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To read the first part of this series, click on the following link: https://lubnah.me.ke/women-of-jannah-maryam-bint-imran/

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Many amongst men attained perfection but amongst women none attained the perfection except Mary, the daughter of `Imran and Asiya, the wife of Pharaoh. And the superiority of `Aisha to other women is like the superiority of Tharid (i.e. an Arabic dish) to other meals.” Sahih al-Bukhari 3769

So who was Asiyah bint Al Muzahim?

Not much is known about the origin of Asiyah but that she was from a rich family and was married off to Firau’n (Pharaoh) who was an oppressive tyrant and a very wealthy man. She was known to be very beautiful and very kind. Fir’aun declared himself a god, saying to his people, “I am your most exalted lord.” He was very powerful and the people feared him so much, they worshiped him. One night, Fira’un had a dream in which he saw a fire coming from Jerusalem, Palestine towards Egypt, burning every single house in Egypt except the Bani Israi’l houses. The Israelites at the time were subjugated by Firau’n and were being oppressed by him, making them slaves to the Egyptians. Thus when Firau’n saw this dream, he became concerned that there is more to it. He called onto fortune tellers and magicians to explain the meaning of the dream.

It is then that he was informed that, ‘There will be a male baby from Bani Israel who will be born very soon, in whose hands your end will come.’ Firau’n acted immediately and ordered his soldiers to raid the houses of the Israelites and kill any new male baby, and leave the female. It is believed that the killings would be done every alternative year. It was during this time that Nabii Musa was born.

Now the story of Asiyah is connected to two other magnificent women whom we can learn from too. The first one is the mother of Nabii Musa.

#The Promise of Allah

Like any other mother, Nabii Musa’s was terrified of having her son killed and thus Allah Subhanahu Wataala inspired her as stated in the Qur’an: “And We inspired to the mother of Moses, “Suckle him; but when you fear for him, cast him into the river and do not fear and do not grieve. Indeed, We will return him to you and will make him of the messengers.” (Qur’an 27:7)

Having no alternative but take the risk as guided by her Lord, Nabii Musa’s mother put her son in a little basket and cast him in the Nile river. She then asked her daughter to follow the basket and see where it will land. As per Allah’s perfect plan, the basket appeared near the palace of Firau’n where Asiyah and her maids were at. The basket was brought to Asiyah who immediately fell in love with the child. She went to Firau’n and pleaded with him: “[He will be] a comfort of the eye for me and for you. Do not kill him; perhaps he may benefit us, or we may adopt him as a son.” And they perceived not.”  (Qur’an 28:9) Allah says ‘And they perceived not’ to mean they were oblivious of what nabii Musa was to become. When Asiyah said this to Firau’n he said, “He is a delight and happiness for you. Not for me.”

Asiyah went ahead and kept Nabii Musa as her son, for she had none of her own. However, the little boy refused to be breastfed by any of the women who tried to. Desperate to feed him, Asiyah kept asking for any woman who could breastfeed to come forth. It is then that Nabii Musa’s sister overheard about the search and suggested to them their mother (Nabii Musa’s and hers), saying I know such a good woman who will definitely succeed in breastfeeding her.

At that time, Nabii Musa’s mother was filled with grief and sadness over her son. She wanted to reveal the secret concerning her son but Allah made her heart firm, until she was called to the palace to breastfeed the baby. And indeed, mother and son were reunited once again. Nabii Musa’s mother was taken good care of by Asiyah and was paid well in exchange of feeding her own son.

Allah says: “And We had prevented from him [all] wet nurses before, so she said, “Shall I direct you to a household that will be responsible for him for you while they are to him [for his upbringing] sincere?” So We restored him to his mother that she might be content and not grieve and that she would know that the promise of Allah is true. But most of the people do not know.” (Qur’an 28:12-13)

Allah subhanahu wataala makes many such promises to us in the Qur’an; of ease, of forgiveness, of reward, of Jannah, of His response to our pleas and cries, and this should give us comfort and tranquility because we know for sure: ‘Allah does not fail in His promise.’ (Qur’an 3:9) He will definitely, by His Mercy and Might, come through for us.

#The bravery of a woman

When Nabii Musa grew up and matured, he unintentionally killed a man. To save himself, he ran away to Madyan where he stayed for about ten years. As he was travelling with his family, Allah subhanahu wataala talked to him for the first time and he was given his mission which was to call Firau’n and his people to the religion of Allah. So Nabii Musa in the company of his brother Haroon aleyhim assalam, went back to Egypt and preached. But Firau’n was arrogant and he denied the message and even forbade his people to follow Musa and would kill anyone who did. The people who reverted to the religion of Nabii Musa did so secretly and very discreetly. Among them was Asiyah bint Al Muzahim and a mashitah (hairdresser) of one of Firau’n’s daughters (from one of Firau’n’s concubines). This was her story:

It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said:  The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “On the night on which I was taken on the Night Journey (Isra’), a beautiful fragrance came to me.  I said: O Jibreel, what is this beautiful fragrance? He said: This is the fragrance of the hairdresser of Pharaoh’s daughter and her children. I said: What is their story? He said: Whilst she was combing the hair of Pharaoh’s daughter one day, the iron comb fell from her hand and she said, ‘Bismillaah (in the name of Allaah).’ The daughter of Pharaoh said: ‘My father?’ She said: ‘No. My Lord and the Lord of your father is Allaah.’ She said: ‘I will tell him about that.’ She said: ‘Yes.’ So she told him and he summoned her and said: ‘O So and so, do you have a Lord other than me?’ She said: ‘Yes, my Lord and your Lord is Allaah.’ He ordered that a baqarah (lit. “cow”) made of copper be heated up, then he ordered that she and her children be thrown into it. She said: ‘I have a request to make of you.’ He said: ‘What is your request?’ She said: ‘I would like my bones and my children’s bones to be gathered together in one cloth and buried.’ He said: ‘This will be done for you.’ He ordered that her children be thrown into it in front of her, one by one, until they came to the last one who was an infant boy who was still being breastfed. It was as if she wavered because of him, but he said (the baby): ‘O mother, go ahead, for the punishment of this world is easier to bear than the punishment of the hereafter.’ So she went ahead.”

Side note: Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: Four infants spoke: ‘Eesa ibn Maryam (peace be upon him), the companion of Jurayj, the witness of Yoosuf and the son of the hairdresser of Pharaoh’s daughter. (A story for another day)

Narrated by Imam Ahmad in al-Musnad (1/309), al-Tabaraani (12280), Ibn Hibbaan (2903) and al-Haakim (2/496).

The hairdresser’s status was elevated in Jannah due to her bravery for Allah’s sake. Imagine watching your five children getting burnt, one by one, in a huge fire. All for the sake of Allah. Indeed, as Allah subhanahu wataala says, the patient will be given their reward without account. (Qur’an 39:10)

#Sacrifice for the sake of Allah

Asiyah aleyha ssalam, seeing the hairdresser being burnt alive with her children, was all the motivation she needed to come forth and declare her true faith to her husband, Fira’un. Upon hearing this, Fira’un told her, ‘Do you know what I’ll do to you?’ and she responded, ‘I do and I still stick to my faith.’ Fir’aun tried to persuade her first. She was his wife, how could she go against him? She was a royal, a queen who had everything and lacked nothing. However much he persuaded her, she refused to change her faith in Allah. Fira’un then started to torture her in all kind of cruel manner. Still, Asiyah was a firm believer.

She was beaten up, denied food and drink. Some narrations say, he hung her from the ceilings with chains from her breasts. As the torture went on, Asiyah looked up in the sky and said, ‘’O my Lord! Build for me, in nearness to Thee, a mansion in the Garden, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from those that do wrong’ (Qur’an 66: 11)

It is then that Allah opened up the sky and showed her palace in jannah and she smiled. Fir’aun was agitated. How could she be smiling at such a state? He then ordered her soldiers to go to the highest cliff, tie her under there and push off a boulder that would smash her body to pieces.

