I do not for one second think that the teenage me, or early twenties me, would be alone in benefiting from Saira’s book.

Elizabeth Lymer is Editor of Young Muslimah Magazine and hopes to facilitate many new female writers to publish and reach out to others through their writing; she is author of Islamic Nursery Rhymes and co-Editor of The Muslimah Speaks: Her Voice Her Spirit.

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 230 user reviews.

Wardah Abbas book

Summer evenings are great for reading – Wardas Abbas shares the books on her shelf this year

1. GREEN DEEN: WHAT ISLAM TEACHES ABOUT PROTECTING THE PLANET – BY IBRAHIM ABDUL–MATIN

Wardah Green DeenThis book, divided into four parts, is a very informative and educational tool for Muslims and Non-Muslims alike. In the first part of the book, the author talks about waste by posing a thought-provoking question: ‘How do you relate to trash, to waste and to consumption?’ He also talks about the industrial practices that stripped the environment of its natural resources and suggests other renewable sources of energy like solar and water. The author also tells us about how toxic our water is and how to conserve water while practising our deen (religious path). Solutions on how to pick our food and stay halal are also proffered. I highly encourage reading this book

2. WILD PLAY: PARENTING ADVENTURES IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS – BY DAVID SOBEL

Wardah Wild PlayIn this book, David Sobel shares his experiences with his children and nature. While preparing for fatherhood, he knew he wanted to accomplish two goals: to be a good dad and to build his children a bridge to the natural world. This book focusses on how to use nature to help children grow and to teach children that bonding with the earth and creating a natural relationship with the world is an imperative part of life. The book speaks to readers of all ages – Sobel describes ‘play’ in childhood as necessary for adulthood. Playing with natural things such as the trees and the grass prepares the child for playing with ideas in the workplace when they enter adulthood. Sobel gets his passion from exploring the outdoors. He describes his many eco-experiences with humour, affection, dedication and an extraordinary knowledge of nature.

3. CABIN FEVER: A SURBURBAN FATHER’S SEARCH FOR THE WILD – BY TOM MONTGOMERY FATE

Wardah Cabin FeverThis is an adventure about how a man built a cabin in the wilds of south west Michigan and then began a search for balance and a closer connection to nature. Fate recounts his experiences in delightful personal essays. Inspired by awareness of the most powerful things: a backyard bird feeder, a bowl of lake glass and the death of the family cat, each essay explores some parts of human experience. The author watches children lost in play and wonders when he lost his own faith in the present moment. With each foray into his busy world, Fate comes closer to understanding how he might use nature to achieve balance in his hectic modern life.

The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wasallam – may peace and blessings be upon him) so much bonded with his environment. His entire life in the deserts of Arabia and his years of meditation in the caves and mountains of Makkah are indications of a perfect example of eco love which was so evident when he said concerning the mountain of Uhud that:

“This is a mountain that loves us and is loved by us.” (Sahih Bukhari, Book 52, Hadith 139)

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: http://therosespen.wordpress.com/

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 268 user reviews.

Suma Din Turning the Tide cover

Thank you to author Suma Din for taking the time to answer our questions and connect with our aspiring Muslimah writers insha’Allah

How would you describe yourself as a writer?

One that’s drawn to reality, sometimes off the beat, but real life fascinates me, as do people’s stories.

Can you give us a peek into your passions that describe your personality?

That’s a deep question! Here are a few of mine: meeting people from very diverse backgrounds; village life in different countries and their crafts; art – especially textiles; international food, beautiful natural places, especially mountains; poetry and walking. I enjoy true stories, through a variety of mediums: books, theatre, film, interviews, live story-telling. Not sure what that all says about me though!

What or who motivated you to get started in developing your craft professionally?

Suma Din Turning the Tide coverThe motivation for my first book started as a need to inspire women who felt down, or always read negative things about Muslim women. I set out to compile inspirational (translated) verses from the Qur’an and hadiths in a creative way that would be visually pleasing. As the collection of motivational quotes grew, the ‘creative’ bit emerged as a theme about water. I love water in all it’s shapes, forms, colours and hues. As I had never put a book together, I was hugely helped and motivated by an accomplished writer and publisher – Abdul Wahid Hamid (author of ‘Islam the Natural Way’ and ‘Companions of the Prophet’ MELS) who guided me all the way through to submitting my manuscript to the publishers.

