“Why Settle for Less When We Can Have More”

* This was written for our spoken word performance at Mercy Mission’s Being ME (Muslimah Empowered) Conference 2013.

Script written by myself and Mubina Shafqat Ali.

“You had me at Salaam” she wrote

It was an innocent “Assalamu alaykum ukhteeee”

Which turned out to be not so innocent

In the lines that precede it

“May I tell you zat your posts 3an al- Islam on ze Fesbouk

is ze feri feri good. How many juzu have you memorized

ya ukhty jameelah? Ta3brneee. You can call me abu sa5ar

I can give you 100 camels for your mahr habibty-

anything fer you,

ya nour el ainee. Ya3nee.. anything fer you….”

“You had me at Salaam” she wrote

It was an innocent “Salaamu alaykum sister.”

Which turned out to be not-so-innocent

In the lines that precede it

“I am completely blown away by your beauty

and intelligence. Your akhlaq is MashaAllah-

Top notch- 110/100

If you marry me, I promise to make roti and chai for you in bed

Every morning.”

It was a Facebook chat that started

with a work-related issue

an exchange of “How are you”s

A “peace be upon you my sister in Islam” and a “peace be upon you too, my brother”,

It started with an encouraging comment on my depressing tweet

It started with a discussion on bid’ah- oh who knew to what it might lead

It then grew and stretched to an hour or two

Soon before we know it, we were chatting at night, past two

Although the conversation revolved around “Islamic scholarly matters” (or so we thought)

And we both knew if a man and a lady were alone, the 3rd person is not you who’s eavesdropping!-

 the 3rd person is the devil shaytan who’s been whispering!

Who would have thought- us two “under 25 inspiring youths”-

To whom SOME might look up to

Would be caught up in this web of “Haram” too?

Everyone knew we wouldn’t  let our guard down

Nope not even for a second.

Because no one’s seen us out together in town,

And neither of us has ever spoken to each other out in public,

Never even dared to look at each other in the eye

Because aye, it’s called.. what is it again?..?..!… yea, “lowering the gaze” innit?

Because if we were really about that Sunnah life,

We would not want to be seen even talking to each other

You wouldn’t even get in the lift if I’m already inside…. with my friends

You would rather take the stairs and

I insist on wearing the abaya and you, a thobe,

But it’s okay for me to ask for a picture of you working out?!

And to return the favour, I send a picture of myself

When I was 12 because “oh that’s fine, I didn’t get my period yet then”

But that picture just happened to be one of the best captures of my brown locks and my pierced ear? Sure..

I slipped,
For that split moment where i thought,
That split moment where i believed,
That split moment where i tell myself,
It would all just, just go away, the heartache.

But no, it doesn’t.
So, I, slipped.

Ringing through my ears, the words of my beloved mother “Don’t even get CLOSE to zinah”

But then I look to the west, and they tell me to
Listen to your heart
when he’s calling for you.
Listen to your heart
there’s nothing else you can do.
I don’t know where you’re going
and I don’t know why,
but listen to your heart
before you tell him goodbye.

Well that makes sense!

As a rebellious teen, rebelling from within, out of the earshot of my mother, “we’re just texting”

“Late at night” the devil may add

So, continued it did,
Shoving the advice from my mother under the lid,
Guilt consumed me, but I brush it off.
The notion of a life laden with hypocrisy, seeps through my very being, I ignored it.
This filthy web of a relationship I found myself trapped within, I chose to let it slip.

See, I have this ability, something I take pride within myself,
The ability to block out pain and worries.
Nothing would affect me as much as it would others,
I consider myself strong for having such gift,
NEVER have I envision it to be the cause of my downfall.

I slip,
No, no,
I’ve hit rock bottom,
I try lying to myself,
Telling myself,
That my emotions, feelings and connection towards my lord
Would all be unscathed,
But in true reality,
I see, how detrimental it can be,
How corrosive it is to my very being.
But I let it slip,
Not realizing that it was my deen that took the fall.

This longing that I, you, us, seek and scout,
In the form of a companion, a man,
When found, I won’t deny, fills up the “so called” empty cavity,
Patching each hairline crack at a time,
With glue WE thought was as strong as cement.

