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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Friday, 5 April 2019

Lessons Learnt from my 15 year old

Welcome lovelies!

I know that every week has been a hectic one this year, and I fully understand that it is just life actually. Being present with everything that happens, addressing what bothers me and always making time to introspect, requires energy to navigate every day. It means that there's no space for pretence, harbouring grudges or being concerned with what others are doing. 
This last two weeks of school holidays turned out to be another big learning curve for me as a parent. My youngest approached me with a rumour of  a classmate being murdered, and their group of friends who play online games with him had tried to get a hold of him upon hearing this. This young man was unreachable via watsapp and didn't engage in any online gaming for more than a week, so the group of young men became worried that the rumour may be true. About a week later, the rumour was confirmed and a few days before starting school we sat down and had a conversation with our youngest. 
As an adult, I have dealt with many deaths, very few close to me, but I would think I have the capacity to process it. A murder is entirely another story, it highlights the dark side of human nature, and the close proximity it shows up in our lives. I had to first work through my own shock and my own sadness so that I could listen and be present for my son. Because, despite how I felt about it, he was having to deal with it from a young mind and an innocent heart, which was ultimately my concern. How does one explain to a 15 year old, that sometimes these events are decreed, and will set everyone on a path in their own lives. How do I explain that trauma is also a Divine decree, whether as a test, strengthening your faith and that is what we mean when we say "May Allah/ God place sabr/patience and contentment in the hearts of the family"? It's a shock yes, it's heartbreaking to hear, and at the same time I know that everyone experiences some kind of trauma in their lives, it's a given in life. However, it became obvious that I was unnecessarily worried, he understood it as I said it, without any further qualification, he got it!

The other side of the coin was how does my young son deal with a sudden and brutal loss of a classmate? I have been through this before with my firstborn, when a classmate committed suicide in matric. Having had a similar experience doesn't make this one easier as I'm dealing with a different child. Yesterday my son told me that they had decided to leave his deceased classmate's desk empty for a while in remembrance of the space he occupied in the class. They have been undergoing counselling to come to terms with the loss and the manner in which it occurred, and as I sat and spoke to him, it dawned on me that this young gentleman knows exactly how to deal with his own shock and grief. It became very clear, that while he was extremely sad, he was OK and managing the honouring of his classmate very well.
This led me to a realisation that sometimes as parents we have a need to place our own drama, shock, grief or whatever other emotion into the space. When all our kids really need is a space to be able to work through the trauma in their own way, on their own terms and time line. So his decision not to have a party for his birthday last week, was not out of context, merely making a choice of what was best for him. 
The biggest thing I take from this experience is that our kids know exactly what they need, and as a parent, I need to acknowledge and support this. I cannot burden him with my own reactions to his trauma, I cannot expect him to deal with it in a way that I would. As young as he may be, he knows himself well enough to tell me he's fine in handling it. That should be enough for me.
And I know, without a doubt that if he finds himself floundering, he'll know where to look for support knowing that he won't need to take on any of my baggage as well. I have witnessed the grace with which these young kids expressed their grief, without focusing on the perpetrator. Their sole focus being on honouring their classmate and supporting each other through a shocking and traumatic experience. I have learnt an important lesson from my young man, and with it a new respect for the quiet strength he's able to tap into without engendering drama or making it all about himself. 

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” — Nelson Mandela

This outfit is a fun twist on the pleated tulle skirt, one I have had in my wardrobe since I started blogging about 6 years ago. I really didn't think that tulle skirts would still be a thing! Paired with a denim shirt and red velvet sneakers purchased on one of our travels. 

Outfit details:
Levis denim Shirt
Old Tulle skirt
Adidas red sneakers
Chimpel leather bag
Scarfstop scarf
Hse of Bespoke tassel earrings
Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses

Caio for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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Friday, 22 March 2019

Al Aqsa Part III - Taking in History

Hi beautiful readers, 

It's been rather frustrating trying to work and get things done, especially with our load shedding schedule now on stage 4! I now have to plan my work, meetings, Skype, printing and cooking around three load shedding incidences in  a day (and I only have so much data on my mobile router 😩).

Anyways, I now try to do my work offline, and then upload when we're back up again. So now I'm able to bring you the next instalment, and I believe, the one many want to see, in my Aqsa journey. Because my trip to Palestine was a highly anticipated one, I am very happy to have been able to see as much as I could in the short time I was there. At the time of writing this, my mom had just performed her first Jumuah in the Dome of the Rock, her entire journey is taking me all the way back to December...

My last post just captured our first sights of Al Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques and our first Fajr experience. After we had dried off in the hotel, had breakfast, we prepared for our full day guided tour by one of the local guides. It was unfortunately raining profusely so my views from the shuttle was all fogged up, and when we got out at the some spots we got soaked. Nonetheless, I was not going to let a little rain dishearten me.

Our first stop was Jabal Muqabir, which according to legend, is the mount from which Caliphate Umar (RA) entered Jerusalem and loudly proclaimed Allahu Akbar. His entry precipitated the surrender of the keys of the City of Jerusalem into the hands of the Muslims by the Patriarch Sophronius fourteen centuries ago. From this vantage point one has a clear panoramic view of the Old City with the gold dome gleaming in the distance. We boarded the shuttle again and drove for 40 minutess towards Hebron, where Masjid Ibrahim is located. This mosque is built over a maqbara (cemetery) which is believed to house the tombs of Nabi Ibrahim (AS), his wife Sara (AS), Nabi Ishaq (AS) and his wife Rifqa (AS). Some say  Nabi Yaqoob (AS) and Nabi Yusuf (AS) are also buried in the cave (also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs) below the mosque. Inside the mosque there is a domed cupola or furnace which allows one to peek down to the cemetery cave below. The heady smell of oud mixed with warm air came wafting up from the cave as we leaned over the rail. It was such an incredible experience for me to just be in this mosque, whether the actual bodies of our prophets and their wives are physically present or not. There is still a feeling of intense spiritual energy in the air, while at the same time feeling calm and sanctified. Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank, forms part of occupied territory, so there is a strong military presence and a checkpoint to pass through to enter the mosque. This city has been a contentious one throughout history, torn by centuries (and even in recent decades) of unrest and conflict. We spent about 45 minutes at this masjid before heading off to our next stop.

After performing Thuhr at the Mosque of Nabi Yunus (where His tomb is located), also in occupied West Bank (located on Mount Nabi Yunus) we headed off to Bethlehem. An hour and a half later we arrived in Bethlehem, parked off and had a quick lunch stop in a shopping centre. We then took a short walk to the Church of Nativity, situated in Manger Square. It was really amazing to walk through this little town, all Christmassy and covered in tinsel, teeming with tourists from all faiths. This is still part of the West Bank, so movements are carefully controlled by military police in certain areas. This is the oldest major church in Jerusalem, originally commissioned in 327 by Constantine the Great. It houses a very significant site for those of the Christian faith, a grotto in the basement of the church believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, which has earned its place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As we headed for our next stop, the Maqam of Nabi Musa (AS) the sun was already low, at around 4:30pm dusk was almost upon us. This Maqam which is situated just outside Jericho, is not confirmed to house the body of our Nabi Musa (AS) as it is generally believed that the location of his remains are unclear. However, tradition holds that Salahuddin Ayyubi once had a dream where he was shown this spot and he subsequently ordered this mosque to be built at this site. After completing Asr and Magrieb we departed for the town of Jericho. Walking through these sacred sites stirs an indescribable feeling and filled me with a sense of humility, gratitude and immense reverence. History literally envelopes you as you reflect back on the lives of our prophets ♥️.

Shortly after we were back on the shuttle headed to Jericho, the oldest city in the world. We disembarked at the Mount of Temptation, significant for the Christians as the place where Jesus was tempted by the devil. By the time we arrived it was already dark (even though it was just after 7pm), so it was difficult to see anything. We could just glance at the lights of the Greek monastery situated against the steep cliff of the mountain. After some refreshments and Esha salaah we started back towards East Jerusalem.
Along the way we stopped off at the Mount of Olives, which boasts a stunning panoramic view of the Old City. It also houses the Jewish cemetery since biblical times until present day.

Our last stop for the evening was the Maqam of Salman al Farsi (Salman, the Persian) who was a companion of the Prophet ﷺ  and the first Persian to embrace Islam. Salman first met the Prophet ﷺ in Yathrib (Madinah) and is notable for being the one who suggested the digging of the trench around Madinah during the Battle of the Trench, which resulted in a victory for the Muslims. We ended off an exhaustingly full, but enriching day at this masjid located on the Mount of Olives.

This amazingly detailed tour fostered a new respect for Jerusalem and the Land of our Ambiyah, it has elevated Palestine in my heart and filled me with such appreciation and love. If I haven't said it before, it is imperative to add Palestine to the bucket list and experience the heightened spirituality of a place where every single messenger of Allah (SWT) has dwelled. More importantly, it is the land the Prophet ﷺ  travelled to within a short span of the night, Subhaanallah!

On Mount Muqabir, the weather obscures the view of the Old City in the background 

Walking up to Masjid Ibrahim, Hebron
Tomb of Nabi Ibrahim (AS)
Tomb of Nabi Yunus (AS)
Manger Square, Bethlehem
Church of Nativity, Bethlehem

The Grotto in the basement at the Church of Nativity, Bethlehem 

We arrived at Masjid of Nabi Musa as dusk was falling

The tomb of Nabi Musa (AS)

Driving through the City of Jericho

It was too dark to see much from the Mount of Temptaion, but one can see the
lights of the Greek Monastery

Tomb of Salman Al Farsi 

View from the Mount of Olives (with the Dome clearly visible)

Ending off a full day and so ready for bed!

