Hairstyle

There is a well-known saying: “ the only person you can change is yourself” 

Although it always used in the context of challenging oneself to be better. When i read it today i remembered my sons’ hairstyle. 

Last year, my sons decided to have a new hair style; something completely different to how we used to see them. At the beginning, both their father and I angrily said “we don’t like this and we don’t see anyone we know have this hair style even your friends?” They both have the same answer; “ Exactly! This is what we like, we don’t copy anyone else.” 

I told my husband it’s just about time and they will change it. But he said “ No, they won’t” and it was true as for more than a year now they haven’t changed it. 

Do you think i give up? No. Sometimes, i said i am not going to pay for your haircut. Sometimes i said look what others are telling me about your hair? Sometimes i send them their old photos.
But nothing has changed. 

It’s us who decided to change. Honestly, we still don’t like it but instead of being angry, we take it as a joke giving names to their hairstyle and every now and then we check its length and texture! And my sons laugh and reply; “thank you, we like it and won’t change it.”

It’s really hard to change any person even if they are your own sons! 

With all best wishes,

Nahla

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Suspicion

 

 

suspicion

 

It’s Thursday and she knew there was enough time for a long walk as the library would open at 10 O’clock am. She was a librarian and loved reading books. As soon as she opened her apartment windows, sunlight and fresh cold morning breeze filled the place which made her remarkably happy.” What a wonderful weather! This is the perfect morning for walking to work”, she thought.

 
She made her way through the park where the library was just at the end on the opposite side of the road. She went on walking along that long footpath enjoying the natural scene. It was mid autumn; beautiful colored leaves were everywhere, some were dancing gently with the wind on trees and others had fallen down drawing a magnificent carpet spreading all over the place. It was quiet enough to clearly hear the singing and whistling of those birds swinging up there on their branches. There were almost no children around as schools had just started and most people were already at their work place; just few persons were there walking their dogs.

 

She peacefully walked half way when she decided to have some rest enjoying the warmth of the sun and have some reading in such a bright day. She was reading a story about racism and how it is so much based on wrong assumptions and evil suspicions. After a while, she looked at her watch; “It’s time to go to work”, she said.

 
When she started walking again, she was no longer watching the beauty around the park as she was totally overwhelmed with what she had just been reading. Suddenly, she felt that someone was following her but she was unsure if she was right so she slightly looked over her shoulder to have a glimpse and get rid of any doubt. There was a man; well-built, bald and white.”He is just walking behind; may be he is going to his work too and not following me”, she said trying to assure herself.  Still in doubt, she decided to quicken her steps but as expected he quickened his too.  she became so frightened that she thought about her hijab, about being Muslim, and about being different. She could hear nothing but her panicky heart beating so fast; she could see danger written everywhere before her eyes; her hands were shaking and her head was down searching inside her bag  for her phone. The moment she thought her heart was going to stop, a strong hand grabbed her arm to stop her going any further. “Watch out”, the man shouted!

 

Now all her senses were back in working; she could hear the noise of the road and could see that she was no longer in the park but one step away from crossing the high speed road. She cried, deeply cried, looking at the man, looking at the road and looking at the sky. The man saved her life just on time before being hit by a bus at the crossroad.

“Don’t you know that there is a high speed crossroad at the end of that path? The man shockingly exclaimed! Then kindly asked her: “Are you alright?”

What would she tell him? Would she say that she suspected him being a racist and a criminal? She couldn’t say anything more than; “Please forgive me and thank you for saving my life.”
Be careful! The man said leaving her then crossed the road.

She was safe!

Is it not true that “What you don’t know doesn’t hurt you; it’s what you suspect that causes all the trouble. “~ Evan Esar

All the best,

Nahla
ps, I wrote this story after watching a short silent movie on the internet referring to the same meaning.

Five pound

 

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Though our dinner time always start peacefully, it has become my son’s habit to start teasing his little sister just before he finishes eating. There is 8 years gap between them but he always finds it funny to annoy her though he is not doing the same with his brother who is just 2 years older. How is this related to the 5 pound note? This is what I am going to explain now:

Yesterday, when having our dinner, I was not in that good mood and I did not expect to be that patient when watching one laughing and the other screaming. So I thought about discussing something and I started telling them something that though had happened last week but had just came to mind at that moment. I said:

“Last week when I was waiting for the bus to pick up Mariam (my daughter) from school, I saw a young man quickened his pace as if he was going to catch the bus though no bus at the bus stop. But he suddenly bend over and snatched a £5 note from the ground. He really picked it up so quickly as if he was snatching it and hid it in his pocket. He then walked more quickly and disappeared.”

