So there’s this old guy I want to speak about.

I see him in the library every single day – he must be doing a PhD or some sort of institution-based research, I assume, otherwise how else would he get a pass into the university library?
He’s like a cute old Asian uncle, always smiling, always cheerful. He’s quite short and has the typical uncle round belly. His hair is white, and he has quite a long beard – dyed at the tip with henna. Everyday he comes in wearing a shirt tucked into his joggers, and usually those leather slippers you get from back home. Today he’s wearing trainers though, because it’s raining I guess.
He’s always walking between the Islamic section bookshelves, looking for books, then returning to his seat to read and sift through the pages.
I bumped into him once in the lift, where he gave me and my friend a huge cheerful smile, before averting his gaze to the door.

I don’t have much to say about him – other than the fact that I find him so inspiring. He’s clearly quite old – late 50′s, early 60′s I presume. Yet he’s in the university library, reading, researching. And he’s so humble – his clothes is humble, his walk is humble, his attitude is humble.
Such an inspiration, mashaAllah.

He literally brightens up my revision everyday when I see him shuffling up and down the aisles with his soft, happy, smiling face. A face which speaks on behalf of his lips – of patience, wisdom, and experience.

I wish there was a way I could tell him how inspiring he is to me, without sounding creepy or inappropriate.

May Allah swt preserve him for his family, increase him in His ranks, and make him amongst his best servants. Ameen.

The War is Over

| The war is over. A strong voice echoed all over the country through every single loudspeaker, repeating over and over again that peace had once again enveloped the land of the free. No more guns. No more bullets. The smoke cleared, and the long-absent clear blue sky returned, gradually – but instantly; uncovering itself, unraveling, behind the fading layer of smoke. The rubble began reassembling itself again, into the ancient neighbourhoods and archaic market places. The ground below split, slightly, as lilies and jasmine plants forced their way up through the dust and blood soaked ground, in celebration. Their martyrs had not died in vain, they sang, filling the air with the sweetest aroma of their voices, quenching their thirst on the love of their heroes. The sun peeked out, hesitant, seeking permission to join in the praise of the angels floating above. In the distance, two tear exhausted hazy brown eyes broke their reflection of melancholy.. into a smile. A mouth curved upwards, beaming widely, warm like the first breath of Spring, melting the last of the frost. A long forgotten joyous laugh escaping lips. Strange, but beautiful. And somewhere in the heavens, souls rejoiced.


If only.

Khedni 3ala blady

Everyone’s knows I’m a nostalgic person – it’s no secret. My sister always told I loved to live in the past – probably explains my love for history.
So I thought I’d share with you my nostalgia for memories and experiences that aren’t mine (amid my exams – yes I have an exam tomorrow!).

I guess the nostalgia started with my inability to focus on revision – I’m one of those people whose thoughts are scattered everywhere – very chaotic and have too many ideas for a very unstructured and disorganised mind. (See what I mean?)
So my thoughts began wandering off to my vacation in Jordan inshallah – in a month’s time. I began daydreaming of all the sha3bi markets and alleyways I’ll be wandering down with my husband, mother, and siblings – meeting family from Syria and old friends who live in Jordan. Seeing all the old historical spots. Finding different mosques and hiding in them during the heatwave every noon, reading Qur’an, listening to public recitations, praying, admiring religious life and activity inside the mosques. Praying tarawee7 in an Arab country and later walking out on streets flooded with people, shops just opening, falafel sandwiches and iced smoothies. Watching Levantine life for the first time in my life – desperately trying to experience what life in Syria (pre-revolution) would have been like. Imagining myself a native in my own land – and imagining how different my mindset and lifestyle would be.
Then – a Fairouz song from a playlist I’m listening to in the background came on – it was Teeri ya Tayara Teeri. And all of a sudden the mild nostalgia playing at back of my previous thoughts kicked in big time. I began imagining children running around barefoot on pale yellow concrete ground – flying kites, kicking a football, pushing each other, running to help an elderly woman with her bags of shopping up their block. Shouts of children and grocers alike in the background, Abdelbaset’s recitation trailing out of a bookstore meeting halfway with song trailing out of a radio a few stores away, and casual conversations filling up the steamy humid air. Tea on a just washed balcony. A fresh watermelon being diced somewhere a few balconies away. Men in galabiyat walking down the road casually. Slippers. Life.

Nassam 3alayna al-hawa just came on. Don’t even get me started. I think I’m close to tears.

