An open letter to the writer and senders of the ‘Punish a Muslim’ letter,

I’ll be honest as a fellow born-and-bred Yorkshire woman, I’ve always been told to speak my mind but remain polite. Yet I’m equally aware of how passionate and loud we can be on average, so this is going to be a difficult task. Bear with me.

 

I’m not going to do what others have done, condemning your letter outright, or calling it ‘disgusting’ and ‘sickening’, though in my opinion it is that too, of course. Instead, I’m here to have a conversation, over why you’d want to send letters out to Bradford, Leceister, London, Cardiff and your own hometown Sheffield. I say hometown, because the only identifier we have is that letters have the Sheffield postmark, indicating that they were sent from there. I’d especially like to highlight what a shoddy exercise in communication you’ve committed, and how once again Yorkshire faces some negative press, because well you couldn’t mind yourself. A quality of a truly respectful neighbour, in any part of the world but especially our home county.

But that aside, I’d like to start by thanking you for being so overtly racist, in fact. In a way that only those who’ve experienced the escalation from strange looks, patronisation, or disdain to outright verbal abuse and beatings, could ever truly know. But I’ve got some thoughts, (and heck even some pointers for you) if you really are hell bent on helping those who’ve suffered, and to stop people from somehow mutating into sheep. A hellish thought, not least for motorists on our narrow country lanes.

 

Firstly, clarity. I’m sure like the rest of us you were put through painfully long English classes on writing a good letter. The importance of addressing your audience, and to make the subject of your sentence clear. Perhaps you were even tested on it, I think even I was and I went to the worst school in Bradford at the time. But mate, I have to say you letter is confusing the hell out of me, who are you talking to? You open up with:

‘They have hurt you, they have made your loved ones suffer.
They have caused you pain and heartache’

But who exactly is the ‘they’ you mean? All muslims or only some. I ask simply because some of your letters were sent to muslim addresses and houses like Councillor Riaz Ahmed’s business address. The best word for this is ‘confusing’ right? Once it could have been a mistake, but many addresses and it’s confusion. Perhaps you’re wanting to reach out to some of these people to join in your game, or give them forewarning, both noble ideas. I hope someone in your collective (if it is that) has some conscience and was trying to do exactly this. The forewarning, not increasing the number of game players for popularity’s sake. I mean are you wanting your followers to punish some muslims and not others, to help prove they’re not sheep?

 

This leads me to my second point. You seem to be insulting the very people who you are wanting to play your “game”. The saying ‘catching more flies with honey…’ springs to mind, remember no-one ever played with the name-calling class bully.  But seriously, someone whose printed out letters on fancy paper, embedded a table and heck even put in two logos (including a crest) into a letter, has to see the irony in what you’ve done right?!

For clarity’s sake, I’ll make it clear – you’re asking them to not be sheep, to not ‘follow orders’ or be ‘easily led’ and then you’re leading them to do things for points. It’s just absurd. Especially as you’re not even coming forward to make it clear who you even are. We may be warm, open folk in Yorkshire but we’re not gullible enough to follow a shadowy someone who’s not even doing the courtesy of looking you in the eye, shaking your hand or buying you a pint/coffee. For some reasons ‘blind leading the blind’ echoes in my head.

Not to mention the fact that all of the acts you’re dictating are crimes, meaning there’s a high chance someone is going to jail. Knowing how these things play out it’ll be those who foolishly follow your ‘actions’,  but hey they can’t point to you as the leader of this nefarious plan can they? So no doubt they’ll go to prison and you’ll keep on hanging out in Sheffield or down in 102 Petty France, London (who knows?), leaving the poor daft one to suffer alongside their heartbroken, abandoned family because of they hurt they inflicted on another. Wonder if you’ll send another letter clarifying that it is now you, dear writer, who has inflicted the ‘pain and heartache’?

 

Now the third point, may sound trivial but it’s important, your game has a serious fundamental flaw, your scoring process. Seriously, when did you last play a game? Maybe, I hit the nail on the head earlier, by noting that many people don’t play with bullies, and considering your bullying tone, perhaps this is the reasons why you’ve created a seriously messed up game (in more ways than one!). But I can’t let this one alone, it bothers me something awful…

How can throwing acid on someone be worth less than beating them up? Similarly, how have torturing using electrocution be worth less than using a knife? I’ve read enough crime novels, and watched enough action and horror movies to know that there are some forms of violence that are easier than others.   Also, burning a mosque or bombing it is worth the same amount of points. Do you seriously not know how to value anything? Well I mean of course you don’t, you’re expecting people to take away another person’s life, as well as a significant portion of their own life, all to follow your seriously flawed “game”.

 

Finally, who is keeping score? Is there going to be a final scoreboard, a bit difficult considering your not exactly putting yourself forward as a ref, and shaking your player’s hands before setting them off to play a game for the day. By ‘day’ do you mean only during daylight hours, or is the night included too. No matter what you think about the premise of the movie “The Purge’, you have to give it to them they at least had the decency to create a structure, and to communicate it well, as well as allow open discussion and criticism. It is in this spirit that I’m putting myself out there to engage with you, as someone who didn’t receive the letter so can only assume I’m a target, but may well have considering some of my fellow muslims in Yorkshire and London did. Because I don’t want a Sharia led police state either, no I’ll be bolder I don’t want any form of police state, I want a democracy. But all democracies are built on ethics, open communication and due process, not badly engineered games, without effective scorekeeping and shady puppet-masters, so why not come forward for your democractic due process and I’ll buy you a cuppa, over which we can discuss the murkiness of your ideals and communication. Doesn’t that sound nice?

