Tuesday 29 October 2019

Shameless Weddings

I got an interesting e-mail a few weeks ago, rebuking me for being a bad Muslim because my family have big weddings and for wasting money when people are suffering across the world. Basically, saying I have no shame and should set a better example.
I haven't got around to replying yet...but where do I even start.

I could get angry and be nasty about it, but there are two good things worth pointing out:
1.     This person at least had the guts and made the effort to say what they think.
2.     I am quite shameless and proud of it – shameless in asking for help, offering help, sticking my nose in when I see something wrong, in asking questions.  It has taken a lifetime to get this way and I am grateful and relieved. Oh, and shameless when it comes to having fun, I love halal fun and can't apologise for this.

Other than this...ouch, you accept when you share your stories that you will be criticised, challenged and maybe even trolled. But perhaps readers forget that what they are seeing is not the whole story. This is not from my attempts to sanitise my life, but usually to maintain someone's privacy or to avoid backbiting or upsetting someone.

To set out my personal belief: I don’t agree with lavish, overly extravagant weddings that land people in debt, encourage one-upmanship or mean that people are doing things that are haram or disliked by Allah (SWT). I think these things strip away the blessings from your life and marriage and put unfair pressure on others to do the same.

Saying that, when I had my wedding, I wasn’t of the same mind and had over 1000 people, mostly family/clan (my families doing, not mine, I didn’t know who most of them were).  So I understand where young people are coming from, when they want a special day.

Most of the weddings you see on the blog are either family affairs or friends weddings we are attending as guests.  For family weddings, all of these have been at a fraction of the budget for a typical wedding, most of the events, décor and even some of the food for the pre-wedding events has been done by hand, at home or by all of us pitching in.  We sisters are good at that - collaborating to make the most of our resources and benefit the most people we can.

At pretty much every wedding in the family, my husband specially and I have tried to encourage the wedding to be segregated and to avoid music.  We can advise and encourage but not force others to live by our values.  At one family members wedding there was a mini war of attrition all day between my husband who kept trying to switch the music off and my brother who kept switching it on for the various family and bridal entrances.  As I say – you can advise, you cannot force.

Where we are guests at other people's weddings, we don’t have control over what goes on, but I love food and people and good company, so I usually enjoy a good wedding.  If I'm being invited, who I am I to turn my nose up?

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say: ‘The rights of a Muslim over his fellow Muslim are five: returning greetings, visiting the sick, attending funerals, accepting invitations, and saying Yarhamuk Allaah (may Allaah have mercy on you) when he sneezes.’” (Saheeh al-Bukhaari (1164) and Saheeh Muslim (4022))

I also love weddings because I love hanging out with (most of) my extended family, I can't invite them all over because they don’t seem to be able to sit in the same room together, but they seem to be able to behave at weddings (just about, and again not all). 

Certainly, at family weddings, the family often use it as an excuse to make up with people who are not talking to each other, to invite those who are not speaking to us.  An occasion and a way to heal wounds and maintain kinship ties

Other than that, I can only say that I pray that when it comes to my on children's weddings that I have been able to convince them over the years of the benefits of simplicity.  They might listen and take this route, but again they may not.  And the sunnah is simple but doesn't mean it cannot be generous, the nikah of the Prophet (sallallaho Alaihi wasallam) and his companions (radi allahu anhum) varied from the very simple, to feeding greater numbers of people with different types of food.

The person who e-mailed me did share something I thought was useful, which I wanted to share here to inspire us:

An account of the wedding of the most beloved daughter of our Prophet RasoolAllah (sallallaho Alaihi wasallam) Fatimah (radhiallah anha):
The venue: Masjid Nabawi
The occasion: The marraige of the most beloved daughter of the world Fatimah bint Muhammad (Sallallaho Alaihi wasallam).
The guests: A few of the Sahaba (companions of the Prophet Sallalaho Alaihi wasallam) Radhiallah anh.
The Groom: Ali bin Abi Talib (RadhiAllah unh) who came alone, no procession, no fanfare.
The Time: A short Khutba (sermon) of a few minutes by RasoolAllah ( Sallallaho Alaihi wassalam) and the exchange of vows (the nikah).
The Meal: A handful of dried dates.
The bride is then taken to the groom's house by her father RasoolAllah (Sallallaho Alaihi wasallam), who departs after supplicating to Allah for granting Barakah in this union.

