Consequentialism & Fasting.

Day 6 of 29.

I am tired.

I can barely type this out. I feel so drained. This is the first time since Ramadan began 6 days ago that I am feeling so exhausted.

I am an energetic individual so moments like this can get frustrating. But its a reminder, just as everything else is, to pace myself.

This is a month of reflection. With it comes its trials and tribulations. The highs and the lows.

Yesterday I barely noticed I was fasting. Today I have been counting the hours. The pain in my stomach has increased as the day has progressed.

Walking is difficult as is talking.

But in one hour I will eat. A reminder that I am fortunate. Blessed. Unlike those who have no promise of a full course home cooked meal.

This is discipline. To train your mind to control its urges. To push yourself so you are in total control. 

This is not just about deprivation of food. It never was. Its a test of will. Of principle. Of faith.

It will build my spirit for the days when I need to be resiliant, persistant and steadfast.

So I carry on. I endure the pains. Because it is temporary. The result makes it worth the while. 

For me today reminds me of my own mantra. If you want something in life…you have to fight for it. You have to strive. You have to work hard. You have to sacrifice. You have to feel the pain before you get your ease.

 The struggle to reach your utmost potential is ongoing. It never stops. It hurts. But the reward, be it food after an 18 hour fast, or your dream job, is worth it. 

Ramadan is my training ground. I use it to prepare myself for the year ahead. To become a more stronger, more determined and a more ambitious woman. 

So today, I must be a consequentialist. 

A day in the life of… 

Todays schedule:

2am: Woke for the pre dawn meal. Ate some oats, fruit & drank a glass of water. I can’t even remember what I said to my husband or if I even spoke. 

3am: Pray Fajr (morning prayer) and sleep

6.30/7am: My 10 month old wakes me up, shortly after my eldest walks in to the bedroom to announce that she is awake. My son strolls in after.

7.30-8am: hubby leaves for work. The morning shift begins..breakfast for all 3 & get them ready for the day

9.30am: we go to the park to burn off my son’s excess energy. I bump into a friend who tells me Ramadan is difficult with kids. 

11.30am: we leave the park. The kids are hungry. Its lunchtime

12.30pm: Lunch is done, time for the baby to nap. The elder two get out their work books and study for a while

1.30pm: time for Zuhr (mid day prayer) the kids play out. I do the chores quickly conscious that the baby will awake soon.

2pm: Imaan awakes. She is screaming for food. I quickly put together a snack for her and she quietens down.

3pm: we draw, play with toys, our neighbours daughter pops round.

3:30pm: the kids are hungry again I make kebab sandwiches. The icecream van rocks up. We chase him down the street.

4pm: I switch the telly on for the kids. Put the baby down for another nap. Fireman Sam blasts through my ears. I call my sister round. I go through my emails, send replies and check the news. 

6pm: my husband returns from work. Baby wakes up. And evening routine begins

7pm: we pray Asr (late afternoon prayer) together. The kids have dinner and we go through what the kids have done today and mark their behaviour charts, made specially for Ramadan.

8pm: bedtime for the kids.  I begin writing today’s blog. 

We will at:

9pm: start getting our meal to break our fast ready. 

9.30pm: pray and eat. 

10-11:15- drink tea, gorge my face with chocolate and relax. Pray and sleep. 

Friends and family have asked me how I am finding Ramadan now that I have 3 kids and am on mat leave. 

My reply: I am so busy I barely remember that I am fasting until I sit down and the fatigue hits. But I am grateful because I have noticed the kids are sympathetic. Also so glad that my day is packed, it means I have less time to think about my empty belly. 

Strangely normally I have to eat/snack every two hours to keep my energy levels up. But I think my mental and physical state is stronger because I know I am fasting so have to keep persisting with the day ahead of me. 

Anyway until tomorrow when its a repeat of all of the above with some modifications. 

Kebabs. Kebabs. Kebabs

I woke up today thinking of kebabs.

Chapli kebabs in particular. Round and juicy. With a side of chutney.

By noon it was driving me crazy so I decided to make them. So I called my eldest sis up who gave me the family recipe, handed down to her by my aunt. 

As she hung up the phone, she mentioned oven cooked flour based samosas. My mouth was drooling. Safe to say I spent most of my time in the kitchen today.

Normally I have to force myself to cook but today the smell of the fresh food was intoxicating.

