BIG BREAK Q12:46-49

I had spent the day seeing patients this past Sunday and was in a vehicle on my way home. As we drove by a bus-stop, I looked at people’s faces and my heart felt sad and my eyes clouded over. Don’t we deserve a break?

Life in Nigeria has become very tough, for majority of the people. I can categorically say that the Middle Class has been annihilated. We only have the rich and the poor. Even the rich cannot enjoy their money because of the eagle eyes of the new government, eager to prosecute looters of the Public Treasury.

This is the analogy of Nigeria I have in mind:

A woman is given a couple of Naira by her husband to procure foodstuff to make meals for the family. This was the first time in months of scraping to get by. Elated, she hurried to an open market some distance away with her child strapped to her back. After she went round to settle her debts, she returned home to make a variety of meals and set them aside in the earthenware pots to cool. She had stretched the money as far as it could go and was satisfied with the outcome. They had enough food to last them a fortnight.

While she hung the second-hand clothes she bought for her older children to dry, she heard some commotion in the house and dashed to check it out. To her dismay, her infant (previously asleep) was now awake and with the help of their only goat, had broken the clay pots and eaten/spilled all of the food. The poor woman stood rooted in the doorway with pain on her face, unable to do what her heart was inclined to: sit down in the middle of the mess and wail. She could not afford that luxury. She had to clean up the mess and decide what to tell her older children and husband when they returned home hungry. Again.

This is the image I have of Nigeria at the moment. Our President is making a lot of effort but we want to see magic! We are hungry and do not want to hear how the previous administration is responsible. Indeed, we all suffering – both the rich and poor alike.

I had a patient that Sunday who said: The rain that beats everybody is not a bad rain. He said this after telling me to check his blood pressure because his landlord was the first person on their doorstep that day, demanding that they moved out of his house because they were behind on their rent by a mere 6 weeks when tenants typically owe several months of rent.

I disagreed with him but did not say so. This was a bad rain, flogging everyone mercilessly. Lawyers, doctors, teachers, business-owners, cab drivers, even beggars are not immune from the economic downturn in Nigeria following our undiversified economy, plummeting oil prices, pillaged public coffers, and chronic poor governance.

Thinking deeper about that saying though, I found myself beginning to agree. With this rain, we are becoming more understanding, more tolerant, more introspective. We are beginning to realise that when the sharing of the National Cake was going on, tribe and religion did not matter so it should not matter now. We now know that we are all in this together and gradually, we are coming to see that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ Even the landlord who was threatening to evict my patient tried to make him see reason that he had a genuine need for the money. His company owes him millions and cannot afford to pay him now.

He is not alone. Many civil servants are owed months of salaries. They have accrued debts so large they fear they may die bankrupt. Private companies also owe their employees at the moment. Big companies like Shell Nigeria are planning to lay off about 100,000 of their workers while a number of companies have already beat them to it by downsizing their workforce. Pensioners are dying without receiving their due. Senior citizens are following in their steps as their children cannot afford their healthcare.

You see, the entirety of the Nigerian economy fed off the Oil wealth. As the politicians shared their loot, some of it trickled down to the masses. They were acquiring land and building property. They were investing in businesses and building companies; employing citizens and sharing their largesse. Some of these thieves justified their stealing by sponsoring their wards’ education. They employed a lot of domestic and official staff, many without a clear job description. They were disposing of their barely-used belongings and buying new possessions. Money was leaking everywhere and the mosquitoes were feeding fat on it.

Now that the party has come to an end with the dwindling Oil Money and new thrifty government, the wailing is loud. Nigerians are striving to be patient but I wonder how much more we can take with new policies like the increased electricity tariff, increased cost of Kerosene and the banning of small generators.

As we drove by that Sunday, I felt we needed a break – a big break. Nigeria should win the World Cup or the Olympics. We cannot all win the lottery but I wish something positive would happen, anything really….I just want to see a smile on everyone’s face and the relief that there was truly hope; that everything will be alright, eventually.

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THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM Q4.34

Sequel to my previous post, this is also a post on marriage.

I mentioned here that I avoid giving marital advice because I feel unqualified. Most times, I ignore the thought but sometimes, like now, I cannot get it off my mind so here goes…

Due to this endemic problem of role reversal for men and women (husbands at home while the wives become breadwinners) as highlighted in my previous post, marital conflict has rapidly increased and divorce rates are skyrocketing.

