Islam, my journey as a revert muslimah

A Kind Gesture- 1

Covid times have given us reason to sit back and ponder even more. There are so many priviledges that we took for granted in the pre-covid era. So , I thought I could probably make a note to the tiny gestures by my beloveds that touched my heart at some point of my life.

In the year 2015, I had gone to Mumbai for an interview in a Tier 1 corporate office. For the curious souls, I was rejected. However, it was a 2 days stay and I had a day at hand post the interview day.

I had by then personally interacted with a few bloggers I had come across on WordPress. After thinking a bit I messaged a very brilliant co-blogger(now a very close companion) whether she could meet me that day. It was a sudden notice, on a week day and she was in her office.

Her location and mine were approximately 35kms away and it easily takes about 2.5 hrs to travel by shifting local trains. It is tougher than it sounds. Especially in the tropical Summers.

Her initial reaction was that it sounds tough. Moreover, I had not informed beforehand as well.

-“Next time pakka yaar“, she said

-“I understand but I might never come to Mumbai again after this.”, was my reply.

Looking back, I feel more like a jobless prick who had no clue about how hard she was working to manage her job, family and a 5 year old daughter!

A very sensitive and kind person that she is, she is, she responded back that she will come down to meet me. I think I should have offered to meet half way. My mind, as I write this, is coming up with a lot of excuses but nothing seems fair enough.

She took a half a day off, came to meet me after the stressful travel! We met for the first time!!! These emotions can never be coined in words. Who knew that it was just the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Selfless and nurturing.

We had a very very nice time. And she made my day totally worth it before she embarked on her tiresome journey once again.

She turned out to be one of the sweetest, most sober and kindest persons I have met. She is a giver. Never have I turned to her for help, and returned disappointed. Never has there been a charity drive and she has not participated. The times I felt homeless, she made efforts with her mother to shelter me. The time I got married, she travelled all the way to Delhi with her daughter and sister to be my family. I even saw her and another very dear one rushing to market to arrange last moment bridal accessories for me. She is my home away from home. Barakallah feeha. May Allah bless her and protect her. May He keep all her good spirits up always.

I don’t know why this gesture of hers back in 2015 kept coming in my mind this morning onwards. Thus, I decided to pen it down.

Good companionship is a blessing. And i firmly believe, female friendships are the most sincere. They are selfless givers ! Allahumma bariklanaa. May Allah protect our relationship and the love we hold for each other. Ameeen

Tell me about your kindest friend in the comments below!

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Islam

Rays of Hope in Tough Times




Never before had I seen death so close. The previous wave of this pandemic appeared very virtual. It had not seeped into my life nor had it impacted my near ones.

Just as the fears had begun to subside the second wave came in a gush. I am sure you too are struggling to cope with this. The media coverage adds to the anxiety.

However, I am making efforts to keep calm. These are times of self counselling. Reminding ourselves and implying every bit of Religion that we have learnt.

The magnanimity of Tawakkul is here. Tawakkul , means trusting God’s plan. No matter how many theories we hear, let us believe that none would occur without God’s will.

The weight of Sabr is felt here. When sick or when living in isolation. Just waiting patiently for this to end, and coping with this very tedious lifestyle. Sabr- patience, was never an easy virtue.

This is the time for dua. We have been tried heavily in this month of Ramadan. We have been deprived of Umrah, deprived of Taraweeh (community prayer in Ramadan) , and a lot of us are deprived of Sawm (fasting) due to our health. Let us make the most out of what we have – Dua, Quran and Salah.  For the ones near us, for our dear ones away from us and for the rest of humanity.

All of us are together in it. There is no harm in turning of the news. Just sit back, relax, count your blessings. Sometimes, we can just try to keep things positive.

I understand it is tough now, but even the smallest bits of happiness are Rays of Hope. Try not to neglect them. Your children, a good neighbour, good friends, a warm meal, a peaceful nap or your potted plant. Allow them to soothe your heart.

May Allah make this time easy for you.

I hope you are doing good. Would you like to share what you are going through?

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Islam

Wondering How Mahr (Dower) Works in Reality

I am assuming you know what Mahr is. To be told in brief, it is the bridal-money that Allah commands a man to give his wife at the time of marriage with a good heart. That is given in Surah Nisa- The Chapter of Women, in the Quran.

