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In many motivational speeches or writings, one thing the speaker or author encourages his/her audience to do is answer this question: “What is my purpose in life?”
It is as simple and complex as it is. The question automatically brings about more question to mind. Like; why am I doing what I’m doing? Is it what I was meant to do? Do i benefit from it? Are my loved ones benefiting from it? Does it make the world a better place? Etcetera etcetera.

But when we come back to the book of Allah, He states clearly;
“And I created not the Jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (alone)”
When you look at it this way doesn’t it seem easier? Well it does when you look at “worship” only in terms of the five daily prayers, fasting, zakat and hajj. But in addition to the latter there are numerous way of worshipping Allah. Isn’t it in the same Qur’an that Allah reminds us that He has given us minds and challenges us to actually think? That we should go out and explore the world? That we shoud seek knowledge? Thus personally, I define worship as that which pleases Allah. In this way , I easily find my purpose in life and be able to broaden it from the five pillars of islam to much more.

Still, the question is not what is your purpose in life? The real question is why aren’t you after it? If the main reason I am in this world is to please Allah then why am I not doing that?

Fear… it holds us back in achieving our purpose of living. I am not going to be the one to initiate peace between my arguing friends because I fear I might get caught up in the middle of it. I am not going to write the book because I fear they might not like it. I won’t be a public speaker because I fear I might lose my words. I am not going to start that business because I fear the risks and loss that I might encounter…and it goes on and on.

Most of us already know what we ought to be doing in order to please our Creator, to leave behind a great legacy, to create a better world but we let fear prevent us from acting. May be if we start thinking about our purpose in life being directly linked to pleasing our Creator, it will help us fight our fears. At the end of it all, Allah does not look at how great you did what you did, He is more interested in the struggle and intention of your actions. So, stop worrying about being good, being enough or being good enough and just be. Be among those who pleases their Creator.

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Sikilizeni kwa makini, mwenzenu nipo matatani…
Kwa mkubwa mtihani, ulonipata duniani…
Na nimekita mawazoni, sijui nifanye nini..
Nimefika njia panda, jamani nifate ipi?

Mimi ni mke nyumbani, na pia mimi ni mama…
Pili nilikua shuleni, na chuo kikuu kusoma..
Kishida nilisoma jamani, kwa juhudi zake mama..
Nimefika njia panda, jamani nifate ipi?

Kwa kupenda Rabana, shahada nikatunikiwa..
Kwa kweli niling’ang’ana, mwishoe nikafanikiwa..
Nikapata wangu bwana, harusi nikafanyiwa..
Nimefika njia panda, jamani nifate ipi?

Sasa nipo kwenye ndoa, mume wangu kakatalia
Amelitia kubwa doa, ndoto zangu kutimia…
Nikimweleza huniondoa, hataki kamwe kusikia…
Nimefika njia panda, jamani nifate ipi?

Hataki nifanye kazi, ataka nikae nyumbani..
Kinyume atakavyo mzazi, niwasaidie mashinani..
Hawana kazi wala bazi, na watoto tele nyumbani…
Nimefika njia panda, jamani nifate ipi?

Nina madada nyumbani, bado wapo masomoni..
Kuwasaidia natamani, ila kweli siwezani…
Imenipa tafshani, nakaa bila amani…
Nimefika njia panda, jamani nifate ipi?

Kando na ya nyumbani, ninazo ndoto zengine…
Uhandisi uwanjani, nifanye kama wengine…
Hunichoma roho ndani, nikashindwa nisinene..
Nimefika njia panda, jamani nifate ipi?

Nawaomba ushauri, njia ipi nifatilie..
Niende zangu kazini, wazazi wafurahie..
Au nikae nyumbani, mume wangu aridhie..
Nimefika njia panda, jamani nifate ipi?

Asanteni.

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It is 3 days to Eid…My aunt says it is okay to go out to check out stuff in the shops at night. There’s music and loads of people outside. I mean that’s an understatement in Amu. We’ve made our rounds, have sat at the sea front and ate our ice-creams, and now are heading back home. We have passed the ‘main road’ and are walking towards the narrow path that’s going to lead us home and two guys are cat calling behind us. Actually, they have been ever since we met them out side a shop but we just ignored them. One was carrying these metallic curtain poles or whatever…and the other, holding the plastic material that was covering them. I assume they either fell off or seemed too slippery for the other guy to be carrying the poles. We’ve ignored them for a while and the guy carrying the plastics, walks too closely and rubs the plastics against each other making weird sounds at us. I stop, abruptly and turn towards him. ‘Didn’t expect that mufaka, did you?’ (No, I didn’t tell him this…it is what came to mind when I saw the horror on his face) He halts and is clearly stunned.
“Haya sasa niambie…kule likua siezi smama sabu kuna watu wengi. Wataka nini?” I tell him.
He is out of words. The expression on his face, I’d pay a thousand dimes to look at again. He is quiet. The other guy laughs at him. I stand my ground still staring at him and he says “Staki kitu”
” Basi acha kuita watu njiani kama paka wa babako,” and we continue walking and he stops his weird hauls.

