Friday, 26 July 2019

Hajj Lessons unpacked

 Aslm and hello lovely readers!

I know it's been a while since I've popped in over here, but I am slowly getting back on my feet after the past few insanely busy months. I was reflecting on how the first part of this year has literally sped by in a flash, and how much has actually happened! And before I knew it, Hajj season (yes it really feels like a season nowadays) was upon us and my heart and soul was catapulted into another reality. 

I always feel highly charged and emotional when people start departing for Hajj, and the overwhelming need to engage and share with them sets in. It's as if I would like to impart all the wonder from my own Hajj, I want to 'prepare' them for this most incredible journey they are about to embark on. And at the same time I am fully aware that no matter what I say (or write) about my absolutely magnificent pilgrimage, each individual will have their own unique experience. I am clear too that each person will have their own challenges as well as the most extraordinary blessings (both tailored just for them). Above all, I know that the experience is dependant on what the individual chooses to make of their Hajj; the concept of just embracing whatever you're presented with sets the tone for a spiritually fulfilled hajj.

This week marked the two year anniversary of our departure for Hajj, it was an emotional time for me as the day flashed in all its clarity through my mind. I felt as if I was reliving it all over again! I never really understood what previous Hujaaj was talking about when they said that Hajj is unlike any other travel, until I too was honoured to perform my pilgrimage. Having said that, even though the physical Hajj occurred two years ago, the impact, the lessons and insights continue every day and unfold in the conscious act of trying my utmost to live my Hajj. 

As more time passes, I understand this concept more clearly, as the lessons learnt during Hajj imbed themselves in my DNA. 
Some of the lessons I learnt during my journey of a lifetime, which is now becoming an instrinsic part of how I navigate the world and serve my Creator:
  1. Accepting the Grace, Mercy and Love of my Creator. This has to be the one lesson which was reinforced every single day during my Hajj. I could tangibly feel my connection and relationship with the Divine being strengthened with every moment I spent in supplication. Being cognisant of the fact that I was an esteemed guest in His place of worship, meant that I was chosen out of hundreds of thousands to be there during Hajj1438. And even being one of the masses, I still felt singled out and immensely blessed to be able to walk the streets of Madinah, to gain easy access to the Raudah and to enjoy close proximity to the Holy Ka'bah. I consciously aim to maintain the sincerity of those engagements and supplications with my Creator, it is a daily practice which I cannot function without.
  2. Understanding that we are all One. Every single pilgrim was on their own journey of a lifetime, each one from a corner of the globe, with very different circumstances; and yet standing on the same planes of Arafah, and performing the very same tawaaf and sa-ee. 
  3. Being tolerant of others. Since there are people from different countries, with different cultures and ways of doing things, one has to observe tolerance and understanding. Some travellers come from remote rural villages, others may be bedouins who live in the desert and you'll even find pilgrims who have entered the Kingdom on foot without any form of pre-planned accommodation (which we're so lucky to enjoy). In the same way back home, it is essential to drop judgements (and to be aware of it as an impulsive reaction) and find the place of understanding that someone else's behaviour is purely from their own orientation in the world. This creates a platform for authentic connection with others.
  4. When you're on Hajj and in the state of ihraam, everyone is equal, there is no class distinction, no overt display of wealth nor focus on worldly things. It becomes very clear that we're all equal as humans in the eyes of our Lord, Subgaanallah.
  5. Practice patience. For me this was something I had to train myself to exercise before leaving. I had no clue what I'd be faced with in Saudi, and had to learn to practice patience in every single aspect of my journey. From waiting on the bus, to walking at someone else's pace in soaring temperatures; from being ignored to being locked out of our hotel room, and then not being understood as we tried to remedy a situation. 
  6. Forgiveness. This was the biggest lesson learnt, and started with forgiveness of, and being gentle with myself first. Forgiveness is something we pray and yearn for from our Creator, and yet in our daily lives we feel entitled to withhold forgiveness based on how badly we feel we've been wronged. I have come to realise that forgiving means being sincere from the heart, making a pledge with the self to no longer hold onto the hurt and actual occurence, and to always be mindful of how I would like to be forgiven. And then to model that behaviour towards others.
  7. Surrender to Faith. Another important element of my Hajj; while I was able to plan certain things, the realisation that I do not control anything was never more evident than on my pilgrimage. My decision to have the best experience meant that I would need to surrender and allow faith to carry me through, even when it was difficult. And when I engaged this mode, it literally transformed my entire perception, and the difficulties turned into valuable insights for myself.
Be an ambassador for Hajj. 
Whilst this may not be a lesson, it was an intention I made when I completed my pilgrimage. I made a heartfelt undertaking to inspire others and to advocate the impact that Hajj has made in my life. There have been many trying times since my journey of a lifetime, and the way I deal with these trials and embrace what life presents has been a learned mechanism activated through my Hajj. My inclination now, is to first look at a situation from the perspective of truth, and what would please my Allah (SWT),  and then navigate my way to a solution from there. It is not always easy nor the popular way of dealing with things, but it is more important for me to know my heart is clean, my intention only to please the Divine, then I know i'm on the right path.

