Monday, 25 March 2013

My mother's sister

One of my fondest memories of my maternal auntie Sanaa, who passed away yesterday, was observing as she and mom embraced, giggled and gossiped as they sat together upon reuniting following a separation of several years. You couldn't interrupt their joy and intent focus on one another. It was as though I wasn't in the room as they sat on my aunt's bed holding hands and bursting into uproarious laughter, literally, every five minutes.

They shared stories and recounted events from years passed. They spoke as two souls who hadn't been apart for a second, let alone five or six years. Their laughs came from somewhere in the depths of their bodies that can only be touched and activated by one's sister. It was simply a beautiful and unfortunately rare site to see.

God's tests for my late aunt were often trying: an early divorce, a lifelong struggle with asthma, arthritis and breast cancer. She endured with faith and persevered, always turning to God for comfort. May Allah rest her soul in peace and grant her Heaven.

As my mom's elder sister returned to God-- the ultimate destination of us all-- I was once again reminded of how near, present and palpable death is. After losing my father, two paternal and two maternal uncles, as well as two aunts in the past few years, God bless their souls, I suppose the thought that my loved ones will pass away has become a central part of my consciousness. I wouldn't say it scares me, but it reminds me to honour the important people in my life, to spend as much time as possible with them, always realising that our moments together are precious and -- ultimately -- temporary.

When you leave me in the grave -  say goodbye
Remember a grave is only a curtain for the paradise behind
Excerpt from Jalaluddin Rumi’s poem “When I Die”

Saturday, 9 March 2013

One Life. Six Words.

I'm very excited to be taking part in a dynamic and unique online exhibition featuring Muslim women around the world. The International Museum of Women launched the exhibit, called Muslima: Muslim Women's Art and Voice, yesterday for International Women's Day. I wrote a special piece for the exhibition which will be featured in the coming weeks that I'm eager to share here!

As part of the process of putting together the exhibition, myself and other young Muslim women wrote six-word memoirs, keeping in mind the question: What does it mean to you to be a Muslim woman today?

The idea was inspired by a legend that Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words. He responded with: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” SMITH magazine asked readers to submit their own six-word memoirs in 2006, and the trend has taken off since then.

The six words I chose were: "Adding, Subtracting, Finding Patience In Commotion"... Find out why by visiting my page on the Muslima website.

I would encourage you to browse through the site to learn more about the Muslima Ambassadors from Denmark, the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines and the United States, including myself, who got this project off the ground. You can see the Curatorial Statement from curator Samina Ali and view some amazing contributions from female artists, photographers, writers, musicians and poets. There will be new content rolled out over the coming weeks and months. Please also take time to join the "Speak up! Listen up!" campaign to speak out against negative stereotypes about Muslim women and encourage others to truly listen to our voices.

Much love for International Women's Day!