Tag Archives: Elizabeth Lymer

Elizabeth

Islamic Honeymoon

Elizabeth

I discovered the truth on honeymoon,

Of the extent to which I’d been misled,

How I’d absorbed vast torrents of their lies,

Via photos and the phrases they’d said.

 

 

At night I was scared to see my lover

Close-up with all his colouring faded,

I felt frightened, and then I got angry.

How extremely I had been persuaded!

 

Zeroed in on my bridal adornments,

Oblivious to their dense, dark attack,

Distracted by a mist of wifely white,

My mind had slowly saturated black.

 

He’d altered, I saw, but didn’t worry,

I was grateful to see he had matured;

I thought we’d have a simple espousal,

Unaware my perception was obscured.

 

I know why I doubted my own husband,

Severed trust has allowed my mind to clear,

My heart’s helped me recognise my judgement,

I’d let papers imprint his beard with fear.

{So rely upon Allah; indeed, you are upon the clear truth.}

The Qur’an, Surah An-Naml (the ant) 27:79

Elizabeth Lymer is the Editor for Young Muslimah Magazine and the Co-Editor of The Muslimah Speaks, Her Voice, Her Spirit, Volume One, the poetry anthology in which this poem was published. Alhamdulillah Elizabeth hopes this poem will inspire Muslimahs to embrace the challenges they encounter during their first year of marriage to clarify and work through their personal issues and to support their spouse to develop also insha’Allah. She also hopes to inspire compassion for each other regarding the negative subconscious effect we can experience from reading newspapers and other media.

Sandcastles and Snowmen COVER

Sandcastles and Snowmen

I find it interesting when I hear people refer negatively to interested Auntie figures in the Muslim community because I wanted and craved a religiously concerned Aunt when I was a teenager. Someone who would take the time to care about how I was managing with the various issues related to practising faith in the face of all the complexities of my contemporary climate … including all of the unkind rhetorical questions people threw at me to knock me, a believer, down.

But I suppose not every Auntie is as ideal as the figment in my imagination because day to day we humans are all susceptible to swaying somewhat from ideal intentions when we reach out to try and guide others. And I remember from my teenage experience being very susceptible to emotional wounds from contentious topics that I felt were in any way entangled with my pulled, pushed, and confused emerging identity.

Sandcastles and Snowmen COVERSometimes a written guide is much more fitting, reliable, and helpful to begin processing issues from the macro level of society that impact us personally. Since we know a book has a beginning, middle, and end, its invitation to self-improve along a journey is more attractive than an invitation to talk to a community elder whose constancy in faith emits an illusion of inaccessible status quo. As a general rule community members do not uncover their sins and pitfalls, which is good practice, but it can mean we look at ourselves – in knowledge of our own shortcomings – and feel inadequate to approach someone or unable to open up.

In Sandcastles and Snowmen Sahar El-Nadi is open about her journey to rediscovering Islam. She discusses a long list of topics related to being Muslim and getting on with being so today.

For example, her topics include: The Culture of Instant Gratification; What Makes a Person a Practising Muslim?; Pigs, Dogs, Fashion and Sex; Diversity Vs. Conformity; Why Some Muslims Don’t Shake Hands; Define Gender Equality?; First Islamic Universities; Cultural Dilemma of New Muslims and Immigrants; and Art: A Tool for Conflict Resolution.

Saha El-Nadi is a public speaker and her easy-to-read spoken flow comes through in her writing – I felt I sensed her smiling to me in some passages.

With so many topics covered, Sandcastles and Snowmen is the kind of book I like to dip into every now and again – much in the way I like to approach peers and elders every so often to learn and to process various issues. I still haven’t finished the whole book, but I think it will take me years insha’Allah, and you may have missed out on finding it this year if I waited until then to write my review. And I wouldn’t like to deny you anything that can help you stand up as a Muslimah and yourself.

Find-ability is my concern about the book. Although the title is fitting for the book, as it is explained in its introductory pages, the name of the book may be an obstacle to discovery by potential readers. Also the gendered snowmen irritates me a little.

So, based upon my experience of the book, and directly using text from page seventeen, I like to refer to the book as Let’s Shift Illusions and Talk Islam: Saha El-Nadi Shares Joys, Pains, and Discoveries Like the Auntie You Always Wanted. What fond title will you give to Sandcastles and Snowmen when you start reading it?

{Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children  like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion.}

The Qur’an, Surah Al-Hadeed (the iron) 57:20

Elizabeth Lymer is the Editor for Young Muslimah Magazine. Alhamdulillah she is in the habit of frequently making time for the processes of reading and writing, even if her visible achievements are few. You can find all of her writing sites via http://www.elizabethlymer.co.uk. She is on Twitter @elizabethlymer.

South Asian Culture and Islam cover

South Asian Culture and Islam

Uzma Hussain tackles the difficulties of truly practising Islam in contemporary South Asian culture by guiding her readers on a joyful discovery of Allah-given rights from a woman’s perspective.

