Poem: Afraid

I thrive in darkness,
I am afraid of light.
I dwell in sadness,
Joys give me fright.

I am a dead flower,
Withered in the rain.
In the lonely hours,
Immune to my pain.

Sitting on the rooftop,
I stare at the sky.
Waiting for time to stop,
So, in peace I could cry!

An unknown tomorrow,
A game life has planned.
Floating in my sorrow,
I wait for my end!

Written By Shumila Malik

Poem: 16 Things I Love About You

1. I love the way you make me feel happy all the time,
2. I love the way you confirm that you are always mine.
3. I love the way you look at me and make my heart beat,
4. I love the way you smile at me whenever our eyes meet.

5. I love the way you order my food- it shows that you care,
6. I love the way you are kind to me on the days when I’m difficult to bear.
7. I love the way you come home to help me even when you are far,
8. I love it when you take me for long drives in your car.

9. I love to hear you when you talk to me about your different moods,
10. I love the way you dress up like a cool, handsome dude.
11. I love the way you express your love with sincerity in your eyes,
12. I love it when you give me compliments like ‘You are so pretty’ or
‘You are so nice!’

13. I love it when I’m thinking about you and you appear from nowhere,
14. I love it when for me you are always there.
15. I love the way you make me smile every time I’m sad,
16. I love it when you tell me you want to become our child’s dad!
Written By Shumila Malik

The Goal

When I was small, I lived with the notion that life was a gift and that it should be enjoyed. I believed that fulfilment of my desires was the ultimate goal. My ideas were further made concrete by the quotes and words I read. My favourite quote from childhood was  “You have only one life and one chance to do everything you want to do.” Soon I found my affinity for this world growing and becoming intense with each passing day.
Being an avid reader, I devoured books. And everything I read was from the western stand point. Books like Snow White, Cinderella, Beauty And The Beast, Little Women, Aladdin etc influenced my thoughts. The TV shows that shaped my adolescence exhibited “freedom”, “liberty” and “doing your own thing”.

As a young girl, I wanted to explore life. I wanted to experiment and learn and grow. I wanted to make mistakes and own them. That was life in my definition. Setting yourself free. Making a statement. It was like a dream. Walking on the road to self-discovery! I wanted to follow my heart and see where it led me because in my opinion that’s how you find yourself, that’s how you become you. Perilous yet enthralling. Little did I know that in the name of self-discovery I was inviting my own doom.
I am a Muslim. Not that Muslims can’t enjoy life. No, it’s not like that. But as a practicing Muslim today, I know that my attachment to this world is detrimental. The more I adore this world, the more miserable I’m going to be. Allah has not given me this life to simply relish. There is a purpose. I can’t just direct all my focus and energy towards the attainment of my desires. And what should my desire be in the first place? If someone had asked me this question when I was 18, I would have confidently answered, “Travel, Meet celebrities, Live in a mansion. Fine dining etc ” Such were my dreams. How shallow of me to think such worldly things could give me joy.

Today, I have realized that this life is temporary and that attachment to this world will only inflict me and bring me heartbreak. It is sad that I had to go through excruciating pain to learn this lesson. But I am glad I have understood it. I know that life is a gift. But it is also a test. The ultimate goal is not fun or freedom. The ultimate goal is to seek Allah’s pleasure and make a home in Jannah. This life is only a trial. Real life, the perfect and everlasting one awaits me in Jannah. That’s my permanent home! Not this world!

Written by Shumila Malik

Short Story: At Midnight

It was a dark, windy night. Though it was only 8 0′ clock, it looked like the earth had already engulfed in darkness. I could hear nothing but the sound of fear around me. The gigantic waves stared at me as if they were planning to swallow me.

It was the weekend. I and my family members were having a wonderful time on the beach. We hadn’t found time for leisure in months, so today was a real treat. It was a day as perfect as a pearl. Everyone wore their most brilliant smiles. We found joy in the togetherness, in the love and warmth and safety that only a family could provide.

My sister spent her day walking along the seashore, admiring nature and collecting seashells while my two brothers were playing Flying Saucers with mom and dad. As for me, well, being a loner that I am, I was on my own.

I sat out on an adventure in silence. From the place where our hut was, I could see a high, metallic bridge. It shimmered in the sun and captivated my attention like it was a diamond mine. I decided to explore it. Amidst the noise, fun and laughter in the background, I sneaked out and made a clean escape.

I strode towards the gleaming bridge like it was paramount to my existence. When I climbed it finally, I stood there in awe for the first few seconds. The world below looked spectacular. I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life. I clicked countless pictures of the heart-stopping sight and when I was finally content, I decided to return to my hut. Preoccupied in quietude, I had lost track of time but I noticed the dazzling sun had now become very tiny and dull.

Finally when I reached my hut, it was pitch-dark and the place was quiet. I knocked the door several times but no answer. I looked around but there was no sign of my parents or siblings. A strange sense fear engulfed me. I looked around but saw no one. In that moment, reality struck me like a bolt of lightning. I freaked out. My parents had left me behind. I was alone, on a cold, dark beach.
I tried my cellphone several times but the troubled network gave no access to any calls or texts. I began sobbing. Hot, fat, heavy tears began sliding down my cheeks. In my agony I was alone.

