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. 

OOTD: Bubblegum Pink

As Salamu-Alaykum, my lovelies!

There's something very special about pleats, lace and bubblegum pink.

I woke up feeling super girly today, so I decided to incorporate all three into one outfit... the result of which is below! 


...As I am nowhere near as fashionable as the rest of you bambinas, this will probably be the only time I post a picture of myself ;-)


As Salamu-Alaykum, my lovelies!

Sometimes, I feel like my day-to-day routine gets in the way of life. Well, in a sense, my routine is my life. I spend a bulk of my (week)day at work, and sometimes I feel like there's not much time to do anything else once I get home. Before I know it, its bedtime... and then I wake up the next day and have to do it all over again. 

Don't get me wrong - I'm not against a healthy routine. It gives your life a sense of rhythm. It prevents idleness and gives you a purpose in life. However, we sometimes forget that life is bigger than that. We get so caught up doing mundane things that we often forget to allocate some time to do something that really counts. 

And what really counts? I mean sure, getting an education and progressing in our career are both very important aspects of who we are and who we will become. But sometimes, we get so engrossed in these things that we neglect other equally important aspects of our lives. 

How many times have we skipped breakfast, or forgotten to have lunch because we were too busy, or because we were running late? We don't have the time to eat healthy or balanced meals, so we opt for ready-meals that fill up our stomachs with absolutely no nutritional value. We might be able to justify it now, but in retrospect, what good is all the money you make if you won't be around long enough to spend it?

The same goes for neglecting family, friends and religious duties. As the saying goes, "no one on their deathbed ever says they wish they had spent more time at the office". More often than not, it's the little things. Things you do for yourself, and things you do for others. Things that create fond memories here on earth and things that will stand between you and Hell in the hereafter. These are all things we need to remind ourselves to do .. things we need to create time for.

On that note, I have decided to add a new element to my blog called "THE WHEEL". All you have to do is click on it and you will receive your one little thing to do for that day. Just one little thing to add to your to-do-list for that day that will either benefit you, or someone else. I have added THE WHEEL to the main menu, so it is very easy to find. I'll add more tasks to it as time goes by, and I will also take any suggestions. Also, if anyone completes any of the tasks and has a story to share about it, please feel free to do so in the comment section below the wheel! I hope this helps us all to do that extra one little thing a day that will make a positive change to ourselves, or to somebody else.

If you do just one thing today.... spin THE WHEEL!

Fiction Readers - A Little Advice, Please?

As Salamu-Alaykum, my lovelies!

I can't believe we are over halfway through Ramadan already! I hope everyone's been having a productive month filled with lots of spiritual and personal growth. I set myself a few targets this month and I'll share a few of them with you at the end of Ramadan, inshaa Allah. I would like to see how many of my targets I accomplish, and also hopefully continue to set new ones after Ramadan. 

Today, I just wanted to get a bit of advice from anyone who enjoys reading fiction. I don't know if I've mentioned this in the past, but I read quite a lot of fictional books, and I also write from time to time. I've been working on a few projects over the past year, but Ramadan this year has made me think about a couple of things. 

First of all, why do I hardly ever come across a bestseller with a Muslim protagonist? I love psychological thrillers - are there no Muslim women or men who go through psychological trauma and eventually come out triumphant (or not, depending on the story!)? I also love mysteries - do we not have Muslim men and women working as lawyers, detectives, crime specialists or in the police force? What about young adult fiction? Are there no Muslim teens and adolescents who go through battles worth writing about - identity crisis, bullying, depression, insecurities, struggles with families and/or friendships, conformity, etc?

I think half of fiction is being able to relate to at least one of the main characters of the book. While there are many different reasons you may relate to a character, I think there should be more of a choice when it comes to the background of the characters. Every female character does not have to be an American named Hazel. And not every male character has to be a British boy named Harry (although I do love me so H. Potter ;-)). And it's okay to write books that don't contain wizards and werewolves and underage sex and excessive profanity.

I did some research online and I did find a few books with Muslim protagonists, but there aren't nearly enough. Not in my opinion, anyway. Since then, I've been thinking about focusing more of my time working in that direction. So far, none of my projects have any Muslim protagonists, which I would like to change from now on. I'm talking about plain fiction by the way, rather than a religious guide of some sort (there will be no preaching, lol).

So, to the Muslim readers of fiction out there - what do you think? What kind of genres do you enjoy reading? Have you read any good books lately that you can share with the rest of us? Would you like to see more writers out there publishing books with Muslim protagonists, or do you not care either way? And if you're a writer yourself, send me an email if you'd like so we can discuss a bit more!

Any feedback will be very much appreciated, and all opinions are regarded in equal measure x

Ramadan Kareem :-)

So much heartbreak

As Salamu-Alaykum!

