“social anxiety”

shall I tell you the way it feels,

the swampy bog of worry and panicked thought?

to stand knee deep in it is both a comfort and dread

here, in the center, no one can touch me, see me, criticize me

it is me and this repugnant slime,

a manifestation of the worst of me.

and so it sucks me down until I realize

I cannot breathe and there is no one

and the dread is overwhelming.

It is ungratefulness, they say,

that which makes up this clamorous quagmire,

this insidious morass which demands so much of me,

and becomes envious if I dare try and leave.

If I try to climb out of its maw to rest upon its

viscid shore,

it redoubles its effort, it bubbles and spits

it reminds me no one can befriend me, how could they?

and regurgitates my flaws, my wrongdoing,

my sins, upon its abhorrent banks.

And I desist in my resistance,

and slip slowly again into the gurgling mire.

Comforted that none will see me sink.

 

 

Nesha Usmani

4/19/2016

 

 

 

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Time; God’s Great Thing.

A memory-maker

A dream spinner,

a way to heal, to transform.

Where, in the long stretches,

do moments turn into memory?

August Popsicles dripping down a summer dress

Warm Septembers,

Rusty, breezy Octobers,

Chilly Novembers giving way to winter,

and those nights I used to write and write.

Countless seasons have passed me by,

I am left clinging to childhood, to a carefree

sense of wild freedom,

of so much time to do so much,

and now, too many distractions,

and too little time.

 

Nesha Usmani

 

whether a princess or a prince.

you are but a tiny thing

barely four inches of existence

with blood and body I carry

but have not yet seen.

For a decade now, I’ve prayed for you

to one day become a part of me.

You are part of two,

two that love and cherish each other

who love and cherish you.

Whether you are to be

a wild-haired princess;

free spirited, huge-hearted,

brimming over with adventures

or

a benevolent prince,

wide-eyed,

eager for knowledge,

with enough wisdom and love

for a hundred men

Whether a princess or a prince,

We wait for you with barely constrained

impatience, and so, so much hope.

 

Nesha Usmani

On Being in an Inter-Ethnic Marriage

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

On May 23rd 2015, I married a person that Allah has made, to and for me, a mercy, a companion, a confidante, and the other half of my deen. And in the 108 days since, he has become so much more to me, alhamdulillah.

My wedding was a more simple take on a traditional Pakistani wedding. Unlike most, I had a nikkah ceremony at my house, followed by a reception the next day. Those two days were filled with a happiness I have never felt, alhamdulillah.

The wedding was different. There was no dancing, no rukhsati under a Qur’an, nor was there a Pakistani groom!

My husband, you see, is Bosnian.

Have you ever stolen a Bosnian groom’s shoes at his wedding, and held it ransom as his Bosnian family tried to haggle it back? (hilarious)

Or sat among a group of Bosnians, smiling, and having no idea what was being said aside from “Hoces li kava?” or “hvala” or “hajde”

Or tried very hard not to be an absolute animal when your mother-in-law makes burek or pita (but you failed)

These past three months have been such a learning experience for me. Personally, I think I have it much easier than others who decided to marry outside their ethnic pool. It’s especially gratifying to introduce my husband to different Indian/Pakistani foods, and see his palate change from meat-and-potatoes to biryani, samosa chaat, korma, tikka masala, firni, and the like! My mother-in-law won’t say no to samosa chaat, either!

And of course, since I currently live with my in-laws, I’ve been taught how to make a a mean cup of Bosnian coffee, make baked mushrooms and eggplant, and uhh eat a lot of pita (haven’t learned that yet).

My relationship with my father-in-law (svekar) is really special, I think (inshAllah). He knows more Bosnian than English, but can understand and hold a conversation easily. Since living with my husband’s family, I have picked up some Bosnian, but I can understand a lot more than I can speak. But even so, we manage to talk a lot. As a result, his English has gotten better (or I’d like to think so) and my understanding of Bosnian has improved, too. Though, I’m not confident enough to speak it, yet!

It’s a very different household from the way I grew up. I think that’s where some of the challenges have been. Every household has different rules, and when you move into your husbands place, you have to adapt. You have to.

For me, not knowing the language has been the greatest obstacle, but making a sincere effort to understand and learn is probably the biggest respect I can give them. That, and adapting to the way they do things. It’s still challenging, and sometimes it feels insurmountable.

But, the journey is in the challenge, and the reward in sincere effort comes from Allah.

I have already enjoyed the fruits of my efforts, alhamdulillah. I feel close to my in-laws, and have basked in the glory of having received the coveted approval of my husbands 4 yr old cousin… he may only like me because I let him play Spiderman and Temple Run on my phone and Kindle. Even so, the smile on that kids face when he sees me makes me feel pretty awesome.

InshAllah, I’ll be able to continue writing about my life in this regard, and may Allah reward and protect the precious marriages that are made for His sake, Ameen!

🙂

These are a Few of my Favorite [Tea] Things

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

My husband and I drink tea. But only one of us really love it. Or should I say, only one of us is really obsessed.

Like, if there is no tea in the house I have obviously taken it with me somewhere you will never find me. Or I drank it all.

I probably drank it all.

I haven’t written much since gettin’ hitched to the awesome guy I call my husband, but I have been collecting tea and coffee and the little innovations that make them so much more enjoyable.

Here are a few of my favorite [tea] things.

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 My snazzy red kettle, without which tea would take way too long to make and would require a trip to the kitchen.

It was my first newlywed purchase and it’s ever so useful. A plump and pretty thing, I got it for about $30 from Amazon. The brand is Hamilton Beach.

Here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZG8Q88/ref=sr_ph?ie=UTF8&qid=1438981545&sr=1&keywords=red+kettle


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This is Teavana’s Perfectea Maker. 

I actually bought this for my husband thinking he’d become a tea connoisseur, but alas, this didn’t happen.

To dream wildly is often its own punishment.

 It’s not too expensive. This one makes about two cups of tea, which is about one serving for me. I love this handy gadget because I’ve fiddled with so many loose leaf tea sieves and sieve spoons and sieve chains and sieve teapots and nothing ever really works as well as this thing. You fill it with your favorite loose leaf tea and some hot water, and let it brew. Then you place it on top of your tea mug, the rim of which pushes up on its whatchmacallit and dispenses the tea straight into your cup. Just watch how much you’re pouring, and set it down on its drain plate to catch any drops. It is plastic, but Teavana also makes a glass one, or some poly-plastic type material that looks and feels like glass. The only downside is that it’s a bit challenging to clean.

Here it is on Teavana’s Amazon page:

http://www.amazon.com/Teavana-PerfecTea-Tea-Maker-16oz/dp/B004X7DIHI/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1438982052&sr=1-1&keywords=Perfectea


20150807_133254

Tea for two, two for tea?

My father gave me this beautiful cast iron tea pot and tea cup set a few years ago. It’s wonderful to use and beautiful to look at. The floral designs on the pot are dogwood flowers and I believe the plates have them, too, if I’m not mistaken. It has a sieve attachment for loose leaf tea. It’s a pretty small teapot, you could make a nice strong green tea or some oolong in this and it would be perfect.

It is from Teavana, and can be anywhere from $40 to $100 dollars. I have tried to look for the dogwood design but I haven’t found it

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Just a peek at my current tea collection. I have much more stashed away, somewhere. Nuts.com has more than nuts and chocolate, it has tea!! I got a bag of their gunpowder tea and their matcha tea (not pictured). Unfortunately, I don’t have a bamboo matcha whisk (soon!), so I still have yet to try that. But the gunpowder tea is everything you think it tastes like. Bitter, strong, earthy.

Husband and I are not big fans of fruit teas. He’s tried it but I haven’t had that one yet. The copper Teavana bag is filled with their gingerbread tea, which were favors from my amazing surprise bridal shower. I stole the ones left from the people who didn’t come! Bahaha! The Perfectea box is stuffed with other tea from the bridal shower. I took them all. I am without mercy.


Screenshot_2015-08-07-17-36-31-1

Here they are!

Also – My amazing sister Areej and my friend
Sunny D (her real name has been modified, this is her super hero name) made teabag cookies. Sugar spice cookies shaped like a tea bag, dipped halfway in chocolate, and then strung with string and a label. My brain couldn’t handle the delight.

I think I ate them all. Or most of them. They were amazing!


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Last, but never least…My tea of choice.

If you’re a Desi person, or are not Desi but have a Desi spouse, like my husband, you probably, most likely, maybe have this in your kitchen. If the above applies to you and you do not have this, you’re crazy. Get outta my house and get this tea immediately. Just as good is Ahmad tea (green and yellow box).

This is called Tapal Danedar (red and green box). It’s a very rich and aromatic tea. I like to cook it on the stovetop with cracked green cardamom, and drink it with milk and honey, sometimes a little sugar. I used to drink this 3 or 4 times a day, then realized I couldn’t handle that much caffeine. Suffice it to say, a little goes a long way.

