Thursday 7 May 2020

Ramadan 2020/1441: Ramadan Gratitude Journal Day 14

What challenge did you overcome and be grateful for?
The challenge I overcome, that I am most grateful for, is finding a way to go to university.

I was the first in my family in this country and from a background where women’s education was completely discouraged at first, then de-prioritised over boys schooling in later generations. By the time it came to my turn, my dad was still not keen for me to study after GCSE’s and I barely got to go to sixth form. When the time came to go to university, I didn’t think there would be any chance.

When I did well in my GCSE’s, I recall my dad telling his friend with pride. His friend, a father of six girls, replied that was good, but wasn’t that enough now? Probably worried we would be a bad influence and give hid girls ideas.

It was only the encouragement of my mum, who knew what it was to miss out on schooling that led me to apply for the nearest university with great trepidation. I wasn’t planning on making a fuss but quietly continuing with my routine of study in the hope no one would notice or object. It was only when I realised I had to send a check for UCAS (the undergraduate application process), that I had to ask my dad to write me a cheque (some silly amount like £14 at the time), he frowned and glowered, then wrote me the cheque saying he was not at all happy.

It ended up being three happy, fulfilling years of learning, growing, making friends and becoming more confident and bolder. In hindsight I can see exactly why people didn’t want their girls to study if they needed to maintain some level of control over them. I will always be grateful for this.

Happily, my dad realised I wasn’t going to reject my faith or values, in fact I started wearing hijab at university and got engaged one year in.  Persisting also meant that my three younger sisters had the door opened for them to study further.

Twenty years later I hope to do my Masters in September, With babies and work, it has taken long enough to get to the next phase, but I hope that it is the start of many more years of learning and growth insh’Allah.

What challenge did you overcome and be grateful for?

You can find the original Ramadan Gratitude journal challenge here and my take on it here.

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