That was bitchy? Or that was bravery?

Boys,-and yeah I’m saying boys because no grown, matured man in his right mind would do that kinda nonsense- what is it that you want from girls that whenever they pass around a group of you, you definitely have to talk weird shit about/to them? To whom exactly do you want to prove that you’re a guy and she a girl? With whom exactly are you trying to have a cheap and weird conversation? And most of all, why is it that as a girl I cannot be left alone to walk in silence or without my heart skipping a beat like ‘Oh boy here comes the catcalls’ as I play in mind what to or what not to reply back? I have replied on one occasion when some dude went on like ‘Salamu haitii mimba’ with ‘Hii yako yatia mimba ya upepo…takiani kuzaa mashuzi mimi’ while I walked away.

Onto another scenario. A girl is dressed nicely, or skimpily for that matter. Does that mean they are calling for you to attack them with weird comments about their body features? I mean where on the world’s record was it mentioned that whenever I dress, its a guy I wanna impress? That aside. So you meet a girl, all hijabed up and all, you make a pass at her. She ignores it, clearly indicating that she isn’t at all interested. What gives you the right to insult her? Or even worse insist. Listen boo-boo…I am not interested and there is nothing you can say that will change my mind. I will ignore you and when you can’t seem to shut up, I will slap you with a single comeback which will either make you feel as small as you literally are, or will make you Slap/Hit me. (That’s a case for another day). The same goes for online sexual bullying. The number of times girls have felt insecure and always always self-conscious about what to expect from dudes is alarming. What makes you think that just because I am replying or reacting to your comment mean I want anything personal to do with you? Why can it not be all joking and fun and you just had to bring feelings into this whole thing making it weird?!

This isn’t all. And this is so unfair. I read one time on tumblr, a post where a girl said her sister was doing some research, and she wanted to see if say we are walking towards each other (I mean girl and guy). Who is supposed to let who pass first. The girl concluded with ‘So far, she( the sister) has collided with 20 men.’ I tried to do this once on the road towards Sawa Centre. It is so crowded with people and tuktuks and you’re right…I did have to put up my hands in front so guys don’t bump on me. Don’t worry religious freaks, I know you’re all ready to hit me with ‘This is why Rasoul (S.A.W) forbade women from going to the markets.’ Which is all okay until you realize you don’t have a male in the house and have to go to the ‘market’ by yourself. My point is, why is it that just because I am the girl, I am always the one to be on the sideline? To always be on the look out. When Rasoul talked of hayaa and lowering of gaze, did he at any point restrict it to females only? IDK, educate me.

I have gone to class with boys, I have taken the same exam as them and I might say even topped the exams. I am in a faculty, one that has men in it. Lets say it’s Corporate Business or Media. Why is it that every other aspect of me is stepped on and looked down upon and only my feminine nature pops up and gets your attention? Why is it that I,- a hardworking and so very potential and awesome woman- will be subjected to sexual harassment or asked for sexual favors before I am promoted. Or why is it that I cannot be treated fairly to a male workmate, just because I am a female, and that the equal treatment is made to look to me as a favor someone is pulling for me…and yeah I have to return the favor, sexually? I think its what they call it ‘Sleeping your way to Success’.

Why is it that guys, who are well off in some way or another think they’re the real deal, and that just because of that, they have the audacity to make a woman feel less of a person? Why is it that we are all treating it as normal for a guy to demand or make passes at girls-yeah several-just because they’re male? Why is it that it is always my fault as a girl for being too free to be out there thus calling for weird attention? Why is it that it is the girl who should stop a weird pass made at her, otherwise it will send a message that she wants it and is totally okay with it. Like why is it that its okay for boys to do all that and they get away with the notion ‘Boys will always be Boys?’ and as a girl have to justify myself. Why is it that y’all people don’t address this and make it clear that females are humans and for once don’t look at what she’s wearing and instead look at what she’s bringing to the goddamn table because ‘damn! half her beauty is her brains’? And most of all, why is it that y’all think being made weird passes at or getting uncalled for sexual advances is the rent a girl has to pay to exist on earth as a female?

Jus’ Birkoff…No Seriously, Back Off.

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I faked a smile after I kissed the hand of the man who abused me.
“MashaAllah! He’s grown into a fine young man,” he responded as my father reintroduced me to him.

A lump had already formed in my throat. My mind was abuzz with activity as my heart tried to register the multitude of feelings that exploded inside me. It reminded me of the flurry of movement that takes place in a company when something major happens. Bosses making numerous phone calls as their subordinates jog in and out of their offices every thirty seconds to urgently report the slightest update, while a plethora of emails are sent and received as everybody tried to make sense of the situation.

“Aziz, the man asked you a question,” my father interrupted my thoughts.
“Hmm? Ah, yes uhh…” a long pause ensued, then “Come again?”
The man broke into a hearty laughter, “Kids these days, they always seem to be distracted by one thing or another!” he said as he playfully grabbed my chin. Dynamites exploded once more inside my chest. “I asked you about your studies. How are you faring in them?”
“Oh. Alhamdulillah, I’m doing well. I’ll start my first year of college in September God willing.”
His face lit up even more on hearing this, “I expect nothing less from my former student. I always told you that you are brilliant!”

