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I am re-posting this because it echoes my soul. And because I wanted to save it for myself for present and future reference and didn’t know where would be a good spot. This is a good spot.


As 2015 nears the finishing line, I feel it necessary- nay, incumbent– to write a sort of farewell to the year. Well, not really to the year, but to everything I’m going to be leaving behind in it.

That ‘everything’ includes people. Or rather, my relationships with certain people, since the people themselves will too be moving forward to a clean slate and a new year.

I think for as long as I can remember I’ve had this absolute fixation with friendships and an obsession with keeping all relationships that I am in, alive and well.

Through my life, this has led me to hold onto a lot of relationships that were not necessarily working out for me- in fact, they were downright bad.

And it’s so tough to admit it. I’ve gotten close to a lot of people in my short 22 years (well, almost 22.


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300 Books Before 30

Part of my identity has always been that I am a reader. I cannot remember a time in my childhood — from my earliest memories — that I did not love books or count myself among those who love reading; whether it was thick, cardboard-paged books about a spotty dog, The Famous Five, Sweet Dreams (cringe!), Sweet Valley, then finally the more mature books about life, love and such… books formed a huge part of my identity.


But, increasingly, in my young adult years through to my current adult years (old adult?), I’ve found less and less time for reading. And I know that’s just because I’ve made less time for it. I’ve found more distractions, more stress, more work, more world news, more to fret about, and more Facebook and YouTube to numb my brain with.

I often found myself joking that I probably could no longer call myself a reader if I don’t actually read…

And I’d joke that I’m an English teacher who hardly ever reads (for leisure)…

These are extremely unfunny jokes, I know.

SIDE NOTE: To be fair though, I’m not completely hypocritical as The English Teacher Who Doesn’t Read. Firstly, my hundreds and hundreds of books in my youth must make up for some of the lack of it in these recent years, no? Come on, there were a super many books that I read in my youth — you know, sitting at my desk in my bedroom, with school books spread out in front of me, so that I may quickly shove my novel under when Mom walks in. And I had one of those round push/touch lamps that I would use at night, under the duvet, when it was time for lights out.

Did anyone else have one of these as a child?

And… My mom used to take my stacks of books from me and hide them away because I read while I was supposed to do homework and study. I always found the hiding places though.

ANOTHER SIDE NOTE: I haven’t not read anything at all in these recent years — I’ve read some good stuff here and there; I quite enjoyed John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. And I’ve read the setwork novels for my teaching prep: Animal Farm by George Orwell, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, and lots of Shakespeare drama. (I have grown to love and appreciate Shakespeare much more than I did in my teens!) And there have also been other random novels in between. I read some poorly-written ‘chick lit’. I’m not proud of that. And several non-fiction, historical reads. A few novels by Muslim authors also made their way into my repertoire. So yeah, I’ve been reading… stuff. As long as we understand all the side notes before we proceed and stop judging the English Teacher…:/

The thing is, those moments of getting utterly and completely lost in a book, where I can’t wait to turn reality off and climb back inside my new world of characters and places and faces, have been too few and far between. People talk about the latest books they’ve read with giddy excitement, exchanging notes and little anecdotes, and I can only take my old reading memories off the shelves of my mind and blow off the dust, and contribute my measly 5 cents. Or just remove myself from the conversation altogether.

My identity was no longer Reader. My answer to ‘interests’ could no longer be reading. This perplexed me for a while, but I shoved it away and, much like I didn’t have time for reading, also didn’t have time to think about this new identity, or absence of identity.

But… you can run but you can’t hide. It started catching up with me. Reading was my escape: from stress, from pressure, from boredom, from the mundane, from idleness. It was also my destination. Then I found I had no escape. And I had no destination. I was just going through the humdrum. I missed the visits with the characters between the pages of good books; I missed the intensity of their stories and I missed travelling through new lands.

Source: Susan Wiggs

The intensity of my own story, my own stress of work and life, were my everyday visitors. I didn’t realise I needed books. I thought it was just a nice old pastime. I had forgotten that reading wasn’t just my childhood hobby — it was my identity. It is fundamental to every aspect of who I am — I’ve just forgotten how to enjoy it.

On a conscious level I knew the benefits of reading. I knew that it alleviates stress, stimulates creativity, increases concentration, etc., etc. But who really listens to their own inner-psychologist?

So while I ignored my inner-psychologist, I listened to my real-life doctor. She prescribed that I do something to unwind from time to time. And of course I chose Old Faithful: Reading.

I feel a peculiar sense of giddiness and strange emotional soppiness at this resolve to read again, consistently. Like returning to a beloved, dear old friend. I feel happy.

So to just return to reading again is boring — and what if I fall off the wagon? I thus decided to make it more interesting and at the same time hold myself more accountable, and so I will endeavour to read 300 books before I turn 30! Eeeek! Lol. Exciting and mildly scary. My 30 arrives in roughly 87 weeks. That means I have to read, on average, 3.45 books a week. Hahaha!

Let’s see if I can do it! I’m so up for it!


Blog sign-off

This World

Some people have said it’s a scary time to be Muslim right now, for obvious reasons. And I don’t know about that so much, but I do think it is a scary time to be human. It’s a scary time to drive on the road or stop at a traffic light; it’s scary to be in your house, even with burglar bars; it’s scary to walk into a corner shop or even in the mall; it’s scary to even watch the news.

The world is a scary place.

Yesterday, I watched a video of a young boy, 13 years old, being thrown around and kicked and stripped naked by prison guards in a prison in Australia. It crushed me. It angered and infuriated and enraged me. I couldn’t do anything to fix it. Today I saw a video of a small, tiny baby, not more than a couple weeks old, being wildly swooshed around in a bucket of water, held by the arms. Crying painfully. And I cried. Painfully. Real tears. I was writhing in my seat and couldn’t stand the aching that video caused me. It aches now recalling it. I was screaming silently at my screen while I watched. And I was angry that I even saw it at all — what good did sharing the video do? Does it stop the abuse? We don’t even see the identities of the women, so what can be done?? Why did you share it if nothing can be done about it?! I didn’t need to see it!

All I wanted to do was grab the baby away from that woman, and hold him/her in my arms soothingly. But of course I couldn’t. Again, I couldn’t do anything to fix it.

Perhaps I am a weakling for reacting this way. Perhaps someone else might not have been as pained by those scenes and would laugh at my reaction. I can actually think of at least one person who would laugh at my reaction and think I’m a silly girl. Perhaps I am a silly girl. (I know many more people who would agree with that statement. Even I do.) But I never want to be a silly girl who is okay with children being treated badly. I never want to be a silly girl who feels relieved because “at least it’s not my child”. My goodness, when is it ever okay for any child to scream and cry because of the violence and cruelty of an adult?

I feel deeply pained right now because of all the violence and bad stuff going on everywhere. And I truly, deeply hate to add to it. I hate that this post is so sad and dark. But when it hurts I write. And I cry. I just don’t always share it with everyone on my blog. But this I felt like sharing. Because it’s a pain I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling.

BeFunky Collage.jpg

I wrote this earlier, after the crying subsided. It doesn’t have a title yet. It’s just words that spewed forth that I really hope makes some sense.

Words That Spewed Forth That I Really Hope Makes Some Sense

by Ruqaiyah Davids

The world is a cruel and scary place.
I don’t know where to escape.
How do I get away from all this hate?
It doesn’t seem to abate.
But I know it’s not too late.

And I don’t mean to sound fake and to further saturate this debate
With candy floss and rainbows after every time the rain flows.
These words are not meant to gloss over all that is wrong with this place and the human race.
Violence and hatred have become commonplace.
I know.
It’s quite a disgrace.
But I do believe that we only need to educate –
One another and ourselves.
Then we can alienate those who seek to create
All these people who have become irate,
Causing them to deviate,
Fighting for what they think is right.
And those who only propagate hate.
And those who only separate.
And those who leave children, betrayed
By the very people who should be a source of shade.

This world has worked hard to make me jaded;
Tired and weary –
This world is scary.
Many days I can’t stand the evil of it all.
But I am an optimist.
Try as the world might, it hasn’t given my spirit fright.
But, still, I don’t look at the world through rose-coloured glasses.
I’ve sat through enough of the world’s classes
Of chaos, mayhem, and fear.
My eyes are clear;
I see the evil that is here.
But these darn hues of pink and red won’t leave me alone.
My spirit is prone to the light in this world
Which it has over and over been shown.
But my optimism can sometimes feel like my prison
As my soul feels that sickeningly familiar rhythm
Of a child’s cry,
While people die,
And a nation occupies.

My optimism can be a prison of pain and heartbreak.
Each time the world shows me its colour of evil my heart quakes.
I have a difficult time believing it’s real.
My optimism builds up a defence.
It tells me all the murder, ignorance, blood, hate, child abuse is just a pretence.
A pretence for what?
I don’t know.
But the core of me needs to believe it’s just a show.
Even though I know.
I know.

See, I call myself an optimistic-realist.
I read the news and know that the truth is always skewed.
But my optimism keeps the depression subdued.
It keeps the tears from flowing so much
That I lose touch with all the goodness God has given.
There is so much good,
There is so much love,
There is so much kindness.
The darkness here cannot lead to my blindness.
I am compelled to believe that He Sees.
I cannot deny that with hardship comes ease.
But what acts are these?!
Stripping small boys in a prison naked?
Turning a whole nation of people into the most hated?
Why are we not more devastated?
Starvation and malnutrition are circulated!
And then we are placated
While we become vegetated
Through the media, fashion, films, games…
Don’t be fooled – it is all calculated.

Blog sign-off


Making up for a whole month

“I’m making up for a month of fasting,” she said, humorously.



The day of Eid arrived, signifying the end of a month of daytime fasting. Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims who spend it (primarily) by abstaining from food and drink from sunrise until sunset (among other nitty gritties). But from sunset until sunrise, all (halal) food is allowed. So when people are stunned at the ‘no eating for a WHOLE MONTH?!’ thing, I’m kind of confused. Like, huh? You missed the part in the memo about ‘from sunrise until sunset’? It’s not thirty (or twenty-nine, depending on the moon) straight days of no eating.

(SIDE NOTE: That link for ‘Ramadan’ provides a nice exploration into what Ramadan is, if you are unfamiliar with it, though it still has that from-the-outside-looking-in feel to it, with some minor inaccuracies. But a fair read nonetheless.)

True for many Muslims.

And that brings me here. The narrative that started this.

So Eid soon arrived. And Muslim women (yep, no men at work here) the world over began the sacred ritual of preparing feasts for their families to eat. Eid, after all, quite literally means ‘feast’.

The feasting is great. I love the feast. I love my mom’s pie (which in recent years, with mom getting older, have instead become a collaborative effort between my sister and me — she does the filling, I do the pastry and the baking bit). I love home-baked bread. I love soutvleis. I love my momma’s fruit cake. I love puddings.

BeFunky Collage.jpg
Hmm. All that yum.

But I don’t love the frivolous idea that one needs to eat all that good stuff to ‘make up’ for the month-long fast that preceded Eid day.

Eid is not about making up for any lack of eating. Eid is not about celebrating the end of not being able to eat, like: ‘Shoo, hallelujah, that’s finally over! Let’s celebrate and eat until we can’t breathe.’

Everything that you eat on Eid day could have been eaten on any day night during Ramadan. You weren’t deprived. Rather, you were gifted. We were gifted. We were gifted with opportunities for redemption. A multitude of opportunities. We were gifted with opportunities for forgiveness, with showers of Mercy, with visions of love and kindness, with inspirations of generosity and compassion. We were gifted by having food taken away from us so that we took focus off our bodies and tummies and paid attention to our hearts, our souls, and our minds. We were gifted with closeness to our God, with time in His company and that of His angels.

I don’t mean to berate the person who said that line about ‘making up for a month of fasting’; this post is not intended to preach. The purpose for this post is that her flippant statement saddened me. And because it was to an audience of non-Muslims who would consequently also have the wrong idea of what fasting and Eid is all about. This post is because I was reminded of a time when I, too, didn’t quite grasp the gift of Ramadan. It was merely something to get through. That is a sad place to be in. It is lonely there. In that place, we don’t get to have conversations with Allah. In that place, our hearts don’t have the opportunity to feast on the love and the mercy that surrounds us. We don’t get to read His Love Letter to us (i.e. the Quran) and be moved by it. In that place of ritualised ‘starvation’ we don’t get to truly celebrate Eid for all that it is.

Far more than a grand feast, Eid is supposed to be a day of celebration of all the energy we exerted in worship. And a celebration of the hope we have in the Mercy of Allah, our hope that He will accept our worship and attempts to know Him and Love Him better. It’s also a celebration of togetherness and family. A celebration of love and goodness.

All that is so much more than the food we get to eat.

So no, on Eid day we do not eat to make up for a month of fasting. Just like on my birthday I do not eat cake to make up for a year of not having had birthday cake. The cake is merely a symbol of the celebration of life — hopefully one that will show love, goodness, success. (Or if you do not celebrate birthdays with birthday cakes because, like my sister, you’re not into the self-servingness of it all, and the lack of any basis in religious practice, then please feel free to insert your own appropriate analogy here. 😁)


How do you celebrate Eid in your neck of the woods? What does Eid mean to you?


Blog sign-off

It does not cease to be beautiful in its own absence

It does not cease to be beautiful in its own absence

by Ruqaiyah Davids

I will not discount the time passed.

The days have been quiet;

The months have felt bare.

When it was needed, it was there.

I will not colour it empty

Nor will I taint it with untruth.

It was a beautiful thing

While it was in its youth.

If it is gone now,

It will still be beautiful.

It does not cease

To be beautiful in its own absence.

But its scent grows light.

Its strength becomes slight.

Harder to keep it going

When it’s no longer in sight.

But beautiful it will always be.

Its shades of truth, I will always see.



A Strong Woman

Hi there. Hello.

Just yesterday I peeked over in my Poetry folder on my laptop and I realised that I had no poems to show for 2015. Gasp! This year, so far, has been odd. I feel like I’ve been on pause since the December holidays. I haven’t yet figured out how to press play. And that is reflected by being over 4 months into the year with no great emotion to show for it. (Great emotion = Poetry).

How boring, right? An emotion-less 4 months, stuck on pause.

So just a couple of hours ago, without me having asked for it (I promise I didn’t ask for it) some emotion came to smack me in the face. And so I have a poem. Yay. I think. Or not yay. Nay.

So here’s my first blog post for 2015 (and in over a year). And my first poem for 2015.

Strong Woman

by Ruqaiyah Davids

Yeah, I want a man I can love.

But I also want a man who will love me:

I want a man who will love my strength,

Even while he accepts my weaknesses.

I want a man who loves that I have an opinion,

And yet never feels threatened in his dominion.

I want a man who loves my sarcasm and wit,

Because, honestly, without it, I’d too easily submit—

And I’d really just be a counterfeit.

The thought of it makes me too sick to admit.

I want a man who loves that I use correct grammar.

Yes, I’m that nerd who texts with correct spelling.

And punctuation.

And I capitalise proper nouns.

But let me just announce:

Correct language use is by no means an obligation.

The absence of it, a mild irritation, yes.

But a well-spoken woman should not call for arbitration.

I want a man who sees that I am strong.

You had me doubting whether it belonged—

Does a woman’s strength put a man under threat?

No. You were wrong.

A strong woman still knows how to duet.


P.S. This poem is sort of a sequel to another poem I wrote quite a while back: A Man I Can Love. A continuation of the conversation, you could say. See below.

A Man I Can Love

by Ruqaiyah Davids

I want a man I can love.

A man whose love for me

Was decreed by our Lord above.

I want a man I can trust,

A man who I’ll want to respect and honour,

Not because I ‘must’,

Or because obedience to him

Was upon me thrust,

But because he respects me

And honours me,

And deals with people in a way that is just.

And because, above all that,

He respects and honours the Words of our Master,

And this will make my heart beat a little faster.


I want a man I can learn with,

Someone to hold hands with.

Let the man

To whom I’ll give my hand

Be a man I can laugh with.

I want the little things,

And from this,

Love begins.

And with it,

Rahma and Mawaddah

From our Lord it brings.


I want a man who will lead me,

A man who will accept me.

One who will guide me,

Protect me,

And lovingly correct me.


I want a man who makes mistakes sometimes

And is willing to take some time

To admit when he is wrong.

One who doesn’t always try to be strong

All on his own,

But allows me to come along,

Stand by his side,

And be his partner,



He should be a man with a beard—

Now wait,

I know you might think that’s a little weird,

But, even though I want a man who will love me,

I want him to love our Prophet

SallAllahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam

More than he does me.

I want that love to show on him,

In the way that he dresses,

And the way that he moves.

The way that he loves me,

And the choices he may choose.

It should be the means by which

Our life together improves.


I want a man I can grow with,

Someone I can sow with

The seeds of our trees

In the Gardens of Jannah.


I want to fall in love.

Just once,

Just him.

Forever and ever.




Are you a strong woman? Do you know a strong woman? Share your thoughts with me below.


Bowing Out

I made it five days into the glorious month of poetry before bowing out (gracefully?). Well, that’s not entirely true — I have still been writing this past week and I have a few poems to show for it, but none that I want to share right now.

NaPoWriMo is just not happening for me this year. Pieces of my mind are scattered in so many different places that I can’t quite gather them together long enough to compose something I like enough. And trust me, if I don’t like it enough, you’re sure not going to. Perhaps after some revision to those poems I’ll share them with you at a later time. I’ll still keep writing for the rest of the month, naturally. Will try to keep up with each day as much as I can, but what I really want to do is focus on more extended pieces of writing for now. So we’ll see where that goes. But besides that, what I even more really want to do (I know that isn’t right, but it just sounds so much more fun — why can’t we have fun with words?) and what I am doing a lot of right now, is concentrating a lot more on developing good writing in my students. And that takes a lot of time and energy. More than you’d think. So that also takes away from time given to my own writing. But I love it so much! And don’t worry, I won’t teach my students to write incorrect sentences like my one above — but I will teach them to experiment and have fun with the language and perhaps come up with their own funny ways of saying things that are otherwise just boring.

As a final salute to NaPoWriMo from me for this year, I’ll share one of the poems I wrote this past week — just to not leave you with nothing.

It was supposed to be a love poem to an inanimate thing. And this is sort of a love poem… though not quite.


To My First Car

by Ruqaiyah Davids

I never liked you much.

In fact, I could hardly stand you.

And it was no secret too.

You were unwanted and unloved—

A harsh, cold, ugly truth,

Just like your harsh, cold, ugly exterior.

But you were needed.

I needed you like you needed a good paint job—

Without you my life would not have been the same.

Without you, I would have been stuck,

And alone.

You gave me freedom;

A temporary escape on the journey between two worlds.

You gave me reflection and introspection.

You weren’t very well-liked by my friends or my family.

And I’m not sure if you know this,

But they often made fun of you.

My sister hated you—

She always complained

When having to climb into your hard, unwelcoming backseat,

Which was a mighty task considering you only had two doors.

But I wonder how she would have got around without you…

Or how I would have.

I would always defend you when they’d mock you.

Because even though you were loud and rough,

And dusty and dented,

And peeling and painful to look at—

You were mine.

You were my first.

You came to me at a time in my life that I did not want you,

But I needed you.

And that counts for so much more.



The Golden Shovel

Hi there! Today’s poem is an interesting one. It’s called a “golden shovel” apparently, which is where you take an already existing poem and you use each word in that poem as a last word for each line in your own new poem. Sound confusing? Just wait, it’ll make sense in a minute.

This is the already-existing poem I used:

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends–

It gives a lovely light!

Edna St. Vincent Millay

So look at each word in this poem above and then look at the last word in each line of my poem below. See it? It’s the whole of First Fig right there. Pretty cool, but was pretty tricky too.


Oh, The Light!

by Ruqaiyah Davids

As I began this journey of my heart – and to my

Heart – I felt warmed with happiness as I became swarmed by the light of this candle.

It illuminates my path and my past; the want for more burns.

I stand looking down the way ahead, and looking back, and at

Once, I want to go both

Forward and back. The questioning never ends.

To go forward would be wise, to go back would be dangerous, yet it

Plagues me so, the wonder of what lies there. Will

It ever be enough? I wonder and I wonder, not

Living now but impossible to live then, too. It’s been long since I last

Knew where the road was headed; long since I journeyed on my own. But now the

Enlightened trail is darkened. The sure way is shrouded by night.

There lingers still a faint light. A glimmer. It is dark still but

There is light! Ah,

There is always light. Sometimes only a spark, sometimes only a flicker, but sometimes a fire. My

Path has not yet ended. I will travel on with friends and I will travel on with foes;

Both will help me to my ultimate end. There is purpose to it all. And

There is light. There is still light. Oh,

There is light! It is small, it is shy. It is not yet strong or bold enough to show itself proudly. My

Thoughts linger; they sit for a while and breathe in the smell of old friends.

They take time looking around. Much too familiar, and yet much too strange. It

Is still there – the path. Waiting for me. It gives

A fair chance. But too much longer and the light might dim. Too much longer and a

Wind might change the course. But for now it remains. And how lovely

It is know and to feel the light.



Let the Children Play

This is something very important to me, though it’s not something I would have thought to write about in this form. It kind of just found its way out of my head and onto my laptop screen while thinking of what to write about in today’s poetry prompt by the folks over at NaPoWriMo. This style is called a lune, which is like a haiku, except that instead of counting the syllables in a line, you count the words. And instead of 5-7-5 (as in a haiku), it’s 3-5-3, i.e.. first line of the stanza has 3 lines, second has 5 lines, third has 3 lines.

So the reason this topic is very important to me is because all too often I see adults around me telling children to be quiet or to not be “so loud” when all they’re doing is playing — loudly. Adults get upset when toys get smashed loudly to the floor or into each other in a fight between the army man and a car (odd fight to have, I know, but hey, it happens). And naturally, there are sound effects that go with that epic fight. But the children are told not to make so much noise; “play quietly”. This upsets me. Deeply. Let the children make a noise! Let the children hum and sing loudly, or mutter nonsense to themselves if they want to! Let them play! For goodness sake! No, literally… for goodness sake. I mean, when children have the freedom to play and have fun and make a noise — and let’s be honest, they all go hand-in-hand, because how much of fun can you have quietly in a corner by yourself, and how much can you play without some sound effects and shrieks of laughter? — they grow into whole people, confident people, positive people, intelligent people, kind people. And isn’t that just good for everyone?

So, let the children play.

Source: http://passionatelycuriousinkindergarten.blogspot.com/2014/01/report-cards-love-stories-about-learning.html
Source: http://tinyurl.com/q9ec5ce

Let the Children Play

by Ruqaiyah Davids

We tell them

They’re naughty when they’re noisy.

Ain’t that crazy?

Children are meant

To be noisy and dirty;

It’s their journey.

We shouldn’t stop

Them from shouting in play;

They’re young today.

Before long though,

Our rules and reprimands will

Make them still.

Children will be

Too scared to have fun—

Damage we’ve done.

They won’t be

Young for much longer, sadly.

This is reality.

When they’re grown,

They’ll be shells because we

Didn’t let’em be.

I cheated a bit on that last line there. I know “let’em” isn’t the conventional way of shortening “them”, but I would have had one word more than I should. So I whipped out that ol’ poetic licence I have stuffed in my wallet and used it.



Tick Tock

This one isn’t quite finished yet. I’ve been sitting with it since yesterday (which is why I didn’t post anything yesterday), because it wasn’t ‘right‘ yet. I don’t yet know what will finish it or how to finish it, but I’ve decided that that’s okay. I’ll share it with you anyway. This is what it is for now.


by Ruqaiyah Davids

The second hand of an ancient clock;

Listen closely for the far-away knock.

It kills, it steals, and it heals;

The future is what time reveals.

Forever caught in time’s wicked trap;

It is somewhere in the middle that the stream and the storm overlap.
Tick, tick, tock.

Tick, tick, tock.