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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Original Writing

W.P Young’s “The Shack”

Recently, I decided to make the monumental decision of temporarily stepping away from crime thrillers and venture towards other genres. More specifically, I was attracted to the reviews of Young’s Shack, of which are considerably mixed.

Without giving too much away, the novel surrounds a man whose life is turned upside down when he experiences a family tragedy. The tragedy is of such a horrifying extent, he begins to question how God can live in a world where evil like this exists. His story and his journey address fundamental issues raised by agnostics and atheists on a daily basis, amidst wars in poverty-stricken countries and humanitarian crisis. Justifiably so, the protagonist loses faith in God, and whilst at this lowest point, he encounters an experience which somehow miraculously changes every single perception he had, of religion and of mankind.

My initial thoughts were of a sceptical nature when first reading this novel; firstly, I’m not a Christian and thus, could not take this at face value. However, there were considerable lessons to be learnt by reading this story; even if one isn’t religious, or practising, it certainly speaks to you on a spiritual level. It’s almost as if the author can sense the scepticism the reader feels prior to opening the book, and works with it to create a sensational masterpiece.

Like many other novels with underlying morals that shape the story, it left me questioning a few of my own spiritual beliefs. Religiously speaking, I know where and with Whom my faith lies, but I understand those who discredit any existence of a deity when wars, murder, rape and other evils are present in society everyday. This book addresses this internal strife. It speaks to the believer and the non-believer, without simultaneously shoving the reader’s own religious/spiritual stance down the reader’s throat.

I cannot recommend this book enough; it certainly makes you reevaluate how you look at the world, and the importance of being the best person you can possibly be in this lifetime.

A x

Featured Image: http://wmpaulyoung.com

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Current Affairs

Terrorism Ignored

Britain First Target Muslim Elected Officials Including Sadiq Khan In ‘Direct Action Campaign’

Britain First (even the name makes me cackle a little) have decided to launch a campaign against Muslim “elected officials” in their attempt to ban Islam in the United Kingdom.

Firstly, BF have “intelligence” which confirms our Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is a terrorist. Secondly, they have threatened to target these elected officials through “militant direct action.” What I fail to understand is why they want to ban one religion; surely, if they wanted Britain to become a Christian country, they’d eradicate all other religions, too? This is my first example of the comical irony that is Britain First.

A political party have declared they are going to attack elected officials because they’re all either related to or are extremists. They are calling on the general public to come together to attack. They encourage people to confront Muslims on the street. They’re inciting racial hatred. Now, anyone with half a brain will know that Britain First stands for nothing more than racist bigotry, but what frustrates me is that no one takes the threats as seriously as they would if a Muslim community would say such things.

Furthermore, the West has started to pick and choose what they define as “terrorism.” For example, the War on Gaza; I admit, in the past I have been particularly and unfairly biased towards Palestine fundamentally because as a Muslim, I’m easily influenced if I see fellow Muslims being slaughtered, especially young children. I know that both sides are not innocent and Hamas have done more than their fair share of projecting violence towards Israel. However there are examples of terrorism in Israel’s methods of occupation and war tactics. One is when Israeli forces blocked in and isolated Ni’lin, a village on the West Bank; as a result of this, Palestinians were denied food, water and ate; essentially, they were starving out until they died. This was not aired on the news.

Another example of selective news airing: 300 Syrians were allegedly killed in a massacre orchestrated by the Islamic State in January 2016. It was reported that 85 civilians were confirmed dead, with 50 troops killed, too. This took place over 24 hours; a shocking massacre. This was not aired on the news.

In my previous post, I wrote about bias in the media against Muslims in particular; the Western media, such as the BBC, will only ever report on events which concern them. And they’ll omit significant facts in order to manipulate the masses. During the Paris attacks in November 2015, a worker at the attacked cafe Casa Nostra, Safer, rescued two heavily injured women when the firing began, escorting them to the basement where he ultimately saved their lives. This story was hardly mentioned on social media, and not at all by news broadcasters, however, a month-long analysis of the attacks was aired without any hesitation.

Persecuting citizens due to their religion, race or culture is terrorism, regardless of where it is in the world. The Holocaust was so heavily condemned, so why aren’t these acts of inhumane violence treated the same? The hypocrisy will always astound me. The media and those who believe every single word they hear on the television or on the internet need to open their eyes. Think for yourself, instead of allowing thoughts to be dictated to you.  Think of who is talking to you on the internet, or on TV. We’re intentionally blinded by what others do not want us to know.

A x

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/britain-first-muslim-elected-officials_uk_574352c4e4b0e71ef36d9617

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialBritainFirst/videos/1028797760598818/

https://www.facebook.com/Saeed.Amireh/posts/10154288735819447

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/17/dozens-killed-by-islamic-state-in-massacre-in-syrian-city-of-deir-ezzor

http://tribune.com.pk/story/992354/meet-the-muslim-restaurant-worker-who-saved-two-women-during-paris-attacks/

http://www.ibtimes.com/who-lassana-bathily-muslim-immigrant-who-saved-jewish-hyper-cacher-customers-talks-2255256

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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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