So in honour of this, I am sharing our family recipe with you. Please bear in mind that my mum & aunts don’t use specific measurements. They taste as they go along and use their experience to guide them. So you may want to add/deduct as you please

To make approx 15-20 kebabs:


  1. 1IB chicken mince
  2. Very finely grated onion & green chillis to accompany the mince. (Any Pakistani butchers/superstore will have this pre one for you)
  3. 1 tomato finely chopped
  4. A handful of coriander finely chopped
  5. 1 potato grated. (Be sure to squeeze out the water)
  6. Salt (to taste)
  7. 1 level tbsp Tandoori Masala 
  8. 1 tbsp chapali kebab mix (found in your local Asian superstore)

I also added an egg and some gram flour to thicken the mixture allowing it to stick easier. But that is optional.


  1. Mix everything together with your hands thoroughly. 
  2. Rub some some oil or egg on your hands and scoop up small portions of the mixture to form mini doughs.
  3. Use a heavy circular object to flatten the doughs as you go along.
  4. Shallow fry each side till the meat is cooked through.
  5. Serve with chutney and naan or whatever else you please! 


Ramadan Ruminations. 

‘Read a thousand books but you’ve never tried to read your own self,

You rush into your temples/mosques but have never entered your own heart,

Futile are your battles with the devil for you have never fought your own self desires’ Baba Bulleh Shah

Fighting your own self desires. Possibly the greatest battle of all. 

Today I focused on sitting in silence. I don’t do it often. I’m always at some point in the company of another person. I come from a big family so I got used to noise. Its always been a source of comfort. 

Silence is something I avoided. I rushed to fill it. Its awkward. Too quiet. My brain goes into overdrive.

I often use my phone to avoid the silence. To stop myself getting bored I skim through social media. I rarely sit by myself with no distractions.

So I tried it today. And it was difficult. I itched to do something, write, draw, doodle. Anything. 

But then I let the silence overwhelm me. It was emancipating. 

The past week has been traumatic for us all. Reading and watching the horrific news from Manchester, then the stabbings in Portland yesterday. The bloodshed never seems to stop. It can bring with it a sense of despair and helplessness. Two feelings that are disempowering and dehabilitating.

So I thought about what I had seen over the past week..the horror and then the unbelieveable moments of humanity and unity. I thought about my 7 yr old daughter coming home & talking about how she and her friends had discussed the youngest victim of the bombings being only 1 year older then them. 

I never thought I would have to discuss terror, death and evil to my daughter at such a young age. 

We have to talk to them. To encourage them to own their identities. To promote self discovery and development so they are confident. 

We have to teach them the importance and value of humanity. The heart is a vital organ. It nurtures love and empathy. It is this that will unite people. 

We have to help them fight their own demons by fighting our own first. Whether it is fear or anxiety, pride or jealousy. 

We have to hold on to hope. We have to be empowered by it. We cannot wallow in despair or self pity. 

As I looked at the clock, the ten minutes had felt like an hour.

The silence was broken but so was my unease

The greatest battle is the one within yourself. 

Ramadan Ruminations.

This week Imaan learnt how to climb the stairs and pull herself up to a standing position. The look of accomplishment on her face amazed me. 

And then I remembered something one of my mentors told me early on…always give yourself a target. Something you can tick off at the end of each and every day. It is vital for personal development. 

So Ramadan is here. Our first fast is over. WELL DONE. For me that in itself is an accomplishment cz I eat every 2 hours. 

But I have decided this Ramadan I am going to set myself daily targets. Nothing too hard. Just things I wasn’t doing before. 
For me a big thing is patience. I am really hoping to work on that each day this month. To just monitor myself and acknowledge the points at which I snap. 

It takes a month to break a habit and a month to form good ones.

I have found in previous years, if I enter Ramadan overzealously, I crash and burn by week 2. So this year I have decided to pace myself and take it slow. To actually set realistic targets I know I will be able to achieve. That’s not to say it won’t be a challange. Just a more practical one.

Ramadan, if used effectively, can be a monumental month of self growth. Remember God says, fasting is not just starving yourself, it is so much more then that. Plus you don’t need to fast to reap the benefits of this month. You can still set yourself targets. 

1 down…29 to go.

Deluded Defenders of God

‘Either grant me the bliss of the ignorant or give me the strength to bear the knowledge.’ Mashal Khan

Seventy years ago Pakistan was born from a vision of hope. It was born with egalitarian ideals including rights for minorities who would be permitted to live with full protection and freedom from oppression. It was never intended for Pakistan to be a religious state and especially not one with religious divisions. Yet sadly, this is what is has become synonymous with, especially in the last decade or so.