One of the subjects in my legal academic field is Family Law. Family law is basically a consolidation of personal laws of various communities in India. Hindu laws and Muslim Laws form the primary two. It was interesting for me to go through the standard textbooks of Muslim law. It was certainly no clerical work, but I was impressed by comprehension of the authors nevertheless. I was amused how the judicial system and Academicians dealt with Muslim personal laws from the time of the Queens rule.

Abdul Qadir v. Salima was a landmark judgment on the subject of Mahr. It was a case of 1886! The bench gave out some very interesting opinion. It said that Mahr served three fold objects – (1) It was a rainy day provision for women upon dissolution of Marriage (by death or legal separation) (2) It was a mark of respect to welcome the woman and (3) It acted as a deterrent for arbitrary usage of Talaq or even polygamy.

Just like me, I am sure a lot of my readers must not have thought of the third point as a possible consequence of Mahr. It said, when a man realises that marrying again or letting go of a wife without a valid reason is beyond his means, it is bound to deter him.

Mulla, a famous legal jurist in the world of Indian Law, quoted that it is not a Consideration, but is rather a mark of respect.

Respect for women, has been quoted as a primary thought behind Mahr. The Quran also requires a man to pay dower to his wife with a good heart, just as he gives any gift with a good heart.

Yet, when I look around me, I rarely see any of the above claims being fulfilled. The hadith of Mahr being easy is slapped on the faces of women to the extent that even demanding an affordable amount is deemed excessive. Men who earn in lakhs gift filmsy Mahr in four digits amount. While many, just mention it on paper and take the second half of the verse more seriously to their hearts. That their wives should forgive it willingly ,and then there is no sin on them for not paying mahr.

Sure! Why not.

I recently visited a school friend. Childhood pal, meeting her after 10 good years! While viewing her wedding album, she pointed at a particular photograph and told me how her father-in-law after that moment (in the photograph) conspiciously demanded 3 lakh rupees from her father as dowry. Why? Because they have spent money in educating their son with B.tech degree.

I thought in my head ,”padh likh leta bachpan me to sarkari college se saste me engineering kar leta. 20-50 hazar me nipat jata. Bheekh na mangna padta” [Had he put in efforts to study properly, he would have secured a seat in Government engineering college that is inexpensive. The degree would not have costed beyond ₹20-50,000 and his father would not have to beg]

So here was a very average man, with no exceptional wordly accolades of working in Google or being an investment Banker or possessor of exceptional beauty, demanding ₹3,00,000. The only distinct qualification in him from the bride that i could see was that he belonged to the Male species.

We will not discuss how high the amount goes for better qualified men with better accolades to flaunt.

Now, let us think of the average Mahr a woman gets. A friend was discouraged by her family to state an amount as it would make her appear greedy. We do not trust our daughter’s judgment , or have we not raised her capable to assess and quote an amount accordingly?

By no means the Mahr offered reflects an open hearted welcome. It looks more like a complete mistrust on the lines of “what if she runs away with our money”. Or it reflects disrespect, “we are going to feed her all our lives, why spend more?” Or “Is she worth a lakh?” Women are not welcomed as worthy partners. They are not welcomed as family in the first place. Think of it, if you had to gift an amount to your parent or child to express your appreciation towards them, would you mind handing over a month or two worth your income? But they do mind that for their brides. This is my opinion.

No, I do not mean to say Mahr should be as expensive as dowry where people take up debts. But this bride leaves her family and society, she completely uproots herself and undergoes displacement. She takes the Mahr and comes into the man’s house! Lives with him. That amount, in most cases stays right in front of him. Yet, the stinginess I see at times, leaves my jaws open.

When my husband’s father was once viewing our marriage certificate, his eyes popped out seeing the Mahr I had demanded.

Yeh to bohot zyada hai!!!!!” (This is too much)

I immediately looked at husband with that scorning wife look. And he gestured me to ignore.

Much later, as years passed, I felt why did he feel that I was not worth the amount? As a woman am I so lowly? I looked at the heavy sofa settee, Beds and furniture that my husband’s mother had received from her parents in her wedding. I thought, does he think he is worth this very expensive lookimg furniture that easily adds up to twice my Mahr?

