School’s out for Christmas

Dreaded time again where so many of us parents think aaargh “what shall we do”. Frantically thinking of how to pack their days with things to do. So when the term starts they have a list to reel off  …i did this and this ….

Yet when I asked my ten year old what do you want to do? “Nothing” was his reply. He didn’t even look up to answer me. Consumed by his lego building an “Empire Prison Cell block” Whilst he sings along varoius theme tunes from Star wars.

Somehow he likes the idea of his mummy occupying his bunk bed hanging out in his space. I’ve now been appraised on the different types of troopers he’s also re introduced me to Simon & Garfunkels 1964 “sound of silence”.

We talk. That’s what we do. We talk about everything that we usually wouldn’t during term time occupied by school time and flexi  start times at work.

Where usually we are rushing go go go …suddenly everthing stopped. We dont know what day it is date nor time.

We talk about his concern when mummy says I hate work I want to quit… “well mum I get concerned it will affect me as you have one of the best paying jobs in England for common people. I mean we aren’t rich but we not exactly poor”.

Our discussion moves on to the prison he is building … i like padme son don’t be mean to her in the prison will she be tortured what about her human rights.

“Human rights do we have them in England I mean are they different in other countries. Mum have you read Pride and Prejudice…”

So my son is dictating our Christmas vacation … no he doesn’t want to go anywhere no holiday, he wants to stay home with his mum kidnapped being subjected to “its all about lego”

So I guess the problem is with me an inner voice that keeps rising to say “get up what we doing” only to be told no close tye door get back and can you put ths storm troopers arm in please”

Happy holidays.1419254341263-315321080

Syria: No Change

It’s been just over a year since we had arrived at the border town of Killis – Turkey.

Some people thought we were crazy some thought it was forbidden, here was a group of females travelling together out to work with Syrian Refugees.

For the best part of 2013 we had seen images flash on our screens of women and children ravaged by war. Status after status on social media was exactly the same. That overwhelming feeling of wanting to do something to help was constantly blocked by convoys for men only or where is your mehram brick wall.

Nor could I afford the £3,000 that was required to partake in a convoy let alone congure up a made up mehram.

I never got over that part, anyway it was okay for me to go out work solo as a muslim woman, go shopping, go out to eat, live a fully engaging life. Yet when it came to travel to help my fellow muslims I needed a male guardian. And why men travelling alone were not averse to the same risks as me i still don’t understand to this day.

I was aware of an amazing woman on social media who I’d messaged should she know of any women’s groups travelling keep me posted.

So here we were down the line all huddled up in one room strangers. Sleeping bags wooly hats coats the lot. Fighting the cold with hot honey drinks to survive.

It’s surprising when in times of extreme conditions we either become family or enemies. We had become one family.

The tears, laughter and pain each one of us will carry in our hearts forever. How we survived was our unity as a group of sisters and compassion for humanity.

The most sincerest of hearts and kindest souls. And so a year has passed and I sit back reflecting. Wondering what happened to the children with no shoes burning up with fever. What happened to the children who had only the clothes on their backs and a broken toy in their hands. The expressionless mother sat in the car park waiting for the doctor to see her poorly child.

The mothers and the children who would come like a ocean wave to collect the food from the soup kitchens bucket in hand. The child sleeping in a makeshift cardboard box,  the toddlers picking bread up off the floor.

Nothing happened Syria is still suffering today. But what happened to each one of us was life changing.

This wasn’t about scoring brownie points or proving a point it was about standing in those soup kitchens holding that woman’s hand looking at her to say “I know and I will tell them all when I get back I promise you”.

It was about changing my pereception of humanity and solidarity with suffering.

Syria changed our humanity
Syria changed our humanity

PREVENT Reality: Police Chief Warns of “Police State”

Nothing is irreversible. The seed of policing our thoughts has already been sown. It is now up to these key players to re address this police state created to further political agendas. Better late than never.

CoolnessofHind

Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

It seems the problems with regards to the definition of “extremism”, and its abuse by neocons is finally starting to be discussed, although it may be too late given that the new counter terror bill has already been through its second reading in Parliament. Given the toxic implications of the Bill which I have briefly discussed here and here, one wonders why there is no outrage against what is an assault against the “democratic values” often propagated through military means around the world.

