Thursday, 17 December 2015

On being unattached

We all seem to be always chasing something. Whether or not we admit it to ourselves, the reason why we struggle to accept and embrace the present moment is because we are always thinking of some other time we wish we were in, with some other people; thinking maybe if we were richer, more beautiful, more accomplished, more successful. We seem to get caught up in the never-ending cycle of trying to feel good enough. We feel "life" owes us something because we are in it. In order to "live" I must be so and so and must do this and that.

But, what if what we are chasing never comes? What if what we choose to hang our dreams on and what we allow to steal our present moment is not written in our destiny? And if you had access to the knowledge of your not-so-fortunate destiny, would that make you accept your present or would you fall further into despair and unease?

I feel that this symptom of feeling entitled to a better life that we all suffer from is a result of our over attachment to this world and everything in it. We are attached to people. People who are flawed in nature and who tend to constantly disappoint. Yet, we attach ourselves anyway over and over again. We also attach ourselves to ideas in our heads. We attach ourselves to ideas of a successful career, for example. Yet, from one promotion to another and as our bank accounts upgrade, we still end up not having enough for the end of each month. We expect way too much from the world that we often, if not always, end up in disappointment.

Unlike many things in our life, the way God chooses to judge our success in this world is not contingent upon getting confirmation from worldly things. He does not judge us for how many people liked us, or how much money we made, or how many targets we hit. He judges us by how much effort, heart, soul, passion and intention we give. And He in return, promises that if we choose to detach ourselves from expecting praise from this world, that He will without a doubt give us the recognition we deserve. Yet, how many of us practice this in our daily lives? How many of us give without the expectation of receiving? How many of us can truly stand up and say that they would be willing to fight for what pleases God even if it means that they will fight alone?

We are all waiting for something. Waiting and hoping on things that are not guaranteed. So while God watches us struggle to search for some idea of "happiness" we so desperately crave, we forget that He alone is the only thing in our lives that will remain unchanged no matter the circumstances. And that knowledge of Him alone and believing in him is the only entitlement and privilege you can ever receive from the world. And that maybe we need to admit to ourselves that this is the truest cause of all ease and comfort that comes from living in this world.

 It is enough.

Knowing Him and believing in Him is enough.

All else is left to Him.

Monday, 12 October 2015

I can't tell you

"Tell me"
"I can't tell you"
"Why not?"
"I'm here for you,
do you not trust me?"
"I do".
"Well then, why don't you tell me?"

Because if I tell you,
 I will sound ridiculous
I will not be able to show you 
the hurt
or get you to reach far enough 
to feel it for yourself.

Or maybe because when I share this with you
you will have a piece of me that I cannot take back
and then I will feel a little too exposed.
a little too naked.

Or maybe if I tell you,
you'll label me,
and wonder why I'm being such a downer,
or worse,
and you'll tell me
 that there are other people in this world
who go through much more.
"What a spoiled little brat."
"Who does she think she is?"
"She's got men at her feet
gets compliments left and right, 
and yet she complains."

and then maybe you will
start contemplating about your own life
and make me feel stupid 
for ever telling you in the first place.

Because if I tell you,
maybe one day
without meaning to
it will slip from your mouth
and I will be the word on their tongues
and then I will be wondering why
suddenly they whisper when I turn around
and why people around me start to fade without warning.
"She's got baggage", they'll say.

Or maybe it's because I don't want 
to help myself.
Maybe in all the melancholy,
I find myself more than I ever did when I was happy.
Something in me is so undeniably me when I shed that tear
and when I laugh,
 I can hear that other side of me snicker,
"that's not you"
Maybe that demon has found a home
and I have made a friend out of it.

But mostly I can't tell you
because it hurts too much
because if I tell you,
it will be too real
and I don't know if I want to face it,

Or maybe I'm just scared
I'm scared you'll find me too messy
too sensitive
too insecure
too anxious
and too complicated for your liking.

