Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
Taqabbal Allahu minna wa minkum (May Allah accept from us and from you )
Eid Mubarak from Gingerbeardman and fam
Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
Taqabbal Allahu minna wa minkum (May Allah accept from us and from you )
Eid Mubarak from Gingerbeardman and fam
Assalaamu Alaykum brothers and sisters,
So turned out I did alright in my interview and it’s been over a month since I started my new job at the call-centre in the evenings.
The location is really, and I mean REALLY convenient for me. Being near my existing work and new home and so save me some mega money in shoe leather and so far I’m enjoying it, or content as possible at least when working.
However one of the more unsettling niggling matters about starting a new job is learning about how different all the processes and procedures in your new role. It seems things just change, sometimes dramatically from company to company even when they’re vaguely in the same business.
So in some customer service roles I’ve worked in, everything right down to the breaks is strictly regimented, even down to having to a time limit on going to the toilet, in others you are free to come and go as long as the work gets done.
My new job seems to fall somewhere in the middle, but in one respect I have to credit them in that they are very easy when it comes to Salaat, even having a dedicated prayer room and not having to struggle and strive to get this facility and already having it in place is a big blessing.
It makes good business sense for them to do this, probably about 40% of the workforce at least are Muslim and keeping your workers happy is the key to keeping them productive but can you imagine the reward of whichever brothers / sisters it was who asked for this from their workplace?
How they probably needed to push over and over with different managers until finally they succeeded in establishing a room in the workplace so that everyone who came after them including myself earned them more and more good deeds on their scales on the day of judgement?
Saying that… it still shocked me that even though the facility is there, time can be taken for prayers even if it’s not a break time, still some of the brothers and sisters don’t pray.
…Indeed, the prayer is on the believers
prescribed (at) fixed times.
From Surah an-Nisa, 4:103
How lazy do you have to be with your salaat to actually not bother even when allowed by your workplace, they set out a place to make it easy for you and even give you a few minutes off outside of your regular break times?
A TAP ON THE SHOULDER
Anyway, so first week out of training I am just sitting taking calls minding my own and all of a sudden I get a tap on the shoulder and turn around and it’s one of the managers who tells me to pick up my notes and headset and to follow, no explanation, other than that and with a great deal of trepidation and annoyance at being touched by a ghair-mahram woman I follow to the managers duty desk and am told to sit down.
Immediately I am thinking what did I do?
Am I being fired?
Have I done something badly wrong and need retraining or disciplining?
Has a non-Muslim or even a Muslim said something about me talking about the deen?
I was fairly sure it wasn’t the last one as I had read up on the companies policies on such matters to make sure I stayed with the rules but you never know who you might annoy and a long time employee can easily make things difficult, even impossible for a temp should they choose to do so.
So I sit down, I’m told to plug in my headset and without warning the manager hits play on the computer and all of a sudden I am listening to one of my calls from during the week, I think it was actually the second call I ever took.
Not only am I listening but the playback in front of me is giving me absolutely everything I did on screen during the whole call, the way my mouse cursor wandered aimlessly from tab to tab, button to button as I sought to find the access to each function and screen at what I hoped was the right moment in the call.
She then asked me how I felt the call went, no feedback straight away. I needed to analyse the call myself first, tell her what mistakes I feel I have made, what I did well, where I could improve and it was definitely something quite different compared to any job I have done before.
It was a very unsettling moment, and since that time and subsequent two other call reviews I have been more than a little conscious that every single call is recorded and can and will be used against you if that particular call gets listened to where you make a total mess of it, then it does come back on you.
Inversely, knowing that when calls and actions are well thought through and carried out successfully then that success will be rewarded, and known about.
NOW FOR A REMINDER…
I’m struck though by the way we don’t take our daily lives as seriously as this as Muslims should. Are all our actions not monitored and we will not be answerable to and be questioned by Allaah for every little thing we do in our lives?
Indeed, your Lord (is) surely Ever Watchful.
