Sometimes people wrong us in such despicable ways. Sometimes we are the ones who wrong people. Sometimes we are oppressed, we are discriminated and mistreated. Sometimes we are the ones carrying the baggage of harming others. Sometimes we lose everything at once, sometimes it is so hard, it is difficult to move on. Sometimes is sometimes our always; each one of us desperately trying to understand why things go the way they do. How villains are still walking free while some really good souls are the ones to be diagnosed with cancer. How very evil, ungrateful, arrogant people could be the ones enjoying luxurious lives while a very hardworking person suddenly loses his hand which he desperately needs for his manual labour. It doesn’t make sense! It never does! How is it a very poor child loses their mother who was the only family they knew while an already rich boy wins a car he doesn’t even need…How is it that one prays for a child for ten years yet when they finally get one, the wife dies at delivery??…and sometimes we just want to ask God, ‘Why though?’
Only God knows…
Sometimes we realize how lucky we are for not getting what we cried for and sometimes we never get the answers. And sometimes it is as it is. We can never know. Difficult things happen. We lose and sometimes we gain. Sometimes people hurt us, they betray us, they take our differences to another level it shouldn’t ever reach, they forget all the good and tough situations you went through together. Sometimes they realize they wronged us and apologize and sometimes they die believing what they did was right. That is the human being. He is insan. He forgets and he errs.
But we should always believe that there is a bigger picture. That as much as we don’t understand what is going on in our lives or why it is going the way it is, we should have undoubted faith that God knows what’s best for us. And this is actual test of faith; believing when it is hardest to do so.
We have proof in the qur’an that there’s always something more to our painful and even happy stories. There is always something extra that our eyes will not simply see and our minds won’t easily fathom.
In Surat Kahf, in the story of Nabii Musa aleyhi salaam when he was told to search for a servant of Allah who had more knowledge than him, we get to learn something very valuable. During their journey; Nabii Musa and his teacher, Al Khidhr, three occasions happen which agitated Nabii Musa aleyhi Salam:
71. So they both proceeded, till, when they embarked the ship, he (Khidr) scuttled it. Musa (Moses) said: “Have you scuttled it in order to drown its people? Verily, you have committed a thing “Imra” (a Munkar – evil, bad, dreadful thing).”
72. He (Khidr) said: “Did I not tell you, that you would not be able to have patience with me?”
73. [Musa (Moses)] said: “Call me not to account for what I forgot, and be not hard upon me for my affair (with you).”
74. Then they both proceeded, till they met a boy, he (Khidr) killed him. Musa (Moses) said: “Have you killed an innocent person who had killed none? Verily, you have committed a thing “Nukra” (a great Munkar – prohibited, evil, dreadful thing)!”
75. (Khidr) said: “Did I not tell you that you can have no patience with me?”
76. [Musa (Moses)] said: “If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company, you have received an excuse from me.”
77. Then they both proceeded, till, when they came to the people of a town, they asked them for food, but they refused to entertain them. Then they found therein a wall about to collapse and he (Khidr) set it up straight. [Musa (Moses)] said: If you had wished, surely, you could have taken wages for it!”
78. (Khidr) said: “This is the parting between me and you, I will tell you the interpretation of (those) things over which you were unable to hold patience.
79. “As for the ship, it belonged to Masakin (poor people) working in the sea. So I wished to make a defective damage in it, as there was a king after them who seized every ship by force.
80. “And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared lest he should oppress them by rebellion and disbelief.
81. “So we intended that their Lord should change him for them for one better in righteousness and near to mercy.
82. “And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the town; and there was under it a treasure belonging to them; and their father was a righteous man, and your Lord intended that they should attain their age of full strength and take out their treasure as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of those (things) over which you could not hold patience.”
If we were to witness these same occasions ourselves, wouldn’t we just react according to what is visible to the eye, as Nabii Musa did? If your boat was the one destroyed or your boy killed, how long would it take any of us to actually think that perhaps there is something greater, something bigger beyond what the mind comprehends? Were we the ones to be denied food, would we even want to smile at those people let alone build a random wall somewhere? If you just lost all your property in a fire and someone told you, ‘Perhaps it is kheir’ you would perhaps glare at them like they are the ones who set your property on fire. When misfortunes befall us we cry ‘Why God?’ yet we don’t know how much good Allah is doing to us by that same terrible incident. We tend to only look at what is in front of us. But Allah is the Most Merciful and there are a lot of instances where we should thank Allah for despite how ugly the situation is. And indeed, this story is the perfect proof that we don’t know everything. That however powerful, mighty, rich or knowledgeable we are, there are just some things we would never be able to explain or understand. That as much as we make plans, Allah has already written in detail how our lives are going to be. That we should always ask God to direct us to only what is kheir for us.
We may not have the answers but we need to trust Allah’s wisdom and choices for us. May Allah grant us the patience and guide us always. Ameen.
We plan and Allah plans, and He is the Best of planners.
P.S Humble Reminder: Do read surat Kahf if you haven’t. It still is Friday 🙂
“Do the people think that they will be left to say: We believe, and they will not be tried? But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars.” (Qur’an, Surah Al-Ankabut, 29: 2-3)
The kind of lives we lead nowadays is quite sickening, disgusting and most of all, heartbreaking. Indeed this world is full of trials. All universal religions believe that we are here to be tested and on a mission to prove our faith. That aside, there are many many disappointing situations that could be avoided entirely if only we are mature enough. If only we are thoughtful, empathetic, patient and truthful to ourselves and others.
And honestly, I don’t get it. I don’t get it how our conscious is still so intact even when we know we have ruined someone’s life. How we intentionally and very soberly, mastermind the downfall of our very own friends and people who trust us. Doesn’t it bite you inside? Doesn’t it pinch you deep inside that someone somewhere cries for the difficulty you put them through? For the money you borrowed and intentionally refuse to return? For the trust they gave you before stepping on it like a used cigarette? For the times they awaited you to take responsibility for the role you play? Doesn’t it eat you up that someone wakes up in the deadliest of nights to cry to God about you. About what YOU did to them? About how you tore their hearts and how their souls ache for you or because of you? Doesn’t it bother you that you are the reason your mother no longer smiles? That someone slept hungry today? That someone gave up on life? That someone is contemplating suicide just because you have been so reckless with your words?
