The Defense of The Art Streamers

It baffles me how equation-solvers and machine-operators can still sneer at those whose words hold the power to control and shape the opinion of the world. Books of every genre and subject are written by capable writers who have good command of the language. You number-crunchers learned through books, through someone’s ability to convey their ideas through language. Reading material will always be there to fashion as well as influence thought, opinion and viewpoints of the entire humankind. It also has the ability to change them. It will always be regarded highly, and that is why, even though you learn the insides and workings of a machine, graphs of supply-and demand, the chemical bond of a drug, statues and bills, you will always end up having to encapsulate all that which you have learned into a thesis of some kind; an academic paper, in order to preserve that knowledge for the benefit of future generations. Does a thesis not require good language? What happens when you submit a poorly written one? The entire paper fails because the reader is not able to comprehend what you are trying, miserably, to communicate. And no matter how far you go in life, the person who is most well-read always has the upper hand, does he not? Whose writings have shaped his mind? Whose pen was responsible for widening his thought?

I’ll give you an example, no country in the world is perfect in its governance, and there will always be dissatisfaction among the people. What do you think makes the people so divided in their views? It is what they read, no matter how academic or non-academic, how truthful or deceitful the pieces of writing which they read are. That is why the burden of shaping good, sound thought, lies on the hand that holds the pen. They are the masters of the key to unlocking (and locking) the minds of the people. So far books (words) have set fire of love in the hearts, set big revolutions and wars into motion and sent small ripples into big waves and tides. To words belong the power of guidance, such is the role of holy revelations such as the Quran, and books of ideologies like the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx. To words belong the power of social change; books such as 1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell. To words belong the power of immortality; even though the writers themselves have died physically, their ideas still live on. Books are so powerful they are capable of rewriting history- like the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun. Books can inflict fear and be banned by people who recognize the ability of words in shaping the mind.

I am not saying that all of us majoring in Literature are going to be writing books that will change the world after we graduate. I mean, I hope we do. Or at least I do. But what I mean is, it is in our pockets. We are most likely to write something, and it doesn’t matter on what scale it is, when a reader sets his eyes on it, words are digested in his mind, and is bound to have an effect on him; it may be immediate, direct, clear or it might linger on until later, and even if he does not agree with the ideas of the writer, he would have at least gained something: “there is such thought that exists”, or that it would serve as some sort of extra knowledge that he would pull out for future use.

Yes, you may have invented incredible machinery that aid us in our daily lives, and you may even argue that the laptop I am using right now has been created and put together by some engineer. But give a writer a pen and some ink, or even some animal skin or a bark to write on, the word lives on.

dps

It may also be good to note that most scholars i.e., students of the social sciences and even language are the ones that go on to become people of influence like politicians and speech-writers of the politicians. Again, the power of words. Transcribe them into written form, and it becomes a revolutionary book. How many will hop into your train of thought, how many a people will be moved by your words? Think Mein Kampf (Adolf Hitler), The Prince (Machiavelli), Long Walk to Freedom (Nelson Mandela), The Audacity of Hope (Barack Obama), Gandhi’s books.. etc.

Note: ALL FIELDS ARE EQUALLY IMPORTANT. I am in no way demeaning the other academic majors or dissing the importance of the jobs of other people, such as doctors and scientists etc as they find medicine to cure great illnesses and treat our wounded, but there will always be a supply of such workers, they will not run out, not at least in the near future. But writings that shape the world, that shape even the minds of doctors, of engineers and scientists; such supply is low, and we live in a time of dire need of good, sound, reliable, powerful writing.

No matter what you are studying right now, know that you are just as capable as the next person of changing the world. Just take good measure in learning how to effectively communicate your thoughts and you should be good to go and conquer the world… :)

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“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.