However, Allah saved her and took her soul before the boulder could hit her.

This was a queen, the wealthiest on the land. She could have gotten anything she wanted. Anything at all. But she gave up her palace and all that is within it in this world so that she can get a better one, next to Allah subhanahu wataala.

Allah Subhanahu Wataala says:

“And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision. Rejoicing in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounty, and they receive good tidings about those [to be martyred] after them who have not yet joined them – that there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. They receive good tidings of favor from Allah and bounty and [of the fact] that Allah does not allow the reward of believers to be lost.” (Qur’an 3: 169-171)

Today let us ask ourselves, what are we sacrificing or doing for the sake of Allah to deserve Jannah?

***

Note: This is just my small effort in trying to research on this topic in the best of my ability. Kindly pardon me for any mistakes and don’t hesitate to correct me if anything.

Thank you for reading. Till next week in shaa Allah for the third part of this special Ramadhan series 🙂 Kindly share and subscribe below. Sawm Maqbul good people and please make a short dua for me as you read this 🙂

Sources:

Qur’an Translation

The Superstars Series by Sheikh Omar Suleiman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0gkYZpYstc

Islamic Guidance: Asiyah Bint Al-Muzahim [RA]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9DFNXT7iBg

MASHITAH. The Story of the Hairdresser of Firaun’s Daughter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nk521wiAatI

The Story Of The Hairdresser Of Pharaoh’s Daughter | A Woman Of Jannah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Klp80O2E_4I

This article (edited version) was first published on ‘Travel Log Magazine’ an insert of Standard Newspaper on 13/12/19

December is upon us and soon enough, Mombasa will be congested from droves of holidaymakers. It is no secret that we all love Mombasa, because hey! ‘Mombasa raha ama vipi?’ We definitely love our home and love being part of it; the entire thing, the good, the bad and the fun! Now here’s a few pointers for our esteemed guests when they come for holidays:

1. Mombasa is an island, and just like any island, we move in slow, calm waves. We are relaxed people; we know it, and we are totally okay with it. Our pace should not in any way make you think we are in any way lazy or too unbothered or have no worthy place to be at. We on the other hand are not fans of the chaos and wildness of the cities and if you noticed, we are doing very well as we are. No one would want to come to our home if it weren’t for this exact solace and calmness that you sometimes criticize.

2. We know that Mombasa is very hot and even hotter during December season. Please do not worry about our hijabs and buibuis. We have lived here our entire lives and this heat has become part of us, we are okay still wearing black under the scorching sun. You can term us ‘Warriors’ for that, we definitely are!

3. Please understand that Kiswahili, is a very beautiful language and has its deep history originating not just from Mombasa but other parts of the Eastern Coast and even beyond. The Swahili accents differ from place to place and tribe to tribe. Ours is as sweet as our souls and we are proud of our mother tongue. Now, do not in any way think that Kiswahili speakers are in any way less educated, civilized or modern. You’d be surprised how many scholars, educators, established business people we have, who take pride in talking in Kiswahili rather than any other seemingly ‘advanced language’.

4. We are kind people. We value brotherhood and we are always ready to assist anyone. Please note however, that when we decide to show you directions or assist you with water or literally take you on a tour, that that is not a cue for wanting small talk or giving out our phone numbers or wanting any kind of intimacy (unless otherwise clearly stated). We are simply kind people. Please get used to it.

5. Walk anywhere, and I mean ANYWHERE in Mombasa and I can promise you that you’ll find someone doing business there, or marketing or just hustling in whichever way they can. We do have idlers and drug addicts and other vices, just like ANY other town. So please, when you get back home, remember to take the report back home that we are not lazy people as many perceive. Talk of the women you saw very early before dawn, selling those delicious Swahili food. Talk of the many seminars that you saw youth attending. Talk of the protests being done continuously to fight for our rights. Talk of the men going to ‘mjengo’ every morning and returning late at night. Talk of how hard working we really are and be part of breaking the available stereotypes.

6. As Swahili people, we really value our culture and principles. We behave in certain ways, dress in certain ways, talk in certain ways…Of course we can’t hold our visitors as prisoners to our values but please, could you try to at least respect our culture? Could you try to be more sensitive to what you say to the locals, or how you dress when amidst the locals or how you behave when invited in someone’s home? We do understand that people come from very diverse cultures and backgrounds and we function in different ways. But as the common saying goes, ‘When you go to Rome, you do as Romans do.’ This is not a rule but more of a humane expectation. If the Coastal women, for example, refuse to shake hands with the male or drink alcohol or party till late night or anything else we’re not comfortable with, remember to not be prejudicial.  Respect the culture instead.

December is a paradoxical time for the Coastals. We are not huge fans of all the over-crowded beaches and extremely busy roads and places, yet we are happy to receive people and shower them with our warmth and kindness. Not to mention the business opportunities huh! To end this I say, ‘Karibuni sana Mombasa.’

Happy holidays!

All through our lives there are certain individuals that we look up to and aspire to be like. For some these people might be close family members, a beloved school teacher, or even the friend your brother brings home. For many, though, our role models, increasingly, are television and sports personalities or even film stars whose only claim for fame is that they are on the big screen.

Growing up I had my fair share of people I admired: from the aspiring lady architect who inspired me to bury my head in studies so that I could attend university; to a school mate who seemed to have it all together at such a young age and then there was Oprah. 

But as I studied my deen more there was my dearest Ustadha whose reading of the Qur’aan , impeccable command of the Arabic language and sweet disposition made me long to be like her.

Different outlook

Because we are human our needs and aspirations change as we grow older, as we pass through different stages of life, and as we discard old, outdated and sometimes incorrect beliefs.

From time to time I have found myself  pondering what it is I consistently admire in people that I would want as qualities for myself.

The answer came to me as I was looking through the guest list for an event I was attending. On the honour list there were people I would not necessarily admire because- like the film stars – they had nothing they were famous for except for being rich and famous. I wondered what it was that we were teaching our children- that someone was only guest of honor worthy if they worked at big money institutions or were related to society’s ‘big people’?

My Kind of People

I did not realize that the people I am about to mention were the source of my admiration until they became synonymous with the qualities I wanted to embody in my own life. I want to live life with enthusiasm and cheer no matter what destiny brings my way. I want to serve others and find contentment in doing that. I want to be fully, uniquely, unapologetically me. I want to be a symbol of thankfulness and gratitude and I want to create, grow, contribute and make use of my time so that when my time comes I will have no regrets.

In no particular order here are the people who consistently make me want to improve myself:

My neighborhood’s garbage collector: this man whistles and sings as he works. He pushes around his ‘mkokoteni’ full of waste and detritus with the same pride someone driving a Maserati would. He is polite and courteous to all and the neighborhood children love to imitate his call of ‘takataka’

The stench from the garbage does not faze him and from the enthusiasm he shows for his work it is obvious that he knows how important his job is. Unlike his counterparts who would charge you for the size of your trash, he takes the same paltry amount no matter the heaviness of your garbage.

Salame: a collective name I have given to all those ladies out there- and I am privileged to know quite a few- who go out to care and earn for their families inspite of terrible odds. They have health issues of different kinds, they have financial challenges, they are single mothers or they have deadbeat husbands and yet that does not change their personalities or temperaments. They smile widely, they are genuinely grateful for all they have which to some might not look like much. They push on even when they feel like giving up and calling it quits. They do not hand over their responsibilities to someone else even when they could use the rest.

To them I would like to say you inspire me.

I met a lady a decade ago who I will call the champion of the orphans. She works tirelessly to save, serve and educate the orphans of her community in beyond. She is almost destitute herself but her orphans come first. She has had to endure many an ordeal but she forges ahead by the grace of God. In my book she is guest of honor material.