Caio for now,
RuBe xoxo

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Friday, 8 March 2019

Parenting One Day at a Time

Welcome readers,

The biggest role I fulfil is that of being a mother, I feel the significance of the Divine responsibility of being blessed with raising tiny humans upon me. Parenting is a responsibility that I do not take lightly and work at everyday. It means being the best I can be in my own world and being mindful of my Creator; setting an example for my boys, of how to manage themselves in the world; and through difficult situations.

Parenting is an ongoing journey, whether they're infants, toddlers, teenagers or adults. They will always be an extension of me walking around on this earth, like little pieces of my heart in different places. This means that as much as I have a responsibility to take care of myself, I have a responsibility to take care of those external parts of my heart. I am clear however, that they're young adults on the cusp of their own independent lives, and I therefore need to respect them enough to work at our relationship so that they would want me as a part of their lives. Right now everything is managed on their busy schedules, giving me a small glimpse of what life will be like when they've moved into their own spaces.

For now, managing young adults in the home is a continuous learning arena, each day brings new lessons, new perceptions and new ways of doing things. The moment I feel like I'm on the right path, I get a figurative kick in the head, reminding me that I'm not in control of this journey. Just like with life really, things don't always go as planned. And the only way I know to cope with any unforeseen hurdles, is to appeal and pray to my Creator for guidance. I am very aware that I do not have all the answers, and do not want to take on the burden of walking through life pretending I have all the answers. Frank discussions with my kids (i.e. my young men) where I am open about my shortcomings is key, and sharing my confusion or uncertainty around the next step in a solution. Often when I find myself at a loss for answers, I ask them for advice, a solution or way forward, and even what their recommended course of action would be. Sometimes they amaze me with their wisdom, and other times we just take it one day at a time.

Maintaining trust and living truthfully is a big concept in our home, and we understand that it has to go both ways. I cannot expect anything from them if I am not prepared to give it in return. After all, any relationship is a two way street, and means taking ownership on both sides of the relationship. Trust is a crucial component of any relationship; and when one looks at the parent-child engagement as a relationship, with the same building blocks, it brings trust and respect into the space. No feeling of kinship can be forced by some conditioned doctrine, it needs to be built on the fundamentals of a healthy relationship, regardless of the obligatory familial tie. I do not believe that I am entitled to be a part of their adult lives by virtue of the fact of who I am. On the contrary, I know full well that I need to firstly honour them, in order for them to honour me as a parent, trust them with truth so that they do the same; and at the core, treat them with dignity as human beings. For me this is what raising children is about, treating these parts of me as I would want to be treated, and being mindful that they are humans, with their own respective orientation in this world. It means being safe enough for them to own all the parts (the 'good' and 'not so good' parts) of themselves around me, without fear of judgement or fear of being admonished.

Furthermore, I have had to become accustomed to the fact that as adults, I am not privy to every single thing happening in their lives. I have to trust that they live their lives based on the principles I have instilled, taught and model. They are accountable for themselves, and fully understand consequences of their actions and behaviours. This is one of the hardest things to embrace, that these not-so-little young men do not need me to do much anymore. I miss those days where Mum was pivotal in their lives without it being an option, now Mum is a choice they make. My tendency towards separation anxiety kicks in when I think of it, and I know it's something I need to manage, and not burden them with.

There are many aspects to parenting adults which I am still grappling and coming to terms with. One of the biggest is that they need to make their own life decisions, and that it is not my place to protect them from whatever I may perceive will be hurtful. Their paths have been decreed, and my role is to support them from the sidelines, provide a safe haven when they need it or a healing balm to soothe their souls. It is essential that they always know that I will be around, arms wide open, for as long as they need me to be. Letting go of the apron strings and cutting the proverbial 'umbilical cord' is essential to empower them to live their lives without me placing any burdens or expectations on them. The only thing I hold onto is the premise that our relationship is built on a solid foundation, and will be able to withstand the inevitable storms which life will present.

I am currently in the training phase of weathering these storms in a parent-child relationship with  young adults.
Learning as I go along...

A thought for fellow parents to ponder:

“You can choose to disrespect me but I will not give you permission to hurt my spirit.”

― Lailah Gifty Akita 

My outfit today features a raw silk coat from Opulence, which I've styled before in a more formal way. Today I've styled it casually, paired with denims and one of my favourite classic heels.



Outfit details: 

Opulence Silk Coat
Woolworths jeans
Old Lace up heels
Mimco bag
Opulence silk scarf
Hse of Bespoke tassel earrings
Vogue sunglasses (Old)

Ciao for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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