The Blasphemy laws of Pakistan date back to the 1980s , where a number of clauses were added to the Pakistan Penal Code, these are categorised in two sections, the anti-Ahmedi laws and the blasphemy laws. The Anti-Ahmedi laws state that Ahmedi’s are forbidden to call themselves Muslims, use Islamic terms to describe their religious practices or places of worship. The laws have been modified over the years. In 1982 a clause prescribed life imprisonment for “wilful” desecration of the Quran, the Muslim holy book. In 1986, a separate clause was inserted to punish blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad and the penalty recommended was “death, or imprisonment for life”, in that order.”

Since the 1990s at least 65 people accused of blasphemy have been murdered.

The latest killing in the name of God occurred six days ago.

The victim was 23 year old student Mashal Khan. Beaten to a pulp at Abdul Wali Khan University where he had been studying Journalism.

His crime was simple. He dared to critically think in a society which suffocates those who have the gall to do so. He had the nerve to openly share his humanist views on social media. He had the audacity to question the University’s officials.

His punishment was inconceivable. Stripped naked, severely beaten and then shot. But it didn’t stop there, his lifeless body was thrown from the second floor of the building and beaten by wooden planks.

A crowd of over a hundred gathered and watched. Reports suggest over 20 police officers were on site during this heinous atrocity.

They intervened only when the mob was about to set fire to Mashal’s dead body.

45 people were arrested after the attack.
The mob included officials from the university who accused him of blasphemy. A term that apparently gives you licence to kill whomsoever you choose. McCarthyism is reincarnated.

Initially there were claims that Mashal was an Ahmedi Muslim. Like that would make any of it any better or justifiable. Like it would suddenly stifle the criticism just because he adhered to beliefs you don’t ascribe to.
But these were quickly discarded. He was a Sunni Muslim and there was no evidence of blasphemy.

His grieving mother lamented ‘tell me the mistake of my son.’ His ‘mistake’ was freedom of thought. A gift that distinguishes us from animals. A gift that set him apart from those who set upon him braying for his blood. It appears that those who killed him didn’t even possess the kindness that animals display to each other.
As Mashal wrote himself last month ‘The more I know people, the more I love my dog.’

I have agonised over mob mentality for a while now. Its prevalence disturbs me deeply.
The very fact that university officials were among the mob that murdered Mashal is beyond depressing. A university is universally recognised as a sanctuary for debate, discussion and development of ideas. But not in Mardan, Pakistan.

So what’s next?
Some politicians and government officials have condemned the attack including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chairman of PTI, Imran Khan. But to what effect?
Take for example Nawaz Sharif, he stated that he was ‘shocked and saddened’ by the murder of Mashal Khan. He went on to further say ‘the state will not tolerate citizens that take the law in their own hands.’
Yet at the same time, Mr Sharif has widely supported a crackdown on blasphemous content online. Content, if found, could lead to death. Freedom of expression comes with limitations. Nawaz Sharif is in favour of this.

Imran Khan, visited the family of Mashal Khan and later tweeted that he would bring the perpetrates to justice. But how is this possible? How is it possible when vast swathes of a society believe that if you do not agree with an individuals’ values you can accuse them of blasphemy and kill them.

Take for example the assassination of Salman Taseer in 2011 by Mumtaz Qadri. Taseer was a revolutionary, dedicating his life to protecting the lives of the minorities living within Pakistan, yet more people turned out in solidarity towards Qadri then they did for Taseer!
Take for example the case of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who was accused of blasphemy in 2009 and sentenced to death in 2010. She was accused of blasphemy after a group of women she had been arguing with over harvesting berries accused her of insulting Prophet Muhammed.

These cases are endless. So what is the solution?
A tolerance of a plurality of thought. It is the backbone of a free and healthy society.
But this puts those in power in jeopardy, it allows room for criticism, accountability and justice.
This is the problem in Pakistan, the religious elites seek to manipulate and control the masses by promoting uniformity of beliefs. They exploit the uneducated by means of religious knowledge. Yet the knowledge they teach is so far from the truth it does more harm then good. And the state is too weak to dismantle their power.
And on it goes. How much more blood will be spilt in the name of blasphemy, when the biggest sin in the eyes of God is the murder of an innocent individual.
How many more Mashal Khan’s will be murdered before Pakistan realises its visionaries and future leaders are being annihilated in front of its very eyes paving the way for a darker, more draconian future?

Mass education and re-education is required, starting with the youth so that they have the tools to build a safer, diverse and open society.

It seems the solution lies in Mashal’s scribblings on his hostel room wall

‘Be curious, crazy and mad.’

Midweek Musing

Last week, just after International Womens Day, I sat, like I am now, in front of my laptop and mulled over what to write.