Another fake smile.

“Well, it was a pleasure seeing you after such a long absence, Aziz. Work hard and take care of your parents. Through Allah’s Will, they are the reason you are where you are today.” He then turned to my father, “Thank you for the invitation Mr. Saleem. May God bless you!”
“May He bless us all,” my father replied courteously.
He chuckled as he shook hands with him once more and winked at me.
“Excuse me,” I mumbled as soon as the man went inside the hall, “I need to go to the bathroom.”

*******

Breathing became an alien concept. Thankfully, no one was present in the bathroom to witness my panic attack. I unbuttoned the collar of my kanzu and opened the tap. This cannot be happening! Why is this happening? It took several splashes of water on my face for my breathing to return to normal.

The sound of approaching footsteps snapped me out of my confusion and I quickly got in a bathroom stall that was farthest from the door. I closed the lid, sat on it and then went on to involuntarily listen to a man take a piss. Soon after the same footsteps faded into the distance and I released the breath I hadn’t realised I was holding. Distracting myself from the reality of what just happened was impossible. However, I tried to delude myself into thinking that if I stayed in the bathroom long enough, then he’d be gone by the time I got back. Maybe, just maybe, an emergency would come up and the man would have no other choice except leave before the wedding even started.
I barely noticed my hand shaking. What was this feeling? Was it rage? Or fear? Maybe it was both? Am I going crazy? I couldn’t understand. A short burst of laughter escaped my lips. I’m definitely going crazy.

Where are you? A message from my father lit up my phone’s screen.
I’m experiencing stomach problems. I’ll be a while. I replied.
Sorry to hear that. Get well soon.

I didn’t want to leave the bathroom. The prospect of seeing that monster again terrified me. Seven years had passed since that “unfortunate event”. I thought that it was all behind me, that I had buried one gigantic skeleton. I punched the wall once. Twice. Three times. The pain in my fist, however, couldn’t override the aching sensation in my chest.

An alarm bell in my head was warning me that I was on the edge of a precipice. One wrong move and I would fall into the unknown, a place I have been avoiding for almost a decade.

Counting backwards from one thousand gave me a false sense of stability, like papering over cracks that would surely reappear and worsen with time. I was now clinging onto the precipice with my hands, one delicate misstep and I would tumble down into the unknown.

“Six hundred and sixty seven, six hundred and sixty six, six hundred and sixty five…” I muttered under my breath. The man’s laughter would echo in my ears and his face would flash right before my eyes. My thoughts were beginning to spiral out of control, so I gritted my teeth and continued counting, albeit loudly. To Hell with being heard, my sanity was at stake.

Counting didn’t work, I could feel myself slipping away one finger at a time. Desperation led me to clamp my head tightly between my hands as I hummed a nursery rhyme. Was it ‘Mary had a little lamb’? Or was it ‘London bridge is falling down’? I couldn’t tell at this point. Cold sweat trickled down my spine. More images, memories from before, swirled around my mind, making me confuse past with present. I whispered “Somebody…please help me,” as my arms finally lost their strength and my body went hurtling into the unknown…

*******

“So today we’re going to learn some intermediate concepts of Arabic grammar. Before that, however, open your Quran and read where we left off yesterday,” my ustadh instructed us in an authoritative tone. None of us dared look straight at his face because he always had this imposing demeanour that demanded respect. I couldn’t help but steal a glance, only to make eye contact with the man. Apprehension gripped me, but it was quickly banished when he returned my gaze with a half-smile and a wink. I blushed and took this as a sign that he acknowledged me.

Ever since my first encounter with him, my heart fell in love. The kind of unconditional love a child could afford for his parent, or a student for his master. Here was a man who would be seen constantly with a rosary in hand, invoking praises and glorifying God. Always on time to lead the congregational prayer, everyone in our neighbourhood adored and respected him. He was my second father. No, I considered him more of a father to me than my real one. My ultimate goal was to become like him, or even surpass him if that were possible.

The afternoon wore on until four o’clock reached. We had concluded our lessons for the day and were dismissed, except he called me back and said cryptically, “Wait for me after ‘asr prayer.”
My heart started racing. What does he want with me? Did I do something wrong? No, that’s not possible. It has to be something good, right? Or maybe he just wants me to pass a message to my father? No, that doesn’t make sense. Dad always comes to the mosque, so he could talk to him personally.

Concentrating on my prayer was next to impossible, my body simply made robotic movements as I imagined one scenario after another. My palms grew cold and sweaty. After the prayer was finished, I waited for most of the congregants to leave the mosque and asked ustadh if I did anything wrong. He gently pinched my cheek and told me there was nothing to worry about. My sense of anxiety disappeared, only to be replaced with excitement. If it’s nothing to worry about, then it’s definitely something good. My face grew warm and I stared at the carpet. Finally, he’s acknowledged me and I’ll get a special reward from him, I thought elatedly.

