Arabic, langauge, Personal, Writing

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

Personal, Writing

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

 

Muslim celebrations, Personal, society, Writing

Community

Image result for community

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

 

Personal, Poetry, Writing

The Clay

 

plant growing from ground

 

Last week my husband got an appointment at his dentist, It was a quick check up. I decided to have a look at the books at a charity shop that was next to the dentist. It was the first time to enter that shop and I did not know what I was actually looking for. Then just in front of me I found a “All for £1” sign; I picked up one of the few books in that section which looked really brand new as soon as I hold it, I saw my husband waiting for me so I paid the money and got the book.

This book is The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. I liked it as soon as I read the first couple of pages. As far as I read, the story is mainly about a teenage girl whose mother died when she was little, got no friends, was bullied at school and  even worse; her father was harsh and careless. The only pleasant and kind relation she enjoyed, was with her black servant: Rosaleen who suffered a lot because of the racial tension that exploded at that time.

So what is the relation between this story and the title of this post; The Clay? Before I got that book, I also started reading the Clay poem which is another beautiful poem by Elia Abu Madi. I wish I had learned it before or even my children learned it at their school; It really has beautiful meanings, images and language.

It was totally a coincidence! the book and the poem but I think they are too close in their message.

The poem is relatively long; so I chose some parts and will leave the link below in case you want to read all of it.

I really think it’s great and worth reading!

This is The Clay

At one time, Mr. Clay forgot that he was no more than mud

So, he walked insolently, bragged and boasted.

Body covered with fine silk,

He glorified himself in a self-admiring manner,

Purse full, he became haughty and rebellious!

Brother, turn not your face away from me;

I am not a charcoal, nor are you a bright star.

You did not make the silk you are wearing,

Nor the jewels with which you adorn yourself.

You cannot eat gold when hungry,

Nor drink strung pearls when thirsty.

In your fine attire, you suffer and rejoice,

Just like me in my tattered clothes.

Are all my wishes made of dust,

While yours fashioned of pure gold?

Or are all my wishes doomed to vanish

While yours are destined for immortality?

Nay! My wishes and yours, alike, come and go,

Like any others, for nothing is everlasting.

You, who so bent on exhibiting self-esteem,

When struck by disease, don’t you complain and groan?

Don’t you sigh and moan?

Are my tears bitter like gall,

While yours are nectar-sweet?

Is my weeping a humiliation?

While yours is victory?

Otherwise, why should you fancy yourself unique!

You live in a stately palace, well-protected by armed guards

And fenced all-around with high walls,

Prevent, if you will, the night from spreading over it,

Stop the fog from thickly gathering above it.

Notice how the light enters freely without ever asking for your permission!

So why should it be chased away?

You have closed the doors of your palace in my face

When chased by storms and threatened by inclement weather,

Yet you made accommodations

And generously provided for your dogs and cats.

Thus, I heard life laughing at me for my begging

And mocking you for your miserly denial!

Do you think you are strong?

Command the sleep not to overtake you;

Order the dark to turn away from your eyelids.

Ask grey hair not to approach and appear in your head

 O Clay!

You are neither purer than nor superior to the dirt you walk on, which someday will enclose you!

Let no hate and enmity enter your heart,

I have turned mine into a temple of love.

I am more deserving of your love

Than clothes that will wear out and rot

And money that will be spent or lost

 

This is the link for the full poem; The Clay

http://www.occupypoetry.net/the_clay

http://www.occupypoetry.net/the_clay_excerpt_ii

 

Thanks for reading,

With best wishes,

Nahla 

Family, parents, Personal, Writing

School is Tomorrow!

 

 

Image result for back to school

 

”Have a nice holiday!”

” We should arrange to meet up one day during the holidays.”

This was how the summer holiday started when parents usually exchange their best wishes at school gate. But; can you believe that this was a month and a half ago! Time really flies!

Time goes too fast as if we are getting the fastest high speed train in the world where we get on and off according to the different stages that we experience in our life. A month and a half ago, we got off at “School holiday” . Soon, we were getting on again to continue our life express train journey and to get off again but this time at “Back to school.”

Image result for high speed train

 

In between these two stops; wouldn’t it be great to close our eyes for a while and think! What can we see? What thoughts do we have? Holidays are wonderful opportunity for family time and taking photos to save those happy moments but please don’t forget to think about them too!

Let’s think about the last stop” School holiday”:

For me;

I can see how my children though have become more independent but also become closer to us (their parents).

I can see how it made my day when I met with new people or received kind words from old or new acquaintances even if it was online.

I can see how kindness is always rewarded by more kindness even if it’s just a swing!

I can see how happiness is so simple! even if there is No Internet Zone

I can see how if you think you know everything, you know nothing! A lesson from Penguins!

I can see how celebrations are not merely to have new stuff, go out, and pay more. We can not fully enjoy our celebrations without understanding their significance! This is Why do we celebrate Eid?

I can see that most of the time when reading other’s thoughts, I realise how we do share lots of common things. Actually, similarities are more than differences!

