Channel: Fatima Barkatulla
Losing a Spouse, Overcoming Grief, Identity, Owning Your Story. In this emotional and inspiring episode of the IlmFeed Podcast, Ustadha Fatima Barkatulla talks with sister Na’ima B Robert about her identity, her conversion to Islam, overcoming the loss of her husband of 15 years and how to own your own story.
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Bismillah Alhamdulillah wa Salatu was Salam ala rasulillah dear brothers and sisters As salam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato. And welcome to another episode of the M feed podcast. This is the podcast where I get to meet really interesting people and share a conversation with you so that hopefully, you can be inspired by them and that we can all benefit from them. And my guest today falls squarely into that category. It is none other than sister Nyima B. Roberts. sister named Matt is descended from Scottish Highlanders on another side and the Zulu people on her mother's side. She was born in Leeds grew up in Zimbabwe and went to university in London. At high school, her loves
included Performing Arts public speaking and writing stories that shocked her teachers. Her popular from my sister's lips, explored the reality of living as a Muslim woman in the West. She's also written several multicultural books for children. She was founder and editor of sisters magazine, the magazine for fabulous Muslim woman. And currently she's running the Muslim art writer project, training, mentoring and publishing the next generation of Muslim writers. salaam aleikum nyla Baraka
and she also happens to be my friend.
Yes, Naima, have you reflected on the fact that the first time we met was in a studio like this? It's crazy. It's so much has happened since then, as well. So so much so. So I was a presenter for Ramadan radio was really a reality in northwest London. And I had been reading your book from my sister's lips. And every time I turned the page, I was like, Oh, my God, the sister has said everything we wanted people to know about us, you know. And I just loved the book, I thought this sister is somebody who is wise, Mashallah, somebody who's really thought about this. But I think the greatest thing that I got from your book was that you're confident, and you're owning our stories in
a way that I'd never considered doing. You know, and I think a lot of sisters I've never really considered doing. And so when I had the opportunity to invite people into the show, I was like, why can't the system? So somehow, I reached out? Yeah, and you turned up, and that was the first time we met. Yeah, yeah. And thankfully, hamdullah, we've met many times since then, and been involved in amazing things together. So it's a privilege and an honor to be here, collaborating for free to me, because I can know her. And I think it was there, that we actually even began sort of talking about sisters magazine. Yeah. And you invited me and you know, I consider you to be someone who's really
helped me and mentored me,
and kind of championed me and many other sisters, you know, to give us that confidence that maybe was lacking
in not only owning our stories, but also being confident enough to tell them and to develop ourselves as a writer. So I really want to thank you for that. No, hamdulillah I think one of the things that, as you probably know, sisters magazine, resulted from my experiences with from my sister's lips, because when the book came out, there was a quite a bit of media attention, you know, was on TV or on the radio was in the newspaper. And, you know, I was invited to come and speak on lots of different stages and lots of different platforms, including, like a whole tour of South Africa. And I remember that one of the things that people kept saying again, and again, was, you
know, your story is so inspirational, you know, and I guess when I came back, I thought, you know, how can we continue this conversation? How can we continue to inspire each other and support each other? And and let us know that we are not alone? How can we continue doing that? So my first idea was a website. And that was back in the day before, you know, websites were a thing and obviously, before Facebook and everything, but my first idea was some kind of social website like a social online community, and then kind of moved on from that to become a magazine and it was an online magazine at first. And the thing that I really want to celebrate about sisters, is that it placed
Muslim women squarely in the center of their own narrative, whereas a lot of the time when we are focused on writing, we are writing for an external gaze. So very often when we write there is an idea that we're presenting something to the outside and I always used to say that sisters magazine is not a dour magazine. It is our magazine for what we need it to be. So whether it's celebrating our situations
Life journeys or examining the challenges that we're going through, or simply just talking about, you know, our own lives as Muslim women, we were at the center of the discussion. It just so happened that people did give the magazine out for dow because it was a beautiful magazine. And it was great. But what I loved about it was, because we didn't write it, and we didn't bring people in to discuss things for the benefit of outsiders, we were able to be honest, and we were able to be open. And if you remember, sisters magazine was one of the first places where we discuss things like depression, things like you know, you know, low confidence, for example, you know, even dealing with
marital issues, we were really frank and open because it was our space. And I'm just grateful, because now obviously, there's so many more spaces like that online. So, you know, we're blessed in that respect. But I think having sisters as the central, the central theme, and the central participants of the discussion, if we were not being discussed by other people, whether they were scholars or non Muslims, or anybody else, it was our conversation, and we were talking to each other. And I think that's what made a lot of it's so powerful, and what you said about the confidence, the confidence comes from owning your space, and taking up space and being confident to
say, this is who we are. Good, bad, ugly, this is who we are, love us, don't love us, whatever. But this is who we are. And we are going to continue to be and live according to our values and strive to grow and evolve, etc. based on who we are not on who you need us to be or who you don't want us to be or who you think we are. Does that make sense? Yeah, because I think both of us have had experience of being on other people's platforms, right being phoned up by the BBC. Yeah, you know, whether mainstream or even other Muslim platforms. And often, if we're not owning that space, it's somebody else's agenda. Somebody else is pigeon holed.
They want you to talk about what they want you to talk about and address the issues that they feel are the big issues, right. But sometimes those big issues that people want us to talk about are actually not the things that are affecting us in our daily lives are not the things that are taking up the majority of our headspace. But when we are called out to speak, like, you know, you know, it's someone else's list, we want you to address this defend this because it wasn't a big issue.
And if you try to stray into anything else, it's like, oh, you're not fulfilling the little the remit of all that we had planned for? Yeah. But but at the same time, in the broader meaning of our right, which is not just our two non Muslims, but that were amongst each other, you know, supporting one another, to follow the deal. Yeah, supporting one another to think about things with the right mindset. So I think the sisters was absolutely, no, it was it was I think my my pushback was against a publication that was about presenting Islam to outsiders. Because when we do that, we are necessarily presenting usually a theoretical understanding. And also you're putting your best face
forward, right? Because it's, it's a presentation, so you don't allow to, you know, do a warts and all presentation, no one wants that, you know, they want that, you know, they want the inviting and appealing side. And I think not caring about that, and not focusing on that meant that we were able to be much more honest, always within an Islamic environment is within Islamic parameters, but able to really be ourselves. Yeah. And I think that's a huge luxury that that we had so.
So can we go back a little bit, because even though I've known you for many years, I've never really asked you about your mother, or your childhood, or, you know, except for what I read in my sister's lips, but I think, you know, there were certain aspects discussed there. But
so tell us about your mother, my mom.
Well, my parents were from South Africa. And my dad was white, and my mother was black, as you said in the bio. And so obviously, they were not allowed to be together under the apartheid laws. So they left the South Africa and caught and actually apply for asylum in the UK.
My dad was at Leeds University. That's why I was born in Leeds. And then we spent two years there. And then we went to Ethiopia. And we lived in Ethiopia for four years, and then we moved to Zimbabwe. So we were kind of following my dad a lot of the time. And my dad is and was a Marxist who really wanted to live in a country that was, you know, as Marxist as possible, which is why we went to Ethiopia. And then at the time, Zimbabwe was also just newly independent. So to be closer to home and closer to family that was still in South Africa. We went down to Zimbabwe and I'm
I'm very, very grateful as an African to have grown up in Africa, because I know that you have people in the African diaspora. So a lot of people don't know that I'm mixed race. So they don't know that I consider myself Black or African or anything. But I, when I meet black people, Muslim, or non Muslim who've grown up in the west or in the diaspora, I can see how valuable growing up in Africa was for me in terms of my confidence, and being grounded. And so I grew up in Zimbabwe, still an outsider, because we went to Zimbabwe, and anybody who's in Zimbabwe knows about when culture is based on the extended family. And so if you're not part of someone's extended family, you aren't
necessarily going to be on the outside. But, you know, sometimes, I think sometimes being on the outside of things even slightly gives you a different perspective. And for me, I feel privileged to be connected with so many identities, but still have a level of distance so that I'm able to be, I guess,
like circumspect about them. I'm not so deep in any identity that I can't see. Okay, this is going really well, this is an advantage. And this is this is actually really messed up over here. Like, I don't accept that. So anyway, growing up in Zimbabwe, you know, did the whole school thing was, you know, head girl of my school I was I was an A student. And in a private school, actually, it was a government school, but it was one of the best government schools. So it wasn't a private school. My dad was against private schools, so he would never have sent us there.
But in school, I was very heavily involved in public speaking in drama. They gave me a lot of leeway.
Because Sean is not my my mother tongue. So a lot of people around the world who have an accent is because their mother tongue is not English. But my mother tongue is English. So when I first arrived from Zimbabwe, I had a slight accent because a bit like Trevor Noah is a bit more like Trevor Noah his accent. But it's when I went to London, because I pick up accents really easily. It just, it's all gone. And so when I'm presenting Normally, I try to be very, you know, well spoken, and, you know, present myself very professionally. But if I'm on Instagram Live, you know, I might drop some, like, you know, what, and what you do in and like, just sort it out, and all of that kind of thing.
So, you know, it's it kind of blends, I guess.
But I really feel those years in school,
laid the groundwork for who I am today. In what way, the confidence
the because I did some crazy stuff. Like I really had this, this this visionary mentality from when I was about 1617. Like, once I wrote a whole musical, this whole play from scratch, it was completely original, I wrote all the songs, I wrote all the dialogue and everything, I actually got my school to perform it, you know, and, you know, I made the scripts, I did everything, I got my people to come and film it. We know, we designed the costumes, the whole thing. And, you know, public speaking, you know, one public sport competitions again, and again, and again, we did so. And that's something that I i lament for my children and a lot of kids in this generation, that school
is not such an enriching experience for many kids nowadays, because especially who are in state schools. They go in, drill, drill, drill, drill, drill, test, this test exam, exam exam. And the other stuff. Like in school life stuff, you know, if you're in the sports,
rich of the cultural and the sporting things, I don't see this, this generation having them because their funds have been cut so badly. And also teachers are so stretched now with, you know, the all the demands on their time and everything anyway, going completely off topic here. But when I was at school, I believed I could do anything. And my school pretty much played along. They gave me a lot of leeway. And I was the head girl. And I set up the centenary committee, and we did fundraising for this huge celebration of the schools, 100 years, people believed in me. And so I think I carried that with me, and it's kind of abdun flowed. But when I look at sort of hamdu, lillahi, rabbil,
aalameen, what I've been able to do, as a Muslim woman, as a mother, as someone who wears niqab, if I if my confidence hadn't been, like, laid when I was at school, I don't think I would have done half the things I did, I just wouldn't have had the guts to do it. Because it just was not the dumb thing. You know, when you're, you know, a Muslim, and you've got young children, you don't just decide I'm going to write a memoir. Who does that? You know, and I say, okay, to your agent. Okay. Yeah, go on. I can carry that off, you know, yeah, let's do it. You know, you don't just like start sending books out to publishers that you've never heard of, you know, writing about being Muslim and
Islam and stuff like that. You don't just leave the country to go and live in Egypt. You know, you don't just start a company, you just start a magazine, you know, so, I'm very, very grateful for that time and hamdulillah I think you also had quite a quite a
foundational experience when you were young, didn't you to give you that confidence? I loved school. Absolutely. My teachers were just constantly motivating me constantly.
It really, it's amazing because I also wrote a play.