“Let’s go, Aziz,” he said as he got up and put his rosary in his pocket. Five minutes later we arrived at his home and went straight to his study, which was at the top floor of a three-storey building. He called out to his wife in a loud voice, saying that he shouldn’t be disturbed, “I have a very important student of mine!” he added as he beamed at me and winked. He even considers me his friend! I said to myself as I laughed. A few moments later we entered his study and he locked the door behind him after allowing me to enter first.

“Please, have a seat,” he gestured towards a couch. He took off his kanzu to reveal a white T-shirt and kikoi. Sometimes I’d be curious about how he looked like without his usual garments, but now I saw that he was powerfully built, with strong arms and a barrel chest, making him even more imposing.

“Now then,” he began as he sat next to me, “I brought you here because I’d like to give you a special present, for the consistent results you have produced during the four years you have been under my tutelage. However, let’s talk first. I’m in no rush and I’d like to know my favorite student a bit more.”
Favourite student? I smiled instinctively. “Well, what do you want to talk about?”
“Anything you want my child. But let me ask you first, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
I didn’t even need to think before I gave my answer. “I’d like to be an ustadh, just like you!” With this, he broke into a rapturous laughter. I was so entranced by this that I didn’t even notice him place his hand on my knee.
“Like me, you say? That’s good, that’s very good. I’m really happy to know that I’ll have a capable person take my place when I’m gone.”

We continued talking for a little while, about my hopes and dreams, my plans for the future. However, with each passing minute I could feel his gaze intensify as he started to slowly caress my thigh. I noticed this, but I merely took it as a form of parental affection, the same way my mother would hug me tight and crush me against her heavy chest, or how my father would pull my nose and flick his finger on my forehead.

“Tell me, Aziz, what do you think of me?” he asked, but the gentleness in his voice was gone. He sounded…sinister? No, I’m imagining things, there’s nothing wrong. My spark of paranoia, however, transformed into flames when he pulled me closer. The slow caressing motion picked up pace, as did his breathing.
What’s going on? What is he doing? Why doesn’t this feel right? All of this and more coursed through my mind. I couldn’t think clearly. I checked the clock, it was five thirty. I didn’t want to stay in his study anymore, something was definitely wrong. Maybe if I could get him talking until Maghrib arrived, then it would be prayer time and we’d both have an excuse for leaving.

I gulped, trying to calm my nerves, but I was fumbling with what I was trying to say, “I uhh…I think that…you’re a great man…and…everyone respects you…and…and…umm…you’re my…my…my role model,” I finished meekly. Unable to disguise my fear, I met his gaze, but all he did was look at me dreamily, while an evil smile played on his lips.

I was about to speak, when suddenly he embraced me so tightly that my arms couldn’t move. I felt like a rabbit being squeezed by a python as it prepared to devour the poor thing whole.
“I must confess something to you, my beautiful boy,” he began, his voice heavy and excited, “Ever since I laid my eyes on you, I have been beset by a demon, a demon only you can exorcise. You’re the only who can do this! If not, then I don’t know what will become of me. I need you, my beautiful child. You’re the only one that I want in this world my precious boy!”
I tried to pull away, but it was impossible against such strong arms.
“Will you exorcise this demon Aziz? Will you?” his voice was so frantic, that for a moment I thought he really was possessed by a demon.
“Y-y-yes…I’ll try!” I found myself agreeing to his request. Anything to get out of this choking embrace.
“I’m so glad you’ll help me. Thank you so much, this means a lot to me,” he whispered reassuringly as he pulled back, though his hands were still locked on me. I thought that the worst was over, but in the blink of an eye his lips were firmly placed on mine. Shock ran all over my body and I was rendered immobile. One of his hands was firmly set behind my head, so pulling away wasn’t an option.
After what felt like an eternity, he stopped kissing me and for the first time, the desire in his eyes was apparent.
“That felt good, didn’t it? It always comes as a shock for first-timers like you, but with time you’ll end up loving it, I promise.”

How could I ever end up loving something as disgusting as this? I thought as my body trembled. This couldn’t be him. This couldn’t be my ustadh. It must be the Devil himself. They say that the Devil can shapeshift into the form of any man, except prophets. So it had to be him. There’s no way that this monster before me could be the same pious and dignified man that I loved and respected so much.
“You seem shaken up. Would you like some tea?” he asked with feigned concern.
I nodded, too shell-shocked to speak. He then got up and went to heat two mugs of tea in a microwave. I checked the clock, fifteen minutes until six o’clock, fifty minutes until the maghrib call to prayer. If I drink my tea slowly, then I might make it. Otherwise, there’s no knowing what this man would do next.
“I had the maid make us some before we came in,” he said as he returned a couple of minutes later holding a mug in each hand, “I’ve warmed it up a bit in the microwave, but you should be able to drink it without burning your tongue. Go on then!”

I took a small first sip, then another. I decided to give myself three-minute intervals in between sips. Alright, I can do this.

