Posted in Motherhood, Religion

Worries

“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands…” (Holy Qur’an 24:31)

Eight years ago when I made the decision to wear my hijab, there was a certain worry that came with the decision; I lived in a society where very few Muslims existed and out of those Muslims, none of them wore the hijab full time. I already stood out as a black girl in a predominantly white community. So, as you can imagine, wearing my hijab was not the easiest decision. As anyone would, I worried about how people would see me and relate with me. However, it was a decision and a way of life that I had thought long and hard about and I was ready to commit to, regardless of society’s views.

Fast forward to a couple of months after having my daughter… My mum returned from Nigeria with various gifts for us including the smallest hijabs for my daughter. I thought they were the cutest things, especially as they made her chubby baby face look even chubbier. I also saw it as an opportunity to introduce the hijab to her at an early age hoping that when she came to make the commitment at a later age, it would be much easier for her than it was for me. Just like every mother, I wanted to set her up to succeed in every aspect of life and it felt good to think this was another step towards achieving that. As far as I was concerned, it wasn’t any different from emphasising the use of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at a young age so that she hopefully grew up to be courteous.

Every time we went out, I’d dress my daughter up and made sure she had a matching hijab to her outfit. At the time, I didn’t really have a lot of places to go aside from the familiar places within the Nigerian Muslim community; mosque, visiting family and friends. These places were my safe haven; they were filled with people who knew the true meaning behind the hijab and understood my intentions for my daughter without me having to explain myself. And just like me, they all thought she looked cute in her hijab and liked the idea of getting her accustomed to it in the hopes that it’d make life easier for her.

Things changed when I ventured outside of my safe haven. That morning, we had a doctor’s appointment and as usual, I got my daughter ready making sure that her hijab matched her outfit. As I parked the car and struggled to get the car seat out of the car, I couldn’t help but feel like I did eight years ago when I first left my house wearing a hijab. I was worried. I worried about how my baby might suddenly be viewed because she was dressed differently. I almost wanted to take it off but this was an important step for me. This was a step I’d hope that my daughter would take one day. If I was too scared to take it myself, how could I expect her to do the same?

To my surprise, everyone that came in contact with her saw just how amazing she was (and still is). They saw what I saw; a beautiful and smiley baby girl. Those that commented on her hijab had nothing but positive things to say about it. Like me, they appreciated the fact that it matched her outfit and actually thought she looked ‘cute’ in it. They especially loved the little diamantes that were attached to it. I immediately felt at ease and all my worries were almost forgotten.

However, every so often, due to different reasons, these worries come crippling back and I cannot help but think about my daughter and her hijab. Now at almost 3 years old, the hijab has become a part of her. Although she doesn’t understand the meaning behind it, it is something she is comfortable wearing and chooses to wear most days. I hope that when she comes to the age of understanding that it is something that continues to be a part of her. But with that hope, comes the question; when does she stop being a baby, a person and instead, becomes a threat because of what she chooses to wear on her head?

Till next time

-A

Posted in Religion

Ramadan Prep.

Hi everybody! It has definitely been a while- I made the decision to take a loooong break because I felt it was needed. I won’t go into it now but I plan to do a separate post on self-care/mental health soon.

Today’s post is about Ramadan!!! Two years ago, I had the best Ramadan ever. I came out of it feeling renewed and accomplished. You know that feeling at the end of an exam, that feeling of ‘I tried my ultimate best’? That’s the way I felt. I’m hoping to be able to achieve that again, so I’m looking back at the few things I did.

  • Make a list- I don’t know about ye, but I always find that Ramadan always seems to come at the best time. It comes around just when you need it. I found that I had so much to talk to God about but I could never remember it all when I was actually praying. So, I made a list. A list of all the things that I wanted to discuss with God. This way, nothing was left out.