So that’s that. I have a few other teas and tea gadgets laying around, but this is really the cream of the crop. The cream of the tea. The dregs in the cup, if you please.

🙂

Desperate Purple

I finished the day with yearning,

Wished the day stretched further,

The violent orange glow and

desperate purples of the sky screaming, reaching

for another breath as the night yawned awake

and smoored the fires of day.

I remember, my head against the pillow,

my hands reaching to clasp some far-off dream.

So content in sleep, so self-absorbed in wakefulness

So conscious somewhere in between.

I remember myself so vividly.

As vivid as the excuses I made for problems I should not have had,

As vivid as the pure emotion that drove my decisions from day to dark.

I loved my beauty, whatever of it I owned, I loved my mind, for it was vast and filled with

enchantment.

I loved the small blooms of wisdom that grew there, that I would pick and share with others.

And so I am unclear, uncertain as to why

this dark, thick fog has descended.

Settled neatly between my confidence and optimism,

Smothering with its full weight upon what defines me.

What I could have been.

Nesha Usmani

April 23, 2015

Re: Dr. Ingrid Mattson’s “A Muslim Woman and her Dog”

I do love dogs, as much as I love every other of Allah’s creatures. I respect them and value them for what they provide to humans because of Allah’s will; protection of property and family, in hunting for food, and protection of livestock and crops.

Without criticizing Dr. Mattson, who has inspired so many with her leadership and Islamic values (May Allah reward her, Ameen), I just wonder where the Islamic concerns go when you bring a dog into the home.

Ibn Taymiyah said the most correct view was that their hair is taahir (pure), but their saliva is impure. Many sahih hadith from Muslim that say if the saliva of a dog touches the vessel of a human, it must be washed seven times with water and an eighth time with soil (Muslim, 279 & 280). Al Nawawi says that keeping dogs is permissible only if it is for three reasons:

  1. Protection of houses
  2. Guarding livestock
  3. Hunting.

Sheikh Uthaymeen says this only applies to villages and not in the city (city dwellers can’t keep dogs, but those in rural or countryside can, as long as its for those three reasons). Abu Hurayrah said that unless its for the three reasons mentioned, Muslims who keep dogs lose a quantity of their reward each day. Ibn Majah says that the malaika (angels) do not enter a home that has a dog or an image. Allahu Allam.

After looking into it, I don’t wonder why there is so much confusion on keeping dogs. But one thing is quite clear. No where does it say that Muslims should hate, kill, or avoid dogs. All it says is to have them for a purpose, keep them out of your dwelling, and don’t let them eat or drink from what you eat or drink out of.

Harsh or fair? My understanding is that Allah did not create anything without purpose. Dogs, cats, rabbits, or other animals are not created to sit in homes and look cute. Cats are clean and have their own benefits, verified by many Hadith (and science, which shows that cats have antibacterial enzymes in their saliva, but beware here too, cat FECES are the number one transmitters of toxoplasma gondii, which can cause birth and neurological defects, so be careful with that litter!).

Dogs are not as clean as cats but they have served a greater purpose than other animals throughout history in the protection of property, families, livestock, land, and crops. It has certain traits such as loyalty and submissiveness, so that it can be trained to do certain things that are useful to humans and gives the dog a sense of purpose and belonging. But in the end, it’s a dog. Studies have shown that the following bacteria live in a dog’s mouth: Porphyromonas gulae, Tannerella forsythia, toxocara, salmonella, giardia, hookworm, tapeworm and Campylobacter rectus. Alhamduliillah, the wisdom of not sharing your utensils with your dog makes sense.

From volunteering at animal shelters, I know first hand the habits of dogs, particularly where they put their mouth and nose. From my Epidemiology class, i know full well the dangers of salmonella, giardia, and campylobacter. Definitely not something you want coming into your home, regularly, in the mouth and nose of a dog you love but whose habits you can’t control or monitor. Dogs might have resistance to some of those things because of their ecology, but you don’t, and neither do your children.

Allah draws lines in all relationships, between human & human, human & animal, and human & material. In the case of confusion, consider everything said by the Messengers of Allah and the scholars who give their respects to the essence of Qur’an and defer to Allah, not to emotions and longings. Again, many people mistake Islam’s reservations on keeping animals within the home as hatred towards animals. This is ridiculous. Animals are gifts and signs of Allah. Being conscious of the cleanliness and safety of where we pray and from what we eat is not animal hate. It’s just caution.

This is no way an attack on Dr. Ingrid Mattson, but an expression of my views on a matter that is unclear to many.

And الله اعلم

Allah knows best.