As-Salamu Alaykum :-)

...And welcome to my blog! I'm Rukaiya, a 20-something year old, London-living, chocolate-loving, spider-dreading Muslim.

In a way, Muslim in the Big City is nothing but my take on a lifestyle blog. In an Islamic context, I'll be blogging about a wide range of subjects that affect the regular Muslim woman... things like Skincare, Health, Friendship, Food, Fashion, you name it! Occasionally, I'll also share some prayers and religious content that might be useful to us all, inshaa Allah.

Anyway, thank you so much for stopping by, and please don't leave without leaving a comment, a suggestion or even just saying hi!

I Want To Say Yes

As Salamu-Alaykum, my lovelies!

I'll be at Nando's tomorrow evening for dinner. My friend wants to meet up, and I really like their Peri Peri chips. We'll walk in together, my friend and I, and we'll be seated next to you. Yes. Fate will bring you and I together.

My friend will get up to place an order. Out of the corner of my eye, I'll notice that you keep stealing glances at me. You're speaking to your friends in a language I don't quite understand. I like the sound of your language. I wish I learned it in school.

My friend will return five minutes later. She'll sit opposite me. There's me, and there's her. There's two of us now. On the same day. At the same place. You'll never be able to stop staring now.

I'll hear it first.

My ears will be perked up, although you can't see them beneath the 'symbol of oppression' wrapped around my head. I'll hear it the way you hear your name being carried by the wind. Faint. Muffled. Almost as if it didn't happen at all.

But no, I'll hear it when you say 'bomb', neatly knitted into the fabric of your foreign conversation. You seem so cheerful. I must have misheard you.


Maybe Italian.

I'm desperately trying to cling onto your every word. I'm trying to catch a phrase I understand. My friend keeps babbling. I wish she'd be quiet.

'Bomb. Tick, tick, tick.'

You all erupt in laughter. I know my ears are fine because now my friend is quiet. She's staring at me and I'm staring at her and her face is full of questions. I know what she's asking. I want to say yes.

Yes, we're in London.

Yes, the year is 2015.

And yes, I think we just witnessed our first bout of Islamophobia.

NEVER give in to attention-seekers. 
There's always that one moron in a million.
May Allah (SWT) provide us with the patience to deal with those fools.

In The Jungle, The Mighty Jungle..

As Salamu-Alaykum, my lovelies!

Last weekend, I braced the freezing cold weather and light drizzle of rain to visit London’s Lyceum Theatre for the first time. You may have guessed from the title of this post (or from reading my tweets)... but I was there to watch Lion King the Musical! Honestly, I can’t believe it took me this long to go and watch it. The show was absolutely brilliant.

I could probably go on to tell you about how breathtakingly stunning the stage and costumes were, or how engaging the actors were, or how nostalgic the songs made me feel– but this post isn’t a review of the show, so I’ll let someone else give you all the details. What I do want to discuss, and I think this is quite important, is Scar. 

I know you’ve all watched The Lion King (movie or show) at some point in your lives, but allow me to refresh your memory. Mufasa is the current king of Pride Rock, and his son, Simba, is next in line. Scar is Simba’s uncle and Mufasa’s brother. In a bid to become the next king of Pride Rock, Scar assassinates his own brother and encourages his own nephew to exile himself forever. His own brother. His own nephew


Almost unbelievable.

I mean thank God its a cartoon and the characters are lions because things like that just never happen in real life. Surely not, right? 

I'm here to tell you that I had a Scar in my life.

I should say my family actually, because Scar never actually did anything to me specifically. Granted, my Scar never tried to kill anyone. And my Scar is not an uncle. But nevertheless, my Scar has smiled in our faces while plotting to destroy the good in our lives. Alhamdulillah, Allah is the greatest of all planners and no evil can come upon you once He has protected you with His mercy.

I won't say anything further than that - One, because I was shielded from it all as a child (and only heard about bits and pieces from eavesdropping :-p), and two, because if I make this any less abstract, I would be reneging on my vow to stop backbiting.

I hope you get the point of my message regardless. But just in case, I'll elaborate. 

There are four types of people in this world. There are people who mean well for you from the bottom of their heart, and they'll show it through everything that they do(1). There are people who intend the best for you, but never know how best to show it(2). There are people who despise you and make no effort in concealing it(3)

And then, there are devils(4)

Perhaps you could argue that they are worse than the devil, because at least you know to pray for protection against the devil. These people are camouflaged to fit perfectly into your life. They'll poke a hole in your bucket and help you try to fill it... and when you start to wonder why the bucket never fills up, they're right there by your side, scratching their heads and pretending to be as baffled as you are. There are too many snakes in the mighty jungle that is life. Make no apologies for being picky about the people you put your trust in..