The sky was getting darker and the wind was becoming fierce. I walked towards the seashore, gazed at the starry sky and spoke to God for a while. I found a little solace then but soon the crashing waves began intimidating me. The last thing I remember was a big hand, as cold as ice, covering my face. I shrieked but my throat couldn’t produce any sound. The next day, in the early morning hours, my body was found floating in the sea…

Written By Shumila Malik

Poem: Sincerity

You were my yesterday,
My today and tomorrow.
Without you now,
I live with my sorrow.

You were my wish,
My dream, my desire;
You were the light,
A flickering fire.

You were my smile,
My peace, my joy;
But you left me broken,
Like an old, used toy!

You are still my everything,
Like you used to be.
But it does not matter, 
Because you do not care;
About my sincerity!

Written By Shumila Malik

Poem: Deceived

My life is in a clutter of sadness,
In the wrong places I looked for happiness.
In the quiet moments when I’m alone,
I”m transported into a world unknown.

I ask myself, “What have I gained?”
In the web of lies there was only pain.
I lived, I loved, I lost, I failed;
I was caged, tortured and jailed.

In the deceptive arms of dear life,
Wounded and stabbed with a knife.
Bleeding, hurting, tormented soul,
My heart now lives with a burning hole.

Life hears nothing one has to say,
The evil games that people play.
I ask Allah to hear my voice,
Those who hurt me will never rejoice!

Written By Shumila Malik

Poem: Forever Everywhere

Allah is there.
To wipe my tears,
To eradicate my fears.

Today and tomorrow,
In every sorrow,
He is there.
Always near,
Ready to hear.

In the present and past,
In my future too;
He is there.
I won’t despair,
He’s not going anywhere.

No need to worry,
There is so hurry;
He is there.
He will always care,
He is never unfair.

In happiness and sadness,
Even in my madness,
Allah is there.
He knows I’m sincere,
My broken heart He will repair!

Written By Shumila Malik

Poem: Until You Came Along

She never knew love until you came along,
She never felt pain until you were gone.
Now her broken heart sings a sad song,
It tells her it will never move on!

In her dreary world you were the light,
Why have you left her over a stupid fight?
Together you both can face this plight,
How can she be happy when you are quiet?

She can’t imagine you ever going away,
Her mind’s blank but she has so much to say.
Come back and together find a way,
Isn’t love a reason enough for you to stay?

She can’t sleep or eat or do anything right,
Painful are her days and cruel are her nights.
You are on her mind as this poem she writes,
The thought of losing you fills her with fright!

Written By Shumila Malik

Before Dawn


What a beautiful feeling it is to wake up before dawn when the stars only have a faint sparkle left and the moon is fading away.  The whole world is still as I sit on my prayer mat, so close to my creator; talking to him like He is sitting next to me! In that moment of quietude, I come to terms with my being. The dust lifts up and my vision becomes clear. I can’t imagine anything so powerful, so emotional and so calming. That big heart-break feels insignificant now. The turmoil in my mind subsides and fresh hope arrives. Tears wash away my pain and I feel like a brand-new person. Bright and shiny and scrupulously clean!

Written By Shumila Malik

Essay: Struggles Of A Muslimah

The most judged, misunderstood, criticized and ridiculed members of our society are the practicing Muslims. At least, that’s what my personal experience makes me want to believe. Being under everyone’s constant, harsh scrutiny is mentally exhausting and at times depressing.

Being born in a Muslim family is an honour. I could have been born into some other religion and who knows I would have even died a non-believer! But I’m a Muslim, Alhumdolillah and that’s a privilege. It’s a medal. A prize! 

I began working on my relationship with Allah Almighty when I was a first year university student. I mean I knew Allah Almighty since the day I opened my eyes into this world and learned how to recite the Quran and offer my Salah at a young age. But at that time, I was not regular in my prayers and did not wear a headscarf. I also did not find myself much interested in actually studying Islam.

When I began walking the Islamic path, I realized that Islam was beautiful and easy but people were difficult. I remember my first day wearing a black headscarf. The moment I entered my university, I had people looking at me differently. Some were staring at me while others seemed surprised. One of my friends, Fatima beamed at me. Her words of encouragement hold a safe place in my heart even today. She not only said I was doing a good job but also complimented my new look. From then on to this day, my life as a Muslimah has met with many challenges.

My greatest tragedy is being around people who do not practice religion yet, who do not have extensive knowledge about Islam and yet they never cease to make fun of me or make me feel like I am an eccentric, probably not fit for today’s contemporary living. What hurts me most is when they pass stinging remarks to make me feel like I’m hiding behind Islam to cover my flaws.

I have had people in my life who wouldn’t spare a moment in degrading me simply because they do not comprehend my life or relate to my mindset. When I started wearing Hijab, I actually made myself a target for some people. At every given opportunity, I was mocked. My extended family incessantly reminded me that all my good deeds were a total waste, and that I was going to burn in hell. 