What insights into your ‘good days’ working routine can you share with our aspiring artists?

Good days are when writing or researching starts early in the morning! Knowing that something productive has been achieved by noon is a huge accomplishment. For me the afternoons and evenings have always been busy, so making the most of quiet times is the key.

Keeping your intention in mind is vital, that’s one way you overcome difficulties and keep your eye firmly on achieving the goal at the end.

What are your three top tips for maintaining momentum when working alone?

Plan for each day the night before. Decide on which writing project you’ll be focussing on and exactly what you want to achieve the next day.

Share your short term goals with someone who will ask you about them.

Communicate with someone ‘out there’ who can give you critical feed back on your project.

How do you incorporate challenges into your process?

The whole process of writing, submitting ideas and working towards publication is a Challenge – with a capital C! It’s difficult to be specific. To give your readers a flavour though, all sorts of things can go wrong. A book was published with the wrong paper weight that made the pages and cover floppy, like a brochure, instead of a book. This was a mistake made by the printers, not the publishers!

For another book, I chased a photographer’s company for a couple of weeks, with several phone calls and emails for some important photographs of a wedding I wanted to use in a children’s book called Special Times. After all the chasing, I was told they’d lost the hard disk.

What these small things have done is teach me what to look out for and anticipate, what to double check and how to work on solutions, fast! There were much bigger challenges with other projects, and again they’ve taught me valuable lessons. The message is that writing is only half of the equation, publishing is another animal altogether – and there are plenty of hurdles with both. One last thing, I’ve had wonderful editors, so you’re not alone on the lows!

Keeping your intention in mind is also vital, that’s one way you overcome difficulties and keep your eye firmly on achieving the goal at the end.

Which of your own books would you recommend to our young Muslimah readers?

(Eyes covered by YMM)
(Eyes covered by YMM)

Dr Hany El Banna: A Servant to the World’s Poorest People. It was a huge honour and pleasure to write this book. It’s a short biography about a founder of the charity Islamic Relief. Rather than just being about the charity, it’s about the motivation of Dr Hany, his faith-centred perspective and how he made his wildest dreams and visions about the charity come to life with the good people around him. A person, a youth worker, in a workshop I was presenting the book to, said he read it in one night and it’s changed his perspective on life. Not bad, alhamdullilah! I hope you’ll enjoy and I’d love to read your reviews and thoughts on it. There’s more information on it here: http://www.sumadin.com/mmw-series/4581970458

 

(Facial features covered by YMM)

One Day: Around the world in 24 hours is a children’s book about time zones and the parallel lives of children around the world, over a 24 hour period. Even though it’s for children aged 7+, for aspiring writers who might want to write for children, it’s an example of how you can be original and create your own genre. This is non-fiction, but has fifteen fictional stories in it, and much more! There’s heaps more about this title on my website: http://www.sumadin.com/one-day/4581896349

Please like the One Day Facebook page too, if you’re on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Day/1467607856804987

For late teen Muslimahs here, I hope they’ll be inspired by a chapter or two, maybe more, of my first book Turning the Tide, Reawakening the Woman’s Heart and Soul. This may be a book they would like to dip in and out of. Most of the feed back I’ve had over the ten years since it came out, was that it’s an inspirational and motivational gift book. I think this review sums up what it’s about quite well:

Suma Din Turning the Tide coverThis is a beautiful, valuable and inspiring book. The journey from the innocence of a newly-created soul to the anticipation of the soul preparing to return to its Maker, is a journey of hope, love, encouragement and faith. An excellent book. Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood, Author, Educationalist and Counsellor

Here’s an excerpt from the ‘Myriad Voices’ section I wrote for chapter 3 called ‘Youth Streams’. I hope some of you will find it speaks to you!

Who am I really?

At home I fulfil all their wishes, say what they want to hear,

Read and watch what they don’t mind much.

Outside I step into a different me – what I say, what I see,

what I think – I am free.

Or am I an echo? A shadow of my friends?

Hear what they hear

Say what they say

See what they see

Think what they…

-do I think?

Am I me?’

© The Islamic Foundation 2007

And importantly, what new works can readers look forward to from you and where can we go to access them?

I’m working on an adult title right now, and children’s texts that don’t have a publisher yet, so not spilling any beans there! Anything that’s about to come out will be flagged up on my website for children’s publications www.sumadin.com

Thank you for your time and support to our readers mashaAllah; jazakillahkhayr.

Thank you for inviting me to your site. I hope your readers find inspiration in the fantastic efforts of Young Muslimah Magazine.

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 278 user reviews.

Dr Dogan Exemplary Role Model FRONT COVER

Thank you to author Dr Recep Dogan for taking the time to answer our questions and inspire our aspiring Muslimah writers inshaAllah.

How would you describe yourself as a writer?

  • A social activist and volunteer who is dedicated to informing the community
  • Outspoken and has a sense of humour
  • Curious and always searching for the truth

What or who motivated you to get started in developing your craft professionally?

My academic history (masters and PhD) has affected my development in terms of writing on Islamic topics. Most importantly, when I began lecturing in Australia in Islamic studies, I noticed both students and community do not know Hanafi school of thought well enough for there isn’t much English literature in this regard. So I felt a deep need to fill this gap and therefore wrote Five Pillars of Islam first.

Dr Dogan Five pillars FRONT COVER

What insights into your ‘good days’ working routine can you share with our aspiring artists?

Time management and deep concentration are the key factors to writing successfully. For this reason my 400+ page book was written within a couple of months. When this book was written, Arabic, English and Turkish resources were used and analysed to bring out a comprehensive work accessible to everyone. So resource is an important factor in writing. Aspiring artists should manage time very well, find a quiet and suitable place to concentrate and study/analyse/review a lot of classical and contemporary literature based on the topics they wish to write about.

In Ramadan, how do your working routine and public interactions change? Do you have specific goals for this year?

Ramadan is a very busy period of the year so my work load just increases. I attend iftar functions and give public lectures. I engage in interfaith dialogue as I feel it is very important to introduce Islam to other cultures and help remove bias and prejudice ideas through the help of the blessed month of Ramadan.

What are your three top tips for maintaining momentum when working alone?

Time is a magical tool which makes huge differences for the one who is able to manage and utilise it in the best manner. In order to write something there must be a need for it. If the person wishes to write, they should feel the need. The writer must be well aware of the community and the conditions surrounding them. Determination will eventually give you the desired outcome. There is a saying ‘drop by drop, a lake will become’, which means that writing consistently and having determination will give you what you want.

‘Islamic Law’ has been re-released as ‘Five Pillars of Islam’

How do you incorporate challenges into your process?

One of the hardest parts of writing is ‘publication’. Getting your book published is hard as most publishers take books not based on public need but on its marketable value.

At the beginning I had difficulty but eventually found “FB Publishing” and Gary Stevens the owner of the company. He and his company helped me a lot in getting my book published.

What is your priority non-writing interest and why is it important to you?

I like outdoor activities because they make me feel refreshed, therefore I become more productive in my writing. Also, spending time with family and friends helps me feel connected to the outside world.

Young Muslimah Magazine loves to highlight good reads. What book have you read recently that you would recommend to our readers, and why?

I have read two great books by a well-known scholar by the name of Fethullah Gulen. The books are The Messenger of God: Muhammad (PBUH) and Emerald hills of the Heart. The first book gives the reader a fantastic perspective and different aspects of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The second book is an unmatched book which delves into the deep levels of the spiritual side of Islam.

Which of your own books would you recommend to our young Muslimah readers?

I can recommend my debut book Five Pillars of Islam. My second book Usul Al-Tafsir: Methodology and Sciences of Qur’anic Interpretation and my third book The Exemplary Role Model Muhammad (PBUH).

And importantly, what new works can readers look forward to from you and where can we go to access them?

The Exemplary Role Model Muhammad (PBUH) was just published this month.

Dr Dogan Exemplary Role Model FRONT COVER

Thank you for your time and support to our readers mashaAllah; jazakallahkhayr.

Thank you.

Insha’Allah our Islamic Editor, Nadia Leona Yunis, will review Dr Recep Dogan’s Five Pillars of Islam in our Oct issue.

Glossary:

PBUH – Peace be upon him

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 268 user reviews.

Saira FB photo

Thank you to poet Saira Anwar for taking the time to answer our questions and inspire our aspiring Muslimah poets and writers insha’Allah

How would you describe yourself as an writer?

I would describe myself as an inspiring writer/poet recognised for creativity, originality, imagery and expression.

I write according to what naturally comes to my mind and vision. I love writing; it has become a part of me. For me as a writer I tend to pen poems during the evening, where as when I first started writing it was always during the day when I would have a burst of new poems flowing in my mind every day.