So when you ask me to "tell you what's wrong"
 I end up responding with silence 
with my head lowered slightly to one side
avoiding your gaze
and my eyes might just shed the tiniest tear,
the last hopeless cry for help
I hope that in my silence you may be able to understand
that although
I have a deep desire to share everything about myself with you,
 I can't.
I'm so sorry

I'm sorry I'm such a disappointment

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Signs of Humility

I will write as I feel and as the words pass and as they come and as they go. I no longer feel the need to write for an audience as I do not find gratification in their collective praise. I only want a listening ear to what befalls me and do not care if that means you might see me as less than what you knew before. Perhaps this is the essence of humility. Perhaps this is what it means to humble yourself and it is a sign to be unmoved and indifferent to the opinions of others about yourself. With time, as we begin shedding parts of our shells for others to see our insides we begin to question if those who loved us really loved the essence of who we are. Our core.

I no longer write with the certainty I wrote before. And some may think that this is a sign of lack of confidence in myself. Perhaps so. But more than anything this is my way of being human. I see my limits so clearly now. And yet there is a horizon of truth and knowledge still yet to be consumed. I have yet to see.

I bother very little if not at all with putting on some sort of spectacle to comfort those around me. I will not be overwhelmed anymore with accommodating for everyone for the sake of proving myself or showing that I am not at all what they might come to believe. I don't care what they hear. Neither do I care what they say. My truth is with my Lord and it is the only truth that matters to me.

Life has beaten us down and has shaken us up as it is. Why must we try to resist with phony versions of ourselves? It is tough enough to live as a human that is bombarded with casualty after casualty. Must that not be sufficient to remind us of our mortality? How much more must we endure until we say that is enough? And until we finally utter the words,  "I surrender". I surrender to the All Knowing. He who knows everything about every little thing. He who is vast and encompasses all that exists and possibly could exist.

While I let parts of me become small such as my power, dominance, social standing to name. The biggest thing I make small and perhaps diminish completely is my past. Although it is the place where I find room to reflect and understand myself with, with others I seem to completely forget any trace of it. I am a person being made by the moment; I laugh, cry and smile for the first time. The child that looks me and smiles is smiling upon another of his own, who is delighted and overwhelmed with joy to have been acknowledged by another.

I am humble when I cry. It is when I let tears fall down my cheeks and weep in the shadows where everything is concealed. It is when I remember that there exists only one entity that may possibly know of the pain I feel while I do so. And this is why I cry. He alone understands and the thought of this leaves me so overcome with emotion. This little creation of His cries and pleads and He listens. He who encompasses everything that ever was and ever will be, listens to me.

Alhamdoulillah. Alhamdoulillah. Alhamdoulillah.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

I Didn't Ask

I don't want your number
neither am I impressed
by your attempts to "help" me
at every opportunity
I didn't ask for it.
So don't message me later
expecting I follow up on your generous favors
and say thank you, for being such a gentleman

If I look lost,
don't take it as an invite to jump in
and try to guide me
using your baby talk
and repetitive phrases
I'm not a child
I didn't ask for this

I don't have to be super excited when I see you
because you held a door for me once or twice
and if I just happen to be
don't think it means
you got this one in the "bag."
Did it not occur to you
that I might just
have other things in my life
 to be excited about
and not you?

you are not entitled to invade my personal space
without checking with me first
that arm rest you did at the door
your pathetic try at looking like a man
respect my space, boy

And don't put me in the spotlight 
when I never asked for it, either

and don't' you dare
pay for me
we just met,
did you forget?

I will not let you speak over me
interrupt me
I think you've forgotten
I've got a sharp tongue, son
I'll embarrass you
and I won't hold back

It's enough
that us women must always walk on the right 
must always keep our arms close to our bodies
and our purses closer
walk in public expecting stares from strangers
sitting on sidewalks with their legs spread out
it's enough we got used to you
asking us how old we are
and if we're single
enough with your entitlement
it's enough .