Hababa: My maternal grandmother who passed on in 2016 at the age of 85. Hababa taught us the meaning of good old fashioned hard work and the beauty of the work of your own two hands. She taught us that waking up at 4am is not only possible but pleasurable. She taught us the beauty and integrity in hijab at a time when everyone was embracing ‘modernity’. She taught us generosity, the importance of taking pride in yourself and your home, the responsibility that comes with being someone’s neighbor and why you must always speak your truth. Hababa deserves a whole book in her name May Allah have mercy on her soul. Ameen.

Finally, I admire that one unique, special individual who always dances to the beat of her own tambourine. She who follows the dictates of her conscience no matter what those around her would urge her to do. She who is not swayed by the latest fashion, not awed by what’s trending and is not concerned what people will think of her as she goes about her life. She is the role model I point out to my children.

If we open our eyes and look around we will find heroes and superstars from everyday people that we would otherwise miss. People who make the world a better place by their good character, generous spirit and selfless actions even though they may go unnoticed and uncelebrated. It is them that we should model ourselves after.

 

 

 

Some months back I walked into a clinic together with my sister and her new born baby for his first vaccination. We were the third in the line and the nurse hadn’t arrived yet. We sat patiently waiting for her until she arrived more than half an hour later. She went into her small office and closed the door. We understood she had to clear up the place before she let us in so we continued waiting without a word. Soon enough, she called in the first mother and in no time it was our turn.

The nurse looked through my nephew’s booklet and then asked my sister how many kilos the baby is. My sister didn’t hear her clearly the first time so she moved closer to where the nurse was seated and requested her to repeat her question. Catching us completely off guard, the nurse shouted at her, ‘HOW MANY KILOS IS YOUR BABY?’
I could see the confusion on my sister’s face and I could literally imagine how her mind just went blank in that moment.
‘Isn’t it written in the booklet?’ my sister asked.
‘Had it been written would I have asked?’ she answered rather rudely, “what kind of a mother are you?!”
Right then my sister answered the number of kilos and my nephew was injected.

At this moment I was totally enraged. I was boiling inside and I struggled to stop myself from talking back to this so called nurse.

It was 8 A.M. IN THE MORNING!!! How can a person be so negative, so rude this early? I wanted to shout at her face, “Did someone force you to take up this job?!” I actually had a lot to say to this nurse and I probably still have a lot to say to her, because it being almost 6 months later, I am still bitter with her.

Now what this so called nurse didn’t know is that my sister was born with a partial deafness in one ear and thus couldn’t hear her clearly the first time. She also didn’t know that my sister is an epileptic patient with a partial memory loss and thus couldn’t remember how many kilos the baby is. This statement, ‘what kind of a mother are you?’still rings in my mind. Geez, I can’t imagine someone asking me that question. How much do you think these words affected my sister?

Leaving the clinic, I kept complaining all the way home. I was really really REALLY pissed off. All my sister said was, ‘Sometimes you just need to let the person speak and you just forget about it. I do know what kind of a mother I am and that’s what matters.’ But I was like, ‘NO! Some of these people need to be told off!’ I ranted and ranted and I rant to date about this incident. Honestly i’m not over it yet and mostly it is because I don’t really understand why people go into medical professions if they can’t be empathetic and compassionate. (If you are in any medical field, PLEASE DO SHARE THIS WITH YOUR MATES. The treatment most people get from you guys is so heart-breaking and INHUMAN!)

Fast forward to a few days ago, my sister travelled to Nairobi to get her university certificate and pharmaceutical license. Upon reaching one of the offices, a lady asked for her ID no. My sister sought to her wallet to check her ID no. This lady rolled her eyes and gasped, ‘Hmm, sasa mpaka ID hujui’ or something like that. Mind you, this lady said this statement loud enough such that all her colleagues heard her. My sister responded, ‘Pardon, but I am an epileptic patient with partial memory loss.’ Her voice was already breaking but she too said it loud enough such that the colleagues could hear it too. The lady suddenly shrank and started apologizing. But does that change the embarrassment my sister went through? NO. In her genius mind, she was probably thinking, ‘Now how is this lady a graduate in Pharmacy yet she can’t remember her ID, well hello genius, you don’t really know everyone’s story!

My sister had to re-do her pharmacy exams 3 times because of her partial memory loss before finally succeeding the forth time. If you ask me, I’ll tell you there’s no stronger woman than my sister because MANY would have given up had they gone through the same medical condition.

I have always wanted to talk about this issue because I feel we as human beings are so careless on how we speak and how we treat other people. Does it mean that we can only be kind with people only after they tell us their struggles? Does my sister have to wear a placard with an explanation of her condition so that you can adjust your mood and tone to not spit out words that could destroy someone’s soul?! Does it mean we can’t naturally be compassionate until someone speaks of the things they’d rather not talk about?! Do we have to explain ourselves everywhere we go to get humane treatment? And if someone lacks an explanation, does that make them any less deserving of kindness? What happened to giving people benefit of doubt?

This is not only about my sister. It is about all the people we’ve ever crashed because we never thought over our words, we never filtered them, we just spat out the venom because ‘Hello! It’s a free world. Freedom of speech, yey!’

Dear YOU, you are responsible for your words. Whether you say it in jokes, in straight forward mode or whichever way, if they crash a person then let that sink in your conscious. Keep a mental note that I once killed someone’s esteem. That I someday made someone lose hope in life. That I someday made someone feel useless. That I one day made someone give up what they are passionate about. That I one day made someone give up on their dreams. You might take it lightly in the moment, as you laugh about what you consider a joke, or when your very intelligent mind makes you mock others, do remember that for every ache that person faces because of you, your share of it will eventually get to you, sooner or later.

One thing, people in power, the leaders and influencers, the mentors and teachers should keep in mind is that your words are regarded highly. Most of the times people take your words to be the gospel truth. We crash children’s dreams by telling them they can’t do this; they can only do this other thing. We crash our friends and relatives when we make them feel like their dreams are not valid and impossible. We misguide people into believing they can’t grow into someone greater than they already are. We have people who look up to us and all we do is degrade their work, their efforts and talents as they lose all the morale and belief in themselves. We as a society are our own biggest enemies. We usually joke of how monkeys are our cousins. Perhaps we should start considering the snakes as our closest next of kin from the kind of venom we fill in others.

On my Facebook page ‘Strokes of my pen’ you will find the cover photo is a quote by Kahlil Gibran which says: “Words are timeless. You should utter them or write them with a knowledge of their timelessness.” Once you cause a damage in someone else’s spirit then it is done and sometimes irreparable.

*** Now that i’m done with my rant, we can do some meditation to calm down our nerves (for those who are pissed about this like I am 😀 )
Breathe in
Breathe out
Good.
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Thank you 😉

Photo Courtesy: http://www.khilafah.com

People who know me very well know two truths about me. One is that food and I don’t get along. Truth number two, food and I can’t really stay apart. We tend to have this love-hate relationship that never ends. You know, like Tom and Jerry? So most of the times it would roll out like this.

Me: “Aarghh, I’m starviingg” or “Yeepyyy can’t wait to have my delicious food!”

Two minutes into eating: “Really food? Really? All that joy, excitement, tears, anticipation and blood sacrifice yet this is all you offer?!! You and I are soo done!”

Also me: (every two hours) “I need you food 🙁 ” (There should have been the kermit meme image over here lol)

So automatically, truth number three is that fasting is my hardest ibadah.

Just the other day (4th of Ramadhan) I was walking in town headed home from work with a tiny flower between my fingers. So I was swirling it playfully, my mind so far deep in thoughts it took me time to realize there was an elderly man looking at me right ahead. He was in his traditional Swahili clothing of kikoi, shirt and kofia and he was looking into my face with such scrunity. I thought perhaps he is mistaking me for someone else so I went ahead and said the salam.
“Saumu inkushika?” He said, still giving me a concerned look. I just laughed it off and went on walking but I could still hear his voice behind me, “Saumu inkushika eh?! Nakuona…nakuona vile inkushika” *Face palm* I know right? And I just happen to be this frequent victim of having awkward embarrassing moments with strangers. But that’s a story for another day. Back to fasting…

Due to how much fasting drains me, at work and even at home, I always get comments like, “Can you walk? Lest you fall on the way.”
“Can you do this? Can you carry this?”
So every Ramadhan I’m subconsciously fully prepared to such teasing. Yet Ramadhan is still the best time for me.