Quran translation, Surah al Fajr, 89:14
We believe as Muslims that Allah is Al-Basir, the All Seeing, that Allah is As-Sami’, the All Hearing, that He sees and hears all we do and all everyone does, but does this belief reflect in our actions and if not what does that say about the strength of our belief?
Abu Dharr and Mu`adh bin Jabal (May Allah be pleased with them) reported that: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “Fear Allah wherever you are, do good deeds after doing bad ones, the former will wipe out the latter, and behave decently towards people”
Recorded in At-Tirmidhi
That tap on the shoulder can come at any time for us, except then there is no returning to your desk to live on, to try harder, then it is the end of your life on this world and then only a time awaiting in your grave waiting for your judgement before Allah.
Then every one of your deeds will be brought before you, you will answer for all you have done so it is important we correct ourselves in this life, before the end of time here, make tawbah often for our mistakes and sins and ask Allah sincerely for his forgiveness where we fall short.
May Allah make us all among the heedful, those who remember the purpose of this short life, making tawbah where we fall short, ameen
O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.
Quran translation, Surah al-A’raf, 7:31
Assalaamu Alaykum brothers and sisters,
We’re all used to hearing about an unrealistic body image being promoted for women in the modern world and yes this is a terrible problem, leading to depression, anxiety, eating disorders (over as well as under eating) and suicides among many, including our young (and sometimes not so young) sisters. We cannot deny how huge an issue this has become but are we not guilty as a society of the same when it comes to men?
THE UNACHIEVABLE MALE BODY IMAGE
Given these same eating disorders are now affecting males, as well as physiological problems relating to health and fitness I think it’s fair to state now that modern media, social media, artwork and overall society is promoting just as an unhealthy body image of men as they’ve done in the past with women. Body images which are just as unreachable as those female equivalents that are now so widely recognized as so damaging on the minds and bodies of women that we see some city authorities wanting to ban from the public space so should we not recognize the dangers to men also?
STRUGGLING WITH DEMOTIVATION
This unachievable male body image was something which disheartened me recently as I’ve looked into getting back to a more healthy state. I just knew I am never going to be thin nor will I ever be the right shaped human to get that V upper-body figure most men crave.
I’m a human being, and as I read article after article on health and fitness it affects me on some level seeing the accompanying images (most likely photo-shopped), a body image I’ll never achieve no matter how long or how often I worked out or did sports.
This was something which can be a huge downer and as I read others blogs and online material I know it is something which can make many, men and women, want to give up almost before they start. I think if it was not for the fact I know I’m failing in my Islamic obligations by being so out of shape I’d have been far more tempted to give up myself by now after just a few weeks or eating more sensibly and a wee bit of regular exercise.
Narrated by A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) who said: “The first calamity for this nation after the Prophet’s death is fullness of their stomachs; when their stomachs became full, they became obese and their hearts weakened and their desires became wild.”
Sahih al Bukhari
Thinking about all of this brought my wandering and desperate thoughts back to my favourite part of the Quran, a couple of verses I come back to again and again when faced with difficulty in life.
Do think the people that they will be left because they say, “We believe” and they will not be tested?
And indeed, We tested those who (were) before them. And Allah will surely make evident those who (are) truthful and He will surely make evident the liars.
Quran translation, Surah al-‘Ankabut, 29:2-3
So I knew I just had to keep going, even with the occasional slips, and disheartening as it is get to the best I can be and in every instance of being tested we have difficulties, and I find if you keep looking at a problem from different angles you’ll find a way through the problem.
AN EPIPHANY THROUGH FACEBOOK
So I kept walking as I do when I want to think, or just to relax and still this problem would trouble me, I couldn’t think of a way through until one day on opening facebook in the morning the following image came up.
I looked, and looked again and it hit me that the 1st image on the left, that is something I can never achieve, but the 2nd image, the one of the right, yes I could see myself looking like that after plenty of work.
Guidance from Allaah comes sometimes in the strangest places, one conversation, one quote, one meme or picture can change our perception for us, Allah opens up our minds and allows us to view things from a different perspective.