Just let us be
don't tame us.

join us
leave us wild

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Spontaneous Reflections

Life. work. Obligation. Commitment. Relationships gone downhill. There hovers over me a thick smoggy cloud. Let it rain already. Or let it linger but for God's sake let it change its color. Grey cannot seem to decide between black and white. Grey is what happens when the unidentified merge together. What keeps us living? What is purpose? Lest it be a failed illusive attempt at masking our guilt for all that befalls humanity- or worse- our true desires to benefit our egos and make people love us. I want no one to love me sometimes. That means commitment and commitment means disappointment. It's a scary thought when you have become accustomed to people letting go and not staying true. So we put up walls. Strangely enough, if we talk you might be able to catch me every once in a while dig deep into myself and give something within away to what surrounds me. If you can catch me in those moments, we ought to be the best of friends. If you fail to see it, then I will slowly bring myself up to the shallow surface and part of me may never swim down again for you. I know that might offend some people. Now you know why I can't do commitment. I usually offend some people. Sometimes I sit and ponder the beauty of my past. The good fortune I had. In a desperate attempt to somehow relive it or consolidate myself that what is yet to come will be just as good maybe. But I stop myself. Far too early before I am deep into the memories and not yet enough for it to be a flashback. I feel there is no limit to how far I can imagine something. If I unleash that part of me, I may opt for a sedentary life replacing the real with the imaginary. I long for the days we watched cartoons of innocence. Young women picking flowers, talking to animals and singing. Their story is only about struggle with a harsh world that doesn't treat them delicately as they should be treated. Sometimes I feel that woman lives inside me. I really like her. And I like her company but she looks sad. When she is sad I am trying to please the world. The world is never pleased. I feel the need to write until the end of the page. But I know the page doesn't end. Why do I feel that way? Have I obligated myself to this? What other things do I obligate myself to and not know it. I long for the company of so many people of my past. Yet part of me feels that even if I was somehow able to have them summoned for me, that they won't fill the void in my heart. They say God only does and I believe them. God looks upon you with mercy and He engulfs your presence and protects you from harm. It is still a lonely life. I fear it will always be. I seem to know these days what I do not desire much more than what I do. This confuses me. I seem to be confused most of the time. They say it is temporary what you feel. But I have been feeling like a storm for ages now. Storms are supposed to settle. Settle and find a calm place. But maybe I am a storm meant to settle only in relative proportions. My storm today is calmer than yesterdays. Patience. Make peace with your storm regardless if the calm is on the way. Let it obliterate whatever is in its path as you are a wild and dangerous phenomenon not everyone knows how to understand or love. So love yourself before the storm multiplies and asserts its existence. Take it by its eye and tell it you love it.  I love my storms. Because it means something in me still lives and yearns for peace. It means I am alive.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


No one is left behind.
Your hands are not pure.
All is guilty.
None can flee.
This world
changing little each minute
but great each day.
Can't keep up.
Can't keep focus
on what matters.
I cannot
save you
or anyone
or myself.

There is no shelter. 
My eyes, 
My children's eyes
will be stained.
Why must it happen?

A call?
A sign?
Who lets it happen?


God forsees
God allows

So God must know.

So I submit to Him
to keep me close
to His way,
until my time
and our time

our reunion.

Then we will know

all will know

and all will be just.

-Random Rants

Thursday, 8 January 2015

A Heartfelt Letter from a Sister Harassed at Work

A dear sister writes,

Dear Reader, 

     I apologize in advance. I am sorry such a topic as this is necessary. I am sorry this is a real life threatening issue. I am sorry this issue even exists.

    I find it hard to introduce a topic such as this. There really is no way to ever start a conversation about sexual harassment without a heavy heart. In an ideal world, such an introduction would never be necessary. But this is the real world, and unfortunately the world we live in is a harsh one. Growing up, I was never what you call “sheltered”. I have seen and experienced some horrific things in my life. I bring this up only to demonstrate to you that my shock from the worsening conditions of sexual harassment is not the result of my naivety or sheltered-ness. 