Lessons from Facebook

I created my Facebook account a few years back when I was in highschool. Then I was using MySpace (*cringe), so my FB account was sort of dead for about a year and a half. I had no clue how to use it; it was small in format compared to MySpace, it had something called a ‘Wall’ on which your friends can write on and every time I log in, I used to always receive these virtual gifts (flowers, mostly) from random people. It confused me. MySpace was much easier, more fun and 12-year-old-friendly. Basically it took me a while to get used to it, even after the big ‘migration’ (where MySpace peeps moved to Facebook and magically got the hang of it in a jiffy, leaving me and a few aunties on our own to work our way around. Haha, yes).

When I finally did get used to it, I quickly became one of those people who updated their status not only everyday, but every hour! I was hooked on commenting and posting lengthy messages, updating my photo albums and what not. Though I may cringe now, I am so glad that the one thing I never picked up was the hype of playing games on Facebook. They seriously annoy me. And the requests?! They’re hella annoying. Sorry.

In that same phase, I began posting pictures (not particularly of myself, but of my family, our activities etc) and was overwhelmed by the many ‘Likes’ I received. An example would be a picture of Noura when she was a newborn, getting me over a 100 likes. My notifications went crazy not only because of that, but also because of my lengthy status updates-most of the time with an eye-capturing picture attached. And I’m not even famous. That is the thing about Facebook. I wonder if people actually even read what I’ve written! I learned that a status with a nice picture attached gets more attention and Likes than a status with none. This was beginning to feel like advertising. And the aim of advertising, I’d reminded myself, was to ‘attract the targeted audience’. Unfortunately, about 30% of the friend requests I get are from little kids who are juniors from my school; they probably know me as the daughter of Teacher Sh Haslinda. =.= So most of the time, I suspect that when these kids see my lengthy statuses, (initially only Liked by my own circle of friends, colleagues and teachers (a.k.a adults) who make up about, say, 12 Likes) they too feel the need to contribute to the number and tadaa! -add one more Like. From a 7th grader. Status update was of a rant on human connectivity. After all it only takes a tap on their trackpads to Like an item. To be honest, I get puzzled too when I am notified of little kids Liking my status updates- ESPECIALLY when I’m ranting about something they probably have no clue about. I’m not underestimating the intelligence level of our younger generation, but realistically speaking, their own Facebook profiles prove otherwise- meaning they’re acting their own age, or at least the age I’ve always imagined my younger self to be acting like.

And it was beginning to feel as if you’ve got to constantly ‘feed’ the people on your Friends’ list or else when you post only on certain occasions, you’re very likely to get ignored or get no Likes at all- maybe one or two. But compared to the 50+ Likes you’re used to getting when you used to post regularly, one or two Likes is nothing. At one point, like I said, I was always posting pictures, long statuses, long conversations with my circle of friends for the world to see and all that good stuff to feed the stalking public. It was no doubt fun at first, because it made me feel good that people are actually paying attention to the things I wanted to bring up. When I posted something, I genuinely wanted to share something of quality, of importance, of substantive nature. I used my own words, my own pictures etc. Psychologically, what it does to you is that a Like makes you feel good inside; the symbol of a Like is a thumbs up. A positive hand gesture we’re used to doing in real life. When transferred digitally as we see now, no real effort is actually required as opposed to the real thumbs up. So in Facebook reality, it is questionable whether the person who ‘Likes’ a certain post actually likes it or merely agrees with it or is just Liking it because it already has 99 Likes and 1 more Like brings no harm + makes the 100th Liker a part of ‘something’; like he is ‘in the know’ or ‘in the loop’ y’know. I don’t know if you get my drift.. but this is what I’ve gathered from my own observation/s and experience/s.