I asked him one day during a family evening,

-“What Mahr did you give your wife?”

-“₹2100” , he said

-“Have you given it to her?”

-“No.”, Came with an uncomfortable shrug

-“Oh its hardly anything, give it to her now from your wallet itself! ”

-“ Arey itne saal khilaya pilaya hai (I have already fed her for so many years) ”

Till date I wonder whether for everything his wife has done for him, birthed and raised his children as responsible adults, did not match up the costs he bore to feed and clothe her. Will her parental gifts and her contribution in marriage ever surpass those bills for her to deserve those 2100.

Do not gasp. It is more common than you think. Stingy Mahr is an issue. But non payment of the quoted Mahr is also an issue. An Halaqa in 2018, where we were studying Surah Nisa, a co-student asked how many women in the room have received their Mahr. In a room of ~20 , I was the only one. She next asked, how many got the priviledge to at least quote or demand their Mahr. Again, nobody but I

I do not think we can do anything but laugh at the second point of Mahr being a rainy day provision for women. Those amounts do not even suffice for two months of rent in most cases. In most cases women are left to the mercy of their birth family or husband’s family. In India, we know the scenario of how well most women are welcomed back home after marriage and how well they are received by in-laws..

Coming back to Abdul Qadir v. Salima, I wonder how woke a woman Salima must have been to take a stand for her Mahr. Did Abdul Qadir have to approach the court to make her cohabit with him? 1886! The social circumstances must have been worse. But this case, led to Indian legal system recognise Mahr as a debt on husband, giving Indian women the right to sue for it. I can laugh it off.


Disclaimer- This is my personal opinions, and musings. Kindly do not take it as a source of knowledge or islamic jurisprudence in any way. Feel free to disagree, be polite in comments.

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Excerpts from my life, Islam

Are We Prepared to Meet Our End?

This was a day that pained me immensely. Just as I was enjoying the day post my last exam, I got the message that one of my good friend’s husband died.

It was that abrupt! Just one message and my heart crashed. We lived in the same city for about a year and a half. We were three. Almost every Thursday, we would meet for lunch- it would be our escape from the very small minded community we lived in. Her baby daughter, about a year and a half old, had begun to recognise me by my name and craved coming to my place for the supply of mangoes that khala gave her.

I do not want to be the person who praises a man just because he is gone now. But my friend loved him. She had long long narrations of things he did for her and I would sense that he kept her very well. He was thirty five.

The news made me very uncomfortable. I remembered the instances I had met them. The moment before I received the news, I was wasting my time on Social Media.

It threw me deep into self analysis, regret and immense insecurity. The transient nature of this life, was staring at my face. Am I prepared to meet my Lord? Have I done enough in this period of my life to gain a good hereafter?

So many false dreams and claims I had at 24 years of age- to build a good network for women, support education of children, to preach the beauty of my faith or to make helplines. What have I done towards them? Nothing. I have just lived a substandard and selfish life.

The Quran says, “Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing).” (3:185)

This life merely is a ticket for what we reap in the hereafter. The hereafter, that is the eternal life. Yet, we get so engrossed in it. This journey gets so overwhelming at times.

Tiny transient problems, start seeming magnified. And how I, a mortal, start solving it with full rigour as if the solution is for a permanent life. How I neglect my spirituality for wordly success and after the run is over how void and lonely I feel because of my neglect.

Then come such instances. A knock of reminder, a question as to whether I am assuming my life to be long. Whether this year was good enough for me to be called a decent Muslim. Did I give back enough, was in selfless enough or have I caused more damage?

I sat still for a long long time. And despite some shame, my inner self pushes me to take a small step towards my Lord. Ar-Rahmaan, the Most Merciful.

To imagine the pain my friend was in. To imagine that young man in grave, his soul meeting his end. To realise there is no reason why I felt immune from such circumstances, except the will of my God.

Within moments I was once again engulfed by Allah’s mercy. How easy did He make this? Is it possible to return to anyone else with this ease at all? I just felt deeply understood. Deeply soothed and immense gratitude swept past me. The blessings of my life felt magnified and every problem suddenly felt non existent. It was never worth the thought and time I put into it.

Calling my friend feels difficult. It is two days now, I still have not called her. There is almost nothing I can do to help I feel. I can pray.

