From a Salaam to a Dua

Assalamu alaikum, everyone

I’m back after a long long time but I really wanted to share this thing that struck me recently and I couldn’t think of a better time to start posting again.

So I have many of these amazing anecdotes about my life after conversion (more coming insha Allah) and though I haven’t shared them all, I always revisit the memories to extract the beauty, love, boost of imaan, and positivity I felt at the time.

Today I was reminded of this thing that happened to me thanks to our amazing faith. And subhan Allah I realized there is so much richness in these reflections, like a gold mine that never runs out of gold. Its not something that I normall reminiscence about.

To give a background, I recently read a lovely status by Abu Eesa on facebook and I just couldn’t stop appreciating the impact of a sunnah as simple as smiling genuinely. This triggered the memory of something that happened in my own life.

Some two years ago, when I was working at a company, I had tasked myself with emulating the sunnah of saying salaam to any Muslim woman I’d come across while traveling. Now for an introverted reserved person like me, that’s a cause of major social anxiety. I am not talkative and small talks are a kryptonite.

But to be honest I loved the idea of greeting other Muslims so much I wanted to make this a part of my life. When you’re a revert out and about in the world, you feel this inexplicable desire to connect with others of your faith. As if saying, hey me too!

Alas, I could count the actual times I said salaam over a period of almost a year on my fingers. It was rewarding but stressful and I wasn’t at a place where I was completely confident of myself.

One instance actually took an adrenaline rush of running at full speed to board a train to finally say salaam to a girl that would be on the same train. I was gathering the courage for DAYS. Not to mention that was weird, creepy and what not. Me cooling down from all the huffing and puffing just to

Not to mention it was weird, creepy and what not. Me in the middle of all huffing and puffing saying Salaam. WEIRD. I am sure I must’ve scared her.

But I did get a sweet salaam in return and consequent days of knowing nods and smiles every time we spotted each other. Score!

However, the reason for this whole post is another incident on the metro. This time I wasn’t dead from running. I was actually standing comfortably by a door, minding my own business when this Muslim lady walked in at a stop to stand right next to me. I was feeling unusually relaxed.

I blurted out a quick salaam and she turned in surprise with a wa alaikum salaam and questioning eyes. She asked me if I knew her because I am guessing it isn’t common to say salaam to strangers where I come from. I told her I was just saying salaam.

We had a common destination and I went on my way towards another mode of transport I was supposed to take. Yeah , we are hardcore travelers in Mumbai even if its the same city. So there she was right ahead of me on her way to the station.

She was relieved to see me and immediately asked where she could find the ticket counter being new to the whole public transport thing. I directed her and her response made me very happy at the time but I didn’t think about it much. Until now.

“Thank you! Please tell me your name, I’ll make dua for you.”

To be honest, this incident doesn’t figure in all the anecdotes I fall back on when I get low and can do with a dose of reminder and imaan. But after reading the post that triggered the memory I just couldn’t help appreciating the beauty and mercy of it all.

A simple salaam attracted a chain of events where I was put in the position to help a confused worried stranger. I know this isn’t big deal. There were tens of people there who could have directed her and no one would’ve given a second thought to it. Heck, even I didn’t.

But the fact that she told me she would make dua for me is something I have only now come to see the beauty of. This is not just about the positivity but the doors (in my case, the door of a potential dua) that are opened to us when we follow simple sunnahs.

May Allah enable us to implement the sunnah such that it becomes a natural part of our lives. Ameen.

 

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Finding Divinity

One of the first verses of the Qur’an I remember leaving a huge impact on me was this –

And We did not create the heaven and earth and that between them in play. (21:16)

It kind of explained why the whole life thing felt a little off. Everyone going about like it’s not a miracle to be a living breathing accident. And it felt good for the elephant in the room, our random seeming existence, to be finally addressed. I felt understood.

We all have those philosophical questions and we all don’t know what to do with them.