Scar doesn't have to be an uncle. 

Scar could be a friend. 

An old one or even new.

Scar could be anyone. 

But I hope Scar isn't you.

May Allah (SWT) protect us from the evil that we know of...
...and the evil that we aren't even aware of. 
Hakuna Matata!

I Hate The Person That I've Become...

 As Salamu-Alaykum, my lovelies!

Sigh, where do I begin?

About a year and a half ago, I went through what was probably the most depressing period of my life. First of all, let me admit that Alhamdulillah, my life so far has been extremely blessed, and I've never really had a reason to complain about anything. Like everyone else, I've had my fair share of ups and downs (e.g. school drama, etc), but no testing hardships, Alhamdulillah.

So what happened 'about a year and a half ago'?

...I met myself for the first time.

I can't remember how exactly it happened. I just remember how one day, I allowed myself to fall so deeply in reflection that when I snapped back to reality, I was scared of and for myself. I don't know how best to describe it, but if there's such a thing as an out-of-body experience, then that's what it felt like. I just didn't know who that girl was.

I thought about the girl I used to be when I was younger. I loved that girl. If I ever have a daughter in the future, I would love for her to be like that younger version of me. Up until that day, I actually thought that I was still that girl. I just couldn't understand how, why or when I had morphed into this new person.

I won't go into details, but the fact of the matter is, I knew who I wanted to be... and the person that I saw on that day was not even close. Not even close. I became completely overwhelmed with myself because I thought; "okay, this is who I am now. I have to live with it. I hate her, but I have to live with it".

It took a while and a lot of soul-searching to convince myself that change was an option (and perhaps a necessity). I made a thorough list of all the things I wanted to achieve, and what I would need to do to get there. Change doesn't happen overnight, and I knew that from the beginning. But this type of change also doesn't happen by itself, so I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me.

When I talk about my 'journey', this is basically what I'm referring to. It was a complete overhaul of my priorities, attitude and general outlook on life. Just as an example, tackling pride/conceitedness was definitely on my list. I gave myself small achievable goals so that every month, or every year, or whatever the case may be, I could look back and be proud of some form of progress.

The two most important things that I've learned from this journey, I still carry with me everyday. The first is this;

Wallah, I promise you, there is nothing more important for you than having some time to reflect. Sometimes, you really need to sit down and think about where your life is headed. Don't ever be afraid to be brutally honest with yourself (a friend of mine thought I was exaggerating about my negative qualities, but nobody knows you better than yourself). Life happens much more quickly than you give it credit for, so you have no idea how easily it can whisk you away in the wrong direction. It's almost like driving a car - you have to make conscious decisions to steer and navigate, otherwise you might end up in a complete trainwreck.

The second is a bit of a cliche, but that doesn't make it any less important. It is never too late to change for the better. Anyone who tells you any different is a liar. Tell 'em I said so. If there's anything you don't like about yourself, change it. Love yourself enough to want to be a better you. There's no shame in that. There is no learned habit that can't be unlearned. You just have to find a way to discipline yourself until your new habit becomes as natural as the rest of your personality. You're not perfect, and you never will be... but humans are designed to constantly evolve. Just make sure that when you think about yourself, you are happy with who you are.

Anyway, I try to make time to reflect every day now. You could say that I live more 'consciously'. That auto-pilot life is not for humans, I'll tell you that much. Also, I only surround myself with people who help, inspire or encourage me to be a better person than I was the day before (be it professionally, spiritually, morally etc). I genuinely don't put any energy into any other type of person.

I'm still growing and I'm still learning, but Alhamdulillah, I've never been happier about the person that I'm finally becoming. I also just wanted to add that I'm an extremely private person, so opening up like this is definitely not in my nature (special shout-out to a fellow private blogger Lena... we can do this!).

Has anyone else gone through (or is anyone going through) something similar?
Share your stories, advice or comments below!

As always, I'm at if anyone has any private comments or questions.

You Don't Do This To People...

As Salamu-Alaykum, my lovelies!

What is it with humans and a general disregard for basic morality? I ask, because we are presumably the only species to receive set guidelines (through The Qur'an, Bible, Torah, etc) of how to live here to secure a home in Heaven, and yet, we never run out of reasons to turn a blind eye.