Can you give us a peek into your passions that describe your personality?

I’ve always had a passion for rights of women and helping people. My aspiration is to reach out to many women out there, and to make a difference in whatever way I can. As women we go through many twists, turns, and testing times on a daily basis. I want to inspire women through poetry by sharing my journey and to be a voice of support, through poetry, to women out there.

What or who motivated you to get started in developing your craft professionally?

Review Saira Inspired PoetryMy life changing experience led me to start my work professionally and also my family, my brother and friends encouraged me to share my work online. I like reading the work of many poets and writers, and I see poetry as freedom and a chance to express what I feel without being judged….

Also, the key to my motivation was some of my close friends – Afsha Farook and Sonia Iqbal.

The greatest strength, vision, motivation and power all comes from our Lord and His Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

What insights into your ‘good days’ working routine can you share with our aspiring artists?

I plan out a goal and plan my daily routine – to what I will do at work and then to what I will do at home. For me a good day would be when I receive positive messages from my readers saying I have made a difference in their lives and to know I am touching many lives.

In Ramadan, how do your working routine and public interactions change? Do you have specific goals for this year?

During Ramadan my working hours change. I start work early and finish early to make more time for praying. My interactions tend to be less. My goals for this Ramadan are to make up any fasts I miss and to finish the Qur’an insha’Allah.

What are your three top tips for maintaining momentum when working alone?

Saira FB photoAlthough when you work alone, sometimes collaborating helps to cover skills that you are not good at and create better solutions for your audience. That can be more rewarding and help you further your goals. Working alone has its disadvantages and one of them can be loneliness. So always make sure you have someone to talk to, a mentor, a trusted friend and someone who will support you and help you to maintain a good spirit. Another tip would be to always keep in mind your vision and end goal, that should keep your momentum going.

How do you incorporate challenges into your process?

I had a marriage breakdown which led me to discover poetry through testing times and I incorporated this into my poems so I could find comfort and inner peace and strength to start afresh.

Young Muslimah Magazine loves to highlight good reads. What book have you read recently that you would recommend to our readers, and why?

I’ve recently read The Muslimah Speaks: Her Voice, Her Spirit: Collected Poetry Written By Muslim Women: Volume 1 (She Speaks). I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and found it very inspiring.

Also Reclaim Your Heart by Yasmin Mogahed, which takes you through her journey. I found it very inspiring and I could relate to some parts of it.

I would recommend these books to everyone.

We have reviewed your poetry book The Death of a Beautiful Dream in this issue of YMM. Why would you recommend it to our young Muslimah readers?

I would recommend my book to the young Muslimah readers as each poem conveys a very important message in poetic form and a lot of women have gone through these things which they can relate to.

The book makes the focus on the readers through me! Think of it as a mini crash course about a life-changing lesson. I take you through my life changing experience in poetic form leading to the ultimate lesson: Go on inspire others!

And importantly, what new works can readers look forward to from you and where can we go to access them?

I released my first ever poetry collection in January, which is on sale on Amazon channels. Platforms have been set up on my website providing the links to where you can get the book from: www.sairaanwar.co.uk/book. At the moment I am writing new poems for my second book. I plan to release the second book in the near future, insha’Allah. Whenever Allah wills. You can find me on Facebook: Saira Anwar-Inspired Poetry.

Thank you for your time and support to our readers mashaAllah; jazakillahkhayr.

Thank you.

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 285 user reviews.

Brookolie necklace

Thank you to Brooke Benoit for taking the time to connect with Young Muslimah Magazine readers about her work as a jewellery artist, writer and editor.

How would you describe yourself as an artist?

Uh, well, I fit some of the artist-type of person stereotypes, such as being a little eccentric and messy ;) I am also a little sensitive and empathetic, which are both good and challenging traits to have. As far as what kind of artist I am, presently I mostly make jewellery, but overall I think of myself as a conceptual artist, meaning that I like to explore and push ideas into imagery or events and then see how people relate (or not) to my ideas. I also have a degree in rhetoric, so effective communication is fairly important to me.

Can you give us a peek into your passions that describe your personality?

Recently I have come to recognise that I have a really strong appreciation/ passion for the natural world – Allah’s creations – and also I love the infinite ways that people positively recognize and use His creations. I am dazzled by how people cut gemstones and craft metal beads and other jewellery findings. Adornment can seem like such a trivial or superficial thing, but in good measure it can be a way to ponder, appreciate and even demonstrate Allah’s magnificence.