 

Kindest regards,

 

Mariam Kauser

Originally from Bradford, but currently on a short spell in London.

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NaBloPoMo #11: An Unconventional Love Story – Part II (working title)

I am Ayesha. I am a Muslim and I am going to blow this stinking joint wide open. 

To use an old turn of phrase, that no kid these days would even know of. Mind you they don’t know crap these days. Not my name, not my background. Not even Muslim. No spirituality. All festering, liberal pseudo-nonsense crap and he’s the cause of it all. 

Look at him. Just look. Look at his just standing there so blatant. Surrounded by those spineless airheads. Smug. Smug, classist, daft, bourgeois bitch! I know he thinks a lot of himself. Hear it day and night. He thinks he runs this place, these people, this house, community, nation even. But he doesn’t run his own shits. Racist, anglophile, neo-liberal fascist, closet royalist! 

He may not do much. But he definitely gets points in the blame department for what he’s done. What he did. What he keeps doing. All this festering mess is all his fault. This neo-globe of ours, this nation, this crap. This same old shit with a new stinking frigging bow tied around it. This revolution gone wrong. Our revolution gone wrong… and now they’re all gone. The ghosts of them all thought they’re still here. Keeping me strong. 

It’s all his fault. It’s him I’m going to start with, right. Him to start and finish this wreck. 

Luckily we’ll be alone again soon. To end it like it was begun huh. Like that phrase Tim came up with, “Endings Hasten New Beginnings” – I was so sure he stole it from The Mummy movie franchise. We must’ve been stoned and watching the box when we came up with that one.

***

She’s staring intently again, at me. If only I could shout for help. Must smile though old chap. Oh she sure was precious when she tries. Is. You can just hear those rusted tiny cogs whirring away up in there. No doubt planning the sleeping arrangements for this gorgeous soiree. Lucky also that Status and diplotasks have kept us separate, I wouldn’t mind exercising some beast of duty tonight. I’m sure she’ll get some soft feeling “love” of her own kind tonight. She used to be so ravenous and insatiable. I guess tastes move on and connections falter. Would be fun again to know what she’s learnt while I’ve been busy away working, building and re-building. Those unhinged emotions whizzing around were just a spectacular sight.

Fuck I’m horny.

Gosh. Just thinking. Think. I have that. She’s bloody beautiful. The ideological brown goddess, the dream within a dream and I get to be it’s commander. It’s chief, sorry co-chief. New equality as always. Precious discourse for our future.

G-d I’m beginning to use the terms and slogans in my head now as well. I need a blaze and a fuck. I guess I’ll get that soon… When I’m with the slut that saved the revolution. My slut.

It will also be a shame to lose her. To end it all. But I’m sure the future will be brighter and fun for all of us.

Oh these twats are circling again. Great! Now the Goons/Keystones/Facilitators have all spotted me. The perks of being the big cheese I suppose. ARGH!

I can’t wait until we’re along again. I’m alone. Just me. Well her and me and them, but not them.. It’s going to be a wildly cleansing time. Gosh this isn’t the time for it. Must wrap up this party with some fireworks and end of eve shmoozing.

***

What am I doing? Why am I here? What will she say? Why did he make me come? Commanded even. Surely he should know. It isn’t, well wasn’t like her to keep secrets. Well at least with me, I guess.  Am I.. We’re we.. dare I say it special? That sounds so naff. That’s what she would say if she could only hear you now. 

I wonder what she’ll be wearing. If her scent will be natural or some posh pong for this diplomatic party rubbish. 

Oh this is crazy. Why do I have so many questions? Why am I questioning myself. Paralysed I need to just do. I wasn’t like this. Not even before. With her. This isn’t, wasn’t, me. Or was it? Maybe I shifted this part of me for her to worry with?

Fuck it. It’s now or never. Final hour. 

****** END SCENE ******

I know and understand that this is fast becoming a collection of introductions in my head. But for now I like the sense of crafting the perfect introduction, or else it could even be an entire collection of texts simply about the one meeting. Even many meetings, happen simultaneously, similarly, on different affective and emotive registers?

I also wanted to share that I unexpectedly came across a book called “The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And how to avoid them)” by Jack M. Bickham. Unexpected as it was in the old Brotherton library at University that I never bother going to, far more intriguing it was left on the self-scanning machine that I went to use. Strange and serendipitous. 

#NaBloPoMo #9: MA Thesis Idea #1

I thought I would share the more academic way, in an attempt to get these thoughts that occur to me. Thoughts surrounding the world we live in from a cultural and sociological viewpoint. I also hope that by doing this I add extra fuel to the fires within me. Fires which at times seem to be nothing more than a few simmering embers but at other times floods of paralysing words, images and emotions.