News have also become more widespread now that news channels have started their own Facebook pages. Now everyone can be a (non-official) news commentator just by ‘Sharing’ a particular news and add a line or two in their own words. Intelligent discourse do arise from Sharing, but more often than not, I see loud comments aimlessly and carelessly thrown in gibberish language- and they go back and forth, littering the comments section of the news. I am weary of those, but sometimes I do feel tempted to join in, ESPECIALLY when a careless person has made a blatant mistake in their accusatory and hostile comments which I’m able to spot and put right. I do it to shut them up. Also, take note at how most of the time, the direction that the comments takes a different route- from the content of the news itself to the news provider and so on. It gets hilarious ridiculous, of course. But nowadays I avoid them. In fact I avoid Facebook totally except when my own Timeline gets flooded with the things teenagers these days find so amusing (namely Kpop, One Direction etc) and I feel the need to wake these people up by throwing a link to an AlJazeera video about the Burmese Muslims’ Oppression or by geting people to sign petitions or by Sharing an interesting study about the Quran and other things like that… But lo and behold! True enough, after a long long hiatus from Facebook, and suddenly posting all this ‘dry’ stuff, these things don’t attract people in the very least! It does get hard when you’re pressured by the number of Likes you might or might not be getting. Before I went on the hiatus, I did feel that I was burdening people by making them feel obliged to Like my posts. I’m not sure why I felt so, but it was obviously not because I actually felt that people were burdened by it- Liking a post is hardly a burden! Maybe it was because almost the same people appear in my notifications, Liking every single post. I didn’t want them to do that. It sort of felt as if they felt like they were doing me a favour. I didn’t like it; whether they really Liked it or not, wasn’t the question anymore. It was just tiring; being notified of how many Likes you’re getting.. all that anticipation. It’s sad, what Facebook’s made me feel. So that was why I moved to Twitter; I didn’t feel like I was burdening everyone with my thoughts- it felt like everyone there was overburdened by their own thoughts that they had to spill it there; we were like-minded people. I didn’t feel the least guilty posting an update every single minute or second! I felt free to post ‘dry’ stuff on Twitter without worrying if I would only get one Like or 10 Likes. I couldn’t care less about the Likes because there is no such feature on Twitter. There is ‘Favourite’, but as silly as this sounds, that is of a higher rating than Like. So I didn’t mind if people didn’t particularly Favourite my tweets. I just knew that it was good enough for them to be looking at the Timeline and reading my tweets without getting distracted by any pictures or videos except that they are in links. And since then, I preferred the concept of Twitter to Facebook. And people leave their commentaries in their own tweets; broken up into several tweets or for those who might have written a whole essay, they provide a link to their work. Twitter’s word limit doesn’t really allow for extensive discussion, so that is why I don’t see much ridiculous irrelevant one/two liner hostile comments sandwiched in atrocious grammar thrown at particular individuals. -Ah you know, when a particular news is released, sometimes the comments you see have nothing to do with the content! It’s a one crude comment about the company that provides the news. Highly amusing stuff.

Sigh. So I’ve learned that to engage with the right people who actually do have a say in a particular matter of your interest fast, it is easier on Twitter even if your tweets are protected. At least one of your followers can give you something of substance even if it’s just under 140 characters. As opposed to Facebook which most of the time attracts unwanted individuals who are either 1) creepy 2)just trolling 3)don’t make sense 4)plain ignorant on the matter, they(brothers from the MSA) just want to talk about your display picture- which is a different topic altogether which we’ll save it for later.

This was written in the spur of the moment. Nah. Actually after getting so fed up listening to the ranting voice in my head getting louder and louder each day about this in particular and after reading these two: ‘The Ineloquence of Internet Commentary‘ and ‘Facebook and Why We Need A Rally of the Real‘.

 

Thanks for tuning in.

I could go on to things like ‘Sharing’ and activism

but this is getting too long.

Why do I feel that this doesn’t make any sense at all.

But are these deductions of any worth at all?

They’re mine personally, but I feel-

Maybe it is because it is 2.23AM.

Oh and I turned 18 today. Alhamdulillah.

One year closer to death. Ya Rabb :/

This has a lot to do with the #SaveMaryam page as well.

FYI.

Assalam.