​WHAT A STRONG WOMAN NEEDS… 

Who is a strong woman and how do we define “strength” in a society where women are prejudicially regarded as the “weaker sex”? 
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I believe that every well-bred woman is potentially strong. Her femininity alone is strength in itself; the kind of strength that can crush a thousand men without the use of arms. This doesn’t change the fact that she is physically and emotionally more vulnerable. She is easily weakened by little things that wouldn’t shake a man. 
A strong woman is unique but she’s not perfect. She is just an ordinary human like you and I, but she has a combination of strengths in the right proportions – intellectual strength coupled with modesty; financial strength plus emotional stability, exemplary character, piety and honesty… She doesn’t have it all, but she has a bit of everything. A strong woman is not independent. She can’t be; no one is, because ours is a world of interdependence.
A strong woman needs a man. She needs at least one man who celebrates her strength and inspires her when her spirit is dampened. She needs a father, or father figure, who remains her source of strength, even after his death. She needs a brother who stands by her through summer and fall. She needs a husband, who crowns her strength with a touch of royalty. She might not have them all, she just needs that one man who means the whole world to her.
A strong woman needs other women as moral supporters and cheerleaders. She needs a society that applauds her successes and forgives her failures. She needs a friend, who allays her fears and conceals her weaknesses. 
A strong woman needs humility. She needs to know that she isn’t in a competition with men, or other women. She needs to constantly use her strength to help others, especially women and youths. She needs to focus her energy on becoming a better person, and contributing meaningfully to make the world a better place. 
Above all, a strong woman needs God. She needs to understand that He is the ultimate source of strength and success. She needs to purify her intention from time to time. She needs to be a prayer warrior. She needs to know that she isn’t above the divine injunctions, and she isn’t immune from the consequences of sins and disobedience. 

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​THE POWER OF SLEEP


Have you ever pondered over the miracles of sleep and wakefulness? Do you know that sleep is so important that an average man spends a third of his lifetime sleeping? Do you give thanks to the One who gives you the ability to sleep and the grace to wake up from your sleep? 

Sound sleep is a mercy from Allaah (Qur’an 79:9). Not everyone gets it. All you do is lie on your bed with the intention of sleeping; the rest of the story is not within your power. If you doubt me, ask anyone who has suffered from insomnia and had to take strong pills in order to sleep. AlhamduliLlaah for the gift of sleep! 

Sleep is the youngest brother of death. Your consciousness, nay, your life is taken away temporarily. However, your heart keeps pumping blood throughout your body. Your lungs keep taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. Your urethra and anus remain tightened so that you don’t pee or poo on the bed. Your brain is refreshed and rejuvenated. Flashes of information pop up within your brain and you see them as dreams… Have you ever wondered how these processes keep going on while you sleep? SubhaanaLlaah! 

Waking up is the greatest miracle of all. You don’t choose to wake up. Allaah chooses who wakes up and who doesn’t. He created the “circadian rhythm” which triggers you to rise up when your body has rested well enough. And No, it wasn’t just because of the ringing of the alarm clock or crowing of the rooster. 

So tell me, how can a person sleep and wake and not appreciate that it is a privilege to sleep and wake? 

“It is Allah Who takes away the souls at the time of their death, and those that die not during their sleep. He keeps those (souls) for which He has ordained death and sends the rest for a term appointed. Verily, in this are signs for a people who think deeply.” (Qur’an chapter 39 verse 42)

​WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE? 

After my NYSC, I joined the pool of frustrated young Nigerian graduates, actively searching for a job. So one day, I attended a walk-in job interview in Lagos. I had rehearsed the answers to common interview questions and mastered a number of clinical questions that are frequently asked during such interviews. Then, I met a consultant who asked me unusual questions. 
“How old are you?”

Although my date of birth was written clearly on my CV which was right in front of him, I think he just wanted to be sure… 

His next question struck me even harder… 

“So, what do you want to do with your life?”. 
I went silent for about 40 seconds. The question was obviously open-ended and vague, I didn’t know how to start answering. At that moment, I thought about the meaning of life itself. I thought about the purpose of creation. I thought about the things I wanted to do in life and those things I’ll like to be remembered for when I’m gone. I envisioned my life in the next 10 to 20 years. Then, I remembered that I don’t even own my life and, as much as I plan for a great future, nothing is 100% sure; except death.
Within those 40 seconds, a verse of the Qur’an popped into my head:

“And I (Allah) created not the jinns and humans except that they should worship Me” (Qur’an chapter 51 verse 56). 
My dear interviewer, seeing how perplexed I was, went on to explain what he meant… 

“You’re still young and energetic. I doubt if this is the kind of job you should be looking for. It’s OK to gather one or two years of experience and save some money. But you should aim higher. You should take this and that course, undergo this and that training, read this and that book, access this and that resource, write this and that exam…”
I nodded affirmatively but I was still partially lost in thought. He had no idea that I read a different meaning to his question. Each time I remember that interview, that interviewer, and that question, I shake my head and smile. I ask myself: Khadijah, what are you doing with your life? 
“O you who believe! Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do.” (Qur’an chapter 59 verse 18) 

MY MIRROR

I love mirrors. I love it when walls are richly adorned by them. There’s this giant mirror in my room. It is almost twice as tall as I am, and about a meter wide. Daily, I stand in front of it and take a long look at myself from head to toe… 

I look into the mirror for a maximum dose of self-love. I call it “self-crush”. I look for the differences between yesterday and today. I see flashes of hope for a better tomorrow, in shaa Allaah. I see the strands of grey hair which herald senescence. I see the freckles and wrinkles which remind me of the ephemerality of my existence… 

I see the mistakes of the past and the opportunities of the future. I see life and death, and the thin line between them. I see my achievements and how awesome I am. Then, I see my weaknesses and how fallible I could be… 

This mirror, besides being an essential piece of furniture, is a great source of reflection and reminder. That, is why I love mirrors. 

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“… Our Lord! Give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the Fire!” (Qur’an chapter 2 verse 201)

​BRING BACK OUR SEXY BODIES! 

Fast backwards to 10 years ago (or more) and imagine your long and shinny hair before the hormones took over. Imagine your perky breasts before the babies started pulling and sucking.  Imagine your board-like, six-pack tummy before the stretching and fat deposits… 

Now, wake up from that imagination and take a look at your body now. It’s OK. You’re not alone. Even if hubby is not complaining, deep down, you miss that body. You can’t get that body back but you can embrace the new you. You can cut down on the sugars and fats. You can spare 5 minutes daily for workouts and abs-tightening exercises…

That sexy body is gone for good, but you can still look steamy hot in your lingerie and mini jumpsuits. You can focus on your inner beauty and develop yourself productively. 

Yes! You can still be sexy, even at sixty!

PRAY ABOUT IT

At a particular sisters-only programme I attended some years ago, someone asked if it was permissible to use certain chemical products to boost hair growth. After the lecturer explained that it is better to avoid strong chemicals and opt for natural products, she also advised the questioner to pray about it. 

I thought it was rather silly to pray for long hair. Like, how will you even say the prayer? “oh Allaah! let my hair grow longer”? I didn’t understand her, so I raised my hand and asked the lecturer again. “Excuse me! Did you just say that we can actually pray for long hair”. She answered in the affirmative. 

I’m not a prayer warrior, but I’ve learnt how to ask Allaah from His infinite bounties. When a fervent prayer meets sincere efforts, wonders happen. Never underestimate what Allaah (‘Azza wajalla) can do. As long as that thing is not explicitly forbidden, ask Him and He shall answer. How and when He answers might be a little different from what you expected. But His divine plan is always better for you, if you believe. 

“And your Lord said: “Invoke Me, I will respond to you…” (Qur’an chapter 40 verse 60) 

Have a splendid week! 

DOCTOR! YOU TOO? 

By now, we should know that doctors aren’t free from illnesses. No, I’m not referring to malaria and chickenpox alone; I’m talking about serious, life-threatening physical and mental illnesses. Yes! like depression. That’s exactly where I’m going. Doctors aren’t free from depression; they are, in fact, highly susceptible to the disease. 

Most unfortunately, an average doctor will deny or ignore symptoms for a prolonged period of time. He will not seek help even when he knows that he should. He would come up with excuses and reasons to hang on – 
“I have dying patients to attend to. I have exams to pass. I have a huge paperwork to complete. I have a narcissistic boss to impress. I have aged parents to care for. I have a spouse who doesn’t have me. I have children who only see me for a few hours in a week (while I’m already burnt out). I have extracurricular dreams and aspirations to fulfil. I have my faith to protect. Yet, litigation and severe penalties await me if I err… “.

He has all these worries on his shoulders but he’s expected to meet the world with a big smile. He still has to play demigod and save lives. Now, add all the “Nigerian factors” to the above and tell me why he shouldn’t have mood swings, if not full-blown depression. The health sector is rotten and the workers are the ones inside the bottomless pit of this rot… 

And no, I’m not justifying any error committed by a doctor. I just want you to know that a doctor CAN be depressed but smiling. Go out there and show a doctor some love! Neither am I discouraging my brothers and sisters from studying medicine. You are welcome. We need you. But know, that medicine is not for the fainthearted. You have to be strong. The thought of quitting will mess with your head from time to time. If you must quit anything, then quit medicine, not your life.