Do you ever get instances when your overworked mind suddenly comes to a halt, flashing only in emergency lights: ya rab, I need you.

Everything breaks down – and you both know and don’t know why all at once. I was doing so good, what keeps happening? But then you recall back to the amount of times you’ve consciously acknowledged you’re need for Him. It’s one of those things which you say, but in your arrogance as a human being – you don’t necessarily internalise. Is this what khushou’ of the mind and the heart feels like? God, I haven’t felt khushou’ for so long. I don’t know whether I feel to sinful to ask for such an honour to be endowed upon me – or whether I feel too undeserving. Isn’t that the same thing? But wait – I felt something. God, are you proud of me?

My mind feels like a messy jumble of wool. I can no longer assemble my words in coherence and fluidity. My body reflects my heart’s moods – it aches and pains. And my heart – I’m not quite sure what to make of it; one day it’s a melting pot, the next I find it made out of steel. But God, I need you.

Every time I touch my chest, my hand returns tainted black. God, I need you. They said it was possible to fall out of love, and right there and then my heart fell out of its secrecy and tumbled onto the cold concrete winter ground, with a deafening thud – heard only to me. God, I need you. I miss it, God, I miss it. The daily walk down Oxford road in the rain. The walk into the law building. Level 4. Remember the time I walked down looking like a fool, holding a vase of ‘manly’ flowers? Wait, stop.

But what about that time we stayed in John Rylands till it shut down for the day? Oh, and Fajr prayer in McDougalls – when they used to forget to turn the mic on for the sister’s area. The sound of the rain pattering on the bedroom window, this time last year. Remember the warmth of the room? I would put both heaters on max, so that when we walked in it would feel like we were sinking into the cosiest almost-sauna-but-not-quite-enough-to-keep-us-comfortable. The singing sessions in the car, on the way back from – them. The sessions in the kitchen. My experimental baking sessions. Remember that gluten-free sugar-free absolute decadent chocolate and coconut dessert I made for your birthday? We had it whilst watching LOTR, the projector on the living room wall, as we camped on the other side of the room on the floor.

Why do these memories come back as though they were yesterday? Why do you speak of them now – and never before? I tried suppressing them before, but winter has this warmth to it – the warmth of nostalgia. Only in my case the nostalgia is frosty and bitter – but the memories somewhat remain warm.

That time.. those times.. how do you fall ‘out of love’? Pray tell me, how? I’ll hold no resentment. I’ll ask no more questions. But for all the questions I never got an answer for – for just being picked up and removed – shipped for return – so easily with no explanation, the only question I ask now is, how do you fall out of love from someone who handed you their heart over and over again, with a fresh layer of bandages every time?

Perhaps that’s my answer right there. Because who keeps a fool for love. They ask me if I still believe in it, and I tell them I do, of course I do. Just perhaps not for me.

I hope the winter is cosy in all the best ways, up North. And just as the frost bit your heart, leaving you in eternal bliss of its warmth, I pray it too frostbites mine, soon. Perhaps the days will pass by easier.

And back to where this soliloquy started; God, I need you. I need you.

Pan- 2

When reading Kanafani is obligatory for one of your modules; his words are no longer academia, but a personally tailored anecdote; a re-enlightenment – a re-invigoration – a revival.

“I heard you in the other room asking your mother, ‘Mama, am I a Palestinian?’ When she answered ‘Yes’ a heavy silence fell on the whole house. It was as if something hanging over our heads had fallen, its noise exploding, then – silence. Afterwards…I heard you crying. I could not move. There was something bigger than my awareness being born in the other room through your bewildered sobbing. It was as if a blessed scalpel was cutting up your chest and putting there the heart that belongs to you…I was unable to move to see what was happening in the other room. I knew, however, that a distant homeland was being born again: hills, olive groves, dead people, torn banners and folded ones, all cutting their way into a future of flesh and blood and being born in the heart of another child…Do you believe that man grows? No, he is born suddenly – a word, a moment, penetrates his heart to a new throb. One scene can hurl him down from the ceiling of childhood onto the ruggedness of the road.”


