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

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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.

Self-Pity.

Assalamu Alaikum wa-rahmatullahi-wa-barakatu

I’m in my last week of winter break; my next semester begins in 10 days. I regret that I haven’t been posting much, but sometimes, you just don’t have the words.

Alhamdulillah, I’ve done pretty well academic wise in my first semester of grad school in the very busy and chaotic city of Chicago. Has it changed me? Oh, yes. I’ve realized how important my family is. How much it sucks being away from home, even though I’m the heart-stopping old age of 25. I just…love being home with my parents and siblings, and I pray inshAllah that this love I have for a homelife only benefits me as I get [even] older.

Living on my own has not afforded me the confidence, curiosity, and ambitious swagger that I see in other people. Often, I find myself retreating, wanting to surround myself with familiarity. Maybe it’s the cold. Maybe it’s the endless expanse of concrete mountains, anxious cars, and gluttonous consumption. Maybe I just fear being lost in a city of millions. Or is it all a heavy cloak of denial and excuses, simply not wanting to venture out, simply because I fear loneliness and rejection?

Once, a very long time ago, I wrote a letter to an Islamic scholar. In this letter I revealed my deepest insecurities, fears, and emotions, and begged for answers, for help, for guidance. Why had my well of friends run suddenly dry, when I could remember a time when making friends was as easy as saying ‘hello’? Why did others have so much more than me, why can’t I be more like them?

The response, at the time, did nothing for me. In very kind words, I was told, in a nutshell, to say Alhamdulillah, because I had more time to reflect on Allah, and more time to improve myself as a Muslimah, without the distraction of an active social life. Now, these words reverberate with force of an earthquake. I no longer have an excuse. Perhaps, my loneliness and insecurities will always be a part of me. Perhaps, they are there to remind me that I cannot depend upon what I see, who I love, where I sleep. It’s all simply creation, it’s all from Allah. Whether I’m lonely or not, depressed or not, whether I have 50 insecurities or only 1, it’s the same. The importance and need to be grateful and conscious of Allah never decreases. In fact, it increases in both directions. Whether you have a lot or a little, be grateful, because in everything there is a test. In everything there is mercy, and in everything there is a reminder.

In the past, the words of the Qur’an have never had much of an impact for me. Yes, I read the translation as well as the Arabic, but apart from a somber, emotional recitation, I did not feel the weight of the words. Recently, alhamdulillah, that has changed. I won’t go into detail, since it is quite personal, but I feel a strength and a might from the Qur’an, from Allah, that I didn’t know was possible, Allahu Akbar. I still need to work on my dedication to certain important tasks, but Alhamdulillah for the knowledge that has been revealed to me, and May Allah increase the Ummah in Taqwa and Imaan, and bestow mercy upon us, Ameen.

This life can be the biggest trap. It can ensnare you in its hamster-wheel pursuit of wealth, property, possessions, status, and title. Balance your means of survival with a means for Jannah, and break your daily routines with salah filled with as much khushoo you can muster. You will feel a peace that will sink your sorrows, and blow away loneliness with love.

It’s not easy. It’s not easy being 25 and unmarried. It’s not easy being 28, married, and pregnant. It’s not easy being 35, married, with two kids and another on the way. It’s not easy being 45 with four kids and not a lot in the bank. It’s not easy being 50 and experiencing health problems, and watching your husband go through some of his own. It’s a deeper pain to have never been married at all.

But each life experience is customized by your decisions and the Qadr of Allah. Each experience can be a way to torment, or it can frame your path to Jannah. Everyone talks about arrogance, greed, deception, and ostentation as major character flaws in a Muslim..but one of the most least talked about and most dangerous?

Self-pity.

Why? Because you’re crippling yourself. You’re removing any chance you have to see the mercy, generosity, opportunity, and love Allah has for you in one swift stroke. You tell yourself you can’t. So you don’t. You tell yourself you don’t have time. So you don’t. You tell yourself you’re not worth it. So you become worthless. You tell yourself no one likes you. So you become a person no one likes, simply by not trying. You tell yourself you’re better off on your own. So you become lonely, resentful. You let your grudges and your fears pile on top of each other, repeatedly, like a winter snowstorm, until you’re suffocating yourself. And it’s too late. You’re in the throes of depression. It’s easier to cry than to believe there’s hope, an answer, and it requires an effort on your part. It requires submission and a will to change.

Self-pity is an insidious quicksand. I firmly believe it is the gateway to become worse things.

What you want and what you need are two different things.

They can both come to fruition, and often its a result of your patience and belief in Allah’s infinite Mercy and Wisdom that can make the path smooth and the walk shorter and less tiring than you expected.

Until next time,

Nesha

Moj Sumrak

Maybe the only way to love you,

is to leave and love you alone.

And the only way to thank you,

is to etch a farewell in stone.

If I put my regrets upon my back,

the weight would crush my bones.

But you just stand there watching,

and hating the load I carry

you don’t see how much I hate it too.

I know how tired and fed up you are

but I don’t want to say goodbye

Not after the mountains we’ve climbed

together.

Not after how much we’ve cried.

But if it will make you happiest, in the end,

I’ll take my leave, and I’ll tell myself,

that Loving is Leaving

And Trying is Dying

And Gratitude is best shown

with a farewell,

a finite etching in stone.

Nesha Usmani

Cairo is Dying

is life worth the carnage in the street?

the corner where the children played

drips with blood, black with gore.

Broken glass and broken hearts

This is not the country of your father,

that kills its men and women and babies.

this is not the language of your mother,

that screams in rage, in hate, in oppression,

Here, they target your religion.

Your politics. These brothers you may have

served or salaam-ed?

You can no longer call them your own.

The ones on the rooftops,

in the street,

in the crowd,

the ones sending you to your grave,

peering through their crosshairs.

Nesha Usmani

Stars

Night does not come,

There is no star that radiates

darkness.

The window to the universe

is simply left open by a departing sun.

But the soft pink tips of night

do seem like an approaching guest.

The stars, so enticing, so rich and lush

in their seemingly infinite abundance, subhanAllah.

I wonder what they hide and what they distract from.

If Paradise is a few miles or a few dimensions above them.

If their size is a thousand times the earth or one-tenth of it.

How my heart still beats as they collide, explode, freeze and melt.

How I sink my nails into the dunya as galaxies swirl into the hungry maws of

holes in the universe.

How, no matter how severe the calamities are in the heavens,

the emptiness of the stomach feels more severe.

And all that my Lord creates, changes, and destroys

He does with the knowledge of the unseen,

which is always for the best.

But the chaos of the stars and planets combined cannot compare

to the chaos of the heart.

The sin and the greed.

The heedlessness and ignorance.

Impatience. Cruelty. Ego.

The fragility in decision making is terrifying.

And I think of the day my heart stops. And the Day all of this ends.

I hope I am not the only one who thinks like this,

like the greatest calamity is not any natural occurrence.

No. No burning star, no deadly meteor. No mysterious black void.

But the emptying of the heart in favor of the filling of hands.

The drop of an anchor in dunya; choosing this minuscule ball of water in space,

instead of waiting for something purer, unseen, un-defiled by shaitan

and the empty hearts of men.

Nesha Usmani

7/21/2013