You know, you walk around and see Muslims and you can greet each other, smile with that look like, ‘We know each other’s ‘suffering’ (not per say, but you know what I mean :p ) or like we are one people, we are partners in crime, something of the sort. The Ramadhan ambiance is special and it does feel so. Food stalls all over the streets during the evenings, people sending the kids to take a plate of goodies to the other neighbour and the other neighbour takes to the other and when known to be an awful cook, your food just seems to go in circles; forever trying to get a ‘mstiri’. Taraweh, tahajjud…the list is endless.

It’s that time where our mango trees produce in abundance. My mum would fill the bucket with mangoes and ask my brother to take to our neighbours. I would hear my dad get excited, reminding my brother of which neighbours to NOT miss. I would be standing there half-thrilled half-sorry that I am not the one to do that. You know, introvert problems? Mum would ensure to spice it up; ‘Ukigonga kila mlango, give them the mangoes then say Ramadhan kareem’ 😀 My brother puts on his kofia and sets out to knock doors. Then with a sigh and a smile, “I wish all year was Ramadhan.”

Muslims walking around just before Maghrib, sharing dates and water to fellow Muslims on the way. Some stranger passing dates to you to the back seat of a public vehicle so you can break your fast. I mean, any other random day we would probably pass by one another and I would mumble salaam and I wouldn’t even get a response or perhaps you’d mumble back or vice versa. But then Ramadhan, we have something making all of us familiar to one another such that we can strike random conversations with strangers on the way.

I am super delighted of how humanity is at its peak. We remember the orphans, the old, the sick…we remember to pray, to be more gentle, to read qur’an a lot, to hold back our insults, to donate, to forgive and most importantly, work on ourselves.

For me, besides it being the time for more Ibadah, Ramadhan is a time for me to work on my inner self. Get the peace of mind. Submit totally to Allah. And this is something many take for granted; our inner health. How composed are we to life? How much at peace are we with our fate? How much do we actually and sincerely talk to Allah? This is the time. It is my time to unleash my heart to Allah. It is my time to be a better human being not just for this month but for the rest of the year.

And as much as fasting is hard for me, Ramadhan has meant progress for me. I remember a time I would really admire people who could fast Monday and Thursday, Ayamil bayth or sitta min shawwal simply because I couldn’t do it. But then with every coming of Ramadhan, I tried more sunnah fasts and I keep trying over and over again. My biggest push has always been the thought that ‘If this is hard for me, then the rewards will definitely be more’ and that remains my motto as I keep trying.

Ramadhan means a lot of things to me; it means kindness, love and compassion. It means submission, forgiveness and willpower. It means struggle, endurance and success. Ramadhan means a lot to me. What about you? What does it mean to you??


 

On another note, my partner and I are embarking on another business journey, the branding of strokes of my pen. So alhamdulilah we have the first bunch of shirts out. We kindly ask for your support. Besides that, 10% of each shirt goes to Ahmad, a young boy who is undergoing kidney dialysis treatment yet he has a large outstanding balance at Pandya hospital to pay. If not the shirt then you can always mpesa their family directly (no. shown in image).Remember your reward is multiplied in this month so don’t hesitate to support in any little way in shaa Allah.

 

For the shirts, they come in colours of black, white, blue, grey and yellow. For more info: contact us via this no: 0734 201 665 or view our page: https://www.facebook.com/simplex.styles/. More is to come biidhnillah!

P.S. Please remember me in your duas! Whatever you pray for me, may you get just that a thousand more times. Ameen! Ramadhan Mubarak!

By: Naima Baghozi

You can read part 1 here: https://lubnah.me.ke/the-selfish-girl-part-1/

Tears were rolling down my cheeks and a huge painful lump clogged in my throat wondering if Kela did even have any meal at all. I felt so sad for her and such strong feelings of pity filled the whole of me and for the first time in my life I lifted my face up to the sky and thanked God so much for the privileges that I had, which those people living down that hill never had. I vowed there and then to help this girl in what ever means I can.

Now, everything fell right in place in explanation to her misery and to her attitude in general. One thing impressed me though about her and which made me wonder “how does she manage to come to school so clean every day?!”
I looked down once more and then dragged my feet home like in slow motion, my heart feeling so heavy in sadness…

Due to all this, I was of course a bit late getting home and especially since the distance wasn’t short either. As I got up to the gate of my home, my mom was at the door with a worried frown on her face and as soon as I got to her, she asked me:
“Malu, where have you been? I have been so worried and after seeing all your friends pass by without you…”

She suddenly stopped, realizing she wasn’t getting any reply from me. She then also noticed the look on my face which tugged at her heart. Not knowing what was wrong with me, she just gently took my arm and slowly pulled me inside and took me straight to the sitting room and sat me down. She then took my face in her gentle hands and peered into my face and asked so quietly:

“Malu, my daughter tell me what has happened to you, you look so sad, what happened to you? Please don’t keep me in suspense, you are really worrying me…”

I kept silent for a little while and then slowly raised my face and looked at my mother and started slowly relating to her as to what happened…

“Mom, do you remember about that new girl in my school I told you about?” My mother just nodded, so I continued to tell my mom all that happened from day one to this moment of where I came from. My mother didn’t even realize that there were tears rolling down her face, you see my mom was a very kind person and everyone knew it and that is where I got my kindness too, from my mother.

“So, you see mom, I have decided to be extra kind to Kela from now onwards and I will urge my friends to do the same” I ended.

My mom said “That is very good my dear, you see it is always good to be kind to others in order to have a better life, isn’t it?”

“Yes mom, it is and that is what you always teach me,” I replied.

My mom just smiled and for a few minutes we just sat in peaceful silence, then suddenly I jumped up with excitement and said to my mom:“Mom, what do you think if from tomorrow onwards when I pack my break time snacks, I pack for Kela too? This way if she doesn’t have any food at home then she will at least have something in her stomach, even if a little bit…”

My mom looked at me with a smile on her face and thought to herself: “How lucky I am to have such a kind-hearted daughter. Thank God.” She then said to me:“Of course Malu, you can, that is the most wonderful thing to do.”

“Oh! Thanks a lot mom,” then I suddenly looked down at my fidgeting feet and the look of excitement and happiness was gone. This made my mom wonder what was wrong with me now. She knew when I did this I had something else on my mind.

“Malu, what’s wrong? Tell me, what is in that beautiful head of yours now?”

I hesitated slightly. My mom urged on: “Go on, tell me now; I am just your mom after all…” this made me smile a bit and said to her: “I was wondering mom, since I have lots of clothes and shoes maybe I could give to Kela the ones I don’t use anymore – they are still in good condition and just sitting in my cupboard, what do you say mom? Please, please – pretty please mom…” and at this, my mom laughed outright.

“Okay dear, you have my permission.” Replied my mom. I couldn’t contain my happiness so I jumped over my mom and hugged and kissed her over and over again saying “ you are the most wonderful, best mom in the whole wide world and I am ever so lucky to have you, May God bless you and preserve you for us.” My mom couldn’t contain her laughs now and said to me:

“Well, I don’t know about that my daughter but I certainly know that I am the one who is lucky to have you” and with that I hugged my mom once more and ran off to my room leaving my mom with a big smile wondering where I got all this energy.

I was so happy that it felt like walking on air. I rushed to my closet and took one box out and started to neatly place the clothes I didn’t need together with a couple pairs of shoes. I then remembered that Kela always carried her books in her arms so decided to add in a school bag since I had extra bags and finally closed the box with a happy sigh.

That night I could hardly sleep from excitement in knowing that I may make some one happy tomorrow and started planning on the best way of presenting these things to Kela, after tossing and turning I finally dropped off to sleep with a big smile on my face.

