Channel: Lauren Booth
Welcome to heart and soul with me, Lauren booth, your place to reflect.
When I first came to Islam, one of the questions that my family asked me was, how are you going to give up bacon? That's a big one because we're British. And, uh, how are you going to make these changes in your life? I had an ordinary life for a journalist. smoking, drinking, probably partying if I'm honest, because that's what journalists still largely do. And how did these changes come? They come with the spiritual awakening of what is good for yourself and people around you. Kathleen Toomey joins me again to explore this way of life. She is an aquatic instructor by profession, but holds a BA as well in Islamic studies from Omdurman University of Sudan and is currently working
alongside Mark has been Zaid Islamic Center on its cultural and Islamic public programs. Welcome as salaam alaikum alaikum Salam ala. Thanks for having me today learn absolute pleasure. We spoke previously about the aspect of modesty and changing from
a lifestyle of the beach and health to you wear niqab to covering in public? What? Some people will call it an extreme expression of modesty. But I really want us today to take a look at what were the early changes in you spiritually. When you said La ilaha illAllah Muhammad Rasulullah I testify there is no god but God. And Muhammad is the final prophet and messenger of God. Well, I would have to say after making that statement, I found a big weight off my shoulders await Yeah, like the burden was lifted off me.
What burden Will you carry? Well, let's say maybe the burden of life. Let's face it, a lot of us do think life like that a burden difficult, hard times.
Hence, aren't we always searching for the good times to try to get rid of those or subside those hard times that we either don't want to face or we find difficult to face? You know,
for me, one of the big points of accepting Islam was was because of the direction it gave me in that helped reduce that weight, you know, it gave me direction
to answers in life, you know, not answers about life. Why does this happen? Why does that happen? Why do these people die? Why is life so short? While I meet some people for a long time in my life and others only, you know, two days? You know, what is the wisdom behind that? What is some? What is this all about? What is life about? You know,
it helped me to be gave as a direction for the purpose of my life, you know, which I never really sort of contemplated that much. Although, you know, having said that, I was quite a staunch Catholic, Roman Catholic in my belief, that and that's what I realized it was it was that connection with God, you know, that I knew intrinsically, you know, in my nature that I had to have, you know, so upon saying light, I love Mohammed on Sula, it connected for me, you know,
and, and I will say probably, again, over a gradual period of time, like the initial connection was there, but for me to really
feel that, embrace it, see it in my life, you know, it ongoing, you know, as I say it's gradual, and the fog glede you know, as days went by. This is this idea of, of a weight of life being a burden of being hard to bear is something that I've read about that. When people accept a faith actually any faith that believes in a greater power or being or the unseen. Often, critics will say, well, that person was too weak for modern life or they'd failed or they had some mental problem. It's as if, you know, men in their 40s get cars and girlfriends and when women find face
Because it's all got a bit of a midlife crisis, it doesn't have to be a crisis where you are in a crisis, was it a failing on your part?
At the time I embraced Islam? What I'm saying is, is it just
it's being described as if faith is a crutch? Is that all it is?
Well, I guess in my case, no, I wouldn't say that. You know, yeah, I can understand what you mean, in
some of my family members often say, Oh, yeah, religion is just like a kind of cop out, you know, just helps people do
get through their problems. But I mean, surely enough. Yeah. You know, surely, you know, without it. Where are we? You know,
I won't say at that particular time, it was
a crisis, before I became Muslim. But I will say, actually, after shortly after I had embraced Islam, when I talk about crisis or direction,
problems is that
within about a year after I embraced Islam, I married
local where I was living in Malaysia at the time, and
a year after my marriage, almost to the day, he passed away. And he passed away while I was visiting my family, in Australia,
so, you know, you'd want to talk about crisis situations like that, you know, that is something that, you know, Islam helped me so much to the point where my own sister said to me when I returned, you know, when I was leaving, but she was the one who,
I should say, dropped the penny. But she was so astonished. She was like, how do you handle this, you know, she was like, I can only just see that it's your faith
that keeps you together, you know, because truly, I mean, having your husband die after you've only been married for a year is one thing, but then being like, on, you know, one side of the globe to another, almost, you know, at least far enough apart, you know, where you can do nothing about it, you know, and to really be able to let go that I mean, I'm not gonna say, I didn't feel that sadness, of course, you know, jumped on the first plane and got there as quick as I could. But it was all said and done, you know, by the time I got there, because as we understand, in Islam, to bury the deceased, to give it their rights and respect is, is of utmost important. And as much as
that, you know, I wanted to be there, of course, no doubt, I could understand that point. But, you know, in terms of crisis, I have to say, that, that a lot, that God, the Creator was the one who really gave me that peace, really gave me that ability to accept something that under normal circumstances would have been almost impossible. You know, and I'm kind of reflecting on on this in terms of the attendance of faith and things like that, and, and looking at now the time of Ramadan, and, and time of fasting and time of giving charity and things, I see that this is part of it, you know, that it builds the human being, it builds the human beings moral character,
to improve them to be able to make them stable, you know, in various situations, you know,
especially in situations like this. Let's talk about this. More practically. I can say, I like flowers, it doesn't make me a flower, I can say, I'm going to be a good person, it doesn't mean I'm going to be a good person. What were the, you know, Islam is often described, you know, a newspaper reporter is made to look at something that really is just in the physical realm. You wear the clothes, you pack the floor, you you go and do harm, or you you or you're invisible, or maybe just maybe you're quite a good person. There is no spirituality spoken about. Your speaking about spirituality, what were the practical elements of that help?
Well, understanding for me, and I guess, you know, for all of us as Muslims, when we do put our heart and soul and rightly, you know, the title of the, the show, into into our belief into our life, is that, you know, Islam, one thing I noted about it, no doubt about it is that it's a way of living.
And that's what really makes the difference. It's not just those rituals, of praying, fasting, giving charity, wearing a dress, but as I was saying, to smell, you know, the tenants of the faith actually helped to build us.
And make that change that we seek, you know, by fasting in Ramadan, for example, feeling what the others feel who don't have, who have not any less than us but don't have at all, you know, to feel that a hardship, you know, to be able to go along with that charity giving charity in Ramadan, of course, you see it here, especially in the Gulf, but amongst all Muslims of giving charity at that time to, to help reduce or read that stinginess in greed that inevitably overtakes us from life, you know, in the things that were involved in, you know, making that connection with the creator daily in prayer, to say, Hey, I come from somewhere, and I'm going to be going back somewhere to, you
know, to, to be able to know that that one who created me and gave me my existence is the one ultimately in control of all affairs, but he's there for me, you know, to build that stability to give that he so when times like this, as I mentioned in the crisis that just hit, it's like, where do I go, you know, who's gonna help me out of this one, you know, and truly, truly It is only that having that stability, having that faith knowing that there is a better situation to come from it, you know, that it's part of life. But there is something good to follow, you know, follow up with and it's all gonna happen. It's time for us to take a short break now you're listening to heart and
soul on Qf radio. We'll be back after this.
You know, something must be wrong when almost every single song has sex as its basis. When rap stars get famous after making lyric status, shameless, when a woman is expected to sleep with a man who doesn't even know what her name is. And when artists are paid to degrade the very woman that have made them to the point they are nothing more than pieces of plastic that we can dispose of once they are no longer attractive. it's sickening and sadistic that this world's become so misogynistic, and you can call me unrealistic. But just listen to the statistics. Seven in 10 men view porn while over 75 million are addicted 68 million requests a day for pornographic pictures making one in four
searches sexually related. It's like nobody even knew she existed until she got naked, the graded and abused over and over again just to gain millions of views. It's a shame if subdued to a definition of beauty, which is so misconstrued. As we judge each other's looks off of Facebook likes Instagram pictures to filter off what we really look like see, we are so obsessed with outside we have slowly lost sight of who we really are in real life.
I mean, it's sad to see so many teams lose their self esteem. Looking at these magazines thinking I have to look like what they see, please You are worth much more than a 2d image on a screen you are a living breathing human being If only you knew what you really mean. Just look in your history books and begin to read of all the girls in the world who were capable to achieve and you will surely see with certainty, females like 40 male 50 who opened the first ever University Rafale islamiya, the first nurse to perform surgery and her Isha been Tabby Bakker, the greatest female scholar in eternity. It's a shame you probably haven't even heard of these great female prodigies.
Honestly, we don't need to give up our modesty in order to be successful. For you are worth much more than a commodity that is sexual, you have so much more potential If only you knew your worth. You could be like the greatest of all women to have walked this earth. Like Mary, the mother of Jesus, chosen by our law to be an example for the believers, a woman who stood strong even when she was abused, falsely accused and ridiculed for things she'd never ever do. So it didn't really matter when there was nobody else was Syrah, for she knew that God was a Razzaq and her ultimate provider, and she had a trust in Him alone. Just like Asya the wife of fit our own, a woman who was brave and
courageous stood up for what was right and didn't let anybody change this. A woman who was fearless and laughed in the face of death, for she gave up the riches of this life.
For a palace in the next next up Khadija, the mother of the belief is a wealthy merchant who had nurtured the Prophet for over 25 years, his first wife, the love of his life, and the mother of his kids, she was the first to believe in Him when nobody else ever did. She just is beyond any words that can make you understand, so much so that even Allah sent her his lamb, she was grand, and Allah assured her, just like her daughter, Fatima, the master of all women in Paradise, a woman who would shine so bright, she was nicknamed as the splendid one with the most generous of hearts, a woman who gave up so much of her food, she had no choice but to fast, she would fight on behalf of her father,
even as a little girl. And Such are the examples of the greatest woman in the entire world. And it had nothing to do with how they look but for who they truly were.
So ignore the standard of success defined by society, when God has said that the best of mankind, or those who have piety, regardless of your shape, your color, or your race for God does not look at your bodies. Notice he looked
at I was
sharing gems of knowledge today. So in the end of the day, it doesn't matter whether you're who they think you.
We were talking, before the break, about the practical aspects of Islamic way of life, affecting our, our heart, really, and our and our and our way of seeing problems in our life. I wonder if we could just take a little stroll through a day in the life of a modern woman, because we're not trying to go back to the seventh century. We are modern women. And we live in this context and this time, and yet we do things differently, differently. Yeah, in terms of technology and the way we may live. But my question is, like, Are we really that different? Anyway, from the seventh century or even further back? Even from the first man? Do you mean as humanity? Yeah. As humans, you know, when
you talk about living in a modern world, you know, amongst other technologies and things is to say, you know, hey, I mean, some people say that the technology of the past was even greater than more sophisticated than we have. So who's to say, but, you know, in terms of humans and human need, you know, has that really changed? You know, that is really the question, I think, when we look at living in whether you want to say today's society or seventh century society, whenever you want to talk about, you know, the needs of human beings really, I won, and unchanged, you know, and surely, God is the one who knows that, who has created human beings in such a way the expectations have
changed massively in the last 200 years. You know, this, the modern idea of democracy,
equality, women's voting was a new thing having rights for women. Surely, the whole concept of being a woman has changed?
Well, it's interesting, you mentioned that point about rights and women voting, it makes me think, you know, back in the time of,
of the Prophet when
God revealed this
belief, or this way of life to Him, is that, you know, he'd given the rights of women when you want to talk about rights, women, you know, they were given the right to own and dispose of their own property, you know, and it makes me think, well, when did we get back in it in our, in our society, not to the least the 20th century. So, you know, the rights of inheritance, or owning and disposing property, these things, really makes me think that, hey, society today is really in need of those rights, that were given how many 1000s of years ago, I mean, we seek rights as women. So we're just talking about modesty and respect and, and good treatment. You know, why are we looking, you know,
what's the same as anyone think now, you know, looking at all the wrong places, you know, when things may be just staring us right in the face. In one night, I was pregnant with my second daughter. And I was eight and a half months pregnant, and I was showing off how I could do everything to be quite honest. I went to a labor party conference in the United Kingdom, and I can do anything and I can work late and I started to have real pain and I thought, wow, am I going to miscarry? Because of my stupidity at midnight. I went outside, it was raining. I looked for a taxi. There was a huge queue and I said to the two men at the front, the young man sharp
suits Labour Party workers, please do you mind if I take the next taxi and they looked at me with disgust and said, Why
I had this huge bump. I said, because I'm not feeling very well, and I'm pregnant, they said, that is your problem. And they pushed me out of the way. And they got into the taxi, and I sat on the side of the road. And you know what? I just wept. And I, I really wanted someone to step up. And look after me at that moment. Yeah, sure, exactly. It makes me think of the reality, I guess, of our own situation, especially as, as women were talking a little bit earlier about respect and rights and things that
that's the reality, you know, of us that we may face as women. You know, there are certain things that we
I believe, you know, it doesn't make us more inferior or less than, you know, just makes us different. Our does that need
to stop society? slipping into prejudice? You know, this thing about, oh, we'll protect the women by putting them all in one area? Or? or How can that how can that become oppression? How does you know the the Islam that you love? negate taking your rights away? How does it give you rights? How do you feel it gives you rights?
Islam? How does Islam give me rights? Who?
Well, I guess I would have to say, it gives me rights for my Creator.
Because truly, you know, in society, when we look as your own example, you know, being a woman, that at the end of the day, people wanted what they wanted, and they didn't really even seem to care about you being being a woman compared to them being a man, you know, and then there is clearly a difference you situation, you know, truly human beings can only get their rights, you know, from their Creator. And, and this is why, you know, I believe, for myself, you know, the peace
and stability that I found, you know, in Islam, where nobody could give me what I thought, you know, but yet, my Creator could give that over me. And
truly, that, as I said, at the beginning was just a weight off my shoulders. God treats everybody as equals before him. The only superiority is in piety. And we asked to be amongst those who are pious because piety also means taking ourselves to account. Some of the most blessed people in Islamic historical understanding are those who are known at the end of the day, to make prayers for their enemies, and to ask forgiveness for not those that they'd wronged. That's something we should do automatically. Wow, I did that nasty thing today. I really need to pray for that person and ask for forgiveness. But to pray for those who've done us wrong made us feel bad. Just a you know, made us
feel fear or anger or jealousy directed at us and we say, I hope you do better tomorrow, and I hope your family is okay and you mean it. And that is part of piety. May Allah subhanaw taala provide us all with good hearts, and with better futures and understanding of one another, and of what it means to be a human being today, in a good way, early, we'll be back next time for more heart and soul. Assalamu alaikum. The producer for this series is a hab