I have been pensive and introspective, and have had many aha moments since my Hajj, it has contributed to my own personal and spiritual growth and keeps bringing me back to path of serving the Almighty and my fellow human ♥️

Since it's been freezing, I have been layering to keep warm. This look is typical officewear, with a trench thrown over for those days I need to brave the cold walking to meetings.
All pieces are existing pieces from my wardrobe, and the trench is around 8 years old, when Trenery was still a new label.

Outfit details:
Trenery Trench Coat
Zara embellished knit
Soviet coated denim jeans
Scarfstop scarf
Aldo boots
Michael Kors Bag

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Thursday, 4 July 2019

Superbalist Winter favourites

Hi lovelies!

I've been offline for a while, it was a necessary time out from the blog while hubby travelled and I managed work and held down the fort at home. I am slowly starting to get back to normal, and finding my groove, and with it the realisation that perhaps my wardrobe needs a little injection for winter. So whilst I still don't have the luxury of time to wander through the malls, I turn to my trusty online shopping sites.
I usually have a good idea of the pieces I need to inject some life into my wardrobe, sometimes it's a trendy print piece, a good classic pair of boots, some updated knitwear items, in different textures and fabrics or some contemporary accessories. My go-to online store for some clothing pieces to introduce some trendiness into my closet is always Superbalist. Their range varies from well priced items to more classic pieces, and I adore their leather boots which are always competitively priced. They also run amazing specials quite frequently, so I know I'll be able to snatch up some cool bargains!

So here's my wishlist of some clothing items from the Superbalist site to update my wardrobe:

A pearl studded beret for a change up to the usual hijab look.

Pants with some sparkle is right up my alley, perfect for those winter evenings, paired with some faux fur.

A more casual take with these super trendy loose plaid trouser, dressed up or down would be a versatile piece in my closet,

A romantic flowy top is always a good idea ♥️

A leather skirt is a wonderful addition and will perfectly complement any look work look, evening look or casual ensemble.

The pleated skirt is still a big seller, and can be adapted to suit any look you're going for. 

A good basic knit is the perfect winter accompaniment, whether to layer up or just as is.

Embellishments and sparkles is always a winner!

It's no secret that I love a good classic leather boot which will transcend a few seasons.

Introduce the python trend into your closet with these pretty boots!

A velour sweatpants is not limited to those on retirement, it can be a valuable addition to create a trendy athleisure look.

I'm a big fan of skirts and sneakers, and this skirt ticks all the boxes for a cool and casual look.

Pop over to Superbalist and grab some of your essentials at reasonable prices!

Ciao for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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Saturday, 1 June 2019

An Eid Look Reinvented

 Hello Lovely Readers, 

It's been a minute and this post has been in draft for a while... 

Ramadaan has flown by, and as always it has been a profound month for me. This year has been very different to recent years (although in some ways much the same), yet I am very clear that it just means I continue to grow with all the challenges presented along my path. This past month has been a fruitful one, it has been a spiritually rewarding one, where I have focused on my Divine connection whilst working at being the best version of me.

Ramadaan is a time of spiritual rejuvenation, where my soul feels renewed and my faith strengthened for whatever lie ahead. And with all of these amazing experiences this month, I have literally been snowed under with work. I have found myself working toward tight deadlines, having to manage many roles and still be centred enough to find my quiet and solitude I yearn for in the fast. And with all the extra demands on my time, I chose to cut back on cooking time to allow for this, which meant that we had relatively simple iftaar meals. I'd cook soup in bulk and freeze, prepare batter for fritters or pancakes for two days, and cook enough supper so my family can have it for suhoor as well. I have repurposed left overs, oven-cooked and airfried to ease the burden. 

I was conscious of not making it difficult for myself, especially since I spent longer days at our office than I had anticipated. The wonderful thing is that my family just rolled with it, without grumble, and stepped in to assist where they could. My boys already have fixed chores during the fast, and assisted over and above when they were able. There were days where I'd be running extremely late, and would rush into the kitchen in a huff, only to find bodies drawn to the kitchen earlier than normal to pitch in. I am thankful for this support, and know that it is hugely due to the fact that I have not had 1 day off from working this Ramadaan. I have been working non-stop as a result of taking my introspection time in between the crazy deadlines. After all, the reward of this month comes around only once a year, so my priorities had to be re-organised so I'd be able to spend time in supplication. Having said that, I am really looking forward to some rest time (or at the very least, weekend time) after the fast when our dinner times are not cast in stone. 

This brings me to the aim of today's post... 
I have clearly not been able to shop, and merely popped into the Islamia market to stock up on my collagen. Other than that, I have had zero time to shop, and zero inclination to even consider what to wear this Eid. Although, I must admit I have dear designer friends who usually help me out, so I may just be sorted! If you've also been too busy to even consider an Eid outfit, perhaps reinventing a previous Eid look would be the way to go? I didn't blog last Eid's look (due to the babies I was care-taking at the time), and realised that it would work perfectly for another Eid. A timeless classic printed silk dress, with various textures to add to the autumn feel, makes for a simple and easy Eid look. 

