One hour before 2014

Bismillah,

A new year has as much meaning in my eyes as a new day, week or month. Not all that special in other words, and I wasn’t planning to write anything but somehow it turned out to be a quite special last day of the year.

A sister picked me up to attend our weekly class in another town nearby. As she was driving we noticed how dark it was, and started to talk about how nature affects one’s mood and general way of thinking. When we entered the town we realised that the electricity was down in the whole town and after a half an hour wait our teacher decided that we would still have class, without lights, speakers and a microphone (for the sisters). I loved this idea as I love everything that’s done the old way 🙂 The teacher started talking about the importance of knowledge. The salaf used to say that knowledge has pride and honour, and doesn’t give itself to anyone just like that. They used to sleep on the doorstep of the scholars, so as to not miss any goodness that comes from them. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbaas told his friend, when they were still young, let us seek knowledge. His friend didn’t understand the importance of this, so he left his friend and went to seek knowledge on his own, and after all the time that passed between him and us we can all testify to the vastness of his knowledge and wisdom. So that was quite an inspiring beginning of the lesson.

From fiqh we just reached the book of prayer and so we started with learning the timings of the prayers. And this was simply the perfect topic for tonight, since the lights were off and we were much more aware of the laws of nature than we would have been with a bright artificial light above us. Actually it never occurred to me that I didn’t have electricity for more than 5 minutes (except in our village in Turkey).

It was as if every prayer time had a different feel to it. Starting with dhuhr, when the sun has just passed its highest point, I longed for a place where there’s actually a clear sun and shadows even during winter, because I have been deprived of it for too long!! Same for salat al-‘asr, when the shadow has the same length as an object. The end of ‘asr is actually at two times, first when the sun is about to turn orange, that’s when you should stop praying. But in emergency cases you can pray till maghrib, which is when the sun has went down, and you see a red gleam in the sky. That’s all those beautiful pictures of sunset. When this red gleam disappears isha time starts. ‘Isha has two times as well, the first is the half of the night, and the second the start of fajr. I started to calculate the length of the night to know when half of it is over, and that’s roughly from 5 pm to 7 am, 14 hours of darkness every day :O that’s like more than half of every day! No wonder why everyone seems so gloomy. As I was thinking these ungrateful thoughts my teacher said he met brothers from Norway who came from a place where it’s light during day and night for three months and then dark for three months. So shocking subhanAllah, they are praying dhuhr in the dark and isha during what seems day time. See, things can always be worse. And then, fajr time. After darkness comes light, yes, very dim over here but undeniable. I wish to live in a place where I’m closer to nature, since it reminds me of Allah and gives a different experience to prayer. Imagine reading the prayer times directly off from the sun, being reminded that Allah should be worshipped at all times, not just at 7 a, 1 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm, 7 pm 😀 and that the day and night belong to Him. Until that time it might be a good idea to disconnect from technology every now and then, and realise there’s still life, and a beautiful one as well, away from artificial things.

It’s 11:30 pm now, and I either fall asleep within 15 minutes, or after two hours when people finally realise how much money they wasted on fireworks. So see you next year in sha Allah 😀

Why I don’t want to do a masters degree (yet)..

Bismillah,

The title of this post could as well be “why I’m not what you think I am”. But more on that later.

Since there’s only 6 months left of my undergraduate life (in sha Allah!!!) people have started to ask me if I’m going to do a masters degree and which one. And every time I tell them I’m not thinking of doing a masters degree any time soon I get reactions of surprise, unbelief and sometimes even clear disapproval. Especially my classmates tell me that I must be crazy for choosing not to continue my studies while I have the capability to do so. They think I’m not making a wise choice, that I’m wasting my intellect. Sometimes I feel bad about me not being motivated to do any more studying and consider a masters degree. But this is not a decision I made overnight, it’s actually got to do with my view on life which has changed quite a lot in the last few years.. This is for me and all those who feel pressurized by society.

So they say that it’s such a pity that I’ve come this far and refuse to study further and get a higher degree. There are tons of answers I would like to give to these people. First of all, I have absolutely nothing against studying, my religion has made it compulsory for me to study matters of religion and encourages me to acquire all other kinds of beneficial knowledge. For your info, the first thing I do when I’m bored is not to grab the remote control but rather open a book and read. Some of my most beautiful memories are from spending time in the library reading, at the mosque studying islam and Arabic, and at secondary school learning Spanish. I’ve also come to realise how much there’s to learn in this world, how little all of us actually know. But seriously, uni is not the only place where you can acquire knowledge. A diploma says so little about how much you know, but much more importantly: it says absolutely nothing about who you are! The day I receive my diploma I will not feel like a different person, true I have changed a lot during uni days, but that’s not because of the things I learned during lectures or seminars. I couldn’t let the knowledge get deep to me, because this is not really something I’m passionate about (linguistics a little, English language not at all) and to be completely honest with you, I hate everything that has to do with academic life. I remember the joy I felt when I wrote my last lab report a few years ago – poor me, I didn’t know that uni was all about learning how to do experiments and report on them. I respect those who have the patience and strength to do these things, I was simply not made for it. Same with writing essays, I will be frustrated and scared and depressed for days on end because a deadline is approaching. In every sense of the word, it makes me SUFFER. And I’m not exaggerating when I’m telling you that since the beginning of this year I’ve been worried about having to write my final paper next semester. And no it’s not only due to my personality, I’m quite a relaxed person in other areas of life, but ever since I left primary school education equals suffering to me. Okay okay I know that it has a lot to do with my personality, but if some things had been just a little different the whole experience would have been much less nightmarish.

I’m also being told that a masters degree will increase my chances to get a job. The only job I actually like is teaching, and I started doing that at the age of 15 without a degree (getting paid for it as well). What’s more, I don’t think any of us will easily find a job that suits your interests and your degree. We have to start looking at things differently, and not expect everything to stay the same while so many things are changing.

Finally coming to an end, I think my attitude to university is greatly shaped by my personality. I mean the combination of fear of failure and perfectionism were the things that actually made my learning process such a hard one, besides the fact that current education is so result oriented and therefore makes everyone feel like a loser whenever they fail to get high grades. That’s why I say that one day I might consider doing a masters degree, but I need time to work on myself. Get a brainwash, realise that others’ opinions of me don’t reflect who I really am. This realisation itself makes me want to take a looong break from formal education and turn back only when I’m ready to take it all with love. Maybe you shouldn’t take this post too seriously, but take one thing from me: you are more than what others think of you!

Saudade..

“…a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist… a turning towards the past or towards the future.”
I have this feeling very often, how comforting to know that at least in another language (Portugese) there’s a word to describe this, meaning that I’m not the only one..

Waiting for the bus

The last leaves are falling from the trees, leaving them bare and naked, ready for winter, ready to die for a living. With the same movement – I imagine – drops of water are falling from my hands, while I’m moving them ritually as I have done nearly every day for almost two decades. I whisper the name of God, fill my right hand with water, and slowly bring it up to my mouth. These are the same movements I’ve been doing a whole lifetime, since I was a small child taught by my mother to cleanse myself, to get rid of my sins day in day out, to prepare for the meeting.. My nose, face, arms, head, ears and feet also pass the revenue, all in their own distinct way, but always once or thrice, a fixed odd number of times. My sins fall off my shoulders with every drop.. will they always be falling off so easily?
I’m waiting for the bus. The wind blows my veil towards all directions, I shiver. Then it’s quiet for a while, my clothes fall on me like a protecting angel, covering everything that no one has the right to see.
I feel my leaves falling slowly, I feel that I must die for a living, just like the trees, my sun can’t keep shining forever, I must complete my winter.