There were a couple of stories that I had seen doing the usual rounds on social media that troubled me. The first was the furore over the dancing hijabi. Those of you who missed this, basically someone filmed a woman wearing a headscarf twerking in a city centre. That video went viral and the woman was publicly shamed. She received death threats, abuse and it eventually led to her publicly apologising on some guys YouTube. It is fair to say that the majority of people had an issue with the woman twerking because she was wearing a hijab. They felt she was ‘dishonouring’ the religion, bringing ‘disgrace’ upon herself, her family and her community. I saw people making comments along the lines of ‘she should have removed her hijab before doing such a disgusting act.’

The second story was that of Bangladesh reducing its legal marriage age from 18 to 0. Yeah you read that right. On February 17th, the Bangladesh government proposed this new law which would effectively allow girls under the age of 18 to marry in ‘special cases.’ But it has not specified what those special cases are. What it means in practice is that, any girl under the age of 18 can get married to a man, regardless of his age, as long as the parents of the girl and the courts consent.

The reason why I was most perturbed by these stories was because they have one thing in common, they assume ownership over the women concerned.

In regards to the dancing hijabi, it was assumed by people at large, that because she was wearing a hijab, she was to conform to a uniform code of behaviour. A code of behaviour all hijabis must adopt. I don’t know what that it is but given the comments I have read, it is that hijabis must be ‘modest,’ ‘decent,’ ‘respectful,’ ‘represent their religion properly.’
It is as though once a woman decides to wear the hijab, she becomes the property of the Muslim communities at large. It is as though she is then accountable to them and at their mercy. She is to expect to be publicly shamed, threatened and abused if she displeases them.

Not only is this unjust. It is a display of a delusional, irrational and an ignorant attitude towards women. It is a total disregard of the autonomy of a woman. She does not represent anyone but herself. She is accountable to no one but herself. She is free to do as she pleases, whether she wears the hijab or not.

The fact that this woman was abused to such an extent that she felt the need to publicly apologise is disgusting. How gratuitous of the man who facilitated this apology. Who will never endure the stigma she has experienced. How gratitutous of the people for forgiving her. What about those who threatened her with death? Will they too be subject to a public trial? What about those who cursed her, frothing at their fingertips. Will they too be subject to a public trial?
No. because mob mentality doesn’t work like that. It stifles rationality. It dehumanises its victim and after it has achieved what it set out to do, it waits for its next target.

It is as though some people do not want to accept the fact that hijabis are women with free independent thinking. Free to do as they please. Whether they have a lapse in judgement or not. That is the womans prerogative. Certainly not yours.

Which leads me on to the Bangledishi marriage law,
In Bangladesh, 52% of girls are married before they turn 18 and 18% are married before they are 15.
On the Girls not Brides website, Samira, from Bangladesh writes about her experience.

“I am victim of early marriage. When I was 14, I was forced into a marriage as I was considered a burden on the family. My family suggested this marriage [because] the groom didn’t ask for dowry. My husband was 35 – double my age.”
“During the marriage I had the horrible experience of marital rape. [Unable] to tolerate it anymore, I went back to my parents’ home and am living with them again.”

If the new law receives Presidential approval, there will be more girls like Samira. Why? Because parents have this view that girls are a burden, and it is better to get rid of them as soon as possible. The earlier they get them married the better. The only thing that can change this mindset is education. But if a society views its girls as a problem rather then a solution, who will care to invest in them? If a government feels it can make such laws without considering the long term effects on future generations, then what does it tell you about its value for women?

As I write this, news has come in about the European Court of Justice legalising a ban on headscarves in workplaces, as long as the employer enforces a blanket ban for all religions.
I cannot help but wonder how this will affect Muslim women who are considering re entering the workplace. In 2015, ONS found 58% of Muslim women are economically inactive. That may be due to the fact that some are full time carers, others experience language barriers and a portion feel discriminated against because of their faith and how they choose to dress.

This is the first ban on headscarves of its sort. The culmination of a debate that has been raging across Europe regarding the dress choices of Muslim women. From the banning of the niqaab to the burka to the controversial forced removal of the burqini on a beach in Nice. It is everywhere. This desire to reduce Muslim women to the clothes they wear. To empower them by means of limiting their choices.

I cannot help but wonder, will this battle for the freedom of Muslim women ever end? Whether it is the Muslim communities who throw stones at hijabis for displaying ‘unusual’ behaviour, or the legislators who want to ensure ‘neutrality,’ by legalising the ban on headscarves.

It is as though Muslim women are incapable of making decisions for themselves.
Too oppressed to truly make our own choices.
Too irresponsible to be given free reign.

When will this distorted fantasy end?

The Drama in The Viceroy’s House.

Lets talk about Viceroy’s House.

Firstly I want to say, if you haven’t watched the movie, GO WATCH IT! Stop reading all the reviews, watch it and form your own opinions.

Secondly, what you are about to read is my response to watching the movie. If you agree/disagree that’s fine but these are my own personal thoughts.

Thirdly this is not a review of any sort. Just an opportunity for me to gather my thoughts and articulate them to you.

Now that we have got the formalities out of the way, lets begin.

Viceroy’s House is a really good film.  It took me about 15 mins to get deeply drawn into it, but once I did, I was gripped.  It is moving, funny and thought provoking. There were moments when I was sat at the edge of my seat holding my breath. There were moments when I was holding my sisters hand,  tears rolling down my face. And there were moments when I groaned with frustration, thinking no, it wasn’t like that!

I was already invested in this film long before I watched it. This year marks the 70th anniversary of Partition. 70 years since the birth of Pakistan, and the independence of India from a long and debilitating British rule.

My grandparents survived partition. For those of you who have listened to my podcast, you will know that my grandfather, Mirza Khan Butt, served in the 2nd world war.  He, along with millions of other Indians, served because they had been promised freedom if Britain was victorious. This is touched on in Viceroys House. So I guess in one way, I watched this movie, hoping to see some of the stories I had heard growing up. And I did. The stories of co existence, friendships and mutual respect all came through.  But Chadha didn’t shy away from the reality of partition. The stories of rioting, rape and devastation weaved in between the various narratives within the movie. And this was done seamlessly.

What made me feel uncomfortable was the portrayal of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.  He was presented as this aloof, arrogant and stubborn man, who was intent on splitting India in half to create this new state called Pakistan. There were points throughout the movie when Jinnah was portrayed as a spoilt child who refused to compromise because he wasn’t getting what he wanted. It was as if Mountbatten was left with no choice. Pakistan seemed to be this vague idea Jinnah had dreamt up, with no considered thought and he wasn’t going to rest until he got it.

Viceroy’s House does touch on the fact that Jinnah pursued Pakistan because he wanted to guarantee the safety of the Muslim minority living within India and he was convinced that without a separate state this would not be ensured.

But Jinnah did not conceive this idea independently. Nor so flippantly. Those who know the history of Pakistan and the struggle for a separate state will know that Jinnah was heavily influenced by philosopher  Muhammad Iqbal.

Furthermore, it was created to be a secular state, as Jinnah said in the days leading up to independence

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan … You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the State … I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”

But you see the more I think about this movie, the more I think, this wasn’t a historical story. It isn’t a documentary. It is a drama. It is entertainment with some factual basis. It is Gurinder Chadha’s story as she rightly said today. It is her narrative.

So although some of those who are linked to Partition will want to see their struggles represented, this is unfair to ask. Because a story has a million sides. Especially one that involves the independence of a nation and the creation of another.

At the end of the movie we are told that Gurinder Chadha’s grandmother survived partition, she crossed from Pakistan to India, her baby died on the journey there. She was one of the many millions of refugees. It is this story that will frame Chadha’s storytelling. I am not saying that Viceroy’s house is biased or partial. But your reading of history is influenced by your own experiences or of those who are close to you. They mark you because it becomes your history. Your heritage. Your identity.

So we cannot look to claim our history with Viceroy’s House, but what we can do is offer different perspectives.  It is only by encouraging others to tell their own stories of this traumatic and hugely significant period, that we can begin to truly understand its impact not just then, but now.

Gurinder Chadha has done a fantastic job with Viceroy’s House. She has told her story. It is up to you now to share yours.

Small Talk.

I’ve never been good at it. Its not that I lack the ability to schmooze. I just don’t enjoy it. It makes me feel like im at a speed dating event, passing through a number of people, exchanging snippits of information.
‘Hi I’m Sabbiyah, I’m 27 & I’ve got 3 kids, what about you?’
And on it goes until every subject is broached and the tennis ball drops. If you’re lucky someone else will join your convo and you can start from scratch.
I always find myself leaving events feeling dis-satisified, is it normal to want to go abit deeper? Continue reading “Small Talk.”

From Syria to Bradford: A refugee family’s tale

Last week it was revealed that almost half the Syrian refugees who have resettled in the UK have been housed in one area of Bradford.

Of the 216 refugees given sanctuary so far under the government’s Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme 106 have been resettled by one organisation – the Horton Housing Association, based in Little Horton.

BBC Look North communities reporter Sabbiyah Pervez was born and raised in Little Horton as the daughter of Pakistani immigrants and has been back to her childhood home to meet one Syrian family who represent the newest incomers to the area. Continue reading “From Syria to Bradford: A refugee family’s tale”