While we are struggling to come to terms with this, I have a suggestion; but first, permit me to share a story.

My brother and I have a 15-month gap between us and growing up was a bit rocky. We bickered a lot and I did not respect him much but he (being easy-going) did not seem to mind. My dad was always berating him for not ‘knowing book’ like I did. I hated this but at that age, I could not fathom why he was not as studious as I was. We had a year gap in school too but I wrote my common entrance exams in Class 5 while he wrote his in Class 6 (final year of Primary/Elementary School).

We began JSS1 together and I dreaded it because I knew Daddy was going to compare our performances (even though we were in different schools) and my brother would fall short. In our third year of Secondary School, it happened! He failed while I was to proceed to senior secondary school. Even as a teenager, I was quite stoic but I cried that day (to my mum’s surprise). I was heartbroken for him. He was such a good guy, he was making so much effort to be better. It was so unfair! And I knew my dad would blast him with ‘tough love.’

I remember making a resolution that day never to call him ‘stupid’ when we quarrelled. Of course, like any dutiful teenager, I still thought he was stupid sometimes (like all boys), but I told myself I was no longer allowed to call him that or any other epithet referring to his cognitive skills. It did not matter how angry I was, it was the elephant in the room I was to ignore. Our relationship improved after that.

My marital advice is actually not new; it is what our mothers and grandmothers have been doing. One of the top reasons for marital conflict is finances. When the balance tilts in favour of the woman being the breadwinner, no matter how angry or irritated she feels, she should ignore the elephant in the room. For men who take their gender roles seriously (typically African, Arab and Asian men), they like their egos massaged (I am a learner in this aspect, and many other aspects actually). They want their efforts appreciated (no matter how little), their matters kept private and their advice and opinions sought – who doesn’t? I believed we were in modern times and waved off such silly advice when I got married. Ain’t nobody got time for all that crap, I thought. My grandmum actually advised me to kneel when serving my husband his meals. Warraheck?

Now, I realise the point she was trying to make was that a woman needs to stoop to conquer. As the saying goes ‘The husband is the head while the woman is the neck’. The neck turns the head in the direction it wants but it is subtle; you don’t see them in conflict.

Men have classified their wives arrogant (and all its synonyms) because she mentioned that she was tired of doing everything and needs him to pull his weight; or because she asked him of who would foot the bills now that he was insisting she quit work; or she told him the money he provided for housekeep was insignificant. It is supposed to be the elephant in the room that she is now the breadwinner. No matter what happens, SHE SHOULD NOT MENTION IT! 😀

The key to bringing up the elephant though, is humour. However, bear it in mind that the lack of finances is already fraying on your man’s nerves making him unreasonably sensitive so tread carefully.

On the other hand, you are free to dance a salsa with the elephant if your husband does not take his role as provider and ‘Lord Master’ seriously; or if you are past caring about your marriage; or you are a feminist insisting on equality in marriage. It won’t secure your union, I assure you; but then, maybe marriage is over-rated? 😉

PS: I have to include this: It is counter-productive to fend for your husband completely and provide all his needs because he cannot provide at the moment (and you want to show you love him). You should use your resources to provide for the family but still leave some room for him to contribute. Appreciate his contributions, no matter how small and encourage him kindly. Don’t flaunt your money in his face but don’t be stingy about it. Balance is key. Keep figuring it out; I am too. 🙂

FULL CIRCLE Q2:121


My son has begun his life’s sojourn into formal Islamic education. We used to take a few lessons on the Arabic alphabets and a few short surahs (Chapters of the Holy Qur’an) but we also wanted him to interact with more Muslims in a classroom. They do tend to learn faster that way and it is more consistent.

During his first week, I felt separation anxiety every time I dropped him off. It was weird because I thought I was over that since he started regular school a couple of years ago. I would walk him to the gate or classroom where he would wave solemnly and turn to enter and my smile would falter. Immediately I returned to pick him, promptly at the closing time, I would grill him about how the class went; if he made new friends; if anyone fought with him or beat him, but he would be all smiles. Running ahead of me excitedly, he would tell me names of new friends (which I would hurriedly commit to memory) and snippets of how the 2-hour class went. Yeah, I know…a mere two hours!