I don’t get how a man carries himself, step by step, full of confidence and promises, full of charm and over-stretched smiles to a lady’s home. He marries this woman and takes her away from her loving family, from her comfortable life, from her king-sized bed, from her cute kitchen, from her tiny library that has been her source of bliss of years, just to turn her life into hell. I don’t get it, because even if this woman was having a miserable, tough life in her own home, you have no business giving her hope just to transfer her from one hell to another. I don’t get it. Were you forced to marry her? Did anyone hold a knife on your neck to take her to your home? And even if you were pushed to marry her, does she have to pay her entire life for a mistake your father, mother or grandparents did to you??
I don’t get it when parents are so irresponsible, so thoughtless, so immature, when they make their children pay for their failed marriages. I don’t get it, how you even allow yourself be the reason your child falls into depression, why your child has insomnia, why your child wants to end their life before it has even started. Why do we assign ourselves these duties if we are not ready for them? I don’t get it how we allow ourselves be the reason our children justify their depression with,’I come from a divorced family.’
I know you don’t care. Most of us don’t. We are busy faking our happiness we forget how much we damage other people. But you know what’s the scariest yet still the beauty of life? Whatever you give out is what comes back to you. Give out love and compassion and it comes back to you. Give out misery and tears and you’ll remain wondering ‘where did I go wrong?’ You want to know where you went wrong? It was that person you hurt and broke. It was that person you stole from. It was that person you oppressed. It is the prayers of that person you mistreated being answered. You are wondering why you are never succeeding in whatever you do? How misery engulfs you like charcoal on fire? Find out who you hurt; could be intentionally or even unintentionally. Their heart ache is perhaps the reason you won’t be able to smile for the next few years. Indeed, what goes around comes around. It’s all a matter of time.
And you know people think anxiety is a joke. This thing is real. I mean how do you explain how I poured myself hot water instead of tea for breakfast, how I almost served my brother with hot chilli instead of stew, how I made my entire family search for my lost cash that was just in my wallet even though I had rechecked almost ten times for the same money. Miscalculations, don’t blame me. Anxiety makes me forget passwords. On this day, somehow my watch was even one hour ahead which had me up and in town one hour earlier. I call two friends, my best friend tells me, ‘Woman relax. It’s not yet time.’ and another says,’Are you the one putting up the tents?’ All that for just a speech. Thank God I wasn’t born in a war-torn zone. We all know how that would have gone down.
For me, giving a speech is like making me in-charge of setting out a drone. It is pushing me off the cliff. It is asking me to confront a terrorist which in this case would be my anxiety. My best friend says I have to get out of my comfort zone. So I did give the speech after all. It was hilarious; okay maybe not exactly but I ashamed myself by breaking down in front of the tired crowd who had just returned from the ‘world Polio Day’ walk. I could hear them clapping for me perhaps pitying this small human in front of them or perhaps some could understand what it means to have your book published. I didn’t invite anyone because I wasn’t sure how friendly my anxiety would be that day. So y’all please save me the blame 🙂
Nine years ago, at the age of fourteen when I started writing my first small book, I never thought this day would come. It has been a very long journey of repeated failure on my writing career. It was filled with criticisms and ‘not good enough’ statements over and over again. So when Nafisa (God bless her soul for this) trusted my ability and allowed me to write her story, I was moved. Of course it wasn’t the first book I expected to publish and perhaps its not my best work yet, it is a milestone for me alhamdulilah. And I keep sharing bits of my story on failure and triumph so that no one could ever think that achieving goals was ever going to be easy. Sometimes you’ll be pushed out of your comfort zone and you somehow have to learn how to do it well enough.
I wouldn’t be here hadn’t it been for God’s grace, for my own persistence, for the tremendous support from my family especially, from my close friends, for mama two; my mentor (may Allah rest her soul in peace), those who helped me a lot editing the pieces and all the readers who give me a reason to write every other day. This is me admitting that I am not yet where I want to be and that I won’t stop here. That i’ll keep pushing myself to face my fears and tackle them. Better things to come in shaa Allah.
I’ll also like to thank Mayfair Bank for sponsoring the publishing of the book.
To reserve your copy kindly contact me at: 0704 731 560. The book goes at 700. For those who want to know what the book is about, kindly search here in the blog for Unbroken Wings; the first three chapters are available. I will also appreciate any opinions and positive criticisms on the book once you’ve had your copy.
I am running. Both literally and metaphorically. It’s two minutes to time and it is raining heavily. I don’t want to be late, I hate being late so I jog faster letting my sweat mix freely with the rain drops. It doesn’t bother me; the rain that is. I let it flow on me like it would wash away all the grief within, perhaps then many more people wouldn’t mind the rain. Or me. I have been running away from my life too; wanting so desperately to detach myself from it. So that’s why I am here, knocking restlessly at my therapist’s door…This right here is not a love story. It is a story of love.
My therapist opens the door for me before settling on her king-size chair. She checks her watch and smiles. ‘Never late,’ she says. I smile back. ‘I’m proud,’ I chuckle.
‘How have you been since our last session?’ she asks, gesturing me to sit down at another king-sized chair opposite her.
‘Umm,not sure yet.’
‘Understandably, this is just the second session. Don’t worry we will work it through together.’
I nod lamely.
‘So I want us to pick up from where we left last time. You told me you’ve been running. You told me you’ve been struggling. Is that correct?’
‘So tell me, how would you describe your life in three words?’
The question catches me off guard. My life? In three words? That would be like measuring the ocean by one droplet. I stare into nothingness for a while, scratching my head.
I remain silent. How would I describe this third feeling. The one that bites you irregardless of whether it is 2 a.m. or 2 p.m. This feeling that makes one feel like they are drowning.
