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
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There you are. Staring at the mirror once again before turning right away. You hate it. You hate how your nose bulges and how your lips are too thin. You hate the black spots on the cheeks and how your eyes seem to sink into the sockets. You stare at your skin, too dark or too pale? You hate how your frail body always seems unbalanced like wind could easily sweep you away. You don’t like your kinky hair nor your inability to be the height you really wish you had. In short, you pretty much dislike everything about your body, your physical appearance and even your existence.

We are so filled with insecurities because of the society’s definition of beauty. And I said this before; the beauty industry is so ugly. It makes us apologize all our lives for not being ‘beautiful enough’. So here we are, so obsessed with ‘doing something’ about how we look and our outer image. Spending so much money on three, four make-up kits, buying designer clothes, shoes and perfumes just so we can hide all these things about ourselves we are not proud of. Don’t get me wrong, you are free to spend on whatever you like but when you do it, it should only be because it really does make you happy and not for the sake of fitting into the society’s league of beauties.

I come across several people, who when you tell, ‘You look pretty’ they’ll really be shocked and shrug it off not just for the sake of being polite but because they really think they are not. And it is sad because of how much this really affects our self-esteem. The truth is, we may all vary in our levels of attractiveness yet we all are beautiful in our own unique way and beautiful in the eyes of Allah. If Allah (S.W) considers you beautiful, why would you ever doubt that?

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Let me tell you a story of a sahabi who was considered the ‘ugliest’. His name was Julaybib (may Allah be pleased with him). Julaybib’s family background is unknown. We don’t even know what his second name is. We don’t know who were his parents, his lineage or which tribe he came from apart from that he came from Madinah. His name actually means ‘deformed’. He was known for his deformities and for his appearance. In fact the way he was described was, ‘qaseer, wa faqeer, wa dameem’ i.e. he was extremely short, extremely poor and extremely repulsive. In a world where family lineage, background, wealth and appearance are made to be so important, we can imagine what kind of a tough life Julaybib had. He didn’t have friends or family or companions. No one was interested in him. He went through a lot of verbal abuse and was bullied countless times.

So one day the prophet peace be upon him meets Julaybib and asks him about him. The prophet was actually concerned about him. Julaybib replies to the prophet by asking, ‘Ya Rasul Llah, do you think the only woman I get to marry is in jannah? The hur al ain (women in paradise)?’ and the prophet immediately understood his agony and belief that he would never be able to get married in this world. So the prophet decides to take the matter in his own hands and went to one of the sahabas who had a beautiful daughter. He said to the other sahabi, ‘I want to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.’ The Sahabi was so excited and saw no greater honour than that. In his mind, he is marrying off his daughter to the prophet peace be upon him. Then when the prophet clarified that he wants to ask her for Julaybib, the father paused in hesitation and said ‘let me ask her mother’. The reaction was the same with the mother; extreme excitement when she first thought it was the prophet who wanted their child and immediate rejection upon knowing it is Julaybib. But the girl overheard the conversation and told her parents, ‘How can we reject a proposal and an order from the prophet peace be upon him?’ This pure lady insisted on accepting Julaybib and eventually became his wife.

On the battle of Uhud, Julaybib passed away. The prophet (SAW) frantically tried to find Julaybib on the battle ground and saw him surrounded by 7 enemies. Julaybib killed 7 enemies before they killed him. The Prophet (SAW) gets emotional, picks Julaybib up with his two hands and repeatedly says, “This one is from me, and I am from him, he is from me and I am from him, he is from me and I am from him.” He takes Julaybib and digs a grave for him with his own hands, and buries Julaybib himself. And what better honour than this? What is physical attractiveness compared to the love of Allah and his prophet?

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There are several other stories about other sahabis who were deemed unattractive and the prophet peace be upon him always showed love to them for who they really are; their beauty deep inside and not how they looked. Another example is the story of a sahabi by the name of Zahir ibn Haram. His story is narated in a hadith by Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said,

“There was a man from amongst the Bedouins whose name was Zahir bin Haram. Whenever he came to Medinah for a need, he brought something for the Prophet (saw) as a gift, like cottage cheese or butter. Likewise, when the Prophet (saw) would prepare something to give to him whenever e wanted to leave, such as dates and so on.

The Prophet (saw) used to love him and say, “Zahir is our Bedouin and we are his city dwellers.”

Zahir was not very good looking. One say, Zahir (may Allah be pleased with him) left the desert and came to Allah’s Messenger (saw) but did not find him. He has some merchandise to sell so he went on to the market place.

When the Prophet (saw) found out about his arrival, he went to the market place looking for him. When he arrived, he saw him selling his merchandise with sweat pouring down from his face. He wore Bedouin clothers which did not smell good either. The Prophet (saw) hugged him tightly from behing, while Zahir was unaware and could not see who it was.

