Current Affairs

Eid Mubarak!

To all my Muslim friends and family around the world, Eid Mubarak! (A day late, I apologise, as I spent the entire day with family)

This year, Eid was particularly special for me; for one, my entire family spent it together for the first time in years, due to different mosques in different boroughs choosing to celebrate Eid a day after it’s announced by Saudi. I am still yet to understand why. Thus, this year, it was fantastic to spend the entire day with loved ones and not spread it over two days.

Secondly, this year more so than previously, I am reminded of how special family is, and how fortunate I am to be able to spend this year celebrating with them. I am constantly in awe of how exceptionally wonderful my parents are –  I truly feel so blessed to be surrounded by such love. I’m happiest when I’m with them. The events of Baghdad hang heavy in the air for many Muslims celebrating Eid around the world, and I can’t help but feel slightly guilty for enjoying it as much as I did today, knowing there are families around the world who’ve lost so much, so many at the hands of terror. Today allowed me to appreciate that life is unpredictable, and we ought to cherish our time on this earth with the people we love, who help us strive to be better versions of ourselves.

The war on Islam is ongoing, with ISIS claiming more Muslim lives than any other. During this holy month of Ramadan, we witnessed a terror attack on such a great scale, no comparison can be made with relation to lives lost. It’s believed to be one of the deadliest attacks on Iraq. What more can be said to emphasise the severity of this situation? One of the five pillars of Islam is Zakat – charity. I urge as many of you as possible to donate to charities which help cities like Baghdad recover, or at least begin the recovery process.

It appears the Western media only cares about terrorism claiming lives if the victims are Westerners. Muslim lives are worth much less comparatively, in their eyes, hence the substantial lack of media outcry against such an act of atrocity. The Baghdad bombing should serve as a shocking reminder to the ignorant that ISIS do not represent Islam in the slightest if they’re killing fellow Muslims –  they are not Muslims and lost the right to call themselves so when they decided to commit acts of senseless murder in the name of a religion they so clearly subverted.

Conclusively, I ask as many of you as possible to keep Iraq in your prayers. We cannot fathom what they’re experiencing, having to bury their loved ones, children and families on a day where the rest of the world is celebrating the end of a holy month. But we stand in solidarity against the Islamic State militants, and their fight against Muslims. Shia or Sunni, a Muslim is a Muslim. We are all one and equal in the eyes of God, and what matters the most is how we live our lives –  NOT how others live theirs. May God give those who lost their lives a peaceful resting, and those who’ve lost loved ones any kind of comfort to ease their pain.

God is not a creator of evil; evil is manmade.

A

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Current Affairs

Does Media Bias Against Muslims Feed Into Radicalisation?

I can’t even say “as of recently” because this is an ongoing issue, and has been for some time: bias against Muslims in the western media. I voiced my opinion on how I, as a Pakistani girl, felt attacked by various, biased, news broadcasters; the above interlinking of anger at the bias and radicalisation was the response I received, from someone who worked in the industry.

Now I’m not exactly well-informed in what goes through one’s mind when they decide to fight for the Jihad but this suggestion of subjective bias in the media being a reason behind  radicalisation is almost hilarious. Instead of accepting responsibility for unfair media coverage, they deflect furthermore blame. The heavy focus on average Muslims fleeing the country to fight for groups like Islamic State places most Muslims under the spotlight and heavy scrutiny. Since 9/11, Muslims have been categorically associated with terrorism. Anyone wearing a hijab, burqa or with brown skin is instantly given an awkward side-glance. People wearing niqabs are racially abused in public. The media’s stance on, or rather, against, Muslims is adding fuel to an increasingly widespread fire.

To create a correlation between Muslims feeling attacked by the media and terrorism is possibly the highest level of ignorance I have ever come across. That’s saying something, what with ignorant, uneducated comments are on the rise with a biased media reporting unfairly on current affairs worldwide, involving terrorism and more specifically, Islamic State. There are a fair few newspapers who incite racial hatred with their headlines and focus on the ethnicity of key figures in a story. For example, the Daily Mail is notoriously well-known for focussing on “Muslim” immigrants or “Muslim youths” being involved in crime, when the ethnicity or faith is not necessary to the crime at all. This representation and blatant categorisation of Muslims being criminals, job-takers and rapists is what is creating an increasing uproar amongst the Muslim communities. This uproar is not radicalisation, it is defiance and anger at being treated unfairly. Poor media coverage of Islam is not turning us into radicals. Let me make that very, very clear.

Broadcasters such as the BBC thrive on sensationalist headlines but go out of their way to attempt to prove their lack of bias; sadly, in doing so, they make themselves look even more stupid. More often than not, I find myself having to write posts like this to justify a Muslim, such as myself, being completely thrown and disgusted by outright bigotry. Sadiq Khan is our new mayor of London; I, for one, voted for him and for many Pakistani Brits across London it is much more than a political achievement. It’s a step forward for us as a multi-cultural community to accept a Pakistani man leading our city, much to the disappointment of Islamophobic bigots.