     My experience all began at my work. I am a server/waitress at a restaurant owned by people within my own community. From the first week, I began to notice things that made me feel uncomfortable. For one, one of the cooks would occasionally come by and say flirtatious things to me. I was shocked by his boldness, and told him to stop. Soon after, another cook followed. This time it was worse. He said dirty things to me whenever I bent down. He said things whenever he walked passed me. After seeking the advice of my mother, I gave him a cold, hard look the next time he said another word. If he did anything else, I promised myself I would inform the manager. This thankfully worked. I was feeling relieved until another younger woman confided her worries to me. She complained about him making her feel uncomfortable. She shared the comments he made towards her. I told her she should do something about it. She told me she couldn't. She told me that a few weeks ago another cook (no longer working there) had bothered her and when she had gone to complain she was told “oh him! He wouldn't hurt a fly”. She told me if she complained about this new cook, then they would probably do nothing about it.

     I was getting really annoyed at this point. But he was the last of my worries.
What followed was an even more invasive incident. I had thought I could seek protection from my manager. I never knew my manager would be the next man to make me feel uncomfortable. It began with me noticing how close he seemed to stand next to me.  I thought “you’re imaging things that aren't there”. Then came the odd comments. These were the warning signs I ignored because I thought I was going crazy. They weren’t enough to alarm me, they weren’t enough to make a convincing case, but in retrospect, I can see how he was ‘testing the waters’. Over the next following days, I noticed he was getting bolder in the ways he touched me. I put off my worries until he touched my waist. That was I started feeling anxious. Anxious because I started asking myself “did that really happen, or did I imagine it?”. I knew for sure that I didn't like it, I knew for sure that I felt my my comfort zone had been invaded. I worried about it happening again. Would he? Could he? Was this just a mistake? He didn't mean anything by it did he? He is a balding man in his 40’s with three kids for goodness sake! Surely, he doesn’t mean anything by it…

     My patience ran out when he made a few comments that insulted me a few days later. Up until that point I had been bottling in my anger and anxiety. I ranted to my closest friend about how angry he made me feel, and in as I ranted my heart out, I reached a point where I had to share. “Can I tell you something? It’s a secret” I told her, “I haven't told anyone”. I proceeded to tell her the ways in which he would touch me. Immediately, she sensed something was wrong and urged me to do something about it. “But he’s a married with children!” I said. She told me what he did was still not okay. 

    I felt utterly weak. I did not know if I had the strength to stand up for myself. I was so scared. I thought I would have to quit my job. I needed the money and I was very upset that this would make me very financially unstable. I also didn't want to quit this early on in the job—surly everyone would ask my reasons for quitting and what would I say then? He was my manager, and his family owned the restaurant. Surly I would either be fired or I would have to quit. And in all honesty, I felt that sharing such a thing with others would be humiliating. I didn't want anyone to know what he did, and how uncomfortable he made me feel. I started feeling sick.

      I had no idea what to do. At the time, my friend was giving me all the support she could to do something about it. She reminded me that if I did not quit or complain then my only option was to endure whatever else was coming. I knew she was right. I did not want to let her down. I did not want to let myself down. I knew for certain that I would not allow some random man touch me around the hips without my consent. 

    The next day, I decided to tell my mother. I had decided I would make my complaint to head office, and I was ready to be fired if it came to it. Immediately my mother was upset. She told me I was blowing things way out of proportion, that I was reading too much into it, that he probably saw me as a daughter, that sometimes at work you just have to deal with things that irritate you. I share this with you not for you to be angry with my mother. I am sharing this because I want you to know that sometimes, even the people who have always supported you, the people you trust most, those very same people can be wrong. Those very same people may not support you. I do not blame her, I only felt sorry. After all, she is a woman, and perhaps after all these years, society finally managed to convince her to not speak up about these things. 

     I was quiet for a moment. I told her, “would Dad say the same things you said? Would Dad be comfortable with what this man is doing?” She was silent. 
I went ahead and told my father. If I was going to complain to head office, I needed to know that at least one adult saw what I saw. Immediately, he understood. Immediately he told me what my manager was doing was not normal. That no man would do that unless he meant it. He coached me through what I had to say.