‘Yes sad. I think Sad is probably my real first name.’
She looks into my eyes. Are therapists psychic too? Or why else would she stare at me like she’s reading something from the veins behind my eye sockets?
‘Alright let’s go back to the running. What are you running from?’
‘People, situations, connections…people mostly’
‘Why would you run away from people?’
I feel a burn and some wetness falling on my cheeks.
‘Because people leave. All the time. They come into your life and give you hope and make you a big part of their lives. They make you happy…so you invest on them. But I invest too much on them. Too much such that whenever one of them leaves, a part of me is gone forever…’
I stop to cry. She sits there silently, watching me in scrutiny. She hands me a tissue.
‘I’m listening,’ she reassures.
‘I think I’ve loved people more than they ever deserved and now…and now, I have nothing left within me. It is empty in here. And every time I make a new friendship, a new connection, a new acquaintance, I am already preparing my safe exit plan before they plan theirs. I’m being too cautious I can’t breathe freely. I am building high walls I can’t see the sunshine. I am running…from everyone and everything…”
I take another tissue and blow my nose. She is still quiet. I hope she is not pitying me. Then she interrupts my thoughts.
‘Do you think that is the way to live?’
‘I know its not…’
‘Have you perhaps thought of how many beautiful people, moments, events you are probably missing on by caging yourself in this darkness?’
The darkness is familiar. Sometimes it is the safe place you can always return to; that cage, that high wall.
I am running. Both literally and metaphorically. This time it is on my way back home. It has stopped raining. I see my home ahead but I decide to take a corner. I let the sweat wet my shirt as I listen to my own heavy breathing. This is not a love story. It is a story of love given and never returned. Shared but never to last.
‘How were you ever going to be happy if you gave all the love within you and left nothing for yourself?’ she had asked me. And I remained silent because self-love was unrelatable. ‘You need to find yourself first. Love yourself first before anything or anyone else. It should be YOU first. Always.’
I let the words sink in. It gives me a good feeling. Makes me anticipate the next session. I stop on my tracks, bend down to hold my knees as I breathe. Running, the literal one, is not bad after all.
It is 3:47 a.m. I am lying in a twist such that my upper body is facing a different direction from my lower part. Yogis would call that the supine twist. I am staring at the shadow of the circling fan on the right wall. I am gazing into the nothingness; blank space. It reminds me of my own brain; tabula rasa. A clean slate. Back to square one. I pick up my phone and reply some messages. In the morning, one would ask, ‘But what keeps you awake at 3:47?’ Uncertainty… This part of my life is called, uncertainty.
I have been here before; this uncertainty phase. It always finds a way to catch up with me. But maybe this is what makes my life interesting. The uncertainty. The not knowing of where you are headed to or even what you want. It reminds me of this famous gif on uncertainty. I smile.
My boss had said, ‘We are caging this bird. We need to let her fly and grow her own wings’ referring to me. This is the only permanent workplace I have worked for nine months. If it was a marriage, I would be having a baby. But I don’t have a baby. It was a comfortable place, perhaps too comfortable for me to have any baby by the end of it all. Then the other day, just on an impulse, I walked in to my boss and said, “I feel confined. I need to grow.” I am not good with confined spaces. Must be the claustrophobia. But I can’t really say I just acted on a whim, I had thought about it for almost two months yet it still feels like a reckless move. My manager sat me down for that ‘goodbye pep talk’ and I asked, ‘so how long do I have?’ She said, ‘One week.’
One week. I remember when it got to the seventh month, I thought to myself, ‘wow…am I really doing this?’
‘I have no plan.’ I was talking to myself more than I was, to her.
‘I absolutely have no plan.’ And suddenly, I could feel the heat at the pit of my stomach. For the first time I was terrified of my action. How was I going to learn how to start flying within a week without leading myself to starvation? Uncertainty.
It is also just two days ago that I realized my side business was an NGO in disguise. We were doing charity instead of business. I need to go back to the drawing board…this means back to square one. Did I just throw away my last straw keeping me afloat on a stormy night? I curl up in my bed. Uncertainty.
A mentor recently told me, ‘You are already successful, you just haven’t realized it yet.’ And I said, ‘There’s something i’m looking for that I haven’t found. I don’t know what it is but when I find it i’ll recognize it. I still lack utmost satisfaction in me.’ Then he said, ‘That’s where our different definitions of success comes in. Everyone has their own.’
I now lie flat staring at the ceiling. I am not sure whether I am abnormal, too ambitious or simply living an illusion.A friend told me, ‘You can’t just make an abrupt decision. You need a contingency plan.’ But a contingency plan never existed in my dictionary. So ironic for an over-thinker I know but then not having a plan always pushed me to the edge. So the plan has always been ‘not having a plan’ and i’d just spend hours over-thinking my lack of a plan. Nonetheless, this made me explore all fields I could get myself into. It seems like an adventure and I love adventures. There’s the thrill and excitement that comes with it every time I tried something new. It’s terrifying. So terrifying. The uncertainty. Not knowing where life is pushing you into.
Sigh. Perhaps i’m in the wrong planet or perhaps i’m taking longer strides than my legs can stretch?
I have known failure far too many times to not know the feeling of uncertainty that comes with it. But I never regretted any impulsive action I ever took. Like the times I cancelled contracts just because my clients or bosses were crushing my self-esteem . Who does that really? But my peace of mind is my priority and I just decided i’ll stick to that even when i’m starving to death. If you can trust me with your vision then you might as well trust my abilities. Or the times I started new courses without really thinking ahead or even whether I had the time and resources to do it. My best friend says I’m becoming a risk taker. Risk taker sounds good. I’ll gladly take the title.
I’m uncertain of what i’m doing, or what I want or where i’m headed to. I just know I have big dreams and goals bigger than myself. I am back at the starting point and doing this all over again but what’s the worse that could happen? Me staring at the ceiling at 3:47 a.m. Not so bad. This too shall pass.