It looked like it would be a beautiful day, the sun shone nicely and the breeze was cool.

I could hardly take breakfast from excitement. I finally left my house with my school bag on my shoulder and the box on my head, I met up with my friends outside my gate and they looked curiously at me and asked me almost simultaneously:

“Malu, what is in the box?”
“What are you carrying to school today?”
“Please Malu don’t keep us in suspense, do tell….
“Well, quiet down and give me a chance to explain, my friends” I said, laughing.
“Do you remember yesterday after school I told you to go on and that I will catch up with you?”
“Yes we do” replied her friends.

“Well, this is what happened…” so I went on to explain to my friends where exactly I went and what I saw and even how sad I became. As to be expected by this time all my friends’ eyes were brimming with tears and one of them said: “Poor Kela…” “Yes” the others replied in unison.

So, I continued: “Well, my friends, after that I have decided from now onwards I will be bringing Kela break time snacks and in this box are my clothes and shoes which I don’t use any more and I also put in one of my school bag for her, as you all know she is always carrying her school things in her hands. I hope she will like them and even in a small way feel special…”

“Of course she will, your things are always the best Malu,” said one of her friends.

While my friends were listening to me, they all seemed to look at me with wonder and each one of them decided in their own way to be kind and generous to Kela from then and thanked God for their being privileged.

They also now understood Kela fully; her refusal to share came from her poverty and not having much even for her self leave alone to share. She led such a tough life thus had no time to make friends or get attached to anyone. Her rudeness came from being so unprivileged thus didn’t know how to be friendly or polite, she didn’t even have the strength to smile!

All these realizations made the girls feel pretty awful and felt they had misjudged Kela very badly, so I made all my friends promise to be extra nice and kind to Kela and give her a chance to learn how to be friendly and polite. They all agreed to include her in their group as one of their friend. With this in their minds they happily ended their journey to school.

They all agreed to let me go look for Kela alone so as she may not be embarrassed in being given all these things probably for the first time.

As always Kela was in class all alone sitting at her desk while the other students were out playing in the school compound as it was before class time.

I walked slowly towards her and very cautiously pulled my chair next to her and said “Hello Kela…’
The other girl looked at me strangely then looked at the box which I had placed on my desk and then asked “What is this you have put on my desk? And why?”
Slowly I took Kela’s hand and started by telling her “Kela, I now know everything and so do my friends and we would really like to help you and be friends with you, please accept us!”

Kela looked confused and at first really didn’t know what to say – you see Kela is not used to such kindness nor know how to deal with it – she just asked me: “what do you mean?”

I continued to hold her hand and started explaining to her how I followed her to her home and what I saw and also how I was touched and then told her what was in the box and requested her to accept it. I then took out of my bag the snack I had packed for her and gave it to her and told her that I will everyday be bringing her a break time snack.

By this time Kela was so lost for words for I guess she had never come across anyone like me. She covered her face with both her hands and started sobbing so hard that I got so confused and wondered what wrong I had done.

I hugged my new friend and asked her “What is wrong Kela? Have I offended you? Please tell me, I just want to be your friend and I want you to be happy.” Kela looked up and in between sobs said “But I am and I don’t really know how to thank you, you are the most kind-hearted person I have ever met and may God reward you always my friend” and then she in return hugged me in a way to show me the gratitude she felt.

All this time my friends were hovering by the door full of curiosity and finally asked if it was safe to come in, I just waved them in with a huge smile on my face. They all rushed in and came over and hugged Kela and promised her they will always be there for her and her needs.

It was certainly the very best and happiest day for all the girls and most especially for Kela.

That evening Kela carried her beautiful new belongings home with a light step in her walk and feeling like a very heavy load had been removed from her chest.

Meanwhile I was the happiest person having been able to solve the problems surrounding my new friend Kela and felt I had done a very good deed indeed… 🙂

Because kindness is our only sword to save humanity, here are 13 tiny tales on random acts of kindness…

1. “One evening I was home and was going through my contacts. I saw the name of a woman who used to come at our place for help I just asked myself “You can help this woman by sending a small amount maybe she needs it now.” I did send her some money and I called her to say hi and tell her that I sent something for her. Imagine I couldn’t believe that amount could mean so much to her. She told me her baby was sick and they had nothing to eat at home. That night I cried so much coz of happiness.And I was crying that day coz i got the chance to make someone happy😥😥😥😥😥😥❤ it means the world to see someone happy and crying because of you…”

2. “This one day it was ramadhan… 3 kids came asking for food but there wasn’t anything…so mama wanted to give them food but only a small amount had remained and wouldn’t be enough for all three. Plus he had kept the food aside for my young nephew. My nephew was there so he told mum “I’ll eat with them but right now I am not even hungry. When they come again just give them the food I will fast.”

3. “Back in my madrasa days, there was this ustadh of ours who used to walk from likoni to kibokoni to teach us. He wasn’t well off compared to other teachers but he was the most sweet and helpful of them all. He used to care for us, motivate us,teach us about good morals. So I used to put my break time money in his pocket without him knowing.I did it for weeks I guess unfortunately he caught me one day and asked me, “why you doing this?” I just said “you need it more than I do ustadh.” He just told me you don’t have to do that. You need to eat so that you can grow. He is one of my heroes…

4. “When I was young I had a homeless kid as my best friend. I used to share food with him, play with him, i used to take him home and shower. We didn’t have much back then but I used to share my plate with him. Whenever I go to school I used to take anjera to him under the masjid stairs where he used to live. I used to cry every evening when my mum calls me back home because I loved him and I felt helpless at that time. He was my friend and I couldn’t do anything for him. One day he just got lost.It broke my heart.I mean I don’t know where he went. He wasn’t there under the masjid stairs… We used to dream together. When I came from Madrasa he used to wait for me downstairs then we’d go to the beach just to swim and chill and talk. He wanted to be a pilot and i wanted to own the plane.”

5. “There is that time a classmate was stressing over school fees. He missed out on bursary that term and if he didn’t come up with 10k he couldn’t do the exams. I had 1k in my pocket. You know what I did? That evening when everyone was going home I stood in front them at the gate and pleaded for their help. I was so nervous but everyone was helpful. We managed to come up with 10k. It was amazing.”

6. “I had a close friend; a bit younger than me, but I liked her and considered her like my baby sister… we’d talk quite often. Then came a time we just drifted apart and I couldn’t get to her. She had changed her number I guess. So many moths later, I came to understand of the reason why she’d cut me off (which was actually something beyond both of us). I really cried that day because it was not worth it. I was hurt but then I decided I won’t let my ego take charge. I was going to do something for her which in turn would give me peace in both my heart and soul. I tracked down her new number and sent her an anonymous gift via another friend and we made sure it could never link back to me. Alongside the gift, I wrote a few tiny notes, just motivational ones on life and all for her. Another friend of mine told me of how she had met her on that same day she received the gift and how much she had really cried and said, “she needed to hear those words”. A few days after I sent the gift, she contacted me. I was worried she had found out that I was the one who had sent the gift but that was not the case. She said she had dreamt of me and that I’ve been in her mind lately. So we talked a bit. She contacted me a few days later and we had a longer conversation. She wanted us to be friends like before…and that’s when I mentioned that the gift was from me…I swear her reaction was priceless” (Below is the second party’s version)

7. “It is normal to feel down, lost, unwanted and rejected…well that’s what I was feeling for couple of days until this day when I got a call from some place that I had a parcel.I couldn’t make it that moment so it was a later thing .I went to pick it up.It was a gift from someone I didn’t know who that time, a pair of shoes and pieces of notes that meant world to me. I couldn’t help it, curiosity was at maximum, I read the notes and opened the gift inside the matatu. I cried all the way, I was touched.I was so much thankful, in one way or the other I didn’t expect it from the actual sender,because of some broken issues but there, Alhamdulilah I was really consoled.”