All of a sudden my vision started blurring, my head grew heavy and my hand could hold my mug no longer. It slipped to the floor and I felt my body fall on the couch in slow motion.
“No…please…stop,” I protested weakly. My voice sounded far-off as I tried to stay awake. Whatever was laced in my tea started taking full effect, and the last thing I saw was ustadh on top of me, his burning eyes like twin coals, and then darkness…

*******

I saw my father’s concerned face when I woke up. The first thing that came to mind was that I was home. Thank God! it was only a bad dream. I must have come home and dosed off.
“Are you okay?” he asked, as he pressed his palm against my forehead.
“Yes, but my back hurts. I must have slept badly,” I replied with a smile, but it quickly vanished when I realised I was still in ustadh’s study, with the man himself standing a few feet behind my father, his face expressionless. My hands tightly gripped the blanket I hadn’t noticed until now. So it wasn’t a dream? No this can’t be happening! I panicked and my breathing grew rapid and shallow.

“Aziz are you alright? Ustadh told me that you fainted.”
I didn’t even register my father’s question, all I did was recall what happened before I lost consciousness.
“Can we go home? I don’t feel so good” were the first words I blurted. All I wanted was to stay as far away from the Devil as possible.
My father acquiesced and held my hand as I got up from the couch. I still felt dizzy. Ustadh, no, the Devil said something to my father but I couldn’t process anything. I was in flight mode. He moved towards me and placed his hand on my shoulder. It took all I had to stay put and not make a run for it. “You take care, okay?” he started, the warmth in his voice had returned, “I’d be beside myself if something were to happen to my favourite student.”
I did nothing but stare at the floor, hoping it would open up and swallow me whole…

*******

Where are you? The ceremony is about to start.
I’m on my way. Give me five minutes.
Good. I hope your intestines are still intact though.
Haha. They certainly are.

I leaned on the toilet and stared at the ceiling gloomily. Seeing my abuser for the first time in seven years revived that feeling of being tainted, that there was a certain impurity which will never go away. Like a stubborn stain you thought you had removed, only to realise that it was painted over, and now the paint has peeled off.
I shuffled out of the stall and headed towards the sink. I looked at my tired face in the mirror and became amazed by how sometimes it takes only a few seconds for someone to ruin your day.

I sighed pitifully. Is there truly an end to this nightmare? I wondered, as I straightened my back and faked a smile.

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Throughout history, empires were erected, revolutions were staged and science flowered. Yet, the colossal mould of these events, in our minds, could have easily dissolved the sheer fact that they were orchestrated by specific people. It is easy to forget the Tunisian whose self immolation coupled with zealous activism by influential citizens, spawned what would later be the Arab spring. By the same token significant incidents that ever happened gathered momentum through relationships built by leaders . Relationships lubricated fulfillment of their interests. And on a closer look influence was at their nexus. It is a constant that stretches its tentacles into various relationships existing in organizations from corporations to social movements. What strategies can one use to gain influence, better still how can one wield it effectively?

Studying Law was a rather insipid experience for the young Hungarian, Ignaz Semmelweis. His distaste for the subject culminated into a switch to medicine, a field that indulged his passion eventually leading him to a job at the obstetrics department in the University of Vienna in 1846. Working as an assistant at that department meant tackling the challenge of childbed fever which was prevalent in maternity wards in Europe at that time. Dissecting corpses of patients that died from the disease, doctors would find puss and large amount of putrid flesh. Some Medical practitioners believed childbed fever was caused by “polluted air” known as miasma while others thought it was a result of pus, which they mistook for milk. Breast milk was then thought to be a product of menstrual blood under the belief that there was an anatomical relationship between the upper uterus and the breast. It would not be long before Semmelweis discovered that mortality rates were higher in the clinic attended by medical interns compared to the second one attended by midwives within the department. What was even more startling was that women who gave birth in the streets never caught the disease. He suspected that interns spread the disease during childbirth after handling corpses. His suspicions were confirmed when his colleague died of the illness after accidentally pricking himself with a scalpel while conducting a postmortem on a woman who had childbed fever.


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Without haste, Semmelweis commanded those in his ward to wash their hands with chlorinated water before attending to mothers giving birth, a practice that significantly reduced mortality rates. It was now clear that there was only one cause of the disease which he termed as “cadaveric contamination”. As soon as he revealed this theory to his senior, Johann Klein , it was refuted. The idea was radical and went against the medical zeitgeist at the time. Rather than carrying out experiments and publishing his findings, Semmelweis became entrenched in political battles with Klein. His battles with Klein almost resembled those of Thomas stockmann and Peter Stockmann in Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the people; where Thomas was the politically inept scientific genius battling Peter, a shrewd politician with clout and a knack for manipulation. Simmilweiz’s close friends urged him to write papers on the discovery, he would hear none. In fact he had an such an aversive attitude towards writing that would later cripple his career. Consequently Semmelweis lost his job , the medical community in Vienna turned against him. He subsequently left Vienna for Budapest where he got a job at the University of Pest. There too his seniors disbelieved his theory. As a last resort, the vexing swamp of skepticism compelled him to write the only report on his findings, Die Ätiologie, der Begriff und die Prophylaxis des Kindbettfieber (The Etiology, Concept, and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever). Unfortunately it did not fully explain the logic behind his theory and attracted even more vehemence. Semmelweis’s behaviour grew aberrant and his wife thought he was insane, he would eventually die miserably from blood poisoning after incurring a gangrenous wound in 13th August 1865 at the age 47. It was several years later that Louis pasteur promulgated what we know today as the germ theory. A discovery that could largely be credited to Ignaz Semmelweis.


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Many a times we find ourselves in circumstances that command voicing suggestions or instituting executive decisions that may not settle well with our colleagues. Just like Semmelweis most of us choose the quick path of shoving instructions at subordinates if we happen to be in a position of power, or rebelling with a panache that borders tyranny if we are not. Yet others will altogether swallow back their reservations to avoid conflicts at all costs. Solving this classical problem commands that we understand the primary ways through which we generally gain influence. The first path to influence is power which often involves control of resources while the second path is status which derives from positive social judgements of others. Ignaz Semmelweis could only implement his findings in the ward that he had control over. His position at the ward gave him power. On the other hand convincing those beyond his reach of power would require that he earned status.Social psychologist Edwin Hollander formulated a an insightful process through which we earn status. He promulgated the concept of idiosyncrasy credits, the freedom to differ from a group’s expectations. Idiosyncrasy credits are earned whenever a person contributes towards a group’s goals. Subsequently, one earns enough idiosyncrasy credits to the point that deviating from the crowd expectations does not trigger any negative reactions. Had Semmelweis properly conducted experiments and formally published his findings, he would have earned credits that would have seen him earn status amongst his peers making them more receptive to his findings.

Likewise, it is always prudent to place yourself in positions that allow you to exercise your strengths. This way, you will be able to make contributions and consequently earn status among your peers. Semmelweis’s profession required him to carry out experiments and consequently publish research papers on his findings. Sadly, writing wasn’t his strength as he abhorred it to the core of his being. As a result he could not bring himself to influence his superiors and peers alike because the germ theory was too novel in that era. It smashed the expectations of those in the medical field which vastly rested on misinformed theories. He never earned enough idiosyncrasy credits to deviate from his colleagues’ expectations.


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As a manager, you will be tempted to use your powers on a frequent basis but this approach quickly breeds resentment and may hurt productivity in the long run. Instead you must coalesce the exercise of power with status building. In fact studies conducted by organizational behavior researcher Adam galinsky and colleagues have shown that individuals occupying high power roles with relatively low status end up having more conflicts with their colleagues in lower ranks. This in effect results into a vicious cycle where those with power frustrate those under them because of their resentment and vice versa escalating conflicts further. Thus you might want to earn the highest qualifications in your field or even occasionally take part in basic technical work as your juniors to demonstrate your capabilities as some executives do which yields massive respect in the long term. With hope that Einstein will not have been offended, we can safely conclude status without power is blind and power without status is lame.

Utu  mkakosa, mkanivunja uti

Mkanilainisha kama poda

Nikawa chakula cha mchwa

Mkanisahau

Navuma gizani

 

Majira yakaficha weusi wenu

Mkasihi jumuia isahau

Ikajumuika

Mkasali kwa sauti gugumizi

Mkanifukia

 

Kisu kilichonisafirisha  gizani

Keki chapakua, msimu mtamu tena

Kwa wepesi viuno mwakata

Kinyume cha  rai za nafsi

Mwangwi wa bezo wavuma gizani

 

Mbaya mimi siko. Mnafuraha?

Mwizi mimi siko. Akiba mnazo?

Simo idadini. Shibe mnayo?

Wageni hawalaumiwi

Utu  haba ni giza.

 

Burdani ni ua la sumu

Laficha ukweli leo, kesho halimo

Uongo hauna starehe

Kwa miyayo tu, mawimbi yataibua

Uongo mlioficha miongoni.

 

Navuma gizani, sikio hamna

Vitenge mwajikwatua kote nyajani

Pambio zateleza vinywani

Hatimaye kukaripia ndugu adui

Ndimi. Vumi. Pepo

 

Ngoma ni tamu, waichezao hawachoki

Wana kiu cha matunda, rangi si hoja

Yawe kijani au manjano

nyayo nyekundu kwa vumbi

zameremeta kama mshale wa moto.

 

Hatima yangu mwaitamani?

Maficho kwa stesheni

Na chini ya msalaba

Hatimaye kufanywa

Kuni. Kaa. jivu baridi

 

Je? kama sanda yastiri

Mbona mkanifukia?

Mwaficha nyuso kwa matendo yenu?

Fumbueni macho muone jua

Tiba ni toba

 

Mtapona lini?

Nasikia nyayo juu ya kifua

Mwakimbiza nani leo?

Jua likitua, mtacheka.

Kesho mtalia.

 

Shehena ya wivu kinywani

Wakongwe bado wala chumvi

Ajabu!

 

  1. Hili ni shairi huru.
  2. Ritifaa ni sanaa ambayo inahusisha mtu aliyekufa, akiwasiliana na waliohai
  3. Picha kwa hisani ya http://walterastrada.com. Inaonyesha mtu mwenye hamaki kipindi cha 2007/2008,ambapo kulitokea ghasia baada ya upigaji kura

Photo Courtesy: https://www.pinterest.com

God and I, we used to be such good friends. God, don’t I miss that friendship! There was no rush of leaving the prayer mat after praying. I’d stay there and just talk to Him, you know? Maybe because I was lonely. And it was such a comfortable safe space to slide into. I could cry, laugh and say all I wanted to say that my anxiety wouldn’t otherwise let me. Or maybe because of the way people judged me a little too harshly. I had always been recognized as the religious one. Why? I didn’t shake hands with men. Or maybe because I did all my sunnahs like they were compulsory. Or my sujoods were noticeably longer. And I wasn’t even trying. That was my comfortable zone. I remember leaving school earlier on Fridays just so I could go to a distant mosque where nobody recognized me so I could have alone time with God. It was beautiful.

Update 1: I prefer hugs to handshakes now 🙁
Update 2: Where did y’all religious friends go?
Update 3: I’m doing compulsories like they’re sunnahs now.
Update 4: Refer to update 3

Thing with friendships though, you don’t realize when they’re breaking. It’s so gradual and smooth before you know it you’re the friend that people are coming to for good music. The religious friends are spending less and less time with you. You’re spending your nights in clubs. And then one day after so many days you’ll find yourself in a dirty pitch in your room or on your way to work wondering, “How? How did I become this person? How did I get here? I just want to go home.”

So yeah, I’m not in a very good place with God now. And that hurts me. I’d be in Jamia mosque praying and look at people who look so engrossed in their own prayers and duas with Allah and i’ll feel so much envy and pain and a

“That used to be you” Must be the devil hat whispers with his tongue out.

Like there was this girl in a red Hijab once. She was at the very first line. Flawless skin and such a beautiful hearty and warm smile. I imagined she woke up in the depths of the night to pray. The way I used to. The way I want to.

Sometimes, I’m reminded of God in the most bizarre and unexpected way or place. Take for example this friend. Said friend isn’t Muslim. Said friend asks me, “How are you and God, love?”
That has stuck with me for so long since it happened. I wish we had such honest conversations more often. Or this time I’m watching a play, in the form of contemporary dance, about a group of people escaping their homeland because of war, and so they’re fleeing to safer grounds. I remember sitting there alone, telling myself, it’s time to start that journey. Go back home, darling.

Thing is, it’s such a big place. When you’re being pressured into stuff, you can not remember anything like peer pressure. You’re not even doing it to be cool for anyone. You tell yourself that you’re doing it in the spirit of being ‘adventurous’. And really, maybe you are. Because, the world our parents think we live in and the world we actually live in, it’s mars and venus. Two totally different realities. And people are busy. Everyone is going on with their business and here you are, taking whatever path you deem right. Which to be honest, I don’t really have a problem with. Only thing is, ‘Is there room for my faith and God in this?’ Most times that answer is no. And almost all those times, you’ll go ahead with whatever it is.

I haven’t been to a club. I haven’t taken alcohol. Alhamdullillah. But I have seen how weak I can get, and I don’t know when that day will come. I have close friends that I have seen traverse the ‘halal-strict-hijabi’ life to the party all night, ‘take buibui off in the corner close to home’ life. And yes, they are STILL my friends. Because a part of me gets them. A very big part of me gets them. And then there’s this part that’s hanging on to whatever trail that’s left of my friendship with God. That i’m holding on to with my dear life.

There’s that voice again.
“Go back home, darling.”

Yours truly,
Your Favourite Stranger 🙂


P.S: You can read more of her pieces on her blog: https://www.favouritestranger.com/

Of Flames & the Night.

Photo Courtesy: https://static.pexels.com

​The scariest part

Of it all

Was not seeing the bad in me,

But watching myself

Yearn

For that sin

One more time…

Maybe there never was a devil…

Maybe monsters

Are a

Reflection

Of our true selves…

Maybe I spent too much time

Close to the fire

That I never noticed

How much

Darker

It had made me…

To me,

It was light,

But for the flame,

I was just

Another pile

Of wood,

Waiting to

Burn.

Photo Courtesy: https://c2.staticflickr.com

THE MONTH OF MONTHS

My heart sings with joy
The month of months has arrived
For many have yearned for it
But not all have survived

Such euphoria I get
When the warm air of my lungs
Caress my dry lips in supplication
As I pray the taraweh

In this miraculous month
Even the crooked find their way
Rich or poor no eating in the day
What a precious month I say

In it the night of nights
The night to better a thousand months
A night peaceful in nature
In it Quran descended to the greatest teacher

In it mosques fill to the brim
And everyone seems to be in the same team
We share, we care
Satan is chained he can only stare…

Photo Courtesy: https://www.alquranclasses.com/

Do you remember your first Ramadhan? I am talking about those days when fasting to you was for mum and dad’s sake. That is to say; if mum or dad and of course the “reporter” sibling in the family did not see you break the fast, your fast is still valid. You can deny it and I can, but Allah saw you every time you drunk half the water meant for rinsing your mouth while taking wudhu. But of course it was not a big deal, we were young and the thought of staying the whole day without food or water to drink either seemed torturous or mission impossible. I remember thinking to myself that even the adults sneak a sip or two of water when no one is watching because there is no way anyone can stay that long without water. At the age of 7 to 10 years Ramadhan to me was to be able to convince the people around me that I have stayed the whole day with neither food nor water.