I am still staring at the white ceiling and for a moment, I assume the wall is life. And I say, ‘Surprise Me.’ Life has never disappointed with surprises and the electric shocks that awaken us. But so does God. He never disappoints. My eyes are getting heavier now. I slowly drift back to slumber land. I still have one more week to plan my new adventure…
I still haven’t found what i’m looking for…
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I came across this meme the other day, it was actually a tweet of someone asking something like, “What motivates you to live?” and someone replies, “Suicide is haraam.” And you know it sounds funny but we all know there is so much truth and pain behind most of the memes. Maybe it is because they are quite relatable and you think, “Oh, at least i’m not the only miserable one.” so we just laugh it off even when are writhing in pain deep inside.
I am not sure how things got to the state we are in right now, the current generation that is. I, for one, know that several people would attempt suicide hadn’t it been illegal and an abomination in almost all cultures and religions. At this instance, many have thought of suicide, some have contemplated it, some have attempted it and some went ahead and committed it. What is so wrong about us? Is it that we are too soft or is it that we are just impatient beings who want bliss on a silver platter.
From what I always hear about the previous generations, our parents and grandparents went through a whole lot of hardship too. They would walk for hours to get education, they too suffered due to unemployment, from forced marriages, from ugly divorces, from death of parents and what not…They too suffered but it is important to note that they survived and that suicide was almost unheard of except for the abnormal or mentally ill patients or in very rare cases, the normal people. Were their hearts made from harder and metallic content different from what we are? Or are we simply the spoilt generation?… I am still trying to figure this out yet on the other hand, I do have an idea of where this springs from.
Before I go on. Wait, did you see where that famous vlogger, lady X, had lunch yesterday? Breathtaking right?!! Such a beautiful place and the food looked so delicious! After that she went for a spa…you know, those self-love stuffs we keep talking about. And Mr Y, that instagrammer with 20k followers posted this epic image of himself. He wasn’t doing anything really, but he looks so savage just how he ‘lives’ you know. Its like some people are paid for just existing. Ah, but that’s not even the who we should be talking about. There’s this fashionista who was showcasing her new wardrobe, I almost cried at how gorgeous the artistic prints are. But she is too pretty herself you know, we have to give her the due credit. My God, where are these young people getting all this money to just enjoy life? I mean, I have a job and I earn a salary yet I can’t even afford to be as happy. Sigh. Never mind. Where were we before talking about these seemingly perfect humans?
Aha. Suicide. Have you ever contemplated it? Do you feel miserable because your age mates seem to have everything figured out so well? Your age mates are going for adventures, they are getting married to these ‘perfect humans like themselves’, they are having cute babies, they go to the beach…and you? What do you do? probably nothing compared to what they do right? And that ends up messing you all the time isn’t it? Like why can’t I have any of that? Don’t I deserve it? I know for sure, if suicide wasn’t haraam, many would have tried it.
I think the current generation, my generation, are living in a complete illusion. We are soo engrossed in portraying how our lives are okay, no, in fact, we are more than okay. We are doing too good. We want our ‘haters’ to know that we are doing quite fine even when our haters are probably just people prettier than us or perhaps more successful. We want to be fancied, to be famous, to be noticed everywhere we go. We want to be able to afford any hotel in town and so we do anything to afford that. We want to be savage, to be envied and be seen like hot chocolate. But we all know in reality what goes down in our lives don’t we? We know what we show off and all that ‘awww thank you boo’, is a lot of pretense, sadness and pain. We pressure ourselves a lot and use so much of our energy in proving that we matter, meanwhile, losing the shreds of true peace and happiness within us. For the rest who are not obsessed with being ‘somebody’, we get carried away with what we hear and see about our friends, or these very happy couples and all these famous young people and we push ourselves way too hard to at least lead a ‘good life’ like theirs.
The truth is, what we see online is not even half the truth about what our lives or anyone’s life is about. There are so many fake smiles, fake laughter and fake lives plastered up on our walls to show the world we are doing great. But in reality, everyone is struggling. Each and every human being is struggling in some way. They may not show it but before obsessing over someone’s seemingly perfect life, always keep that in mind. And I know this has been said so many times even with the celebrities themselves, but maybe we should remind one another more often.
Keep in mind that each one of us has their own special journey, their own timeline and their own milestones. Concentrate on yourself, your special self and your special journey. Be patient and love yourself. So if you are thinking of suicide, or contemplate it from time to time, do know that the world is bigger than your struggles. You shall overcome them and you will be happy by God’s will. Life has never been a straight line. No one has gone through misery throoouughout and no one has ever been entirely happy forever. There are ups and downs, so with every low remember that your high is not so far away. Be kind to one another, you never know who needs it. And always remember that when God made suicide illegal, it was because He knew he created you with enough strength within you to tackle your battles. Have faith please and pray a lot.
I know there are a lot other factors that contribute to the increment of suicidal attempts, but I thought to discuss about this first. If your struggles are overwhelming you way too much, please seek help. Please don’t feel ashamed to be helped. If you need a counselor, email me at email@example.com, i’ll link you to one. You never have to go through the storms alone.
To end this, i’ll just drop this forward I received this morning. It was written by one lovely counsellor:
“In the counseling session last night, the sister, after committing 100% to starting her journey of healing and self-care took a step back and asked very sorrowfully,
“But Sr. Bela, what about the years and years of damage, isn’t it going to effect my future?”
So, after taking her through a few more therapeutic processes to answer this question, I added – the example of a man who faced years and years of damage.
He was thrown into the well by his own brothers. Wasn’t it enough to inculcate fear in him and make him lose trust in relationships? Damage. He was sold in a market. Wasn’t it enough to ruin his confidence and sabotage his self-esteem? Damage. He was invited to do an immoral act by a woman. Wasn’t it enough to make him lose his chastity? Damage. He was imprisoned for many years. Wasn’t it enough to give him the liberty of playing victim for the rest of his life? Damage.
But what happened as a result of all these damages?
He stood confidently in the court of a King convincing the king to make him – what we can understand as – a Finance Minister. The years of damage made him – PURE GOLD.
Our beloved – Yusuf A.S.
After years of trauma upon trauma, he emerged the victor.
Lesson: Your past only does to you what you allow it to do. This is the reason Prophets never dwelt on their past and remained persistently positive – came what may.
The damages and trauma come in our lives to
1- erase our sins 2- elevate our ranks 3- teach us what happiness and an easy life could never teach us. 4- make us PURE GOLD.
Take lesson. Learn. Implement and move on.
The victor inside you is waiting for it’s awakening.” – Bela Khan.
If suicide wasn’t haraam, I hope you’d be strong enough you still wouldn’t try it.
One thing for sure, I really admire women empowerment, girl power, girl-child education, women working together across boundaries and beyond all limits to make a difference and the kind of powerful vibe successful women send off. It’s a beauty really. I mean, for once we don’t have to hate on each other on who’s got longer hair or a better husband, right? Trust me, all women relate to these scenarios, especially the times they almost had cat fights with their frenemies. You know, those ladies who go to work out at the same gym because its the trending thing, give each other those big ‘aaawww nice to see you’ hugs yet wanting to stab one another anyway. Don’t worry, we women have weird relationships. So, I mean for a change we get to hear women working peacefully for more than 24 hours. That’s close to a miracle yo! Okay, maybe a miracle is such a hard word. We do have several aggressive, intelligent women who do work together in a civilized manner and collaborate perfectly, its amazing. And at first, to me, this is what feminism was all about; creating the best out of women; beating stereotypes, elevating one another, appreciating one another, helping one another and of course, being successful together. But then ladies got too excited about it, things escalated and feminists started being radical. It became a competition.
Suddenly we wanted to prove to the world that women are better than men, that we can do without the men, that men are literally useless in our lives, and that yes, women have a right to be an equal to man. Now feminism is quite a wide concept and many feminists are inclined to different definitions of it. I’ll just talk about this one that amuses me; the one where ladies use up a lot of their energy to prove their worth being above the man. The idea which shifted their entire priority from what they should do to what they want to show the world they can do.
Someone once said that women were not created to do what a man can do, rather, what he couldn’t do. I mean, wasn’t our mother Hawa (Eve) created to give company to our father Adam and not the vice versa? Doesn’t that show that a man actually does need a woman after all. He needs her a lot. It can be a mother, a sister, a wife…whichever female role she owns, a man needs her and that’s undeniable. Just let these men live alone for a week without any woman at all and see how he loses his calm and become the male version of Harley Quinn.
When the prophet p.b.u.h got his first revelation, whom did he run to if not his wife Khadija (R.A.A) to give her comfort? Why then would a woman go beyond limits to prove her worth and status yet the religion already puts her in a very high place?
The ayah in surat Nisaa goes like this, “Men have authority (are protectors and maintainers) over women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard.”
Also in a hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Umar, the Prophet (saws) said, “Everyone of you is a guardian and everyone of you is responsible (for those under your ward). A ruler is a guardian and is responsible (for his subjects); a man is a guardian of his family and responsible (for them); a wife is a guardian of her husband’s house and she is responsible (for it), a slave is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible (for that). Beware! All of you are guardians and are responsible (for those your wards).”
Our religion hasn’t made us equal because we can never be. Each of the sexes was designated with specific power and roles yet it never made a woman any less valuable than a man. In fact, she was raised in status more than she ever was in the pre-Islamic societies.
The Qur’an’s basic stance is that Muslim women are first and foremost Muslims, the religious equals of men (e.g., Q. 33:73).i.e.in regards to punishment and reward for their deeds, no one will be favoured. It refers to women and men as one another’s “protectors.” (Q. 9:71). Muslim marriage is described in terms of love and mercy (Q. 7:189; 30:21), and the Qur’an describes spouses as “garments” for one another (Q. 2:187).
A woman and a man were meant to partners, associates, each other’s better half. And don’t get it wrong, women are allowed to be vocal, to stand up for their rights, and to be as strong as they desire so long as it doesn’t go beyond the limits of religion.
There is the incident when Umar (R.A.A), the second khalifa of Islam, one day delivered a sermon against the practice of settling large sums as Mahr (dower-money), it was a woman who stood up and objected, saying: Oh Ameerul Mu’mineen, how dare you oppose the Qur’anic dictate that even a heap of gold may be settled on the wife as dowry? Umar did not resent this, but on the contrary showed appreciation for this woman’s courage of her conviction and right to freedom of speech. He exclaimed: “The woman is right and Umar is wrong.”
Also in the story of Khawla bint Tha’labah and her husband Aws ibn al-Samit as is narrated by Imam Ahmad and Abu Dawud and quoted by Ibn Kathir in his tafsir at the beginning of Surat al-Mujadilah.
“By Allah, concerning me and Aws ibn al-Samit, Allah revealed the beginning of Surat al-Mujadilah. I was married to him, and he was an old man who was bad-tempered. One day, he came in and I raised a particular issue with him again. He became angry and said, ‘You are to me as the back of my mother.’ Then he went out and sat for a while in the meeting-place of his people. Then he came back, and wanted to resume marital relations with me. I said, ‘No way! By the hand of the One in Whose hand is the soul of Khuwayla (i.e., Khawla), you will never get what you want from me after saying what you said, until Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) decide between us.’ He tried to force himself on me, but I was able to resist because I was a young woman and he was a weak old man. I pushed him away. Then I went to one of my (female) neighbors and borrowed a cloak from her and went to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). I sat before him, told him what my husband had done to me, and began to complain to him about my sufferings because of my husband’s bad temper. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, ‘O Khuwayla, your cousin is an old man, so fear Allah with regard to him.’ I did not leave him until Qur’an was revealed concerning me. He was overcome as he usually was when Qur’an was revealed to him, and when it was over, he said: ‘O Khuwayla, Allah has revealed Qur’an concerning you and your husband.’ Then he recited to me:
[Allah has indeed heard (and accepted) the statement of the woman who pleads with you concerning her husband and carries her complaint (in prayer) to Allah: and Allah (always) hears the arguments between both sides among you: for Allah hears and sees (all things)….to the end of the ayah (Qur’an 58:1-4)
Again in another instance of Khawlah, She met Umar (R.A.A) one day outside the mosque, when al-Jarud al-‘Abdi was with him. ‘Umar, who was the caliph at that time, greeted her, and she said to him, “O ‘Umar, I remember you when you were called ‘Umayr in the marketplace of ‘Ukaz, taking care of the sheep with your stick. So fear Allah in your role as khalifah taking care of the people, and know that the one who fears the threat of punishment in the Hereafter realizes that it is not far away, and the one who fears death fears missing some opportunity in this life.” Al-Jarud said, “You have spoken too harshly to Amir al-Mu’minin, woman!” ‘Umar said, “Let her be. Do you not know that this is Khawla, to whose words Allah listened from above the seven heavens? By Allah, ‘Umar should by rights listen to her.”
There is so much beauty in a woman being tender, being feminine, being polite and humble, being motherly and caring. It’s for all this a woman is a woman. It’s for this she is regarded as the queen of this universe. Never underestimate a woman who stays at her home taking care of her kids and home. You may call her uneducated, unsophisticated, unclassy but the role she plays in her home is one that is priceless. We can never repay our mothers for the dedication they put on us. Same way we shouldn’t underestimate that ‘housewife’ just because she doesn’t have a well paying job like you do. And if you do have a decent job then go for it honey. Work hard, earn well, help your family, help fellow ladies, treat yourself, own that car you want, go for your dreams, no one will stop you. The religion doesn’t stop you so long as it doesn’t go against Allah (S.W).
We have so many examples to look up to. As one of the few Sahabiyat (female companions) who physically fought in battle in defense of the Messenger of Allah (SWT) and an advocate for Muslim woman’s rights, Nusaybah bint Ka’ab was not only renowned for her courageous efforts on the battlefield, but was also as a loving wife and mother. Aishah (R.A.A) for example was an educator and a renown teacher and Khadijah was a famous business woman. Khansā’ bint ‘Amr bin ash-Sharīd as-Sulamiyya, Rady Allāhu ‘Anhā (Tamādir bint ‘Amr in other texts) She came with her tribe to the Prophet Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa Sallam to accept Islām. She was a famous poet whose Diwān (collected poetry) has already been translated into French. The list goes on and on and on.
Being submissive and obedient to your father/husband/brother doesn’t mean you should be a door mat. It doesn’t mean you should accept oppression or violation of your rights. Fight for your rights when need be, otherwise be obedient. Because yes, a man has authority over you. Not unless you want to fight God for that too?
If we look back into history, we see the good example of how men executed authority on their womenfolk.
Al-Aswad reported: I asked Aisha, “What did the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, do when he was with his family?” Aisha said, “The Prophet would do chores for his family and he would go out when it was time for prayer.”
Narrated by Aisha, Allah’s Messenger (saws) used to patch his sandals, sew his garment and conduct himself at home as anyone of you does in his house. He was a human being, searching his garment for lice, milking his sheep, and doing chores. [Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 5822]
“It is reported that a man came to ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radia Allahu anhu) to complain about his wife’s ill-temper.
While he was waiting for ‘Umar to come out of his house, he heard ‘Umar’s wife scolding him and ‘Umar quietly listening to her, and not answering her back.
The man turned around and started walking away, muttering to himself: “If that is the case with ‘Umar, the leader of the believers, who is famous for his uprightness and toughness, then what about poor me?!”
At that moment, ‘Umar came out of his house and saw the man walking away.
He called him and said, “What is it you want of me, O man?”
The man replied: “O leader of the believers, I came to complain to you about my wife’s bad-temper and how she nags me. Then I heard your wife doing the same to you, so I turned around, muttering to myself, ‘If that is the situation of the leader of the believers,then what about me?’”
‘Umar replied, “O my brother, I bear with her because of her rights over me. She cooks my food, bakes my bread, washes my clothes, breast-feeds my child… and yet none of these are her duty; and then she is a comfort to my heart and keeps me away from forbidden deeds. Consequently, I bear with her.”
The man said,“It is the same with me, O leader of the believers.”‘
Umar said: Then, O my brother, be patient with her, indeed this life is short.
Men is this the kind of authority you have over your women? If indeed men were kind and compassionate enough as our role models were, we wouldn’t even be talking about radical feminism right now. It wouldn’t exist. If indeed men and women collaborated hand in hand as it originally was, if men supported their women achieve their goals and dreams and genuinely appreciate their talents and skills, if they sincerely helped their wives and the vice versa, we wouldn’t be so focused in this tag of war on who can do what better. At the end of the day, we all need one another. Work on being a better you without competing on who is bringing more on the table. Thank God for the table instead.
Hey ladies, keep empowering each other, keep working hard, keep fighting against rape, body-shaming, stereotypes and all the negativity around. Keep working for your rights without having to prove your value. You are enough. You always have been. If the man was a house, you’d be the pillar. If he’s the CEO you’d be the managing director. If he was the body you’d be the spinal cord. You might think you are being left behind the scenes, that you need to stand out for you to be appreciated but really,you always play a major role no one can defy that. So don’t waste up your precious energy trying to out-smart or out-do or be a man-hater. You don’t have to call yourself a ‘S-hero’ for you to actually be one. You are better than doing that.
Respect the men. They’ll respect you back. At least some do.
I am not sure if this relates to all women but at least for Muslim women, take note of this: Islam has always uplifted the status of the woman and given her the elevation she needs. P.S Women were never caged in the first place for them to need freedom. Don’t get it twisted honey.
My friends and I talk about anxiety in hushed tones,
in desperate volumes,
in late night texts of hopelessness,
she asks as if we are a team,
like we are a bandwagon,
a secret group full of emotion jargon
like we are some sort of cult,
clutched in the hands of our feelings
that we can’t bring to a halt.