 

  • Be present- For most of us, we don’t always have the opportunity to take time off during Ramadan. So, we fit it into our everyday lives. To be honest, I quite like this because it allows an easy transition after Ramadan; it allows us to continue with the acts that we have taken up during Ramadan after Ramadan. However, because we are fitting it into our daily lives, it is easy to go about the day fasting without actually thinking about the act of fasting or the reason behind the fast. Being present earns us more reward and allows one to really connect with God.

ramadan

 

  • Take full advantage of your time- Be conscious of your time and try to do something productive with it. Although busy, I find that I am most productive during this blessed month. I tried to fill gaps in my day with different acts of worship. For example, I used to get public transport back and forth from work, rather than sitting on the bus for an hour in total doing nothing, I used that opportunity to read my Qur’an. This might not work for you if you need complete silence to read. However, I am sure there are other acts that one can fill that time with such as saying ‘astaghfirullah’. Remember every little helps.

 

  • Have a realistic plan- Each year I set goals for Ramadan, each year I struggled to achieve them until two years ago. I was able to achieve them two years ago because they were realistic. Do not mistake realistic for easy. My goals were realistic but they were also challenging. Don’t plan to finish the Qur’an 10 times when you struggle to finish it once in a year. Know what your capabilities are and plan with that in mind.

 

May Allah make it easy for us, allow us to get the best out of this Ramadan and give us the opportunity to see many more.

Till next time

 

-A

Posted in Relationships, Uncategorized

His Perspective.

Hi guys,

Hope ye are all having a great weekend. Last week, I spoke about my pregnancy journey. This week, based on your response to the poll on my  instagram, I thought it was only fair to give my husband the chance to share his perspective- it takes two to tango and all that. So, let’s get to it.

Do you remember how I broke the pregnancy news? You sent me a text saying ‘I took a pregnancy test’ but you didn’t give me the results. Even though I knew the results from your reaction, I literally had to ask you what the results were before you told me.

When you found out I was pregnant, how did you react? I wasn’t shocked because we weren’t preventing it. I was happy and felt very blessed because it is a blessing that Allah has given us. However, I was slightly worried about you and the impact it might have on you. 

Do you wish you did anything before we got pregnant? I wish I read more and maybe even spoke to more people in order to have a better understanding. I was told that it can be a difficult time but it is do-able. I will be honest and say that I didn’t see pregnancy being that difficult. I don’t really know how much I could have prepared. However, people have different experiences and I feel the best learning is on the job. 

 

IMG_5477
Hubby telling our baby to behave

 

What was your role during our pregnancy journey? For us, things changed very quickly. We went from being newlyweds to being pregnant in no time. I had to do more heavy-lifting because of the physical strain pregnancy had on you. I had to be pro-active.  I had to make sure that I was supporting you even with the basic things. During the first 6 months of the pregnancy, you were in the U.K finishing your postgrad and I was in Ireland. During those months, we communicated mostly through the phone and I only saw you every second weekend. I could feel the impact it was having on you physically, but I didn’t really know how to support you. However, I felt that I could only try to calm you down emotionally. When I did get to see you, I felt very guilty as I could see clearly what you were going through. Psychologically, I felt it was my responsibility to support, encourage and motivate you. I would encourage all men to make sure to continue to emphasise positivity and to STEP UP.  I ensured that I carried all the household responsibilities and to provide emotional support. I observed your emotions and tried to act accordingly.

P.S I think it is also important that women remember that pregnancy is also a learning curve for the man and although we can’t understand what you are going through, you shouldn’t expect the perfect man. 

How did you deal with my reaction to being pregnant, especially during my first trimester? I felt quite sad that it was having such a major impact on your studies and state of mind.  I made sure to tread carefully because it was an emotional rollercoaster for you. I had to be observant and I knew I couldn’t completely understand what you were going through. I observed your reactions and my response was to try to be as compassionate as I possibly could and tried to look after your needs. 

Before I got pregnant, do you think you had an idea of what pregnancy should be like? Fortunately or unfortunately, until you got pregnant, I had only seen people that had “easy” pregnancies; women who didn’t seem to be affected by their pregnancies. So, I didn’t have a fair idea of what could happen or how it could impact the woman. Regardless, I still think the best learning is done on the job. 