As I continued to think about the problem I realized there is no one ideal body shape, or even just a few different body images, each difficult or almost impossible to achieve for myself and most others. Instead each of us has our own ideal size and strengths we can work towards.
As I read more about this topic I realized more and more the ‘healthy’ body image given to us is actually unhealthy, and almost impossible to achieve hence why men are now increasingly resorting to plastic surgery to get that ‘perfect’ muscle structure implanted into their bodies.
You may be small, wiry, you’ll also never achieve that V upper body, but maybe you’ll run marathons one day which I’ll likely never do. You may be large like myself and aim to be strong and healthy in a different way. Each is good, none is wrong, none are ideal for everyone, each of us needs to tailor our health and fitness to best suit the hand we’ve been dealt.
Though the Sahabah all sought to be healthy, as taught in the Quran and by our beloved Nabi Muhammad ibn Abdullah (Sallallahu alayhi wa salam), they were a differing bunch of people as we all are today.
Some thin like Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him), some large like Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), some tall and some short, differing looks, differing physiques, they strove and struggled just as we do today and by living a moderate life according to the guidance given to them and us they achieved a balance in such matters of health and fitness as they sought balance and a moderate path in all areas of life.
So for myself I know I need to keep working hard, striving for the sake of Allah and know Allah doesn’t measure me against others but against myself, knowing what I am personally capable of doing.
My health didn’t get so bad in just a matter of weeks, it took years of neglect and it will take many more months and years to get back to something approaching acceptable and I have to accept that and keep going.
For those of you in the same boat as me, all need to remember it’s not just a physical battle we’ve got going on here, but a mental, emotional, even spiritual battle as well to get ourselves and keep ourselves in the best possible health and I think we need to put to one side and maybe ignore many of the things we see around us, instead aiming for a body image which is personal to us, the best each of us can be.
Assalaamu Alaykum folks,
So I do actually have a job, it’s not well paid but to make it clear I’m not one of those dole-wala types chilling all day online because I should be paid by society as I’m doing ‘dawah.’
I am not one of those guys, and I do love my job working in a community centre, they pay me to help people which I’d happily do for free if I was rich, but unfortunately I’m not. Rich that is, I am happy most of the time Alhamdulillah.
But not being rich, the charity sector not paying well, the cost of living going up, as well as house rental costs rising at an alarming rate I’ve found myself facing the prospect of being on the job scene after many years away.
Times are tough, and only going to get tougher, the country is effectively broke and living off it’s credit cards due to spending tonnes of money we didn’t have on public services, disastrous foreign adventures and of-course bailing out all those toff merchant bankers who almost pushed the world economy off a cliff a few years ago.
So cuts are biting for everyone, the benefit caps coming in in November which is going to hit so many people, prices are rising and I am finding myself looking for part-time work at a time when everyone else is probably deciding it’s a good time to do the same.
What is more, to make matters more difficult in finding extra work, it needs to be something which will fit around my existing position and I am totally looking forward to going from the jolly flexible role in the charity sector to the strife and struggle of trying to find time for family, shopping, friends, studies, going for salaat with working 2+ jobs.
APPLICATIONS DUTY SENT
Applications have been duly sent in to usual agencies, the job centre, subtle and not so subtle queries made to friends and family and I also applied for a number of call centre positions in my city. Yes I’m probably a bit old for call-centres but it’s something I’ve done before and let’s be honest, though it also doesn’t pay well it is easy money.
I must have applied for 200+ jobs in the space of the past 3 weeks, had a few call backs from agencies for entirely unsuitable jobs, either the hours were not right, they were expecting me to go self-employed (Been there, done that, never again), or they wanted me to work in places as a Muslim I’d rather not go near.
“No thank you for the kind offer, but as a Muslim I really don’t want to work in the head office for a pub chain, nor do I want to work in HR in a Pork Pie factory.”