Today, ‘Palestinian’ is swapped with ‘Syrian’ – it is swapped with ‘Arab’.



So I want to write this extraordinary piece about Beirut and Baghdad. But words fail me, as always, as I rinse them on academic essays praying they will take me to where my heart eventually sets; an unknown destination. So this won’t be extraordinary in the slightest, just a passionate urge divulged.

My knowledge of their respective countries is limited, I’ve neither visited nor studied both as extensively, but I’ve had the utmost honour of knowing the Lebanese and the Iraqi. Of befriending them, confiding in them, camping with them, praying with them, and loving them. Of all the nationalities I’ve come to know, they shine in their generosity – in their abundance in familiarity – in faith – and in happiness. Yes, happiness.

Say, the world is troubled – but it hasn’t seen a place as troubled as Baghdad – and yet, those who owe their heritage to Baghdad are the biggest believers, the most understanding, the most outgoing, the most peaceful. (And don’t get me started on the accent!) <3

I suppose my words read generic – vacant – for they can never do justice to two jewels crystallized amid an ever-erupting molten rock. But this needed to be released. Your hurt is our hurt, your happiness, ours. You too will be rebuilt, spring-cleaned, cleansed; embraced and harnessed with safety.

One day, I’ll stroll down Mutanabbi street and take a right turn onto the Corniche; with Gibran as companion and Ghazali as guide.


A vacuum is felt by those of us who never got the chance to visit the homeland and meet those who revolutionised our world; be part of their extended family, be a part of their story.

“They were the best days” others would tell you, as you sit and listen about a meeting full of fulfillment and spirit. As you read articles upon blogs about their travels to that one place forbidden upon you, wondering how it must have felt to touch that fulfillment; to feel its satisfaction; to know that you’ve served your people – your homeland – the revolution, and feel truly entitled to call it yours.

“This is how human nature is made, and for a definite purpose. Moreover, this is more suited to the role assigned to man in this life, placing him in charge of the earth. This role requires developing human life so as to achieve the level of perfection God in His wisdom has determined for it. Hence, He has made man a creature who loves change, discovery and movement from one stage, place or scene to another. This aspiration enables man to move on, to change things in his life, to discover new things as also reinvent his social system. In this way, man’s whole life changes and develops. It continues to progress gradually until it achieves its best level of perfection.

At the same time, human nature loves what is familiar and tries to preserve customs and traditions. However, this is kept at a degree that does not obstruct progress or prevent the development of thought or new ideas. The two trends achieve a balance which ensures progress. Every time the balance is disturbed so as to impose stagnation, it is followed by a revolt which gives new momentum in the opposite direction. This may even exceed the limits of moderation. The best periods in human life are those which achieve an equilibrium between the driving force and social controls, and between motivation and restraint. Should stagnation persist, it heralds a retreat in social conditions and a slow death in the life of both individuals and the community.”

~ Qutb. In the Shade of the Qur’an, Vol.XI

قال لها إنتِ كنز٬ ثم دفنها

A post I came across on facebook, which has resonated so much. If I could write as eloquently in Arabic, I would have wrote this.

It was the interest shown in me, the very words ‘you can change the world’, which had me captivated. For someone to tell you they believe in you, to make you feel so capable and valued – then backtrack on all of that. For you to then become a possession, to be disciplined and reprimanded for the very things which defined you – the very things which he had initially exclaimed he loved about you. And then after all this, to wonder what happened to you when you no longer understand what is happening, to complain about you when you fall into depression and not realise the reason behind it all, to question what happened – why you changed in passive aggressive rhetoric; to not forgive your shortcomings in this depressed period, yet justify his unjustified stance.

“Remember when you said you wanted to marry me because I was someone – you said – who could change the world?”

“Oh my god, seriously. We were young. That was immature talk. What good is change the world ma change the world talk now.”

