Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Juice Boxes

[July 2010]

Part Two

The next day, we met at the school to clear out our stuff and return our supplies to the storage space.  I was asked early on, whether I would be coming on Monday. "Coming to what?" I had asked, and yet even asking didn't really clarify what anyone was talking about.

When things are cleaned, counted (for inventory), and boxed, the staff sit down for some leftover snacks and boxed juices.  And then before I'm really even aware of it, plans have been made for a social event.  As one counsellor takes down items, transportation arrangements are made.  Someone else asks me if I'm coming.

I'm not sure what to say.  There's no way I'd be allowed to attend the event.  "But if you go, our parents will let us go too!", they say to me. 

 And I'm in an utter state of disbelief.  How did all this happen without the Supervisor's input?  Have the pros and cons been labelled out?  What about parental permission? What about the fact that this event is so taboo.

I'm fuming.  And it's not because I think I should have been consulted.  But because this is such a dumb idea that does not take into account any of the possible consequences.

I make my way out of the classroom with my little trolley, and Sarah helps me out. As we walk to the masjid,  I tell her that I think this is a dumb idea.  It took us so long to earn this (patriarchal, uber-traditional, no-women-in-the-masjid mentality) community's trust, and all it would take is one little celebration not within the parameters of what is considered acceptable, for that to be blown off.

So we get to the masjid, and once everything's put away, and I give mum a call.

And I guess I sounded hurt, because she later came up with this theory that I think that people don't respect me.  And ever since she's come up with this theory, she's started saying bizarre things like, "It's okay.  Don't worry about them. You don't have to live with them the rest of your life anyways."  Bizarre, yes.

I hang up, and the attention suddenly turns to me.
I'm asked again whether I'll be coming.  And I bluntly state, "Only if I have permission."
That was Friday.

It doesn't really sound like a meltdown of great proportions, but it was.  This writing does it no justice.

Monday, 30 January 2012

A slow start...

[July 2010]

Two weeks ago.

Right before the end of camp, and the beginning of my breakdown.

Part OneI think it started with the camera drama.  The staff had misplaced my camera and no one knew where it was, or cared to look for it.  Except for me, of course.

So while everyone was hustling, bustling and having some fun, I was frantically interrogating people, running from one person to another.

It was just a camera.  A three hundred dollar camera, but albeit, still just a camera.
And while there were a few gentle souls that tried to console me, I kept thinking:
a) Shit.  I lost another camera. 
b) Dumb staff!  I can't believe they're so irresponsible!
c)  Nobody's taking pictures of the picnic and the games.  I HAVE to find that camera so I can start taking pics pronto.
d)  Why doesn't anyone else care?  What the hell is wrong with everyone?

After about an hour and half of mindless running about, I was getting super emotional and cranky.  Sarah was trying to help me, and yet I snapped at her.  I marched off, saying that I needed a walk.

And I walked.  Around to the other entrance, and into the washroom.

I walked by camp people, in their red and purple t-shirts.  I stared at the ground.

I started washing my sweaty face, and then realised I probably should just make whudu.

So I did.

And then I sneaked into a classroom and made my way to a corner.  I took my camp t-shirt off and laid it on the ground, and prayed the best dhur I had prayed that week.

The best dhur of that week, maybe even that year.
It took me an hour.
But, by Allah, I felt so calm after.

And yet, this breakdown was only the tip of the ice-berg.

Friday, 27 January 2012


[July 2010]

Why is this bugging me so much?
Okay, let's think some rational thoughts, yeah?

There's no point in allowing this to bother me since I have no control over the matter to begin with.
There's no point, because each thought simply leads to another, which leads to a constant spiral of anxiety.

I've always told myself that things happen according to His master plan, and not our small, insignificant plans.  If I trust this, why am I still so antsy?

Does my reaction indicate a distortion in rational thought patterns?

Why could I be feeling this way?

Does it have to do with some inner insecurities?
Does it have to do with some unresolved matters?
Does it have to do with the fact that I made a 180* flip?  Or that this optimism is so unnatural to me (on that note, am I really that immune to thinking positively and expecting the best?)
Does it have to do with counter-transference of my family's thoughts and beliefs?

What am I afraid of?
And why?

My Lord isn't just the All-Loving (Al-Wadud) and the All-Merciful (Ar-Rahmaan); He is also my Guardian Lord, my Rabb, and He will take care of my every need, insha-Allah.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Mounting Anxiety

[July 2010]


I'm getting so antsy now that at times I think something will just subconsciously pop out of my mouth.

But I've made this promise that I wouldn't ask of anyone in this matter except of Allah, the Most High.

And yet, it takes everything I have to refrain from saying anything and from speaking my thoughts.

It'll be two weeks this Thursday.

And I wish I had a better memory.  It's taking me forever to memorise some duaas.
Like this one:

When waiting for news:
O Allah! I ask for unexpected good and I seek refuge from unexpected evil.

And even the istikhara one.  I've got it in bits, but not all together - in essence I wouldn't be able to recall it without some memory aid.



You know, when I'm so busy I can't have two seconds alone I almost forget about it.  Like today at the picnic.

But, I kinda just want some time to do nothing.  Just be.
But, the drawback to that is that my mind will wander to that topic.  I just wanna know, you know?  It's not that I'm hung up on it..but rather that I feel that it's so unfinished and unresolved, and I just want an answer - any answer.

Mum and I were watching a documentary tonight about the coral reefs.  Apparently, New Zealand has the best system of protected marine reserves in the world, so they were talking a lot about it.

I thought mum would say something.
She didn't.

I didn't either.

I just pretend to not think about it.

But pretending can only work for so long.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Introducing Bilal

Flashback to July 2010.  This was the first time I was genuinely scared about the future.  It was right after I had met Bilal and this July was a roller coaster. In the next couple of posts, we're going back in time to re-visit Bilal.

[July 2010]

I am.

Sam I am, Scared I am.

I had my second serious rishta meeting yesterday. And I'm a different person than I was when I had my first meeting.
What separates the two is two years. 

Two years ago, I was in third year.  I was taking int'l peace and human rights.  I was so naive, thinking that all that mattered was personality - not family, not looks, nothing else.

I was less nervous this time, and what made me happy was that it was so halal.  That sounds weird so let me explain.  This time, there was no mixed seating and carrying in a tray of tea. This time, there were no women actually from the other side.  All the men sat in the front room and chatted for awhile.  Dad came to get the tea, and I ventured out to the backyard to talk to my sisters.  And then all of the sudden, while I'm still on the phone, dad brings him outside. 


But he was visibly nervous, and that made me more comfortable with my own anxiety.

We talked for about 20 minutes and then it was maghrib time to they all went to the masjid.  When they came back, the men chatted some more, and then right before they left, his dad came into the back room to speak to mum and me.  He reminds me of my Khala's husband - chatty, but really friendly too.

And that was it.

My parents are happy.

And I don't know where I am.

Where am I?  What did I think?

All I can say is that I don't know.  I really don't. 
My knowledge is so incomplete, and the knowledge of Al-Aleem is so perfect and complete.

I liked some things.  I didn't like other things.

And I feel like I have to think everything through twice because New Zealand is so far away. It would mean leaving everything I know, and everyone I know.

I wouldn't be in North America anymore.  I'd be on an island.  An island.

Anyways, it's best to not overthink this.  What is meant to happen, will happen and all I can do is hold on to my tawakul-Allah.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Why Moineau?

I've never really explained the title of this blog before, now have I? Well, here's a go at it.

Ma Chere Moineau = My dear sparrow. Except, it obviously sounds better en francais. Obviously.

The inspiration was at least 18 years in the making. Way back in the mid-90's.


When asked what my favourite animal is, I've always said, "Sparrow", without a moment's hesitation. 

They are such beautiful creatures, happily chirping away.