I'd wear this again, and possibly change it up by losing the fur, adding a bulkier neckpiece and dainty earrings. I'd even wear this dress casually with sneakers, of course, but that's not the point of today's Eid look.😛 This printed silk will transcend seasons, the faux fur will remain a constant and the velvet is still a key texture this season. The heels have been in my wardrobe for years, and the gold fishnet stockings adds some glitz and pulls the look together seamlessly.
PS: the velvet scarf is in stock again with RifWrapped if you're keen to grab one for yourself, even as the only piece you'd purchase for Eid.

Last year I repurposed an Eid look, and thought I'd carry on the tradition, since the idea was so well received. What are your thoughts on reinventing previous Eid looks?


Outfit Details:

A Sense of Style Silk Dress
Faux Fur stole from Huemine Image
Velvet Scarf from Rifwrapped
Heels (old)
Clutch (Old)
Earrings & Pearls (Old)
Gold Fishnet Stockings from H & M (last year)

Ciao for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Are we blind to abuse?

Asalaamu Alaykum & Welcome Readers,

It's been a while since I popped in here and shared my thoughts, and with the start of Ramadaan I felt I really wanted and needed to share my musings. Firstly, things have been really crazy with the launch of our travel agency, The Travel Connexion as you may have seen on social media, and of course life continues in between. This meant that we have literally been working 24/7 to get things off the ground, and at the same time I am trying to balance that, my own work, home and family life. So unfortunately the blog took a back seat, but with the start of the fast, which is my time for reflection and introspection, I wanted to drop you a few lines.

My topic may seem a bit heavy for the start of Ramadaan, but this has been something that has been sitting with me for a while. And this post has actually been in draft since January. Abuse comes in many forms, and I have seen it and experienced it in every sphere of my life. What is disturbing is how blind we are to it, and how normalised it has become in our interactions with each other. Rather than talk about the more common versions which we all know without a doubt is abuse, such as domestic abuse, child abuse, emotional abuse and so on, I would like to highlight the more subtle versions which are carried out every day without anyone batting an eyelid. 

My belief, and I have said this many times, is that every single person needs to be treated with respect as a human being first. Therefore any violation of an individual's basic human rights is a form of abuse, this refers to malice, disregard for a person's humanity and feelings and emotional warfare. I refer to emotional warfare, which is actually launching a full on personal attack without having the decency of having a discussion first. I have been at the end of vindictiveness without even knowing the rhyme or reason, and while I am very clear that this says more about the other person than it does about me, I find it totally unnecessary. 
The not so subtle digs in the virtual realm is another form of abuse, where the person dishing it out cannot say or do it in person, and hides behind a screen. Furthermore, slander or gossip (or fitnah which is a serious sin in Islam) is another form of abuse, and strips the dignity of the one perpetrating it, Subgaanallah. Cyberbullying and feeling entitled to the right to tell someone off in a public space causes more harm than good, and has resulted in really dire situations for our youth. Spreading fake news and rallying sensationalism and anger are further ways of violating someone else's dignity, it is even worse if the information has not been verified nor addressed with the individual in question. 
Basically, abuse is perpetrated when one uses power and influence in an underhand way, when one intentionally sets out to harm another in a malicious and venomous manner. I cannot condone this behaviour, and truth is the only panacea for this kind of violation. I am raising young men, future generations of leaders, and to show them that it is OK to stand by an accept abuse would be to fail in my Divine duty to my Creator. It is also not OK to allow abuse to be perpetrated when it is within your power to say or do something, this too is a Divine order

As the month of Ramadaan approached, I found myself in the space of wrestling with this concept. And my guidance came when I supplicated and performed Tahajjud salaah (prayer performed in the last third of night and before dawn) : "Speaking the truth may not be the easy thing to do, but it is the only thing to do to end abuse." And furthermore, I needed to accept that whichever way my Lord has decreed it should happen, I will accept with Grace. I have also had to sit with what my role in any form of abuse is and has been, and to rectify this as best I can. It is not enough to point fingers and say that others are meant to rectify something when I am not prepared to step in and do the same. Accountability starts with me and it is the only way to open the heart to forgiveness. Afterall, I cannot ask my Creator for Mercy or for Forgiveness if I am not prepared to sincerely make room for this in my own heart. 

So as I enter this month, with a clear heart and conscience I will continue to reflect and introspect, and ensure that I engage in the world from a place of truth and authenticity. Knowing full well that whatever I expect on this earth is something I am willing to do myself. 
My motto: "Check myself first."

One of my favourite Hadiths:

On the authority of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say, “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]

This look was clearly from two weeks ago, and I'm sharing it as it's a piece from the Huemine Image label, owned by my dear soul sister Aysha. This yellow python print piece jumped out at me when I popped into her studio. We've had this conversation around abuse many times, so I felt a little piece of her in this post is appropriate.💛

Outfit Details:

Lasercut Leather top (Old)
Huemine Image skirt
Shoes & Bag (Old)
Ralph Lauren sunglasses
Earring (Old)
Raw Silk Scarf (Old)

Caio for now, 
RuBe xoxo
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