Being a Muslimah does not mean I am oppressed or imprisoned. Practicing Islam does not make me a narrow-minded individual and in no way does my religion stop me from living my life like any other person. But yes, there are certain things that others may find hard to accept but those things are no big deal for me. Like for example, I recently gave up on music. I love music and I sing really well and even at this moment if you play my favourite song, I’m sure I’m going to start singing and tapping my foot. But I know Islam forbids it and so I avoid it. The problem is when I am reminded of my “other” similar habits. 

There is always someone who will pass a sarcastic comment like, “Oh, but you watch movies too. Isn’t that forbidden in Islam?” I mean for God’s sake I am not watching porn and you know even if someone watches porn, Allah does not permit us to judge that person. Let’s just leave things between Allah and His servants!

Covering myself with headscarf and shawl does not mean my actions have to be watched and observed all the time. Besides, being a practicing Muslimah does not make me a hermit. I am not living in the woods. Come on, everyone! I have not renounced life! I live my life just like any other normal person. Making Islam my lifestyle has not stopped me from enjoying things like shopping or eating out with friends or pursuing my dreams or using technology to my liking.

Let me share with you a small incident. Once in my prayer, I was crying before my Lord when my maternal-uncle’s wife saw me in that weird state with my puffy, red eyes, pink nose and wet face. She was quiet. But after a few days, she brought up that subject and uttered quite unpleasant things like my real actions and what I portray to be were two different things. What I’m trying to explain here is that if you do not agree with my beliefs or if you are unable to incorporate the teachings of Islam in your own life, you should leave alone in peace the one who is working to becoming a better Muslim.

Once an acquaintance suggested reciting Surah Yaseen everyday was crazy. Surah Yaseen and Surah Muzammil are part of my daily routine so, imagine what I must have felt when she made me look a little less with her opinion that was clearly based on ignorance and had nothing to do with Islam.

A number of times I have found myself in trouble with friends who think I’m either pretending to be someone I am not or probably possess less knowledge about Islam. Once a friend of mine was shocked to know that I pray Tahajjud. I was not showing off my deeds. We just happened to touch that subject. He looked at me like I was not someone who was qualified to offer Tahajjud. 

Such small incidents are part of my everyday life and it is not easy to deal with them. When you talk about Islam, people shut you up, thinking that you are pretending to be pious and making them feel bad about themselves. But that is not true. When you practice Islam, when it becomes your lifestyle, you look at the world in a different way and you experience an ongoing guilt within you that pricks you non-stop, making you feel like a sinner all the time. Everything you do reminds you of Allah and you become your own constant critic.

I do not like imposing my religious beliefs on anyone because I myself despise people who push me to do something or believe something that I do not want to do or believe. But sometimes when you love people too much, you forget that they are not on the same page as you are. So, it’s obvious they do not understand and that leaves you frustrated, heart-broken and even furious sometimes.

I have friends who are fascinated by the tears I shed in front of Allah Almighty. They say that they want to weep before the Lord but that their tears won’t come out. I have people who feel that I have influenced their life in a positive way. But I also feel sad when my Muslim identity is knocked or dismissed by people who simply do not agree with my frame of mind and find it hard to convince me to adapt to their way of life.

I am very active on Facebook. I come across posts that laugh off women wearing Hijab. Those who post such views clearly do not take Islam very seriously but they have no right to make fun of something that could be so dear to someone else.

When I say I am a practicing Muslim, in no way do I mean that I am holy. I am not! I am a sinner and every time I compare myself to other people in terms of deeds, I find myself miserable. Because I am a sinner, seeking forgiveness from my Lord. People should understand that going shopping alone, loving my job, spending money on clothes, enjoying a rainy day with a friend are just small things that make me happy and that they are not against Islam. 

If you perceive Islam as backward or orthodox or the person following it as someone who should be deprived of happiness, then you are at fault and you must take some time out to study this wonderful religion instead of wasting your time in judging me. I am a sinner in distress. I have done horrible things that have violated my soul. I have this excruciatingly painful guilt that kills me every day but I expect good from Allah Almighty. I seek His forgiveness and I know He is all forgiving and merciful. But I also expect people around me to leave me alone and not make it difficult for me. I ask Allah to make it easy for me, for all of us. I am on a journey of self-discovery. I am walking on a road to recovery and I hope you can join me too. Insha Allah. 🙂 

Written By Shumila Malik

Poem: A Plastic Doll

I am a plastic doll,
Played around by all.
My heart’s made of steel,
So, I do not feel.

Talk to me or if you want mock,
For my feelings are made of rock.
My eyes are glass and glitter,
My emotions are trash and litter.

I smile to you as you please,
I’m here for you for your ease.
Play with me all you want,
Have fun or if you wish taunt.

For dolls you know cannot speak,
Your love and care they do not seek.
They are not real, just a toy,
They do not know how to cry.

Throw me on the floor or walk away,
I will have nothing to say.
For I do not scream or weep,
I do not have a heart that beats!

Written By Shumila Malik