But then out of the blue I got a call back today from the very first job I applied for on that first day of looking. I had assumed I’d failed somehow as not heard anything back and they’d had a totally evil online application form and devilish mathematics quiz attached which I assumed I’d failed.
The call took about 40 minutes and despite my mobile sound cutting out and being crackly all the way through I managed to pass the dreaded phone interview and I’ve been invited to an further interview and work based assessment tomorrow morning, look, here is the confirmation email!
DAVID BRENT NEVER GOT FIRED HE JUST GOT MOVED SIDEWAYS TO HR
If Allah wills it and I am successful tomorrow, I’ll begin training later this month which will be lots of fun… think if they try to make me do that ‘trust-exercise thing’ where someone drops backwards I’m thinking of moving to drop them straight to the floor.
Well maybe not… unless I really don’t like the guy then I am up for it but really cannot stress enough how much I cringe at these training days, but at least if I’m successful I’ll have more money coming in, and maybe, just maybe I’ll finally have a bit left over to start saving up and getting ahead in the financial stakes.
Would appreciate if those reading this can raise their hands and make a quick dua for me to be successful tomorrow, or even a long dua, or even setting your alarm for tahajjud and getting up and making lots and lots of dua for me, and the rest of the ummah as well of-course. Please?
Assalaamu Alaykum folks,
It’s a little known fact that some Muslim men can actually cook… I don’t count myself in their number but I can dabble a bit and as I’ve even the past shared some other recipes from blogs I thought I’d share this one… my ‘Red Hot Pepper Soup.’
So here goes, it seems like it has a lot of ingredients but it’s really easy and simple to make.
8 – 10 people easily
4. Chop / slice the mushrooms and add to the pot. I prefer to slice half so has that mushroomly look my wife likes and so can easily be avoided for the kids bowls, as well as finely chopping the other half so it dissolves in the soup so I can sneakily feed it to the kids without them knowing about it.
5. Allow the onions, garlic, pepper, cloves and mushrooms have cooked for about 5 minutes on a gentle heat. Stir occasionally and if sticking add a little water to the pot to avoid any burning.
6. Chop the carrots and parsnips, at an angle if you like to make it look nicer when cooked and add to the mix, stir in and allow to cook and soften for further 5 minutes whilst you move onto the next step.
7. Cut up the green beans and peppers, add to the pot along with the tomato puree, salt, chilli flakes, and cracked black pepper. Stir and allow to cook for a few more mins, add water again if necessary to prevent sticking.
7. Add beans and tomato tins along with the juice from the tins, vegetable stock cubes, and 1.5l of water. This doesn’t seem like a lot for a large pot but the fluid from the tins also adds to the volume as well.
8. Cover, bring to a simmer and leave it for about 35-45 minutes. Stir occasionally when needed to avoid any of the beans or other vegetables sticking to the bottom of the pot
40-45 minutes is about right if you want it to be soft but not soft, I tend to cook it for 35 minutes so that when I warm it up to eat for a 2nd meal the vegetables are not going to turn mushy.
9. Finally serve up with whatever bread you prefer. My kids prefer crusty french breads with butter on, but trying to be healthy myself I think it goes better with brown bread, whether shop bought or home made.
So there it is, a very simple and healthy home made soup, very warming, especially if you substitute the chilli flakes with a little scotch bonnet which I like doing sometimes but my kids complain about it being too hot.
Please feel free to share, like and let me know what you think.
Umar ibn Al Khattab (radiallahu anhu) saw a man with a huge belly and said: “What is this?” He said, “A blessing from Allah.” He said, “Rather it is a punishment from Allah.”
Manaaqib Ameer al-Mu’mineen, p.200
Assalaamu Alaykum brothers and sisters,
Those who have known me for a while know I occasionally go on a diet regime, it lasts for a short time, somewhere between weeks to months, I lose some weight, I do walk a lot anyway, so I do a little bit more exercise, eat healthily ish but soon enough I slack off and my big fat reserves and and overly large waistline comes back again within a few months or at most a year.