And we performed it. Wow, amazing musical theater thing. But, you know, it was a play, I was the narrator as well. And so we've had quite similar experience in that regard. And
yeah, I mean, I wanted to be an astronaut. And my, my science teacher, I went to him and asked him, and he said,
and he's like, by the way, is looking at this girl with a hijab on right. I was a teenager at the time, I said, Well, what you should do is join the army if you should join the Air Force, because most astronauts are pilots. Yeah. And I literally found that RF when I joined the RAF cadets, you know, so, but that I left very soon afterwards, because it was just not my kind of scene, right. But it kind of tells you how important it is for in those early years, for the voices in your head to be the voices that say, you can figure it out? Yeah, there is a way you just have to figure out the path. And, and just giving those opportunities, which is why I was quite surprised that when I've
talked to you in the past about schooling, that you are quite, you know, not very positive about schooling. Because, for me, because of my positive schooling experience, I wanted my kids to have to go to school. Yeah, but the thing is, I wanted my kids to have what I had. But I see kids today don't really have that most majority of kids. I just see, well, like I said, so many schools have had their funding cut, they've had to let go of playing fields, you know, that vibrant school life, I think really happens mainly in private schools now, across the world, not just in the UK. But I see that they hold on to that, you know, having lots of clubs available, having lots of activities,
sports is taken very seriously and all of that. But in our state schools, I don't see that that to be the case. So you know, and I saw that when I was in Egypt as well. So obviously, my kids were, they spent about 10 years in Egypt. And you know, the Egyptian school system similarly is not based around extracurricular activities or anything like that. It's very much study, study, study, work, work, work, and you know, then go to the nadie, after school. So I think I think that's why I longed for my children to have that experience. But when I saw that, in general, in school today, the focus has shifted.
I started to just re examine, re examine my thoughts about that. And also, I think, even the schools that we went to in the school system that we went in, I think, for those who are primed for that we sold, but then there were others who maybe are not the A players, they are not the alpha males. And they didn't do so well, because of the emphasis on whatever. So, you know, I think it's, schooling is a tough one, school and education is a tough one. I think what I've seen over the years is that there's there's always a trade off, to have the Islamic side, and the manners, with the high academics and the cultural and sporting and facilities. It's almost as well nigh impossible. But so
you kind of have to make your choices. I really
do struggle and they muddled through there, they have to make a decision, and then they make decision based on what works for their particular circumstances. So like whenever sisters, you know, they often ask or discuss, what's the best way to educate your child?
You know, for me, it was like, there's no, there's no one way Mila, there's no one fit is there. What would you say to sisters when they, when they ask you that, you know, he's homeschooling the way is because I know, many sisters do homeschool. And they enjoy it, they get a lot out of it. And the children get a lot out of it. But there was a time in I don't know, if you were like you'd heard about this, but there was a time when homeschooling was very much being promoted as the only way right? So, unschooling right, um, and there was a sort of a guilt trip narrative. That basically schooling is like the lazy parents thing, you know.
And I think sometimes some of the people who were proponents of that, and sometimes they were scholars, right, famous scholars, especially from America, and
I think sometimes they might not have realized that not everyone has like, a lovely California and ranch right? To bring their kids is the ideal scenario for homeschooling. Anyway, most people, many people out there who are listening to that sort of feeling that homeschooling is the only way they're literally in a council flat, right? With very restricted resources, very restricted time.
I'm struggling with their marriage. You know? I mean, there's so many things going on. Yeah, that actually, it would probably be better for their kids, if they did have have an external space society somewhere. Right? So I think that kind of narrative of like, giving parents guilt trips you know about, about any any choice that I make, I think is kind of unhealthy. To be honest, I really I agree with you. But I also think that like, No, I can't see anybody having a monopoly on success at the moment right now. Because there are homeschoolers who have done amazingly well, the schools who have failed miserably. Same with Islamic schools, there's some some kids who've been through Islamic
school, and they've been amazingly successful, and others who've been scarred by the Islamic school system. Similarly, with state schools, so many private schools, so I don't think anyone right now can say our way was the best. Yes, we are the winners. And another thing as well, is, I feel that in those early days, the push for homeschooling came from a place of fear and anxiety about the greater society about the wider society and the influences of the wider society. I don't know whether we're talking about the same thing here. But I remember that when people had homeschooling as an option back in the day, it was to protect your children, it was to to keep them safe, away from the
influences of whatever and and be able to nurture them in a bubble almost.
And that has its drawbacks, because I feel that if you're going to homeschool, you must take extreme responsibility for preparing your child for the future. Which means that they must have an understanding of the outside world. So for me, this is my personal view, and somebody else can say, you know that that doesn't work for me. And again, everyone is preparing their children for different things. So some of our children will be the scholars of the future. Some of our children with the academics of the future, some will be the online marketing gurus of the future, some will be the homemakers of the future. The photographer's the designers, the bricklayers, the you know,
the architects, the accountants, the lawyers, and all of them will need their own specialized pathway towards that, that end goal, right. So somebody maybe who didn't do as much in terms of history or humanities is on a track to become an accountant anyway, so fair enough. But I feel like the breadth of education that a lot of homeschoolers kind of should have been going for, they were not going for because the focus was so narrow, the focus is make sure they've got maths and English, because they have to have maths and English, and then Quran, maybe Arabic, lots of Islamic Studies. And that's it. If you've done that, then you're good. And that's not I just don't agree with that.
Because I think that the children deserve to be opened up to experiences, you know, that we have access to and remember, as well that, like you're saying about being in a council flat, there are levels of access in the society, which many of us if we've come from immigrant backgrounds, or we live in the inner city, a lot of us don't have access to the culture yet or don't feel comfortable in those spaces. And it's something that's widely reported that children from, you know, immigrant families or it's, you know, like BM e families, don't access museums, don't access national parks, don't access the stuff that's out there that could really enrich our experience. You know, we know
people go walking, do relatives go walking on a Sunday afternoon? No, they don't.
know your sibling English. The National Trust their English, the English mine who is calling me.
But that is that is cultural capital that they have. And it's a very English thing. We learned that from school. So a lot of it from school. Right. Okay, because I don't think my parents would have no naturally as immigrants wouldn't have naturally thought of my dad did get us annual pass for the procession, the Natural History Museum. So he was that so it was going on that way, Michelle? Yeah. But yeah, you're absolutely right. I mean, by the way, I just want to make clear, I'm not saying that. If you live in a castle flying can't homeschool, right? I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is that I've actually met people who I wish would not homeschool. Because sometimes people are
actually quite neurotic about their kids. And that's what's leading them. But this is what I was saying is, is it coming from a place of fear and anxiety, and that's never going to be good, because anytime your action is spurred by fear and anxiety, or lack, you're not going to get good results from that because again, you're you're like trying to get away from something but you don't really have a vision for where you want to go. All you know is you don't want that. You don't want that whatever that scary thing is. But then now you're like
What do I do now? You know, what do I do buy some let's, you know, worksheets, you know, so those workbooks, make them sit down there, and then they get bored and they get fractious, and then you go give them the iPad, you know, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's not a small undertaking. And so when you want to take it on, I think you really need to have a vision for your family and for your children. And I think a lot of parents do. But I think maybe every parent needs to have that vision of where, where they're going, you know, rather than what they're trying to escape from, or trying to keep them safe from, right, where is it that you're going? What is it that you're building for your
children? What is that you're giving them for their future, because at the end of the day, our job as parents is to equip our children with the tools they will need to stand on their own two feet to be responsible, you know, dedicated slaves of Allah and citizens of the world. Right? Absolutely. So as long as you have that as your goal, then your your question is, how can I best prepare them for that, whether you're using school, whether it's homeschool, whether it's online school, whether it's private, Islamic tutors, whatever the case may be, you'd I as a parent just want to know, I have done my utmost to prepare these children to be to stand on their own two feet. Because I where i,
where i live up north, there is a huge thing about girls education, okay, and it still is an issue. So girls will be in school, because they have to be, but you mean Muslim, this is where Muslim girls will be in school, because, you know, obviously, they have to be legally, but it's not expected that they'll continue after 16. And I remember. And so there's always like that, that that tension, because the Muslim schools want to encourage the girls to do well, and to to push themselves to excel in a GCSEs. And some of the girls might want to do that on the one hand, but on the other hand, they know that there's no point because their parents are not going to let them do a levels
anyway, they're going to go into a course or get married, you know what I mean? So so there's this tension with for the school because the school is trying to support the parents, which is why the parents put them in the school in the first place, but then they're also trying to support the child, and what the child is capable of, and the potential of the child. So there's that. And another thing that just occurred to me was in Zimbabwe, and in South Africa, there are Muslim communities where the girls go to school, and finish at primary school, and then they stay home and they homeschool. But that homeschooling initially is like maybe a little bit of reading and writing
but of maths, no exams after that stage. And the whole idea is to keep us safe from society to keep us safe from corruption, so that when she gets married, she will be pure, she'll be a good Muslim wife. And that kind of thing is very scary for me. Because
take you as a parent out of the equation, that child is not equipped. And not not only that, that young woman for her to then raise the next generation, how well equipped is she to even raise children, you know, that are that are well prepared? I don't know. What do you think about that? I sometimes feel a bit uncomfortable, like
looking at other countries and cultures, and sort of thinking, Well, why why don't they care about the things that we care about?
Sometimes I think maybe they've got a reality that they're actually preparing their children for that we in the luxurious, decadent West, you know, are
not appreciative. All right. So maybe they're preparing them for the reality that they need to be thankful.
That could be the case. But in this case, nope. Because these are people who live in suburban Johannesburg, suburban Harare, which is just as you know, kind of what it was, he used decadence. Just as you know, just as cosmopolitan, you know, as the UK, it's really more about parents setting a path for their children, and restricting them to that path, because that's what they want for them. And that's what's acceptable as far as they're concerned. And I just feel, if you've not educated your daughter beyond standard seven, or whatever, I feel you've done a disservice. Because one day, she will have to have her own family. And she may not have you there to help her to
navigate because her kids will probably go into school as well. And we'll be growing up in a wider society. But anyway, also, where does the fear come from? I think, you know, it's important to find out like, Why Why are they so fearful? Because I remember I went to a, because initially I was homeschooling, right? And then I just felt that for mice, children, that schooling would be better. I made that decision, and they got mental. It's
really hard to do.
And I needed that community. I loved having that community, you know, and being able to meet those. And also I loved them having contact with other people, other teachers. Yeah, who weren't going to have a bad day, hopefully, you know, like my mom would probably, and stuff like that, right? So I feel like their lives have been
enriched by having different mentors. Yeah. So that worked for me. But I remember initially when we were doing homeschooling, I went to this course about homeschooling and the lady who was presenting she was, she made a really good point, she said,
homeschooling isn't about protecting the children from the world. It's about you introducing your children to the world. Yeah, I thought, wow, that shift, I love that. Even that shift in thinking is like, yes, there's the big bad world out there. Okay. But you're gonna go into that world. And I think, you know, the whole topic of the devouring mother. I don't know if you've heard of this, like, probably a Friday and thing, right? Sounds very,
you know, like, sort of the Oedipus complex or they call it Yeah. But anyway, the devouring mother idea is that, you know, especially boys, right, the mother can tend to over mollycoddle her sons, right? And not allow them to become people who can stand on their own two feet, because she kind of fears that they'll leave her. So there's almost like a payoff. I'm going to keep you close. I'm not going to make you can do anything. It sounds like a mother in law, to be honest. So that you can constantly be dependent on right. Yeah, yeah. And you will never leave. And I think that just to jump in on that, because this is something that's been coming up a lot where we've we're finding
that sort of young men, you know, even even the amount of power that a mother wields over the choice of her daughter in law. I saw posted that was a matchmaking event for female relatives. And I'm sorry, but I find that so strange. So again, a much a matchmaking event for female relatives. So the female relatives of the boy and the girl, yeah, come to an event where they're matching. Okay. And I'm sorry, but I find that so bizarre, because so Jani mother, mother's looking for daughters in law looking for daughters and daughters in laws and sisters in laws, right. And why I say that is because
maybe the sun center, he he may have but that's him written reneging on his responsibility. Because why I say that is that, as a mother, I may want a particular type of girl, you know, me, as mother of this boy, as the mother in law as the matriarch, I want a particular type of go, she's gonna fit in well, with my family, she's gonna do what I want her to do. She's the kind of girl that I can get along with, right.
But she's not the one marrying the girl. It's him who's marrying the girl. And the relationship will be between them. So for me the idea of going out and actually filtering the options for my son based on my needs and what I want. I find it very bizarre. And also get this thing this point, because I'm wondering how much of my son's true personality I know, enough to be able to say, Oh, no, he would like her. No, no, I think they would give me to get along. Do you know what I mean? Because especially nowadays, a lot of the time boys have got a completely different life outside of home, their identity out there on the street, at work, etc. can be so different to who they are at home.
So me as a mother, if I'm not very close with my son, like he's really honest with me very open with me. Okay? Because out of respect, he just shows me what I want to see. He shows me the side of him that he knows I approve of right? I'm gonna go look for a wife for him based on what I know of him. But how much do I really know about him? I don't know. I, I just find it very strange. And so as a mother in law, I can say we want somebody who's fair and educated, and from this village, right, but my question is always, did he tell you to look for them? Yeah. Are those his criteria? Is that what he wants in a wife? She must be fair, she needs to be educated Mama, she needs to come from our
village. Okay. Don't bring me anyone else except for someone who fulfills that? Or does he have a completely different set of criteria that she's not aware of? Like, he doesn't like funny women, for example. Yeah. I don't like women who are too jokey. Or I need someone with a sense of humor. If she doesn't have a sense of humor, I'm not going to get along with her, you know what I mean? Those more subtle things that a picture in a CV that don't do justice. So if you've got mums kind of like looking in, you know, comparing this one, it was pretty Oh, who's that? I just think it's bizarre. And I think, I think when it goes to extreme, and I know that a lot of brothers suffer, you know,
and they've sort of ancestors, you know, marry somebody who they really would have chosen. But at the same time, I'd like to present maybe a more nuanced or middle middle view, please do it. And that is that probably, it's a cultural thing. It is a cultural thing. And so I'll give you an example. My mother in law, when my husband was looking to get married, he's about 25. So she
She said to him, please, can you marry somebody who speaks or do? Yeah. Right. And
I just remember that she really wanted. But but it was kind of like a joint thing. Yeah. They wanted somebody who was kind of more traditional, right, from a more traditional kind of background, right. And so now, somebody could say, well, you know, we'll I don't want I'm not interested in order, right? It doesn't matter to me. Right. But I really think that the fact that she did express something, because she cares about the song, yes, she cares about and also, when we marry we are, especially in Asian faces, and we are two families coming together. Yeah.
There is a lot of inter intermingling and it kind of living together and all living very closely. Right. So I think by her expressing that it was kind of courageous and brave.
Because what then happened was, we got unlike a house on fire. Yes. Yeah. And I could speak to her. Yeah. And we could speak on a deep level. Yes, we could. And I loved her so much. Yes, she passed away.
A few years ago, but I loved her so much like, she treated me like a daughter. And but I think we underestimate sometimes the importance of language, you know,
same with other people. I know, I don't think they have the same relationship with their
sons or daughters in law, that can't speak their language. So that's just one example. But what I'm What I mean is that there is a balance as well, like, I can imagine my son saying to me, on my, you know, I want you to be involved. Yeah. Right.
Because that is the culture. Yes, you know, so. But when it got, but this is the thing is, you know, how involved, because if I say, Please marry someone who speaks or to do it, that's my right to say that. But let's just be clear that for me, it's not for you, my son. It's what I want. Okay. And what I'm saying is, just couldn't be for both of you, as well. But then he would have had that, then he would have already stipulated that if that was something that wasn't sometimes people don't don't think very far ahead, right. Like they get they get excited about the way someone looks. Right. Yeah, I'm just saying that
does have a place. And I think it's quite clever of young people. If they can keep their parents involved. I agree. But where they draw the line? So yeah, so for example, he was religious, and his parents who were not from that much of a religious background initially, but they became more religious. So hit for him. It was like, she must be like this. Yes. Right. Which was different to what they were expecting. Open to Yeah. So there was like, almost like a negotiation. Yeah, family negotiation. Yeah. I don't think that's healthy. Because I've seen mothers who don't say anything. Yeah. And then later, they sort of like, don't get home.
Yeah. And that's because they,
you know, didn't really express some of their needs isn't there's nothing wrong with expressing something that's going to bring harmony to the home. Now, when it gets to the extreme, right, where you're literally, you know, shutting things down, you're not allowing your son to have his own autonomy. And, and it's not a negotiation, but it's a it's
an emerging demands. But But I guess what I'm querying is, and maybe this is, again, I'm not from the culture. And certainly, we have a very different approach in Africa. Even in African traditional culture, it's nowhere near on the level of Asian cultures in terms of family involvement, and also family entitlement to make decisions on behalf of the children. In Africa, we have respect. But parents don't have that kind of blanket. This is what you're doing, you know, so we don't have that background. So I want to just acknowledge that right now. So that, you know, I am speaking as an outsider. But my my query, I guess, is more about the relationship between the man and the woman.
Right? And how much more do you mean, none of the man and his wife? Yeah, the actual husband and wife, right? Because getting along with your mother in law is great. But how much of that actually feeds into the ratio of I know that not getting along with your mother in law can cause problems? Right, I get that. But I think the issues of compatibility, true compatibility, true understanding and respect between the spouses, I think that has to be the foundation. It can't be she fits into our family, because that's I think I see or I've seen, and we have seen a lot of marriages where the two people in the marriage are simply not compatible. They tick the boxes, like she's from the right
type of family. He's from the right type of family, they seem both educated, it's all good, but as personalities and in terms of their visions for the future, etc. They're just not compatible. And so you either have a situation where you've got a lot of divorces or a lot of lovelessness
And, you know, I think that we as a community should be open to discussing some of these things in order to set our young people, especially the next generation, to set them up for success in their marriages, because I think what we are going to see is way more divorces, because already within our generation, divorce is so much more common than it was in our parents generation. And, and we're witnessing the fallout of that. And I think if we don't take action for the next generation now, in terms of really preparing the men and the women, young men and women for what marriage truly entails, but also for their relationship with themselves, you know, their own emotional well being
their mental health, you know, like how they show up as individuals. I think if we don't work on that from a younger age, and provide things across the board, like premarital counseling, like premarital training, like you know, people who are available for you to talk, if you really need like an outsider to come in, I think we need to be setting those up now. Otherwise, the next generation who are even more confused, to be fair than we are or worse, I think they're gonna have a really hard time of it while I while I'm male, and make it easy on me. And may Allah help us to make the like the balance choices. And its decisions. Because, to be honest, I can't really understand
that, that desire of a mother for her son to be completely dependent on her. Like, I'm waiting for them to leave. Okay, I hear that. I hear those go to unique go somewhere a little bit far away. I think I'll regret saying that, actually. Because you'll miss them so much. Yeah. But I actually love the idea of my son's standing on there, like, my son's make tea for me, right? So I came home off to the home feed Episode nukkad. And my mom was there because she was helping the kids. And I said, you said make me a cup of tea. And she said,
She said pool boys Really?
Just sit down Mom, it's okay. You'll make your cup of tea? Because she's the sort of Mum, who, when, you know, she would never have asked us I don't know why you kids, not just the boys, all of you. Yeah, she would never have asked any of you. Interesting, so easy for us. Right? So this is a theory about this. And I think that in previous generations, mothers invested their whole sense of identity and self worth in being able to Mother 100%. And any decrease in that mothering meant a decrease in their worth, you know, if my children no longer need me then like, what am I doing here? Basically, you know, and I think that, that, that it on the one hand, it's it makes sense. Because if you've
grown up believing that my main role in life is to be a mother, and to look after my children look after my home and cook 10 million dishes and and you know, make sure everyone's taken care of, and no one has to lift a finger.
Any decrease in that actually impacts on you. Because now you start to feel useless. Like, well, there's nothing for me to do, therefore, like, you know, what's, what's the point of me being around here? So it kind of ends up being almost a power play. Because, you know, in and out I think it's subconscious. I think you you nurture the dependence because you need that dependence to feel validated and to feel valued. And so any independence becomes threatening now because it's like, What do you mean, you can do that without me? No, no, I'm supposed to do that for you. Because I love you and I want to do this for you don't deprive me of the opportunity to serve you or to look
after you will try to care for you in that way. The Love Languages thing. It's a long language. Definitely. Yeah. For my mom, that's exactly like service chosen a love language. And she was an orphan. She grew up being quite a serb service minded person, right. all her life. Yeah. So I think it's not just about the cultural. I mean, I think a lot of mothers of that generation, they got a lot from that, you know, they've totally they felt fulfilled, it was fulfilling, it's fulfilling, it may feel good and meaningful. And it was, yeah. But I actually think for my mom, she just feels sorry for her grandkids.
You know, because I've noticed that parents feel sorry for their grandkids, if they've got much more so than
they did with you necessarily. Right. So it's like, they can't see that the discipline they gave you made you turn out the way you did, because they don't want to do the same discipline with the grandchildren. I want them to go through that was used to say jobs in Egypt, knocking around cooking wound, okay.
And but users like, you know, to her, he's still a baby. So yeah, I think is more about the grandchild thing, but, but that whole idea of like, you know, allowing children to actually be part of the family to do the chores to be in to be involved. Yeah. And those are life skills. You know,
You're gonna need them. Yeah, yeah. And it was it just I think, you know, the more capable, I'm not gonna say independent, I'll just use the word capable, the more capable our children are across the board, right? The more desirable there'll be as life partners, because I really see that with this next generation of girls, even the rhetoric, even amongst us in our generation, but definitely the next generation is, I don't want to marry a child, I don't want to marry somebody who I have to carry along who I have to develop, or I have to nurture, I have to make him into the man that he is going to be. I want to marry a partner. I think Michelle Obama mentioned this. She did. She talks
about marrying somebody who will be a strong teammate, you know, that if you both have, like strengths that are complimentary, as a team, you're going to go way further, rather than you're the strong one, and you marry like a weak teammate. And now you're overcompensating for the weakness of the other of the other partner, you know, and of course, we're talking about complimentary strengths here. So I'm not saying the woman, this man that or anything, but just complimentary. And I think the more capable our children out of me, and moving, especially Austin's, if you want him to be the head of the house, yet, for women to be leaders, the better, they have to be able to step up,
because otherwise you have a situation where he feels entitled to the name of a musician, but actually cannot back it up with action, with forethought, with confidence with certainty, he doesn't have any of that, but yet he feels the entitlement, because he's been told you are going to be the head of your household. So you want to have both, I would like that for my sons, where they've got the confidence and certainty to say, inshallah I can handle this, I can take on this responsibility, I am going to do everything I can to make sure I take care of my responsibilities, because that is why I'm head of the household to take care of my responsibilities. Rather than they've got no idea
about taking care of responsibilities, they don't believe they really can do it, they've got a lot of lack of lack of confidence, self esteem, issues, etc. But they still are given the stamp of head of the household. It's a bit of a cognitive dissonance, really, yeah. And I and I think it we see it, I keep seeing it again, and again, where you've got these marriages where the man will expect to be head of the household. So he's kind of honored in that way. I guess the big piece of chicken that's what we call him. You know, he got you know, I'll let dad go first or you know, these types of things. I'll do that sleeping, all of that kind of the the respect. Yeah, their respect, right.
But on the other hand, he's not actually leading the family. The wife is the one constantly thinking about, what's the next step? What's the next move? How can we improve? What about this trophy? Because women tend to be higher in
neuroticism, like from a from a psycho. Yeah, I've why is that though? No, no, not in neurotic. neuroticism isn't not a negative trait. And so it means where you overanalyze and you analyze things, right? And if you look at like, because I've been listening and reading quite a lot like these psychologists, yeah. And they say that
there's five big traits, right? And one of them is neuroticism. I know women on women tend to be on those very low in neuroticism, by the way.