This reminded me of when I began my Islamic education too. I cannot quite remember my age but I was older than my son is, and I went with my brother. The school was a weekend one and lasted about 4 hours. It was a farther distance from our home than my son’s is and we used to be dropped off in the car but would often walk home when we closed.

I do not have fond memories of this school. I don’t think I ever discussed it with my brother but I was filled with dread whenever it was weekend and we had to go. I know he was too. I was a good student and did not get beaten by my tutor but the matron of the school (who I will call ‘Ma’) scared the hell out of our little minds. Pa, on the other hand, was a gentle soul.

Abu-Darda (R.A.) reported that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “He who follows a path in quest of knowledge, Allah will make the path of Jannah easy to him. The angels lower their wings over the seeker of knowledge, being pleased with what he does. The inhabitants of the heavens and the earth and even the fish in the depth of the oceans seek forgiveness for him. The superiority of the learned man over the devout worshipper is like that of the full moon to the rest of the stars (i.e., in brightness). The learned are the heirs of the Prophets who bequeath neither dinar nor dirham but only that of knowledge; and he who acquires it, has in fact acquired an abundant portion.” – Riyad Saliheen Book 13, Hadith 1388

Yet, Ma attracted such curiosity out of me. I used to peep at her if she performed wudhu beside me. I would surreptitiously try to catch a glimpse of her face when she prayed beside me. She was not Nigerian, I could tell even though she was always in black and all I could see were her hands. Her complexion, her accent and her children’s looks gave her away.

I think I was eight or nine when this family came in quite late. Classes were in progress in an open space (we had long desks and chairs arranged in the compound) so when the group came in, we all looked up, distracted. A man reported one of his daughters (I think?) to Ma and it was a grievous crime that this teenager had committed. Ma ordered for canes and holding her niqab to her face with one hand, she lashed this teenager repeatedly following her around as she tried to escape the burning strokes. The cane broke and she asked for another! It was amazingly scary seeing this rather diminutive niqabi striking a precocious teenager who was even bigger than she was. The cane whipped the student’s hijab off and I saw blood streaks. It was gruesome and we were horrified.

Alhamdulillah, our Islamic school was eventually changed (my parents had begun to hear rumours about the school which probably correlated with our complaints). The new Islamic school was even farther (an hour walk) from home so we were usually dropped off by my mum or we took the bus. This place was so much nicer, run by medical students, and less oppressive. I have fond memories of this place <3. Now, it's my turn to do the dropping off 🙂

Do you have any memories of your early Islamic education?

May Allah bless our (good) teachers everywhere!

IF YOU WERE A REVERT…(Q59:10)


Narrated `Abdullah bin `Umar (RA), the Messenger of Allah(SAW) said, “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection . “- Sahih al-Bukhari 2442

I recently heard of a revert who would refuse to cover her hair and pray when she and her husband had a fight. I found it quite amusing, to put it mildly.

I often admire the bravery of reverts though, and I am easily impressed when they make a little effort because in my humble opinion, Islam is not the easiest of religions to follow especially with increasing global islamophobia.

So, I’ve got a question:

If you were a revert, what aspect(s) of Islam would you find the most difficult to inculcate?


I would love you to share your thoughts so that when next we see a revert striving to be better, we would appreciate them more, encourage them, correct them kindly and be less judgmental.

BEREAVEMENT Q52:21


I had resumed work after taking a day off to renew my medical licence. The day started off on a good note because my patient (now friend) had delivered a baby girl overnight. I hurried to the postnatal ward to rejoice with her when I encountered the nurse on duty. She looked glum so I asked about our client and her baby. I was not prepared for the news I received.

I retraced my steps and asked the nurse to fill me in on the details. I had heard she delivered a baby girl in the early hours of the morning; what did she mean by, ‘We lost the baby’? It hurt twice as much because she had become a friend. I am usually stoic but when I finally went in to see her, my eyes welled up.

My dear friend was strong! She was consoling us not to feel bad, that her daughter was beautiful and had had a full head of hair. My heart shattered into a million pieces as I watched her smile while she comforted us. My dear friend was chockful of faith. Some of the nurses had to leave as they were in tears. This was a patient who had been admitted a couple of times because of a difficult pregnancy only for her not to get to return home with her trophy. Even her parents were in tears.