For that split moment, I felt whole again,
For that split moment, I felt happy again,
For that split moment, I felt invincible

I have everything that I want! Nothing can stop me!
Well Wonder Woman you can kiss my —- POETRY!

As time progresses however,
having God out of the equation,
brings about an uneasiness like no other,
Problems arise which threatened the deluded and dreamy state I’ve been in.
Nudging me and injecting me with guilt yet again.

Little did i know that a nudge will send that cavity into a downward spiral,
Shattering into millions of pieces,
Fragile, brittle and delicate.

I now realize that my hand hold was of the wrong substance,


Oh what went down when he asked her out for lunch?

Did she panic and think –oh to hell my rep-This might be it

What if he says “let’s marry” – oh is this how she imagined it?

Oh well we slipped, but we’re good when we marry

And this burden we’ll no longer carry

But does the ends justify the means?

I ain’t putting you in the spot,

But neither am I letting you rot

but do you know what marriage means?

I’m not trying to rhyme like Boona,

But girl, this man isn’t trying to get to know ya

All I’m saying is that if he’s serious

he will ask your dad,

I’m just being honest, please don’t get mad!

Look- it’s ok if you messed up, I’ll show you how to clean up

When you find yourself down a path less blessed

Take charge of yourself, stick your chin up and

Move on to that path you overlooked

We were meant to make mistakes

Mistakes – they are our best teachers

As youth we may be engulfed with some pride and ignorance

And charging mad desires

But hope… is not all gone yet.

And faith… is not all torn yet.

You and I can aspire to soar for excellence

Break free from worrying about what OTHER teenagers are doing

WE need to stop settling for less when we can have more

I am a product of home, school and homeschool

I come from a background of mixed ethnicities- about which I’m cool

I have been favoured here and there because they needed to please mom

But I matured regardless, found out the truth. Puh-lease, I am not dumb

Hi, hey, salaam, how are you?

What? Wait, you’re 18?! No way, you?!

18 yes sir, I am 18.

Save your skepticism and you may close your mouth now,

18 is a number- I have 18 pencils, I have 18 friends, I just ate 18 apples,

But people react to it like I must be lying

Im not trying to brag

But I think know my own age, *whisper; more than you do ;) * thanks for asking!

Yasmin, the point of this exercise is…???

Point is..

Really, guys, really..??

18 is not “too  young”

18 is not “inexperienced”

18 is not “underage”

18 is two decades minus two

18 is half of 36,

only 4 years to 22

18 is 6,570 days of breathing,

18 is 157, 680 hours of living,

18 is 7 years of accountability for me

18 is 7 years of sinning

18 is also 10 years of telling my parents….

“I….. llooov* need to throw up” during car rides.

We need to free our minds from

Underestimating the youth

Setting the bar this high

Will only produce quality of this high

Raise the bar

And expect more from the youth

And don’t get me started on the young Sahabahs.. MashaaAllah

See, so-



To stop






Instead of trying to convince me that I am not 18

…Take me in your hands and guide me

With your eyes that have seen more of the world than mine have

With your hands, I see they have on them maps of dishwashing detergent, traces of tears and sweat and small burns from the flame or excitement of cooking

With your feet that have taken you to more places than I ever have been

All the wondrous nooks and corners of the world from the stories you’ve told me,

The best places to form life-long friendships over coffee or tea,

with your pace I promise I’ll try to keep up, so Teach Me.

I am caged by Desires

I am bombarded by Expectations

Together- we are the epitome of the most pretentious teenager!

We are the driving force behind teen depression

Who cook up lies and deception

Who slit their wrist after gorgeous George ends the relationship

Who spend money that we don’t have, buying the things we don’t need,

trying to impress people we don’t even like!

As the youth, we are pretty much pretty victims of many many pretty things.

We’re pretty much blinded, but the problem is, we pretty much don’t see it,

Nor do we admit it.

How are we so comfortable with the life that we’re living?

Devoid of Allah’s blessings and Noor.

We’re deluded by thinking that just because we have Muslim names, we would enter Jannah by default.

Our names are not Jannah access-cards that we can swipe through at the gate like we do our mansions and office buildings.

Our likes for Islamic posts on Facebook don’t mean a thing if it don’t affect our actions and our Faith-book

Who are we compared to the likes of; Khadijah, Fatimah, Sumayya, Khawlah

May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them all

They who tremble at the mention of Allah,

They who never hesitated a second for Jihad

They who never lost focus on raising leaders

They who would not even think twice to the question of hijab

And here we are so easily

Questioning whether the hijab is even mandatory!

Why are we not allowing ourselves to bloom and flourish like these past women leaders?

Are we complacent?

Or are we merely content with settling for less instead of more?

Our sins, they weigh us down,
Standing in front of Allah, heads bowed in shame, Slumped with guilt, –

Like a loser. –no seriously, we are kinda lame.

Remorse is one heavy facial mask!

Sometimes we have the cheek to ask “Will my sins ever be forgiven?”

But why do we underestimate His capacity to forgive?

His capacity to Love and His capacity to be Merciful?

He who holds the skies up and cause the birds to fly,

who makes the sun rise and set without fail , creating what we know as light and night,

and how we’re able to communicate, argue and debate, how we’re able to feel, love and hate?

Relying your happiness and self-worth on a man..

-girls, you can do much better than that!

No? Well then, look at it this way.. How can I be pleased with myself when my Lord-

The Lord of the Universe is displeased with me?

..I miss my connection towards my Rabb.

And I really really miss the sweetness of prayer

Ever felt that you could fly so high even rockets can’t stop you?

Ever felt that you could conquer the world; seize the oceans

and have battalions of… unicorns.. ??

When you feel unstoppable; like nothing can deter your new-found strength and confidence?

This is the sweetness of prayer.

When my forehead is lowered to the ground-

all my burdens and worries fall off my shoulders.

I complain, I surrender, and I submit to none but the one who created me


I come out of that prostration with a lighter heart

and a mind filled with clarity and certainty.

Don’t you long for Allah to be your ears with which you hear,

your eyes with which you see

your tongue with which you speak,

and your hand with which you touch and feel?

You are all our witnesses,

And Allah is A witness to that,

On this day we promise to fight our weaknesses

To prepare ourselves for the day when there is no shade

except in the shade of Allah’s throne,

where only seven groups of people will find themselves

under His Shade. Today we pose to you this question- will you see us

under the group of youth who were raised worshipping Allah or will you see us under another group of youth?

Is there anyone who can answer this for me?

Is there any soul who is brave enough to come up and guarantee me this?

If you see us that day,

Remind us of this date where we stood helplessly asking for the first time

And if you don’t see me,

Ask for me.

Thank you.


O Lord Test Me please!

Remember Me and I will remember you.” [Quran Al-Baqarah 2:152].

“I am as My servant expects Me to be. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me a hand’s span, I draw near to him an arm’s length; and if he draws near to me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.”
(Hadith Qudsi, Al-Bukhari)

As of late, my mother has been making visits to a few of her friends who recently fell ill. It is heartbreaking to watch her hold normal conversations and cracking the lamest jokes around them while they lay in bed; barely able to move a finger, and then watch the same woman rush out to the elevator and into the car, crying her heart out uncontrollably with her hands in her face. At home, she tells us, sobbing still, to make duas for her friends. She tells me that it’s the strangest feeling to see her own friends losing their health; one by one. Most of them she knew since secondary school. Her circle of friends alhamdulillah, are a bunch of late 30-year-old mothers who are quite tech savvy- on Facebook at least. They update their statuses every single day; son’s soccer, daughter’s cooking, family picnic, lunch dates and Hadeeth or Quran quotes and so much more. My mother says its strange to see her feed of quick updates coming to a slow halt, and after a day or two, someone else take over her friends’ account/s announcing the shocking news: hospital admission + critical illness, usually.

I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine the friends that I have now, lying in bed with tubes and wires coming in and out of their throat and around their wrists. I can’t imagine my friends being unable to speak. I would be beyond devastated and sad. It paints a pretty surreal picture. But it’s happening to my mom. She was young. Now she’s much older and so are her friends.

One of her friends, was quite the dressy type, I presume, is struck with an illness that turned her fingers black and hard. From updating her Facebook status regularly, now her fingers are useless. Can you imagine?! She can’t even put on eye-liner! Her daughter helped her with those and feeds her. And before that, she was in coma for about a week! From the joyful and adventurous mom to a bed-ridden mom in coma. To hard-rock fingers. This was a couple of months ago. Today we got news that she is starting to be able to put on eyeliner herself. It’s an achievement. As happy as I am for her, I am extremely saddened. An achievement, yes. But from the normal healthy mother she was just months ago to this?! Reality had begin to struck me. Hard. People fall sick. Hard.

With every breath we take, the amount of breaths that measure the length of our life lessens. We can’t ‘save up’ our breaths. We can’t cheat death when we don’t even know the amount of breaths that is set for our own individual lives!

I came along with my mom to visit a very very dear friend of hers, who is recently diagnosed with stage-4 brain tumor on top of her stage-4 colon cancer. Ya Allah Ya Rabb Ya Hayy Ya Qayyum! May Allah shower His Mercy in abundance unto her! And unto her family patience! My head just throbs at the weight of this news. When I saw her, I kissed her forehead and she managed to open her eyes with great effort and said my name. I acknowledged that with only a nod because I was about to break down in front of her. And to cancer patients, this is why people like me aren’t allowed to be close to them. This was the same woman who gave birth just months ago. This was the woman who made me laugh and who made my mom laugh and who was with us, physically sitting in a chair with her newborn just months ago. And a month ago she came to KL with her family. She sat on my couch, on my mom’s bed, we made her tea. We talked and talked. And now I see her on a hospital bed, an IV drop next to her feeding her, it’s like she’s not ‘physically’ here. You know we all have that funny friend. You know there’s something wrong when they’re quiet, right? It’s unusual. And out of character. It’s the same with her. It is strange, what sickness does to you. She is also unable to see properly and barely able to say more than 2 lines. I was on the verge of dropping to my knees and just let my heart cry as much as it desired. I was ready to blurt out: “this is not fair!!”. But thankfully I got better control of myself, and I knew better than to break her spirit, or whatever that’s left of it, and whatever encouraging words my mom was planning on saying to say to her- before I ruin them for her, I  quickly stepped back to allow my mom to talk to her. As I hear mom put on her odd cheerful voice, I tried to calm myself down (which seemed impossible because it was like hushing a wailing person) and I read this while giving her hand a massage (and later when I was leaving, on her forehead):

Idh-hib al-ba’s. Rabb an-Nas. Rabbi anta ash-Shafi la shifa’a illa shifa’uka shifa’an la yughadiru saqaman” (Remove the harm, O Lord of mankind. Lord, You are the Healer. There is no healing but Yours, a healing which leaves no disease behind.’” (Reported by Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah)

(Now after Googling it I realised it’s a prayer or rukyah for removing black magic. But it should apply to diseases as well. Right? Oh let’s just hope so because I’ve seen it somewhere, hence why I memorised it. )

When my sisters and I were younger, my mom used to teach us “La ba’sa tahoorun insha Allah” (No worries. This sickness is a means of cleansing from sins.) And we would recite it aloud together to anyone whom we were visiting in the hospital. This dua’ is for the sick, yes.

Anyway, I was saying.. such a great test He’s put upon the shoulders of my mom’s friend! I almost couldn’t believe The All-Merciful would allow such deadly diseases to befall a pious woman. (A’uthubillah wa Astaghfirullah). But I was really down and sad. This woman has a daughter who is my age. We were the closest of friends with another girl, since we were little girls. She has younger brother who is now in Adni, KL. And two younger girls. The youngest is only 10 months. 10 months! We visited this family last year and they were all happy and healthy. Masha Allah. Their mom is actually, to be honest, one of the funniest and genuinely friendliest “aunties” I have ever known. Little did we know then that she was in pain, suffering from colon cancer, already at the terminal stage. And now this?! Brain tumor?!  I was beginning to question, why not other people?! …And then it hit me. 

When Allah wills good for a servant of His,He expedites his punishment in this life; and when He wills retribution for a servant of His, He holds his sins for Him to judge him by them on the Day of Resurrection.” [At-Tirmithee]

So because Allaah loves this person, He sends them trials and challenges here in this life, as a ‘punishment’, so they won’t be burdened with it on the Day of Qiyamah.