To hear that she is coping well, makes my heart expand. A true example of Sabiroon for me. Much as my heart feels connected, I know what I feel is a fraction of what she feels. Her composure makes me feel grateful as well as softens me for I know this comes from her faith in Allah. Only she who knows how temporary this world is, who knows each one of us goes back to Allah, and who knows trials are a part of life can hold her calm so well. A good believer knows that the One who puts us in trials, is the One who sails us through it. The heart is not meant to be attached to any mortal to the extent that his absence turns devastating. The epitome of it was in my friend.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The real patience is at the first stroke of a calamity.” [ Sahih Bukhari, 1302]

This, however, also serves a reminder for us to always ask Allah for ease in both lives. To ask him for protection from trials.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Take refuge with Allah from the difficulties of severe calamities, from having an evil end and a bad fate and from the malicious joy of your enemies.” (Sahih Bukhari 6616)

Let us remember to make ample supplications for ourselves, our people and mankind as a whole. I personally feel, beyond making our lives better, it helps us be better humans. It softend and expands our hearts to seek another person’s benefit. Additionally, humbles us when we are in a position with lower hands.

I ask Allah to soften our hearts, make us more empathetic as a community, and give us larger as well as an upper hand. May He ease our affairs, bless us with goodness and protect us from trials.

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travel

Ladakh 2- Sangam Point

We hired a bike later in the morning and our first destination was Sangam point. “Sangam”, because Zanskar and Indus meet there. It is true that the journey is ALWAYS more beautiful than the destination. No sooner did we hit the highway NH1, the vastness of nature hit us.

Huge barren mountains like no where else in India. There’s beauty is barren as well. Quite unlike the lush green pine forested mountains of Kashmir. We could feel how small we were.

And the earth We spread out, and placed therein firm mountains” (Qur’an 15:19)

Verses like these keep coming in my mind. I was overwhelmed in minutes. The mind could not sink in the rate at which the eyes were absorbing the magnificence of what was around us.


Have We not made the earth as a bed And the mountains as pegs?”(Qur’an 78:6-7)

Confluence of Zanskar and Indus

The point was beautiful. Husband and I had a very nice time there. The water was serene, and the crowd was scarce. It was ages since I last sat on the bank of a river with my legs in water. My thoughts drifted to the river that runs through my grandmother’s village. A lot of childhood was spent enjoying the clear waters that is now shrunk and polluted.

While walking down, we came across two couples who wanted to go rafting and asked us whether we would want to join (there was shortage of 2 on their raft) . Whenever such adventurous opportunities knock our door, husband and I immediately look at each other and the conversation goes like:

Him: “Karna hai?” (Wanna do?)

I: Haan (yes)

Him: Chalo (Let’s go)

I: Chalo (Let’s go)

Whether it’s swimming under waterfalls and across rivers, crossing the mighty Brahmaputra, trekking across glaciers, climbing up mountains, jet skiing, horse riding, ferry rides, gondola trips, or skiing- each was an impromptu plan made with rushed adrenaline. We experienced these few “firsts” together.

Beautiful is an understatement. Being in that place is simply a blessing. Everyone on the raft kept staring at the hugeness of mountains on both sides and the Indus zig-zagging through it.

The raft was beyond our control. Screaming and hooting we finally hit the calm waters. One can never have enough of such places.

In hopes of a little adventure (and to make the most of the hired bike) we took the road to Phey from there. A tiny village, untouched and drenched with pure culture. The best thing about Leh was vegetarianism due to prevalence of Buddhism. So we really didn’t have to worry a lot about food. We stopped at a tiny eatery run by a lady single handedly and ordered Thukpa and Momos!

The last time I ever had Thukpa outside was during a family trip to Gangtok -Darjeeling with Mom dad and sister when I was in class 5. These were alien concepts for pan Indians that time. I remember a local seller handing us 10 momos on a leaf with the spicy condament at ₹1 per piece just before we embarked on our toy train journey.

Thukpa was a novelty for husband this time. Our hostess took her own sweet time to prepare and we weren’t in a hurry as well. We were the only customers there! I went blabbering about everything we did when we were in Gangtok and the lady soon joined our conversation. We learnt about their village and how the family functions there. The food – warm and soothing , was devoured amidst a very cherished conversation.