Peter Fahy in a frank and welcome warning highlighted that the battle against “extremism” could lead to a “drift towards a police state” in which officers are turned into “thought police”. Below are some of the excerpts which deserve being reproduced in full from the Guardian:

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lower your gaze its 2014 woman!

I often sit back and reflect how fortunate I am to have the supportive parents I have been blessed with.

But behind this amazing relationship is a struggle. A struggle of wanting to ask questions, be understood and live.

My parents were from the first wave of migrants arriving at UK shores looking for a better life. What they probably hadn’t planned into their birthing plan and life goals was 3 daughters and integration.

Not an easy task in 1970s multicultural  Britain. ‘Not one but three’ daughters, a Boots offer most parents would have said thanks but no thanks.

That’s 3 nightmares until they are happily married and off your hands. That’s 3 potential cases of ‘oh oh they could go awol’ and not one but three husbands’ to find.

One of the things I recall, is hearing my mum saying about her in laws “ah don’t worry someone will marry them”.

But Allah had greater plans. Luck or fate we had a father who believed in education. We had a mother who was a later comer on the marriage scene at 25 with a college education.

Aside the usual pressure of “bring home the A grades”, it was the “medicine we think you should become doctors”.

Well thank God none of us did. I think the seed for rebellious indviduality had been planted when no one would want to as I often joke now “goon the atta”.

‘No one will marry your daughters’ – mum would say to dad.

Mum don’t worry I’ll marry someone who eats Warburtons bread.

Some of childhood memories are bitterly painful riddled with domestic violence and the pain my mother endured from her in laws rejecting her as too forward thinking educated city girl.

So we were raised away from family thus detached from a ‘allegiance to back home’ guilt trap.

What i recall being drummed into me time and time again was education,  education, education. From tap dancing classes to cross country marathons I don’t think i ever heard the word no from mum and dad. Until we started to ask questions fast approaching that weird age of 18.

That’s when the “oh you must have eaten haram because you’re looking at me eye to eye …”

Which brings me to the title, I recall thinking  well where do you want me to look … so I assume that was the first time I had done it ‘lowered my gaze’ I looked at the floor. Even as I write this my eyes fill with tears .. yes I’m a softy behind the battle axe exterior.  I see years flash before my eyes of a inner struggle that was starting but I need to speak … why won’t you let me speak why can’t I look at you and talk. You taught me all my life to speak the truth ask questions and reason and now I ask you … I’m told I’m crossing the line and you whip me back down to humiliate me.

And now almost twenty years later I find myself in a system which does exactly the same you can ask questions until we decide whoa to you how dare you raise your voice and ask us a question of accountability a reasonable question of the men who howl authority over you.

Being a girl in a man's world.
Being a girl in a man’s world.

Lower you gaze to me means an abuse of my right to be vocal. Lower your gaze in 2014 in my world means to me you can look so far then that’s it ‘do not look to make eye contact with us how dare you. Fear reprimand and reprisal. So really as a British Muslim ethnic minority woman not only did I have my patriarchal authority to contend with I now have civil authority to contend with.

 

I love you dad

Another boring blog.

My dad made me 20140924_200752~2cry this morning.. he was up till 2am with me talking whilst i was finishing off some work.  Then up earlier than me to make breakfast for the boys. I dropped them off at school came back and there he was holding a plate of toast and omlette for me. As we sat down talking about the role of fathers.  He narrated to me the love Muhammad saas had for his grandchildren. How he would play with them even in Salah they’d be on his back. I couldn’t even look at my dad as all I could see was how he plays lightsaber wars with Xav… how he sits and listens to him read the Quran ….. how he cooks and feeds xav chicken daily as he refuses to eat anything else … how he speaks to hani with such compassion that I as a mother missed the boat on that one. He is just an amazing role model to them. The best as decreed by the best of Planners.

“I’m always right. I’m a parent”

As the daughter of a first generation immigrant without the pressure of male siblings. Upon reflection we had issues growing up in 80s Britain both inside the house and outside.