Lizzie Necklace Small

What or who motivated you to get started in developing your craft professionally?

The aspiration to make is something inherent in me. I guess as some people say, I have the will to make as I was made in the likeness of The Maker. Jewellery making is something I did as a kid and then as an adult I hadn’t made anything in a few years and one day I set about to make myself something pretty … but I enjoyed the making part so much I decided to try to turn it into a business.

What insights into your ‘good days’ working routine can you share with our aspiring artists?

Distraction is a bit of a problem for me, so I try to take the advice of other writers (I write too) and stay offline while working. This can help to get more done, making notes of the things I need to research, but not actually researching while I am drafting – that is a rabbit hole to stay out of! For both writing and jewellery making I keep an ongoing to-do list with both long-term and daily goals, and I just work my way through it. There is a website/ brand about home management called The Fly Lady and she has a technique for doing things you dread at just 15 minutes intervals until they are done. For writing I up that to about 45 minutes, but for things like admin work (organising, blech!) I do 15-20 minute chunks until it’s done or caught up.

Brookoli earrings

In Ramadan, how do your working routine and public interactions change? Do you have specific goals for this year?

I don’t close or break during Ramadan, but I cut back on production. I think in years past I was nervous about doing less for a whole month – it’s like keeping momentum going, what if I missed opportunities by not working as much?! But now I feel more secure and confident, I know my rizq is already written down and Allah knows that I am not ‘slacking off’ but rather upping my ibaadah for the month, which I couldn’t do as much when I was working more. I also have six home-educated kids, so I do work a lot, alhamdulillah. This year I have a goal to get my deadlines met before the month begins, then really prioritise my ibaadah and not stress about work so much, it will still be there at the end of the month, insha’Allah.

What are your three top tips for maintaining momentum when working alone?

For one thing I really like to see a project completed – whether it is a laid out spread for SISTERS magazine (where I edit, and I love ‘proofs’ time of the month) or it’s crafting an elaborate pair of chandelier earrings, I just enjoy accomplishing something wholly – that’s not a tip, so…. I set specific goals, such as to write an article every month; even if I don’t submit it anywhere to be published (that’s what blogs are for!) it does keep me in the practice. Similarly, I like to upload or list a few jewellery items every week, it keeps attention on my shop flowing, which sometimes means sales or maybe some other kind of networking happens, such as being invited to do some event or something like this ;) The third thing, which is a pretty popular practice, is to reward myself for accomplishing mini goals, for instance when I get my ‘contents’ page done or return all my emails, then I get to go do something rewarding, like reading a new novel or going for a hike.

How do you incorporate challenges into your process?

I regularly buy beads or other jewellery findings that I have never worked with before and try to push myself to make something with them. Recently that has included some big, circular, flat, pink beads (I don’t really like pink) and a big silver slide/tube. I’m not excited about what I did so far with the pink ones, but the slide turned out great and even sold before I could get it into my store. I also do this with writing by either trying out a new format such as writing a quiz (kind of hard!) or accepting a request when someone asks me to write about something I haven’t previously covered or given much thought to writing about.

Young Muslimah Magazine loves to highlight good reads. What book have you read recently that you would recommend to our readers, and why?

Humanure cover

I am an eco-jihadi. Like I said, I love Allah’s creations and I would hate to take them for granted or to abuse them, so I make an effort to do right by the environment. Recently a friend offered me a book on a subject I had never considered before, but is actually a really big environmental issue – how we dispose of our own waste: Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure. It’s not an easy issue to … take control of, but there some really interesting things in the book to consider (we are really messing up the world’s water supply by dumping our poo and pee into it!) and some easier adjustments people can make (such as using runoff water) other than giving up their porcelain thrones.

And importantly, what new works can readers look forward to from you and where can we go to access them?

I pretty regularly write for SISTERS magazine, but more importantly as an editor for them, every month I ‘curate’ the World and Voices sections which means I help put together a collection of written works (and sometimes photo essays) by several writers – I love that! And I add new jewellery to my Etsy shop every week or so. Of course I also behave in a very professional manner by maintaining my Brookolie Facebook page and my Sheer Fluency blog.

Brookolie necklace

Thank you for your time and support to our readers mashaAllah; jazakillahkhayr.

Thanks for having me and for producing such great and interesting Muslim media, may Allah reward you with better.

Glossary:

Alhamdulillah – all praises to Allah

Ibaadah – worship

Insha’Allah – if Allah wills

Rizq – provision

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 296 user reviews.

Maisah Sobhaihi stage design

Thank you to Maisah Sobaihi for taking the time to connect with Young Muslimah Magazine readers about her work as a writer, director and performer.

How would you describe yourself as an artist?

Someone eager to communicate with people, and hoping that my art will be the language for that dialogue.

Can you give us a peek into your passions that describe your personality?

I would prefer that others who know me well, do that, I am not very good at describing myself. However, I think my passion to connect with people, conveys a strong part of me. I LOVE interacting with people, it is such a fulfilling experience for me.

What or who motivated you to get started in developing your craft professionally?

Maisah Sobhaihi Head Over HeelsExperiencing life in Saudi Arabia motivated me to develop my craft. I wanted to speak to the world about the uniqueness of these experiences.

What insights into your ‘good days’ working routine can you share with our aspiring artists?

The best working routine is that which can combine a healthy structure with lots of fun. Exercise is such good medicine for the artist.

In Ramadan, how do your working routine and public interactions change? Do you have specific goals for this year?

In Ramadan, I try very hard to limit the public interactions and focus on myself and my family. This Ramadan, I aim to spend time with myself more and ask for guidance from Allah. I plan to let go, no goals in mind except to get into the beautiful structure of Ramadan and ask Allah to set the goals for me, not only for the time in Ramadan, but for the future.

What are your three top tips for maintaining momentum when working alone?

Wow!! Good question, I think I could really benefit from the answer to this question. :-) Working alone is not easy and as a woman with many family responsibilities, it is hard to keep up the momentum. For me, I have come to the point where, if I can’t keep up the momentum, then I take it when it happens and try to make the best of it. Having Faith to continue and never give up is a good way to maintain momentum.

How do you incorporate challenges into your process?

Maisah Sobhaihi setI usually face the challenges that come my way slowly but surely. I am one of those that is usually shocked at first by the challenges that arise, then I allow myself a lot of alone time to absorb everything. Eventually, I find that they become part of the process and find a way into the work.

Young Muslimah Magazine loves to highlight good reads. What book have you read recently that you would recommend to our readers, and why?

I Miss reading very much!! I have been so busy working that I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a relaxed time to read. Therefore, my recommendation to readers would be not to allow the same to happen to them. As Ramadan approaches, I look forward to focussing my readings on the Qur’an insha’Allah, After Eid, I will start looking to read more plays.

And importantly, what new works can readers look forward to from you and where can we go to access them?

I hope to produce a sequel to ‘Head over Heels in Saudi Arabia’, but nothing concrete yet. We can keep youngmuslimah updated :-) but the website is the best place to go for access: maisahsobaihi.com

Thank you for your time and support to our readers mashaAllah; jazakillahkhayr.

Thanks.

Glossary:

Insha’Allah – if Allah wills

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 194 user reviews.

heart-159231_150

Wardah Abbas invites us to something that adds more value to our lives – joining the green bandwagon

Staring at the keyboard for what seemed like a very long time, my mind travelled into my past in order to locate the starting point of a journey that has brought me here, to where I invite you to travel.

Joining the green bandwagon did not start in a day. I remember the days when I couldn’t stand the horror of seeing victims of environmental disasters on BBC news, and the times when the CNN cover stories about environmental refugees struck an arrow in my heart. The sad tales of earthquakes, wildfires, floods, hurricanes and cyclones around the world drove me into eco-consciousness and I discovered that the problems we had with our earth came directly from us.

Allah did not create us in isolation. It is natural that our existence on the surface of this earth depends on the good condition of the earth itself. Allah has made us the captains of the earth. By our very position, the power to steer the affairs of the earth lies in our hands.

Abu Sa’id Khudri reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: “The world is sweet and green (alluring) and verily Allah is going to install you as vicegerent in it in order to see how you act.”

Muslim, Book 36, Hadith Number 6606

Isn’t it so sad that, even though our earth has served us diligently, we have done nothing but trample upon it for hundreds of years, building nothing more than a parasitic relationship with it? This reminds me of an adage my dad echoes all the time: The tapeworm is happy with the great suffering it has caused the dog, little does it know that it’s life comes to an end the moment the dog dies.

We have hurt our environment so much and now we are facing the consequences. We have expanded the earth by the reclamation of swampy areas around oceans and seas; we have wiped out trees in the forests in order to build more industries; we have diverted chemical and toxic wastes into the rivers and atmosphere; we have turned vast lands into waste-dumping grounds; we have wasted resources without consideration for sustainable development and we continue to do other vain acts. Acts which not only bring unprecedented hardship to us but also constitute the breach of an important amanah (trust) bestowed on us by our Creator, which we are surely going to account for on the day of Qiyamah (Judgement).

Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness].

The Qur’an, Surah Ar-Rum (Chapter of the Romans) 30:41

Realising this marked the starting point of my journey to being green. I was guilty of some of these acts and I felt bad at being a contributor to the problems we have caused ourselves. So I decided to make a U-turn, and, trust me, there is nothing like developing a special love for the environment which itself is a creature of Allah. Bringing out the green ‘You’ may seem uneasy in the beginning, especially if you find it a bit difficult to adapt to changes. But since, as Muslimahs, we are all focussing on pleasing Allah in every way possible, we should try to march into the green world, and we can make it as easy and interesting as we want it to be. Here are a few things to bear in mind on your way to becoming green:

BE EXPRESSIVE IN YOUR LOVE FOR ALLAH

Let us reflect on the blessings of our environment. Allah has created everything for us: a vast variety of foods, fruits and flowers; lovely creatures and landscapes in which we take pleasure; and all other things from the sun to water, from the air we breathe to the vitamins we need. If truly we love Allah and hold Him in awe, then shouldn’t we let that love out in the way we handle His creatures?

Think about someone you love: probably your Mother. Think about what happens when she gives you a gift. The most likely thing is that you hold the gift very dear and handle it with great care and value. Now ask yourself what just happened. The answer is not far away: the love you have for your mother who is the source of the gift has made you place value on the gift which you now love very much. This is just how it works. Our environment is Allah’s gift to us so let us express the love we have for our Creator by loving our environment and handling it with great care.

SEE THE NATURAL WORLD AS A LIFE-SUPPORT SYSTEM

The mere fact that we cannot thrive without our environment is enough to bring out the green-consciousness in us. What can we ever do in life without air? Block the air-ways in your body to see what will happen to you. Moreover, imagine a day without water. The realisation that our environment serves as a life-support system for us is enough to inspire us to hold it very dear. By bearing in mind that when we destroy our environment, we destroy ourselves, and that when the environment is not at peace, we are not at peace, we find ways of attaching an immeasurable value and importance to our environment.

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I was guilty of some of these acts and I felt bad at being a contributor to the problems we have caused ourselves. So I decided to make a U-turn, and, trust me, there is nothing like developing a special love for the environment which itself is a creature of Allah.

BEWARE OF THE DOUBLE P – C – F

The acronym “double P – C – F” stands for “PROXIMITY WITHOUT PRESENCE”, “CONTIGUITY WITHOUT CONTACT” and “FAMILIARITY WITHOUT FEELINGS”. Your environment is very near to you but you don’t feel its presence and neither do you have close contact with it. You’re very familiar with it but you have developed no feelings for it. It is worth taking note of this.

If you are setting out on a journey to being green for the sake of Allah, then you do not only need to feel the environment around you, but also be in close contact with it and love it all the same. One of the many ways of doing this is by planting trees around you, especially where you live, or caring for plants in your room. Maybe you’ll love an orchard, a vegetable garden, or a pot-herbary. You can also develop eco-love by rearing pets such as parrots, cats, pigeons, chicks and other animals which are halal for us to keep. You may also beautify your surroundings with flowers such as the rose and the lily and build a water fountain. Doing one, two or even all of these things may help you fall head-over-heels in love with nature.

Is it the gentle, fresh breeze coming from the orchard, or the rhythmic sounds of the birds and chicks at dawn, the sweet scents coming from the flower garden or the splash of water from the fountain? These are beautiful gifts that Allah has blessed us with; we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of them.

The need to revive our eco-consciousness is more important than ever, not only to sustain our existence, but also to fulfil an important aspect of the deen (religious path) to obtain the pleasure of our Creator.

Take your first step and travel on this beautiful path with me.

Guide us to the straight path – the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favour, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.