Kindness and warmth yet again, compelled me to embrace our hostess before departing. I am sad now for I am unable to remember her face, much as I am trying. I wish I had clicked a picture.

We left back to the city. Explored the market on the bike. The innermost lanes, figuring out everything about travelling to Nubra and Pangong our next destinations.

To be continued….

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travel

Ladakh

Our trip to Ladakh was in September 2017. This was the trip that changed our definition of travel. Our trip to Kashmir before that was immensely pleasurable, but it shook our budget for many a following months. Mostly because we entrusted the planning majorly to an agent and took no charge.

I don’t know when the idea of bagpacker travel entered my mind. And what place would be better to explore this new genre of travel than the mighty Ladakh!

Why Ladakh? Well, because it had ample content available online about it, the sites, homestays, bus stand and taxi stand locations, eateries, people , bike hire options, phone numbers and lot more. It was remote, yet after reading many many many blogs on it, it seemed familiar.

Few key aspects of bagpacker travel are:

  • We use public transportation a lot
  • We stay in reasonaby priced homestays or even hostels if required.
  • We do circle a few places to stay (if reviews are given online by travelers) , yet we almost never pre-book. A lot is left to hunting places last minute
  • Since there is no travel agent involved, we interact with locals and co-travelers (mostly in public transport) a LOT. This is key. We shove aside all hesitation in seeking opinion, reviews, and any other kind of help from their knowledge.
  • We always try to hire bike on rent if available to travel within the city
  • We eat less to keep fit and active , save money and travel more.
  • We walk A LOT to explore the city by foot. The deep alleys and market places have the best experiences in store. We learn a lot about the actual culture. Especially in evenings ,after site seeing.
  • Hotels/ homestays are merely to sleep and to get fresh in the mornings. Cleanliness is all that matters.
  • There is no fixed itinerary. Just an approximate subject to last moment changes

The benefit is that our travel costs a third and hence we can travel more. Secondly, while exploring the city and meeting the locals we get the taste of the culture deep within and actually map the city very closely as opposed to viewing just points. Thirdly, we meet travelers from all over the world, learn skills and sometimes make a friend.

I won’t share the travel itinerary in detail because that’s available everywhere for Ladakh. We stayed there for 5 days. It is a very very small city. Literally traceable by foot.

The abundance of kindness is a big relief for us in strange lands.

The first kind person we spoke to was the officer in tourist information centre. She handed us a map and an information booklet about the city. She was all smiles and very warm in going out of way to mark all the bus stops, taxi stands, fuel stations and other important points for us on the map.

The second kind person was a taxi driver whom we met in the permit office. He guided us to make the permits and by following him step by step we were done with it within an hour. It was a hassle free process as opposed to Dimapur! If you’re going to Nagaland ever, always get the inner line permit from Guwahati. Never pin it for Dimapur.

to be continued. . .


#travel #coronavirus #ladakh #muslim

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Islam

Unspoken Rules of Counseling a Friend- 2

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I spoke about this issue to a friend. It was difficult, but it was the most practical thing to do. We shouldn’t take more than what we can handle. It was a dilemma between moral servitude and self care (urgent!). Much as I started dreading sad tales, I loved the person. They were good women with troubled lives.

I learnt about Empaths. Compiled with introvertism, they tend to overthink a situation. Thus, solutions that they come up with as obvious and practical, turn out to be something new and untrodden by most. Thus, often they find themselves surrounded by those wanting to be heard.

The inability to set strong boundaries is a bad trait. It reflects lack of wisdom. Saying ‘No’ in the right time is a beneficial attribute one must have.

It went all hotch-potch. To some I stopped receiving calls, to some I stopped responding immediately to messages, to some I snapped at out of passion,and to some I could clearly speak my mind out. For a few, I did feel sorry for suddenly ghosting, but I didn’t dare to turn back. All this for not setting boundaries. What a big big shortcoming. But big lessons for the lifetime.

Here are some very important pointers I jotted for myself today, and for future.

