Food for thought


I decided to have a Pret Packed lunch today. And that was the easiest decision to make until I got there. Then it was just options, upon options, upon options. This isn’t the best thing to have in abundance when you’re a highly indecisive individual. I spent 15 minutes umm-ing and ahh-ing until the manager actually gave me a packet of Smoke Chipotle crisps on the house so long as I actually made a decision. I ended up with the Crayfish and Avocado sandwich. Which was nice, but now in hindsight I wish I had gone for the Falafel and Halloumi Cheese hot wrap. We all have regrets. Occasions and situations that we reflect on and think about how things could’ve been in retrospect. I’ve been thinking about my actions from the beginning of this year to now and whilst I don’t regret anything, I believe that I have let myself down a bit.


At the beginning of the year, I was super organised. Shockingly organised to the point where I’m now wondering if I was under hypnosis. I was setting myself weekly goals that were broken down into tasks for each day of the week. Keeping a diary and noting down every beneficial conversation and meeting that I had. Regularly attending creative meetings and updating my LinkedIn profile with every public engagement I attended.


I guess I was being consistent and adopting accountability practices to measure my work output. Since April, around about the Easter Bank Holiday, I’ve been more relaxed. Too relaxed.. And though I have been busy, alhamdulillah, I can’t measure my productivity.  I want to go back to my old ways of 2017 yet I can’t deny that whilst there has been no structure; I’ve accomplished some incredible feats alhamdulillah.  

Khalid Charles, journalist and extraordinary human says: “at some point we all go from being super organised to going with the flow. I wondered why do we feel better when we are achieving daily or weekly goals. It made me realise that achievement of spiritual goals can be so fulfilling and personally I find when those targets are being met the rest just falls into place! Its an observation I have hung on and tried to pratice for years. Sunnat Allah!”

Maybe I just need to figure out the right balance of spontaneity and structure.  

5 Easy Sunnah Which Are Stress-Busters

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Do you know anyone on this planet who is not personally acquainted with stress? We mostly look for help from worry in crazy routes, by yelling at the ones who are younger than us at the times when they don’t follow what they are told, or slamming the work area when a task is not going the way it should, or going for the parody motion pictures to divert our attention from the stressful event.

In Islam, you can find help with your stress by means of the Quran and the Sunnah. In this article today, we will talk about the Sunnah that are stress busters, have a look:

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  • Using the Perfumes

Using the perfume is the Sunnah as Hazrat Muhammad (SAW) used the perfumes and now in this modern world, you may have heard about the Aromatherapy which has become quite popular as it is successful in stress relief. You can follow this in the simplest way, just smell some perfume or ‘itr, and it will surely give you relief.

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  • Perform ablution

It is clearly written in many books by Islamic scholars that performing ablution is the best way to get to stress and other stress-induced psychological issues. It cleanses you spiritually and provides you the required comfort. It is a kind of water therapy for issues like stress.

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  • Forget and Forgive

You must learn to forgive people for everything they do; it is a Sunnah and is one of the best ways to stay at peace. Because when you forgive people and forget what they did, your heart and mind are more relaxed and when you are mentally calm so nothing can really stress you out. Also, Allah loves those who forgive others. In this regard, Hazrat Umer (RA) once said:

“There is no better punishment for one who has disobeyed Allah with regard to you, than your obeying Allah with regard to him.” (Ibn Kathir)

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The Asma’u Network

  • Keep smiling

When you smile, it releases the stress hormones. It is stress buster Sunnah. Keep smiling, smile when talking and give others a smile when your eyes meet even for a brief second. It will keep you away from stress and issues like anxiety.

This Sunnah is proved right by the modern science as well, and this is why smiling is considered the universal sign of happiness and is a true indication that the other person is happy.

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  • Recite the Holy Quran

Recitation of the Holy Quran is a Sunnah and is the best therapy for stress. It is above everything even today and is proven by many. When you recite the Holy Quran, you are listening to the Almighty, and there is no better therapy for stress than listening to the Creator, listening to what He says. It will make your hearts and minds relax and will keep you in a calm state.

All of the above mentioned Sunnahs are stress busters, and they are a must to be followed when it comes to stress because no one can deal with it better than these.

 

About the Author:

Maham Rizwan an author dedicated to boosting Islamic spirit in the Ummah. Traveling and learning new cultures is her source of inspiration. She regularly blogs at http://quranacademy.io/

Image credit to Tumblr

Anxiety – A Muslimah’s Perspective

Anxiety

What’s your worst nightmare?  Is it walking into an important meeting wear your pyjamas? Being locked in a cage with a man-eating tiger.  How about sky diving and then realising that the parachute is faulty?  Those are far-fetched examples.  Maybe not the parachute one though – that’s quite a frequent occurrence.  But I digress – everyone has thoughts of terror that plagues them and the thought of these nightmares manifesting in the living world is traumatising.  My worst nightmare – fear.  The irony is that I live in fear constantly.

I always thought that it was normal to always be tense and walk around with bated breath.  In my mind, I believed that it meant that you were always ready to face any obstacle.  CONSTANT VIGILENCE (any excuse for a Harry Potter quote).  So now I have all these fears just casually chilling in my being.  Fear of speaking to people, getting things wrong, worrying about how others perceived me.  Am I good enough?  Will I be accepted?  Does this all even matter?  Fear, in the meantime, is having a whale of a time.  Just chopping itself into little blocks and piling up on one another like Jenga.  And we all know what happens when it all falls down.

Growing up, I perceived it to be a signature trait of a Strong Independent Black Woman (insert snaps here) to bottle up emotions.  You just don’t talk about your hardships and problems.  You have a bit of a moan, suck it up and get on with it.  But growing up in a diverse environment has taught me that the psyche is more sophisticated to just be confined to a stereotype. Anxiety does not discriminate and isn’t synonymous to a type of person.  It happens to anyone.  At any given time.  But it doesn’t mean that it is a hopeless decline to despair.

There are many ways that are advise to keep anxiety at bay – eat a better diet that has a low concentration of crap (sugar, salt, additives), work out at least 30 minutes a day, five days out of the week. Keep a gratitude journal. Have conversations with people who care and will listen.  But my greatest source of comfort can be found in the following ayats from The Quran.  Below are a few that help me through all aspects of a busy life.

 

 

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Whatever you’re going through won’t last forever.  It may be difficult to remember that when you’re floundering in the depths of your situation.  But it’s like gravity; whatever goes up must come down. No matter how dismally dark it may seem, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Just remain steadfast in that frame of thought. I find the recitation of duas when you feel a bit overwhelmed is very helpful.

This is my ultimate favourite dua:image1.JPG

 

 

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First things first, having an attitude of gratitude is vital in the fight against anxiety.  Because it won’t go away.  Fear is a fundamental aspect of life that we have to learn to deal with and have coping mechanisms that are not harmful to you.  I was reading on The Millennial Muslim’s blog on writing a list of things you are grateful for each day and just constant remembrance such as Dhikr and Quran reading and contemplation.  I began implementing that into my lifestyle and you would be amazed at the little things that make a big difference to how you feel. You are what you eat and if you have a poor diet, this will have a negative impact on the frequencies within your brain.  Be sure to drink plenty of H2O, l’eau, wata (sorry it’s the Sierra Leonean in me coming out).  Get a balanced diet full of veggies, fruits, grains and protein and eat regularly.  But not too regularly.  Remember you’ve got to keep the waistline in tact!

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Sleep is vital.  I know we live in an age where a barista should receive a doctorate in reviving sleep deprived zombies into upstanding citizens with a double-shot of espresso.  But whilst the secret revival elixir held in an Arabica beans are a blessing; sleep is much better for you. It gives you time to fully recoup and rest your body.  Lack of sleep has a major impact on your frame of mind.  The less sleep you have, the more inclined you are to become depressed, moody, have hallucinations and could impair your memory significantly. My sleep pattern has become completely botched and that is one of the causes of the last panic attack I had.  I really can’t stress enough the value of a decent night’s rest.  It’s not every day #teamnosleep.

 

image3.JPGStop preeing* other people’s lives on Social Media.  This is a breeding ground for ill thoughts about yourself and others.  In the grander scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter whether someone’s makeup game is on fleek, what reg plate that brother is pushing or if So-&-So is pregnant again.  Because what happens is you are starting a competition for yourself that the other person isn’t aware of.  You don’t know what that individual you’re speculating on is going through or what Allah has written for that individual.  Especially when your state of mind and emotional well-being is shaky.  I won’t be a killjoy and say quit Social Media.  Just be aware of the content that you are curating and embedding into your brain because it plays a part in the direction your thoughts drift. And thoughts ultimately lead to actions.

 

All these suggestions I’ve made based on how I’ve tackled my anxiety are not just restricted to when you feel like you may suffer a panic attack.  These practices are a part of your life.  I once watched a lecture by Mufti Menk where the message was you need to know Allah when things are going well so that when things aren’t going the way you envisioned you will remember that Allah will always be there for you.

I pray that despite the darkness, Allah will always be the light at the end of the tunnel for you.

 

*UK/West Indian colloquialism for spying

 

Interview with a wordsmith: Meet Saraiya Bah AKA Muslimah in The City!

Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakathu and Happy New Year! I know, we’re nearly three months in but I thought it was the appropriate thing to do. I hope you are reading this with good health and your spirit is at peace.

This is a quick one to state that I am still alive, but have been quite busy with creative pursuits that has lead me to having an abrupt hiatus.

At the latter end of 2016, I decided to take my poetry more seriously and began sharing it on a … I think it’s fair to say global level. I will explain in a series of blog posts, but for now, please read this interview about my poetical pursuits written by awesome writer Aisha Morgan of The Black Muslim Times UK.

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THE BLACK MUSLIM TIMES UK

Saraiya Bah, alternatively known as Muslimah in the City, is a woman of many talents; poet, spoken word artist, freelance writer, and a lifestyle blogger from London.

She joins Aisha Morgan, writer and journalist for TBMT-UK, at Café Nero for a one-to-one discussion on leaving the corporate world to pursue a career in creative and freelance writing, overcoming personal fears and anxieties around performing, and being Aisha al-Qurtubiyya for a day.

 

AM: As-salaam Alaikum Saraiya! Thank you for joining me today for what will hopefully be a really insightful and thought-provoking discussion. I know this is your first interview for TBMT-UK, so welcome and I hope that youre looking forward to the discussions as much as we are!

 

SB: Walaikum As-salaam Wa-rahmatullah Wa-Barakatu. Thank you for inviting me here today and thank you to TBMT-UK for reaching out to me to share this much needed platform…

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#SQUAD

According to my mother, I’m not happy unless I’m on the opposition of the status quo. The next sentence I type will make her theory hold weight. This concept of #SQUAD makes me very uncomfortable. Like there’s not enough pressure that I already face with being a Millennial Woman. (Wow, that makes me seem like some bogus superhero). As if I need to focus my energies on career progression, find a spouse, become a human incubator/baby manufacturing machine and maintain a hardcore super group of friends who slay together all day everyday.

I often find myself questioning the values of our relationships with other women and the threads that weave us together – be it biological, career or just because souls resonate with one another. I have a sister and we have many common interests, we’ve shared the same womb, shared the same room, are both Muslim and shared a childhood. Allah knows I love her dearly, but that is where the common ground ends. We couldn’t be any more different as individuals. She is very much a social butterfly; always out with her friends. Myself – I would say as I’ve grown older I deeply appreciate the moments of solitude that is so fleeting to attain in this day and age. These moments, to others, make me seem anti-social or unbothered.  


So where do the women who are prone to be emotionally introverted and require time out from all modes of human interaction fit into this institute of kinship? Where you’re supposed to be with your girlfriends and any opportunity of free time you possess should be spent in each other’s company and hashtagging “squad” on every social media platform. Does my need for solitude mean that I’m the cancerous membrane in the sorority that needs to be cut out?

As much as I do enjoy conversation and social endeavours, I’ve never been the one to plan excursions which is terrible and I’m pretty sure that when some of my friends read this they will have some very choice words to exchange with me but, again, this is my truth. I don’t think that the level of love, support and solidarity of sisterhood should be esteemed or measured on how many times we check into a hipster joint on Facebook, or donning every variation of The Flower filter on Snapchat.  

Dark Sugars.


London in the height of summer is a sight to behold.  Schools have closed for the holidays meaning the roads are less congested with parents frantically dashing children to school and more seating space on public transport.  There are so many outdoor food markets and festivals that your Facebook is  sending you daily notifications of events you had every intention of attending but when the day finally arrives you have to reevaluate your intentions.  BBQs and garden parties galore. It’s also supposed to be Summer.  You know with sun.  And me complaining about the heat.  Straight face emoji.  

Bar that one week of glorious heat and sunshine, it’s been really grey.  Really wet.  Really humid.  But rain is a blessing from Allah, so alhamdulillah.  Rather than reaching for the sunnies and an ice cold drink, I’m still leaving the house in a coat and craving a nice hot drink.  Especially on a work day.  

My office is based in Aldgate which is a stone’s throw away from Brick Lane better as Foodie Heaven.  There you will find a melée of small bistros, restaurants and market stalls serving cuisine from all over the world.  Brick Lane is even home to the infamous Cereal Killer Café – a joint whose sole purpose is to feed its customers with all the cereal you can think of. But I digress.  My new favourite place to get a hot beverage is Dark Sugars – home of hand made chocolates, truffles and vegan treats. 

zbieg okoliczności.


What is a sign? Google tells me that it is an object, quality or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else. I can’t trust what Google tells me so I checked the Oxford Dictionary and it confirmed that Google was in fact telling the truth. 

Why am I concerned about the definition of a sign? Well, signs in life to me are a way of Allah communicating with me.  

What is the relevance of me writing this?  It’s purely down to zbieg okoliczności. That’s Polish for coincidence. After the last blog post I published on 5th May 2015, life took a few unpredictable turns and I grew negligent with it. I was still writing poetry and anything that came to mind, but I wasn’t making an active effort to really drive the blog forward.

I had a few people prompt me to keep writing and posting consistently, alas laziness prevailed. Until May 14th 2016. I met a web designer who told me they read my blog and wanted to know why I stopped posting. That completely knocked me for six. Being the blunt person I am, I enquired how he got to know about my blog in the first place. He responded that he got to know about my blog through an ex-colleague of his who happened to be from Sierra Leone and Muslim too. Her name was Habiba Bangura and my blog inspired her to become a better Muslimah and make steps to create a lifestyle blog of her own.

Habiba passed away due to endometrial cancer. 

I told you that I believe signs to be are a way of Allah communicating with me, right? 

So my first post is dedicated to Habiba Bangura and the sheer fact that you are always going to impact people’s lives. You won’t even know who is aware of your actions and the effect it would have on them. So come correct and make every day and every action count.

I’ve second guessed my writing and the impact my words have on people. Alhamdulillah I’ll always have these coincidences and signs to let me know that I’m doing the right thing.

 

May Allah grant sister Habiba Bangura jannatul firdaus.