So some of us pile them into the back of a closet with our old toys and rhyme books, chipped hearts and cracked self-esteems and souvenirs collected on our way to growing up. I did just that.

We tell ourselves stories about aliens controlling us or finding a portal to another dimension. The stories keep getting deeper and darker so we can forget the crushing weight of our own curiosity.

I finally felt like I do not have to wonder endlessly or carry that weight alone.

By the time I read about verses that get the most limelight and their weird interpretations, I had absorbed so much of the Qur’an these things didn’t feel out of place or scary. It felt interesting like when someone tells you a crazy gossip about your BFF and you find it funny how this person thinks they know your homie better than you do. And indeed the words of Allah are above any analogy.

I felt hopeful, understood and humbled that God cares about good old principles and morality like it would matter when the world ends. You can’t help but respect a book that understands you more than you can even begin to understand yourself let alone God.

The Starry Side of The Moon

As a Muslim today, firing up your computer and checking news and social media online can be an act of courage in itself. Especially if you are thin skinned and sensitive but also too political and curious for your own good. Like yours truly.

Hopefully, you are forgiven for feeling like you’re living on the dark side of the moon.

The past few weeks, however, have really seen the moon shifting and the tides starting to change. If you listened carefully, you could hear history writing itself.

As part of a generation, who has only read about historic uprisings, it feels surreal to witness this monumental shift. A friend who lives in NYC told me not less than a year ago how she had to cut off her friendship with a hijabi Muslim women only because when they hung out she would be stared at by everyone so hard you could feel it in the air.

Would you believe this is the same NYC that has been a center of rallies and marches recently with the defining narrative being standing by Muslims and immigrants? The same NYC where Yemeni shopkeepers came out in protest and literally prayed on the streets making Islam seem ‘not foreign’ after all. The same America that would raise red flags if so much you saw or heard anything close to Arabic those days.

Not less than two days ago, New Yorkers were united in saying ‘today I am Muslim too.’ And not less than a few weeks back, most major airports in America saw protests by the common people against a Muslim ban.

The pictures speak for themselves. Hats off to all the people who refuse to be defined by hate. May you live long.

Yemini shopkeepers on a strike to protest the ban pray on the streets of Brooklyn NY

Pictures of protesters, volunteer attorneys against the Muslim ban across cities and airports in US and even UK

Finally the word terrorist getting the attention it deserves

Flowers outside a mosque in Missouri in solidarity. Yellow for friendship.

Thousands of people including political dignitaries and the Canadian PM attended funeral service for the Quebec mosque shooting victims (may Allah accept them)

ACLU raises record $24.2 million online after Trump’s immigration ban

These sights, the Muslim faces on patriotic American posters and slogans and the flowers replacing the vandalism outside mosques is something to take heart from but also remember that there is a long way to go.

Who would have thought that Trump would be a blessing in disguise that awakened a generation to say ‘enough is enough’ or my favorite –

‘You come for one of us, you come for all of us’

Thanks to a fascist like Trump coming to power in the US and a string of xenophobic policies being introduced, a large number of people are questioning the demonizing of whole communities and organizing to reclaim their country. A large number of people are becoming aware of how hate and bigotry affects ALL of us.

…And they plan and Allah plans, and Allah is the best of planners.”
(Qur’an, 4:54)

I hope we here in India take notes in what true patriotism really looks like. And I hope we all including Muslims everywhere take a lesson into standing against injustice

Maybe the dark side of the moon is where you could get the most stunning view of the stars.

We Are All Not Activists. Sorry I’m Not Sorry

If there is one thing that really gets to me about all the criticism that Muslims face in India, it is hearing this “I know you are all not terrorists but the rest of you need to be more vocal” or some equally crappy version of this attitude.

So I want to say this, we are all not social activists. Sorry..not sorry. And there is a perfectly good reason why you should be talking to my hand instead of parroting that line to me.

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Because seriously the problem isn’t even Muslims.

