“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,

All..this..while..

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-

You

Need

To stop
underestimating

Us

Me

Her

Them…

…Me

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

and

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.

I surprise myself.

Howdy! That is sooo weird. Who says ‘Howdy’?!

Anywho. It is a well-established fact that I am not known for my generosity in giving out ‘forgiveness’ cards for those who have wronged me. But due to my fear of Death, thankfully, I have started to realise that it is easier to forgive at times where your mind lets you think that your life is on the line. Which is quite true, in a way. I have forgiven this person. (cue applause and standing ovation please. This is a great achievement). I am going to maintain the quality of my forgiving by asking Allah to make pure my intentions. I want to be sincere in forgiving this person. So I shall. Fear of dying means I am afraid that I’ll die without ever having the chance to make amends and also to put the ones who’ve wronged me out of their misery since I know one day I’m going to have to forgive them anyway. So just to cut out the time period in which my heart would normally have taken to ‘heal’ and come to a decision to forgive, I’ll just forgive now because Death can come and take me away any time. I am the bigger person. I want to stay that way. I want to forgive first and ask for forgiveness first.

It does feel weird to be too nice like this. But I guess it’s not wrong to feel that way. Baby steps. The road to Heaven is treacherous, afterall. If you don’t toughen up and break that wall of ego, you’ll never be able to forgive or seek forgiveness for yourself and that only leads to more trouble.

So is this the new me? Forgiving and non-egoistic? A change in my personality! I sorta like it. A bit awkward but  I hope it stays. Its for the better anyway. Worth the discomfort.

Mine own Flesh and Blood, Thee.

You know that feeling when someone whom you look up to the most disappoints you? And then you forgive them because you feel that their greatness is bigger than their faults? But just as things begin to get better.. then they disappoint you again? Well. It made me realise that this is the nature of human beings. Even those who you’re ‘compelled’ or ‘obliged’ to be ‘loyal’ to can break you into a million pieces and you see the monster in them. They abuse their God-given (literally) throne and you wonder if there will be sin upon you to be NOT loyal to them. To disobey them. Will God let you do that in this kind of situation?-you ask yourself. Humans disappoint. God doesn’t. God created them and send them your way so He may test you. This is the biggest test He’s sent me so far. Should I disobey a person whom God Himself assigned ME to be obedient to? Do you really think that this affects God’s judgement? Do you think He, the All-Knowing was wrong to have bestowed you power? You want me to think this way, don’t you? But I won’t. So what exactly does one do in this situation? I am at a loss. Torn. Beyond what you can imagine. One minute you’re doing them a favour and they return it. But the next, you see with your own eyes them breaking your trust. Using you. Ya Allah, guide me. I am about to do something so cruel; do I do it for myself or do I leave them to YOU?