Imam Siraj Wahaj puts it nicely when he says, Islam means progress. Right now I can look back at those years and see the progress in my Ramadhan. Maybe the adults around me understood it too and that is why they did not punish me when I broke my fast two hours to Magharib adhan (too dumb, I know that now). I was on training and it was okay to slip here and there, my relation with Ramadhan was still being nurtured. However, I never cease to enjoy the holy month. Apart from the hunger and thirst torture, there was the joy of having the extended family meeting up almost every day and excessive playing with friends (no wonder the unbearable thirst). Having the masjids full during all the swalahs, cooking the best foods and being able to witness the amount of blessings increase in the month. Till date, Ramadhan at my home is known as the month of barkah; not because we were taught so but because we saw the blessings. And then there was the ultimate joy that was Eid. So, in a nutshell, Ramadhan to most of us at that young age was torture from hunger and thirst, good food, friends and family.

When you do something wrong and you know it is wrong but no one reprimands you for it and they all act like it was okay for you to do what you have done, your conscious kills you. Or at least that’s what happens to me. At the age of 11-12 years, during Ramadhan all I could think about is that I got to do better. I have to see to it that I stay true to my fasting. It was a real struggle, reminding myself when it got hard that I can do it, I can stay the whole day with no water. Accomplishing this would make me happier than ever during the time of breaking fast and whenever I failed the enthusiasm of breaking the fast was lost all together. Ramadhan to me then was to be able to stay with no food or water the whole day; and it was enough.

Whenever I speak about Sheikh Khalifa, some people look at me with that eye of “oh she is at it again”. The truth is that given a chance to speak about my high school, I would not shut up. I love my high school. Not because it is the best high school in the Coastal province, though it is a bonus, but because of the role it played in building me as a young Muslimah. It was there that I also learnt that finishing the recitation of the whole Qur’an was highly recommended during Ramadhan. I still remember how people would struggle to finish the Qur’an at least twice while I would be struggling with my one khatm. I admit, I would be disappointed when I could not meet my one khatm goal, knowing that most of my friends had two khatms and others even three. All the Ramadhans in Sheikh Khalifa, my goal was that one khatm. I think I realized it once though I’m not so sure.

One of my biggest dream is to speak Arabic. I once told my friend that the day I would be able to speak Arabic fluently, I would not stop talking. He said that is the reason why I have not learnt Arabic till now. I am sure he is wrong. Being outside sheikh Khalifa my thirst for Arabic became intense; not just so as to be able to speak but I really wanted to understand the message in the Qur’an. My recitation was fluent but apart from a few surahs, I didn’t understand most of it’s message. So I asked one of the local ustadh to teach me Arabic at the same time I found myself a mushaf with the translation. And if you thought finishing a khatm was hard try doing it with the translation. Truth be told, I’m yet to accomplish it and I am disturbed by it. Still I was glad that I not only got to recite the qur’an fluently but I could also understand what it was saying to me.

Every Ramadhan has been different to me with different meanings. I have studied specific surahs, I have used Ramadhan to quit some sins. I have done memorizations of specific surahs, supplications and hadith. I have struggled to make each Ramadhan mean something to me. And it all comes back to; Islam means progress. I have seen my progress in my meaning of this beloved Holy month, and if Allah enables me to see more Ramadhans, I pray that I find more meaning to it.

Now as a 25 year old lady I ask myself what does Ramadhan mean to me and my mind goes back to the verses of the Qur’an that I memorized a long time ago due to how much they would be repeated during this month;
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous” (2:183)
In them I get my answer. This month was meant for me to attain Taqwa. To build the strongest bond possible with my creator and as Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (Rahimatullah) said ;
“Taqwa is not praying long into the night and fasting long into the day but it is to abandon the obstacles between you and Allah (SWT).”
In other words, it is to abandon sin.

Ramadhan was meant for me to have that ultimate connection with the Qur’an. Not only by finishing multiple khatms or memorization but to be able to gain the guidance that Allah talks about when he says;
“Ramadhan is the (month) in which the Qur’an was sent down, as a guide to mankind and a clear guidance and judgement” (2:185)
So yes, Ramadhan is meant for sharing, showing love and compassion to each and every one of us, for the ummah to be united more than ever, but at an individual level, What does Ramadhan mean to you?

RAMADHAN MUBARAK. WA KULLU 3AMUN WA ANTUM BI KHEYR