I do not blame every white person for the acts of the KKK. Should I? Should I label all white citizens of London as racists? No, because I am educated. Reporting on events by drawing attention to their faith first is uneducated. Finally, assuming that terrorists represent Islam and Islamic teachings is uneducated, too.

I am a Muslim; I am defiant in my faith and beliefs. That doesn’t make me a radical.

Anisah

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Life Updates

UMRAH 2016: Makkah

الحَمْد لله

Having just returned from the most life changing trip I’ve ever had the privilege of going on, I’m juxtaposed in my feelings of heartache at leaving a beautiful city behind and excitement at the prospect of going back again in the near future.

Before I arrived in Makkah, I was nervous and apprehensive at doing things wrong but all the worries of my life back home were washed away the second I stepped foot in the holy city. The night we landed we were exhausted from a long flight and made the decision to begin the pilgrimage of Umrah the following day so we could complete it to our full potential. Driving from the airport to the holy city, we were astounded at how modernised it was; lights and sculptures lined the streets leading up to the Holy Mosque. The roads were packed with cars, everyone travelling to the mosque for Isha (night) prayers.

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Top level of Masjid Al-Haram

Setting foot inside the exterior of the mosque (expanded to accommodate the ever-increasing capacity of visitors worldwide) the first thing to hit us was the sheer grand scale of the Sacred Mosque. The interior was packed with Muslims trying to get in as fast as possible to visit the Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam. The intense rush of people hastily making their way towards the Kaaba is quite overwhelming at first but as soon as your eyes find the Kaaba, everything falls away because at the moment, it’s just you and God. The outside of the Kaaba was packed with circles people performing Tawaaf (one of the rituals of Umrah.) The rest of the visitors were either praying or simply sitting in front of it, making the most of being in the presence of such a sacred part of Islam.

The following morning, after Fajr (pre-dawn) prayer, we made our way to the Aisha Mosque to recite our intention of performing Umrah. From there, we travelled back to the Sacred Mosque and began the Tawaaf which consists of circling the Kaaba seven times, passing the Black Stone at the eastern corner. Following the seven rounds, we proceeded to Maqam Ibrahim (The Station of Ibrahim) where we performed the prayer as mandatory during Umrah. Finally, once this was completed, we made our way to the Zam Zam wells. It’s said to be the purest and freshest water on the planet, with sacred qualities improving health and wellbeing in all those who drink it. I personally believe this to be the truth as my health was the best it has ever been whilst in the Sacred Mosque.

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Sitting in front of the Kaaba

 

From there, we made our way to Al-Safa and Al-Marwah to perform Sa’i – walking between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah seven times. (3.15km) Once completed, we performed the mandatory prayer and thus, completed the ritual of Umrah. Sa’i was definitely the most challenging aspect of the entire pilgrimage, as we were walking barefoot on marble for nearly two miles. Nevertheless, once this was completed, a beautiful feeling of serenity washed over me and that’s when I found an inner peace radiate within me.

For the remainder of our four days in Makkah, amidst performing our daily five prayers, we visited other holy sites in the city. Most of the time I was inside the Sacred Mosque, sitting in front of the Kaaba and it was blissfully peaceful. My relationship with God grew ever-stronger as I know He listened to every prayer. It sounds awfully cliche but this was a life changing experience for me in that it transformed my entire perception of the religion, bringing me closer to God. I embraced everything Islam has to offer and came back an entirely new person, spiritually. Once you enter Makkah, your heart never wishes to leave; being back in London is great for me health-wise, but my heart is still in Makkah and I’m desperately longing to go back as soon as possible.

I can only thank God for making this trip possible.

سبحان الله

 

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Life Updates, Original Writing

Perspective

It’s March 2nd and my first day back home after spending 5 days in hospital has come to an end. I have thoroughly enjoyed being wrapped up in a blanket watching ‘The Night Manager’ and ‘The People vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story.’ However, I’m not the same person I was when I went in to hospital.

Last Friday night, I was left feeling a little on edge after experiencing discomfort due to ongoing stomach pains. Of course, stomach pains are nothing out of the ordinary for me but they usually went away after an hour or so and even after taking medication, I was still suffering. Things reached a peak at around 11pm on Friday night; I was doubled over in pain, unable to breathe without feeling a stabbing pain rippling through my upper abdomen. Not cute. By 2.30am the following morning, I was hooked up to an IV line. Over the course of the next 5 days, I was transferred from a&e to the surgical assessment unit, to the day surgery unit. But that isn’t the point of this post.