For the Empath:

  • Do not neglect your goals and chores to lend a shoulder. Be polite and drop the message that you’re busy.
  • Know you can not change the world and solve the problems of all
  • If overwhelmed, even if heavyheartedly, convey. If not possible, avoid the person.
  • Say No early. Use your mind to find good excuses
  • Make positive people your companion. Take up activities, hobbies and courses to engage mind in productive things.
  • Address your Issues too. Do not dismiss yourself absolutely. This was a surprising feedback I got from some, that they thought I had no issues or I was super strong feeling no hurt. Why else was I counseling them if I couldn’t feel hurt?
  • Do not feel guilty for turning down or disappointing people. Its okay. One can only do as much
  • Analyse looking back whether your friend has benefited and progressed by your counseling. Are your conversations about individual development or random rants just because one can?
  • Guide your long term troubled friends to professional help. You really cannot help anyone who is depressed for over 1-2-3 years. They need better help.
  • Take counseling, courses or any other help for self to manage yourself and people around better.

To the Ones Struggling: I know it is tough time and that everyone needs a vent now and then. I understand, that it is so difficult to look beyond the burdens you carry. But please give this a read. People find it hard to tell you because they are scared to hurt you and leave you alone. But you wouldn’t want to be that dreaded friend right? You would want your friend to benefit from you, let alone be ever harmed by you.

  • Have a close circle to share your feelings
  • Be vary of becoming toxic. Only 5% of negativity can be handled in any relationship. (1 in 20 conversations) If every third conversation becomes about just one person’s issues, he will enter the toxic friend zone very soon.
  • Do not rely heavily on just one person. Have a group. After all he is human too
  • If you find yourself upset over the same thing for a very long time, seek professional help. Pay a counselor or a doctor to hear you out.
  • Do not assume that someone is available simply because he was generous with time earlier. A free person would also love to spend it in something that makes him happier
  • Seek permission before venting always: Seek permission before calling to discuss problems. Especially, in odd hours
  • Appreciate when someone has given you their time and energy: Verbal gratitude is undervalued. Time and energy is the best gift someone can offer. If someone has done that for you, a sweet note expressing what it meant for you would offer some joy to the one who made your day better. Better even, an inexpensive gift to show you care as well. Do not make the person feel unappreciated.
  • Keep it mutual: Even if you are not the most sympathetic around, be there for the person who heard you so much. Call back if you became busy amidst his breakdown. Worse even, do not compete in problems with him by speaking about your bigger problems when he is venting. Sometimes allow the talk to be just about him as well.
  • Know when to take two steps back: Observe the hints when your friend is drained or not in a mood. Do not guilt him for not wanting to be your knight in armour. Do not pressurise or magnify your issues implying that he doesn’t understand. Remember all the times he was there. Be grateful, pray for him and let him go.
  • Seek someone in a similar boat: Yes, if all you want is to speak about your problems, having someone mutually suffering will help you mutually support each other, understand each other better and sail together for a long time without draining either.

Let us all help each other, be merciful and mutually kind. Let us be wary of every one’s mental health and boost every person we meet. Short rendezvous or long term relationships, require investment from both ends. Hold each others hand, support in despair and enjoy the good moments. That’s how life will pass.

Neither can we constantly hope for good times, nor can we afford to be constantly sad. Friendships are important. Let us value a good friend. Let us inculcate gratitude and let us express love more. Let us be friends who remind each other of Allah’s mercy that surpasses all love.

Have a good friend? Recall the goodnesses he has nurtured in your life. Drop a thanks (for the good times or the good words or generosity, anything!) and tell that friend you love him (or her).

So, who made you happy lately?

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Islam

Unspoken Rules of Counseling a Friend -1

With the death of a celebrity in India from suicide, I see innumerable posts, statuses and awareness about depression, the importance of hearing out your friend, to be caring of those around and the fight for mental health.

I appreciate those. However, I have been squeezing myself out in the reverse process from over a year now. As Muslims, we are told that this life is a test, and trials will come and the ummah is like a body, and we ought to see the ones with more problems than us to activate gratitude etc.

Throughout my journey, I have always felt that I am blessed by Allah with a good coping mechanism. Problems came and went, yet I was able to develop a mechanism to stick to the positives and ignore the negatives in the long run. The negatives got sorted one by one, and I realised the importance of good mental health. It is a combination of efforts, skills and Allah’s mercy to guard your happy space.

In all this, I constantly found myself surrounded by people with huge problems. Talking to them, counseling them, showing them the brighter side felt as a moral obligation that comes with the blessing I mentioned before. The reality of the society became clearer with each passing day.