I’m overweight and terrible at dieting and worse at getting around to exercise, it’s not good, and it’s certainly not Islamic to be so badly out of shape but it is what it is and it’s my burden to be dealing with.
The main issue is that this has been my lifestyle for the past two decades since prior to accepting Islam and all the way through my life as a Muslim and not having done any serious exercise for so long means my body needs a lot of work on it. I’ve always until now used this as an excuse to go easy on the hardcore work outs thinking if they are necessary I can always do them later on.
I was always into rugby at school, always relied on my size and natural strength to get me through but I’ve noticed over the years this natural strength has seeped away and in reality given I’m creeping up on 40 that if I don’t turn things around soon I am really asking for a middle age and later of bad health and a likely early death.
THINGS ARE GOING TO BE DIFFERENT
This latest attempt is going to be different, it definitely feels different in my head and Allah willing it will be different. I don’t know, I just feel more determined rather than just going through the usual motions.
I started eating a little more sensibly again just before Eid as I usually do, though I admit to partaking in too much cake and lots of big servings of lovely curries with the family over that time but now I’m back to sensible eating again rather than going back to bad habits and this time I’ve decided to actually listen to the experts on exercise and not go so easy on myself and my overweight, muscle puny body.
The main thing all these fitness people advised me was I need to do more of the sweaty hard stuff, one brother as well as the usual advise on making sure I do cardio also told me I need to do lots of big weights, to help burn the fat, little weights are good for toning but no good for weight loss and quickly getting my health back again.
So my little weights that I used every time I went on a health kick… they’ve had a makeover and now weigh approx 3x as much, gone are the long lightweight reps which seem to take forever to get results, in comes some heavy duty work with the Mr’s weights and brothers I can tell you I am already feeling and seeing the difference after just a week.
It’s only a 15 minute daily workout of tummy crushers, sit-ups and heavy weights and already I’ve lost 4lbs and I can feel my atrophied muscles coming back in a little way, but the results are enough to firm up my commitment to the new healthy gingerbeardman regime, to try to break the bad habits built up over the past 20 years and Insha’Allaah this time actually stick to a healthy lifestyle for good.
So lets see how we go this time. I don’t know why I feel different, but I do, maybe the last fried chicken burger was the one which broke the camels back… to totally mash up that metaphor.
I want to be fit and healthy within two years, tops. Insha’Allaah long before then but a little encouragement wouldn’t hurt so feel free to throw in suggestions along the way, and I’ll keep doing regular updates.
I am hoping keeping it semi-public will help motivate me more for the hard-times when the sugar and fat cravings are making me paw at the door like a junkie going cold turkey (Turkey and cranberry sandwich!), that knowing others who know me, either online or in person and know of my struggle can help keep me on the straight and narrow path to a healthy lifestyle so it will become much harder to chicken out (ummm fried chicken) when it’s no longer just a private battle of the bulge.
Before I go, here is one final Orangutan picture for good measure, it has absolutely nothing to do with me or my health kick other than I googled words around being overweight and ginger and up popped some images of my overweight ape friends here.
Assalaamu alaykum readers,
And a belated EID MUBARAK! TaqabAllahu minna wa minkum, May Allah accept from us and from you. OK I’m late, I know but been a bit too busy with family in the past couple of weeks to post anything and the blog is not my full time job or anything so forgive me on that.
So I hope you all had wonderful Eid celebrations and not too many of you spent your time and money throwing a welcome back party for Shaitan as too many do these days, throwing away your good deeds.
If you did… then make tawbah and remember the purpose of Ramadhan. It’s is meant to be time of purification, and I am not talking about a one-month detox before you spend the other 11 months on one big bender kinda-purification. No, instead Allaah states in the Quran:
O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous
Quran translation, Surah al Baqarah, 2:183
So now use all those times you got into the habit of making du’a in Ramadhan by doing so again now, asking Allaah to forgive you, follow up an evil deed with a good deed.
On the authority of Abu Dharr Jundub ibn Junadah, and Abu ‘Abd-ir-Rahman Mu’adh bin Jabal (may Allah be pleased with them) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said: “Be conscious of Allah wherever you are. Follow the bad deed with a good one to erase it, and engage others with beautiful character.”
Related by Tirmidhi
I ask Allaah that he accepts your deeds and my deeds this ramadhan and forgives us our shortcomings, helps purify our deeds and intentions and makes us better believers for the whole year, not just one month, ameen.
“WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS BLOG?”
This blog is the random ramblings of a not so angry ginger bearded man, the online diary of a muslamic who most definitely loves Allaah and the way of life which is Islam far more than the country I happen to have been born into.
At the same time however I am British by birth and culture, and feel in this great melting pot that is Great Britain I have as much right to promote, agitate and call for an Islamic vision for these beautiful blessed Isles as anyone else does to promote their own way of life.
I am not apologetic to voice our intentions to take the call towards Islam to ever corner of Britain, to make the village Masjid (Mosque in arabic) the centre of every community, to make the call to prayer echo out over every town and city centre across the land.
So as well as personal musings, I’ll also be posting info, news and commentary about what is happening around us day to day, and maybe even a few of my brave and probably futile attempts to become a writer.
I’ll also be posting information about Islam, especially if it relates to Dawah (the call to Islam) and new Muslims.
I hope you enjoy the site, if not tough. I am writing out of a desire to please my Creator, not the creation but I’ll hope you’ll stick around and read either way and at least you may find it interesting, occasionally humorous, and at times an education.
“Who is GINGERBEARDMAN? What does he stand for? Where does he come from? And why is he cluttering up the internet with his inane babbling masquerading as a blog?”
I am a Muslim from the UK, a revert (convert) to Islam, someone trying his best to be a good father, son and husband to those I love, an aspiring writer and a campaigner for ginger rights!
OK one of the above is not serious, strictly speaking it’s untrue. I don’t really do much campaigning for ginger rights at all, well other than the odd meme posted here or elsewhere online.
In fact I didn’t even know I was ginger until I got to about age of 11 and started growing my beard out to intimidate other school level rugby players and found that my beard grew a different colour to the rest the hair on my head.
Does that even make me ginger at all? Or am I half ginger? Does it make a difference if I shave my balding sweed and so the only hair people see is my huge ginger beard and don’t know I secretly have brown hair? (ok sort of greyish brown with bald bits)
It does annoy me a great deal though that the mockery of ginger people is the last socially acceptable form of prejudice (outside of far right social circles). I mean everyone is allowed to have a go, not just comedians. Comedians are expected to mock that which is different to the societal norm but us ginger folk just can’t catch a break even from regular people.
To make matters worse, given the number of people accepting Islam the ‘ginger Muslim convert’ is actually becoming a stereotype in the UK society with Tommy Robinson, the EDL’s former leader even noticing and joking about it on national TV, that every revert seems to be ginger, that Islam accepts ginger people and so we only become Muslim for some form of acceptance.
I mean I became Muslim fourteen years ago, there were not that many of us around back then but even I saw four other ginger bearded reverts just whilst doing tawaf when I went on Umrah a couple of years ago and makes you envy the ginger revert sisters out there who get to hide themselves away under the Hijab.
The thing is if you complain about all this evil prejudice you get accused of having a chip on your shoulder, of just being another angry ginger, like being angry and ginger are synonymous or something but I am actually quite mellow and chilled out when people meet me and very rarely get angry, even when being mocked for being ginger.
There is of-course a perfectly logical explanation as to why so many ginger Muslim converts / reverts out there, Islam has always appealed to the poor and marginalized in society around the world who have less to lose by looking at such a radically different way of life. In the UK that’s often people from the Celtic nations and it is these peoples who have a greater propensity towards being ginger.
And being Irish by decent by my fathers side of the family, and red haired English genes being present in some parts of my mothers side of the family I didn’t really have much hope of being anything but ginger, or half ginger anyway.