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Teen Session 1 – Concerts, Cairo and Choosing Islam

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Fatima Barkatulla

Channel: Fatima Barkatulla

Episode Notes

Ustadha Fatima speaks with a teen youth group in London about her journey to consciously choosing Islam for herself and wanting to study Islam.

Episode Transcript

© No part of this transcript may be copied or referenced or transmitted in any way whatsoever. Transcripts are auto-generated and thus will be be inaccurate. We are working on a system to allow volunteers to edit transcripts in a controlled system.


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Bismillahi Rahmani Raheem on hamdu Lillah wa salatu wa salam ala rasulillah dia sisters, I want to call you sisters because I don't want you to treat me like an auntie because I don't feel old enough to be an auntie but I probably am actually. So dear sisters Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh

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My name is Fatima Baraka Tila and you might have read my book. I'm the author of this book called Khadija,

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the mother of history's greatest nation.

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And I recently graduated from two Alinea degrees that I was studying Allah Mia is like the traditional, I would say the traditional Islamic Studies degree from usually from India and Pakistan, right. Here in the UK, there are some scholars who set up institutions where

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boys and girls brothers and sisters could study Islamic all Islamic sciences, so things like Arabic, Arabic literature, grammar, and then also the Quran Tafseer you know, the explanation of the Quran. Islamic history, the life of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam the life of the hula for the key lifts off to him.

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Also different Islamic sciences, like the Hadith sciences, you know, how do we know how authentic a hadith is? How was the Hadith, they had these, how were they collected?

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And lots and lots of different subjects like that or related to Islam. So they set up these institutions. And Mashallah, when I was your age, there were there were no institutions in the UK. And that's why like, I actually went abroad to Egypt, when I was 16, to study in Cairo, because I really wanted to study Arabic.

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And then after that, I came back to the UK, I got married,

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and had children, but I still really wanted to study Islamic Studies. And soon after my children got to a certain age, certain some Institute started opening up in the UK. So then I took advantage of that. And I started attending those part time. And so although it took a long time, and Hamdulillah, I graduated last year, and at the moment, I'm at a university, doing a master's in Islamic law. So that's just a little bit of a background for you.

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I'm going to go straight into the questions that you've submitted. Because at the beginning, you've asked a few questions about

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my background, I think I've covered some of that. One of the questions is, why did you want to be a scholar? Did your childhood have any contribution to this decision?

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I think I went to like a regular primary school and secondary school, I went to a goals secondary school in Barnett might have heard of it, Queen Elizabeth school school.

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And so, you know, my schooling was probably similar to you, or to, you know, the average person.

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But one thing that I did realize that school, because I came from a religious family, my dad is a scholar from India. And one of the things I used to realize is that there's a lot of people, there are people around me, of different races, different backgrounds.

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And a lot of them, especially the young people, who are my appears, they had a lot of questions that the teachers couldn't really answer that questions about life. Even growing up, they had questions about Islam, they used to ask me things like, you know, what about this? What about that? Why is this in Islam? And why is that? things they might have heard on the news?

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You know, and even just me, when I was wearing a job at school, they would ask me questions, and I used to always go back to my dad and ask him, like, how should I answer this? How should I answer that? And then he used to give me some answers. And so I realized that people around me have a lot of questions about Islam and about life. And that I would really like to help people to understand those

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The answers to those questions and I wanted to understand the answer to the questions too. So the best way for me to do that was to study Islam in more depth.

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So, yes, I think that's what really influenced me. And probably the fact that my dad was a scholar, I think that did influence me, because I saw that when you are scholar,

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people, you get to help a lot of people, you know, a lot of people would congregate around my parents, like, just ask them questions come even, like wherever they moved in the neighborhood. They used to sort of help a lot of people in that neighborhood, whether it was non Muslims or Muslims. The mom would teach Quran to the young people, you know, in their neighborhood whose moms often did not know how to read Koran. And my dad used to answer their questions, help them with the issues and things like that. So I think growing up in that kind of higher household, it did motivate me.

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At what age did you start practicing and what motivated you to do? So?

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I would say, because I was brought up in a religious family, I don't think there was a time when I wasn't practicing. I didn't, I don't think of it like that. I've always felt conscious of a lot because my mom, she really like, brought us up loving Allah talking to us about Allah,

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making us conscious about the fact that Allah is watching us, it was there for us, we can always talk to him no matter what.

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But I think all of us, it doesn't matter whether you're born in a religious family or not, all of us, at some point actually make the conscious decision to embrace Islam properly.

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And for me, that was probably when I left home at 16. And I went to Egypt. So my dad took me to Egypt, and he left me there. And I sort of lived by myself with other students sometimes or sometimes by myself. And he would send me an allowance. And there I was all by myself. My parents weren't there. Nobody could tell me what to do, or what not to do.

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And I was reading all these books about, I was reading really bad books, actually, I was reading books about the Saudi royal family, and,

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you know, really horrible stories of women who had really bad experiences in Muslim countries and stuff like that. And I started getting really, really depressed about these stories and started to think, you know, is this what Islam is about? This isn't the Islam that I was brought up with. But all these people, they're talking about, you know, an oppressive type of Islam, something that seems so negative.

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And at that point, I realized, you know, what, I have to go into the sources, I need to go right to the beginning, I need to look at the Quran, what the Quran is saying, I need to look at what the prophet sallallahu Sallam said,

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and I need to see what it is for itself, not rely on a book that's written by somebody who maybe had a bad experience. Right? So I think, for me, and you'll probably find this as well, at one point, at some point in your life. There's a point when actually, nobody can tell you what to do anymore. Right? Well, we all grow up. And we get to that point. And at that point, it's a very, very pivotal point in your life, that you've got to choose your path, you've got to choose your path. And

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what I would suggest to you and this is what happened with me is that you start from the beginning, you you go back to the Quran, you connect yourself with the sources of Islam and you, you choose to embrace Islam yourself

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fully.

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So, you know, they say, shouldn't you have to decide which side of the fence you're on? You know, and you have to make the right decision. And I think, knowing or hearing about the sorts of families that you're from, I'm sure you know what the right decision is. It's just that sometimes when we realize that actually, we've got the freedom to make that decision. And we do make that decision. It's much more powerful, because now it's something that it's not just something you're brought up with something that you've chosen.

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So yeah, that was my background in terms of practicing. Did you have any struggles trying to get closer to the deal and what helps you overcome it?

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I think all of us have struggles in the sense that

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like growing up, like in the 80s and 90s, that's when I was charged, you know, during my childhood was in the 80s and 90s.

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It was a much more racist time in London in Britain, you know, like, my mom, when she walked down the street, there was hardly anyone who wore hijab in those days. She was like the only person that we knew

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A lot, there were a lot of Muslims, but they were kind of not very confident, or they didn't really want to show that they were Muslims or whatever. Or maybe they just didn't know they came from families or you know that they've migrated and didn't really know much about

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the rules and laws of Islam, the philosophy of Islam, so

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almost my mom was very visibly Muslim. And often when we would walk on the streets, somebody would swear at her or shout something, or, you know, it was such a racist time compared to today.

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And I think it's really important for us to bear that in mind. Because sometimes, you know, we feel like, well, we're, we're living in difficult times, it's like so much Islamophobia, or people, but actually, it's a lot better than it used to be, I'm telling you, like, because I lived through it. You know, you nowadays, if you walk with your mom, and you're all dressed very, you know, with the job and your job, nobody's gonna say anything. Hardly anyone would ever say anything. Maybe you might have had some bad experiences. But in those days, every time you walk past a white person, it was that's how it was, you know, they would like say something, you pockys you this, they would say

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something, right? Because

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it was so strange, it was just so not the norm. So handle. And nowadays,

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any job is the norm. It's become the norm. When I was at secondary school, I was the only girl wearing the job. Like, if you see my end of year, like photo is like, you can spot me straightaway, because I'm the only one with the white scarf on right. Everyone else and the longest skirt as well. Right? Because everyone else is like rolled up their skirts take them short. And I was like, the only visible Muslim. So that's the kind of time it was, I think, the 80s and 90s. And I'm not going to say that was easy. It's not easy to be the only one in your whole school or your Oh, whole class

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to look like a Muslim. But because whatever decision I made, like when I started reading your job, because I thought to myself, why am I doing this? And because I knew that this was good.

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And this is from my Lord, a loved one who created me knows what's best for me. That helped me to overcome any like difficulties. Yeah. So

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also my friends, they used to stick up for me. So I remember once I walked into a youth club,

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there was like a non Muslim youth club. And

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I don't know how I ended up there. I just followed my friends out one day. And this boy, in the youth club, he saw me and he said,

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we don't want like girls like her coming in here, right? We don't want girls dressed like that coming in here. And my my friends started swearing I really stuck up for me. And he said, You know, they told him where to go, basically. So one thing that I realized is that look, you have to stick by your principles, and the good people around you, whether they're Muslims or non Muslims, they will stand up for you as well. They'll stand with you, if you stand up for yourself, right and for what's right.

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So those are some of the, you know, difficulties in terms of like people asking questions, but then I answered them, and now over time, you grow more and more confident as a Muslim. And you realize that actually, you've got a lot to offer, the society. You know, you don't need to be like a mouse like hiding away and like you're, you know, you don't have anything to offer. You've got a lot to offer, we have got a lot to offer. If only we would overcome our self consciousness, we could offer that.

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One more thing I want to tell you about in terms of practicing. See, one of the dodgy things I did when I was a young person was

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my friends were really into music. And I got into music quite a lot when I was younger. And my parents once I snapped snuck out, then I'm telling you this,

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but it's okay. Um, I'm old enough now to go into my mistakes. I I snuck out and I just sort of arranged with my friends to go to this massive concert. Okay. It was at Knebworth park in Stevenage. And it was the band Oasis and I'm in front of them anyway. And it was like the biggest at the time. It was the biggest concert, outdoor concert in the history in the world, right? It's like, Guinness World Records type level. And so we were really excited and

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my parents they sort of they used to not really they used to turn a blind eye to certain things that we did. Maybe just thinking, look, you know,

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she learned over time, you know, what's good for etc.

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But to be honest, they didn't really know about this.

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And I was, you know, like an older teenager by then. And so one weekend, we I went with my friends to this concert. Because I've never been to a concert before, I didn't know what it was like. And my friends just kept going on and on about how amazing it was going to be. So I thought, I've got to experience this.

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And that was quite a life changing moment for me actually, in that concert, because I was standing there. In my job, by the way, I must have looked so stupid. But anyway, I standing there in my hijab, surrounded by people taking drugs, right?

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Obviously, people sweating, it was like outdoors, right? It was a massive stage. People were really high, like really excited. Right. And I was standing there. And I was, I remember, especially like, when the concert started, and it was so loud, and the audience was swaying, and obviously, they were dancing, I remember the thought coming into my head,

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I hope I don't die here, I really hope I do not die here. And because I just knew there's something wrong with being there, there's just something wrong about it. And for some reason, at that point, Allah made the thought come to my head, that the Day of Judgment is going to be like this, like a sea of people, you know, when you when you hear the description of the Day of Judgment, where Allah is gonna raise everyone from their graves, and everyone is going to be standing on this one big piece of land from the beginning of time until the end of time. And they're going to be barefoot naked, they're all going to be like really worried how we're going to be coping with this day of

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judgment.

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Standing there surrounded by like a sea of people, as far as I could see, there were people and it was like, everyone was standing. It reminded me of that day. And I thought to myself, Oh, my God,

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I do not want to be raised on the Day of Judgment with these people around me. You know, it was really scary. And I realized, the people who I hang around, the people who I, the places that I go to, are going to be the way I'm going to be raised on the Day of Judgment.

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You know, those are going to be my people, those are going to be the sorts of people that I want to be raised with. And sadly, why experience there was, Is this it? Is this it? Is this what you think happiness is.

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And to me, it was like ridiculous, is laughable, is like, so you jump around in the muddy, muddy field, right? With these

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probably drug fueled performers, and you're taking drugs, and this is how you're finding your meaning. And that's what it was for my friends, you know, they were trying to find meaning in life. And that's what that experience was for them. And my mind went back to like, a few years ago when I had been on an ombre with my parents, you know, going round and tawaf. And that's the only time before that I had been surrounded by so many people. And I remember thinking suparna like that was that was real ecstasy that was real.

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That was a real high. You know, that was a true high. And I was thinking about I wish these people could experience that high. Because they haven't lived if they think this is being high right. And having to go to some bucket and toilet and in the corner it seriously it was disgusting, you know, and that's their, their, their definition of a very amazing, meaningful,

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amazing experience. I just thought Pamela This is I've got something that's way more precious. I got something way more precious. And that day I made the decision. I'm never gonna go to a concert again.

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And again, you love when no one is close to us. If there's one thing I know is that

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keep you

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he can make you