life, Writing

The Thief

 

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‘The mother warned her child to be careful and not to open the door to strangers unless she (the mother) or her father was in the house.’

This was part of a funny story which I was telling my daughter yesterday. But she asked why?

Sometimes, thieves break into houses to steal things.

Then, she asked me not to put in any thieves in the stories. She was scared, and I immediately changed the whole plot, or we’d have been awake all night.

But today, I remembered a short video on Facebook which shows a different image of a thief. A kind image.

In this video, instead of stealing, the thief helped his victim to return safely to her home. Why? Because everyone has a good side. And next time in my story, I’ll make sure that my daughter understands this point.

Watch this video to know how the thief helped the young lady.

With my best wishes,

Nahla

 

 

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life

Leave it at home!

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I read this post today on facebook, and remembered a simple lesson I had learned years ago at school; it was a hadith by Prophet Muhammad; when giving a charity, your left hand shouldn’t know what the right had already given.

But today not just the left-hand knows about you giving charity but the entire globe. Why is that? Why should people in need be humiliated, and be pictured crying and begging for money? Why those benevolent hands intend to show off rather than be thoughtful and grateful?

Some said that this motivates others, reminds others, helps others to take part and help the poor, but I, and I’m sure there are others, have learned the lesson, without a practical demonstration; I mean the teacher didn’t open her purse and invite the most miserable in the class to give her some money.

I’m not against giving details or making people aware of others’ suffering, and I believe many people are having good intentions, but I’m just wondering what if those in need object, and refuse to be pictured, would they still receive any charity? Would those benevolent hands turn their cameras off and give charity? Would it be better to be humane rather than popular?

Please think before taking pictures.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

 

Education, Writing

Marva Collins

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Teaching is a talent.

Would we go back a bit to recall those special memories about teachers that had really taught us something special, something we still remember? Are there any? Or Your teachers had that traditional style that gives students no more than what’s already been in books.

Marva Collins was a talented teacher, believing that every child has a right to learn and can learn. She hasn’t got a certificate in Education; her degree was in secretarial science, but her teaching methods became far better than many of those highly qualified teachers. So what was special about her?

Collins resigned from the teaching position at Chicago public school because she didn’t believe in the system that teaches to the test and eliminates children with learning disabilities. She launched Westside Preparatory School which was a one-room school with eighteen students of different abilities. There, she cared for every single student in the class. She gave good quality and quantity of education, she gave love and respect, and her students learned how to be themselves and to choose a better way of living.

These are some of her phrases which she used to inspire her students;

‘’You have the choice, the right to choose what kind of person you want to be.’’

‘’This is my life to use or to throw away.’’

‘’You are not in school for your parents, for your teachers, or for anyone else. You are here for yourselves.’’

There is a movie available on Youtube about her story. It’s great, why not watching?

Happy New Year!

With all best wishes,

Nahla

 

Fiction, Writing

The Captain’s daughter

One day I took my daughter to the local library to get a new book. She picked two, and it was my turn to choose mine. It was The last Pearl by Leah Fleming that caught my sight.

It was the first time to know about Fleming or read any of her books. It’s about a young woman, Greta’s journey in time and place. It’s about family, family poverty, family struggle, family failure, and family success. It’s about kindness, cruelty, misery, and happiness. And that’s the book I have been looking for.

Then I borrowed another book; The Captain’s Daughter. I expected to finish it by the end of the Christmas holiday, but I read it; done.

It’s the story of two Titanic survivors, two women that were destined to save the life of each other. It’s about kindness, friendship, family, motherhood, and humanity. If you’re interested in the setting of different countries, moving home, wartime, and relationships between different cultures and backgrounds, then this one is highly recommended.

And one more thing about the captain’s daughter, it explains how ‘the secrets in a woman’s heart are deeper than the ocean.

Have you read any of Leah Fleming’s books?

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

entertainment, MOVIE

I am David

 

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This is a novel by Ann Holm. I haven’t read the book yet, but I’ve watched the movie. I think it’s good although some people might find it full of unlikely coincidences. But don’t we have those unlikely coincidences in real life? I mean if we look back at those significant moments in our life, we would realise that we have experienced some of those unlikely coincidences too.

David is 12 years old; he managed to escape from Bulgarian Forced Labour Camp and to travel alone to Denmark. The variation of characters is very interesting; the fellow prisoner, a sailor, a baker, an Italian family, and widowed artist, they all helped the boy, intentionally or unintentionally,  to reach his destination, and to discover his story.  And what I find more interesting is the message of the story which is to believe in the goodness of humanity.

 

This is one of the movie best quotes;

“Life wouldn’t be worth living without trust. Be cautious, but live fully and freely. Make friends and see the goodness in people or you’ll never find any happiness.”

Truth, isn’t it?

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

life, Writing

Universal language

 

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Have you ever understood anyone speaking not your language?

It can happen and it did happen.

Many years ago one of my neighbours was from Mexico. She moved to the UK with her husband and her little boy, about three years old. Whenever I saw her on the stairs or the road, she was talking to herself. My neighbours and I thought she might be insane but she wasn’t. One day I gave her a leaflet about the English course centre which I was attending at that time. I cannot describe how her face changed that day. She smiled and thanked me and I felt her words were coming deeply from her heart. From that day, we became friends though we didn’t understand each other that much, she used to say that she doesn’t know why she understood me more than anyone else in the city. Honestly, neither do I. I just used to repeat what others said to her.  I wish I could have her details to keep in touch because once we moved I don’t know whether she was still in the UK or went back to her country.

I remembered her and remember how we can understand others with a different tongue on the day of Eid.  I was sitting next to an elderly woman. Probably, she was from Pakistan. She couldn’t sit on the floor, her daughter and granddaughter brought her a chair. So I was sitting on the carpet next to her on a chair. While I was talking with a friend on my other side, she tapped on my shoulder and talked as if she knew me. I understood from her looks and the tune of her voice that she didn’t like how women are chatting and didn’t listen to the Imam’s Eid speech. This was true, I was talking too but this was because the Imam’s voice was too low, probably he didn’t notice that his speaker didn’t work well. I nodded and admitted that she was right and repeated in English what she was saying in her language. She held my hand and smiled at me which I think meant she was happy I understood her though I couldn’t speak her language.

Can this be a universal language?   I think there can be a language that we can feel even though we don’t understand.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

 

 

Writing

Good intentions!

 

tree

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

 

 

Muslim celebrations, Personal, society, Writing

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

 

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