Abu Hassaan said: ‘I said to Abu Hurayrah: Two of my sons have died. Can you narrate to me any hadith from the Messenger of Allah (SAW) which will console us for our loss? He said: Yes; Their little ones are the little ones (da’aamees) of Paradise. When one of them meets his father – or his parents – he takes hold of his garment – or his hand – as I am taking told of the hem of your garment, and he does not let go until Allah admits him and his father to Paradise’. – Sahih Muslim 2635

Abu Hurairah (RA) reported that a woman came to Allah’s Apostle (SAW) with her child and said: Allah’s Apostle, invoke Allah’s blessing upon him for I have already buried three. He said: You have buried three! She said: Yes. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: You have, indeed, safeguarded yourself against the torment of Hell with a strong safeguard. Sahih Muslim 2636a

I really doubt that there can be a pain worse than that which a mother feels when she loses her child. Unfortunately, we do not allow mothers dwell on this. Instead, we urge them to move on and not dwell on it. It’s Allah’s Will. It is His Will, alright but they should be given the opportunity to grieve and heal. We should also provide our shoulders for them to cry on; to be available for them to talk, if need be. Here is a useful LINK.

May Allah reward their patience by reuniting them with their children in Al-Jannah.

IMPERFECTIONS Q3:161, Q31:34, Q82:5-8

When I was in primary school, we had extramural classes we used to attend in the neighbourhood after school. There, I met this boy who was my brother’s friend at the time.

I often viewed him with curiosity and awe because he had one normal arm and one shorter arm which looked like a stump to me. I often greeted him from afar but this day, he and my brother were having a discussion by the roadside so I finally asked him what happened to him.

He kindly explained to me that when he was even younger, living in the rural community, he had fallen from a tree and kept it to himself until he could no longer hide it. Eventually, his uncle found out and by then, it was too late to reunite the bones so he had to have the arm amputated above the elbow. It was a sad story but I had more questions brewing in my mind that I was mentally debating whether or not to ask. Then he touched me with the arm and…

I shrank back in revulsion, screamed and ran all the way home!

Honestly, I was totally horrified that such an appendage could move! The poor boy kept laughing at my retreating back!

People with deformities or impairments can seem like ‘freaks’ to the ‘normal’ population but it definitely doesn’t stop them from being human. Allah created us all as He wished and permitted some unfortunate incidents to happen to some of us that altered our normalcy but He knows best why these occurred.

image credit: blog.onbeing.org

image credit: blog.onbeing.org


I have no doubt that we will all be reunited in Al-Jannah as better versions of ourselves with the definition of ‘normal’ being broader than what it is on Earth. The imperfections we possess would certainly not matter as much in such a beautiful accepting world.

The Prophet (SAW) was said to have berated his companions when they made jest about Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (R.A.) because of his spindle-like legs and he was also close to Ibn Umm Maktum (R.A.) who was visually impaired. These were people who were outliers in the Arab population but they had the ears of the Prophet (SAW) and were appreciated for their contributions to the growth of Islam.

From the people with Down’s Syndrome, autism, dyslexia, cerebral palsy and a myriad of rare unpronounceable syndromes to those with injuries that have left them deformed, they are simply humans with human needs like you and me. They deserve to be shown love, kindness and respect (unless otherwise proven).

Could it be a failing on our part that to assimilate them into our lives that makes us label them ‘abnormal’? Is it because we think that we fall within the average human population that we make this conclusion? Perhaps, we would be the ‘abnormal’ ones if we took a census of all the people with oddities and rarities (like freckles, moles, big noses, scanty hair, short stature, overweight, squint, bad skin etc.) irrespective of colour or gender only to realise that they outnumber us. Or, we could actually even find ourselves among them!

There is no reason for people to be ostracized based on their physical or mental qualities over which they have little to no control. We should simply make room for them to live habitably with the rest of the population.

Lastly, if you do have a blemish or the other, remember that it does not matter to Allah. What matters is what your hands put forth. So, love yourself and keep your chin up!

May Allah forgive us for all our shortcomings for we are all in need of His forgiveness.