Sitting in the corner of the market, on a dirty abandoned street once so full of life she closed her eyes. She had been walking for many days now, passing by ruins and dilapidated houses always in shambles, mostly unoccupied. Her journey had been long and arduous with no destination in sight. All she saw were reminders of the atrocities committed by other men. Men who claimed to come bearing the name of peace. The reminders were painful, bringing with them memories she had long before tried to forget. They clung to her like a disease, growing in weight as the days slowly dragged on.
How she longed with every fragment of her tiny being, to be beyond the hopelessness and confusion of her down-trodden life, the misery and scorn of unfulfilled dreams and the hurt and loss of failure.
Her secret refuge was where she found peace, a place where her mind took her and allowed her to glimpse a timeless paradise hidden behind a secluded doorway if only but for a moment. Where the joy and happiness which filled her heart would not come crashing down without a moment’s warning. Where pain and longing were feelings unheard of.
A place where her life was beyond the wickedness and evil which war brought with it. A sanctuary, where one could dare to dream and hope filled the air with its dazzling presence. Where young love was not scorned and passion was allowed to run its due course. Where a mind and heart would not bleed away with the burden of all the pain chained up inside. Where the innocence of children would not be tainted by hideous sights of death and destruction. Where eyes would no longer weep for loss and pain but sparkle with merriment and wonder. Where each moment would be worth living and every creature would be thankful, brimming with contentment at last.A place where only dreams could come true!
His eyes spoke volumes holding within them secrets heavily guarded as he stared out across the water, watching the ripples form with the gentle wind that carried them across its surface. A rage, smouldering deep within him continued to fester and build as his eyes seared with its powerful pull. Unintentionally his fists clenched around the iron bars of the grid, separating the water from the lower stone wall. His strong hands, knuckles white and hard kept a firm grip on the bar, unyielding as the anger continued to build within him.
As I walked along the pavement, I felt something wet and soft brush my nose as it fell to the ground and melted away. I looked up puzzled, wondering whether it had started to rain as it often did in my part of the world, suddenly and unexpectedly just when you thought the weather was stable for once. But it wasn’t the rain and just as I realized this, I couldn’t help but exclaim and smile to myself as another big white flake lightly touched my nose and melted away into oblivion. As I looked on, more and more started to fall around me in a never-ending terrain, slowing settling down on the ground creating layer upon layer of white elegance. It was snowing!
The sky, in all its glory, a huge expanse of never-ending white, looked staggeringly beautiful. The heavens which blanket the earth opened up as each flake gathered speed and settled upon the earth light as a feather forming a flawless white shimmering sheet.
A sight so beautiful to witness, covering everything within sight in a layer of silvery softness. I stood rooted to the spot, my arms stretched out as the little snow crystals began to cover my coat and hood, camouflaging me in their grace.
The beauty around me was so breath-taking I couldn’t help but think of the artist behind such a miracle. The human, an insignificant being could all but gape at the sight and appreciate Him.
Within half an hour everything around me was a stark white, glowing a yellow, gentle glow as the street lights came on and reflected off its surface. It was sight to behold, one that makes you stand in awe of God’s miracles and realise your own mere significance as a lowly venerable creature.
I have always loved the snow. Having lived a major part of my life in a hot country and feeling the wrath of that baking hot sun shining down upon you is unbearable at times; winters hold a very special place in my heart. I’m even happy to tolerate the extremely cold feet with chilblains and a permanently red nose.
As per usual, the first snowfall of the winter had us all out in our woollen hats, gloves and boots ready to build a snow man and of course have that all important snow fight- more of a war in my house hold.
This year, a twenty year old me decided to do something slightly more grown up. We all joined in the quest to build an upside down snow man.
Turned out to be quite a failure, so we rescued it and made snowman number two which luckily turned out to be slightly more ‘normal looking’ despite having a nose like Pinocchio!!
A few weekends back (22 June-24 June) I attended a seminar. You know one of those boring long lecture’s where you go and sit, make yourself comfortable and then the lecturer enters the room, mounts the podium and mumbles away for hours while making random motions towards the projector screen spread out behind him. I’m sure most university students are familiar with the scenario, despite often using that very time to catch up on their sleep-Yes university has taught me to sleep with my eyes open! Except THIS seminar was not boring. It was a completely unique experience which left me in awe of the speaker and his intelligence.
The seminar took place at the Grange Hotels in London and stretched over the complete weekend, starting from 10 a.m. till around 7.30 p.m. in the evening. The event was extremely well organised, well-coordinated and pre-planned to the utmost detail.
The speaker was a very intelligent young Egyptian man by the name of Dr. Reda Bedeir. He spoke for an hour at a time, after which there was a ten minute interval. The “coffee and bathroom break” as I called it. (I must confess I drank so much coffee, that by the end of the day I had lost track of how much caffeine I had consumed-but Hey, who says no to freebies right? Okay now I’m grinning guiltily)
Freebies aside, what inspired and left me completely enthused was the beautiful speech delivered by Dr.Reda Bedeir over the three days. This has made me realise how important it is to focus on the bigger picture and to live each moment with the very thought that it may surely be my last.
My memory isn’t exactly as sharp as I would like it to be, and despite making notes throughout the seminar, I may have missed out quite a large chunk of it. However, I will share all I learnt from this man, in a summarised list below, in the very hopes that someone out there will be motivated to take what life offers and give it their best shot. So here goes:
- God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. I found this point rather amusing. These days’ people are not only denying their true origins but have also completely drifted from the true balance of life. The way he explained this was not only cleverly put together but also had a hint of humour encompassed in it, and was a great way of captivating the audience’s attention.
