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!

🙂

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.

Keeping Promises to Myself

Since I was a child, I feel like I have been analyzing the people around me, comparing them to the state of their families, neighbors, cities, and the rest of the world. I’ve wondered why people talk so much, why some see little beyond the center of their vision, not even glancing at the peripheral.

I know the value of friends – I do, I really, really do. I have turned from an introvert, to an extrovert, to an introvert again through years of schooling and friends that have all had varying degrees of influence.

And I have interacted with them in various different ways, too. Sometimes being overly nice to compensate for not fitting in, and sometimes shutting myself out; too afraid to talk to anyone for fear of humiliating myself or feeling awkward, ugly, fat, stupid, conservative, liberal…what have you.

As is obvious, there are very few people in this Dunya I can truly relax and be myself around.

Maybe once I thought myself as someone who could cope with many friends, someone who loved people and could get along with anyone. Allah adjusted this for me. Gave me those I thought I could trust and showed me they could break me in half with barely any effort. He gave me those that love me unconditionally, and showed me that I could inflict the same harm upon them, sometimes obliterating their trust in me. Sometimes taking me out of their heart.

I realized the importance of silence in the face of empty words that take up space and offer no benefit. Is that not the nature of the worst of people, the worst of habits, even the worst of foods?

They fill up the space, but at best they offer nothing else. At worst, they metastasize like a malignant tumor and poison the things around them. They squeeze into the seats reserved for better things. Things that reciprocate and last, things that make an impact. And when the time comes for you to make the better choice, to choose Salah over sleep, or carrots over cookies, or wisdom over gossip, it has become habit. You are used to choosing the poison; the consequences diminished by the opiate force of routine.

Promises to Myself.

I cannot count on any number of fingers or toes the amount of promises I have broken for lack of respect for myself. Maybe for lack of self-esteem. Maybe motivation. Or maybe simply the habit of speaking words that carry no weight. Empty shells pretending to mean something.

How can we value someone else if we do not value ourselves? How can we keep a promise to another human being, but easily break promises to our own selves?

Maybe a broken promise to someone else will be forgiven. But broken promises to oneself usually go unrecognized, unpunished. They turn into the norm and we inflict harm upon ourselves quietly but steadily. The broken promise turning into addiction, abuse, sickness, lack of motivation, lack of esteem….the list goes on.

No mobile app or diary will amount to the loss of potential when we betray ourselves.

But maybe in silent reflection and quiet determination, in the meditation of self, we can find ourselves again. Sift through the loud, chaotic debris of the lives we lead, and just make one, quiet promise. One to keep.

In Memoriam: Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha, and Razan Abu Salha

Bismillah-ir Rahman-ir Raheem.

Nothing will be the same.

And Nothing will replace you.

But you have gone home,

Eternity before you.

You walked with Grace and Virtue,

You remembered Him.

You leave behind those that love you,

leaving footprints to follow,

in good deeds not yet done,

in prayers not yet made,

in smiles we have not seen.

Such was your legacy

and a great reward awaits,

like nothing you could have found here.

Nay, this life was not made to contain it.

Though in grief you have left us,

I pray He gives you glad tidings

That you will know naught but Peace

and Love

without fear of age nor death,

That you have done your duty.

And that He is pleased.

I cannot imagine a more beautiful thing.

Inna lillahi wa Inna illayhi raji’oon.

Nesha Usmani

2/13/2015

Soul Space Interfaith’s Reflections, Volume IV, Spring 2014

Soul Space Interfaith’s Reflections, Volume IV, Spring 2014

Assalamu Alaikum

I’m really pleased to share that my poem “Dunes” has been published in Soul Space Interfaith’s Spring 2014 Reflections. I really admire this organization, for a lot of reasons.

Here’s an excerpt from their “About Us” section:

“We are women, old and young, seekers all, keepers  of our own individual and congregational faith practices and wanting to better understand and honor the faith of others. We come to share experience and wisdom, to acknowledge distinctions, and discover connections among our faiths.  At present, we are women of the book—Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We welcome all women of faiths. In order to foster soul space among us, we agree to bracket religious politics and disputes for attention in separate venues.”

Thank you, Soul Space!