And sometimes the town, mountains and sea simply disappear into the abyss.
Is Turkey a Muslim country? I would describe it as a country in which the majority religion is Islam, just as England is a country in which the majority religion is Christianity. Of both, we could describe them as countries in which people of a particular religious denomination exist in significant numbers. Like England, Turkey is a country in which the dominant religion informs much of its cultural landscape and customs. The notion that these are religious countries, though, is questionable.Continue reading “The dominant culture”
The commentariat keeping on telling us that Britain is not broken — “we’re in a state of transition, not collapse,” as Robert Colvile would have it in the Sunday Times. But I can tell you that it is indeed broken, it’s just that those in the know are keeping a lid on it, with gagging orders unofficially in place.Continue reading “When we are broken”
In life, I have learnt that whatever wrong we do will come back on us. If we mock another for their appearance, in due course we will be given that appearance. If we accuse another of certain actions, one day we will end up doing all we accused them of. That’s why it’s best to restrain the tongue and the hands, lest we be the source of our own demise.
I grow more content in my face and form as I age. Old photos, I will neither share nor spend any time looking at, for they are too horrific to me. Perhaps I’m overly harsh with myself, but I was the one who had to live with both.Continue reading “More content”
And then there was one. To his credit, after several days ignoring us, demonstrating his new-found independence and indicating that he had no more need for us, our lad did skip back to me as the others piled into the car. “I’ll miss you,” he said, throwing his arms around me. They’ll only be gone a couple of nights, inshallah, but their departure apparently still warranted an, “I love you.”Continue reading “Just me”
I wonder: does anyone actually remember me? If I did not stand up to wave, “Here I am,” would anyone recall me at all?Continue reading “Fossil”
How do multigenerational households survive the lack of personal space? I struggle to comprehend the challenges for those newly married couples forced to move in to the family home, to subsist amongst parents-in-law, brothers-in-law (also married) and sisters-in-law, and occasionally even grandparents.Continue reading “Personal space”
Noise. I cannot abide it. I realise I was made a quiet man for a reason. The guests have the television on at full volume. Some opposition political commentary. Because the television is so loud, everyone is speaking even louder to make themselves heard. And here I am, trying to do maghrib, turning a bright crimson with exasperation. I will be the gracious host for as long as they stay, but then I will breathe a sigh of relief, seeking refuge in quiet once more.
Just before I began work at 9.30 this morning — 7.30am UK time — guests arrived unexpectedly. Guests upon guests, for the house was already abuzz. They came for brunch, apparently, causing everyone inside to scramble around in a mad rush to get dressed and tidy up makeshift beds in the living room.Continue reading “From chaos”
The kids have their young cousins to stay for a few days, so now go roaming down the lanes showing the adults who’s boss. Their happy cries are audible far away. This is the freedom they dreamed of. The joys of the rural village life, hanging out and having fun.
If ever you needed evidence that right wing social commentators have completely lost it, it is all here.Continue reading “Unwoke”
Our friends from Ealing call us, “We’re in Turkey too. Kalkan. Come over!”
Right. That’s only a twenty-hour road trip, a mere nine-hundred miles. We’re virtually next-door neighbours.
“Maybe we’ll drop round when we get home,” we suggest. A twenty-five mile drive instead.
I honestly don’t understand this modern trend of spending tens of thousands of pounds on a wedding.Continue reading “Foundations”
I enjoyed reading an article in the Independent about the so-called scam wedding make-up industry. The gripe of brides seems to be the extortionate fees these artists charge for a woman’s big day.Continue reading “Natural beauty”
A gift from a brother-in-law I haven’t seen in five years: a bricked backup drive which, as the resident IT pro, I must spend my afternoon recovering. Apparently I agreed to this on the phone about a year ago.Continue reading “Unbricked”
Anyone who saw my face, aged nineteen, should have concluded that there was something wrong with me. I looked like Michael Jackson in his 1991 phase, only more gaunt.Continue reading “Photos”
Always fascinating that in my wife’s extended family, it’s the women who find faith, while the men actively and vehemently oppose it. I suppose they must have greater strength and fortitude than their brothers. Such strength can never be underestimated in a family like theirs.
To the question, “How do Muslims treat women?” you will not get a definitive answer, because it all depends on the individual, their personal circumstances, their family culture and the environment in which they exist.Continue reading “The best of you”
The pen is mightier than the sword, say some, and extremists are determined to prove this is true.Continue reading “The power of words”
Though it pains me, once more I must press reset on a nascent project in the making. Once more I must interrogate my own intentions and, finding them wanting, must not just press pause, but go full obliteration. My lower self calls me back to these schemes over and over, each time convincing me anew that there is good in them. No, but ultimately I must take myself to account and continue to do battle with my wayward self. Daily does this battle rage on.
Here I am sitting, just reflecting on dreams I once had, and how it all came to be. Maybe I forgot those dreams, setting them aside for many years, but everything was nevertheless set in motion. Despite myself, I was granted a companion who shared those ambitions and would help me realise all I once yearned for. Dreams don’t come to fruition overnight; often you have to wait years, but one day all that you once desired you will hold in your hands. These the lessons of life.
These weeks, our kids are enjoying the life I dreamed of when I was young, with no shame at all. Daily, they go racing up the lane to our neighbours to actively participate in the rural life here. They are learning new responsibilities. A couple of weeks ago, they’d be seen following our neighbour around as she walked her milk cows for their evening graze. Now they have been assigned a cow, looking after it themselves. In just days, we’ve seen our little farmer boy grow in confidence and maturity. Oh, how we will miss this place.
I think many of us religious types, especially those raised in very religious homes, don’t understand that most people don’t do religion at all. And that cuts across all communities, even those outwardly perceived to be very religious.Continue reading “Irrelevant”
Let’s be frank: ours is a history of extremism. But pause: the we I am using now is not in reference to my adopted religious identity. This is the we of nationhood. I am talking about the extremism of the British in our political actions interfacing with other nations and peoples.Continue reading “Extremism”
So another week passes by just like that. I decided to walk down to the mosque in town for jummah prayer today, and all I can say is this: it killed me.Continue reading “Another Friday”
If I speak a lot about marriage and my beloved, it is out of gratitude and in awe. It’s not easy to find a companion and soulmate, and even if you do, there are always others who will place obstacles in your way. The half a decade before we met was a real test for me, but the opposition of the weeks afterwards: nothing compares to that.Continue reading “Love opposed”
All of my novels are works of fiction. They’re not autobiographies. Naturally, all authors have their subconscious to contend with. It’s difficult to avoid sentiments bubbling up from somewhere deep within, feeding into a scene or plot.Continue reading “Fiction is fiction”
Caring responsibilities have somewhat dampened this year’s summer holidays. My wife keeps feeling compelled to apologise. She’s finding looking after her elderly mother trying, to say the least.Continue reading “This adventure”
Life continuously and repeatedly humbles us. Over and over again, we are taught that we are mostly wrong about just about everything. Sometimes it takes just hours to learn that we were mistaken; sometimes it takes decades.Continue reading “Humility”
I do believe career progression is all about confidence, and very little about your actual skillset. Of course, if you don’t have the skills at all, you’ll be quickly found out, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy to get rid of you.Continue reading “Progression”
I am not sure that what we write in ignorance remains valid once experience shows it to be flawed. To read back to myself what I once wrote before we had children, for example: how easy to castigate a man for running away when faced with raising severely disabled children, speaking of great ideals about what constitutes a real man.Continue reading “With experience”
I think without my faith, I would have struggled to deal with the emotional impact of my diagnosis. By faith, though, I don’t mean the faith community to which I belong — if anything, that is mostly unhelpful, for Muslims carry with them a lot of prejudice and cultural baggage which often makes them insensitive to the effects of a condition such as this. By faith I mean my relationship with my Creator, and the practical toolkit the faith provides in dealing with loss and hardship.Continue reading “In good faith”
I have on my website a body of writing going back nearly 30 years. I went through a phase about a decade ago of purging almost everything written prior to 2008, but have relented on that and put much of it back (though about 800 drafts remain in limbo, awaiting reconsideration).Continue reading “Unpurge”
The day began with our lad begging me to take him to town. But then our neighbour appeared, and they both spent the day helping her instead, starting with making hay, through to clearing beneath the hazel trees, and finally looking after the cows, rewarded along the way with garden produce. Me: I had the pleasure of cleaning the old furniture next door. Sunday’s no day of rest over here.
Muslims are just people like anyone else. Some are good, some are bad. Most of us are somewhere in between. Religion can be used for both good and bad ends. This applies to humanity in general. The same applies to political ideologies. The history of the twentieth-century teaches us this much.Continue reading “To be successful”
Our neighbour is making hay for her cows; the kids are helping her. Good fun.
Second thoughts on engagement, post party. I confess to be confused the following morning, because what we experienced was basically a wedding, without the marriage. There were the vast numbers of guests, the dancing, the photographs. The only thing missing was the nikah. Which begs the question: why not just get married?Continue reading “Most engaging”