“I’m overthinking,” he says
“I’m overthinking about my overthinking,
about my edginess,
“Shhh!!” she says
they shouldn’t know
you should just lay low.
They shouldn’t notice any more
lest they call you weak
they’ll call you sensitive
an attention seeker
or perhaps an emotional speaker!
Conceal, don’t feel
Don’t let your joy seem so real
or show your over-flowing tears in the name of ‘I want to heal’
They don’t understand how you can laugh so whole-heartedly about a silly pun that’s not even fun,
or how you passionately cry about a video you watched on whatsapp.
They’ll say, ‘You’re too much’
like too much of anything is really poisonous.
They speak as if they know the itchiness beneath your skin
like insects having a party within.
As if they know of the noise in your head,
of the demons you carry on your back,
of the weight of the world you carry on you like you just became a truck!
No. They have no idea,
They have not a single bit of an idea of how it feels to have a super-power of feeling,
of feeling things unfelt, untouched, unseen.
They have no idea,
that’s why I keep feeling.
A man will be tested according to his level of religious commitment. If his religious commitment is solid, his test will be more severe, but if there is any weakness in his religious commitment, he will be tested according to his level of religious commitment. And calamity will continue to befall a person until he walks on the earth with no sin on him.
-Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h
I’ve intentionally been avoiding to write about this. No, not about sabr, about Shekuwe’s story. I feel no words can really paint the real picture of the situation. My own imagination fails me but then it keeps haunting me. The thought of someone losing his entire family at once? I think of how I make a fuss out of nothing, how me and you, break down because ‘I lost a job’ or ‘My car was hit today’ or ‘The cake I made turned out too sour’. The thought of this fills my heart with shame. I mean, have you even thought about it yourself? Take a moment and picture it please. Imagine all your family members succumbing to high tides and waves of the ocean; watching them die. One after another. And then nothing. You are left alone. All that darkness like a heavy cloud on your head. The numbness, the trauma, the disbelief that you are even breathing. Coming back home to only find emptiness? With echoes of laughter and cries and memories that are no more? How many of us could actually handle that?
When you believe in Allah, and when Allah loves you back just as much as you do, then He’ll put you in tests over and over again. You will be pushed to be edge until you cry ‘why?’ But there are a few answers to this dreadful question:
1. “And know that your wealth and your children are but a trial and that Allah has with Him a great reward.” ~ Quran 8:28
2.“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits…” (Qur’an, 2:155)
3. “Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear…” (Qur’an, 2:286).
4. “Say: ‘Nothing shall ever happen to us except what Allâh has ordained for us…’” (9:51).
5. “We shall certainly test you, until We ascertain those of you who (sincerely) strive and those who are steadfast (in Allah’s Deen); and We shall test your affairs (to distinguish the liars from the truthful)”: (47:31)
6. “Most certainly you will face tests in your wealth and in your persons. You will definitely hear much painful abuse from those who have been given The Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if you are patient and fear Allah, then that will be the determining factor in all affairs.” ~ Quran 3:186
7. The prophet p.b.u.h said: If Allah wants to do good to someone, He afflicts him with trials. ~ (Bukhari 75/5)
8. The prophet p.b.u.h said: If Allah intends for a servant to reach a rank he is unable to reach by his good deeds, then Allah will put him to trial in his body or his wealth or his children, and he will be patient until he reaches the rank intended for him. [Ahmad]
9. The prophet p.b.u.h said: Nothing befalls a believer, a (prick of a) thorn or more than that, but Allah will raise him one degree in status thereby, or erase a bad deed. ~ Bukhari
10. The prophet p.b.u.h said: On the Day of Judgement, when the people who were tried (in this world) are given their rewards, the people who were pardoned (in life), will wish that their skins had been cut off with scissors while they were in the world. ~ Tirmidhi 36/100
11. Mus’ab ibn Sa’eed reported: His father asked, “O Messenger of Allah, which people are tested most severely?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “They are the prophets, then the next best, then the next best…”
12. “… and be patient over what befalls you.” ~ Quran 31:17
Shekuwe’s story is something you’d probably imagine to be something extracted from an emotional, heartbreaking Bollywood movie. But it isn’t. How much do you think Allah loves this human being to put him in such a test? How much strength of imaan does he have that Allah put him through such kind of pain? How much do you think Allah loves YOU to put you in the pain you go through?
Truth is, everyone is undergoing something. It only differs with magnitude. Some have it easier than others and others have it waayy heavier than you could possibly imagine. But don’t we all want Allah’s love that bad? Don’t we want to reach that kind of status that brings us closer to Him?? We can only pray for Shekuwe, and for ourselves and for each other. We can only support and be there for one another because behind every smile is an untold story of sabr. So let’s keep making dua over and over again; we pray for strength and imaan and taqwa to keep walking however bad the storm gets. May Allah easen it for him and for us all.
One of my favourite ayahs is from Surat Ankabut, 2nd verse: “Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested?” And I keep reciting this ayah over and over again like it is my mantra. It has a deep meaning that strikes right into the heart. It gives us a purpose to soldier on to prove our love to Allah.
Dear heart, dear you, Do you believe?? Then have sabr oh dear heart. Have sabr. Because sabr is indeed beautiful (Assabr Jameel).
May Allah grant us sabr like of Ayub aleyhi ssalam. Ameen.
I would have said Ahmed but then who recognizes you with that name anymore? Haha, you are all grown Mashallah. I hope that’s how it is spelt? The Mashallah I mean and the assalam aleikum up there…haha what do I know anyway? I’m just this old pal from upcountry living in Mombasa. I remember hearing your parents use such phrases so many times…ah, your parents. I miss them, you know that? I wish they could see how grown and smart you are right now. Your parents and I, we had this special kind of relationship. I bet you wouldn’t remember much though. You were just eight when that unfortunate accident happened right? *Sigh*
When I first came to Mombasa twenty years ago, I remember how warmly I was received by your parents into this neighbourhood. I still remember your dad, tall and lean, with such a loud laughter, welcoming me like I was a long-lost brother. Your mother, on the other hand, prepared dinner for both me and my wife that night. “I bet you are tired,” she said in her shy voice. I was a bit puzzled with the reception. We were different people, different tribes, different cultures, different religions…what could have made them so comfortable to bond with us immediately? My wife was a bit suspicious at first. You know, we had heard of rumours about the Mombasa genies and how witchcraft is so common and human sacrifices are made to become ‘viti’. Well, we never even understood what those viti were. As far as we knew it, viti are chairs. Nonetheless, my wife, she was a bit worried at first. But then by the next three to four months, we had interacted with almost the entire neighbourhood. We came to learn that this is just how Mombasa is. Warm and lovely; feels like home. It is why we decided to remain here longer. We decided, this is the best place to raise our children.