Below will be idea 1, I thought it best to do one at a time. Please feel free to comment, share thoughts or what you would like. I hope to soon share some form of essay plan and in the near future complete a analytical essay on the matter.

Idea 1: “Presumed Guilty” / “Monsters of our making” 
*Young Asian (& Muslim) Men and their vilification

The attack on the 4th Estate (Newsnight Journalist Secunder Kermani?)

  • What does this mean for the Asian and Muslim Community/Communities?
  • What does this mean / how does this affect Young Girl and Women?

If men traditionally have it easier to integrate… Then notions of power, relative freedom and control over self etc. come into play. A man denied agency in his own being, his identity construction seen to be problematic or deviant then finds it difficult to exist, doesn’t he?

By extension how will this man’s female counterpart fair with this societal judgement and gaze? Especially when living within and without two cultures, each with their own double-edged swords of thorny issues?

NaBloPoMo #5 “Life Happened” and Prayer

I hope this post still counts as day 5 of #NaBloPoMo , “Life happened”, which I think will soon ebcome an overused and often occurring phrase to describe that feeling of knowing what you have to do, making time for it or rather thinking you have. Then things inevitably lead to things. Feelings bury other feelings. Intentions are married with expectations and after all that.. all you are left with is the crippling knowledge that you haven’t done as much as you set out to do.

In the past, I probably would’ve scurried away and hid. Maybe until I got called up and said sorry and explained Ev-errryyything that occurred. But for now and (hopefully) always – Life happened.

I want to use this post to change up my format a little. It’s just a general post to pose a few questions and hopefully share my thoughts. I want to talk about life, breathing and prayer. Ultimately Prayer.

So as it’s the early hours of Friday morning here in UK. I finally resolved and read my first prayer since being back in my hometown. During praying, my mind travelled to my childhood. I consciously felt myself unpicking and rehashing old learnt knowledges. Past lessons. People’s comments and instructions or how to sit, how far I should bow my head. What way my feet should point. I also felt myself swipe away. Trying to push through all these memories and additional fluff for want of a better word. Stuff that leads me to Angst Central.

To clarify I am a Muslim. A young Muslim women, who is fast becoming an old one. I love the focus of individual connection to God, whilst actively maintaining a cohesive community. This is how I read and respond to my religion Islam. For me all these things are really linked, yes I know the label ascribed to my religious community is being bandied around for all sorts of reasons and believe me *I WILL* go into addressing that in the near future. But first, life is a fleeting thing, one in which we are all constantly praying. Even those amongst us so adverse to it. Those who refuse.

I think we all pray on some level. Whether its over a cup of tea. Whilst your having a cigarette or on a walk through some beautiful part of the world. Even if it’s when your laying down next to a loved one. Even when your sweaty as hell in some smelly gym. It’s the breath I think that is most important. The breath and the hope. Moments like those are moments that I have had. As someone who goes through the ritualistic motions very rarely from time to time, but has always felt connected to my God Allah in other moments of life. Particularly during long walks. So, these are all time when you attempt to clear your mind. Where your breath is generally more relaxed. You are at one in your thoughts, in your mind and with your place in your world as it is – and how you wish to see it.

This is the power of prayer.

The gratitude you can have for everything good and bad that has gone before. The thanks you have for all the people you have met, who have influenced you or helped you. For the places you have visited. For the lessons learnt. For the strength you feel coarsing through you in varying degrees of confidence for still being there. For still carrying on.

The faith that it will get better. That something will occur. Someone might intervene or help. Or that you will do better. You will work hard and push through all the stuff that is happening at that moment, to have made you so contemplative. In your thoughts you allow yourself to play with scenarios, to imagine and to put some small part of yourself into a mesh that is bigger than yourself. Whether it is ultimately God, in any form or whether it is in something else. It is here that the power of your prayer takes form. Where it becomes something bigger than even you, yet still so attached to you that you come out of this prayer feeling elated. Lightened. Blissfully clear.

Breathe. You are back in the world again. You’ve taken that moment to space yourself out. To add you power to something else and now you see everything just that little fraction clearer. Life looks a little more complete. A little less as an unfinished puzzle. You allowed yourself a momentary escape but now you’re back a more enlightened being.

To pray is to learn to breathe and to have breath is the reason to pray.

 

Simple as that really. Once you unpick the years of bad lessons, telling offs and unhelpful tips. Not to end on a down note but.. (Also I feel like I’ve just slipped into a prayerful daydream just now also where I am so sure I typed a load more, far better words!)

But anyway I think my relationship to prayer and to my spirituality may have been a thousand times better. Indeed my relationship to anything. If I was given an account of how and why we do actions like prayer. What are the feelings it gives people? Why are they doing it? I mean is it really only to have a “I’ve been good sticker” or a notch of good against some other form of bad you may have committed?

For me my belief in prayer isn’t that. I don’t talk about my spirituality enough, but if it could help another person similar to myself. A young or old person, who has a tenuous relationship to Faith, then I hope this fragmented and stripped down account is worth it.

Later I also want to talk about timelines and being at one with your place in the world. This line I hope to leave as a (self)reminder.