Shall I Not Live My Life Principled?

I frequently get asked

if I ever felt like toning down my Islam

or removing my hijab

or compromise in some-

or if I ever felt ashamed of my faith…

 

Sometimes I wonder if I am a walking contradiction.

An irony. A paradox. A being stuck in between themes.

Perhaps stuck in between where I’m at and where I wanna be.

But all I know for sure is that we were told this:

 

:That we are a people prophesized

to be strange

and glad tidings be to the strangers,

he said.

 

It is strange to refuse a handshake 

from a male that is not connected to me

but I carry on the conversation that we were having

because it means so much more to me than a mere grazing of palms

 

It is strange to keep covered

in a climate like this

but I still run errands just as normally as Sharon and Karen

because relax, it’s not made of steel

it billows in the wind and I have PJs underneath most of the time

 

It is strange to order iced tea 

on a table full of Hennessy’s

but my auntie still gets voted best costume every year

let’s just pretend she didn’t just use a niqab

as ninja gear

 

It is strange to excuse oneself five times a day

to bow down to my Maker

to express gratitude for the health, what little wealth 

and life I’m given

and to be able to even say these words

I’ve written.

 

I now take pride in being that weird stranger

with her feet in the sink before every prayer

because if it means being principled

in world void of principles

then I’d rather…be…a…stranger.

 

Shall I not live my life principled?

Keeping my guard up

and my gaze down

boost my grades up

and tone my ego down?

 

Shall I not live my life principled?

With my head covered like Mary

and say a prayer before every nap, exam paper

and fish curry?

 

Shall I not live my life principled?

Rising before dawn before the curtains are drawn

and facing East to release all my worries

unto the very Hands that fashioned me

to receive peace?

 

Shall I not live my life principled?

I ask you who mocked my frock

that you claim to be sweeping the streets

at least I’m doing some community service

no I kid, but I kinda dig this thing that secures my modesty

in this world filled with pornography and nudity

I fail to see how flaunting every part of me

will earn me respect of any degree

but if you believe this gives you dignity

then I can’t force you to see

what I see.

But just…do not mock me.

 

Shall I not live my life principled?

I ask you who ask me

“How are you not ashamed to be so vocal 

about being Muslim in this 21st century?”

I say I am not ashamed of living my entire life

guided by rules that tell me

that backbiting is the same as eating the flesh of your dead brother

that an Arab is no more superior than a black slave and a Chinese merchant

that one does not have complete faith until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself

that I should only speak good or stay silent and love thrice more my mother,

That I should put a good word in for my good brother

put only good food in my good body, 

that the strong person is the one that controls himself when he’s angry

that I should never turn away a beggar

or poke a nose into the business of a stranger.

 

and if die and find out that Hell and Heaven were both fiction

then at least I can look back and say 

I’ve lived a pretty good life

so..

 

Shall I not live my life principled?

 

Keeping my guard up

and my gaze down

boost my grades up

and tone my ego down?

With my head covered like Mary

and say a prayer before every nap, exam paper

and fish curry?

Rising before dawn before the curtains are drawn

and facing East to release all my worries

unto the very Hands that fashioned me

to receive peace…

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The Writeous Circle project

So some of you might have already seen this on my social medias and what not, and you might probably be sick of it already, but how can I not announce it here on my main blog?! (I’ll use every excuse to promote it :p) Yes, I have finally launched my newest project *cue zaghroota* :  The Writeous Circle. (click here)

Here’s a sneak peak:

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Please head over there to see what it is all about and learn how you can be a part of it too! I’m excited to read the entries, see you guys there inshaAllah :)

 

Lots of love,

-Y.

The Kind of Beauty

You would not find her beautiful

under the harsh white lights of a bathroom in a mall

or if you stood too closely and notice the colour of her pupils-

an almost-black, but not quite,

or saw her in one of those 8-hour bus travels

that she makes reluctantly every 2 months

or if you were into poetry and

thought she could use better imagery.

 

Her beauty was in the way her eyes

twinkled when she spoke about her projects

(while you listen attentively even though

you know very well she’d never complete them)

or when her lips pouted slightly

when she was concentrating on a task at hand

or in the way her voice shook, defending herself,

(even though she was clearly wrong)

or in that small but unmistakable curve of her mouth-

when she spoke to you in serious-tongue,

(fighting the urge to do something else

with them)

or in how she would curl up with a book-

unmoving except to flip the pages,

even as tears and snot trailed down her cheeks

and gathered in a pool 

in the cave of her collarbone. 

 

She was not the kind of beauty you’d find in magazines

although she sometimes tries

and succeeds

in cleaning up well

(at least she was told)

that, she could,

and did.

 

But she was not, in their books,

a “natural

as it took hours

perfecting what was considered

a beauty that was effortless.

It took practice,

to look like she did not even try

in the way she nonchalantly wraps her scarf

and the indifference in which her blemishes 

peeked through her skin

(some days more than others).

All of it had to be learned-

the art of becoming the kind of beauty

that was not offensive

that which conformed

to what was normal.

 

She was the kind of beautiful

you’d say if you were an archeologist

who’d discovered some ancient treasure;

an outdated valuable

that was no longer trendy,

or if you were a preschool teacher

praising her student’s drawing of

what is supposed to be a portrait of himself.

 

She had that kind of beauty

that required time and conversation;

the kind of beauty

that was not dependent on the hours she’d slept the night before,

or the litres she gulped,

the kind of beauty

which you’d crave- served piping hot

whilst in sweats and slippers,

after coming back from a fancy get-together.

 

 

She was the kind of beauty

that was all soul

the kind of pretty

that was whole

 

but the world was not wired

for that

(kind of beauty),

she was told.