It makes me furious when the word ‘awesome’ is applied to everyday happenings like finding a new box set on Netflix.
There is one area though where seeing pleasant things as expansive blessings and miracles do appeal to me: real life.
Take this `Eid. My mum lives in an area of London that is home to one of the UK’s largest Orthodox Jewish communities. I often feel uncomfortable and sad, when the sight of my hijab causes local parents to grab their children closer as I walk to and from the shops in the leafy suburb where I grew up.
Fear of Muslims I’ve long noticed is endemic in my Mum’s area.
I was staying at my mum’s `Eid morning. My daughter and I rushed out to the lift in her apartment block on our way the `Eid Al-Adha prayer. Mum’s neighbor, a man in his late fifties, wearing a yarmulke, the brimless cap, smaller than a Topi, worn by men in Orthodox communities passed us.
‘Are you moving in?’ he asked, abruptly.
‘My Mum’s Suzie” I smiled.
‘Ah,’ he looked us up and down.
‘Then why are have you got that Muslim stuff on?’ He asked.
‘Because’ I said, in a ‘ta-dah’ way, ‘We ARE Muslims. We accepted the faith.’
‘Well then’ said the neighbor, ‘All I can say is… `Eid Mubarak to you both!’
A tiny moment, a blink of the eye, yet it meant so much.
‘God bless you. What’s your name’ I replied after a surprised pause.
‘You’d call me Musa, which means Moses’ he continued ‘I lived in Morocco so it helps…’
I carried that moment to `Eid prayer and beyond. How beautiful for Allah The All Seeing to make us feel the love from outside our community and that the first person to wish us ‘`Eid Mubarak’ was a member of the Ahl Kitab – people of the book.
‘A blessing’ my daughter and I said throughout the day.
My guide to constantly seeking (and therefore seeing) blessings and small miracles in daily moments is sister Anisa Kissoon.
Anisa is the mother and the inspiration behind ‘Once Upon A Family’ who are becoming household names through their reality series on BMTV. Whatever happens in life, the community concerned Anisa is an expert in seeing the good in every situation. And here’s the news – it’s infectious.
And you can do it too. It really is just a matter of perspective. Just last week I was driving my car along a mountain pass renowned as one of the most winding and potentially treacherous in the UK called Snakes Road.
It is my beautiful, absorbing commute to work. Fifteen minutes into the steepest incline on the narrowest section (no passing places) I felt rather than heard a huge clunk from the back of my car. The screeching, road scraping of metal on tarmac pulled me to an instant stop.
My two options were:
- Slam the steering wheel. Break into a sweat of panic about being late for work. Curse ‘fate’ and wail ‘why me’?
- Look out the window at the glorious green of the neolithic gorge. Say Alhamdulillah. Say innalilahi wa innalaihi rijoon. Know that a phone call to work was a small thing and accept that radio is not surgery – no one would die if I was late.
Taking the second option, I put out a red triangle on the road behind my car, ignoring the angered faces of the drivers now also stuck behind me. Before I’d even chance to call the office and cancel my show, a car overtook and pulled over on the road ahead. A Muslim man climbed out and greeted me with salam. Without telling me his name he climbed under the car, unscrewed the fallen exhaust. He accepted no thanks. Did not stop to chat, just bowed his head politely. I got to work in a noisy but functional car.
A miracle, a blessing, another daily.
Back at the `Eid party, local families enjoyed a chicken barbecue in the back garden.
This small community of women believers, in every state of love, loss and yes, belief, cooked together. Our wonderful daughters helped serve course after course, teas and we (mostly) cleared up as we went along, stepping over toddlers, high on halal chewy sweets, playing with toys on the floor.
Allah’s name was never far away. His beautiful names flowed in the most natural way from lips young and older, in the back garden, in the park, on the sofa and where we sat and sipped tea on the living room floor.
Late in the evening, as fairy lights shone on the small gazebo, the kids and I (blush) enjoyed an Open Mic talent session which must never see the light of day!
There was salawat on the Prophet by a renowned singer from Tunisia.
As always sister Anisa seeing the guests getting their coats offered a reminder.
’This has been such a blessed day which we can all thank Allah for. We have laughed together, eaten together and had fun. I love you all for the sake of Allah.’
At 11 pm the doorbell rang. A sister who hadn’t been able to come earlier arrived almost two kilos of high-quality Qurbani meat to give Anisa.
‘We’ve donated some to the poor, some to our family and now some to our neighbors – you’ said Ruqaiya.
Anisa and I looked at each other. At the end of a day feeding fellow Muslims on` Eid, Allah ta’ala had replaced goat meat, with the best lamb meat of all – Qurbani.
Another miracle, another blessing.