Whilst in the day surgery unit, I came across many patients being admitted and transferred and I guess I should’ve been prepared for some sticky situations – after all, this was a surgical unit. On Monday night, a young patient was admitted to the bed next to me after undergoing surgery. It was clear that something hadn’t gone too great with the operation because she was screaming in agony and bleeding out. This was at roughly 10pm so visiting times were over and the rest of us in the bay were alone and it was pretty quite, with patients either zonked out on morphine or trying their best to sleep. Her parents were with her to ensure she settled in okay and was recovering from the operation, when things took a sudden turn for the worse. I heard the patient’s mother call the nurses frantically, telling them her daughter was feeling light-headed. Within two minutes, the patient had gone into cardiac arrest from bleeding out.

The next 20 minutes were a blur of surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses running around, giving her oxygen and trying to stop the bleeding. With no theatres free to perform emergency surgery, they were forced to stop the bleeding there and then in order to save her life. Her parents were hysterical with fear and surgeons were shouting about the lack of blood bags available to them – it was terrifying. I guess I forgot that in hospitals, things do go wrong and situations like this do occur. It’s not common but it does happen and in the moment, everything just fell away. The pain I was experiencing, the sickness, all the symptoms just fell away because all I was thinking of was how young this girl was next to me and how numb I felt.

I don’t know if they managed to save her. She didn’t come back the following day, and neither the nurses nor other members of staff had any clue as to what happened in that operating theatre. Situations like this put everything into perspective; life is too unpredictable and we ought to make the most of the good health we have. What is life if we don’t have our health? Right now, I can’t get those 20 minutes out of my head. I’m not sure if I will forget the panic in her parents’ voices, the panic in the surgeons’ voices and the sound of the blood pressure monitor dropping. It’s a horrific reminder of the fact that we’re only on this planet for a limited amount of time and we ought to make the most of every single second; by being good within ourselves and towards others. Whether you believe in God and His power to guide you or not, it’s important to have a pure heart as that alone makes us immortal.

“Is not He Who listens to the distressed soul when it calls on Him, and remove its suffering, and makes you inheritors of the earth?…” [Surah al-Naml 27:62] 

A x

 

 

 

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LIFE UPDATE: FEB 2016

We’re nearly three months into 2016 and already I feel that this year is going to be a bloody good one.

Firstly, I’m chuffed to confirm that I’ve made it through the second month of 2016 pain free, to a certain extent. There are times when the pain strikes, leaving me relatively incapacitated for an hour or so but I can deal with that. All in all, my health is doing very well and hopefully it stays that way for next few months.

Secondly, I’m furthermore excited that I’ve been offered an unconditional offer to study at Reading University! Three years ago, Reading was my dream uni to study at but sadly I was just too sick to even contemplate it as a possibility. Amidst recovering from two operations and subsequently developing an eating disorder whilst accepting I suffered from social and general anxiety, I was definitely not in the right place to consider moving onto campus at a university miles and miles away from my parents. It was decided at the time that a university in London was a better choice and thus, we’ve ended up here. Not only is the course absolutely perfect for me (THERE’S A MODULE SPECIFICALLY DEDICATED TO POETRY!) but it allows me to explore different career avenues such as teaching and publishing. The university also do a placement scheme and an international transfer scheme which is why I’m absolutely thrilled to be given a chance to go there.

I’ve also been given an absolutely wonderful once in a lifetime opportunity this April: I’m travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah. It’s a necessity for every Muslim to go at least once in their lives and since this is the first time that I’ve been in good health, I’m taking full advantage of it.

On a sadder note, I’m leaving my much loved job just before I go away for Umrah. It makes me incredibly sad to think I won’t be coming back to such a fantastic team but my goodness, it’s been an experience I’ll never forget. Not only have I learnt so much from everyone but I’ve also toughened up a considerable amount since starting! And Aaron, I’ll miss seeing your wonderful face every day. Thanks for being the best manager I’ve ever had the pleasure of working for. It’s onto great, new adventures for me but I’m incredibly grateful for this one, too.

So far, so good 🙂 I hope you’re all having a cracking 2016, too.

A x

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A Special Note to a Loved One

It’s my (not so little) cousin’s 14th birthday today!

He’s the closest thing I’ll ever have to a sibling and I’m beyond proud of how far he’s come in life. We’ve had so many obstacles thrown our way over the past few years and he’s overcoming every single one like the miracle he is.

I never knew it was possible to love someone as much as I love him. From helping change his nappies when he was a baby, to teaching him how to read and write, I’m always going to be grateful to God for giving me such a precious gift. There are times in life when God challenges us, but He only does so in order for us to realise and embrace our true potential.

Everything I do, I do for you, pal. One day you’ll see that.  Alhamdulillah, thank you for blessing my life.

“…And If you would count the blessings of Allah you would not be able to count them…” [Surah Ibrahim 14:34]

Anisah x

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