Count yourself lucky if you’ve experienced life in an Arab country before. Namely the Levant.

UPDATE: i7kili 3an balady just came on. My heart is quivering.

Uncategorised ##

I remember three years ago when I published my first blogpost from my phone. It was a surreal experience, I was going through a difficult time, I knew the fault was mine but it was too late to make things better, and all I had where my midnight thoughts for company.
Of course I sought consolation from God, but I found it somewhat difficult to communicate with Him. I felt too ashamed to ask for help when I hadn’t fulfilled the asbaab.. When I hadn’t tied my camel down first, and only realised that it had wandered off into the forever gone distance when it was too late.

And here I am again. Blogging from my phone, with my thoughts for company. I seek reassurance in God but feel unworthy speaking to Him. I’ve messed up time and time again, why should I once think I’m worthy of being listened to? I raise my hands to complain to Him and find my hands as heavy as a rock, my heart detached despite the thousand fleeting feels whirling around in, it drowning it in emotion.

That’s it, drowning.

Because only God alone knows how to lift me up and put me back on my feet. Everything else is a mirage. Deceiving. Suffocating. Drowning.

I know this.

So why then. Why does everything feel heavy? Why then, am I finding it easier to complain to people but not the One and Only being who matters, and by Himself alone can change the state of my affairs?

I get scared and remember the countless stories they tell us of people approaching their death, who if attached to the world, will refuse or be unable to associate with God and will succumb to their desires even at their last breath.

I hope I’m not dying. Not yet. Ya rab.

Sincerity, they tell me, is the key. But how do I remain sincere when seeking it in the first place?

Ya rab, let this period pass and leave me in peace.

republished: Start

Originally posted on ibhog:

I remember sitting with my publisher and them saying: “I wouldn’t put this one in the book. It’s too preachy”.

Here’s to you. Written August 2012, and feels like a different era.

I still want to be back to Him.

Okay, it’s been ages so I’m just gonna cut into the chase. It’d be long, but I want you to at least read the lesson learned.

I want to be better. I want to be better with God. One of the reasons I changed the banner of this blog (yes, check it out) is that I need change that would lead me somehow into that direction. I know a picture isn’t suddenly going to turn me into a religious man, or at once make me achieve all that I which I’ve been wanting to achieve, for ages.

Last year after Ramadan I made a pact with myself. I told…

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Can you spare me a birthday gift, please?

Hey guys!

My 21st birthday is fast approaching, and this year I’m unashamedly asking you for a birthday gift.

But wait – before you close the window, please have mercy on me and hear me out!

I don’t usually ask people for gifts, in fact I come from a family where we don’t really celebrate birthdays, and if we do, it’s a very small half an hour bantering event joking about the person’s supposed age in relation to their mental age. I have a sweet family, I know.

But that’s not the point of this blogpost. The point of this blogpost is that this year I have chosen to celebrate my birthday in full flow, and really want some presents. The presents I want, need to come in the form of other birthday presents Syrian children. So I’m choosing to donate all my presents to Syrian children, because their happiness is worth more than mine at the moment.

The only practical way of doing this is by donating the money you would usually spend on a gift – without actually buying the gift here:

One amazing thing about this is that – even though you won’t be buying me a tangible gift this year, you’ll be buying thousands of Syrian children happiness – which may last them a lifetime.

So please dig deep into your pockets – even if you’re someone I hardly know and wouldn’t usually give me a birthday gift because it’s against the social norm etc – please do it just this one time? I promise I won’t judge you. Or maybe I will.. but in a good way ;)

I hope everyone who sends me a virtual gift for my birthday this year has a great Easter holiday!

With love, Razan X

P.s. My birth date is April 20th.

Am I distracting your back, sir?

I’m sorry sir, am I distracting your back by praying in the designated area for women behind you?

Is that why you’re ruffling with the curtains which act as a screen between men and women, to ensure that they *properly conceal* a fully clothed woman praying in the early hours of the morning – instead of rushing to pray behind the imam who has already started the prayer?

I hope the unnecessary ruffling with the curtains surrounding me on either side – which were already relatively closed – helped you gain khushou3 in your salah, sir, and prevented your back from being distracted by my silent presence. I, on the other hand, was fully immersed in my worship and happy until you came about and distracted me, making me feel uncomfortable and quite frankly afraid of potential hostile comments or looks.

Shout out to all men who succeed in making women feel unwelcome in the houses of God out of their sheer hostility and messed up priorities.