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!


I am not in my happy place. I tried to avoid writing because I am not in the best of moods but if I do not write it and set it free, it will keep sitting like a log on my heart making me unable to sleep.

My baby is ill again – with the same illness I treated about two weeks ago – because of fake/substandard drugs!

There is so much anger/sadness/frustration in my heart at the moment. Why do people do this? WHY?

I could rant ‘Why?’ all night long but I would not. Instead, I will share some experiences.

I had a close family member travel abroad and when she fell ill over there, she was given a single medication that had she been given here, she would not have been better unless the drugs were foreign. A cocktail of drugs would probably have been prescribed to restore her health. I really could not believe she was given a single drug which controlled her condition!

After the crazy Eid day cooking well into the night, I used a foreign brand of acetaminophen (paracetamol) tablets. The next morning, I had no lingering effects from the previous day. I woke up early, bright as a bird! The medication had worked like magic! Trust me, I have used different brands of paracetamol after very stressful days, but none had ever worked like this did.

Same happens when we use medications brought by hujjaj (pilgrims) when they return from Hajj. They work!

Why would our drugs not work? And if they do manage to work, why do the diseases relapse after a few days/weeks? Don’t these evil manufacturers/importers have children or family members of their own?

We have treated many patients in the hospital with the medications listed in the medical books only for the patients to deteriorate or die on us. Money is squandered on useless investigations that should not have been ordered in the first place and on placebo-like medications which should not even be available for sales in pharmacies and on irrelevant autopsies to probe cause of death.

Some doctors have learnt to prescribe only specific brands of drugs – often foreign and above the reach of the average Nigerian. Patients do not buy them because they cannot afford them, or they buy the fake/substandard ones only to have minimal improvement, if any at all. Sometimes, they leave the hospital all together only to get scammed by unorthodox ‘herbal practitioners’ and profit-oriented prayer houses.

It is so frustrating as a doctor and makes patients doubt your competence when you prescribe drugs that do not work! Heck, it makes you doubt your competence! Most significantly, PEOPLE DIE!!!

How can humans be so evil?

Please, say a prayer for my child. May Allah heal him.

SEASONS Q6.99, Q27.60

In Nigeria, our seasons are simply 2, not the quad of spring to winter; just wet and dry seasons, for those who don’t know.

Personally, I prefer the wetter of the two, especially when the exhausting heat of March is being shooed away by the deliciously tantalising smell of water on dust and those heavy winds! *sigh* Bliss!

I particularly love being indoors when it rains, relishing the deafening staccato on our aluminium roofs. The howling wind rattling the windows in their frames…the amazing way trees bow in reverence to Allah. Most wonderfully, the rhythm of the rain lulls my littlets to sleep. Weather for two!

If caught outdoors, it’s wonderful to sing/hum/recite Qur’an to yourself while walking calmly while it drizzles. If it is raining really hard, you may even get away with a scream or two! *grin*

After the rain, all the harmattan haze seems to have been washed away and there is this beautiful clarity like everything has been washed clean. The roads seem to glitter and the brown grass seems less depressing. Maybe it’s the promise of green grass (I love green grass!) that makes me so happy but I really do prefer the rains (so long as I don’t get drenched and fall ill; and it doesn’t rain everyday for a month).
Going to our local markets can be terrible with the mud and poor drainage, but seeing the fresh fruits, vibrant colours of veggies…I can’t complain much!
vegetable stand
I do know of the disadvantages of the rains too: laundry doesn’t get dry, our leaky roofs and subsequently smelly rugs, blown-off roofs, the traffic and the flood with its sequelae of homelessness and water-borne diseases.

I am always grateful to Allah we do not have typhoons, tsunamis and hurricanes in Nigeria. We have enough problems to battle with in Naija, abeg!

And I always thank Allah for the roof over our heads. So, enjoy the rain…while it lasts…while you can!

i-Report Q2.30, Q11.15-6

Have you observed a trend? It’s called i-reporting. We all want to be the first to relay news; we are all wannabe reporters, thanks to our smartphones and other gadgets. Our house is burning- we stop on the stairs to twitpic. Our baby was delivered just minutes ago and she’s already been ‘liked’ 50times on Facebook. We just came to after general anaesthesia for a 6-hour surgery – we ask for our phones to tweet. Unfortunately, bad news trumps good news so we hurry to share the gory images on Instagram, unsavoury details on Facebook, distasteful videos on Youtube, unfounded rumours on Blackberry Messenger and revolting language on Whatsapp.

In essence, we’ve effectively lost our sensitivity and humanity. What for? So that our sensational report can get the highest number of likes and retweets; perhaps our tweet can be featured on CNN or The Stream on Al-Jazeera. Arguably, our lack of ethics may spring from a deficiency of proper training on journalism but are we really so unfeeling, callous, apathetic, inhumane? Is our compass of conscience so broken?

An accident occurs on the highway – we all screech to a halt and whip out our camera- phones with major megapixels and take gruesome snapshots to quickly send to friends and gossip sites; our safety and the victim’s feelings distant from our minds.

We witness a near-mobbing commonly referred to as jungle justice but instead of dissuading others from the act, or at least parting from such a gathering to look for an enforcer of the law, we scan for a vantage point from which to record the events and share with people while exclaiming, ‘you won’t believe what I saw today!’ Someone’s daughter is stripped naked, raped and left to die in indignity yet we hasten to the shallow grave to take snapshots, instead of calling for the emergency organisations.

Without a doubt, i-reporting can be used for good but we should remember that we are humans, first of all; wannabe journalists, a distant second, even third or fourth. We should consider if we would hurry to reveal the victim’s nakedness and vulnerability if they were related to us. Audhubillah, but if you were dying and clinging to life by a thread, your hijab off, clothes shredded, body parts at improper angles you cannot correct, would you want that to be your last image beamed across to millions of viewers? Would you want that final picture to be one taken by an over-eager amateur reporter? Would you want to be seen in such a helpless state, robbed of your dignity? Even in the media, such images have the eyes or faces blurred out.

I am just advocating that we use our discretion when ‘filing’ these reports. When feasible, we should seek to help these people out of their predicament. We should not assault people’s senses with gory images because we want to convey information; these victims are humans like us. The necessary messages can be passed across while still preserving our brother’s or sister’s dignity.

May Allah guide us to what is right.

PS. Innalillahi wa ina ilaihi raajiun to those who lost their lives in Nyanya Park, Abuja on 14-04-14.