After your parents passed away in the accident, your divorced aunt moved in to take care of you and your younger siblings. Your aunt was another very lovely lady. She is charming and full of life; the kind to hear her voice sweeping the compound as she sang famous taarab songs. She is the one who taught my wife how to cook biriani and pilau and all these tasty coasterian foods. I never get enough of these foods.
It was all going well for us until Timmy died. You remember Timmy don’t you? Sometimes I see you walk by my home and I yearn to talk to you, ask you if you remember him, if you remember how you two used to play football together, or how you used to stay up late playing PS until your dad would come force you out of our homestead. If you remember that your birthdays were only two weeks apart and that today, he would be 22 years old like you are. Perhaps that would lessen how much I miss him. But then every time I want to start up a conversation, I see the lines form on your forehead. I see how quick you respond just so as you can leave, how bothered you seem by just calling out your name. I never understand it. Maybe it’s my age; old folk what does he want? Or maybe my skin colour or maybe you just don’t recognize me anymore. Maybe…the maybe’s are endless.
Timmy…my only son, my lovely boy, died ten years ago. Both of you were just twelve years old. My son, he was killed. Do you remember? Do you remember the shrieks of pain? The screams? The tear gas, the fear, the stones, the chaos? Do you remember the 2007 post-election violence? You were young but you couldn’t forget how Timmy died right? Your best friend, your brother from another mother, could you? There was too much smoke, wails, angry protests and there we were, caught up right at the middle of it all. Our neighbourhood had always been peaceful, serene…what was happening now? How could everyone forget our brotherhood so fast? We were among the few “outcasts” in the compound. After more than ten years in Mombasa, we suddenly became “outcasts” because our skin colour was darker, our mother-tongue accent betrayed us and our features were clearly “not of here” and that was enough reason to have knives stabbed into our bodies. Because of my origin, my vote automatically meant someone and some party, and at that point, my tribe betrayed me, betrayed us all. We were robbed and deeply injured that night…but one more thing, we lost our son.
It took me three months to heal my wounds and my wife’s’ but we still have one wound that will always remain a wound; unhealed and it just has one word, Timmy. Your aunt has been there for us, all this time, for better for worse, just like we stood by her side whenever she couldn’t afford some bread to feed you all. But you worry me. You my son, worry me.
I see how opinionated you’ve become. How strong and firm you are. It is good. But yet it could be dangerous. I see you sit with your mates barazani, I see the fury in your eyes, the anger in your tone. I see you young men discuss politics like this is a battle field and you want to win at whatever cost. I see you argue, I see the clenched fists and the tribalistic insults. I see how your friends look at me, how they purposely shout out “Kila mtu arudi kwao” when I pass by. I see how you all are invested so much in politics you forget you are supposed to be friends. I see how some of you have stopped talking to each other because “he is pro-someone” and you are “anti-them”. I see how much belief and trust you have kept towards these politicians.
I know it is your right to have an opinion, to vote and to be politically affiliated. Yet I want to remind you my son, when your parents died, I was the one who came to your home and took you for the next few nights, I want to remind you that Timmy was your friend despite me and your parents having different cultures and political opinions. I want to remind you that when we were stabbed, it was your aunt who washed off the blood in our house. That she was the one who nursed our wounds like she was paid for it.
I want to remind you, that during those ugly, dark moments it wasn’t my favourite politician who stood by me, by us. It wasn’t my tribe, or my mother-tongue accent that helped me through those difficult times. It wasn’t your favourite politician either. It was you and your people. It was my neighbours, my friends, my associations who have totally different opinions from mine. But we knew that friendship or any other form of relationship should never be sold for the sake of dirty politics. This game is too dirty. My son, I see how you and your friends are too aggressive in this whole politics business, remember, the game is too dirty, too cheap for your hands.
I am so proud of who you are, what you’ve become; an educated focused man who wants change. I guess we all need the change, don’t we? Just never forget that no change comes from animosity, rivalry, hatred or stubbornness. Remember that for better for worse, none of the politicians will be at your doorstep to help you with your personal problems other than your personal friends and relations. I need you to never forget the humanity joining us; these small joyful moments we have shared between us all; as neighbours, as brothers, as co-existing human beings, as people of the Coast, whether by nature or nurture, as people of Kenya. Never forget that we are naturally bonded as humans before politics ever divide us.
This coming election, my son, remember my words. Remember that chaos will never beget change. That your voice in the call of peace is important and necessary. Remember to hold your friends close together, in unity and preach to them peace like you preach politics and politicians. Remember my son, no more bloodshed, no more Timmy’s, no more crying over spilled milk. Let’s all hold hands and pray for peace and unity. Remember we are One Kenya, One people. This elections, as you cast your vote (or not), remember peace, peace, peace!! May God protect us all. God bless Kenya!
What is more interesting than standing together for Kenya that is united by all means? What is more interesting than a walk that preaches for peace and propagates for unity of all? The Dumisha Amani Peace Walk is a walk organized by MTY organization in conjunction to both MUHURI and Manyunyu community. It will bring together more than 200 youth to propagate the message of peace and unity. The peace walk shall start at treasury square and it will also entail performances by artists, holding hands pledges, peace mascots, security, media coverage and lots of fun, love and unity. Not signed up yet, text 0705 586 076. CHAGUA AMANI!!