My neighbourhood has plenty of sparrows, and they seem to always be around, no matter what the season or time of the day.  This means that I've had plenty of opportunities to just observe them, from the time I was a small child. 

As a nine year old, I remember a sparrow building her nest on the inner beams of our patio roof.  Her five eggs hatched by spring time, and we watched as she fed her little babies. But sad as it is, there were a handful of accidents, and only one little baby survived. One of the eggs actually toppled to the ground, with the foetus still underdevelopped.  Another infant sparrow fell from the height of the roof as it was learning to walk.  Another had a flying accident.  And so it was, but that little mother bird, she went on caring for those of her babies that had survived.

And everyday, she went out in search for food.  For herself, and her little family.

Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying,
"If you all depend on Allah with due reliance, He would certinly give you provision as He gives it to birds who go forth hungry  in the morning and return with full belly at dusk." [At-Tirmidhi]

This is a well known hadith, and possibly one of the first ones that struck a deep chord with me when I was just beginning to really embrace this deen.  It's had a deep impact on how I view being a Muslim, and the commentary on it really illustrates its beauty:

"1. Reliance on Allah is one of the most important causes of getting sustenance in this life. Allah said: {And whoever fears Allah, He will provide him a way out and will provide for him from an unforeseen direction. And whoever relies on Allah, He is sufficient for him.}

2. Reliance on Allah does NOT mean not working and striving for sustenance in this life.

3. Tawakkul (reliance) on Allah is: The true reliance of the heart on Allah in the pursuit of acquiring that which benefits and avoiding that which harms in this life and the hereafter and the leaving these issues up to Allah along with the true belief that no one gives, witholds, harms or benefits except Allah Most High.

4. The fruit of tawakkul is the acceptance of Allah’s decree. Whoever leaves his affairs to Allah and then is accepting of what he is given has truly relied on Allah. Al-Hassan and others among the salaf defined tawakkul as ridhaa (acceptance)." [Source: Riyaad-as-Saliheen, Ch. 7] 

And then there's another less well-known hadith that refers to birds:

Abu Hurairah [ra] reported that the Messenger [saw] said:
“There will enter Jannah people whose hearts will be like
those of the hearts of the birds.”[Muslim]

People whose hearts will be like those of the birds.  What an incredible metaphor!
The commentary on the hadith says the following:

"1. Excellence of trust in Allah and kindness of heart are most valuable qualities beause both of them are means to enter Jannah.

2. One should not worry much about one's food and means of subsistence.  In fact, people should have hearts like birds who do not collect to keep in reserve anything and go out every mornign in serach of ..andfood and return to their nests fully satiated.  This advice is repeated in another hadith to the effect that wehn birds leave their nests in the morning they are hungry but when they come back, their stomach are full and they do not need any more food.

3.  It has been interpreted that such people are those who put their trust in Allah; another interpretation is that these people are tender-hearted.
4. Just as the hearts of birds are free from every tint of jealousy, in the same way the hearts of the people of Jannah will be free from jealousy, rancor, deceit, and hatred. Secondly, just as birds are always alert and cautious of any danger, in the same way the hearts of the people of Jannah will also be wakeful. Thirdly, trust as the birds trust in Allah for their food, in the same way the people of Jannah will have complete trust in Allah regarding their sustenance, rather, their very existence." [Source: Ibid.]
May Allah make our hearts like those of the birds.  Ameen.

Friday, 20 January 2012

The List

humility:  that's the newest addition to my list now.

And I realise that my list is getting very long, but it's my list, so stick it!

But then again, most of the qualities that are on that list can be summed up by this: striving to be a true mumin.

Your accomplishments, your good looks, your everything is because of Allah SWT.  He blessed you with it, and He can take it away anytime He pleases. It's all n'ima, all of it.

"Blue Eyed"

Just a couple of the terms I've directly encountered.  Blagh.  It puts this awful taste in my mouth.  It's such a turn-off.

My alter-ego is likely having a screamfest inside.

But whether we'd like to admit it or not, much of this process is about "peacocking" as one of my friends would say.  You're essentially describing yourself to a perfect stranger, who will then pass some judgement as to whether or not you meet their criteria.  It's natural to want to be desired.

But I think there's a difference between wanting to look good and being arrogant. Scratch that. There IS a difference.

Show a little humility, man.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Five Minutes

Think about Life for a second.  All the ups and downs. The big moments and the small things. 
Think about it as a trajectory. A timeline with multiple blips throughout.
And then the end.  Le fin.

Most of us, if we’re completely honest with ourselves, don’t really think about the fragility of life.  We have goals, dreams and aspirations for what things will look like in 10, 25, and even 40 years.  And that’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with that.
But there’s still an end.
There’s a story I heard at an Islamic conference this past year, and it’s really stuck with me.  The Shaykh pointed to two young boys in the audience and asked for their names and ages. They were both around 8 years old. He then said,
“One day, not so far away into the future, Abdur-Rahman and Ali will be enjoying each other’s company in Jannah, insha’Allah.   They’ll be eating all the wonderful foods of Jannah, and they’ll be talking to each other in the way good friends do.  Then, Ali will turn to Abdur-Rahman and say, ‘Hey, do you remember dunya?’  At this point, both brothers will sit quietly for a moment as they try to remember what dunya was like. What did we do?  How did the time pass by? What was it like?
And as much as they try remembering this, dunya is but a distant, foggy memory.
‘I lived for 65 years in dunya.  But compared to this life, dunya feels like a fleeting five minutes,’ Abdur-Rahman slowly responds.
Ali looks over at his friend and nods his head in agreement.”
And even though Allah knew that once we got to Jannah (insha’Allah) our lives in the dunya would seem like a fleeting five minutes, and that our trials and challenges would seem like minor scratches, He still prepared us for it.  Because He knew that while we were here, Life wouldn’t seem like a fleeting five minutes – especially not when we’re struggling.  He knew that for us, our challenges would appear like soaring mountains and that this life would seem like it would go on forever.
And so when people say that the greatest blessing is Imaan, it’s no small thing.
Islam teaches us to be optimistic. Islam teaches us to persevere.  And it reminds us that there will be an end. The end.
And that throughout it all, your Lord is al-Wali- The Protecting Friend and the Holder of Authority.  Who better than Him to look out for your best interests?
And it may be that that dislike something while it is good for you and that you like something while it is bad for you.   And Allah knows and you do not know.  (Quraan, 2:16)
And in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest. (Quraan, 13:28)

Monday, 2 January 2012


So there's a prosect in the picture and we've been emailing for the past month or so.  Just email.

But I'm a bit of a klutz. And as it would be, I made my first IM blunder today. During our first IM conversation. To make matters worse, after committing the said offence, I panicked, said a quick goodbye and signed out. Hit 'n run.

It was just a quick chat to set up a meeting time for tomorrow, and to be fair, my keyboard layout is a bit different.  It's a French-compatible one, which means that it's a little bit different than the standard. I've also had it for over a year, so I should be used to it by now.

But I'm not.

I should've explained that it was a mistake. I shouldn't have pulled a speedy gonsalez.

I now have two options:
a) Ignore it and hope it doesn't come up during the conversation
b) 'fess up

And only one these is actually the real option. 

Ah well, he already thinks I'm a bit weird for doing a background google search on him, and then admitting that I already knew what he looked like. Brownie points for being honest, maybe?

 And I'm sure plenty of others have made made similar mistakes, right?

And...even if it was emabarassing, it's a comedic moment (in retrospect atleast).

And in spite of whatever other klutzy-type of things I might end up doing (or have already done), I'm comforted by the fact that if he's the one that's meant for me, then my weirdness won't be an obstacle. After all, que sera, sera.

Just in case you were wondering what the klutzy thing was, I accidently sent him a "wink" instead of a smiley. Yikes.