Through looking at the figure of the South Asian Muslim woman and her relationships, namely as a daughter-in-law, as a wife and as a mother, author Uzma Hussain examples scenarios and trends that are prevalent in South Asian culture today which deny Muslim women their Islamic rights. She contrasts these un-Islamic cultural trends with numerous references from the Qur’an and examples from the Sunnah to guide the reader to various options [means] to overcome oppressive traditions and replace them with correct Islamic conduct. For all Muslim readers, the book is packed with useful reminders of Islamic teachings, and warnings, against condoning or perpetrating oppression due to acting out of ignorance, neglect, or in deliberate conflict with the rights and responsibilities due to one another in Islam.

South Asian Culture and Islam coverRegarding how she hopes the book will be useful, Hussain said that, “Ideally I think it is better to read this book when first thinking about marriage. However, it can be read at any time during a person’s life as it covers many different issues including those where there is blurring between the lines such as the South Asian joint family culture, inheritance, mahr, and others. I think this book helps to clear up some of these confused areas.” Other important issues discussed in the book include our Islamic responsibilities to our parents and our spouse’s parents, the sunnah etiquettes of respecting and protecting each other’s privacy, and a woman’s rights to education and maintaining her own identity.

Since it discusses South Asian cultural problems and explores Islamic solutions, the book is, of course, particularly valuable to South Asian Muslim families. Unstopped, oppressive practices may continue to hurt and frustrate South Asian Muslim women, and women married into South Asian families, and therefore entire families, communities and societies. Reading Hussain’s book, I learned a lot about oppressive practices in South Asian culture.

I couldn’t put the book down. As I read, I was frustrated by the current realities Hussain lays bear, but I was also encouraged by the tactical solutions she offers. Thanks to Hussain’s references to the reliable sources of the Qur’an and sunnah, and her clear, contextual judgements of how we can choose to behave in relationships in accordance with Islam, I was overwhelmingly inspired to hope that Muslims who are currently allowing these oppressions to occur may be stimulated, equipped and guided to change their actions and attitudes.

Hussain identifies three main messages of the book:

• To understand your rights

• Speak up against oppression, if possible, as this will help to eliminate it, insha’Allah

• To love Islam

Unstopped, oppressive practices may continue to hurt and frustrate South Asian Muslim women, and women married into South Asian families, and therefore entire families, communities and societies.

The whole book is written in a matter-of-fact and easy-to-read manner, and its chapters can be read in any order. Those with little or no connection to South Asian culture may like to begin their reading with a chapter towards the end of the book, “The Value of Time.” Here, Hussain references many Qur’anic ayat and ahadith that encourage and remind us, as Muslims, to focus on journeying to the Day of Judgement with a sound heart. Masha’Allah, Hussain’s compassion and Muslim fellowship for women and all Muslims on this journey seems clear. Her earnestness, for me, is a trusty invitation to use her book to derive insights for effecting positive change in any and all cultures and circumstances.

As I read, I was frustrated by the current realities Hussain lays bare, but I was also encouraged by the tactical solutions she offers.

I often benefit from companionship on my problem-solving journeys, and through her book Hussain has become a good companion. Her solution-finding method is like the supportive problem-sharing conversations I like to engage in with friends, in which I feel I am party to counselling, learning and guidance, helping me to deal with my emotions, and in which I guard against backbiting and corruptions of the heart. Hussain focuses her attention on examples of oppression without judgement or condemnation of anyone. With compassion, she uses these examples of oppression to encourage readers to understand cultural problems. She finds contextual Islamic knowledge through research of the Qur’an and Hadith, and through guidance from scholars, in particular the editor, Sheikh Ismail Mahgoub. Finally, she reflects upon this knowledge to build informed insights as to how to facilitate and effect positive change for the sake of Allah.

The book is a much needed source of knowledge and inspiration for overcoming the oppression of South Asian women and a valuable guide to the sunnah of maintaining good relations for all Muslim women and men. Alhamdulillah, I have already benefited from engaging with Hussain’s quotations from Qur’anic ayah and hadith and her insightful suggestions of putting them into practice.

The book is available to buy at greenbirdbooks.com and amazon.co.uk.

South Asian Culture & Islam in Urdu translation is also available from Amazon UK.

{O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them in order to take [back] part of what you gave them unless they commit a clear immorality. And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.}

The Qur’an, Surah An-Nisa’ (the women) 4:19

Elizabeth Lymer is the children’s author of Islamic Nursery Rhymes by Greenbird Books, and Religious Rhyme Time by Mindworks Publishing. She is Editor for Young Muslimah Magazine and is on Twitter @elizabethlymer. This review was first published in SISTERS MagazineMasha’Allah Uzma Hussain has donated copies of her book to writers for Young Muslimah Magazine. An interview with Uzma Hussain will be published by Young Muslimah Magazine soon insha’Allah.

South Asian Culture and Islam cover