And to see / hear young people in particular those of new migrants go through the same sufferage is heart breaking, bitterly disappointing because most people come to the UK for a better life. And yes what you will in a vast majority experience is good conduct honesty and the right to live your life as you so wish. Despite what the media and ministers make out “the war of the day” to be. Everyday folk just want to live and let live.

This concept of just “be who you are” seems so difficult still for some migrant families to adopt in the home life.

We have one set of rules outside the front door and one inside. I believe that this is one of the many reasons we have a disenfranchised youth. I still seem to come across fathers in particular who have issues with sons and daughters being what I can only describe as “honest in expressing” themselves. It’s almost as if these fathers want to put a control order on the thought process of their cchildren before the state does.

Cultural baggage is probably the biggest threat to the future generations if we ever want to raise a generation to think independently without stunting a child’s ability to critical thinking.

Tired of Oppression.

Yesterday i had blood tests done as i told my GP I am tired. I do not know what the prescription is for being tired of Israel’s brutality. Israels disproportionate level of cruelty they comtinue to inflict on innocent lives of women and children. Targeting the most vulnerable people of any society.

I feel day by day the rope suffocating my thoughts and freedom of expression tightens.

The painful burden I carry around in my heart becomes heavier. My GP will find no cure for this ailment.

I almost wish and every night yearn that I could regress back to the days of ‘living’. 10712759_786976624712574_8616719101228871446_n

Black – Political vs. Ethnic?

Media Diversified

by Nathan E Richards

Next month Goldsmiths University is to host an event on black feminism, with two guests from the institution to speak on this important topic – the event is billed thusly: “Conversation on Black British Feminism”. Two of Britain’s internationally acclaimed professors of race and gender will talk about Black British feminism and the inspirations, ideas and experiences that ground their own landmark writing. Sara Ahmed (The Promise of Happiness; On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life; Willful Subjects) and Heidi Safia Mirza (Young Female and Black; Black British Feminism; Race Gender and Educational Desire: Why Black Women Succeed and Fail) have a dedicated following within and beyond the academy.”

Many young black academics, however, have expressed concern about the ability of ‘politically black’ academics to adequately represent and elucidate the experience of ‘ethnically black’ women. The social media backlash began in earnest a…

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Why I won’t be wearing the ‘Poppy Hijab’

Succinct and on point.

Media Diversified

by Sofia Ahmed

10626644_10100834067865345_4866037326840446690_nIn the latest attempt at unabashed apologism, Muslim groups such as the Islamic Society of Britain (ISB) have asked Muslim women to don a ‘Poppy Hijab’ in order to remember the Muslim soldiers that took part in the two world wars. Sughra Ahmed, president of the ISB suggested that these hijabs would  “take attention away from extremists“. This latest gimmick has got to be the most ill-conceived of the recent spate of  “we are not extremists” initiatives.

Marketing the poppy as a stance against extremism suggests that refusing the symbol is tantamount to ‘extremism’. A great selling point right there. Buy a £22 hijab to prove that you’re not a terrorist, wannabe ‘jihadi bride’ – planning on running off to Syria to find your ISIS prince in bloodstained camouflage. It almost made me think I should buy one, it might make walking through security checks…

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Life without filters.

Too often it’s so easy to find myself entrapped in what I can only describe as the modern ills of society – social networking.

Where social media protagonists become larger than life. There are no barriers. No limits. Offense is the pièce de rèsistance crowned with an accolade of social glory.

Each one of us is vying to be proven right. And it is only when circumstances literally pull you away that harmony can be restored.

20141104_170523A harmony that I once cherished of privacy with those I held most dear to me. A perfect balance of time management and free time to nurture my soul.

The advantages of wifi… the www don’t outweigh what is at stake here for me.

Communication. Focusing on the right now than the what will be if i dont reply. Filter through these obstacles I’ve completed half my journey.

And when I sit back and look around I see the beauty in its most pure natural form.

This is what life was before the humdrum of who I am and who are you.

A life much more simple. One full of fun, love and laughter. Where no one knew who you were but you lived your life to the fullest.

You did what you had to because that is the essence of you. Its not about ego. I left that behind a long time ago.