To put it plainly and simply, Indian Muslims are among the weakest communities in India and the weak do not have a voice even if they scream themselves hoarse. Muslims are both economically backward and vastly uneducated, on par with lower castes.

Surprise, Surprise: Muslims Are India’s Poorest And Worst Educated Religious Group

Muslims constitute 14% of India, but just 3% of India Inc – The Economic Times

Sachar Committee – Wikipedia

And as Rakesh Basant, professor of economics at IIM-A has pointed out in a study, this is due to the lack of ‘supply’ of basic schools or educational institutions in areas of Muslim and other marginalized communities. Such organizational apathy spreads across the spectrum in our country. So sadly most Muslims are busy fulfilling their most basic needs to even think about activism or being ‘vocal’ whatever that means.

Secondly, in India, Muslims disproportionately form a large part of those under trial. This just means that apart from being dirt poor, Muslims are also more likely to be in jails and many even on false charges, bye bye basic life.

Random arrests of Muslim youths leading to radicalisation: Telangana Police chief

Over 55 per cent of undertrials Muslim, Dalit or tribal: NCRB

Share of Muslims in jail bigger than in the population, show NCRB data

Thirdly the line between terrorists and common Muslims blurs politically and otherwise when it comes to fighting terrorism, radicalism etc. You cannot insult a whole community and then expect them to support you in demonizing them even more.

When you alienate a whole community by unfairly associating their faith with terrorism, anything they do is suspicious, anything they say is debatable/unreliable, anything wrong that happens to them is out of provocation, anything other than a confession of their crime is a victim card or anti-national sentiment. It’s classic catch 22.

More than a decade in jail, Court finds charges against Muslims youth fabricated, orders their release

After 23 years in jail, I am free but what you see now is a living corpse, says Nisar

9 Muslims held for Malegaon blasts discharged, Mumbai court says no evidence

Fourthly, your assumption that Muslims need to somehow ‘rise up’ against extremism is part of the problem. Its a reflection of how some people think that all Muslims have ears to the ground and are having normal interactions with their Muslim friends while awkwardly ignoring the pile of guns and bombs in their friends and neighbors’ living rooms. Just..no

‘Provoked in the name of religion’: Bombay HC grants bail to 3 murder accused

Also, it builds on the attitude that Muslims support terrorism and so they do not counter it even though it is in their power to do so.

These are important and selectively ignored criteria while judging Indian Muslims and their dedication to fighting terrorism since right wing fanatics and bigots are not in the business of being pragmatic and/or objective.

The problem doesn’t end there. On those occasions when Muslims do speak up, it is either completely ignored or invalidated as not being enough or not acknowledged at all.

So ultimately there seems no need to prove anything or go out of one’s way to clear the air for people who keep moving the goal post and refuse to recognize their own prejudice.

Trumpistan? NO. Call It What It Is – America

It wasn’t until recently that I became highly aware of how fatal the “western values are superior” construct is. So much so that a lot of people and the media came up with the term “Trumpistan.”

What can be more ironic?

The very American pie Donald Trump who is additionally a quite proudly a racist, sexist, bigoted and an acclaimed islamophobe now holds the most powerful office in the world. And yet somehow America is being socially renamed with a suffix that is common for Muslim majority nation to have.

Why? Because what Trump says seems like it comes from a warlord somewhere in Afghanistan.

Why? Because western values are so superior that it is impossible to come to terms with a very bigoted, sexist, racist leader that is as western as anyone else. So let’s give this dystopia a name which demonstrates the exact opposite of our values because hey it can’t happen to me.

Wake up and smell the sh*t on the fan because this really is happening in America and he really is a true blue American regardless of his values.

It’s amusing. And it pisses me off sometimes but it is also funny.

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Don’t get me wrong. I am in no way averse to anything western. I’ve loved and enjoyed a lot of North American pop culture and continue to do so. And I firmly believe that most western cultures have a lot of basic Islamic ethics that they get right, even more than some Muslim majority countries.

In short I am not your west hating right wing fanatic fundamentalist Muslim.

What we forget is that human values or humanity is not the domain of a single nation or community nor is human cruelty and fallacy. They are common to all humans. Hijacking the positive values and simply adding your own cultural parameters do not make them superior or native to a particular group.

This is especially relevant in a world where Muslims are deterred from claiming the same imperfection that is inherent to the rest of humanity.

And this becomes even more important considering it is nothing but dangerous to group humanity into good and bad based on where they were born or what faith they follow or what color their skin is.

It allows you to denigrate other humans and even invade their countries over fictitious reasons and not give two hoots about the consequences. It allows you to treat other humans in a sub human way, degrading their survival and the right to live in peace. It allows you to kill them for no reason at all except the color of their skin. And this is a reminder to everyone including Muslims.

So no. Don’t call it Trumpistan. Call it what it is – The United States of America.

And know that the enemy is NOT a bunch of people with beards and women that hide their hair and skin in a far away country. The enemy is within and without. And it is time to start recognizing it by its evil consequences of oppression, injustice, and harm to us ALL rather than its eastness or westness.

Phew. Just a bit of American politics for you. Did I tell you I love talking politics?

Watch out for more 😉

The Revert Miyabhai Blog Revamp

The only thing constant is change

~ Heraclitus, A Greek Philosopher

You know how it is.

You do things, then the world changes. More particularly your world changes and you metamorphose into a more confident version of yourself.

I think I am going through something like that. Or maybe it’s just my creative side wanting to play. In any case, I’ve decided to give this blog a bit of makeover. Now that I’ve been posting here regularly (though not as regularly as I would like) and am a bit surer of the direction I want to take this blog into, I think it’s time to change some things and turn the heat up on here.

You’ll see the theme has changed and it’s very lowkey or watered down compared to the floral and playful look I had before.The reason I’ve chosen this theme is that I want the writing to take center stage.

I am looking to post in a refined manner and how I am coming into my own 3 years after I took my shahada.

My posts so far really felt like a coming together of something, alhamdulillah. And this feels like the beginning of something fresh with regards to what I express.

I hope you will love the final look and are excited about what’s in store as much as I am!

Assalam alaikum wa rehmatullah wa barakatu!

 

 

Psychological Muslim – How Our Words and Actions Affect What We Do

I have a thing for psychology. I find it extremely intriguing how our minds work and sometimes how counterintuitive they can be. But most of all what interests me is how our mental behavior affects our everyday life.

For instance, our thoughts alone don’t affect our actions. It’s the other way around as well!

Take the Benjamin Franklin effect. It says you can force someone into liking you by asking them to do a favor for you. When the very likable Benjamin Franklin wanted to get a political acquaintance, who hated him, to like him, he simply asked to borrow a book from the person’s library.

And after doing the favor, Franklin thanked him and the person in question was forced to align his actions to his beliefs, “if I did this guy a favor it means I must like him or at least I don’t hate him as much.”

Mission accomplished.

Like the Qur’an says:

And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. [41:34]

I always thought this verse meant how we react. But it could also mean adding a positive equation to our encounters and to do away with anything that is wrongful.

The Franklin effect perfectly sums up why the good and the evil are not equal and never will be. The next time you find it hard to deal with someone, try getting them to help you, then sit back and watch the tables turn 😉

 

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image credit: pinterest

 

Words & the subconscious

Another thing I noticed is how our words can affect us.

As a now Muslim, when I meet up with old friends and I need to make some halal eating choices or schedule our meetings around salah times, it’s like my friends have come to believe that I am not *allowed* certain things. Instead of the fact that I am choosing to do something.

I don’t blame them. My language reflected passiveness.