By Sheriff Ammar:

أبهرته بشخصيتها المستقلة و حضورها الواثق٬ جذبته بطموحها و رؤيتها٬ شدته بثقافتها و حديثها الممتع٬ أذهلته بأناقتها و إهتمامها بنفسها٬ سحرته بضحكتها و إقبالها على الحياة.

كانت له “كنز” صعب المراد و حلم بعيد المنال٬ كيف لا والكل يدأب لودها و يحرص على رضاها٬ كيف لا و أينما حلت سعادة و حياة كانت خطاها.

قال لها حضورك كنز٬ و طموحك كنز٬ و حديثك كنز٬ و أناقتك كنز٬ و ضحكتك كنز ..
قال لها إنتِ كنز ..

و بعد محاولات و محاولات من الود و بذل الجهد و الإطراء؛ لانت ومالت٬ لما رأت منه إيمانا بها٬ و أختلافا عن بقية طالما حاولت تغيرها. فملك قلبها٬ وأمتلك الكنز٬ وتحقق الحلم.

و في ليلة الزفاف كانت كفراشة راقصة٬ تنشر الفرح و السعادة بخفة روحها و تلقائية ضحكاتها وحيوية خطواتها٬ وما أن إقتربت منه؛ مال على أذنها و طلب منها أن تتحلى بالوقار٬ فضحكاتها و خطواتها لا تليق بالمتزوجات !!

في ليلة شتوية بارده٬ و على شاطئ شبه خاٍل٬ ضمته إليها و أرادته أن يضمها٬ فتفاجئ و تلفت حوله في إرتباك و إتهمها بالجنون٬ فهذه أمور مراهقين خادشة للحياء !!

و في ليلة زفاف صديقتها٬ لم يسمح لها بإرتداء فستانها المفضل الذي طالما تغزل بها كلما أرتدته أيام الخطوبة٬ لأنها الآن في عصمة “رجل” !!

و في يوم ترقيتها في عملها٬ ذهبت إلى البيت لتبشره في مسرة لا تسعها الدنيا٬ فما كان منه إلا الاستنكار و الحكم بأن هذا المنصب سيؤثر على واجباتها المنزلية و تربية الأولاد !!

و مرت أيام و هي تنصاع٬ وشهور و هي تذعن٬ و سنين و سنين و هي تتشكل٬ إلى إن صار يعاتبها على سكوتها الدائم٬ و يشتكي نكدها المستمر٬ و يكدرها بوزنها الزائد٬ و يتحسر على ذوقها المتدني٬ و يستنكر عليها هذا التحول “الغريب” بسؤاله اليومي “لماذا تغيرتي بعد الزواج ؟”

و بعد كل مرة يسألها٬ تسرح٬ ترجع الى زمن ليس بالقريب٬ تستوقف ذكريات ليست بالغريبة٬ تحاول ألا تبكي٬ ثم تبكي ..

قال لها إنتِ كنز٬
ثم دفنها.

“I want to set you free. I know there’s so much more out there you are capable of doing than being imprisoned here with me.”

No, you wanted to clear your conscious, and walk away having justified your actions to yourself.

“Women are endowed with a spiritual preeminence that stems from their devotion to genuineness and belonging. It is a yearning for what is viscerally authentic in all their connections and relationships—especially with God. It is this very essence that makes woman profoundly soulful in her giving and at once so insatiable in her yearning. It is also what makes her so bewilderingly enigmatic, so disarmingly incomprehensible—even to herself. Ironically, it is also this gift that makes her appear tentative, often uncertain—when all that she wishes is for everything that she ever does to be meaningful, authentic and pure. Women usually need privacy when they pray to replenish their formidable repertoire of giving, though their very essence is a form of prayer; their speech is prayer; and— (as distinct from their whims)—their feelings are prayer too. Devotion is the secret behind a woman’s eloquence and the essence of her virtue. This is epitomized by Mary in the Quran, and Fatimah in the prophetic tradition.”