I can see lots of other things but that would be too much for You; my readers.

What about you? What can you see?

Now we are approaching a new Stop: ” Back to school.”

Let’s see how fast it would go and what thoughts would inspire us this year?

I wish all of our children a pleasant and successful school year!

With my best wishes,

Nahla

 

Faith, Islam, Muslim celebrations, Personal, Writing

The journey of a lifetime/2

We arrived at Jeddah airport.

It was December; the best month for a nice weather in Arabia!

The airport was packed with people! This was expected because of the enormous number of pilgrims arriving from different destinations at usually similar times. Long, very long, queues of people were waiting to get their passports stamped, to get their luggage, and to get on a suitable transportation travelling to Makkah.

Later on, we were on our way to Makkah! We were revising our information about hajj rituals. Actually, what I studied at school or learned from my parents about hajj was mainly the basics. That’s to answer what, why and how. But there should be something else! Once I started my self- reading, thinking, and contemplating, I realised that the whole rituals of Hajj are symbols of higher transcendental meanings!

We start hajj by wearing white simple garments which symbolise equality, simplicity and purity! Can this be a reference, or is it better to say, a reminder of how this life began and how it will end? Life is not just for money, position, fashion, jewellery, makeup or hairstyle. There should be other significant meanings of life! It’s time to remember that you are not better than me and I am not better than you! We are equal and the only thing that would make us better before God, is our righteousness; our full submission and strong faith. Remeber, this is how we used to be at beginning of the Creation!

And we end hajj with farewell tawaf or final circumambulation which symbolises not only the end of this spiritual visit but also the hope for a new start when we are expected to revive our faith and regain the standards of humanity which we may have lost in our busy material life. We end our journey by remembering that we have been living as guests in this life and one day we will leave. But can we leave the host’s house without saying thank you? Thanks for the generous hospitality; for all the blessings we have been enjoying in this world! Can we leave without asking for forgiveness and support especially when we believe that we are asking the Most Gracious and Merciful?

We enjoyed every part and moment in Hajj. The beginning, the end and everything in between. It was a marvellous journey! We experienced hard as well as good times! We got lost, we got pushed, we got what was unexpected, we fell ill, we made good friends, we laughed, we cried, we helped and were helped, and finally we made it!

That was not everything!
We would not leave without visiting the Madinah or the Prophet’s city which welcomed us with a cool soft breeze, drizzly rain and smiley faces shown everywhere congratulating the visitors for being there!

Finally, we were on board but this time flying to Cairo. Looking forward to seeing the kids, hugging them and telling them about this journey of a lifetime!

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

Faith, Family, Muslim celebrations, Personal, Writing

The journey of a lifetime!


First of all, this post is about my own experience and I have not thought about writing a systematic guide or knowledge which can easily be obtained by a double-click on google.

This is about my pilgrimage journey! Hajj

Ten years ago my husband and I went to perform Hajj (Pilgrimage). I know by heart that Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and once you can afford to make the journey; physically and financially, then you must go. It’s the journey of a lifetime. A Muslim can perform it at as many times as he/she can afford.

Honestly, I did not think about going to Hajj at that time. Why? Because it was common among all people I know to plan to perform hajj later in their life. Apparently, when we become older with less or free from responsibilities; at the time when we decide to live life wisely and thoughtfully. And (this may be a new information for you) but some Arabic countries did not permit people to go to hajj unless they are over 50 and in urgent medical cases they would allow a young relative to accompany and look after the old pilgrim. This may have been changed now! Or may not!

At that time, we were already in the UK. My boys were 7 and 5 years old. My husband had just finished his postgraduate studies and started his academic career. I was about to start my postgraduate studies too. But sometimes we are destined to go through unexpected plans that would turn out to be better than our long-term ones!

This was what happened to us. How?

One year before we went to Hajj, some friends sent us an email explaining the full details of the expenses and documents required in case we would think about going the year after. My husband was very encouraged and determined. He said: “we have the money, are young and healthy, so it’s time to perform hajj!” He started making comprehensive inquiries. We did not wait long as everything had been arranged and confirmed smoothly. I was excited but the only and first thing I asked about was; what about the boys? Our friends decided to leave theirs, who was much younger than ours, with their family in their home country. I had never left my sons with anyone before even with my own family except for a few hours! I thought to take them with us but my husband and other friends advised me not saying” it would be very hard for them besides they would have a great time with my family in Egypt” And that how it was! We arranged two flights one to Egypt and another to Jeddah.

After spending a few days with family, we were on our way to the airport to get our flight to Jeddah. I was happy; extremely happy, because it was no longer a plan or a dream but real! we were on our way to perform this fifth pillar! But I also could not stop crying thinking about my boys. I prayed with my whole heart: “Ya Allah, this is for your sake, please make this easy for me and take care of my sons!”

Then we were flying to Jeddah to start our hajj rituals in Makkah!

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

Family, Personal, Summer, Writing

It’s just a swing!

These days my daughter wanted to go the park just to get on the swing and push herself without any help.