The Qur’an, Surah Al-Faatihah (Chapter of the Opener) 1:6–7

Wardah Abbas is a twenty something year-old Eco-Muslimah who is quick to express her feelings. She gives priority to creating a friendly environment and likes to enjoy herself to the fullest. When Wardah is not writing, volunteering at an event, or hanging out with friends, she can be found in front of the mirror trying out new make-up techniques. Wardah Abbas is the Earth Care staff writer for YMM so you can look forward to more articles from her inshaAllah. Find her blogging at: http://therosespen.wordpress.com/

 

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Forgotton Empty box

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

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YMM TM Small Green Notebook

Assalaam alaykum / May Allah’s Peace be with you.

Welcome to Young Muslimah Magazine.

Our first issue will be out mid June inshaAllah [if Allah wills]. In the mean time, please enjoy sample articles from out staff writers.

If you are interested in contributing to the magazine please refer to our Submissions page and our Writers’ Guidelines.

If you want to contact us with an enquiry or regarding an issue you would like to see discussed in the magazine please send your email to editor@youngmuslimahmagazine.com

Alternately, you can connect with us via Facebook and Twitter

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Writing

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

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A Handshake

A Handshake

Shabana Diouri decided she wanted to complete an intensive course to teach English as a foreign language. She got lost on her way to class and ended up being the last student in …

I noticed an awkward silence as I entered. The stares and confused looks. I couldn’t understand why. I sat down and busied myself in anticipation of the teacher.

As soon as the teacher arrived, she told me I was, “In the wrong room.” Apparently people learning English belonged down the corridor. In all honesty her assumption did take me by surprise. Not because I thought RACIST! But because I wasn’t used to this type of mentality.

I grew up in East London, my neighbours to the right were Nigerian Christians, to the left Irish Athiests, and opposite were Jamaican Rasta, English. We had an amazing community, we shared food and looked after each other’s houses and pets. We grew up with everyone so race and religion were not really a big deal to me, instead trust and respect were.

Hence the reason I felt so uncomfortable at people reacting the way they did. I felt singled out and the only obvious thing I could put it down to was the difference in the way I looked. I was the only brown coloured women wearing the hijab amongst a room of white people. But the story does not end there. I decided to conduct an experiment.

I could have taken their reactions to heart, retreated within myself and felt like a ‘victim’. But instead I thought of challenging the situation.

Sometimes, not always, but sometimes,

we are wrong and too quick to conclude

what we perceive to be the way people

think of us.

I had studied the theory of ‘self fulfilling prophecies’ in Economics and decided to apply this to the awkward situation I found myself in. Were people really giving me looks? Were they trying to single me out? Did they really see me as someone too different to them for us to even communicate? Was this an outward expression of racism? Or was this my own perception?

I could confirm I was being reacted to, but what I could not say with complete conviction were the reasons and intentions behind those reactions. If I had allowed myself to believe I was suffering from racism, I could’ve internalised that. Negative perception could then actually have caused me to behave ‘different’. I could have become increasingly quiet, keeping to myself and not engaging in dialogue. But I knew such reactionary behaviour could end up causing more of the ‘racism‘ that I didn’t like!

I didn’t want to initiate a cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies, and so I decided that I would treat the students like family. They hadn’t got to know me and I would make damn sure I changed that.

I spoke to every student. Though initially I wasn’t asked to join anyone for coffee or lunch, this soon changed. I ended up making very good friends.

This experience taught me something very valuable about the difference between racism and perception. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes, we are wrong and too quick to conclude what we perceive to be the way people think of us.

Last year we moved to a new house. My neighbours stood at their front doors staring. No one said hello. No one even smiled. I could have assumed the worst but instead I thought maybe they don’t know how to approach me. After our housewarming party, I sent a plate of food to each neighbour. The hellos and smiles came out instantly.

Not every look or silence is done with venomous racist intent. Sometimes people feel awkward, unsure, confused about how to approach someone that looks different. So why not initiate dialogue? Extend the hand of friendship and see what happens? Be first to initiate the conversation that could potentially turn strangers into friends.

Shabana Diouri is a staff writer for Young Muslimah Magazine so you can look forward to more articles from her inshaAllah. She blogs at http://muslimahuninterrupted.wordpress.com/

 

Excerpt from the Prophet Muhammad’s last sermon (Peace and blessings be upon him):

“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action … Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves … Remember, one day you will appear before Allah and answer your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.”

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