Emotionally Stunted?

This blog is now one month old. And I’m keeping track as if it’s a new-born baby or a brand new relationship! I always wondered why people gave such emphasis to the passage of time, but now I think I understand – a little.

Sometimes things just hit me in face and after the initial shock, I find I’m perfectly unaffected by them. So it happened. Okay. What’s next? It scares me because at times like that I wonder if I’ve lost the ability to feel. Or if I’ve just learnt how to hide away my feelings so well, that even I can’t access them.

That’s one of the barriers I’m realising I have to break as a writer. I’m working on an essay for MWA about hunger awareness and all of the sudden I have to go deep down inside and find out what I really think of the whole issue.

It’s so easy to sideline it, to forget it exists and to go living normally. But how can i convince people to have faith in the goodness of humanity and in justice is I myself am disillusioned and cynical?

I have to learn to feel again. That’s one of the signs of Mo’mineen isn’t it? That their hearts are soft and easily touched. They have the ability to empathise with others, to love them, to care about their problems sincerely and to be motivated enough to help them.

Boy, do I have my work cut out for me!

S’laams
Bint Ali

Reality Check

Well, I did it again. Fell for the oldest ego-trick in the book. Here I was thinking I had done some grand thing by writing an Islamic fiction book and next thing I know, I’m finding writers all over the place – people who have been at it much longer than I have.

They started writing while I was dreaming, imagining, doubting, fearing, procrastinating and doing everything else I shouldn’t have been doing instead of putting my seat to the chair and WRITING!

I have to get over this fear. It’s not just writer’s block, it’s an issue of deep-seated pride. I mean if I’m afraid to write because of what people think, then I’m writing for the people.

Ali ibn Abi Talib (a) has clearly stated that you should not look at the gravity of the sin you commit, but look at the One against Whom you are committing it. The same goes for good deeds, right? It shouldn’t matter what people think, every word presented to Him in full sincerity stays in His account.

So in actual fact, if I manage to fix my intention, then my writing paves my way to the Hereafter. How many people can say really say the thing they absolutely love doing is also ibadat?

Intention – that’s where it all lies, doesn’t it?

S’laams
Bint Ali

Relationships

It’s my Mum’s birthday today. We don’t make a big deal about b’days in our home. At least, not any more.

The last time I remember having a celebration was when I was seven and it was as if we made up for the birthday-partyless years to come. We had like 100 guests, three-quarters of whom I didn’t know. Hand-made party caps for everyone. Books and party-favours (and in those days, those were the exception, not the norm), two cakes and a video. It was all very ‘in’ for that period of time 😛

But b’days are not the point of this entry and neither is fashion. I guess this will always be difficult for me – talking about my relationship with my family. I seem to have an innate discomfort when it comes to exposing my emotions to the world. It probably comes from a fear of being vulnerable. Even as I write this, I can do so only because I know I’m not facing you and chances are I never will.

So, my family. We’re not the perfect, storybook lot. Which family is, you’re asking? Don’t have an answer for that one, except that I have seen people who talk about each other, look at each other and relate to each other in a way that makes you think they have it all down to a pat.

For us, it’s like we have a split-level family. Siblings on one row and parents on the other. And I think that’s pretty cool, because it allows us to preserve the Islamic hierarchy of authority, which is lacking in so many families today. I think I’m pretty lucky that I have that.

I wish I could relate to my parents better though. In so many ways, it’s entirely my own fault. I distanced myself so much from them when I was going through my ‘rebellious teen’ phase that I failed to nurture the bonds that were there. Now, it’s more difficult to find the threads I had let go off and try to tie everything together.

There are days when I can capture Kodak-moments, thinking ‘this is the way life is supposed to be’ and I wonder how I can trap that sense of understanding, agreement and camaraderie in a never-ending eternity.

And there are others when I feel trapped in a framework from which I want out. I think part of my fear of marriage comes from that. The thought that in marrying, I might end up trading one confusion for another. It’s a horrendously scary prospect.

People tend to make a big deal out of their own problems, magnifying everything because they can feel their own issues more passionately than that of others. Writers tend to make bigger deals because they have a tendency to dramatize life in order to get inspiration for their writing.

Maybe I’m making a big deal about this too. I don’t know and I doubt I ever will. All I do know is that Allah (SWT) is aware of where I am and what I feel. He’s guiding my life and He only wishes what is best for me. So everything around me is geared towards making me a better person and polishing my rough edges for Heaven.

I just have to trust Him. And that’s my greatest problem – learning how to trust. It’s an issue I’m beginning to think is The Major Obstacle of my existence. And without it, there is nothing left in my Islam.

S’laams
Bint Ali

Quick Stop…

I’m still filling out forms like crazy and doing all kinds of research. It’s surprising how many links and sites there are promoting Islamic literature and at the same time how little exposure they get.

I’ll be uploading some of them when I update my links on the sidebar, but I seriously think this is an area where we need some active advertising and promotion.

Good news though, I got accepted to the Muslimah Writer’s Association. As the name suggests, it’s a group of Muslim women writers. I’m hoping to learn loads from them, they sound like a kool lot.

If you’re a woman interested in writing, go over to the site and look around 🙂

By the way, I’m seriously starting work on my next novel insha’Allah and only have to chose which half-finished draft to pick on. Should I do:

a) the one about marriage and making the right choices in choosing a spouse (it may sound potentially preachy, but it’s a very, very interesting plot with an extremely controversial twist at the end)

OR

b)the one with my favourite hero who has a disability and manages to set an example on what a true Muslim man should be. The challenge here is changing perspectives from male to female.

Maybe I’ll just toss a coin. Or better still, do what I told my heroine in Surviving Zahra to do – seek out help from the Qur’an. Either way, you’ll know as soon as I do.

S’laams
Bint Ali

At the Beginning…

Miladun Nabi Mubarak all you guys and gals out there! 😀

I can’t believe how fast the year has turned around. This is like the Muslim New Year and now I actually have goals and aims to look out for. I don’t know what this year will hold. Usually, I can predict that I’ll be sitting in just such a chair infront of my trusty screen typing away a message similar to the one I did on just such a day, one whole year ago. I’ve been through that cycle for a few years now so there was no great reason to doubt it.

And in honest truth, I still feel pretty much in the same place. What a life, eh? Predictable, not only from day to day, but from year to year. I guess the changes haven’t yet set in for this year.

I have a new over-enthusaistic keyboard – which normally would be the highlight of the year. But there’s more when I actually think about it. There’s the lectures from Muharram that have inspired me to get in touch with the Qur’an more. There’s the possible contract for the book I’ve been working on for two years now and can barely believe might (just might) be published by the end of the year.

There’s the change in madrasa classes. Handing over my old class to another teacher was like breaking out of a cycle I had forced myself into. Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost touch with that part of my life and community.

There’s my application the Muslimah Writers’ Association – I’m so hoping that will go through. And there’s plenty to write about and for. I just need to believe that I CAN produce that many words worth reading.

I guess the only thing lacking is a sense of expectancy. I’m not ‘waiting’ for anything. I’m going to try and be happy with whatever I get and make the best of it. Live in the Now of my Life.

My only focus will be to become a better person and a better Muslim. To work on my personal relationship with Allah (SWT).

When I was reading Nahjul Balagha the other day, I read how Imam Ali (a) describes sins. In Sermon 16, he says:
“Beware that sins are like unruly horses on whom their riders have been placed and their reins have been let loose so that they would jump with them in Hell. Beware that piety is like trained horses on whom the riders have been placed with the reins in their hands, so that they would take the riders to Heaven.
“There is right and wrong and there are followers for each. If wrong dominates, it has (always) in the past been so, and if truth goes down that too has often occurred. It seldom happens that a thing that lags behind comes forward.”

It’s time to take back the reins of my horse and stop lagging behind. I just pray it’s not too difficult a breaking in for me.

S’laams,
Bint Ali