Jury Service and Prayer

I am on jury service this fortnight, so have been doing a lot of reading and some clearing of e-mails and work e-mails.  One of the things that always makes me anxious when I am in a new place is where there will be place to make ablution or somewhere to pray. I called the court up ahead of time and left a message to ask this very question.  Thye called back to confirm that they id and the jury pack I was given also confirmed that there was a quiet room I could use.

I still have to work out where I can make wudhu (maybe see if I can use the disabled toilets), but I have been making ablution in the morning before getting to the Court and then avoiding eating and drinking so I don’t need to go to the toilet (which would mean I have to make ablutions again).

The prayer room is small but I found a pile of prayer mats on a little table an someone had drawn the arrow for qibla (direction of prayer) on the wall with scrawled directions to look for the arrow on the ceiling 😊

It was much like any little prayer room I have come across in any number of public spaces or work places.  However the messy little pile of prayer mats made me think of all of the brothers and sisters that seek these spaces out, missing their lunchtimes sometimes in the process.  In a room full of about 120 jurors waiting to be called, there must have been about 15-20 Muslims, I didn’t see anyone else leave to pray.  One of the security staff was Muslims and showed me where the room was (may Allah SWT bless him and accept his duas insh'Allah).  It seems to me that most Muslims don’t pray, so to see the little room, with the messy mats is heartening and makes me feel connected and part of something good alhamdulillah, a kinship with those of my brothers and sisters that do pray.

Sunday 27 October 2019

Writing Little Bits

Assalam-alaikam to all of my lovely readers and the wayfarer who happen to come across this blog and stop a while. Peace and blessings insh’Allah.
I haven’t written in a little while for various reasons – my laptop giving me problems, taking ages to re-install software, or just the general business of life.

But I realise really, there are two big reasons for not writing – overwhelm and the opportunity to be creative elsewhere.  When I started blogging about 12 years ago, it was because I found myself with three little ones and in a very tedious job that stifled my creativity and half bored me to death.  Perhaps also a little loneliness on my journey because I didn’t really know any other working Muslim mothers.  Blogging allowed me to vent, write, look inwards and connect with other sisters over the years alhamdulillah.

My current job has had me in a euphoric head spin for the last nearly two years.  I can be creative, develop my own work, lead on things that interest me.  The role challenged me in all sorts of ways and meant I had to work fast, research, network and find new ways of doing things.  The current job also meant connecting with my community and volunteering for various things, which has also taken up lots of my time outside of work but has felt sooo rewarding.

I think because of these reasons, I have mostly quite fulfilled in terms of creativity and in my spare time, I just want to let my brain unwind and not do anything challenging.  But I am starting to realise that being creative outwardly is not the same as exploring inwardly, which blogging allows you to do.  Writing helps me to unpick what I am thinking and review how I am doing things.  It is a mechanism to clarify your thoughts to recognise your mistakes and to grow in your thinking.

The second reason I mentioned I stopped blogging was overwhelm.  After a few years of fighting my older children, I have come to realise that what worked when they were little, isn’t working now and I have had to re-learn how to parent them.  I have the youngest two girls, who require a different set of parenting skills (mostly cuddles but with lots of firmness, they are both strong willed in very different ways).  Work twists my brain in knots and then sets it running full speed in different directions, all excitement, ideas and then working out how to make something happen. I still have to do daily Arabic practise with the girls and most of the time the house is 80% tidy about 75% of the time.  Don’t get me started with cooking and fussy kids.  Any time I was free I wanted to switch my brain off and watch rubbish online or childish junk on Instagram. 

Then I got the reading bug and just wanted to read and read and read.

So today I finally had a free Sunday afternoon to sort out the software for my laptop, organise my documents and have a little think. In that time I also had a neighbour visit, had to get the girls ready for Arabic class and plan dinner. So it took a lot longer than expected to write a few words. 

But to get back to the overwhelm, I realised the idea of “catching up” on blogging and writing up book reviews and travel posts felt like too much and made me want to run away and not bother. So I have decided to start small.  A few words on what is happening, something I have learned or a simple picture.  Sometimes a few words open a dam and sometimes its enough to ease you back into writing without feeling too onerous insh’Allah.

“Start before you’re ready.” ― Steven Pressfield

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” –  Arthur Ashe

“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.” ― Ray Bradbury