    And so I went to head office. I was scared. I made my Dua’as and asked God to give me strength. I approached them and calmly said “I would like to speak with you. I have a complaint.” I went on seriously, retelling everything that had happened. With my father’s advice, I spoke like I meant business. I spoke like I was ready to destroy the company if they didn’t take what I had to say seriously. At first they tried to defend him. They said it might have been a product of miscommunication. They said he probably see me as a daughter. I told them I didn't care. I told them I wont have any man touch me without my consent. I told them I would pursue further action if they did nothing. They had no choice but to comply.

     What followed next was the consequences. When others heard the message I was told I blew things out of proportion by going to head office. “You could have just gone to the owner. Why get head office involved’ three people said to me. I began to feel guilty. “You made the problem bigger than it should have been” I told myself.

    Then I started to feel like what I had complained about wasn’t a big deal at all. 

     Had I imagined everything? “No” I kept telling myself, no man gets to touch me around the waist if I don’t want him to. I had to keep reminding myself that my complaint was legitimate, that it was real, that it was worthy of being taken seriously, that I have the right to feel comfortable and safe when I am at work. It was hard. I didn't believe myself. Up till now, I remind myself that it was real, that I what I did was perfectly well reasoned, though these doubts are fading and I am getting more confident.

     I started to feel like I had brought this on myself. Was there anything in my behaviour that made me seem “inviting”? I am being serious when I tell you that I actually thought to myself, “I smiled too much. I was nice. I wore lipstick” I thought to myself “it was my fault, I should have been smarter”. I felt sick. “How could I have been so naive?” I asked myself. When I mentioned my lipstick to my father, he said “well it was really bright, you know”. This added to my anxiety.
But I no longer feel like I was “asking for it”. Smiling isn’t a “COME AND TOUCH” sigh. Being nice to my co-workers and my manager wasn’t any form of invitation. I was simply being nice. I could not believe I was doubting myself. Did I want some old balding man to touch me? Of course not. So how on earth could I have thought it as my fault. How could I have thought of it as me “asking for it”. That was when I fully saw the power of victim blaming at work. Society never rests until it can put as much of the blame on the woman. Here I was, blaming myself because some old man couldn't handle himself. To hell with the doubts, I wasn’t asking for it.

     To all the women reading this, I want you to learn what I learned. If anyone ever makes you feel uncomfortable, I ask you to please take this advice:

     Firstly, ignore all those who do not believe you and those who do not support you. These people may be people you trust. Ignore them anyway. 

     Secondly, find people who will support you and have your back no matter what. For me, those were my friend and my father. 

     Thirdly, rehearse what you will say, make sure your complaint is coherent, and clear. Make it clear exactly what made you uncomfortable and unsafe. Make it clear that you did not consent, make it clear that you have clear boundaries that no one is permitted cross. Say this seriously, say it like you mean business. Say it like you wont stop at nothing until you get what you deserve. My co-worker who had complained and was told that the cook “wouldn’t hurt a fly” had shared her discomfort weakly. They did not take her seriously because she did not yet know how to defend herself. No one will take your fight seriously if you don’t. No manager or head office member will inconvenience themselves for you unless you force them to. Scare them. Threaten to take further action if need be. Fourthly, guilt and victim blaming is to be expected. Do not listen to those harmful thoughts. They are not true. Believe me. There is never was a woman who “asked for it”. Women who “asked for it” don't exist. You deserve to feel safe and comfortable and whatever you have to say is completely legitimate. 

     As a woman, I have increasingly come to realize that the world is not easy for women. They say feminism is dead. They say women have all the rights and freedoms they could ever need. They say women have reached the same statues as men; that a woman can enjoy all the privileges a man has. I say that day has not yet come. For now, protect yourself and protect the women around you. Believe me, I would do anything in my power to help another sister out. 


Your sister in Islam