So when I thought of this, I immediately became calmer, but only to feel down again. Why down? Well.. I thought, if that family is tested because Allah loves them, does that mean Allah doesn’t love my family? We aren’t experiencing any huge tests like we used to. In fact, I felt more ‘flexible’. We are so used to difficulties, no other family can imagine. [Flashback: bed bugs attack, house hunt, sick children, baby diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome, accidents and many other things that befell our family for the last 9 years since we moved here to KL and some I don’t wish to disclose] ..I mean I almost asked Allah: Ya Allah test me! I want to become Your beloved too!  A desperate attempt is a desperate attempt. For the attention of the Most High.

The question is.. are we actually a 100% at ease? Totally free of challenges and tests? I looked around me and yeap. Definitely not! I’m not going to go on mentioning all our difficulties but boy might I say this is one of those rare times I’m ‘glad’ to spot the difficulties in my life! I know of a number of people whose lives are almost a 100% Test-free. They’re ‘living the life’ they say. No hungry mouths to feed, no empty pockets, no family problems, no difficulties at all! And how sad it is to see other people ogling at that kind of a life. A life that Allah blesses not. A life that is neglected and refused of Allah’s attention (for now). Those who forget Allah will stop having Allah testing them. Allah will not ‘remember’ them. This is a great deception to them; Allah is not ‘rewarding’ them. Rather, as seen in the above hadeeth: “When Allah wills good for a servant of His,He expedites his punishment in this life; and when He wills retribution for a servant of His, He holds his sins for Him to judge him by them on the Day of Resurrection.” from which we can draw a few points:-

1- Allah does not will them good

2- Allah will punish them in the Hereafter for abandoning/neglecting ‘dhikr ul Allah’ Remembrance of Allah and for other things like; greed, arrogance etc.

(and I’m sure scholars of hadeeth have drawn out more than just 2 points.)

But it is important to also remember that when we find ourselves in a bit of a Test-free situation,we shouldn’t quickly jump to conclude that ‘Allah has abandoned us’.  Rather say ‘alhamdulillah’ -so that if indeed He has ‘tested’ us because we have abandoned Him, at least we would have expressed gratitude in remembrance of Him by uttering the weighty words as taught by our beloved Prophet (s.a.w.) that is ‘alhamdulillah’. And that we might as well be grateful for the temporary ease He has granted us, obviously not in vain- every occurrence in this Life has its reasons and purposes as ordained by Allah ‘azza wa jal.

Among the other ahadeeth that gave me the comfort of knowing are the following:

Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) reported that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “Hardships continue to befall a believing man and woman’s body, family, and property, until they meet Allah (swt), burdened with no sins.” [ Tirmithee ]

Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree (r.a.) reported that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “A muslim is not afflicted by hardship, sickness, sadness, worry, harm, or depression – even if pricked by a thorn, but Allah expiates his sins because of that. ” [Bukharee and Muslim]

‘Aishah (r.a.) narrated that once some pain afflicted the Prophet (s.a.w.) causing him to suffer and turn about in his bed. She said: “Had one of us done this, you would have blamed him.” He (s.a.w.) replied: “An ailment is intensified for the righteous. whenever a believer is afflicted by a hardship, whether it is a thorn or more, a sin is taken off from him because of it, and he is elevated by one rank (in Jannah).” [ Ahmad ]

Indeed amazing are the affairs of a believer ! They are all for his benefit; If he is granted ease of living he is thankful; and this is best for him. And if he is afflicted with a hardship, he perseveres; and this is best or him.” [ Muslim ]

Know that it is okay to cry when you are tested. It is okay to ‘throw a fit and question Him’ just as long as you come back to realise that Allah remembers you, and that He wills good for you. It is a thousand times better than living a life that is a little too flexible, with no obstacles whatsoever.

To those of you who are starting to feel uneasy when you haven’t been tested in a long time and are in a period where you’ve strayed too far away from His path, welcome back. It is a good sign for you to feel that way. Talk to Allah. Ask Him. Ask your Creator what you want to know. ‘Welcome back, brother. Welcome back, sister.’