The Muslim Literati

Musings of a Muslim Book Devourer

Your Optimistic Realist — March 5, 2018

Your Optimistic Realist

I need to focus on things that I’m proud of. One of my greatest achievements recently, is balance. Alhamdulillah. I’ve observed people who jump way too high, only to fall down crashing. That’s what happens when you let your emotions control you. Those of you that know me, especially in real life, know that I’ve struggled with such things as well. Well, mostly the falling down part. But all of the things I have experienced in life has made me immune to such violent emotional fluctuations, and I now stay on more or less the same level all the time.

Life gets boring because of it, but I stay safe. I’ve also realized that there’s a lack of balanced people out there in the world, so I think in shaa Allah I can make contributions… just by being me.

In the latest AlMaghrib seminar here in Stockholm, Into the Mirror, Sh. Suleiman Hani said that as Muslims, we should be optimistic realists. I’ve always been a pessimistic realist, but in shaa Allah I’m at least aiming for a change now. It’s going to take some major changes in how I talk about things, and some getting used to as I adjust my persona, but it’s a necessary change.

And if I know one thing about myself, it’s the fact that I’m no stranger to changes. I’ve made two major changes in my life in the past 5-6 years, and this is nothing compared to those.

Need to shed off the old skin as well, which includes people.

Porcelain Dolls and Empty Swings — February 22, 2018

Porcelain Dolls and Empty Swings

Focus, Norah. Why do you keep losing sight of what is important – of what actually matters? Once upon a time, I think a part of you knew that you were made to ignore the superficial. You are supposed to be stronger than this – you are supposed to be a survivor.


One thing you learn as you grow up is to fight your own battles. At the very least, you learn that is what you are supposed to do. Many of us do not succeed. We cry out for help, secretly hoping somebody will take over the wheels for a while – drive our lives for us.


Memories from childhood are strange. Half of the time, I am not sure how much I have made up and how much actually happened. I cannot be sure whether places looked the way I think they looked. For example, the place where a family we knew used to live. That family was special because the mother passed away in cancer, and then some unfortunate chain of events occurred. But it is the simplest of scenes that my mind cannot let go of: the place where they lived, their apartment, the porcelain dolls they had in the living room, their youngest son who I remember was wild and beat me a few times, their oldest daughter with whom at one point I sat on the swings outside their house with her friend. I cannot let go of these memories. I do not know these people anymore, I barely remember what they looked like. But I cannot let go of the place where they used to live. I wish I knew the address so I could go there. But at the same time, I feel almost sure that it would look nothing like I remember. And that is scary.

How much can we actually trust ourselves? Childhood or not, memories are deceitful. They are colored by our perceptions, feelings, and opinions of that time. Sometimes, those things take over at the cost of actual facts.

Sometimes, it is good. If I would remember, on a daily basis, the bad things I did in my life, or the bad things that happened to me, I am not sure how I would be able to go on living another day.

Other times, it is disheartening. Because good memories also fade away. Especially when we are sad. We become ungrateful as we forget all the blessings that Allah swt has bestowed upon us.

Whatever it is, the older I get, the more memories seem to take precedence in my life. Reviewing scenes in my head, re-analyzing and trying to force myself to separate truth from fiction. Sometimes – most times – regretting and remaking those scenes into such where I made a better choice. The perfect choices.

I need to talk to somebody – soul to soul. I am carrying too much right now.


Justification — January 26, 2018


I am used to disappointment. The way it feels against my skin, the way it smells, its temperature. I am used to the mattress against the side of my body and the adjusting of the pillow. Crying belongs to sessions, with paper towels close at hand, and the reasonable part of my brain explaining to me that this is necessary but won’t solve any problems. I am used to the balm of fiction afterwards – the binging to drown my sorrows. This is routine.

The worst part of telling people about what ails you, is them trying to “solve” your problems. People have forgotten how to show sympathy, when sympathy is needed more than rationality. Have they also forgotten hearts, dreams, feelings? Some things belong to the intangible, the ethereal. Please leave them where they belong. Sometimes it feels as if we push our souls too much towards the walls of their containers. I want my soul to be able to fly out effortlessly when my time comes.

Pain is a process. I know it, which is why I leave it be. It’s not always about identifying a problem and finding a solution. Sometimes, it’s about dealing with something. And then – sometimes a very long time afterwards – when the “dealing” has come to its natural end, it’s about learning how to move on.


Schrödinger’s Cat — January 23, 2018

Schrödinger’s Cat

Every once in a while, I take a risk. It took a while for me to reach this decision, but the ego has to be shelved this time. I have to hold my breath this time. I have to brace myself for the eventual tiny sting of embarrassment this time. It’s time to face reality and stop hiding in the shadows.

It’s time to wait, while clocks and heartbeats go out of sync. It’s time for dry mouths and cold perspiration. To forget, to remember, to admit.

What’s in a name?

I envision the two extreme outcomes. The walk in the park versus the dark shades and high collar. The unknown versus the comfortable. The edge of the seat versus the leaning back.

It’s ok Norah, you can do this.


Noveau Bliss — December 29, 2017

Noveau Bliss

“Will 2018 be the year I…”

Image result for no gif

That’s me talking to myself. A part of me is stupid like that, buys into the fantasy that somehow a digit change in the Gregorian calendar, or my birthday for that matter, will bring with it something new.

Newness. My generation seems to have developed an innate difficulty of being content for any longer period of time. We’ve become so used to new apps being developed, new models of our phone brand beng released every year (incidentally, I actually dreamt I got myself a Samsung Galaxy S8, even though in real life I’ve decided to, for once, be satisfied with my S7 until it stops functioning properly), new sequels and iterations of our favorite movies being spewed out like volcanic eruptions. There’s no time for us to process anything, before another thing takes its place. And that, naturally, affects our mindsets in general. How will we ever achieve world peace, if we can’t even find peace within ourselves?

(Ok, maybe I’m going a bit overboard in my attempt of returning to the blogosphere in a sophisticated way. I keep thinking that if I change my writing style, I’ll attract more sensible readers. Ok I’m sorry, but it’s just that the mostly dead comment section of this blog only seem to attract mansplaining outsiders who think they can relate to me. Sorry again, but think about it and you’ll know it’s true. Unless you’re a woman, of course. And if you’re not a woman and you’re offended, well then you obviously don’t know me as well as you think.)

So, true to my generation, I too seek newness. The sensible part of me keeps reminding me that this is the longest I’ve gone without having any real problems in my life. Whilst the other part, the ruling one, keeps yearning for disruptions. It thinks my life has been stagnant for too long. It thinks that what is still right now, will eventually start to move backwards.

I’ve learned about true patience being an active, and not passive, process. Gratitude can probably be an active process as well, maybe it has something to do with giving back. But I don’t know how to feel it. To be honest, I’ve only felt gratitude in short bursts. True gratitude however, I imagine is the expression of being satisfied with your life. True gratitude for me, would be remembering those years when I always had at least one big problem breathing down my neck, when I yearned for exactly what I have right now. How can I expect for my prayers to be granted, when I can’t even appreciate the ones that have?

I would like to say that my mission for 2018 will be to appreciate everything that I have, but to be honest, I think I need to start by learning what appreciation really is.

Featured image captured by me.

Breathing in Borrowed Time — November 27, 2017

Breathing in Borrowed Time

What happened the last time you were granted something you had been waiting ages for? That one thing you had been praying for intensely? Were you as grateful as you promised you’d be?

Mostly we aren’t. Allah is aware of it. I’ve learned that we’re kept in this state of want, because it keeps us turning to Him.

I need to accept the fact that if He did grant me my wish, I’d probably not be as grateful as I should be. And even if I was… eventually I’d find other things to complain about. Perfection doesn’t exist. It only exists while the object of desire is just that – an object of desire.


I’ve been affected. By the lack of friends. Nobody even texts me anymore. They’ve all forgotten about me. About meeting up. I’ve always been the one to reach out and organize things. I’m done with that. So they’re done with me.

It’s not ok. It makes me sad. I have bad dreams, I wake up with tummy aches, I don’t feel like talking to people at work. Who knows this? You. Because everybody else will feel pity for me. And I don’t handle pity well.


Among the aunties, I’ve officially become that girl. I know that. They don’t say it out loud, but I can hear it in the silences of the conversations. They skim over me. They talk about the others, the younger ones. My expiry date has passed. What even am I anymore.


Maybe I don’t really exist anymore. Not as a person. Just as a function.

Alien Invasions — September 25, 2017

Alien Invasions

Recently I’ve been thinking about this guy. Let’s just say he’s easy to like. Not my type, for certain obvious reasons, but I don’t think he’s bad as a person.

I don’t know why I’ve been thinking about him specifically. I don’t know if we’ve ever even said hi to each other. We merely see each other every once in a while in gatherings. So it’s really strange that out of all the actual options out there, I’m thinking about this non-option that I’ve probably never even spoken to.

Last night I asked myself, why not pray that Allah guides him? Allah can make anything happen, so why not pray for something my limited mind deems impossible? Nothing is impossible for Him. And so I did… well… of sorts. Didn’t pray for him specifically, but the prayer did include him.

It was weird. Really. I know very little about this guy. I just know that he exists. So why has my mind suddenly started thinking about him? It was an unintentional thought.

I think I’m officially becoming desperate.


Alhamdulillaahi alaa kulli haal — June 4, 2017

Alhamdulillaahi alaa kulli haal

Something recently happened in my life that I didn’t quite expect ever would – at least not in this manner. Actually, this something has been growing for quite some time… it’s just recently it manifested itself in a shocking manner. And now I’m a little bit scared, but most of all I feel desperation.

I’ve basically only been praying for one thing since Ramadan started, and I firmly believe Allah will deliver – only that it’s taking some time.

Faith is tested. And then it’s tested some more. And then it’s tested some more. It’s tested till you are at your most vulnerable, most desperate state, where leaving faith would be the easiest way out. Because faith is not supposed to be easy. If it is, it’s not true faith.

I know this, which is why I find solace in my prayers. Otherwise, I would have caved in. This is why I say: praise is to Allah in all circumstances. Even this is happening for a reason. One that I may see now, later, or maybe never in this life. Regardless, I know for a fact that this is one of those events that is shaping all of us involved. You never stop shaping yourself and your character, even as an adult, things happen that stir the core components of your being.

I know, Al-Waliy, that You keep Your believers safe. I know that this event has revealed to us what You knew all along.

Ya Muqaddim, whatever good You have preserved for us, that will deliver us from this situation, please give it to us now. Ameen.

Jag önskar jag vore osynlig — May 8, 2017

Jag önskar jag vore osynlig

När jag tänker på hatet i kommentarsfälten, tänker jag på ens psykiska välmående. Varje dag blir man så frustrerad av att se så mycket okunnighet, hat och absurda konspirationsteorier. Hur spelar det ut i längden? PTSD?

Vissa är besatta av att bestämt konstatera det ena och det andra – det är fakta baserat på deras källor. Och vad är då deras källor? Jae… ibland existerar de inte och ibland är de så absurda att man tvivlar på om dessa människor legat i koma de senaste fem seklerna – men oavsett vad, så trotsar av någon anledning deras källor alltid källkritikens alla lagar.

Är man en politisk aktiv muslim – eller ja helt enkelt en muslim som uttalar sig om saker – då är man “islamist”. It’s as easy as that. För er som är känsliga så kan jag för övrigt nämna att det inte finns någon idé i att debattera ordet islamist – det är beklagligt att ”de” (absolut hatar att använda det ordet – jag vill inte vara del av någon vi-mot-dem rörelse – så låt oss i just denna kontext referera till DJ Khaled’s “they”) kapat namnet på en religion och ist-at den till någon sorts mördarkult-ideologi. Precis som terroristerna kapat den för sina sjuka ändamål.

Och så står man som hijabi mosad i en svettig tunnelbanevagn sådär 16:30 en tisdageftermiddag, med hörlurarna på för att man inte vill besvära någon stackars rasist och provocera hen till att uttrycka sig. Man vet ju att hen kommer göra det oavsett när hen kommer hem: “Islamisten på gröna linjen svettades starkt. Vad gömde hon egentligen under slöjan?”.

Mosad, inklämd, från alla håll och kanter.

Är man en muslimsk kvinna, så är man bestämt förtryckt. Påstår man att man inte är det så är man hjärntvättad. Börjar man prata, skrika, demonstrera, ja då kämpar man för islamiseringen av Sverige. Just  är det happy hour för alla “granskare” att gräva så naglarna bryts – inga etiska regler där inte. För muslimska kvinnor är förtryckta, så när de ser ut att inte vara det, då är det något fel och de måste återigen förtryckas – cuz that’s where they belong; under somebody’s shoe.

The Morning After — April 8, 2017

The Morning After

För Stockholms-barn behöfs ej måla
På Norr den mångbesökta punkt,
Där skenor ut som nerver stråla,
Och järnvägsvagnar dåna tungt.
– Carl Snoilsky, “På gammal tomt”*

I was in the lunchroom at work when I got the news. We were having afternoon fika, and one of my colleagues got a ping on her phone and said that a truck had driven into Åhléns City. At first I didn’t really understand, thought it wasn’t anything serious. Making the connection between this event and the events in Berlin, Nice, and London was slow. Because I never thought anything like this would ever happen in Sweden. I always thought that these attacks happened as a result of the country’s part in the wars in the Middle East. Sweden doesn’t take part in any wars. Sweden is insignificant. I took solace in that – I thought that’s what it takes to keep a country safe. I was wrong.

Everybody at work were looking down into their phones, making phone calls. My brother called me first. He works in a building not far from where it happened. Nobody could continue working, rather everybody was trying to find a way home.

I’m going to be honest. You know this from my previous posts. Whenever such attacks have occurred in nearby countries, I’ve always been afraid for my own safety. I’ve been scared on the subways and buses on my way to and home from work.

This time it was different. For the first time in life, there was a different fear, a different sadness, a different anger. At first I had to call and text around to people to make sure everybody I knew was safe. Secondly, I thought of the location. Åhléns City is a mall situated in the centermost part of the city. People pass that mall not only because they’re out shopping, but because just below that mall is the central tube station, the station where all the subway and train lines pass. I could have been there. Anybody I know could have been there.

I thought of the location. Stockholm. My home. Where I was born, where I’ve lived pretty much my entire life. Some of the streets of which I could move around blindfolded. This is my city.

And then came the questions: am I allowed to call it my city? Is it OK? Will anybody object? Will anybody tell me I don’t have a right to partake in the grief? I wished I could make myself small, invisible. 

It’s easy to lose focus of the victims when something far away from you happens. Not so easy when it happens in front of you, or somewhere close to you, somewhere real to you. People actually died, and got seriously hurt. Here. Right in the heart of my city.

*For children of Stockholm you don’t have to portray
The frequently visited spot at north
Where rails beam like nerves outward
And railway wagons thunder heavily
– Carl Snoilsky, “On Old Plot” (my translation)

Featured image from Google.

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