My sons said: “What did you expect mama?”

I said: “Well, since it was not a clear scene, I expected that he would ask me or ask the old man that was just a few steps ahead if it was ours but he didn’t! I thought that the old man probably had dropped it as I was there for about a few minutes and I was totally sure there was nothing on the ground.  Also, it was not mine as I had not got any on that day.” I then asked: “What about you? What would you do?”

My older son kept quiet which was really the best thing to do at that time. It was my middle son who started arguing explaining everybody would do the same and nobody is going to ask; “Is this yours?” “It was just a £5 not £1000 mama”, he said.  Then he started questioning me:  if it was you or the other man seeing it first, wouldn’t you take it? Why did anyone leave it? It did not belong to any one.”

I replied:”Yes it did not belong to anyone and I just guessed that it was the other man’s. And yes it was not a classroom or a school so you know where to ask. But I just wondered why he did not even look round and pretend that he wouldn’t take it.”

Before my son say anything, my daughter decided to join in giving her own opinion which would definitely oppose her brother’s and make him wrong: “No we do not take it. It’s not ours”, she said. And this was the straw that broke the camel’s back as they remembered they had not practiced their everyday habit and they started all over again.

Was it better if we did not discuss any topic at dinner time?

All the best,

Nahla

 

Good intentions!

 

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The road to hell is paved with good intentions!

Sometimes we hear a person (may be we are that person) saying: “I did not want to do that wrong.” “I know that was wrong but I  have good intentions; only God knows what’s hidden in my heart.”

True; only God knows what is hidden in our hearts, but it‘s also definitely true that we are responsible for our choices and deeds; and we will not be asked about our intentions as long as they will not be turned  into real deeds.

How can a doctor, for example, decide to terminate the life of his patient by any medical means under the name of having good intentions to relieve him from more suffering? Isn’t it a crime disguised in good intentions?

How can a structural engineer design and supervise a building for social housing that look magnificent from the outside while lacking all those safe and accurate internal techniques. When the building collapse and innocent people die, he would probably talk about his good intentions to supply those poor homeless people with any shelter as soon as possible. Wonderful intentions! Indeed. Unfortunately, it cannot alter the fact that this is also a crime.

But isn’t it true that good intentions can also save us. In other words, if we think of good things, God will help us and we will reap what we sow! What’s the difference, then? Simply it’s again our deeds. In other words, in this case we have good thoughts; we want to follow good means to fulfil our good aims. In all directions righteousness are there to guide us.  This is why we will be rewarded for our good intentions even if we did not manage to do them.

There is a short story, popular story in Arabic heritage, that can symbolise the significance of intentions;

One day a royal prince looking so ambitious, thinking about the kingdom and its subjects, decided to take a tour around his palace and was accompanied by his minister. It was a warm day and they decided to start early in the morning. They did not go that far when the prince suddenly saw a small house surrounded by a beautiful green garden full of neat small trees with glossy leaves and ripe fruits. The prince decided to get inside and have some rest at that garden. As soon as he stepped inside, he was amazed by the beauty of those red fruits hanging on the branches of their trees and glowing under the sun rays that had just started spreading and adding extra heat to the day.  A little girl came to welcome the visitors. She knew the Prince; of course who could not recognise the royal heir?!

Before the girl said anything, the prince said:

“We were having a tour around and we would like to have some rest at your beautiful garden.”

The girl replied: “Welcome your highness! This is a great honour.”

The prince then asked her: “Wouldn’t you offer us a fresh drink?”

The girl replied: “Of course your highness; I won’t be long.”

The prince rested under the shade of one of those beautiful trees enjoying the fresh breeze of the morning and smelling the soft fragrance of the garden and thought about how poor people were blessed with such a peaceful life. Then he decided to pay generously for his drink.