I realised how everyone is upset with some aspect of life. It’s never perfect. Never. This also made me feel more and more grateful for having at least the bare minimum to be happy at all times. Many do not have bare minimum.

Happier women, motivated and wiser they turned out after every conversation. I tried being the shoulder for them to cry on, the listener and the companion. Needless to say, they kept coming back to find soothe. My pleasure. Felt like a small payback for my blessings

2 became 3, 3 became 4 , 4 became 15. The stories were starkly same. Social issues rooting from heavily patriarchal culture. Low self worth instilled in humans. It became my job to be the 2am friend!

However, things started taking a weird turn after five long years. I found myself snapping occasionally. I started dreading some of my friend’s calls and messages. The number of tormented souls around me felt overbearing. I started noting how most are in the same square, crying over the same issues for over 2-4 years! On a large scale, my counseling felt failed.

I started disliking my job! Came in with it lot of self doubt. Is it arrogance? Arrogance over having a comfortable space that others lack. Is it dismissing their problems or victim shaming?

No.

I was beginning to get overwhelmed now. The saturation had come. For me, Sabr always meant a combination of patience with action. It was a sad fact, but most lack the strength, opportunity or incentive to take actions and get over their issues. In all this, it is natural to pent up and want to vent.

I was in a loop now. In a position where despite the empathy I held for each one, I desired to be out of it. It was affecting my mental health now. Draining me out of energy and joy. Each time a woman walked out happy and motivated, I had another aggrieved in line. Thus, where they proceeded to having a better day after the counseling, I had to start over from the lowest square. All this, only to have the same person come back again a few days later.

Thus, began my research with the first question ‘why me’? These are the resulant keywords:

  • Empath
  • Introvert
  • Overthinking
  • Analysis
  • Better solution

Before I began the reverse spiralling, I wanted to analyse whether I was crowding any of my friends. Much to my embarrassment, the answer was positive. I was, to one of my closest friends. So, all my yada yada about space and manners had to be applied on myself first.

It was difficult! I was so used to having her around and being so eager to share even the tiniest detail of my day. She was always so reciprocating. Was in draining her? I decided to ask and the reply came in negative. Much to my pleasure but too generous of her. I went through my chat window with her and Subhanallah! I was that cringy friend I would have blocked decades ago. And here she was tolerating me from 7 years and on! 😑

I retraced my steps back, giving her space to breathe before her answer becomes “Yes Yes Yes !” the next time I ask.

TO BE CONTINUED. . .

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Islam

Garment of Leisure

It is amusing how despite knowing the loss laziness causes many of us are unable to shove it away. The older we get, the more it starts bothering us. Yet, the love of leisure, preference for idleness and the perceived difficulty of tasks is what forms a roadblock.

Indeed, treating oneself with leisure after a progressive session is desirable. But what if it becomes a way of life whose end is not visible? What when we have dreams and aspirations that require us to act?

An excellent book that discusses this aspect is “Disciplining the Soul” by Ibn Jawzi. In a very insightful manner, it reads that the cure for laziness lies in Motivating and Urging the endeavour by fearing that one may miss the goal, or be blamed, or fall into regret [lest one does not make effort]. The regret of a negligent person when he sees the reward of a hard-worker is the greatest punishment.

Read that again!

Remember your aspirations, the present and the ones you buried. Its never too late.

  • Take a few steps a day. Even if the tiniest. When you look back after a year, you’ll be way ahead than today.
  • Have faith. Do not despair at failure. Say, “it was what Allah had decreed for me”.
  • Keep inspirational company, and shy away from ones who pull you back. Lest, you become the one and the hard-worker leaves you to grow.
  • Remember, when the fruits of hardwork come , the hardships endured will feel good.
  • Remember, nobody was created in vain …..

Have you not noticed that when a worker starts working he wears his cheapest garment, when he is done, he takes a shower and puts on two clean garments” [Hilyah al-Awliya]

Let us not wear garment of leisure, before we even start working. (-Inspired from “Disciplining the Soul” by Ibn Jawzi. )

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Islam

A not so Righteous Friend



–  “I am certain you have been guided wrongly. I will confirm and tell you whether it is permissible or not.”

