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 

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SMILE

 

Image result for smile SKY

 

I like reading poetry especially with end rhymes and most of my readings are belonging to the modern Arabic poetry; mainly the 19th and early 20th centuries. Though I studied other eras, but the only lines I still memorize are from the modern era; may be because I studied them at school age. By the way, this saying ”Learning at a young age is like engraving a stone!” is absolutely true because what you learned at an early age would never fade!

I have been thinking about sharing some Arabic poetry that has been translated into English and would like to start with  Smile Poem by Elia Abu Madi (1890-1957).

Abu Madi is a Lebanese who emigrated to the United States in 1911. He  lived most of his life and died in the USA.

SMILE

He said: Lo, the sky is somber; then frowned.

I said: Smile! Is it enough that the sky frowns?

He said: Youth has left me and fled;

I said: Smile!

Sorrow will never bring back the vanished youth!

He said: The one I loved and was my heaven has tortured my soul and turned my life into hell.

 She betrayed me after I gave her my heart.

So how can I smile?

I said: Smile and enjoy your life!

If you dwell on the hurt she dealt you, you would spend your whole life suffering!

He said: Business is in a great turmoil,

Like a traveler, almost dying of thirst.

Like a consumptive young lass, in dire need of blood; though she is wasting it in each gasp.

I said: Smile,

You are not the cause of her disease,
Nor will you be able to heal her.
Smile, for a smile may help…

If someone else is a culprit, should you lose sleep worrying,
as if you were the culprit!

He said: The loud cries of my enemies are blaring around me.
How can I be happy when enemies are roundabout?

I said: Smile,

They are not after you for a crime you have committed!
They would have ought against you if you weren’t better and greater than themselves.

He said: The sales’ season is upon us, yet my merchandise of clothes and toys is not selling at all.
I have an obligation toward my loved ones, yet, I have no single penny in my hand.

I said: Smile,

It is enough you are still living,
And not lacking in friends and well wishers.

He said: The days have forced me to swallow bitter gall.

I said: Smile,

Even if bitter gall was given to you in strong doses.

Perhaps if someone saw you in good spirits, he would discard gloom and rejoice!

Will your complaining ever earn you a penny?

Will you lose anything for being cheerful?

Friend;

There is no danger in parting your lips;
Your face will not disfigure if you smile,
Laugh, for the stars laugh in the darkest nights;
And it is for this reason we love the stars.

He said: Cheerfulness makes no one happy,
People come to this world and leave it against their will.

I said: Smile

As long as a short span separates you from death;
For once dead, you will not smile again!

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

 

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 symbolises 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, make up or hair style. There should be other significant meanings about 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 smily 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

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 making 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 on 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 to be better than our long term ones!

This was what happened with 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 were 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 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

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

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 may be watching carefully to enjoy the scene!

A good lesson this summer!


Wishing you all the best,

Nahla