The lost generation

During my years at a government girls’ school in Zimbabwe, it was a punishable offense to speak Shona. We were to speak English at all times, ‘the Queen’s English’, preferably. Our headmistress at the time explained this school rule by quoting the famous phrase: ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’. This, we found […]

She waits for him – Nour

She waits for him. She knows he will come. She knows that he is simply caught up somewhere, distracted, and, eventually, he will come for her. Maybe he is still at work, chatting with his colleagues. Perhaps he has gone to visit his mother, or taken his sister a gift. Probably he has stayed at […]

Memories of Tahrir

Editor’Space Upheaval and growth Bismillah I was in Egypt on January the 25th, when the protesters marched on Tahrir Square. I was in Egypt when the mood of the Egyptian people shifted: from one of fear and silence, to one of fearlessness and rebellion. I was in Egypt when they broke the glass covering Tutankhamen’s […]

From scholar to slave

This is a story, a story of old. It is our story, a story untold. Once upon a time, in a land far away – Africa – we lived free. Blue-black, Deep brown, Brick red And sand, Our people multiplied And covered the land: Fulani, Mandinke, Peul and Pular. Our griots sang our stories, Of […]

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Inspirational Muslim Women

Bismillah I will always remember the first time I truly felt heir to a great legacy as a Muslim woman. It was upon reading the biographies of different sahabiyaat in the book, ‘The Ideal Muslimah’. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Prior to this, I had been feeling a sense of malaise, of […]

The Ummah Revived

Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Raheem Inside each one of us, there is a desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves; to believe that our lives have a significance beyond our daily routines, work and family dramas; to be an integral part of the bigger picture. If you look at the people around you who are striving to […]

Be Kind to Yourself

Bismillah Where are the Super Sisters? This month, I am praying for order. Order within me – inside my head, in my heart, in my health – and order in my surroundings – my timetable, my family, my work. Lately, I have started to feel increasingly overwhelmed and frustrated at my inability to be an […]

Healing the Walking Wounded

Bismillah Have you ever looked at a younger version of yourself and shaken your head in wonder? How time changes us. How, over the years, circumstances, experiences and events shape and mold us into an older, often wiser, version of ourselves. This wisdom, hard-won as it is, is a blessing to be sure, as life […]

Bring the Joy

It’s been a blessedly smooth Ramadhan here. 3 of us are fasting and the rhythms of eating before dawn, praying Fajr and all the other 4 prayers, reading Qur’an and setting up the iftar table with bowls of sticky dates, dark shiny cherries, and juicy red grapes, before sharing the evening meal, have become like […]

O soul of mine…

Bismillah O soul of mine You are so full of undiscovered beauty Rusted by my sins Encrusted by my pride Constricted by my failings You gasp for air You struggle to survive The hostile climate I have created for you. Breathe now. Breathe deep. And feel the depth of my repentance. For this is a […]

Craving Humility

“And the slaves of the Most Merciful are those who tread lightly upon the earth…” (Quran, al-Furqan, v. 63) These days, more than ever before, I am craving the quiet qualities – those characteristics of a believer that are unobtrusive, that go without fanfare, that do not attract accolades or praise, except in the circles […]

The Restless Soul

Bismillah “Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveller.” I have never wanted to be a traveller, a nomad who bears her load lightly and makes her home wherever she finds herself, who takes from the earth just enough to sustain herself and is always looking ahead, towards her final […]

Ramadhan Reflections

Bismillah A little conversation with myself, days before the new moon is sighted. Are you ready, my dear, are you ready? Have you made your plans, set your goals, cleared your to-do list and made du’a for the blessings to come? Have your set your mind and heart on earning Allah’s pleasure during these blessed […]

Live your Dream!

Bismillah As a young woman growing up, I had fairly typical suburban dreams: go to university, get a good job, meet a nice guy, get married, have kids (a boy and two girls) and bring them up with the help of a nanny in a big house with a garden and a pool. My dreams […]

The Strength of a Woman

SISTERS Magazine editorial, September 2012 Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Raheem We all dream of a simple, straightforward birthing experience. We do our research, write up our birth plans and discuss them with our midwives and doctors. We dream of a quick labour, of pain that is not completely unbearable. Some of us even dare to dream of more: a […]

Lentil Soup

Yesterday was The first night Of Ramadhan We sipped Lentil soup And drank water. Filling Tasty Nutritious Simple I told the children There is a reason We are eating Lentil soup today. This Ramadhan I crave simplicity To pare everything down To the bare essentials To leave room For my soul To grow To leave […]


I had so many plans, You knew them all But you let me plan anyway. I had plans for family iftars Ramadhan memories Spiritual evenings And taraweeh nights Instead he is ill now, Far too weak to fast While the baby won’t sleep And the middle one keeps crying I fly and I flutter Between […]

The fasting one and her Lord

A look at the beauty and wisdom behind one of the central pillars of the month of Ramadhan – fasting from sunrise to sunset. Allah SWT says: “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, in order that you gain Taqwa.” (Surah 2: verse required) Fasting […]

I worship my lord

I wake before dawn. No muadhin calls me, No footsteps stir me, Instead society spurns me, Labels me and burns me. But everyday, I wake before dawn. I wear my hijab. No father threatens me, No religious police warn me, Instead society judges me Mocks me and shuns me. But everyday, I wear my hijab. […]

My old friend, Ramadhan

Bismillah Return of an old friend Each of us has a friend who reminds us of the who we are, who we should be, who we are striving to be. It is a friend who forces us, gently but firmly, to re-examine our lives and our preoccupations, who asks us to look deep within ourselves […]

Spiritual Nomad

Na’ima B. Robert explores her past, present and unforseeable future through the cities she has lived in. I sometimes wonder whether I will ever find my home. Home, a place of solace and belonging, a place to put down roots. My life, and the lives of so many of my generation, has been marked by […]

My Butterfly Life

Bismillah Asalaamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu, When I was working on the design on my new website, the designer asked me to consider ideas for a logo, an image that would communicate something important about who I am and what I stand for. After some thought, I decided on the perfect symbol: a butterfly. A butterfly […]

‘Late afternoon is the hardest part of the daily fast’

Ramadan, now upon us, brings special joys and challenges for Muslim women in Britain Imagine that you cannot eat or drink from just before dawn until sunset, every day, for 30 days. No morning latte, no lunch, no afternoon tea, no snack. No wonder many non-Muslims imagine that hunger and a sombre atmosphere of austere […]

Muslim marriage: a portrait

A true Muslim marriage is about husband and wife helping each other attain paradise says Na’ima B. Robert Bismillah My husband is ill. He lies in bed, in the dark. I try to keep the children quiet. I try to keep them from disturbing him. I try to get them to sleep without too much […]

My Facebook Fast – Times Online

Na’ima B. Robert explains why she is taking a break from Facebook this Ramadhan. It’s Ramadhan. Time to put worldly distractions to the side and focus on worship: fasting, prayer, charity, kind words, reciting Qur’an, and remembering Allah. Sounds like a great Facebook update, one that would get quite a lot of comments and ‘like’s […]

The fasting season: the Ramadan challenge

Ramadhan is now less than a few days away and I can already feel the butterflies in my stomach, the excitement and anticipation that it’s THAT time of the year again. This is of course accompanied by a rising panic when I realise that I am not nearly as prepared as I should be: I […]