Sherry stared confused at Nassy. All she had mentioned was that she was looking forward to pursue her PhD and carry on with her career in Academics. She did not register the vehement insistence of Nassy to dissuade her from her goals.

Nassy was convinced it is prohibited for women to study in a co-educational institution, let alone having a career in the same. After all, Nassy herself gave up her glorious career, subscribing to a life of Zuhd. So what if she herself messaged Sherry to seek counselling over oncoming depression. The harsh remarks from relatives and the solitude after a decade long hostel life was getting on to her.

Sherry, a part-time counselor, tried to coax her friend to be easier on self. To not burden herself beyond what she can take. Mental health is important. A Believer is never depressed.

-“It’s never too late Nassy. If it’s really affecting your mental health you can always start small. Maybe something online, or a small clinic yourself. I am 37, and it is now that I decided to study higher. I got busy with my old father’s sickness. With him gone now, I felt lonely. I thought I could start. Juggle a bit yourself, I am sure you’ll find a midway as well.”

The atmosphere suddenly sulked. A piercing look darting from Nassy. The conversation was no more about Nassy’s ease. It was now focused on stopping Sherry. Advices not sought over decisions finalised, imposition of thoughts, demotivating ambition and reminders of ascetism were showered.

-“But Nassy, I have thought well over it. I myself spoke to three renowned scholars of this age before concluding.”

-“I am certain you’ve been guided wrongly.”

With this Nassy took it upon herself to find a correct ruling.

It was uncomfortable. The insistence to find a ruling just because the ones present did not align to her understanding.

The pressure on another to follow the path she chose by believing that to be more pious, though it was emotionally damaging. Complete lack of empathy towards another’s situation.

They finished the rest of their tea in grave silence. There was nothing left say. Sherry heaved a deep sigh as she watched Nassy leave.

The next few days Nassy’s Status messages were lined with reminders of Zuhd, simplicity of life and the best of women.

-“Perhaps I am over-imagining”, Sherry muted the status’.

A few days were left for her entrance examination. Age was a huge bar for Sherry. She knew she was already a decade behind.

That night, her Quran Study circle group was flooded with 158 messages! It seemed like an innocent conversation between Nassy and Sihar. Nassy wanted to know how stay at home wives cope with being at home and how helpful it is to know the immense reward Allah has for their sacrifices. Thus, followed a long conversation of how women compromise on modesty by pursuing careers in co-educational organisations. How both of them sacrificed hugely and feel very good about it. The key to best mental health it was.

A conversation drenched in self amazement, in a group full of qualified women practising as doctors, academicians, lawyers, social workers and other professionals. Nobody said a word.


“This is Religious Bullying” , a fine new terminology made place in Sherry’s vocabulary.

A sense of dejection sunk. The humiliation, the “thou art lowly” sentiment that was pushed within.



Subtle, sly and below the belt statements to arouse guilt or inferiority over your Religious practice. It might be layered within the garbs of Reminder. But if observed, it is not tough to spot.



-“Oh! You don’t wear the hijab”
-“You are overdoing your hijab”
-” Is this what your deen is about?”
-” So this is the real you behind all the drama of piety”
– “Is this how you keep your spouse?”
-“You act so religious and you can’t even manage your kids?”
-“Why don’t you see Lara apa, she manages kids, home and job so well. Here you’re tired with just salah and kids”
-” Astaghfirullah! Threaded eyebrows”
– ” In laws unhappy! Hellfire is your abode”
– “What’s the need of a maid, household chores is jihad”
– “Forgive your mahr. Forgive your inheritance. Forgive your privacy. Sabr sabr”.
– “Brother in law hasn’t seen you! Extremist”
– “Subhanallah, house so messy! Cleanliness is half deen”
– “Subhanallah, you want to have ease in wordly life, here’s 101 fatwas to prove that’s haram”

Reminders are gentle. Reminders soothe your heart. The intentions are pure to bring you close to Allah. The roots are love and it’s warmth comforts you. There’s no ego there, no competition to prove oneself right beyond the established truth.

So my friend, be observant. Be wise. The goal is to embrace and practice this beautiful religion. Forgive the bullies but do not forget. Remember, a believer isn’t bitten twice from the same hole.

Sherry blocked Nassy.
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