I just read the most heartbreaking story.
I can't remember how I stumbled upon this young Muslimah's blog, but I was completely captivated by her story. I won't get into too much detail, but this lady opened up about being in a physically abusive marriage, while struggling to make ends meet to feed, clothe and provide shelter for her two young kids. She lives in the UK but can't claim benefits, and was almost at the brink of being deported to an unsupportive extended family. I literally can't even begin to imagine the number of sleepless nights this poor lady has had. 

As I read her post, I became increasingly aware of the inconsequential nature of my 'problems'. My workplace is about 40mins away from home, so I have to wake up that bit earlier every morning to commute to work. How trivial! There are so many people out there who need a job more than I do - people who would be more than willing to commute triple that distance if it meant they could get some food on the table. Life or death.

It seems as though the more we have, the more we have to complain about. We are just incapable of being satisfied for any prolonged period of time. We always want more than what we have, and once we achieve that dream, we crave even more. Why is that? Why are we more likely to envy those who have more than us, than to feel a sense of contentment and gratitude over the fact that our situation could be far worse? Is this human nature? Or have we learned it from society - from capitalism and other shackles of humanity?

Personally, I think you are what you read. We engulf ourselves with stories from utopia - pictures and TV shows and articles about celebrities with their perfect lives and endless money and negligible problems. We eat it all up because we have become fools. We start to feel inadequate - we all want a Porsche decorating the front of our 10-bedroom mansion. Once we have that, of course, we will absolutely need to get a private jet (and a Bugatti, because that Porsche is so last season). There is no ceiling - there will always be something we don't have, so how can we ever be satisfied?

I am learning now that one of the best ways to teach ourselves gratitude and humility is to learn about people who are not as privileged as we are. This is not about making us feel better about ourselves. It is about reminding ourselves that gratitude is more sustainable than greed. Once in a while, we need to really take the time to hear someone's story. I don't mean just listening to the news. I find that many news stories are too brief and generalized, which means people listen but don't feel. I mean dig deeper. Find individual stories. Blogs. Autobiographies. Interviews. Talk to people. Read about or listen to someone's struggle, and relate it back to your life.

There are stories out there that will make you cry. I promise. And crying is wonderful - because it means that you have been moved. And at least one of two things will happen when you are moved by a person's story; 

May Allah SWT grant us the means to achieve both.

Does anyone else feel like they complain too much? 
How can we substitute greed for gratitude? 

Tame That Tongue Of Yours

As-Salamu Alaykum!

Imagine this. 

Imagine that your words had an odor. Your good words would emit the loveliest of scents, while your bad words would reek of anything and everything that could induce vomit. At the end of each day, would you smell of roses and chocolate and freshly baked cookies? Or would a skunk, accustomed to the smell of filth, be offended by your presence?

Ladies. How did we allow this to happen? How did we go from discussing our homework, to gossiping about our classmate's dress sense? When did the subject change from the weather, to how we think our colleague is too sinful? At what point in the conversation did we move from talking about how adorable your niece is, to complaining about how awful your sister-in-law's food is? Or how she wears too much make-up. Or who she hangs out with. 

Gossiping has turned into an epidemic. We do it so often, and with so many people, that it is fast becoming the norm of society. Have we actually run out of quality things to talk about? There used to be a time when people would have you believe that gossiping is an act born out of jealousy, envy and insecurity. I don't even believe that anymore. Things have gotten so bad that many of us simply gossip out of habit. And it's a shame... because some bad habits are enough to prevent many good people from getting into Jannah (Allahu A'lam).

I think we can do better. We're not toddlers - we have the ability to filter our thoughts and tame our tongues. It may not happen overnight, but I believe that every learned habit can be unlearned, as long as we put in the effort to do so.

We need to stop having conversations in the same manner that we breathe (i.e, without having to think about it). Instead, we need to strive to be extremely conscious of what we are saying, and why

Also, it is important to think about the people you spend most of your time with. If the conversations you have with your friends primarily revolve around judging, belittling or gossiping about other people, then you will never grow out of that habit. Try to be more assertive by continuing to steer your conversations away from the negative, and towards the positive. Be upfront. Tell your friends and family that you are challenging yourself and your aim is to quit gossiping. They should support you, and perhaps even be inspired to change themselves. At the back of your mind, you should always know that people who insist on gossiping with you are highly likely to gossip about you. Choose your friends wisely.

In general, we should all try to be more empathetic towards people. Everyone is different, and we should aim to celebrate those differences. Gossiping about people solves no problems. If someone offends you, talk to them about it. If they are unaware that they have offended you, then they might continue to do so unintentionally. If you believe that someone is doing something incorrectly (religious or otherwise), talk to them about it. And even then, do so privately and in a sensitive matter. Most people tend to be quite receptive of constructive criticism- but it all depends on your delivery.

I'll leave you with this quote and a very creative short video.

"I asked the Messenger of Allah (PBUH): Who is the best Muslim? The Messenger of Allah replied, "He is the one from whom Muslims are safe from the evil of his tongue and hands."

Have you noticed this epidemic where you live? 
How are you trying to change?