Together We Are Stronger.
Together We Are Stronger.
The ultimate destination?
Where singledom reaches an eternal end.
We spend so much of our lives obsessing over marriage, consciously or subconsciously. Whether you’re the oblivious 8 year old girl watching a disney princess being wooed by her prince, or whether you’re the 28 year old being told by society that you need a husband to complete you.
What is big the secret behind marriage that promises fulfilment? Is it the physical presence of another. Is it the unconditional love you hope to receive? Or is it just that it’s the pre- conceived notion that marriage is the end goal, and the end goal promises happiness?
Remember that proverb about the grass always being greener on the other side? Well marriage is kinda like that for singletons. If we find that we are lonely, we tell ourselves that if we had a partner, we wouldn’t know loneliness. If we need security, surely the presence of a man/woman in our lives would provide us with the security that we need. And if we want comfort, where better to find comfort other than that in the arms of your partner.
So as a singleton we begin believing that all the parts of us that are incomplete, will only come to fruition upon marriage. And it doesn’t help when there are studies suggesting that marriage makes you more successful. Is it any wonder that we think marriage is what we need to reach the pinnacles of success?
Women are left either searching for the M word, or actually taking the plunge. But what really does the reality of marriage entail? Does it promise you a release from loneliness? Does it grant you security? Does it provide you with comfort?
The truth is, marriage promises you none of the above. It doesn’t ensure that you never feel lonely, it doesn’t guarantee security. In fact marriage can take you to further realms of loneliness, and insecurity. Insecurity, not only financially, but insecurity, emotionally. Marriage is not the prescription drug that will cure all your life’s ailments. It holds no magic power to remedy all your troubles.
Don’t get me wrong, a strong happy marriage can bring great things to the table. But an expectancy to fill voids within yourself through marriage, is a dangerous notion. Marriage is actually a shared path for two people who have their own paths in life. It doesn’t dictate that the other person caters to all your needs and all your desires, and vice versa. Because the truth is, no one can be the reason for your happiness. If you think someone is, you’re treading on a risky path and at some point you will face disappointment at the hands of another, whether intentionally or unintentionally. That disappointment will itself, take you to a place where you had never expected marriage to ever take you.
So if singledom, doesn’t fulfil you, and neither does marriage, then what exactly will? We live in an idealistic world, where the ideal is that the answer to our problems lies somewhere other than within ourselves. So we look to places and people for comfort and reassurance. But the cure, we’re all searching for, is actually within us. You are what you make of yourself. No man or woman will fulfil you, if you yourself do not have the power over your self, over your mind and over your heart.
If you’re considering marriage as the solution. Let’s be very clear. Marriage is not the solution. Marriage is not the destination either. Marriage is the journey, the path you choose to take with your loved one. It too has highs and lows. It too can bring pain. It too can bring insecurities, just as those that are felt when we are single.
Some days it will prove easy and some days it will prove difficult. Every day you work at it. Every day you give a part of yourself in it’s devotion. If you give it love, you receive love in return. If you neglect it, it will neglect you in return. And this is no different to the way in which we should treat ourselves. Give yourself love, give yourself strength, give yourself everything that you need. Whether you are single or whether you are married.
No matter which culture you come from family feuds are no strangers to the typical household. Whether you are the average Pervaiz and Shagufta from The Curry Mile or Jay Z and Solange Knowles, you are not exempt. So why should the Khan’s be spared from such drama. In the past 24 hours I have come across so many experts in the ‘in-laws’ and the ‘perfect daughter-in-law’ field, I’m wondering why Universities don’t offer a degree in the subject!
In all seriousness, however as some of you will be aware Faryal Makhdoom has made public allegations of bullying against her in laws via snapchat. The allegations included abuse and bullying in the form of threatened physical violence, mental abuse during her pregnancy and online bullying.
I’ve read some pretty nasty stuff said about this entire scenario. A lot of people have mocked Faryal’s claims and attacked her for reasons completely unrelated, such as her choice of clothing and her ‘excessive’ make up. It baffles me how amidst her cry for help, people have the audacity to call her out on the choices she makes regarding her appearance. The sad part of it all, is that, most of the people attacking her appearance are ‘females.’ The very females who advocate their feminist views and post statuses about giving a voice to the abused, are the same females now calling out Faryal for having done exactly that. Also stating that she did not need to display her private matters on social media.
Let’s put aside for a second, that these events are taking place against someone in the public eye, the wife of a world famous boxer. Consider a situation where this was your friend, your sister, your colleague at work confiding in you about how she was being abused by her husband’s family, would your initial reaction be laughter? Would you tell her how she should first and foremost change the way she dresses, and then work on tackling the abuse she is receiving?
Just think about it.
Also speaking out isn’t always easy, and people speak out in the only way they know how to. Should she have instead suffered in silence? No one should be judged or condemned for speaking out. Besides much of the abuse she speaks of was carried out online, and so she responded. Online bullying is a serious issue, and anyone can fall victim to it. Even famous people.
This social media fued between the Khan’s and Faryal Makhdoom simply brings to light the in-law’s and daughter-in-law issues which occur on a regular basis, however are never talked about. In the Asian community, traditionally a daughter-in-law moves in with her husband and his family (although it is becoming less common over time). This atmosphere can in some circumstances be somewhat straining on both the family and the daughter-in-law, as both parties are somewhat ‘forced’ to get along, if of course it does not come naturally. Many women argue that daughter-in-laws should be treated as daughters, (as did Faryal in her snaps) and as ideal as that scenario would be, it is extremely rare, and somewhat impossible for some mother-in-laws to do. Not to mention impossible for some daughter-in-laws to act like daughters too.
Whether you think it’s possible to treat or be treated as a daughter, the fact of the matter is that the daughter-in-law should be regarded first and foremost as an individual. Not as an attachment of your son, which can be removed as you please i.e. someone you can force your son to get a divorce from (as alleged by Faryal). Nor as someone you can control as property simply because you now think she is ‘owned’ by your son by way of marriage. The Star Plus dramas should be avoided at all costs. They are not a mother-in-law’s guide to welcoming a daughter-in-law into the family home! Equally a daughter-in-law has a responsibility to reciprocate a mutual level of respect if not love for her husband’s family.
As mentioned at the outset, this is a family feud and only the family members know of the full circumstances of the situation, so to pass judgement on a few snaps would involve playing a dangerous game. However allegations of abuse should be taken seriously and when someone screams for help, the matter should be approached with sensitivity. Those of you bashing Faryal for speaking out and attacking her for reasons such as her appearance need to understand that you are part of the problem. Until these issues are taken seriously, the cycle will only continue.
It came to me as a surprise when two men were hit by a car driven by a woman accompanied by two other female friends, in an alleged state of intoxication, and the focal point of the incident was the fact that these females were drunk Pakistani Muslims.
As I watched the live video footage of an eye witness trying to capture the incident, I couldn’t help but feel a rage building inside as he proudly shamed the three women. They were not being reported by this individual for the alone fact that they ran over two males and showed no remorse, instead he was shaming them for allegedly being ‘drunk’, ‘Pakistani’, ‘Muslim’, ‘women.’
I am not condoning the action of running someone over whilst being intoxicated, and showing no remorse having done so, however I am defending the right of these women to not be publicly shamed in the manner in which they have been.
“Look at them, absolute filth bags, you’d expect guys to do it, even though it’s wrong.”
The man behind the camera by his very own words evidenced how his concerns were surrounding the intoxicated state of these Pakistani Muslim women, stating that “you’d expect guys to do it, even though it’s wrong.” Could someone remind me of what is at the heart of this incident? Is it that two men have been ruthlessly run over, by an allegedly intoxicated woman, or is it that three Pakistani Muslim women were drinking? Clearly if they were male the attention would be diverted to their lack of remorse and the injuries suffered by the victims rather than focusing on their state of intoxication in light of their ethnicity and faith.
Whilst watching the video I scrolled through the comments underneath, to find an entire fan club singing his praises. “You did a good job brother.” “You are a good man and a great role model to Muslim brothers.” Wait. A great role model to Muslims? What was so great about exposing the sins of others?
The theme of comments stemmed into three directions, name calling, passing judgement on the women’s faith and concerns regarding their upbringing.
“Slags.” “Silly skregs.” “Tarts sickening.” “The coppers should bend them over and sell em to Afghanistan the dirty ‘hoars’.” “Nasty bitches.” “Skets.” “Slappers.” “Ratchet dogs.” “Just shows, filthy rats.” “Dirty bitches.” “Should have sparked them out…the dirts deserved it.”
Spelling aside, you could imagine my utter shock at the response of these ‘fellow Muslims’ who were preaching about the wrongdoings of these women, yet undermining the very foundations of their faith. They were able to see that drinking was haram (forbidden), but failed to see their bad-mouthing was also haram. Why are we so immune to the idea of bad mouthing others, and flaunting their faults before the eyes of the world?
“Why do you call them muslim.” “Pakistani yes but not muslims.” “No shame there are not proper muslims.” “Don’t call them muslims.” “Girls like that aren’t worthy to be called muslims.”“Don’t call them muslims man!!! If they don’t read or practice Islam they aint muslims.” “Expose them don’t worry about what people think.”
Why do we think that one sin, is worthy of judgement yet another isn’t? Why do we think that we are in a position to judge? Why do we think that we have a free pass from being judged ourselves? Why do we flaunt the sins of others whilst expecting Allah to conceal ours?
The shaming didn’t stop at these women alone, instead it continued into insults directed at their parents.
“Shame on their upbringing.” “That’s how they have been brought up by their parents.” “I hope their parents are proud.”
Ask yourself, about the times you’ve committed acts that you are not proud of. Did your parents teach you to commit those acts, or were they oblivious to your actions? Pointing fingers at others is easy, when you forget that fingers can also be pointed back at you. If that was your child would you be proud of your child’s actions? Also would you appreciate the actions of an individual who tried to capture your child’s face with the intention of ridiculing them on a public platform?
The camera man, made several attempts to zoom into the girls faces, with people commenting that they “cant see the girls.” I couldn’t comprehend the desire for these people to engage in the shaming process, and not even for the fact that they ran two men over, but for the fact that they were drinking. Some even decided to go as far as posting photos of the women they had assumed were involved in the incident, (taken from their Facebook accounts without their consent) causing further controversy due to mistaken identities.
Teachings of Islam
Being Muslim is something that I am extremely proud of, as Islam has taught me values that have led me to do great things and strive to be better. It has upheld women’s rights which have been of great misunderstanding for centuries, partly due to a lack of understanding and partly due to the behaviour of some which have wrongly represented the teachings of the faith. The problem here is not a problem of Islam, in fact it is a problem of misunderstanding and a lack of application of the teachings by Muslims themselves. This incident being a clear example.
Being Pakistani, has also taught me many things. Some which I am proud of and others not so much. It has taught me that culture is paramount. It has taught me that occasionally men receive special privileges that women could never receive. It has taught me that double standards are instilled into the spines of these men. Luckily my faith overrides these distorted views.
I may not be a Muslim scholar, but I do know that it is not up to us to decide whether someone falls within the fold of Islam or not. The section below the video was ablaze with comments saying that these women are not Muslims based on their actions. Yet these comments were coming from those who were clearly a leading example of how to act(!)
Bad mouthing or shaming others is not acceptable, nor is passing judgement as all judgements are up to Allah and Allah alone. Their actions are between them and God. It would not be considered good etiquette or manners in Islam for someone to make a judgemental decision about a person and their faith. Of course, it is part of human nature to form judgements, but to openly declare this judgement about a person and their faith would most definitely not be appropriate. You must consider what the purpose is behind what you are saying. Are you trying to help someone become aware of their wrongdoings, helping them correct their behaviour, or are you simply declaring their faults with no purpose other than ridiculing them in mind?
If you are sincere in your choice to advise and help someone, there is no harm if you advise them of what they are doing is wrong; if of course it is done with sincerity. But to simply do so in order to judge their actions up against your own, is not acceptable. No one is perfect. We weren’t created to be perfect.
The aim behind this response was to remind people that we all sin, and we all do things that we are not proud of. If a book of everything you have done to date, was presented to the world without your consent would you be pleased with what was being read?
The point is when someone commits an action which you regard as being against the teachings of your beliefs, then guide them by advising them, and if you’re unable to do so due to conflicting interests or other reasons, then simply refrain from harming them. Refrain from hateful speech, refrain from passing judgement, and refrain from shaming them. This is not what faith is about. This is not a true representation of humanity. People say such things are only small issues and there are bigger problems for us to deal with. But I say, if we changed the small things that build our foundations we would be a lot stronger.
I am certain that upon expressing my views on this matter, not everyone will agree. In particular some challenges may be met by those of you carrying XY chromosomes. However, having the privilege of being male in a culture created to suit you, you are unable to understand the power you hold over tarnishing a woman’s reputation by words alone.
When a man sharing my faith, decides to wrongly advocate beliefs which are in fact cultural and not Islamic, I as a woman believe that I am entitled to challenge his thoughts.
“What?! You’re still not married?
How old are you now?”
Thank you for your concern in my personal affairs. Thank you for taking the time out from your busy schedule to remind me that I am not yet married. Because surprisingly enough until you mentioned it, it hadn’t crossed my mind. You see it’s easy to forget in a community where everyone is married at the first signs of puberty, that you don’t have another human being titled ‘husband’ by your side!
Community. It’s supposed to give you a sense of belonging, instead it’s the very foundation that can sometimes makes your life a living hell. And no, I am not being dramatic, I’m simply fed up. It’s a hot topic amongst a majority these days. Almost every social gathering involves a discussion of ‘marriage’ which is usually headed by the ever so loving ‘aunties’ and married women. “Do you not want to get married?” ” Have you not found someone yet?” “You should have found someone at University.” “Where are you going to find someone now?” “Oh I know someone, he was married but now he’s divorced, he’s looking for someone your age.”
Oh how very considerate and thoughtful of you! Oh, the assumed superiority by these women! Let’s not forget their men however, they don’t hold back either. Fathers, approaching other fathers asking them why their daughter isn’t married yet. Paying no attention to the consequences of their ill remarks. Perhaps they don’t realise their apparent patronising nature when they’re making these remarks.
I may be in my late twenties and I may not have a husband or kids, but I know what I do have. I have the gratitude towards God for blessing me with a loving family, two beautiful parents that I will never tire of attending to. I have the benefit of education, that has opened my mind in more ways than one. I have experienced life in so many different colours having travelled the world. I, have countless blessings. But most of all I have patience and faith in the One who has already decided a time for me. And so I will wait. I will wait until it is my time. I am in no rush to outrun destiny.
Until then I apologise to all those of you who are enduring ‘anxiety’ at my passing age and my state of affairs. But I respectfully suggest that you sit back and relax, and wait until I’m married to ask me “why don’t you have any kids yet?.”
Of course the cycle is never ending.
Photo Credits: stefhaneiskandar on Instagram
Having previously posted my poem ‘Children of War,’ I received a great deal of positive feedback over the poem and so I decided to create a video to support it. Here it is.
What is it that carries us through the whirlwinds of life? Is it the ones that we love that give us the strength to survive? Or is it our careers? Is it our faith?
What is it?
Ever wonder how people fight battles on a daily basis. Heartbreak, illness, death, finance, job loss. All different, yet a battle nonetheless.
Warriors. We are all warriors.
Yes, we do not go to war, at least not the type of wars that we’ve learned of from our history books.
Yet we do stand on the frontline every morning, when we raise our bodies out of our beds and face the world.
Yes, we do not go to war, at least not the type of war that we’ve learned of from our history books.
But we do dress ourselves in armour, and hope to miss the bullets.
Yes, we do not go to war, but we ‘are’ at war.
A war that won’t be found in our history books. A war that has failed to be defined. A war that we wage against ourselves. The war that seems to have no end. Generations after generations become victims, and the cycle continues with every breath.
But let’s not silence our triumphs or forget. Warriors.
We are all warriors.
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”- Martin Luther King, Jr.
I have heard this quote many a times, however I found that Clint Smith brought this to life, in his spoken word piece presented as part of TED Talks. Being a regular viewer of TED Talks, I always find my brain cells being challenged. I am always inspired or left with something to ponder over, at the very least. If you haven’t already watched one, I strongly recommend that you do!
So going back to the talk I was referring to by Clint Smith – The danger of silence. This particular talk struck a chord with me. I guess we are all victim to our very own silence at some stage in our lives. Although communication through silence can be powerful in given contexts, this video makes reference to silence in the negative form.
So how do you know your silence is damaging? Ever get that feeling when you’ve failed to speak up, and upon reflection you’re filled with guilt. You are not short of words, yet your mouth feels as though it has been bolted shut. A type of silence caused by your mouth drying up like a leaf soaked in the sun. A silence that pains you.
The speaker says he teaches his students to “read critically, write consciously, speak clearly and tell your truth.” At this point of the talk, the guilt in me rushed to my eyes in the form of tears. “Tell your truth.” I guess when you’ve kept silent through the moments you wish you hadn’t, through the moments you’d wished you were able to release the chaos of words drumming against your chest, bouncing off your mind, yet unable to reach your tongue; you are left with nothing but guilt. Guilt filling your body, attempting to find any means of escape.
My truth. My truth is that I am also a victim of silence.
“So sometimes I wouldn’t say anything, appeasing ignorance with my silence, unaware that validation doesn’t need words to endorse its existence.”
Witnessing atrocities taking place around the world each and every day. Witnessing them and remaining silent. Failing to speak. I wonder how a television screen became so powerful. Powerful enough to distance us from the reality of the sufferings of the human race. How do we become immune to their pain? Or is it that we just can’t seem to relate? After all we feel protected, knowing we’ll never be exposed to such things.
I have always believed that our tongue is our most powerful weapon, yet I have not mastered the art of it’s use. Perhaps I need training in a class called knowledge. For what use are my words if their manipulation makes me rank amongst the ignorant.
My written words are generally fuelled by nothing other than emotion, however unfortunately in most circumstances, emotion alone is not enough. Instead knowledge is power.
I silence myself, whilst the words of others leave wounds so deep, that nothing other than faith can fill. I tell myself I will speak. I will speak once I have learned all that there is to learn. I tell myself each and every day “Educate yourself.” Educate yourself so that you can share your knowledge. So that you can fight ignorance with that which you have learned. For such a battle does not require weapons of mass destruction. My tongue will surely be enough.
And one day, I know “I will live every day as if there were a microphone tucked under my tongue.”
Arteries carry blood from the heart while veins return blood to it.
Isn’t it strange? Human emotion.
How our emotions dictate our behaviour. Sometimes I find emotion so difficult to comprehend. Especially at times when you feel the peak of happiness and the peak of sadness, all wrapped into one precise moment.
So in one ‘precise’ moment, you can feel a volcanic eruption in the form of happiness growing inside of you; streaming through your arteries, reaching every part of your body while teasing the very essence of your soul.
This one ‘precise’ moment.
And before you know it, before you’ve even had the slightest opportunity to consider it; you somehow manage to arouse the burning sensation that follows from such an eruption. The very same happiness that streamed through your arteries, is now returning to your heart via your veins, thickening like lava with every passing second. Suffocating you.
This is the feeling I get from goodbyes.
So, it’s taken years for me to get here. Creating a blog, that is.
Ever said a word so many times, you forget its meaning? I’ve said ‘blog’ so many times, I don’t even know what I’m doing anymore.
Anyways, it’s tradition to mention in your first post, the reasons as to why you decided to start up a blog and what you plan to do with it. So I guess it would be rude of me if I didn’t tell you a little about it. I guess I’ve always found it fascinating how you can put yourself out there, to the entire world. You can write a few posts on a regular basis and people get to connect with you. That’s pretty awesome! So why wouldn’t you blog right?
I guess the reason I haven’t done so up until now, is due to my flakiness. Flakiness, you ask? By that, I make reference to my lack of commitment to certain things. Or perhaps that’s a bit harsh, I ‘can’ be very committed. Maybe I’m simply referring to my pure and utter laziness!
In all honesty though, I’ve always wanted to start up a blog. However I’ve wanted it to be consistent with everything else that I do. For those of you who didn’t already know, I’m an aspiring writer, and wish to publish a book one day. So I want my journey to reflect consistency, in particular with regards to the name I use for myself.
I’ve been writing for years, so when I decided I wanted to share my writing, I decided to create a pseudonym. Planning the pseudonym took over my life, I looked up names for days, religiously researching their meanings so that my pseudonym could have a powerful meaning. Once I came up with the name (5 names long!) I let it sink in over a few days. But having pondered over it, I thought this isn’t me. Do I really need a pseudonym?
So in the end I decided against it, an chose to use my real name instead. I set up an instagram page, a youtube channel, a twitter page, to name a few, all with my name on them. However not long after, I began to realise that all these social media sites with my name on them were becoming too intrusive in respect of my personal life. So this only meant one thing- I needed to change it again!
This time, I decided to use my initials. And so far, I’m happy with the choice. Happy enough to have set up a blog using my initials. So I guess, the day I do become a published writer, ‘U.F. Shah’ is going to be the name printed on the cover. Still me, not a pseudonym but enough to keep my private life exactly that- private!
As for my plans for the blog, expect anything and everything!