8. “So I was going to Eastleigh with some friends of mine. When we got into the mat, we noticed, every time young school children would come into the mat, they would walk straight to a post to stand and hold on tight. And we started asking each other why they were just standing around the matatu..so I called one of them over and asked why he was standing, and he said he has no fare. And I was shocked. The Eastleigh conductors let kids get on the matatus to get home free of charge, provided they stand though. Although this was nice of them, they didn’t really sit well considering how rough these “manyangas” get driven. Standing in one as an adult is a struggle in itself. So I told all the kids to sit and I would pay for them.When they were getting off, one of them said thank you to me and I honestly felt so nice…”

9. “So two years ago, I lost my scholarship. You can imagine, it was a stressful and depressing moment of my life. It was not just about losing my scholarship but also failing in my studies. It brought a lot of doubts in my head. I could not tell people at home and I seriously had no idea what to do. During those trying moments, four of the many friends I have were really there for me. They put up with my awful moods, my attitude… they encouraged me and help stand up again. I was financially disable and because I did not had the courage to tell people at home what was happening, they took it upon themselves to make sure I have my basic needs, got pocket money and I was having fun. At the same time, one of them held a harambee for my fees for that semester, $750 anonymously. And when I last got the courage to talk to my family about it, they were there and made sure I was okay. If it were not for them, I would have killed myself or worse, stop pursuing my dreams. But they believed in me, and found ways to make me believe in me. I can’t repay them for that and what they continue to do for me to date; but Allah is the Just…am sure He will pay them Justly, thus I pray for that.”

10. “My mother has always been my biggest inspiration to kindness (and maybe this is why parents should really take note on what their children pick from them)…She has done a lot (may Allah reward her with jannah) but one story still touches my heart deeply. A long time ago, we had a male house help. My mother helped him revert to Islam and taught him about Islam. So after some years working with us, his sister dies, leaving two orphans; young boys. So everyday, the house help would come home with them because they didn’t have someone to take care of them except their old grandma. My mum enrolled them into madrasa and after classes he would sit and teach them or let them play around. A time came, the house help left without notice or goodbye. Maybe for greener pastures. But so, the two boys were used to coming home so they’d still come. My mum never told them not to come again since their uncle had done a mistake. She went on to teach them and taking them to madrasa and in the evening they’d go to their grandma. Years later, the house help came back and apologized. He said, “Everywhere I go, I realize there is no human like you. I kept talking about how good you are to all my bosses until they wanted to know who you are. I can never forget how you took care of my nephews despite me leaving without any communication. And if there is any person I can predict paradise for them then it’s you…” To date, the house help still comes back home. He goes to work in other places but he always found his way back home. Oh yeah, and he still has the mashaf (qur’an) mum gave him when he first converted. And he repeats this too many times, “Mum, I can never forget your kindness…”

11. “One day, just after sunset, a boy went out to buy some groceries for his mum. That day’s order though could only be found at the grocery stores near the boarding stage, a fairly distant place. It was on a weekend so most of the grocery shops were closed and the ones that weren’t, we’re out of stock.
“Great. Just great” he thought to himself

After a fruitless search, he was left with a final try that he’d give up after. It was a sizable grocer that stood on the edge of the road a few minutes in from the stage. It was next to a charcoal supply shop characterized by the mixture of finely and pebble sized charcoal spread over that whole section of the road. The grocery’s light illuminated it’s front side just enough to see the set of rigid bricks meant to be the stairs.

As he got closer to the shop, he saw a white figure amidst the sea of ground charcoal. It was curled up into a small shape. People were barely missing their footing on it. A Boda Boda then rode passed it almost running it over. It was a kitten. He walked for the shop and threw his eyes at it once more. It was scared, eyes wide open with fear, frozen, as he watched it exist motionless among the numerous feet and exclamations of passersby and the horns of speedy motorbikes
He walked to the shop. A relief for they had the last batch of his order. He bought in smiles. He also bought a batch of Omena. He took his change and walked back to the kitten. He opened a bag and poured almost all of it just at the edge of the road, called the kitten in that common tongue noise and watched as the life flow back into it, as the fear in its eyes being replaced with wonder, slowly it moved towards the pile of raw fish and pounced at it with gratifying hunger.
He smiled thinking what the kitten must have been thinking at that moment. He fed every cat he saw on his way back that night and left just enough of the batch for those cats that always find their way to their compound. They ate gracefully as well..”

12. “There was this one time I was going to Nairobi just for a day to get some of my things at a friend’s house. But it turned out that he was in Mombasa so I couldn’t stay at his place (he was living at his aunt’s in Nairobi). So he told his other friend (who is also my friend) to receive me. So he calls me and says he’d be my host. I arrive in Nairobi at some minutes past 5 in the morning. It’s cold. And he comes with a taxi. We greet each other and ask how we’ve been (it was a while since I last saw him). Anyway, he’s like “you know, I won’t take you to my room. Let’s go to a hotel.” I was like “okay!😄” and the taxi drops us off at Eastleigh where we start walking around looking for a hotel. It was still dark and we are alone so I was slightly apprehensive.

All of the hotels were fully booked, I was kinda bummed out coz I was becoming tired and dragging that luggage was becoming a pain. But we finally found a room, it was just from being checked out and we had to wait for 20 minutes for it to be cleaned out for us. But it was kinda expensive (for a student). My friend had to pay 5k for one night. So I was kinda worried and said “dude are you sure? If it’s gonna inconvenience you it’s okay we can just stay at your messy room” And he said, “I’m doing this for the sake of Allah. I believe that if I spend it on others in a good way, He’ll give me more in return” Naturally I was touched by this, so I agreed and made a silent prayer for him that he succeeds in this life and the next. We spent the day roaming around town while he treated me to lunch. It was a really good day, and I promised myself that I would never forget his kindness and that I would repay him somehow in the future. The hotel is called regent hotel or something. It was really really nice. The room had dstv and all that. Plus it was big; Double bed room. Weh I felt like a prince. I keep remembering him. Still haven’t come round to making it up to him. But I pray for him well.”

13. “There was a time at my workplace, an old man came by to have his phone checked for repair. So I usually work upstairs and it was only by chance I came down and saw him standing; confused. He was really old, frail and weak. So I asked him what he needed and he said he wanted his phone repaired soonest, that he needed it immediately if possible because he was sick and some relatives kept sending him some money to help him around. I took the phone and handed it to the one in charge, who agreed to check it out immediately. After the phone was repaired, I took it to the old man who was really relieved. I then gave him 1k and told him, “I hope this helps you…” The man was really really grateful. He said lots of prayers for me then left and I thought that was the end of the story.

The next day, he came to the office again, but since I was upstairs and didn’t know my name, he couldn’t find me. He tried asking about me but my workmates didn’t understand whom he was talking about. The following day he came once again and my workmate decided to ask me if I knew the old man. Going downstairs, it was him. He said he came to thank me once again. That from the money I gave him he got to book a ticket to Kisumu, back to his family. He asked for my number and promised to send me omena and unga from there. He then said, “Because of what you’ve done i’ll become a Muslim.”I just thought it was a by the way but when he got there he did call me to say he arrived safely. After a few days he called again just to greet me. Then on another day, his son was the one who called to say that his father was in hospital and had requested to talk to me. We talked and his voice seemed so frail and weak.

A few days later, fajr time I received a call from his son; the old man had passed away. But he had left a message for me. That he wants to be buried in a plain white cloth without the coffin (sanda). I asked his son, “Had he converted to Islam?” He said, “There was a time he requested that we bring a sheikh to him, so there is that probability.” I decided to ask the son to go to the nearest mosque and let me talk to the imam, of which I did and we had arrangements that he is buried in Islam. Even after his death, his family members called, thanked me and still wanted to send me the omena and unga as promised by the old man but I didn’t see the need so I rejected politely. Nonetheless, I really hope that the man did indeed die a Muslim…”

Dear You…If you can’t find any good in this world, then be the one to do it. It doesn’t have to be ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ or ‘Maria Theresa’ big, it just has to be sincere. Do good to people. Try everyday. Make it a habit. A routine. Be kind. Be kind again and again. Making a difference in just one life is invaluable so never underestimate the effect of your actions and words.