- Outer appearance is important but the most crucial of all is the beautification of the heart. In today’s world people concentrate so much on their outward looks, the embellishment of their clothing and other such petty matters that they forget what really counts. A beautiful character and a pure heart is what really beautifies a person. In contrast looking well maintained and smart is also imperative but a balance between the two is what really matters.
- Man has been given free will. And for those people who believe in destiny and the fact that all is pre-written cannot use this as an excuse to do whatever the hell they please. Some people use destiny as an excuse. They argue that since man’s destiny is already written, they have no say in what crimes they commit or whatever wrong action they perform since it is their fate. However Dr.Reda helped us understand this through a practical example: We were asked to stand up and slap the person next to us. Now this was the point where we could choose to slap the person or not, it was our OWN decision. God didn’t come down and force us to slap the person standing beside us. This very example helps negate the view that man has been programmed to function according to a set plan. In fact the very opposite of this is true, we are all free to do as we please, and are each accountable for our own actions.
- The concept of what a real man should be like has been distorted to the point that people can no longer differentiate between what’s essential, looks or character. Today people believe that a stud with huge biceps, a booming voice and commanding and controlling nature is what an ideal man should be. That Hollywood image of the well sculpted hunk, with a perfectly toned hairless body is not what a true man is. Understanding this very point is important. A man is defined by the way he behaves, his nature, life goals, attitude and most importantly the very way in which he treats his family and the respect he shows them. Looks are important too, I agree. But only to a certain limit. They shouldn’t take precedence over character because anyone could tone their body to a great shape but also remember that with time that empty shell will soon grow old but that pure heart and love will only grow stronger. A real man acts the same way behind closed doors as he does in front of people and doesn’t need a pocket full of cash and a pretty girl on each arm to feel complete.
- Our life will be over in a matter of minutes, in a single blink of an eye. If you close your eyes and try to picture your complete life until now, be it twenty, thirty, forty, fifty even sixty or seventy years, the longest it will take you to back track and preview all your life’s events will be around 70 to 80 seconds, give or take a few. That’s exactly how miniscule our life is. That’s why it’s so important to not only focus on what counts but to try to do as much good as possible and make that difference be it as tiny as cheering someone up (or so I tell myself).
- Our heart is capable of loving, it is divided into a number of compartments which filter out and love each individual element up to a certain degree and in the order we place them. The order of our love is a key issue. Be it the love of God, his prophets, your Holy book, your parents, your spouse, your children, your wealth, your homes, your relatives, your job, or your car. All things should be in perspective and in the right order. For example loving your job more than your spouse will only bring disharmony in the relationship. Hence getting those priorities set in the right order is crucial.
- Last but not least, the root of all evil in this world starts off with DENIAL. Be it denial of good, denial of doing the right thing, denial of the truth etc.Denial is that very action, that very word which can make or break everything that counts and realising that will help us through all that awaits us be it good or bad.
For those of you that live in the West, ever spotted a girl wearing a hijab (modest covering worn by Muslim women but mostly a term used for the head scarf, worn as a symbol of modesty, privacy and protection from unwanted attention) and supporting what looks like a humongous camel hump at the back of her head? Reminds me of “Mega Mind”. The movie with that smart funny little blue alien and his overly large brain. Here’s a picture of my little hero!
Sometimes I just smile at the utter ridiculousness of what people nowadays consider fashion.
Returning to Britain after a long time, one of the biggest eye openers among many others is the sudden change I have noticed in the way people now dress. Not going into the fact that people have slowly but surely begun to shed their clothes like a snake sheds its skin, Muslim(Believer in one God-Allah, and follower of the religion called Islam brought by the Prophet Muhammad) girls have begun to misinterpret and portray a very wrong image of themselves and the hijab they wear.
I’m not here to preach and neither do I in any way qualify as a religious scholar, but I really don’t understand the need to create a huge hump at the back of your head. In my opinion it makes the head look deformed. I always wondered how they did it, until I saw a YouTube tutorial on how to get the biggest hump. The process involves tying your hair into a big bun at the back of your head and then attaching a large-flowered clutch and layering your scarf around it to give it extra volume. (Forgive me if I’m wrong girls, I’m no expert).I mean why bother? All that hassle just to make your head look like an egg gone wrong?
Turns out fashion has taken a turn for the worst when it comes to certain hijab styling’s, the camel hump being the first and foremost on the “Do not attempt” list.
What’s really scary is the fact that there is a hadith pin pointing exactly this and I quote:
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) stated in a sahih hadith from Muslim:
“There are two types of the people of Hell whom I have not seen: Men in whose hands are whips like the tails of cattle, with which they beat the people and women who are clothed yet naked, maa’ilaat mumeelaat, with their heads like the humps of camels, tilted to one side. They will not enter Paradise nor even smell its fragrance.”
This hadith speaks for itself. The part about men refers to those people in power who beat the people unjustly, like police officers etc., whether it is done by order of the state or otherwise. Scholars think that “Heads like the humps of camels” refers to these modern hijab tying styles I mentioned above which are extremely prevalent in our society today.
I do admit some of the hijab styles look extremely elegant and dignified. Those different colour combinations and elaborate wrapping of the cloth into new styles sometimes has me in awe of what one can achieve given the time and will especially since I can never be asked to put so much effort into it and still stick to my plain old black and white’s.