I was born a Muslim, and like so many of my generation and background, I was taught by elders and blindly followed. Didn’t stop to question or dig deeper. The only thing that seemed untouched and unaffected by what others said, the thing that was unshakeable, was my sense that there was a God.
9/11 marks a horror. And the opening up of my mind. What exactly IS Islam? What is a Muslim? Like so many, I began questioning. Apprehensively at first. I could read the Qur’an but had only been taught to read in Arabic, not to understand the meaning. Accessing the Qur’an and Hadith in the English language was the key to my search for answers. One sentence led to another.
My journey isn’t over but the more I learn, the more I feel that this religion is right for me.
I was born this way and I made a CHOICE to remain this way.
My name is Rabia and I am a Muslim.
Fly away fingers
Racing with my thoughts
Fly away fingers
To capture what is caught
I felt compelled to write – to express myself through pen (and now keyboard) – ever since I was a little girl.
One of my earliest memories is of my primary school teacher smiling and telling me that no other student she had ever taught did what I did. What did I do? Whenever she left a comment or feedback in the margins of my workbooks, I used to write back to her!
I guess that was a sign of what would come later in the form of poetry, short stories, blog posts, a novel and now children’s books.
I never once stopped to think ‘I want to be a writer’. I just was one. Naturally.
I didn’t choose to write, writing chose me.
And now I’m here, choosing to share my pieces, past and current, with my children when they’re older…and you.
My name is Rabia and I am a writer. Pleased to meet you…
I thought I had experienced some challenging jobs, but nothing prepared me for the toughest role to date: motherhood!
The sleep deprivation. The neglect of self-care whilst the kids look like catalogue models. The lack of nutritious meals. The body image issues. The hunt for and never finding any ‘me-time’. The whole new level of multitasking. The disappearance of a social life. The having to take shortcuts or giving-in. The crying. The feeding issues. The…
Then they smile at you, raising your heart to the sky and back. Alhamdulillah.
And the cycle begins again…
In the midst of the mothering madness, it’s easy to feel lost and unappreciated:
Before children, we women had passions and purpose. Post children, these transferred to our little ones and we can end up feeling like a shadow of our former selves. Yes, I’m happy to be a mother and feel extremely blessed since it was a struggle to get here in the first place. But at times I find myself yearning for some of the things I used to do when I had time and different priorities.
I have learnt to deal with this by pursuing my passions in bite-sized chunks. I used to write pages, now I write a few lines.
And I urge my sisters to do the same. Make time to do something for yourself, no matter how rushed or small. You may not be 100% happy with it, but you will have done something for YOU and that’s what counts!
I’m blown away by the recognition and prestige given to mothers in Islam. I refer to the ‘your mother, your mother, your mother’ hadith.
When I am facing demands both physically and mentally, and it seems that no-one appreciates my efforts, I have to take a deep breath and remember: Allah is watching. Allah can see what is happening on the outside and He can see inside of me. Allah appreciates what we mothers do – that’s what truly matters.
I loved this blog post – Letter To My Son – by Aneesah and felt inspired to write to my own son at the time. Trouble was, I had my hands full with him and I had my belly full with another child on the way! Almost every day I think about writing to my sons and my mind overflows with words but I never manage to catch them in writing. So now I have decided to write little and often. To write the lessons I want to pass on to them.
When I have more free-time, I plan to write my anecdotes to go with every lesson and share them privately with my kids.
For now though, it’ll have to be little and often Letters To My Children…
A few years ago I put down A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and felt bereft. I couldn’t eat or concentrate on my pre-Hosseini hobbies for days. Eventually, my mind came out of its stupor and began to imagine its own stories again. One day it wasn’t a short story I had in mind; it would be my first novel. I grabbed my laptop and began typing the scene furiously. I had it. My first chapter. I had wanted to be a published author since I was a little girl but every piece of fiction that I had written or envisaged was never any longer than two sides of paper. I was in my early thirties and I finally began realising my once forgotten dream.
I hadn’t written in over fifteen years at this point. It was time for a refresher of sorts. I found a ‘Towards A Novel’ course in the City Lit Institute in Central London. A week-long course full of promise. I booked the course and booked a week off work. I was excited and couldn’t wait to get started. On reflection, perhaps that was my mistake – being too eager. I hadn’t been in a literature class since High school so I found myself absorbing every pointer as though it was the only way to succeed.
My first chapter got re-worked during that week and was presented to the class on the final day. I received good feedback, but something didn’t sit right with me. The chapter stayed in my laptop for a long time after that; gathering virtual dust.
It took a few years before I picked it up again and almost 11 months later, I had written a novel.
I worked with a wonderful editor to go through my novel and learnt a lot. But I didn’t agree with all of her suggestions (and she was cool with that). I had grown better at listening to my own voice, but I wasn’t quite there yet so my novel went back into hiding.
The plan is to sit with it again. I’d love to re-work it as I have grown as a person and a writer since I last worked on it (and continue to grow). This time, I’ll be doing it alone.
Don’t stifle your voice by trying to imitate others or follow instructions. Let the natural narrator in you tell the story.
***WORK IN PROGRESS! These are the bare bones. Needs fleshing out!***
Leroy feels the weight of the gun in his hand as he crouches beside a brick wall. Kevin, his accomplice crouches beside him. The alley, in which they hide, begs and borrows what little light is to be offered by the lampposts on the main road.
‘We’ve got one,’ whispers Kevin, flashing a shiny blade in his hand, motioning for Leroy to stand up. Continue reading “The Briefcase”
Bangladesh, Sylhet, Kuru Gao is its name
Or Nanny’s Bari (village) as we all grew to claim
That’s where my mind heads at the mention of green
A place of fond memories, cacophony, serene Continue reading “The Colour Green”
I knew I embraced the hijab early last year because I remember my first ‘holiday in hijab’ – Abu Dhabi, March 2013. But, I wasn’t sure exactly when I began to wear the hijab. So imagine my pleasant surprise when I got an email reminder yesterday telling me that today was to be the anniversary of performing Umrah and deciding – this is it – I want to wear a hijab. My past self must have sensed this was a momentous decision and worth recording for the benefit of her future self. I’m glad she did this for me. Continue reading “A Year In Hijab”