Great appreciation to those who sent in their tales. God bless you…

You are welcome to comment any other stories of kindness below here 😉

Photo Courtesy: http://cdn-media-2.lifehack.org

Four years ago, I didn’t know the existence of this word. Being a writer (not professionally) and someone who enjoys and loves reading, it is really a shame to admit that ”introvert” was not in my dictionary. But again, I have never been good with vocabularies.

Our dearest, beloved, respected, much appreciated and celebrated uncle Google defines introvert as a shy person. However, if you care to dig deeper to the psychological meaning of the word, you will discover that introvert has got nothing to do with shyness. So I will just blame uncle Google for misleading many of us. Why is it a big deal? Do I go around checking for words wrongly defined by Google? Absolutely no! I don’t even use Google, I prefer Oxford Dictionary 😉

The reason why I took interest on ‘introvert’ is, I believe it is not a coincidence that recently most of us identify ourselves as introverts. Before you throw your shoe at me, I know some of us are really introverts while the rest of us are just shy. Conventionally speaking, shyness is not a trait that is looked at positively; not unless you are a bride. Introvert on the other hand sounds cool to the ears and guys with this personalty are really productive people to hung out with; even though they are not largely celebrated in the society. Nevertheless, I’d rather say am an introvert than to admit my shyness.

The problem, however is not about being shy or being an introvert. The problem is actually how the world has forced some of us to keep to ourselves. We live in a society whereby, what is least important is considered to be the most important; yes I am talking about sources of entertainment. If you don’t know enough about them, then my friend you are automatically sentenced to life time silence. There is lack of kindness in our words and expressions. Our actions knows no boundaries nor show of compassion and consideration to the next person. We treat each other like the ground we step on. who would not want to keep to themselves in such a world?

Kindness, compassion, love, care, humility… they are important traits that give most of us the courage needed to get out of our shells and share our world with others. In today’s world, we listen, not to understand but to catch that shrub, or word said out of place so that it can be a source of entertainment to us years later. Making fun of one another and ridiculing each other is the norm. We observe actions not to learn from them but to find a slip up fit for our critics and harsh comments. We are busy looking out for ways to out do one another, competition is the order of the day leading to hearts that house jealousy and hatred towards each other. Love that is meant to be shown in actions is reduced to sweet meaningless words updated as status on Facebook or cute pictures posted on instagram. Our main focus is to accumulate more and more of anything and everything to ourselves, with no care whom we have to step on to get there. Many are in pain and tears because of our actions but we just don’t give a damn! Humility is a vocabulary to us and it does not matter how many definitions Google and Oxford Dictionary offers, we just don’t seem to get it. I ask again, who would want to be associated with such a world?

We need to see the urgency in making the world a better place. It does not cost you anything to show kindness, love, compassion and humility to others. It all starts with a smile, a ”how are you?” to the disturbed classmate. A helping hand to the lady from the market. A ”thank you” to the one who cooked your meal. A ”sorry” to the one you bumped into in your hurry to catch the bus. Holding the door for the boy coming right after you. A genuine ”well done” to the one who did better than you… the list goes on and on and I am sure I can list a thousand more a like without asking you for a penny from your pocket. So what is stopping you from taking action now?

So back to introvertism; it is so real. And these people too, need our love and acceptance. We should not view them as people with some kind of abnormality, because they are normal just the way they are. It is their different personality, their tendency to keep to themselves that bring balance to the world. So please, have mercy on them and don’t force them into gatherings for long hours, they literally get drained. It is in their solitude that they derive their energy from. But isn’t that what we are all about, diversity? Different personalities? Let’s allow our differences to bring us closer and celebrate the various personalities that are out there. Share your world with the rest of the world.

As for me, I am an introvert, I think. I’m also shy and know very little about entertainment world. So basically I am a part time normal person. And the people around me have accepted that. Most introverts, what they really need is their space. If you deny them that, it gets hard for them to function. But it is not a disease that needs cure. Being an introvert is just like being left handed and the society needs to accept you for who you are and make you feel comfortable among other types of personality. Our world is all about diversity, and we can co-exist. We just have to learn how to share the gifts of life.

I still remember when I was a kid, when Palestine was really on fire. But well, when was it ever not on fire? It was during those times that the news were just about Palestine; sickening images and depressing videos. There was a world outcry. The Arab artists from different countries came together and made a video clip for them. It was around the same time when the 12 year old Muhammad Al Durrah and his dad were shot dead as shown in a very depressing video clip. It was 2000 and I was just six years old. There was the world, standing up for humanity like we should while I stood and watched. I was too young to comprehend what was happening but I just didn’t like what I saw. It broke my heart…and it made me cry a lot.

My mum once came and found me hiding at the window, behind the curtains crying. Oh I had cried a lot. I had cried like I was right there at the middle of it. I had cried like the cry baby I am…To cheer me up, my mother asked my cousin to take me for a walk. She took me to the bridge side to watch the ocean and bought me some crisps on the way. At that time, it was easy enough to forget what I had just seen and live up the sea moment. I was going to do something about it, that was my plan. I was going to grow up and make a difference. I was somehow going to make all the noise stop and bring the world to silence. I was hoping i’d be the female version of superman. But then I grew up, and reality hit me hard. There was almost nothing I was ever going to do. Not to the war torn countries, not to the fighting friends not even to my own helplessness. Back and again, i’d lock myself in the washroom and cry because two people were fighting, because someone became angry, because someone didn’t eat and my mother would be there again and again with the same words, ‘This is life…These things happen.’ So I started writing and for as long as I remember, I wrote like a possessed woman. I never had short paragraphs or small words to say. It was always going to be long and very long endless paragraphs of pain and sorrow; too much pain too much sorrow. By the time I got to high school, I knew. I knew I wasn’t going to change. I knew I couldn’t stop to feel.

I hated myself for feeling way too much because it made me seem like damaged goods, a worn out material, a shattered mirror. Simply because there is no in between for me and for us. There is nothing like moderation. It was always going to be extreme love or extreme hate. Extreme kindness or extreme evil. But it also made me appreciate a lot of things beyond. It became my super power, just like writing did. I tried to fit in only to realize it was never going to happen. It was never going to be easy for people to understand. They see you laughing like a maniac for one moment and you’d be crying like a widow the next. How you’d laugh so hard at the most stupid of things and cry so much for something so petty. No, they would never get you. And so it would always end up with, ‘she is so moody’. I curled up back into my cocoon because that is the only place you wouldn’t be misunderstood or misinterpreted. That is the only way to survive.

When war broke in Yemen and my sisters were trapped inside, I slid away. I slid away from them and from everyone. My mother would lecture me for not keeping in touch, for not being there for my sisters when they needed me. But then how do you respond when someone talks of the bombs they are hearing right as you speak? What do you tell them when you get 3 a.m. texts of them asking for prayers? I ran. I always ran away from the reality because helplessness is way too much to handle. I ran away every time I came face to face with my emotions. I ran because facing my fears would mean dealing with my inability to do absolutely ANYTHING. I ran when people attacked me, when I was being stepped on, I changed routes to not meet the beggars, I shut away when people fought. I withdrew, stayed back, retrieved myself from my soul, escaped…and thus, I became an escapist. For the longest time I asked God, ‘why was I born? What am I doing on this earth?’ Simply because being lost and helpless is just too much.

But then I found out that being overly-sensitive would make sense sometimes. When you meet people like yourself and there comes that sigh of relief, ‘I am not the only one.’ You meet understanding people who won’t call you moody because they just know how extremely you feel. You meet people who will empower you to turn that sensitivity into something enormous and courageous and brave. Yes…you meet the right people.

Every time I meet fellow cry-babies who are screaming inside because ‘no one understands me’, I remember that I am blessed with the ability to write. That it doesn’t really matter how weak people perceive you, or how they judge what you write, or how they think of you. What only matters is that you are doing what you have to, to survive.

So here I am. Feelings for sale. Anyone? Feelings, anyone??

BY: NAIMA BAGHOZI

Long time back in Mwapata land lived a small boy of nine years. His name was Muja but famously known as ‘Muja the kind hearted’ by everyone, big and small.

Muja lived with his father and mother who were quite old, but they brought him up to be a very good boy.
Muja was always kind to old people and even small children and not forgetting the animals. He would always help an old person cross the road or help an old woman carry her heavy load and if a small child is in distress then yes of course Muja would be right there to assist in whatever the problem is. As for the animals, he always had a very soft heart for them and did not like to see anybody hurting them.

That is why he earned the name ‘Muja, the kind hearted’ , and all people referred to him that way. As soon as he appeared anywhere, someone would be heard as saying “here comes Muja the kind hearted” and thus was loved by everyone. No one would want to harm him in anyway but would always have a kind or a soft word for Muja.

Now, Muja’s daily routine would be to wake up very early in the morning at the first call of the rooster’s “cock-a-doodle do” in order to fetch water from the well to wash himselfup and also to make sure his parents had enough for use.

Then after drinking his tea, he takes his bag and on his way to school he goes – up the lane, up and up the hill then at the top of the hill he takes a breath and looks down at the view which awaits him and he says to himself “ Oh! What a beautiful village we have….” And then jumps and trots down the hill towards his school where he knows his friends would be eagerly awaiting his arrival so they can play together a little bit before the bell rings for assembly.

As soon as school ends for the day, Muja has no time for friends but he would rush out of school and climb up the hill and run all the way home for he knows he has got chores awaiting him. One of them being to go and fetch firewood from a nearby bush for his mother. He would always be cautious about his mother’s warning of never going deep in the bush for fear of wild animals.

The one thing that the Mwapata Land boys liked best to do was to hunt for the many beautiful little birds who were all over the place. So after school they would normally be out with their catapults trying their best shots with pebbles at them, for they say they are very tasty when roasted. However, everybody knew of Muja’s weakness where these little birds were concerned and wouldn’t even stop to fight in order to save them. So whenever the area boys are already at their mischief, one is normally kept on guard to look out for Muja and the moment he sees him coming, he would yell ‘run ,Muja the kind hearted’ is coming, then they would all scatter in different directions in fear that if they will be caught then anything can strike them. Oh! Yes, they would even go as far as calling the birds as “Muja’s Birds.”

One day as Muja was collecting his mother’s firewood not so far from his home lane, he thought he heard his name – so he stopped picking up the wood to listen but only silence met him, he then continued to pick his firewood but it didn’t take long before he heard it again and this time it was quite clear for he had moved up a bit in his collection and this is what he heard from a tiny small clear but sad voice ;

“Muja,ooh! Muja
Please, please
Help me……..”

And it continued on and on as he moved towards the voice only to find one little bird trapped and could not free itself to fly off. It was so frightened that if it was found by one of the boys it would soon be on a fire being roasted and to be made into a nice meal.

So Muja rushed to it and said ‘Oh! You sweet little bird, don’t be frightened, Muja is here now to set you free”…. And you know what? Muja did just that, he carefully removed it from the trap and set it free to fly away in the skies and the little bird was so grateful as it flew away saying:

“Ooh! Muja, Ooh! Muja
Thank you for saving my life.
Ooh! You kind hearted Muja….”

Muja found himself smiling silently and went to collect his wood to take to his mother who would be waiting for it patiently in order to start cooking their dinner.

When Muja got home, he explained everything to his parents. His mother told him “Muja, you are a fine boy” and his father said “Muja my son, you will one day make a fine man”.
These compliments made Muja’s heart fill with joy for he always appreciates his parents’ comments as they meant a lot to him.

After his mother cooked dinner, they sat down to eat and then he helped her to wash the few dishes they had and prepared himself for bed for he knows again at the very early call of their rooster’s ‘cock-a-doodle-do’ he would have to be up once again.

Such was Muja’s daily life routine except for weekends when he gets the chance to at least play football which he loved very much with his friends. But of course this is after he had done all his chores first and then he would be free to play.

Days went on and fell into nights and nights dawned into beautiful mornings as Muja’s life continued but unfortunately with the busy schedule he had, his studies seemed to suffer. This was because the only time he had for his studies was when he was in class , so he had to struggle extra hard – more than all his fellow students in order to keep up with them. But Muja being Muja – he was determined to make it so that he may be able to have a better future than the current one he was having.

One Wednesday evening when Muja went out for his normal firewood collection, he was met with quite an incident that would make him remember this day for the rest of his life. He started picking the firewood at his usual spot on the edges of the bush, but this time his mind seemed to be quite far and didn’t realize that he had actually entered the bush which his mother always cautioned him about. In a trance like manner he continued on with his wood picking until suddenly “WHAM” right into a trap he walked and thus found himself entangled in a net and as much as he tried to free himself – it was just an impossible task. For the first time by looking around he realized that he had walked far into the bush and his heart started pounding so fast ‘doom,doom,doom’ that he could hardly hear anything else . He tried his level best to calm himself down so that he can think of his next move, so after just a few seconds which to him seemed ages he managed to calm down and could look at the surroundings properly. All he could see were trees and trees which seemed to be bending towards him and he could only hear the eerie sounds of the bush habitants whom he couldn’t see.

Time did seem to have stood still but he felt it must be quite late and was thinking “now my parents must really be worried!” and tears started to roll down his cheeks. He really wished for anybody to come by and help him, maybe a hunter…. Then he started screaming “help,help,help” at the very top of his voice but only the echo of his voice seemed to answer him with the same “help,help,help” screams – but he did not despair nor did he give up. He would rest a bit and call out for help at short intervals.

It went on this way until he started shaking with fear and when he was just about to give up – you won’t believe what happened. Muja had already given up and thought he would be a meal for one or another of the wild animals but his kind heartedness was about to pay now, for he suddenly heard that lovely from a long time back voice say:

“Ooh! Muja, Ooh! My kind hearted Muja,
Don’t be afraid – your friend is here
To help you…….”

And yes, looking up – guess who Muja saw? That’s right, that little bird he once saved and wondered privately how this little thing would be able to help him. In a matter of seconds the little bird started tweeting in the bird language and from all directions – all Muja could see were wings and wings flying into the call of his friend and it communicated to them to start cutting the net with their beaks. Since they all knew the kind hearted Muja who had many a time saved them from the Mwapata land boys with their catapults – they were more than happy to help getting Muja out of the trap.

They didn’t waste any time in doing just that and within no time Muja was freed by his bird friends and they started escorting him out of the bush right up to the main lane. That’s when Muja found out that it had already gotten dark and knew how worried his poor parents would be – his little bird friend said:

“Ooh! Muja, Ooh! Kind hearted Muja,
This is where we leave you for we
Have to go and sleep now…….”

And Muja said to them:
“Ooh! My lovely friends,
I say thank you very much for
Saving my life, I shall never forget
This for as long as I live…….”

Off they went back to the bush and Muja started running up the lane towards his home not even thinking about the firewood….and just as he was about to turn around the corner he bumped into an old man who held him steadily before he could fall and said in wonder “Is this you Muja? Is it really you my son…?” his voice full of emotion and Muja replied “father, father, oh! Am I glad to see you again”

They hugged and started walking together towards their home where they found his mother right at the gate with such a worried look on her face. She too couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw her son and tears of joy ran down her cheeks as Muja ran towards and hugged her so hard while he too started crying not believing that he wasn’t actually eaten by the wild animals and that he was back home with his mother and father.

After resting and being given a bowl of porridge, he told the whole story to his awed parents and promised them that he will never venture again into the bush. Thus, he went to sleep with a big smile on his face knowing he was safe in his parents’ home.

THE – END

P.S. The book is in print form too if you would like to get a hard copy please inbox me in my Facebook page: strokes of my pen