First of all, I need to say this - I am not an anti-consumerist. At least not yet anyway. However, I'm finding it extremely difficult to reconcile the fact that there are individuals, and groups, and corporations and governments out there who deliberately support starvation.

I understand how the system works. You have money - You buy things. You have more money - You buy more expensive things. That in itself is fair enough. I think everyone has a right to earn money, and with that money, buy whatever pleases them. In fact, I find it in poor taste when people who are priviledged enough to be born with a silver spoon are made to feel guilty for their blessings. You do not choose what situation you're born into.

But on that note, let's flip the coin and address this issue from a different perspective. If you happen to be born into extreme poverty, you've already lost a battle you never signed up to fight. You and I don't know the true meaning of starvation (Alhamdulillah), so I can only assume. But I think if you're deprived of food, you're deprived of everything else. You're too weak to work and your brain can't function enough to allow you to go to school, so you become trapped in a cycle that is practically impossible to break out of. 

Back to my original point - that of consumerism. The notion that at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the profit that you make. I'll elaborate. There are supermarkets and restaurants, for example, that would rather throw food away at the end of the day than donate to a shelter or food bank. So basically, unless they are making a profit off you, a bin is more worthy of their food than a hungry person. Also, under the guise of 'health and safety', there are also governments who make it illegal for homeless people (at their own risk) to go through a supermarket bin scrounging for food. In most parts of the world, there are rats who eat better than people.  

Girls, we can't do this to people!

We can't ignore the fact that in 2015, people are still dying of hunger. Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that supermarkets need to start giving away free food, or that you and I ought to start buying groceries for the poor. Although both would be great, there is no escaping the fact that we are in a capitalist society and we can't be responsible for everyone. However, we really need to address the psychological reasoning behind our preference to throw food away than donate it.

If you take anything from this, I want you to always bear in mind that food and water, though we take both for granted, are two of the most basic necessities of life. If you can, please give generously. Don't wait until your food expires. Donate anything you don't need directly to people in need, or indirectly through food banks. I know millions of people donate clothes every year, and I think that's great. But always remember - what's a clean shirt to a child who has no energy to wear it?

Finally, I just wanted to add that this entire post was inspired by Nadda (over at Nadda's Narrative),  who wrote a very thought-provoking post on her blog about global food shortage. I've been mulling over this topic for almost a week now!

May Allah (SWT) continue to provide us with the means to help others. 
And may He soften our hearts enough to want to do so.

She Looked At My Hijab and Said...

As Salamu-Alaykum, my lovelies!

A couple of weeks ago, I got the best surprise. A good friend of mine, who used to live in London (but chose to run away to faraway lands), sent me a message saying she was coming to London to visit. It was all of a sudden and out of the blue, and I got really excited because I don't get to see her very often at all.

We made plans to meet up a day or two after her arrival. The plan was to meet up in a café somewhere and talk for hours on end. On my way to meet her, I decided to drop by Thorntons - a chocolate company - to get her a small gift.

Now, I love chocolate. I was just saying to a friend the other day that chocolate is probably the most constant consumable in my life - I have some But I digress. So there I was, in this chocolate heaven, and it was synonymous with being a 5year old at a toy store (and Thorntons isn't even that big!). After some deliberation, I finally decided on some beautifully packaged box of elegant chocolates and rushed to the counter.    

I was already running late, so I hurriedly handed over the chocolates to the salesgirl and dived into my bag for my wallet. I looked up, card in hand ready to pay, and the salesgirl had still not scanned my order. Uhm...hello?

Calmly, she looked at me and then she looked at my hijab, and then back to me and said, "Sorry, just wanted to let you know that this particular box contains alcohol. Do you still want to purchase it?"

Subhanallah - how beautiful of a gesture was that? I thanked her profusely and told her that no, I did not want to buy anything containing alcohol. Or pork. She stepped out of her till area and walked around the store with me until I found something that was halal and gift-worthy. I paid and thanked her again, and I still think of her kindness from time to time. 

And also, how beautiful that the hijab - the unfortunate cause of prejudice, discrimination, ridicule and mockery from ignorant and close-minded individuals towards many Muslims around the world - ended up being the reason I didn't unknowingly purchase a box of haram chocolates. 

Girls, the real lesson here is this - check properly before you buy, regardless of how rushed you are for time. We will not always be lucky enough to come across kindhearted sellers like her. But if and when we do, we need to share these positive stories to remind other Muslims that yes, we may be judged by others based on the way we look. But sometimes, it may be for our own good. 

Allah (SWT) wanted us to stand out and not blend in - and He is omniscient. 
He knows what's best.