And yes for a long time I kept up with it until I noticed the way Muslims are perceived. Instead of just Muslims, Islam is blamed for what happens around us. You would think Islam is imposing some things on us and a lightning bolt is waiting to strike us the moment we slip. And we are oh so obedient.

Sure we care about our accountability but the point is we do all of this out of our own choice and yet we fail sometimes. We do it out of awareness of the truth.

The moment I started replacing “I can’t eat this/ I am not allowed to do this” with “I won’t eat this/ I won’t do this” I was sending a message that I take full responsibility for what I do and I am *choosing* to practice my faith. The message was for both the people around me as well as my own mind (as I realized later).

I felt a certain empowerment and responsibility towards my faith. No one is forcing me! I choose it and if I have chosen it, it’s because I have sworn allegiance to it.

When you focus on this part, you can see your relationship with Allah clearly. You can see you are actively involved in your faith instead of having a passive mindset. And inshaAllah, it does wonders for your taqwa because you are aware you are constantly making some choices, choices that come from looking up and knowing Allah sees you, even if you don’t.

The angels are putting pen to paper every time I *do* something. It only makes sense to be aware of my free will and the responsibility of having one.

Also, it turns striving to become a better Muslim into such an experience. Give it a try.

Whatever of good reaches you, is from Allah, but whatever of evil befalls you, is from yourself. And We have sent you (O Muhammad SAW) as a Messenger to mankind, and Allah is Sufficient as a Witness. [4:79]

 

 

Letters…

Sometimes we fail to realize how what we assume, predict, plan, fuss over is way off the mark from what really happens.

And that what really happens is the best of what could have been because it was planned by The Best Planner. Make the best dua you can make and know that He is the One who answers.

The Indian Reverted Muslimah...

-“And your Lord is the Free of need, the possessor of mercy” (Quran, 6:133)

Have you ever wondered the mercy Allah swt has put in time? How as time passes every problem, sourness or heart break heals. Indeed Allah subhana wa ta’ala is Ash Shafee- The Healer. Like every sickness, He heals hearts as well.

There are moments I sit back and reflect upon the small journey that I have traversed. Alhamdulillah, the feeling is nothing less than being “overawed”. Who could have ever planned a life this way? All the twist, turns, happy and good times. The unimaginable position I am in today and the incomprehensible position I will be five years down the line. How many of us end up exactly where we had planned? I, at least, had never imagined to be here in this city, amidst the people I am and doing the things that…

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To Do

 

So where are you going?

~ (The Qur’an 81:26)

 

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credit: tumblr

 

There are places to go

and things to do

But can you choose your battles well?

 

No but destiny will meet you halfway

Like a burglar

with a family of five to feed

Desperate enough to hurt

But never enough to kill

 

Who knew the ground will conspire to get you down

That you’d be watching your now riderless high horse

All your lesser evils

dragging you to divine abattoirs

vices and all

 

The one with large meat knives

made of loss and hurt and razor sharp darkness

laying your ego on the butcher’s block

 

slicing through all that wronged you

All that you wronged

let the abyss it created

flow till the very last drop is out

 

Now for the spring you must feel

Now for the places you must visit

and revisit

 

 

The masjids

The classrooms

The truth rallies

 

The books

The hearts

The consciences

 

Or again the slaughterhouses?

 

Mecca

Medina

The foot of the Kabah

 

Your grave

Your Maker

Your heaven

In no particular order, in no particular order

 


Eid Al Adha Mubarak everyone! 

Just something I wrote recently inspired by the sight of the kaabah during hajj. I don’t realize how badly I want to go until I see the kaabah this time every year and then it feels just…I am sure that’s how every muslim must feel whether they’ve made the hajj or not.

May we be one of the hajjis soon. Ameen

Liebster Award Time

Assalamu alaikum everyone!!

So I’ve been really sneaky lately reading a lot, taking inspiration, writing my own posts, condemning them to the drafts, repeat. And may be this would have gone on for some time until a Liebster nomination hadn’t woken me out of this vicious circle.

A big fat thank you to Love Halal for doing that! So happy to be nominated 😀

So here’s how it goes..

A Liebster award is a ‘of the bloggers, to the bloggers, for the bloggers’ initiative and you can accept the award by simply following these super fun steps:

  • Uploading the Liebster award logo.
  • Giving props to the awesome blogger that nominated you by mentioning them.
  • Making me the heir of all your wealth, home and food (just kidding, your wealth is enough)
  • Writing 11 scary secrets about you facts about you
  • Answering the questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Spreading the love by nominating 11 other bloggers (who have less than 200 followers) and exacting revenge by asking them 11 questions.
  • Of course let them know you nominated them.

Here are 11 facts about me:

*drumrolls please*

1.I would rather read than watch, listen, feel

2. Funny is my favorite everyday emotion. If you have food and funny I am yours.

3. I mostly watch TV when I’m having tea and my most favorite thing to watch is doraemon. (I’m not kidding. The tea won’t go past my throat if I am not watching doraemon)

4. I love love love large meadows with lots of wildflowers and green grasslands with cloudy skies about to rain. Ah!

5. I have a burning dream of living in a fairy house with mystical interior decoration, vintage crockery and teacups with pastel roses, little pink chairs and tables, a large library, a vegetable garden and of course there needs to be a fairy maid

6. My most important dreams about jannah are made of food 🙂

7. I am a pluviophile through and through (someone who is crazy about rains)

8. I am waiting to be adopted by a cat.

9. I am scared of anything that is a few centimeters long, has multiple legs and can fly. I can deal with the rest if its nothing wild and is 21 kms away from me

10. I like to be alone 🙂

11. I am an optimistic skeptic

Questions Love Halal asked me:

Where do you live and where would you prefer to live?

I live in Mumbai, India and I love this city. I would prefer to live in a place with gardens underneath which rivers flow 🙂 Anywhere with green grasslands and meadows would be my first choice, may be Canada

Whom do you love the most in your life?

My mom

Are you an introvert or extrovert?

Introvert with a side dish of extreme people allergy

Any weird phobias in life?

Just the occasional insect phobia

If you were rich enough to own the world, what would you do to change the present situations?

OMG. I would may be start with making sure everyone has enough to eat.

Your favorite famous personality?

Spongebob. He would be my spirit animal 😛

What is your favorite pass-time on a lazy weekend?

I love painting and crafting in my free time or just reading

Best thing to have experienced in life?

Reading a good book (second to eating)

Which one is your favorite quote?

Don’t let the muggles get you down! – Ron Weasley

Best read book of all time?

There are so many but to mention one The Harry Potter series 😀

What is your philosophy of life?

Don’t just hope everything will be okay. Have faith you’ll be okay no matter how everything else is.

My 11 questions

  1. What is your favorite childhood memory?
  2. How do you fight procrastination?
  3. What is your favorite season and why?
  4. One thing you would like to change about yourself
  5. Post your favorite shade of your favorite color
  6. Cake or ice cream?
  7. Silence or deep intellectual conversations?
  8. What is the one crazy thing you thought about the world when you were a kid? (Eg: that we live inside earth an not ON it)
  9. One thing you do to relax or make yourself happy(Eg: make funny faces when you’re alone and laugh at yourself, dance)
  10. A quote, book, place, person that has had a huge impact on you
  11. One place you’d rather be right now

Here are my nominees:

Khamosh Dhadkanen

Outspoken Hijabi

The Secret Hijabi

A Path of Roses

Life of a Striving Muslimah

The Wind Up Bird Speaks

Words of a Ramadan Addict

A Sprinkle of Surprise

Wannabe Deen Buddy

That Nagging thought

PS: This was so much fun. Guys, no pressure to take this ahead but hope you have fun if you decide to accept the award! Also if you’ve already accepted you’re welcome to just thank me for this nomination or go accept it again if you like ;D