The girl came back in what seemed like a couple of minutes with a cup full of red juice. The prince said: “You were so quick! What kind of juice is this?”

The girl said:” Pomegranate; I picked just two from our trees.”

As soon as the prince started drinking, he believed that it was the best juice he had ever tasted! It was cold, fresh and so sweet that he drank it all and wondered if he could get one more before leaving which certainly was welcomed by the girl.

But this time something had changed, the prince’s good intentions changed into evil ones, he thought:

“How could not this magnificent garden with such beautiful pomegranate trees be part of my palace? As soon as I get back, I will give my orders to start making the proper extensions and this garden would definitely be mine.”

But this time, he waited too much for the girl to come with the tasty juice. What had been done in a couple of minutes, was taking more than an hour. At last the girl came with just a half cup of juice. When the prince started drinking, he tasted a complete different juice.

“Yuk! What is this juice?” He asked

“Pomegranate, Your highness!” the girl replied

“Where did you get it from? How many did you juice? And why were you so late this time?!” the prince angrily questioned.

“At the beginning, I picked two from the same tree as I did before but they were not enough so I picked 10 more pomegranates and still could not get enough juice. This is why I was late.”

The prince was totally shocked: “What happened then? If it was the same tree and you juiced more fruits, why its taste is different? Why is it so bitter?

Though little but she was so wise, the little girl said: “May be you have changed your intentions, your highness!”

The prince knew she was right.

Wasn’t she?

 

With all best wishes,

Nahla

 

 

Our names

When we meet with new people, we sometimes ask them about the meaning of their names especially if their names sound new or odd. I am sure that my mother did not know the meaning of my name but she told me that she named me after a famous person that she admired at the time I was born.  My name was not that common at school or among our relatives and friends. There usually would be a maximum of two girls whose name was Nahla in any year group. Then, when I was in year 8 or 10, I had got my own Arabic dictionary from my school and the first thing all the girls checked was the meaning of their names.  It was the first time to know that my name means the first drop/sip of water one gets when drinking. I like it but I did not think that it has that special significance that others’ names have, e.g. beautiful, princess, night, morning, moon, etc. Then and after many years, when I was doing my Quran recitation exam, there was a lady registering our names. She looked very simple, old and funny all at once. She started giving every student a special prayer according to her name. And as soon as she knew my name, she said: “May Allah make you a fount of Knowledge!” I was a mother having two little boys at that time, and it was the first time to notice that my name is actually derived from the word ‘fountain’ usually of water but it can also be used in a reference to knowledge; It’s never late to learn! Before that incident, I used to like my name but after that lady’s prayer, I began loving it.

In the Arab world, we usually say that everyone has a share of his name. This means that your personality would probably reflect the meaning of your name. It’s just a saying! But why not thinking about it?

What about you? What is the meaning of your name?

Let me hear from you,

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

Dreams

We all dream while sleeping even though we sometimes can remember nothing but this does not change the fact that we dream. Our brains are indeed miraculous! And we cannot deny this fact either. Have you ever think about your dreams? I usually think in two ways.

The first is that dreams are a reflection of what we have been experiencing during a whole day, week or month that has disturbed, upset or delighted us most.  In this case; dreams reflect one’s deeds, endeavours, and even thoughts and feelings. This means that if my son was watching a horror movie at night, he would probably have a nightmare and I would say; ‘this is because you have watched such a scary movie at night.’ Logical thinking!

The second way is that dreams reflect what the unconscious has better known than the limited conscious circle inside our brains. Actually I believe that this is true too. This is clearly explained when dreams have a significance in real life. In other words, when we understand what they symbolise and see how they turn into reality! This also explains why we might have a dream about something which we think we have never got any idea about or people who we think we have never met or known just a little about. This looks like a psychiatric job now!

One day, I went shopping with a new friend. It was the first time we went out. At that day, her mobile was ringing and she looked a bit worried and hesitated not to answer it. Then she said; ‘today is the result of my exam.’ I understood then why she did not want to answer the call. But at the same time, I remembered that I once had seen her in my dream looking very happy buying some new clothes. I had no idea that she was studying for an exam at that time.  I did not know what to say but I advised her to answer the call saying: ‘why not answering it? This would be fine.’ What do you guess?  She passed her exam and was extremely happy.  I then told her about my dream. Though I told her that I had totally forgotten about it, which was true, I did not say that I did not know why I had such a dream as I did not consider her as a friend at that time. We then started joking about my dream. She said: ‘you have special powers’ and I said:’ you have to get me a present for every good dream I would see for you.’ Definitely, I do not have any special thing and when I think about that dream now, I can see that its interpretation simply refers to the beginning of our friendship. We all dream:  the noble and the villain, the poor and the rich, the weak and the strong, the old and the young, etc. I believe it’s just something we all created with, something that we may not pay that much attention though we need to because in our dreams we can see guidance, warnings, encouragements, and true things about ourselves as well as others.

When I was writing this post I remembered the dream of Fir’awn or the Egyptian Pharaoh at the time when Prophet Musa (Moses) was born. Actually it was a nightmare! And I really wonder why, though got the right interpretation by his wise administrators, he participated in the suffering and ending of his life as well as others. He saw an enormous fire that surrounded Egypt and burned all the Copts. In his dream, it was only the Israelites who were saved. Did he think why? The answer is NO. He saw the same dream several times. Again, did he think why? And again the answer is NO. He just wanted a significant interpretation which he was given by his wise advisers. They interpreted it with the birth of a precious boy among the people of Israel who would cause the end of his life and kingdom. Again instead of thinking WHY? He though HOW? How to challenge that dream? Later and after many years that dream turned into reality. It was not just a dream! It was his unconscious sending him that divine warning in case he would listen.

Sweet dreams everyone! but do not forget to think about them too.

With all best wishes,

Nahla

 

Community

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When I was young, I knew the names of most of our neighbours and their children’s names. I know where they live and their flat numbers. I used to go to the nearby shop even if it was a bit late to get what I need and may pay later when my father visited the shop to pay for the shopping list we got without paying! There was a trust, safety, and intimacy; these concepts I had felt and known even before learning them at school.

But for my parents, this was nothing in comparison to their own days as they were raised up in the countryside where they did not just know about their neighbours’ names but also their family history. They told us how people used to support one another in good and bad times, how they shared their food, how their doors were always opened to all, how they did not worry about their old parents or small children because they were all close, and how the poor were sure they would get what they had asked for. I will never forget how my mother was very delighted when we spent the summer holiday at my grandparents’. She did not worry about anything even about us; her children, because everybody had known her and she had known everyone. She would always find someone around to give her a hand at any time!

This does not mean that life was perfect; of course it was not. There was all of these social vices that would exist in any society, modern or traditional, though in different context; e.g. poverty, ignorance, crime, superstition, etc. But this means that life was different; people think they were belonging not just to the place but more important to each other! Their daily interaction as well as cooperation regardless their differences make them happy.

Is this the meaning of COMMUNITY? I think; yes it is!

I experienced the meaning of community when I moved to live in the UK.  At the beginning, we lived in the university accommodation where I met with different people from different background; each one had different plans, thoughts and beliefs but we cooperate and do our best to help each other. We were remarkably happy which again does not mean that there were no problems or we all were wonderful friends; of course No. I think we just understood consciously or unconsciously that we need each other and we need to cooperate and to accept our differences to enjoy those years.

What happened then? Lots of my friends, living in different parts of the world, say the same thing; “We do not know our neighbours and sometimes do not even see them!” “We do not expect others to contact or visit except in social occasions!” “If we get a call from others it is not because they care but because they either have to or want something.” May be the life rhythm has become too fast, too rough, too technical, too expensive and too superficial to create the community that reflects the image of one body with its different parts. May be it is the rigid individualism or ego centered world that has cloaked this pure sense of community! I do not know! But what I know for definite is that there is no such joy as that experienced when living in a healthy community.
By the way, what inspired me to write about community was the new hijri year 1439. Yesterday was the first day of Muharram; the first month in the Islamic calendar. It’s a wonderful occasion to remember the image of community at Madinah. They too were from different backgrounds, different shapes, sizes, and colours may be different dialects and languages as well as different beliefs as Jews and Christians were living there too. But they cooperated to create that community that would enable them to enjoy their differences while living safe, happy and strong. And they made it!

Happy New Hijri Year!

And have a lovely weekend!

With my best wishes,

Nahla