Zahir became scared and said, “Let me go! Who is this?!” But the Prophet (saw) remained silent. Zahir tried to release himself from his grip and started to look right and left. When he saw the Prophet (saw) he relaxed and calmed down, placing his back against the Prophet’s chest. The Prophet (saw) began to joke with him, saying to the public: “Who will buy this slave?! Who will buy this slave?”

Thereupon, Zahir looked at himself and thought of his extreme poverty, for he had neither wealth or good looks.

He said, “You will find me unmarketable, O’ Messenger of Allah.”

The Prophet (saw) said, “But you are not unmarketable with Allah. You are very precious to Allah.” And in another narration the prophet tells him, “But you are priceless in the sight of Allah, you are beautiful in the eyes of Allah, do not worry about how you look”

In another instance, the prophet again tried to redifine the meaning of beauty to us in the story of Abdullah ibn Masood. Abdullah ibn Masood (RA) was so short he was a dwarf, and one day he climbed into a tree to grab a siwak from the Arak tree for the Prophet (SAW). But Abdullah was so small that the wind blew him into tree. The Sahaba burst into laughter, and the Prophet (SAW) asked them why they were laughing. The Sahaba respodned with, “Ya Rasululllah, his legs are so short like two little twigs.” The Prophet (SAW) said, “But you don’t understand these two legs on the Day of Judgement will be the size and weight of Mount Uhud (on the scale of his good deeds).”

And I get it. It is way tougher right now with all the cover magazines, social media personalities and superstars we idolize from all over the world. But in the end remember God never created anything ugly, again I say it, we may vary in the level of attractiveness but no one is entirely ugly. This is because Allah (S.W) mentioned it Himself in Surat Tin:

By the fig and the olive

And [by] Mount Sinai

And [by] this secure city [Makkah],

We have certainly created man in the best of stature;

See how Allah took an oath FOUR times before stating that He created us in the best form.

Whatever or however you look like, do know that it is but a test from Allah. We never really put much thought to it but beauty is a big test of its own. There is a high risk into falling into arrogance or zina or other detestable behaviours. The same way physical unattractiveness may make us fall into the whispers of shaytan of self-pity and self-loathing and sadness. So love yourself in whatever state you were created and be grateful for it. What really matters is the state of your heart and soul and imaan. And also, remember to not stigmatize, bully, laugh or point out the flaws in others. You never know how much it hurts them.

{“Verily, Allah does not look at your appearance or wealth, but rather he looks at your hearts and actions.”} -Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H)

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The prophet’s path- Youtube
The merciful servant- Youtube
The “Ugliest” Sahabis

So there’s this new local Islamic TV station coming up and it just got me all excited. I mean, if you are a ‘90s baby or prior that, then you will totally relate to all those times you were asked to switch off the TV because ‘there is nothing for you to watch’ or you’d be pushed to go sleep early even when you are having some chronic insomnia. You will even be thoroughly encouraged to go play outside even when the heat is about to unleash its superpowers, just to avoid you from watching something inappropriate. And even as we grew up, there was so much monotony in the stations because if it isn’t ‘Soledad’ in one station then it is ‘the day of our lives’ in the next. Too much misery in the news. Too much stereotype in the real world. Finally, the Muslims have a voice.

Horizon TV it is. It is the first locally oriented Islamic television channel in the country; a project of Tamaz Communications Limited, a company fully owned by Jamia Mosque Committee, Nairobi. With a lot of Islamophobia growing around the world, including our own country, this is a great blessing indeed. This is a wonderful platform for the non-Muslims to learn more about Islam; the true Islam and not the stereotyped one. This is the place where Muslims can acquire further knowledge. This is where we can allow our children to stay tuned to 24/7 because it is simply worth it. This is where hard issues are discussed and challenges are faced. This is where a better understanding of what Islam really is, is brought out. This is where we talk of societal issues that are yet to be talked about; the untold stories, the voices that need to be heard.

We are living in such a negative world at the moment and we really need some source of mega-positivity and inspiration. We need Islamic role models and mentors. We need to acquire knowledge in interesting ways that won’t make the students sleep in boredom. We need to move alongside the rest of the world. And technology is the answer. These visuals actually do have a greater impact than we ever think of it. And this is exactly what Horizon TV aims at: Make a positive difference in our society!

The objectives of the TV station are:
• To provide and support Da’awah activities
• To provide the Muslim community with a platform to articulate their issues and agenda
• To provide a platform where the masses will learn the true picture of Islam and Islamic values
• To educate, inform and entertain the targeted audiences (primary and secondary) within Sharia parameters.
• To produce and broadcast a variety of community programs for di’erent segments of society e.g. women,
children, youth, within the purview with Islamic shariah.
• To facilitate broadcast of other programs whose goals and objectives are in conformity with Horizon TV.

As we approach the D-day of the launch, 24th March, we pray that this becomes a successful project that will help Muslims come together in good terms and to educate both the Muslims and Non-Muslims as well. Horizon will be hosted on Star Times, GoTv, Signet and Bamba. The TV station will cover Nairobi region for starters before expanding biidhnillah.

Ready for great things ahead in shaa Allah!!