How did you deal with my emotions and mood swings? I didn’t think you were too moody. I never felt angry or impatient because I felt that Allah does not burden a soul with more than they can handle. I think patience really helped. Also, your apologies helped. You always apologised when you felt you had been a little too moody. 

Do you have any advice for expecting fathers to help support their wives through pregnancy?  I think it’s important to be attentive and listen to your wife’s feelings and you should try not to take anything personal during that period. Do your very best to support her in every way possible. Also, it is important to note that your way of helping isn’t necessarily what she needs. Listen to her needs but not all her cravings :P. 

I hope you enjoyed this mini interview 🙂 If you have any other questions that you would like us to answer, please leave them in the comment sections and we will try to answer them.

Till next time

-A

 

 

Posted in Religion

The Good Muslim..

Hi everybody,

The biweekly posts don’t seem to be working. My last post was a month ago. I’m sorry, I really am…  Uni is taking over my life BUT I’m going to try a little harder to be more consistent.

Today’s post is going to be quite short. A couple of weeks ago,  while having a conversation with my housemate in the kitchen, my prayer alarm rang on my phone. I excused myself and left to go observe my prayer. When I was done with my prayer, I went back down to the kitchen. When she saw me come down, she called me a ‘good Muslim’. She compared me to her friend who was not a ‘good Muslim’. Her friend, who is a Muslim, doesn’t wear the hijab like I do and she does not excuse herself to go pray as soon as the prayer is called.

My first instinct was to say ‘thank you’ or the usual ‘I try y’know’, but then I thought about it again. Yes, I do wear the hijab and I do try to pray as soon as the prayer has been called but these are only two out of  several obligations that we have as Muslims. So, how can one say that I am a ‘good Muslim’ based on two things that they have seen me do? And how can it be implied that a person who doesn’t do these two things is a ‘bad Muslim’?  Having thought about this, I started to tell my housemate that she shouldn’t brand people solely based on the acts that her apparent to her. We do not know what happens behind closed doors.

There are people who might not appear to be the best of Muslims but their struggle to gain the love of their Maker is far greater than those who may appear to be the best of Muslims- Mufti Menk.

Later that evening, I reflected on my conversation with my housemate. I realised that my housemate only did what we all tend to do. We judge. There is a lot of shaming in the Muslim community these days. I guess my friend could be excused as she isn’t a Muslim. Not that non-Muslims should be judging. But what excuse do we have, as Muslims? Shouldn’t we know better? The world already makes it difficult to practice our religion, why do we make it harder for ourselves? Who are we to decide who a ‘good Muslim’ is? Who are we to brand someone a ‘bad Muslim?’ What right do anyone of us have?

Several Muslims have told me that they feel isolated from their Islamic communities because of the way they have been treated by other ‘religious’ people in the community. These acts are not necessarily verbal or physical. Sometimes, all they have to do is look at you. You know that look- the one that makes you want to put your head down in shame. The one that makes you avoid going to the masjid. I think it is important that we realise how our actions affect other people. There is a huge difference between encouraging and judging. Wearing your hijab and staring down at someone for not wearing it is not encouragement. Wearing your hijab and talking down to a person for not wearing it is not encouragement. Wearing your hijab and rolling your eyes in disgust, is not encouragement. Deciding to not acknowledge a person because they are not on the same ‘level’ as you, is not encouragement. It does not make you a ‘good Muslim’. In fact, I think it says otherwise. We each have our own struggles. It might be a good idea to focus on yours rather than pointing out everyone else’s.

Yes, my housemate’s friend does not cover. But her relationship with Allah is between herself and Allah. It’s not my housemate’s place to judge and it most definitely isn’t mine. We either encourage each other or we mind our business.

Remember that actions are always judged according to intentions. What are your intentions?

Till next time

-A.