 

 

But if it is a nice warm day, there definitely will be a queue of children waiting to have their turns.

 

Would she change her mind and think about another game?
The answer is No.

 

She is happy because at last she can go on the swing all by herself.

 

We waited behind two boys, one of them already got bored and left.

 

The boy who was already having his turn on the swing was just stretching his legs, touching the ground with his feet and giving sneaky half smile to the others waiting for the moment when he decided to leave!

 

 

We waited and waited but then it was too much. The other boy got closer and closer to the swing until the one on the swing understood that he played enough and it’s time to leave.
At last he was off!
How would you expect the other boy would do when taking his turn?
He did exactly the same as the first kid!
He started playing and his mother, standing behind, was pushing him. Then he was just sitting, looking at us! I smiled and asked him: have you finished? He said: No, I just wanted to put on my jacket. In a slow motion scene, he was taking his time putting on his jacket and not to forget to zip it fully up in such a warm day!
We waited and waited besides the waiting time before. My back was aching and i started getting angry; praying to keep patient and stay calm! I tried to distract my daughter saying; look at those beautiful birds and colourful kites! Did he miss that moment to add more time to his fun? Of course, No! He slowed the swing down asking his mother to look at what suddenly appeared to be amazing birds flying in the sky!
I looked at his mother but she turned her face to the other side!
My daughter was upset and I told her it was her choice to wait and to get on that swing. I asked her again If she wanted to try another game? But she again said NO
A mother saw what was happening, hold another swing next to her daughter’s as soon as it was free for my daughter to have a turn!
As soon as my daughter was playing on the other swing, the boy’s mother left him and soon he left it.

 
I left my daughter to enjoy her turn but told her to remember not to be long because others would like to have a turn too.

 
I sat a bit far watching her. Soon another girl came and waited next to my daughter’s swing. She had not been playing that long but she decided to go off for her.
I was very proud of her!
After having her little snack, she decided to have another go and waited for a new turn. Unsurprisingly she was rewarded by the same kindness, she got a turn and no other children was around waiting. She played joyfully and I was very happy for her.
Although I felt angry at the first two boys’ ( and their patents) behaviour and thought that they were very annoying, but I also realised that may be my daughter would have done the same or she would not have learned to think about others waiting if this had not happened!

 

I also remembered when we were once living in the university accommodation and the many times my boys were noisy and careless with their little friends having fun playing along the corridors while others might have been studying or sleeping. When we apologized to our neighbors, they would kindly say: it’s ok, this is a family accommodation and they are just kids!
Yes; they are kids and it’s just a swing!

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

Animals, Family, Personal, Photos, Summer

A Lesson from Penguins!

During our visit to the zoo this summer, we could not wait to see those beautiful penguins and were looking forward to watching them having fun in their water pool.

But I really did not enjoy the scene there; it was a very hot day! The penguins were suffering from the heat and looking very miserable and exhausted! They either laid down completely motionless or were standstill with fully opened mouth doing their best to survive the heat!

I wondered what kind of entertainment is that! I really felt sorry for them and wished we had not stopped at their pool!

My daughter did not recognize them.

I said: “ look! These are the penguins!” but she said: “ No they are not!” and kept looking for the cute Antarctic penguins similar to those ones seen on TV.

But while writing this post, I decided to check if all penguins live in cold climate? I found out that the answer is “No”. This means that those penguins probably might not have been suffering much that day!

It’s not only because of my poor knowledge about different species of penguins that I believe they were going to die that day, but I also did not read their identification sign!

And why did not I read it?

Because I know they are Penguins!

But this was not enough!

This was why I saw them miserable though they might not be!

To know better is to read and ask more and maybe watching carefully to enjoy the scene!

A good lesson this summer!


Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

Family, Personal

No internet Zone

On Sunday, it was sunny and we decided to have a day out at one of beaches here in the UK.

The best thing is that our day was without INTERNET!

My husband’s mobile, which is usually our source for sharing data, was broken down, my teens got limited internet (usually ran out of data) My phone has also limited data and finally no I Pad for my little daughter!

We stopped by the fair where my daughter had a go on some rides. Since the games are not suitable for their age, her brothers started grumbling: “ when is she going to finish?

Soon we were on the sandy beach! Still sunny but colder than expected

But where was the sea?

The water was so far away; it was a very low tide!

“No water fun and cold weather” my sons complained!

But my daughter ran to explore and we after her while my husband offered to take care of our stuff at a nice quiet spot,  but, probably, he wanted to grab a long nap!

“Bored” my sons said and complained: when would we go home?

“Happy and excited ” was my daughter saying: I do not want to go home?

I was happy; totally happy!

“ Let’s dig a big hole”, I suggested!

It was fun as my daughter decided to jump over it. She ran as far as she could but instead of jumping over, she fell in. We all laughed!

We collected shells and threw stones!

Simple free games!

Few hours passed without internet kept us close again even if we did not do that much!

Internet is wonderful invention!

But is it not better to have your family around in No Internet Zone?

What do you think?

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla