Sunday, September 10, 2017


Blogging Responsibly

I have been meaning to blog for a while now and have been drafting a few things on paper in the last year that never quite made it to the screen.
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Thursday, June 29, 2017


A Pinch In My Soul

Ever had one?
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Saturday, February 25, 2017


Translating Signs

Ideas, signs, symbols and suggestions are all around us. 

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016


6 Reasons To Phone Your Spouse Daily

It has been a while since I wrote about marriage. My post was based on the answers of 28 married couples giving tips for a good marriage.
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Friday, April 15, 2016


On: Moving Sideways

I first heard this term ‘moving sideways’ about 12 years ago when I was teaching adults recovering from mental illness.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Dealing With Grief Through Flower Gardening

I may not have mentioned it but my lovely dad passed away at the turn of the year.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Artfeed: 'Ya Rab' By Visual Dhikr

Ruh’s recent piece 'Ya Rab' (Oh Lord) made me think of one word: simplicity.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Hydrangea Hues Thanks To pH Levels!

I grew up knowing what Hydrangeas looked like because we had one in our garden. But I was never sure why ours was more blue than the one down the road which was pink. 
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Friday, August 21, 2015


Follow Your Creative Spirit

My belief is that we are all creative. To what degree, is another question.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Four Words

Words are powerful. 
In the last few years word decor has really taken off and regardless of background we derive benefit from seeing, reading and hopefully internalising their meaning! 
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Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Make Time For Reflection By Saying No

It was about two years ago that I wrote about Solitude and coping alone, though we are never really 'alone' we still need time to be alone to reflect.
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Wednesday, June 03, 2015


8 Ways To Increase Your Self Esteem After a Set-back

From my understanding, our self esteem is a sum of several factors. It is very important to have an optimal level of it for us to function in a healthy manner.
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Sunday, May 31, 2015


14 Tips To Prepare For Ramadan

There is a wealth of material out there on preparing for Ramadan. Here I present just 14 tips which have been recycled as timeless pieces of practical advice I have collected along the way!
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Wednesday, November 05, 2014


Finding Red in the Garden

As November sets in I was keen to find the red which is still giving colour to my garden.

Red is one of the first colours we see - oh yeah the colour of our blood! It's a lovely colour and as I come to see the gradual decline of sunny days, it adds a kind of vibrance to the garden. This is especially true when I look out on a cloudy day.

Right beneath the grey skies I see colour so bright. I marvel at the Lord's creation.

Two opposing ends of the spectrum; one dark, dull and depressing. Yet the other; bright, beautiful and blissful.

What a lovely start to November. 'That I still have beauty to look at' fills my heart with excitement!

Watching nature's great ways in the hope of increasing my faith. Oh what an opportunity that is...

But do I recognise these red friends on my own days of gloom? Am I reminded of the Majestic Lord when my cup looks half empty?

Oops... I am all ready for yet another complaint!

I am all set for another rant!

Sometimes oblivious to my own blessings, I am heading for another moment of reflection!

Dearest readers, do join me again but for now go and find some red where you are!

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Sunday, October 26, 2014


Psychological Wellbeing - Taking The First Step

I believe psychological wellbeing is just as important as physical wellbeing.

Yes it has been a while since I blogged and thanks to twitter and Facebook, the Muslim blogosphere seems to be churning fewer contributions these days. In the hot climate of social media I have spent more time thinking about blogging than actually logging in and getting started. Alas here I am and I hope to share some of what I have been processing for so long.

I have blogged previously on mental health and it's a topic which is very dear to me, having worked with clients recovering from mental illness in my teaching career over ten years ago. I was very fortunate to have spent 5 years working as a chaplain at a red brick university volunteering my skill and time to assist the needs of (primarily) Muslim staff and students in dealing with the hurdles that life throws at us all. It has been three years since I left this field but I continue to feel blessed whenever I am contacted by individuals who feel that life is just so overwhelming. I don't see it as a big deal as I know that I myself have benefitted from the help and support of so many during my own times of distress. Thus I am grateful for the opportunity fate has given me to pay back in order to benefit someone else. However, I am also concerned that there are many in the community who still do not believe in accessing mainstream services for their psychological wellbeing.

Here I share just a few passing thoughts I have collated - it may take a period of time before I can truly present all my concerns.. or it may never happen. If these are disjointed then it is due to the volume of the topic. I am trying to illustrate my observations here not condemn people.

One of my big concerns currently is the imbalance I have seen. Whilst many in the (practising Muslim) community are becoming quite interested in eating organic, visiting alternative therapists and choosing which oil to fry their kebabs in, there is still resistance to counselling. It seems that individuals feel they are bettering their health only by spending money on purchasing particular foods and paying large sums on alternative therapists. A part of me believes that people are actually oblivious to this imbalance.

I have spent around 10 years trying to convince individuals to seek counselling. I find that the initial resistance is still due to these reasons:
1- "if God has given me this trial then I should be able to deal with it without a counsellor"
2- "it's embarrassing"
3- "there are not enough Muslim counsellors and I don't want to talk to a non Muslim"
4- "my problems are not that bad, I will be able to deal with it"

Two of these reasons are based on myths and misunderstandings.

The first one fails to see the psychological aspect of health. It also implies that if one is to be a strong believer then they should stay quiet about their problem. Sharing is important and throughout Tradition we find examples of this. But from my experience people can confuse a natural hurdle in life with deeper psychological problems. Some problems have their roots in earlier years of life and no matter how much one tries to cover them up - they will still show up.

The third fails to recognise that we see practitioners from diverse backgrounds for a wealth of physical ailments and so to see a counsellor whose not a Muslim should not make any difference. I understand that counselling means talking to people about our sensitive being, but faith plays little part as professional guidelines are followed by counsellors.

Number two and four are personal challenges that we all have to deal with and without strong will and encouragement cannot be overcome. Sometimes in life we have to do the most awkward things for a greater goodness.

Once these barriers are overcome, I have seen people progress significantly and although they have the odd relapsing state, they are able to better themselves. Ultimate healing takes time but the first step is often the most difficult and important one. If any reader knows someone who genuinely requires counselling, please encourage them to see their GP or if they have the finances, then go private. There are fantastic resources online: Mind and Muslims 4 Mental Health are two starting points for anyone looking to learn more about this topic.

One of the greatest lessons for me has been to seperate myself from anyone who needs professional psychological help. One needs to know their own limitations. As I am not a surgeon I will not be carrying out amputations.

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Friday, June 21, 2013


On: Solitude

This morning a friend sent me a text with two questions:

How does one seek and find solitude?
How does one become used to solitude and cope alone?

Solitude on the one hand is all around us and on the other hand we can never attain truly.

I have reflected on this myself in the past and continue to do so now in the present. Man on the one hand is a loner. Born alone, dies alone. On the other hand man is never alone because he is under the Watch of the Almighty Lord. Man is surrounded by angels; several of them. He is surrounded by living matter all the while. So a true solitude is something he never arrives at.

However if one defines solitude as the absence of other humans then that is a different matter. Much has been written by people of all times and a simple search will bring many things to the top. Solitude is important and we all need it from time to time. People need their 'space' to think, reflect and draw upon inner strengths. This is why so many people even to this day go into seclusion for period of days or months. Sometimes being around others can just be too much.

Here are some pointers which may help in approaching the two above questions:

1. Recognise that truly we are and never will be alone. Review your relationship with God Almighty. By accepting that He has Lordship over you, you will allow yourself to develop the understanding that He is your Guardian. This is a lifelong task and you will have moments of success and failure in achieving it. But the more you can open your heart towards the fact that you are under God's Care, the better you will get at grasping it's fruits. Some people call this Submission.

2. If we are never 'alone' then we cannot get used to 'coping' alone. The concept is void. Instead of trying to 'cope' by yourself, review your support structure. Nobody is an I-land. Looking at the example of the Prophet Alaislam reassures us that we do nothing wrong when we call on friends and family for assistance. In the absence of people, we have the Holy Text which provides instruction and develops the capacity within us to deal with life, universe and everything within it. For example the statement from Chapter 2 that "On no soul doth God Place a burden greater than it can bear." shows quite clearly how the Holy Text can provide a viable coping mechanism.

3. Simplify things by adopting the Prophetic narration:

Solitude is better than being in bad company, and being in good company is better than solitude. Saying what is good is better than silence, and silence is better than saying what is bad.

4. There is a difference between solitude and isolation. It was during the state of solitude that the Prophet had his first revelation - however he was not isolated as his wife Sayida Khadija would still bring him food. Solitude is empowering and isolation is disempowering. Solitude leads to reflection but isolation can lead to negative self-talk. Solitude can help attain a greater awareness of life but isolation can lead to withdrawal. Solitude helps us grow and become stronger spiritually but isolation can bring our faith in God Almighty down. Review exactly what it is you mean by the term solitude and if it sounds like isolation then abandon it.

5. Each of us has a different set of challenges to deal with. By focusing on our God-endowed strengths we can overcome, learn and grow. If we take a glance at the First Prophetic Revelation which occurs at Mount Hira, when Sayida Khadija consoles the Prophet Alaislam she says: "You keep good relations with your relatives, help the poor, serve your guests generously, and assist those hit with calamities." In so doing this she brings his strengths and good qualities to the forefront and believes firmly that God Almighty would always do things for the best. Implementation of this can emancipate an individual.

6. There are times when an individual is unable to deal with the circumstances they find themselves in and find it easier to shut others out of their life. If one finds that negative self-talk is taking over and the capacity to see one's strengths and blessings is diminishing, then it is advisable to seek talk therapy. If such a state continues unchecked, it can hinder one's personal growth and lead to emotional unstability. Both of these are health disaster zones.

Pictures: Almeria, 2005.

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Monday, January 14, 2013


On: The Process

This post is inspired by a teacher whose simple advice is timeless.

I was fortunate enough to attend a class held by the wise teacher, Shaykh Muhammad Ba'Shuaib a couple of years ago. He said a simple thing but one which really helped me try to understand the nature of life. The words here are some of my own and some paraphrased from his advice.

He said that for Allah Almighty to give something is not at all difficult.

Neither is it difficult for Him to change a scenario.

or remove an obstacle.

or alter a circumstance.

or show the way forward.

So we should never assume we will not come out of a given situation. However it is the Process which we undergo which is important.

This is because it is here where our growth as human beings occurs.

This is where we learn to appreciate our humanity.

This is the place for the blossoming of new thoughts, ideas and visions.

This is where we learn about our strengths and weaknesses: what we have and what we lack.

This is where our development for personal change takes root.

This is where the seeds of faith grow into mighty trees.

This is the melting pot of all our hopes and fears.

And the end result is with God Almighty.

The faith teaches us that whatever happens will be for our betterment.

A new us will come out of the Process.

The pictures show a pin-cushion I made today at a craft group. It took between 2-3 hours and has been hand-stitched entirely. It is a beginner's cathedral window patchwork.

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Friday, January 11, 2013


Review - 2011 & 2012

Talk about an overdue review!

I posted less in 2011 and even less in 2012.

There was reflection on Blessings and a reminder to Reach Out.  A trip down memory lane with my Nostalgic Work Journey and given that 2011 was a sunnier year than last; A Few Petals From The Garden. Ramadan came and a treat for my Manager's Diary. The year ended On Marriage, thanks to my 28 respondents it helped me as I tied the knot.

Then came 2012 and I blogged just twice - my record low!

5 Ways to Maximise Ramadan was the ice-breaker and sadly the loss of a good friend Pauline Hurd.

It was a year filled with change on so many levels. I have many things I want to share but for one reason or another I have not had the opportunity. Let us see what 2013 brings.

Peace to all.

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Sunday, December 02, 2012


Farewell Pauline Hurd - Hameeda

As I was scrolling through my FB notifications yesterday I came across an event.

I was a little perturbed and logged into my email account to check for the surname of my own friend, Pauline. Inna Lila Hi Wa Inna Ilai Hi Rajeun - From God Almighty we come and to Him is our return.

I met Pauline in 2005 through a mutual friend and since then we became friends. We attended a number of events together and Pauline was such a joyful character to travel with. We met whilst I was on sick-leave from work and her warmth and caring words would fill me with a sense of hope. Pauline herself had Lupus and spoke about wanting to do an awareness day with us young ones about it some day.

As the years passed and my health started to get better, I had to get back on track with career. I still remember Pauline telling me how important it was to ensure I got my expenses paid if I volunteered somewhere. She really looked out for me and gave me good advice.

One day during a telephone conversation for some reason I was a little down and she said:

In the Caribbean we have a saying which goes:

What is meant to be for you - can't not be for you.

I scribbled it down at the back of an envelope and kept it on my desk to remind me - it gave me so much strength.
Pauline had some cards painted by me. We infused my 'Finding God' theme into the colours of the Jamaican flag: green, yellow and black. She told me to make her a few and that she would sell them too. She always tried to help me in whatever way she could.

My last contact with Pauline was in March this year. I had misplaced her number and thus had not been in touch with her. At the same time, there was a friend who wanted to get in touch with a marriage counsellor: one of Pauline's friend. I emailed her requesting both her and her friend's number, ending the email with the following:

Btw I am married ;-)

Pauline replied with:

Alhamdulilah BTW I'm married lol, what a statement.

 My husband saw one of her emails and said he really liked her closing email signature which she had set as:

"A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him"

I called Pauline but she was busy, she emailed me to tell me she had been busy all day and had a cold. Little did I realise that this would be our last contact.

I feel very sad that our joyful friend has gone and that myself and my friend will be amongst many who will no longer be able to hear her cheerful voice. I still feel in shock but I am happy that Pauline was able to perform her pilgrimage before her departure. As my friend said this evening: "Now we know someone whose buried in Mecca!"

A memorial service to honour Pauline Hurd will be held on Saturday 8th December 2012 at the Drum, Potters Lane, Aston, Birmingham B6 4UU. The memorial service will begin at 2.00pm and finish at 18.00 hours.

Pauline died on Sunday 21st October 2012 having completed the Umrah during her pilgrimage to Mekkah, Saudi Arabia.

Pauline had a real passion for community, championing the cause for the marginalised and those with ‘no voice’, particularly young people. Those who know Pauline loved her zest for life, her vision and the dedication she showed in what she believed in.

Pauline had worked in Birmingham in areas such as housing, regeneration and community development for many years.  Latterly, she was particularly focused on issues around access to community resources and community safety.  She also volunteered on a number of committees related to community safety and justice.

Pauline leaves behind her elderly mother, her two beloved sons, her grandchildren, daughters in law, sisters, brothers, her nieces, nephews, extended family and last but not least her community family.

This memorial is in recognition of the love that her family and the community had for Pauline and for her contribution to the development and well-being of the community.

The community have asked that a bench be commissioned to commemorate Pauline’s contributions. Donations are welcomed and will go towards this lasting tribute.

For further details please contact:

Camille E Ade-John

Mobile: 07983 581 994

Cllr Paulette Hamilton

Mobile: 0787 8437 661

Facebook Page

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Friday, July 27, 2012


5 Ways To Maximise Ramadan By Serving Others

There is a wealth of material online which can help provide many ideas on making your Ramadan spiritually more uplifting. My piece here is a tiny addition to all the wonderful stuff that is out there.

Many people cannot fast. There is a whole catergory of individuals who do not fast and this is available through the links above. When we generally think of an individual who cannot fast due to health reasons who do we think of? Someone in a hospital bed with machines all over them? A diabetic? Or someone with kidney failure? Or someone receiving chemotherapy? It seems that some of us think that you must be quite poorly (physically) to be considered exempt from fasting. However, the wisdom in Tradition allows a whole host of different illnesses to be considered valid conditions for not fasting. Sometimes fasting may be delayed until the individual is feeling better, but other times the individual may have a continuous health condition meaning they will not make up those fasts.

Some people who are not fasting may appear healthy-looking with a lot of energy but removal of food and drink would not be conducive to their wellbeing. It is important never to question the sincerity of an individual who is not fasting, for that is between them and God Almighty.

The Tradition teaches us that the Prophet Alaislam was the most kindest person and he was even more generous in Ramadan. Serving others is one unique way in incorporating this characteristic into our lives. Here are some things you may wish to consider if you are not fasting to help maximise your day:

1. Housework

Helping an individual who is fasting can really be appreciated, especially given the length of the current fasts. Help with housework chores including cleaning and preparing food can go a long way. This would be particularly welcomed prior to the end of Ramadan when Eid preparations begin and the house can do with a good ole scrub!

2. Clear out

I have written before about doing clear-outs for charity here. It really is a fantastic way to combine both helping others aswell as letting go of possessions and taking a few steps towards freeing yourself from material chains. 

3. Child minding

As more children are on holidays this Ramadan, this can cause additional work for families in terms of feeding them and keeping an eye on them. Children can consume more energy in the holiday season because they get bored so easily and are always on the look-out for fun activities. You can volunteer your time to assist in this process by spending some time with children on a worthwhile activity. 

4. Gardening

People who have gardens to take care of will know how keeping on top of it all can require a considerable amount of time and energy. Weeding itself can be very time-consuming. With all the rainfall we have had, many people's gardens have not maintained a good shape. Helping someone with regular maintenance (even a few hours per week) can contribute significantly in reducing the workload they have. If you know of people with allotments, then you can volunteer to assist with that too. Gardening in the summer can be very testing as the heat can cause dehydration - a fasting individual would be unable to have regular drink breaks. Any help therefore would be great.

5. Shopping

Who enjoys shopping on an empty stomach? We don’t but we must get in essentials! Helping someone by doing their shopping for them can save them valuable energy, time and unnecessary queing!

So there you have it, a few things you can do in Ramadan to attain goodness through your service to others!

Ramadan Blessings!

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