I am as well, so yeah, so what I mean is like, okay, so I get that. And that's why it's really important when, at the time of choosing a spouse, that, you know, we do have the sort of longer term things in mind, right? Because, well, being attracted to somebody you get, but seriously, seriously, like,
right now. It's like 19, but I guess I have, but my point is, and I don't know how many young people listen to this, okay. But what everybody needs to understand is that our tastes are shaped by our environment, okay, they're not everything's not biological and into interior, and a lot of it being shaped by your environment. And if the the young people who are listening to this or people who have young people young, you know, kids who are growing up, they are growing up in age of Instagram, of, you know, what's the goal, it's called highlighting and, you know, shaping and, you know, fake eyelashes, fake nails, huge Botox lips, you know, certain types of body images, certain body shapes,
hair extensions. This is a world that growing up in So, to kind of, I'm sorry, and I don't, I don't mean to sound bad, but really park the attraction thing at the door when you're looking to get married, because the rest of the world is basing their attraction and the level of attraction with people on hooking up, because that's the culture that we live in. We live in a hookup culture is very short term.
gratification. And if the person looks good, you will get your short term gratification. So well done to you. However, we as Muslims have a very different intent when we go into marriage. And so you really need to try to detach yourself from, whether it's images from Instagram, or images from like TV, or even porn and things like that, you really need to cleanse yourself of that. So you can see true beauty, because that's what's going to last, you may think to yourself, as a young Muslim guy, no, I want a hot wife, I want a hot hijabi wife and all of this kind of thing. But that is surface. Not only is it surface, but it's actually fake. Because most of us girls, we know, you take
off all the highlighters and the shading and all of that kind of thing, you look completely different. So really, you know, kind of having that conversation with, you know, our boys and our girls to say, the attraction is nice, but just understand that physical attraction is not a reason to marry somebody and commit your whole life to them. Because it's just not going to last is it? Okay, if you're just going to have like a, you know, a, you know, a fling or whatever. But for us as Muslims, to really commit to somebody, we need to be willing to look so much deeper. And I think that's where parents come in, as well. Because sometimes, you know, as a young person, you're not.
Yeah, yeah. I think like, whenever if I had a proposal and stuff, I would be like, what do you think mom? And Dad, you know, just yeah.
The input is my parents were clever enough not to be overbearing, yeah. But to put those little pointers in there, bear in mind this. Yeah. And also to do the due diligence of researching who the person was really getting their references. My dad wasn't gonna, like, you know, not be involved in that. Yeah, definitely. So I do think that sometimes, in that regard, you know, just like it takes a village to raise a child, I agree. I think it takes a family to kind of make a marriage, I agree with you. And I think if the family is enlightened, yeah, that they understand that it is a relationship between, first of all, people who are going to start their own household eventually,
right. And we come from that standpoint, that is these two first, so let's make sure they're compatible. And then let's make sure we've ticked all the boxes that make this, this couple fits in with the wider picture, because for sure, like you said, If you know, if the if the family can be more embracing, and more open to, you know, Well, firstly, I think families need to be a lot less superficial themselves. And really, they also need to detach themselves from certain markers that we've had for a very long time that really do not bear any, any there have any bearing on the actual success of the marriage. Because just because somebody is from your village,
that doesn't mean she's going to get home with your son doesn't mean she's a nice person, doesn't mean he's a good guy, it doesn't mean that they will like each other, it means almost nothing. And for I guess the problem will or the issue will cease to be an issue really, because, you know, so many of our generation not even connected with a village back home. But I think what I'm what I'm saying is, you know, there's certain levels, I guess, that we want to look at, one of them being the compatibility of the spouses, and then the compatibility with the wider family. And you know, and then they then you have a situation where everyone's on board. And when everyone's on board, the
couple like each other, their families are on board. Now you've set up for success. Because if you guys have any problems, the family is there to support you. They want you to work, you know, they're rooting for you as a team, and they will be there to support you, and help you through, you know, any navigation that you need to do. And also when the children come along, you know, inshallah, they're still you know, available to you to to get advice and to get solace and to get childcare, hopefully. And, you know, but but really be there as a support network. And I think those marriages have probably got the best chance of succeeding, but the family has to be on their best behavior as
well. And that means not being superficial, not being judgmental, not being closed minded and not being selfish. Absolutely. And that takes maturity and foresight on their
journey for them as well. Yeah. Okay, so
let's go back to your mom.
dad, cuz it's intriguing to me that I understand like you. You seem to identify more with the African side, right? Well, if your dad was African, too, right, but why is white African? Yeah. So did he have like a South African accent? Was he Yeah, sorry. I'm just he grew up in South Africa. Right. He says he's, you know, obviously, ancestors are Scottish. But he grew up in South Africa. My my dad is an Africanist. So it made sense like he pretty much integrated himself into my
Mother's culture. So he they had a traditional marriage. He spoke language they spoke Zulu together then spoke closer and just he was he integrated into African culture. So I guess that's partly why I don't really lefty Yeah, yeah.
But yeah, so
tell tell us about him You still got, you know a relationship with him. My dad is. Yeah, he's just one of my heroes, I guess I am a 100% daddy's go. He's an intellectual and academic theater person. He's an offer, you know, university professor, a Marxist. And he, he just had a profound effect on me as as a child. I mean, we were always close. And I just always wanted his approval. And he was one of those fathers who was quite hard to please. So I remember once I came home with 98% in my test, and he said, What happened to the present? Oh, no.
Yeah, he did. So he had, you know, really quite high expectations of us. But on the other hand, is very anti establishment terian. So he did not approve of me coming to the UK for University. He wants me to stay in Africa, stay in Zimbabwe and really contribute to the cultural life of Zimbabwe. They're,
you know, and and not not to not leave to go to, you know, ready England.
Mashallah, even though it was difficult for him to accept me becoming Muslim initially. He's like now one of my biggest fans, he's always defending Islam to other people. And he is a huge proponent of niqab and polygamy. So there you go.
It's nice to invite him on. Yes. When he comes to me, he said he swore he will never come to England again. So that what is that? Is that the whole Scottish thing? It is the Scottish thing, and also England as a colonial power and as an imperialist engine. Now he's just anti England completely.
So might not be able to get him into the the podcast.
We'd have to do like a satellite link or something like that. And so you lost your mom. How old were you? I know, My son obeyed was about one. So that would be 2003 2004. So it wasn't fair for a while ago. And I think the for me the the biggest. I realized now so one of the biggest sadnesses for me really, is that my mom never got to see from my sister's lips come out. And so she missed all of that she missed. From my sister's lips. She missed, you know, sisters magazine. She missed.
I guess who who I ended up, you know, who I became in the end? Because she felt sad for me. And my dad did too, you know, felt sad for me when I became Muslim because she thought that I had had so much potential and she she just thought I was an amazing girl. And she felt that when I became Muslim, you know, I started writing a call Jill, Bab socks and sandals, you know, and all of that. And she I think she just felt like that's that's it for her. You know, she got married. She got pregnant. She had a baby now she's in this Muslim thing. And that's it. So I guess what that alarm but that's one of the sadnesses for me that she never did get to see me shine, I guess. But
Alhamdulillah luckily had lice later sometimes. And humbler? Your father's?
Yes. My father came with me. He was my Muslim on my South Africa tour. He ended up giving a talk in the masjid. These these high school boys. I was talking
about me becoming Muslim. I was talking to the girls and then they said, Oh, you know, this is Nyima v. Roberts dad, he's gonna say he's on was too. So boys, you know, give him some
stood up. And you know, he had to just talk about me becoming Muslim. I don't know what he said. But it was so funny. It was so funny. Because Yeah, at the time, he was completely agnostic, but he managed to toe the line and, you know, say something that was, you know, relevant and appropriate. So I was very proud of him. I mean,
I heard Malcolm Gladwell, you know, the author, also talking about this topic of like,
growing up in a place where you will, you are the majority.
Yeah, cuz he was, I think he his mother is Jamaican. I didn't know that. Yeah. His mother was Jamaican, his dad was English.
And so he was being asked about, like, you know, he had a very positive childhood, and his mother who saw his mother and how she was just really confident and never really saw racism, or will have cut the color of his skin as an issue.
And he made the comment that, that he's lived in America, and you see in the African American experience you
thinks there is a big difference between the people who grew up in lands where they were the majority. Yeah, so Africans who emigrate to America? And even Jamaicans, right? And people who are the minority? Yeah. He felt that, you know, has an impact on the psychology. So I think it impacts on everybody's psychology you imagine rolling, right, you might think in Romany children.
Well, Romanians are typically minorities everywhere. So that's probably not a very good example. But you know, any minority in the West, you compare the young people who grow up in that country, versus the young people from back home. completely different. Because there's a sense of belonging, and normality, normality. You are just normal, you just the norm, you know, and whether you're black, or you're Brown, or whatever it is, you're the norm. And it's not even an issue. It's not even something you pay attention to, per se, back home, we have other things that we pay attention to right, like which tribe you're from, or you know which village you came from originally, or
whatever, which religion. But as for racial identity, it's not even a question about it. It's just something that's normal. And it's just not even you don't literally you hardly pay attention to it. And that gives you a sense of just common rootedness that growing up in the West as a sometimes despised minority. That's going to completely change your outlook and your outlook. So if you imagine, you know, young, Pakistani, and Indian children, Caribbean kids, African kids who would grew up in the UK in the 70s, and 80s, for example, when racism was very open, when there were no black role models or Asian role models, when there were no books with black and Asian characters,
you know, when the only time you ever heard about black and Asian people was in a criminal context, a bit similar to how Muslims are today, you can imagine the effect that would have had on their psyche the shame, but I think the humiliate schauder parents were and more secure a security as they were in their,
their own skin and background, I think that passes on to the kids because I was just thinking like, I know, it sounds a bit funny, but you know, the whole Bollywood culture, right? And Indian clothes Indians.
I think, having had that, you know, growing up just there in the background, even if we weren't fully like India, but just the fact that Indians especially like, they do feel proud of their culture. They do think that clothes a better.
Food is better. Yeah, we do have that psychology. Right. Yeah. Parents obviously grew up as the not as minorities. Right. I do think that that policies on as well, you know, I think there's a difference between how Indians and Pakistanis experience the the immigrant experience and UK Do you think there is compared to other immigrants, Indians and Pakistanis? The two of them? Oh, I'm,
I'm not sure. Because I've been with like, growing up, I've been with Indians and Pakistanis, I've never really noticed much of a difference.
But maybe, you know, they might say otherwise. I mean, all our family friends with Buxton
will do speaking man. Yeah. I think the probably the parents having that pride, and almost a cultural chauvinism. Really, you know, like, you know, we all better you know, got a this and that, and, you know, and I get that, but I think Western about that. Well, but but you know what I mean, it is like, but it's like the whole thing of like, when you when you were called a Paki for the first time. Yeah. And you'd come home and dad, they somebody called me a packet. Right? And that is like, that's it. That's a good thing. Okay. I was like, is it? He's Uh huh. buck, buck. Buck means clean.
Is the clean Land of the clean. That's what it means. Land of purity. So it's all flipped around? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that was clever.
Do you see like, you'd sort of thing? Yeah, see, they think they insulting us? Yeah, they're actually calling us pure, you know? Wow.
Yeah. So stuff like that. Yeah.
Yeah, they will stuff like that, because there was a lot of racism in the 80s. And
70s, I think was even worse.
Yeah, but 100 Eli, you know,
every I just, you know, just to kind of divert the conversation a little bit. I think there will be challenges with every generation. And there always have been challenges, you know, that I think is from Dickens. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. And the thing is, it's always the best of times and the worst of times, if you think about it, depending on your perspective, depending on who you are within that context. And I think, you know, I'm grateful to Allah subhanaw taala for all the good things that we've experienced in our lives as Muslims in the UK
While cognizant of the fact that we've had our fair share of challenges, but again, every challenge is an opportunity to rise. And I want to just reiterate that every challenge is an opportunity to grow, and to rise and to to evolve, really. And I think that we have been doing that. And, you know, whether it's a personal challenge, or it's a societal challenge, Allah knows that he will never, he has already told us he will not burden us more than we can bear. And so every time that there is, you know, whatever the challenges, I think it's always good to remember that Allah will never let us go under with that, as long as we believe that we can rise to this challenge, and that we have the
capacity to, to bear whatever it is, and to get the good at the end of it, you know, to come out of that trial or that test better. I think that that's really important to to look at, because sometimes we can get into the habit of kind of like sitting down and just naming all the difficulties. And you know, like, so many things are going wrong, you know, this almost there's, you know, like, everything's falling apart, right. But I think that probably people throughout history have had been able to have that conversation. Look at the First World War, for example, look how many millions died in the First World War for nothing.
They could have had that conversation, then. I think it's throughout history, you know, throughout history, you could have been sitting there talking about the number of people who lost their lives senselessly under ABCD regime, and on the other hand, scientific achievements, or amazing works of art, or flourishing of faith, right happening at the same time, which is so crazy. And I see that happening with us. And I think the next generation will have something similar, they will have their amazing flourishing, and their amazing blossoming and their amazing growth. And they will have challenges and trials and fitness, at the end of the day that they have to come to terms with
because, hey, I had to do the right hashtag, I had to dunya You know, this is the center of this life. So I feel like, on the one hand, when I think about the the issues that we face, as individuals, as sisters, as brothers, as families, as communities, you know, I get quite passionate about it, but then I'm glad I can get passionate about it, because it means I still got some fighting me, you know, there's still some fire there, there's still some hope there that we can overcome this, the worst for me, is when we accept to be victims, and we just accept to be at the mercy of fate. And like, you know, like, just give up like, there's nothing more to say nothing more
to do nothing more to fight it, just accept it as it is shrug your shoulders and say, Well, I guess that's the end of that. And I feel like as long as we keep noticing, as long as we keep paying attention, as long as we keep thinking of solutions, making the law, being hopeful, you understand, like and keeping that vision that we have top of mind and working towards that vision. If a law takes our life in that state hamdulillah and I think never falling into a victim mentality. Yes. There are plenty of people that you know, I'm so at that moment, right. And, like, I would say there's quite a heavy kind of leftist influence there. Right? You can feel it like in the lecture
And sometimes the way the discourse goes,
it kind of encourages me to look at myself as a victim.
The whole intersectionality thing. Yeah, I'm a woman.
Apparently, I'm Brown. So I'm disadvantaged. So I'm a minority. I'm this one. But you know, when people are talking at me like that, I will never accept that. I'm sitting there thinking, Wait a minute, who? Who told you on disadvantage? I will never accept that. I never grew up thinking I was disadvantaged. Yeah, I grew up next to white people. Yeah, who I consider disadvantaged. Now, I'm not joking. I know. I get you. I know what you're talking about. Yes. And I thought, well, you know, I've got parents, I got Islam I've got But you see,
I've got everything. This is the amazing thing because you didn't see yourself as disadvantaged because in your head, you did not believe the narrative that you're disadvantaged Guess what? Your reality began to reflect what you believed in your head, which is that you're not at a disadvantage if we are in the same boat. Muslim widow, divorcee rare and five kids niqab wearer, whatever the case may be someone out there will say to me, you're disadvantaged because of that, you won't get ahead because of that, you know, you you're a victim of so and so. So because of that back again, I'm just like, forget you.
To tell me that I'm disadvantaged. You created this kind of, you know, construct of race you created this construct of, I don't necessarily see myself as a brown person. That's not my that's not my primary.
Yeah, I don't see myself as Indian. That's not my primary identity. Muslim me, right. That's my primary thing that I associate
myself with. And so sometimes I find it quite
funny. It is funny. Yes, yeah. People who think they're doing you a favor? Yes. I ended. Yeah. Yeah. putting you down. But also at the same time, I think it's quite unjust because there are white people out there. Right. You're suffering will be very disappointed. Yes. Right. They don't have the language to describe that disadvantage, because on paper on paper, they're privileged. Right. That's really interesting. Yeah. So does that mean you don't believe in white privilege? I can't believe we went there. But yeah, I'm asking you anyway.
I think as a as a as a concept, do you not believe in it?
I need to look into it more. Yeah. Before I make any kind of comment on that. But I definitely think a lot of the time what we called white privilege is majority privilege. Yeah, right. dominant culture. I call it dominant.
dominant culture, then yeah, they will be privileged. Yes. In this sketch.
Goodness gracious me sketch, right. Where the white guy is the minority. And the Indians are like, around the table. Yeah. And they're like the daily. They call it another one. They called it. It's a Daily Mail. But yes, indeed. Yeah. And they just won't pronounce his name. Right. You know, his name is Jonathan. And they call him like,
they do everything. Yeah. So they so flip to the whole Yeah. But it's quite funny, because actually, like, a white person in, you know, in a place where he is the minority. Yeah.
I'm not saying he wouldn't do to colonialism, and due to the history, he wouldn't be treated specially. Right. I'm not saying that. But no, it would still be at a disadvantage, he would still be at a disadvantage. majority culture. Yeah, that makes
and the majority culture here has to be, yeah, thank you still be at a disadvantage, because he just doesn't have the upper hand. He has another language, you don't understand the culture. He doesn't know his way around. He doesn't know the traditions, he doesn't know, the nuances of language and how to read people and, you know, the cultural cues and all of that. So for sure, he would definitely have to feel at a disadvantage. But I just want to pick up on something that you said about identity. And and for me, I am me. Yeah, that's my primary identity. I happen to be Muslim, and female. And you know, this, that this that this that, but the culmination of all of that is that
I'm me, uniquely me, and nobody else is me. And no one can take my place. No one can take your place. No one can take any of the readers or listeners or viewers places, right? And so we choose how we want to show up in the world. If I want to show up as a victim, it's a choice. I can choose to believe what everyone's telling me because most of us can use any of our identities, because we're all at intersections now. Anyway, right? We're all intersectional every one of us
that word really why?
Because I feel like it's being forced onto everyone. And there's a certain kind of language,
especially in the university space, okay. There's a certain kind of
language that if you depart from it, you are a kind of seen as a what's the word?
a blasphemer? Almost. But the thing is, I mean, for me, the intersection. So say, for example, in your case, you're Indian, and you're Muslim. So one could say that those two identities are aligned. Okay, that there's not necessarily that much, although, of course, there's Hindu nationalism and everything, but there are many, many Indian Muslims. Okay, so that's, there's no contradiction there. Once you involve being British in that, which I believe you consider yourself to be, you are at an intersection, because being British means one thing, quote, unquote, and being Indian and Muslim might mean something different. So you're all every single human being, I know, but that's
what I'm saying. We're all intersections, even white people, you know? Well, the sections that don't give me an example of that, okay, because there are an infinite number of categories you could put people in, but
who gets to decide the categories? I think that it's whether they're at odds with each other or not. That's how I kind of define whether you're at an intersection because a poor white person,
being a white person and being poor are not misaligned. They're not an intersection, because they're all poor white people. Do you know what I mean? Like, there isn't like a contradiction there between being poor and being white. Because assuming that there are contradictions then, well, I for me, for example, I'm black, and I'm Muslim. And we've been talking a lot about the intersection between being black and Muslim. Okay. Now for me the intersectionality is that as a Muslim I have certain priorities, okay. And I have an I show up in a particular way in the world and I'm seeing a certain way by the world
As a black person, there are other things that come into play. And there are other issues that come into play. And some of those are found within my faith community as well. So we've been talking about racism in the community, etc. So, in a way, it's like for my children, they can go, My children are black, their father's Guardian, they can go into Muslim spaces, and not feel welcome, because of the color of their skin. And where we live, that happens a lot. Because if you go into a dominant, you know, Indian Masjid, where the Imam is speaking Gujarati and everyone else speaks Gujarati, you are not welcome that on the basis of your face, because you're an outsider on the
basis of your race and your culture, right. So, so but then equally, if my boys go into a black environment, where there's loads of black boys there, they will find that there are certain things that although they look like everyone else, they don't necessarily fit in there either. Because they have a different set of values, they have a different set of you know, norms and a different belief system. So for that is an intersection, because not only are my boys discriminated against or maybe excluded, not necessarily discriminated, but excluded in certain Muslim spaces, but they also show up in the wider world as a black boy. And being a black boy in this society has particular
connotations. certain expectations are made of you certain stereotypes, people have a view, you know, you're expected to speak a certain way to have a certain attitude. If you do or you don't people judge you on that basis. So they are very much intersectional. And not only are they black boys, but they're also African. And they grew up in Egypt. So they're not like black British boys either. Does that make sense that they have so many intersections? I mean, like I said, I do think that I guess it depends on if you consider those different aspects to be disadvantaged, necessarily, no. And if we give that narrative, and I feel like the moment
all right, okay, I'm operating from a space of diversity, and inclusion. And so for me, it's more a case of my intersecting identities are what makes me unique and powerful. Not what makes me disadvantage, I don't accept that. That's what I'm saying is I will not accept someone saying to me, because you're Muslim, you're disadvantaged because you're a woman, you're disadvantaged because you're mixed race or you're African, or you're a divorcee, or a widow, whatever your disadvantage, I won't accept that. I consider those intersecting identities as what makes me unique and powerful, powerful to do what Allah subhanaw taala put me on this earth to do. But then why can't we just say
people are individuals? Because that's exactly what that is? Well, that's true in the sense that there are infinite numbers of ways you could you could divide a person, right, and in the different boxes, yeah, put them in.
Anyway, I just think that, you know, we need to be careful, like,
especially when we're in spaces where other people do have ideologies that have political ideologies, and other ideologies that they kind of have become the more we without even realizing it kind of adopt it without necessarily and that's why I'm trying to be careful. Like, I'd like to look into it a bit more. Yeah, fair enough to make a comment, but the aspect of it I've been exposed to, doesn't sit well.
Because I feel like it's making me conscious of something that I wasn't really conscious of. That's so interesting. You see, because in the world, you're talking about being conscious is the point. It's like when you're growing up as a Muslim, for example, I'm sure you had this experience. I'm sure there was a time when you didn't know anything about Gaza. Or you didn't know anything about the Palestinian cause, know anything about Chechnya, and about Bosnia and all of that, right. But at a certain point, people became conscious. Yeah, all of these in justices. And then your view of everything kind of changes, because now you're not, you're you're conscious. Now you're no longer
blind to kind of what's happening on a geopolitical level, you are now aware of it, and you're conscious, and it will color the way that you see things it will, it changes your paradigm of the world. And I think that that is similar to everything. So if at one point in your life, you didn't recognize discrimination, and you become conscious to it, now your eyes are open. If at one point you didn't recognize racism, because you just were unconscious, maybe it was even happening, you didn't weren't aware of it. It's like me, when I work, when I walk in the street, I don't pay attention to people. So I don't often see people looking at me or kind of reacting to me in any
particular way because I consciously don't pay attention. And that's because I want to just be able to walk in the world whole and powerful and strong and not be impacted by what's happening on the outside. Someone who can be observing me can see what's actually happening. Oh, those people were pointing those people were laughing or those people gave you a funny look or whatever. Yeah, but I choose to be unconscious of that. Because of that.
allows me to be who I want to be in this world. And maybe what you're talking about is that it's like, I'd rather be unconscious, if being conscious makes me feel like a victim. Does that does that? Does that make sense? Do you think that that's what's happening? Maybe I don't think I want to be unconscious of injustice. It's not that it's just that I am going to push back against somebody putting me into boxes, yes. And categorizations because of their ideology and political kind of agenda.
And I'm just supposed to accept it, because which way you want me to go? Because they support BDS, you know, yeah. So I think as Muslims, you have to be really conscious. You know, that. What are we just adopting without questioning it? Because it sounds sounds right. Yeah. Okay. But what is the natural consequence of it? Yeah. Is it causing more division? Is it making us more? Less united? No.
is the end goal to be united you think?
as Muslims? No. As a society?
As a society? Yeah. Because definitely what you're talking about the intersections and you know, why COVID cetera, you know, the end goal is not for unity. The end goal is for justice, or to address or to address injustice. Yeah, that's what is, you know, on paper, that's what it is. But do you do dispute that? Do you think that might not be what it's all about?
Yeah, I don't I don't think that's what it's really about. Okay. I think. And I think, for us as Muslims,
we should really look at the framework that Islam has given us. And if that framework doesn't over emphasize certain things, I think we should strive not to overemphasize those things. And if there's injustice, we need to solve that injustice. It's not that we don't address injustice, but we don't need to adopt the language ideology of external people to,
to kind of solve justice. And I think we were at peril if we do that, because sometimes we don't see the natural consequences of that. And the fact that somebody is actually trying to fit us into their little,
you know, world a narrative.
So yeah, I think caution, I guess, I guess, yes, yeah. Caution is always good with most things. There's something I really wanted to explore with you. And so I'm going to go straight into it because,
you know, this is not a part of the discussion.
So you were, you're a successful writer. You had these wonderful books, you know, Mashallah, my kids have benefited from your book so much. Like, I remember the first book, I sold us with the swelling, first children's book, and I didn't even know it was you.
And I just feel
so amazing, I'm gonna get my daughter is gonna love her job, you know, from just reading this book and looking at how, looking at it from that confident, owning perspective. So.
So you, you had all of that success, and you, your children, you're married, and you're living in Egypt, and I visited you I saw, Mashallah, you're living in a very comfortable way, you know, handler seemed to me. Yeah, my solid was good, too. And you cooked good food.
It wasn't solid.
And then I heard I was sitting in London, and I forgotten exactly how but I think it was on social media, that I saw that suddenly your husband had gone into hospital.
And I remember those days, like, we were praying so much.
And then eventually, he passed away.
And I felt like it was a gut punch, you know, like,
that little me in England, right? Like feeling like that, for you.
Talk about that. Tell us what was it like? What does that mean?
And what did it mean?
at the time, anybody who was following me on social media remembers that I wrote a lot of poetry. And one of the poems that I wrote was all changed, I think it was called, and it's really about the axis of your world, just tilting
where everything has changed, changed utterly.
Obviously, it's something that we didn't expect. You know, there weren't, you know, no signs that not really not at the time anyway, I look back, you know, he hadn't been well for a good few months. But,
you know, nobody expected that to happen. Because we just found him in the morning. He was, you know, semi conscious and he had had a stroke and
And then within and then he went into a coma. And then within two weeks he had passed away. And I suppose
I am grateful for those two weeks because it allowed me to work through my emotions.
And one of the things that I that I really remember from that time is this an overwhelming sense of gratitude. And and some people don't believe me when I say this, or they think that it's weird.
But I had a, you know, I had a good 15 year run with him, I liked him. And he was a lovely man, Mashallah, you know, and, you know, my kids asked me, you know, if it hadn't died, would you guys still be together? And I'm like, 100%, because we were just like, hand in glove, you know. And so the gratitude was for everything that we had had the good, the bad, the highs, the lows, you know, and, and I knew because of being in a Muslim community, that that is, it's rare. Yeah, there are people that we know who are happily married, but I knew a lot of people who were not happily married, and who, you know, some people are married for their whole lives, and never taste even the
10th of what we had. So I was grateful to Allah for that. Because he granted me that for those 15 years. So there was really never a moment where I was like, Why me? Why now? This is unfair, it really was that never crossed my mind. It was really like, you know, thank you for the 15 years, because they were amazing. You know, and if I never have that, again, I've had enough, you know what I mean? It's like, I've had my cup full. And I'm grateful for that. So so that was a huge thing. And then, of course, there were questions about his states, because after the stroke, there was brain damage. And they thought maybe he would come, you know, he would wake up again. And so there was the
whole conversation as to what's going to happen next, he had his business that he was running in Egypt, then there was the question of, you know, if he did wake up, and he was brain damaged, what would that look like? What would that mean? Would we have to leave Egypt for sure, we'd have to gone back to the UK. You know, he may never be able to talk, he may not recognize us, he may not be able to walk? Is that what we want for him? How would he feel about that? And all of that, all those thoughts.
And then some people are, and this is I'm just being honest with you here. Some people was another thing is, I just want to say, you know, for everybody who didn't make dinner for us in that time, I just want to say, may Allah reward you with head because there was such a huge outpouring of love and support and sympathy, it was crazy. And I will never, never forget that and even just the kindness of strangers letting me stay in their apartment, so I could be close to the hospital to go every day. And just so so many amazing experiences upon Allah. And
what I wanted to say was
the, the the outpouring that came from everybody. And this this, this kind of this warmth, this wave of sympathy that came, some people thought that sending these stories of relatives who had been in a coma for three months, or a year or three years and who had woken up, they thought that that was inspiring for me. But actually, it was the least inspiring thing possible because I didn't want him to be in a coma for six months. I didn't want him to be in a coma for a year or for three years. And for our lives to be on hold for three months, six months, a year, three years, five years, 10 years, someone sent me a thing and said, Oh, I know so and so and they were in a coma for 10 years and
Marshall. After that they woke up and I was like I was a biller. I don't want that for him. I don't want that for us. So Allah keep him in here or take him in here. Because also we had just come back from Amara as a family. He had taken us all for Umrah the year before we had done Hajj together, so he had done Hajj twice. And I really felt if Allah you want to take him now, this is as good a time as any al hamdu Lillahi Rabbil alameen. So it really was a case of he is not mine
belongs to Allah. And Allah chooses to take him back, I respect that. You know, and I accept. And that really was my attitude. Throughout it all I accept first, that if you wish to take him back, then you have every right to do so. And I will be in gratitude forever for what you gave me while he was here. That's the first thing. And second thing. I know that you've left me here for a reason.
I know that if he pauses, and I'm left here in charge of these children in charge of this work in charge of this company. There's a reason for that. And there is a huge wisdom and Baraka in it for me. So I never for one minute thought What am I going to do now? What's going to happen with my life? I was like, well, I've got something planned for me. Allows got greatness planned for us and I tell that to my kids. So Allah is going to keep us we are going to be okay and we're going to be better than okay. We are going to do and I remember when I was in Malaysia for the Arts Festival and
I read some poetry and I did like a presentations huge stadium. And everybody was there. Oh my gosh. suppiler la Amir's today man Peter Gould Peter Saunders.
I wasn't a Baba Ali like all these Muslims are like all these Muslim artists with Espanola and Muslim Bilaal, just everybody, anyway, and I did my presentation and I said, everybody who's here, who's going through a trial, who's been through something, and it's almost at the edge of the brink, know that you're still standing for a reason. And a Lost Planet, Allah will not forsake you. And so if you've gone through a trial, but you're still holding on, I want you to stand up. And I want you to say, I'm still standing.
And I will never forget that moment, I'd see Amir Suleiman, because he was told, you know, as I remember him, and he was I was still standing. And it was this, this the celebration of life. And I feel like, at the time, so many sisters reached out to me who had left lost their husbands as well. And you know, so you know, we were talking and, you know, they were talking to me, and I was kind of talking to them. And I noticed a trend. And the trend was, for many women, when their husband passes away, they feel lost, because they don't know what they're supposed to be doing now. And there's this sense that life will never be good again. They'll never be happy again. And they kind of
literally just waiting for their time. They even if they have kids, I remember many of them who would tell me like, the only reason I get up in the morning is for my kids. If it wasn't for the fact that I had kids, I would stay in bed all the time. And I just don't understand that. Because myself as an individual, I know I have worth and I have work to do in this world. You know, like Allah left me here, there must be something that I need to do, there must be some work that is that is waiting for me some purpose that our Lost Planet Allah has for me, and I need to be prepared to do it. I need to be ready to show up. And so after they had done everything, and you take your time
in order to mourn and to cleanse and to heal, I was just ready to start living. And I was like, a lot didn't leave me here for a foolish purpose. I'm here for a reason. And I don't want to
miss out on whatever bacala has got planned for me, even though I loved my husband dearly. And even though we were together for 15 years, and we had five kids together, there is still life.
And that has been my reality, because that's what I expected. And so and hamdulillah that's been that's been my reality. So
would you say that you went through phases, those grief common phases or because,
you know, what you've just described sounds like a real, like, the fact that you had that mindset. Sounds like a real blessing.
I've done wouldn't ever want to proclaim to be like an expert on grief, because I think everybody grieves differently. I grieved through my poetry. That was how I processed my feelings. And you know, I wrote I write about it in my upcoming book. And actually, I, it was very difficult for me to write about my husband in my upcoming book show up, because it just feels like such a long time ago. And I felt like I had moved on from those feelings. But in order to be able to write about it, I had to go back there again, I had to go back to the time when I couldn't sleep in our bed, because that's where we had found him. So I was sleeping on the bunk bed. You know, in my boys room. You
know, I remember the time because I some people like to keep everything. I didn't want to ever anything, I just wanted to keep a few clothes. But because I couldn't go into that room because we had designed that bedroom together and had it made together. So I told my people to sell it. And I remember when the lady came to dismantle it, because that's what they do. They dismantle everything. And I remember that I came to the door.
And I saw everything broken up to be taken out. And I just broke down. You know, I was just like,
I just I just broke down, I had to like move out of the doorway and just go into the other room. Because it really is. You know, I remember I wrote a poem about this. And maybe we can share it with, you know, share it with the readers at some point. But, you know, I remember one of the kids broke one of his mugs. And I wrote a poem about it. And I said, you know, one of the kids dropped your mug today. It felt like another piece of you leaving this earth. And so it really is like this process of letting go and some people don't Some people prefer to keep everything and preserve that. My coping mechanism was to let go. And so to be able to let him go, I had to let those things go.
And maybe I did it really just on the spur of them.
moment, I don't know, because then afterwards, when I came back to our flat after two years, I had been thinking of selling the house. This is the one in Egypt. And by that time, I had remarried and everything. But when I came back to the house, I looked around and I saw, we had designed that house together, because it was a flat in rehab. And we had had the plans and we had got every the builders to come in and remodeled the whole place. And I came in and I said, we're never selling this house.
This was your dad's house, this was our house that we created together. And inshallah we'll never selling this house because this should be part of our family, for always, I don't need the bed, couldn't sleep on the bed anyway, because it was just too It was too close, when visitors would come, they slept in that room, I couldn't go in there. So I didn't want the the bed, I didn't want the wardrobe. We kept some of the clothes for his sons. But most of the stuff I gave to charity, but said this house that we created together, this will stay in our family in Sharla. Because he put so much of himself into it, you know, and I remember just thinking that and i when i when i was running
his business, which is another story I tell in the book, a lot of people don't know that I had to take over his his company, which I didn't even know about an even know what work they did. And then they had to step in after six days as the new CEO 300 employees. So how long which was another, another like stretch, you know,
you know, in my head that I was going that was a stretch, that was a stretch. But again, again, always going back to that yaqeen I wouldn't have put me here I couldn't handle it. If you were not going to help me get through this you would not have put me in this situation. So I have to trust that and believe that I've got this locally for long enough sound. exactly exactly same with my children. And I remember when I decided to to lead to to let go of that company, the friend said to me, your husband and I are Hamels biggest legacy is his children. So if the business is is is hampering your ability to be there for his children, then we have to let the business go and focus
on the children because that's his legacy. That's the piece of him that will live on dislike all of us, the piece of us that will live on once we returned to allies, whatever we've implanted in our kids, right. And that continues through their bloodline in Sharla. So it was, um, you know, one of those,
like pivotal moments, I guess, in my life. And I'm just grateful to Allah subhanaw taala, because the mindset wasn't something that I actively cultivated, I'll just put it there.
I just instinctively had that response, to be grateful for it was to know that better is coming to know that there's a wisdom behind all of this as a purpose behind all of this, and to live that reality, and not accept any other any other interpretations. You know what I'm saying? Because we can interpret everything in a good way or a bad way, in a negative way, or a positive way in a way that is empowering or disempowering, absolutely everything. So I chose it Hamdulillah, by allows grace, to interpret everything in a way that empowered me to continue to have faith, to have hope to trust in Allah, and his plan for me, as an individual. So I'm grateful to Allah for that.
He made I'm sure he made, you know, viewers and listeners, we as well, just like you brought tears to our eyes. And I think part of that is, I think there's something in us human beings, you know, when we see another human being tried, it's something that we can't imagine ourselves being tried with, and then seeing them come out, you know, and, and, and with that kind of mindset, I think it's just so inspiring. And it's so I think all of us hope that we ever to face a struggle or you know, in life and struggles in life are inevitable, you know, you live long enough, you know, something, something may come along, we are going to lose someone somewhere sometime, for sure. That is an
inevitability, isn't it? Unless we die too young to do that, you know, you mentioned that certain things were not helpful right? to you. I'm just thinking from the perspective of like, somebody who was listening and
observing, you know, you go through this
It, it can be really hard context
for people around you close around you, but also further afield to know, like, because I, like I feel quite paralyzed. I felt like, I wanted to pick up the phone and I thought, well, I'm just going to be taking away from my kids. Or, you know, I might be inconveniencing I should feel obliged to answer and who am I? Who am I? Anyway, you know, I had those kinds of thoughts in my life who am i i don't even
live near her, you know, there's probably people around her that, but then I thought, well, maybe what if there aren't, if What if I'm not doing my duty, you know, there's these there are these, and even those people who send you their stories, they will try to help I get it. But I had people who traveled to come and see me.
And I'll never forget a lot, they know who they are. And I asked Allah to reward them. And I hope that I would be able to do the same for them. Because, you know, one, one sister rang me, beautiful friend that she ran, she said, I'm coming, you know, when is good.
And I was like, now I'd have to come Come on, you don't have to come by arms came, you know, a friend and her daughters and her mom came because they're very close family friends. And, and I had, you know, like another 123, during my editor who just came just to be with me. And I think just so that this is something helpful to to the listeners and the viewers, when it comes to somebody who's in mourning.
The, the most important thing is to be really sensitive, and listen, and ask them what they need. Don't assume that, you know, ask them how you can help how you can be there for them, sometimes it will just be practical things, you know, like picking up the kids from school, you know, like dropping off food. Like if they have like young children, just like looking after kids so that they can take a break, you know, just to go and sleep. But sometimes, you know, and everyone's got, like, you know, in different dynamics at home, sometimes family or come and the last thing you want, because sometimes people will come and they want you to they want to keep talking to you about it.
No, you want to silence you want to be left alone. So really, it is about respecting their parameters, and really inviting them to be open about what they really need. Do you need company? Or do you need space? Do you need us to be around and cheerful? Or do you want us to be here just to hold you? Do you know what I mean? And I had like a variety of Alhamdulillah I just like I said the outpouring was just so panela something I've never experienced before, like our fridge was around, okay, like when people send so much food. And I actually wrote a short story about this from the perspective of a child whose father has passed away. And interestingly enough, the child is actually
resentful of all the people in the house and all the food they keep bringing, because the child a wants their dad back, be they want their mums to themselves and see they want their mom's cooking again. Holla so so really, it is about just, you know, not assuming that you know what they need, but just letting them know, just let me know what you need, how I can help and how I can support you and, and making a safe space for them to say what it is that they need. And then always, and when you're thinking about that person, just let them know, I'm thinking about you, you know, if you need anything, let me know, you know, that means a lot, it means so much. It does mean so much. Because I
think for widows
you know being widowed, and in a day is different from being divorced and in a de. Because when you're a widow, you are mourning, you know, and
and you've got so much to process and so much to go through, and also some things related to the relationship itself. So if you had a fantastic relationship, and he passed away, your ID is going to look one way. But what if you had a problematic relationship where you guys weren't even getting along? And now he's died. And you're in this area, you know, and I remember a friend of mine whose husband passed away quite soon after she was in that situation. So again, everyone's is different. And and so for the people around them, it really is a matter of just making that letting them know that we're here to support you in whichever way you need us. Yeah.
Yes, I think, really, what you're saying is, listen, give that person the space to be able to tell you what they need,
rather than assuming Yeah, and for anybody in that situation, you know, don't don't assume people know what you need, you know, you need also need to be vocal, and, and kind of set your boundaries or destroy the boundaries, whatever it is that you need at that time. And, and and be prepared to be open with people so that you can get the help that you need. Because as women sometimes, you know, we've got tendency to kind of just say, no handle it or handle it, you know, so was it very soon after, I'm imagining, like a lot of people a lot of noise, a lot of, you know, like, movement going on in your house. And then at some point, it must have all left. Yeah. And it was just well, by that
time I was working. So I was going into the office to get on was a bit different. And this is the thing that you have to get on with life. But I think for for for many widows there is the loneliness and the missing the person. But then there's also the new responsibilities that you potentially have that you didn't have before. So if you weren't the breadwinner, you have to deal with that. Now. In my case, I was a complete capital woman. So
Proper was the cold, surrendered wife. So I didn't know anything about tax. I didn't know anything about the bank accounts, I didn't know even what the business did. Okay, and had to learn all that really quickly. And again, I wrote about the problem of how they might do a giveaway for your readers, actually, that particular book of poetry, but
just about all the paperwork, and all the red tape, and things that you don't think about how much work yeah, the law student? Yeah, yeah, it's really stuff that you do not think about until you're in a situation where you have to start signing things, you have to start getting lawyers, if there was no will. And that's another thing as well, that could benefit people in Sharla, who are listening to this cell and warned us about sleeping three days without a will. This is serious people. Because if you die, and you have assets, and you have no will, you are causing a big Masekela for your wife and your children and whoever else your executor is going to be, you know,
whoever that person is going to be, it causes a huge problem, especially if you have assets dotted here and there, your wife potentially doesn't even know about it. So no. So you need to have documented all of that, assign an executor to your will. And make sure that you've provided for your own funeral and stuff like that, because I remember a sister messaged me, and she said, we want to do a collection for you. And I was like her collection for what she said, Oh, you know, just to help you in the kids and you know, to bury your husband or whatever. And I'm, I'm so proud to say and I know that he would have felt good about this light, humble. And I said to her, we are not in need of
the charity of the people that hamdulillah my husband left us well provided for. And that was one thing that was a point for him, because we used to see other people doing collections. And he always like, why didn't you make provisions, man, like how you're going to die and not even have enough money to get yourself buried, let alone now what's going to happen? You know, there's no savings, there's, there's no business to pass on. Like you haven't put anything for the future. And now your wife's gonna have to deal with that. And then this is the whole widows at the mercy of the community or now they become the responsibility of the community. So those people who have the means I'm not
saying everyone does, but people who have assets and have the means do be thinking of the future, and do be planning for the future so that inshallah you can start investing now, in an easier transition for your family when you're older. Because leave when you pass away, because leaving your family with no will or
no money, firstly, is a problem, but also leaving your family with no will and there are assets becomes an actual court situation. And you have to actually apply to the court to be given the probate, you know, right of probate, and that can take a long time, and especially if the assets are unknown, it can take a long time to gather all the information that's required. In the meantime, if you've got no money there, how is your wife and kids? How are they surviving? You know, the thing is, it's such a difficult subject to bring up
with young people. I mean, like, young people talk about people our age, I'm talking about people in their 40s you know, young people young as in not the age that people imagine, oh, no, this is this is very short sighted. And this is very short sighted from a Muslim as a Muslim, you should know that you needed to be for us as a Muslim, you should know that you if you've got anything, you need to have a will, right? No three days that you sleep without it. Well, that's the first thing. And secondly, I think as soon as you've got a stable income, you should be saving. Now we're talking about money issues, but like as soon as you have a stable income, even if it's just 50 pounds a
month, just a standing order, just to put it into a separate place just for a rainy day just for the future. You know, it's sunny County, definitely and especially the more complicated your finances get them the more of a mess you're leaving exactly exactly everybody else to do and it's just the emotional toll of it because in Egypt is different obviously. Oh, you can imagine how different it is in Egypt. I don't know how many times how many different offices we went to you know, everything was handwritten. handwritten from one office to the other to the other to the get the signature here go over there to get a signature get this get that get this proof get this translated this I mean,
of course it was placed. Exactly Exactly. Exactly.
He's just coming with flashbacks of Egypt and those type of flashbacks administration in Egypt. Those are the worst type of flashbacks actually. What made me hate the country actually, to be honest. Me too. Yeah, I really love I love Egypt. Yeah. I have a love hate relationship with like, everyone. Yeah.
all in the same boat. I think the admin was probably that's the hate side. One of the one of the times when you just wanted to cry. Yeah, it's so bad. It's peak. I had a sister who wanted to become Muslim.
They said you need a passport photograph.
She came to the message, right? And loves her and she wanted to become Muslim. And she just wanted to do it. You know, some people, they don't want to just do it with a little gathering at home, they want to do it want to have the certificate, they want to feel proper. So we went there, and they're like, you need a passport photograph, you need stumps, you need this, you need that. And it's like, I was like, so Pinilla the girl, the woman has come to you, she wants to be a Muslim, get her man, you know, get through the door to out. And so it was another delay of a few hours, right of us going from one but I'm so embarrassed, you know, that she had to go through all of that, but it was like,
This is Egypt, you know, it is Egypt. It is it is it is not gonna happen for sharing all of that with us.
I think it's the first time I've spoken about it publicly, actually. And it was actually very difficult for me to write about in the book, but I know, I knew that I needed to because the title of the book is show up as a motivational manifesto for Muslim women. And that is your new book, this is the new book coming out next year, inshallah. But that attitude was was a direct result of losing Superman item directly. I didn't have the attitude, the attitude of showing up showing up.
And what that means showing up is being present authentically in your life and making a decision to, to show up in all of your roles, you know, to be mindful, to be present, to be intentional with everything that you do. And to understand that you're here for a reason, you know, and it's no accident, that you had three little kids under five, it's no accident that your husband took a second wife, it's no accident that that business failed. It's no accident that you lost your parents. All of this was preparing you for something greater. And all of that, if you choose can make you an even more powerful force in your life. But it's really how you you know the story, you
tell yourself, you know, the beliefs that you choose to adopt. It's a lot of mindset stuff. But really, that showing up and making a decision to say I'm here and I'm here for a reason. And I'm going to make sure that I maximize the benefit from this life before it's taken away from me. That came as a direct result of losing my husband. I didn't have that attitude before.
Remember, the dedication in my sister's lips was to him, right? Yes. I read stuff like that. Yeah.
That's what tells you like a little piece of the writer, life slice of the wind beneath your wings.
Shall lamella unite you in gender. I mean, I mean, I mean,
so Mama, you're on a mission to get everyone to write. I've noticed that you really I mean, you inspired me to you know, write and handle I published a book Mashallah. And that was great and
renovating inshallah. inshallah.
But now, you're widening the net, I've noticed and you're really putting the message out there, you're, you're building, you have courses, you're offering your mentorship to people? Why should people right? I think that, I believe, and I'll just tell you a story about when I went to a TED talk a few months ago, and it wasn't one by me. It was in Bradford. Okay, there's TEDx talks everywhere. So he doesn't come all the way to Bradford for one, but there was one, TEDx Bradford. And I was sitting with two ladies on either side of me. And we ended up kind of chatting, and you know, just just sharing what brought us here. And while I was listening to them, I was like, I
looked around the auditorium. And I said, You know what, I reckon every single person in this room could do a TED talk, if they had the right training, I think everyone's got something worthy of a TEDx stage right to share. And I believe that about stories as well. I believe every one of us has a story to tell. And because we are unique beings, when we write from a place of authenticity and vulnerability, we are able to bring something to the world that nobody else can bring that can't be replicated. It's like if you write an essay on childbirth, and I write an essay on childbirth, even if we both had natural births, and we both gave birth to boys, for example, and our husbands were
there, you're going to write some something completely different for me. And you know, and I'm going to write something completely different from you mainly because of you are different, you are unique, and you have your own unique perspective, experience, understanding way of expressing yourself and everything. So I believe, firstly, that every one of us has a story to tell a story that has value and a story that needs to be heard by someone else out there. That will resonate with someone out there that there are a tribe of people who are waiting for your perspective, waiting for your guidance, waiting for your experience to learn from you to be supported by you, etc. So I
believe that very, very strongly, whether that writing takes the takes the guise of articles, or blogs or you know sort of anthology
Writing essay writing or full blown books, fiction or nonfiction for me, it's not really material, it's more a case of people understanding the value of their own stories, and then being shown the way to actually write those stories, and be able to share them with the world for the benefit of the world. And since last year, we've been working on the Muslim Writers Project, which is basically our contribution to nurturing the next generation of Muslim writers who, and especially Muslim Muslim sisters who don't necessarily feel confident enough to access the current writers community, wherever they are. Many, you know, we find that a lot of our our students and clients
in the Muslim Writers Project are pretty much practicing sisters, or maybe a bit more conservative sisters or sisters who are looking for a Muslim space in which to explore their writing. So we offer them that. And, yeah, we've had some amazing times we've had some we've had courses for children's writing for sort of general writing for fiction, and we had a summit where we, you know, we, you were in the summer you went you, you took part in the summit, and we had just amazing writers from all different walks of life, sharing their expertise, in what I what I hope is kind of my modus operandi, which is a spirit of togetherness, and the idea that we are stronger together. And that is
huge for me, because I don't believe anyone is my competition, just like, I don't believe anyone is your competition. I believe that if you and I work together, it benefits us. And it benefits our people as well. So anytime I work on a project, I'm always trying to draw people in and pull people in, because it elevates everyone. Right? So we did that. And now we've been moving into the writing coaching space, the book coaching space, and now we work with women from all walks of life Muslim, or non Muslim, who have a message to share and want to write a nonfiction book. And now we're starting to publish as well. So it's very exciting. And we love it.
Yeah, writing is writing helps you think, yeah, it helps you develop your, your ideas and what you stand for. And yeah, and I love the idea of owning your story. And I think, yeah, just picking up on what you said about that earlier. You know, we are still in a space where we need to hear more diverse voices. And the publishing industry knows that. And they've been acknowledging that for the last few years now. So the more Muslims are telling their genuine stories, the more we can contribute to the narrative, because unfortunately, there still is a lot of the narrative that is not organic, it's not coming from us. It's other people making films or other people writing books,
or other people writing plays about Muslims that unfortunately, can kind of feed into stereotypes, or just focus on things that are not really what we are worried about, you know, and don't address our own concerns. We'll have some agenda. Exactly. Muslims, sometimes. Yeah, that can happen to Zach. And it does happen. So you know, the more Muslims, right, and I really want to encourage more Muslim men to write because there is a huge gap for Muslim boys fiction.
Because we have now Okay, Muslim children's books has quite a few now, middle grade, which is like early chapter books, early chapter books, and then sort of, you know, novels for for teenagers, the majority are with female protagonists, and written by Muslim women. And there are very few Muslim male voices out there. And I really feel this is something that, you know, I feel quite strongly about, because I think that in our society and in our community, but in the wider society, I really feel like Muslim men are extremely marginalized. And their voices are almost not welcome. Because they're seen to be the privileged ones in our community, which they kind of ought to be fair, but
within the wider society, they're not. Because they are, you know, at risk of so many things, anti terror laws, you know, stopping surge, racism, class issues, the whole demonization thing, and if you look in our media, you will see that there's kind of two tropes. There is the conservative slash, Islamic, oppressive male patriarch, and then the oppressed woman who's dying to be liberated from hijab, right. So these are kind of like the two tropes that we have. And it's up to the brothers really to to start addressing some of those through fiction and nonfiction, and really let their voices be heard more and really start owning their story because I feel brothers also need a
safe space where they like we had with sisters, where we centered ourselves and we were able to then be honest about what other issues were facing. I think brothers need a space like that to where they don't have to perform. Because I feel like in our community, there's a lot of performance. So you have an appearance of say piety for example. And if you have a beard and you wear certain type of clothing, it's assumed you're a particular way and you have to live up to that.
So you can't admit to depression or drug use or anger issues or, you know, loveless marriage or anything like that, you know, because you're, you have to keep your image up, because that's kind of how you're seen in the community and in society. And I think, I think Muslim men need those those safe spaces for their mental health, to be honest. Definitely, we have them hamdulillah we have them a lot more than you think. Then you think we as women have, I think we made them, we made them when right when we don't have them, we make these sort of like, just get together and make Yeah, and we have been over the past like 10 years, maybe more than that, we've been creating more and more
spaces for Muslim women to be able to be themselves and and deal with whatever they need to deal with. But I don't think I've seen the same happening with brothers. And the thing is why I say that is because we know, that suicides and depression amongst men is way higher than it is amongst women and Muslim men are not exempt from that, especially the younger ones.
So that's my Thought for the Day. And how would that look? What What do you think that would look like in terms of brothers creating that space, support groups, counseling, therapy, you know, a safe space is a space where we can come and we can speak without judgment. And we know that the people there all respect that safe space writing, you know, having a publication that could work podcasts are another great way as well, where that particular podcast is going to be addressing these. I think I've seen a few. There have been a few that are coming up. And I and you mean it doesn't have to only be about dour or police politics? Yes. Yes. Reality is it needs to be about the stuff that
is really going on in people's homes on a day to day basis. I think it's I think, you know, Stephen Covey talks about the sphere of influence in the sphere of concern. And I feel like a lot of people feel very comfortable in the sphere of concern. That's politics, social issues, Islamophobia, even racism, and all of that, right. And I this is my own personal view, because I believe in it that Allah has given us freewill. And I believe that Allah giving us free will has empowered us to choose we it's not even my belief, it's a fact. Okay, we have the ability to choose, right, we can choose to focus here or focus it, I can choose to see this as a good thing or a bad thing. It's a choice.
Yeah, I'm not, nothing is set in stone for me. So I feel like when people choose to focus on the circle of concern, which is the stuff that they cannot impact, it automatically diverts their focus from the things they actually can change, which is the circle of influence, right? That's typically the day to day stuff. That's typically things within yourself, within your family members. It's not glamorous at all. And it can be really hard work sometimes, and it requires a lot of honesty and humility. But our communities will not change. Unless we start to pay attention to our sphere of that sphere of influence that we have, the more we in the sphere of concern. Yeah, we don't have any
energy for the sphere of influence anymore. Because I'm so busy watching, you know, our debates, you know, Roma, Hawk, and panorama. And, you know, this, this debate and that big situation and reading the news and even protest going to you, you can get into this false sense of I'm doing something, yes. When your family's falling apart. Thank you. You're, you're in a spiritualities. exactly is that? Yeah, I agree. That's a false economy or a kind of a false way of looking at your usefulness and your your activity is that if you don't work on the internal, you don't hold the fort, you know, yes. sort your basics. You're in your home out. Yeah. Right. And your family and the sphere of
influence influence out, then sooner or later, it will fall apart, and then everything else that you're concerned about. So the the thing is that that it's it's a complete waste of energy for most of us, because we're not journalists. Most of us are not journalists, most enough. Most of us are not politicians. Most of us do not have 10,000 50,000 100,000 people who are paying attention to what we say some of us do, but most of us don't, right. So for you to invest your energy in liking and retweeting and, you know, watching stuff and commenting and having YouTube comment battles and all of this kind of thing. it dissipates your energy for the stuff that is really important so you
don't have any energy anymore because also like getting involved with like, you know, fights on in Twitter and having Twitter wars and stuff like that. It's very glamorous, like you said, it's very exciting and gets the testosterone going. It's got your dopamine
So you feel like you said, like you're doing something worthwhile. You're fighting for the deen, you're fighting with the data and all of this kind of thing. But the reality is you're not doing anything this is. Right. Exactly. And really, how much have you changed? How much have you really accomplished? How much? Exactly how much impact can you really have on these global geopolitical issues? If you're like most people very little, because it's just like a keyboard warrior. To fix yourself up. Thank you and your family? Yeah. Because we sometimes underestimate that we are just in like, a node.
Network. Yeah, you know, our children. So Pamela, that I remember once, that was my legacy gonna be, you know, this is years ago, and I just had a baby. And I was like, feeling like, Oh, you know, so overwhelmed. He said, What do you think that is pointed to my children? Like, sometimes we, it's right in front of us, you know, we were building human beings, and,
and our families and our local community, just jump in there and say that this applies equally to the men and the women. Absolutely, of course, the women have the primary responsibility. But as a man, say, I'm in a man's shoes, those are my children. That's my lineage, that's my family. And those are my kids that are going out into the world. So as a man who is responsible, and has a sense of, you know, kind of leadership and, and, and vision for my family, I'm not going to leave it all to my wife. And I'm off swinging off at protests and all that kind of thing, like, you know, I need to invest in these children too. And I need to invest in my relationship with them so that they can
actually learn from me and listen to me and open up to me and share with me. And I think a lot of fathers maybe miss out that part one, maybe unaware of the fact that, you know, yeah, maybe you married a good woman, okay, because you want to her to raise righteous children, but you have a role to play a crucial role to play, we know the importance of the male role model for the male child, but also for the female child, you know, you are going to be the model of the man that your daughter is gonna want to marry, eventually, you know, your son, if he respects you and admires you, he's gonna want to be like you. But if you're never there, if you don't have time for them, you know, if
you're one of those guys who are working, working, and then when you come home, you're in front of the TV, or you're playing your games, or you're on your phone the whole time, which we know is a real thing. How much impact can you really have on them? Yeah, I think it's about all of us, as parents, and as members of this society and community becoming more conscious, and investing our time in the real sometimes the mundane things, difficult things, the unglamorous things, the things that really matter and the and will build our communities. Do
you have a free gift you want to offer our listeners and who's? Yes, I do, because I'm very, very excited about the show upcoming next year inshallah. So I have a little free, like introductory version, if you like a free ebook. It's called be the hero. And it's available for free download, and it's on bit.li slash, making a be the hero ebook, and I think we'll probably have the link, we know where it's where it's suitable. But also, anybody who follows me on social media can find that link there because I share it everywhere. And it really is my love letter to my sisters. It's about the six steps to finding your inner awesome, and I've had some wonderful feedback about it. I really
wrote it from the heart. So it will be fantastic if everybody who listens to us just goes to the link and gets their own copy and shares it and
put that in the comments or sorry in the description so
does that mind I'm gonna give you a hug
it's always good to talk to you Mashallah.
God, we got this opportunity haven't really talked about it fully. You know, a lot of things that we've mentioned today.
Well, brothers and sisters,
I'm gonna wrap up now. So does that come up and for listening and do share this episode with somebody who it might benefit, you know, sure, there's people out there that need to hear this need to hear the empowering and positive messages that sister Lima gave us today. I'm certainly inspired, and I'm sure you are too. inshallah, with that I will bid you farewell. So panic alarm I will be having to go shadow Lola Hale and stuff. Like salaam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato.