My Big Day Out

// July 27th, 2009 // Blog

As I mentioned in my last status update, Thursday 23rd July ended up being quite a productive day for me, māshā’Allāh. For a start, I was actually active between the normal working hours of 9.30am and 4.30pm. Amazing! I didn't even manage that during my PhD.

The day involved two major meetings, each relating to the two main projects that currently dominate my unemployed life: Deaf Muslim initiatives (e.g., SignLabs), and blogging. As the content of both meetings was pretty much confidential, I'll skip the details, and just describe the basic aims.

In the morning, I met with reps from two different Deaf groups, to discuss a newly proposed plan to translate the Qur'an into British Sign Language. It's a really exciting project, māshā’Allāh, for many reasons, and of course, extremely rewarding on many levels.

Earlier the same week, I had a meeting with another group who were responsible for getting the Friday khutbah at East London Mosque translated into BSL. During that discussion, I was made aware of the struggle of presenting Islam to the Deaf in a clear, non-confused manner, especially when taking into consideration both the numerous language and cultural barriers.

Both meetings, though very useful and informative, highlighted the fact that I am such a newbie. I cannot sign, so I am useless for translating anything into BSL, and have to rely on others to interpret. I am not sufficiently knowledgeable in Islam to act as an aalima consultant-type. I'm not even a media expert to offer video production services on a grand enough scale to make a real impact. At best, I'm another pair of hands, and an extra voice, hopefully making the work of the professionals a little easier, inshā’Allāh.

Anyway, this realization has given me further motivation to start learning sign language properly. I submitted an application for a BSL level 1 course at my local community college, which should start in September (if they accept me; the course is quite popular, apparently). I then plan to apply what I have learnt by volunteering my spare time to London-based Deaf groups: after all, if you don't use it, you'll lose it (“it” being knowledge).

SignLabs started out of pure impulse to do something. Now it needs to mature into something else. I hope, in time, to figure out what that something else is, inshā’Allāh.

Now, onto Meeting 2.

Well, actually, there was a 1.5 hour gap between Meetings 1 and 2. My plan to fill that time by depositing a cheque at the bank failed after it only took around five minutes to cross the road, complete the form with my account details, seal the envelope, and plonk it in the letterbox. Darn. What to do now?

After spending a few more minutes standing outside the bank, looking up into the sky, and tapping my chin, (receiving a couple of odds stares in the process), I decided to risk the bad weather, and nip down the road to the Idea Store (oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I was in Whitechapel all day), which is basically a snazzy-looking public library. I failed to access the free WiFi on my iPod, and couldn't be bothered to open an account just to use the computers, so I did something I haven't done in a long, long time: I grabbed a couple of books, sat down at an empty table, and quietly read for the next hour or so.

Can you believe it?

Me? Read? A Book?!

I mean, I read every day… blogs, articles, instructions on the back of soup packets… but a book? Not even an e-book downloaded from the net! Paperbacks are, like, so 20th century, darlink…

Anyhoo, the first book was a general overview of Evolutionary theory, in preparation for writing my long-promised essay. The second was on the British suffragette movement. I want to know more about how women fought for their rights, as I believe such genuine, sincere struggles are being betrayed by the actions of some modern-day feminists, as well as the newly emerging 'laddette' culture. Unfortunately, I didn't get to finish either book, as I didn't want to go through the hassle of registering for a library card. So I'll have to continue my education some other day.

Finally, the time came to make my way back up the road to the London Muslim Centre, for Meeting 2. Though there is much to say about what happened over the course of the next few hours, for now, I can only reveal that it was about British Muslims and the media. I was there as a representative of the Muslim blogosphere – though I felt like such a tiny, little sardine of a fish in the pond of large tuna-sized media fish, that surrounded me on the table. However, I became more piranha-like towards the end of the meeting, partly out of impatience, and partly because my stupid, big mouth can't help but snap at others sometimes – no matter what their status is in comparison to mine – may Allāh forgive me.

It's funny though, because it was the second time that day that I had touched upon the subject of culture in Islam (that's what my big mouth was debating at the time). My own opinion is that it is fine, as long as it doesn't take the place of religion: though what I class as 'culture' (fashion, food, language and the arts) is regulated by Islam, to varying degrees. This opinion is based on comments made by several respected scholars.

I actually used to be far more hardline in the past, claiming that culture was the 'enemy' of Islam… but that was born out of ignorance, not educated reasoning. Over the years, I have been quite surprised to discover how accommodating Islam, and in turn, the learned representatives of Islam are to a nation's culture, even going so far as to take it into account when formulating legal rulings.

However, my respected 'opponent' seemed to disagree with me. Or at least, insist on not understanding me, because I actually think he shared the same opinion. More likely, I didn't explain my stance very well; I don't claim to be a skilled conversationalist.

Anyway, I have a tendency to dwell on such incidents, because they are usually quite rare (I normally shy away from confrontation); I am sure it has been long forgotten by everyone else (at least, that's what I hope, inshā’Allāh!). If not, I shall blame my behaviour on youthful impetuousness… {cough}

So, basically, that was my day. I went home with a doggy bag full of the yummy Bengali food that had been served as lunch during the second meeting, and ended up napping on the sofa. My tiredness from all the activity makes me wonder how I'll cope with a full-time schedule this coming October. I may have to do some Rocky-style training beforehand, or something.

#Ba baa ba-ba-baa, ba-ba-baa, ba-ba-baa…# [That's the start of the Rocky theme tune, for those of you wondering if I've lost it completely…]

7 Responses to “My Big Day Out”

  1. Manas Shaikh says:

    Bengali food? I MISS THAT!



  2. Manas Shaikh says:

    Did I tell you how much I miss bengali food, btw?

  3. Manas Shaikh says:

    The criticism of culture is ill-conceived. There is a reason behind this I believe, which I do not want to say in public (potentially NM audience).

    But anyway, I am still kind of sad. I want Ilish machher paturi. This is monsoon, Godblessit!

  4. Sadaf says:

    What an enjoyable read! :) Jazakillahu khairan.

    I also don’t read many books anymore because I am always reading on the Internet….sheesh.

    Your humility towards your knowledge, despite being a PhD, shows your greatness. Always stay that way, insha’Allah.

  5. Ameera says:

    Oh, that was fun to read, especially the part about the media meeting. I could feel like I was in your shoes, as you described it, because I have a tendency to speak out like that too and end up analysing all the awkward things I said later on. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone in this “quality” and it helps make the foundation for improvement! :)

  6. HalalBuzz says:

    MashaAllah tabarakaAllah, a good read.

    So, you got job from Oct inshaAllah?

  7. Sumera says:

    People on a general level irritate me, so I tend to steer clear of debates per se!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: