For us Muslim men is there life beyond the beard? No, don’t be so silly. Whilst the beard, like the hijab, is no substitute for true devotion and genuine commitment to the Islamic faith, I have to admit that having a beard is rather fearsomely tremendous.

For those of ye with little faith, presented below are a multitude of reasons why beards are all the rage (I am using the word ‘rage’ in a fashionable sense rather than an emotional one, just clarifying)…

Beards make you look super-duper, even if you already are rather super, like Superman…

beard super

Or even Batman for that matter…

beard bale

Despite what ‘scientists’ say, we have definitely not reached ‘peak beard’. This is, apparently, when beards become so popular that they are no longer unusual enough to be attractive.

Researcher Robert Brooks said “It appears that beards gain an advantage when rare, but when they are in fashion and common, they are declared trendy and that attractiveness is over. These trends usually move in 30-year cycles from when they are first noticed but, with the internet, things are moving a lot faster. If guys aren’t getting any joy with their beards, they will quickly change.”

I don’t think ‘peak beard’ applies to me as the wife has not said that my ‘attractiveness is over’.

Beards are actually so popular that ‘beard transplants’ are on the rise. Men are spending thousands of pounds to fill in their patchy beards, as the number of beard transplant procedures have increased dramatically. Some have spent up to £14,500 on beard transplants to achieve that fully groomed look.

Joe Armos, a 28-year-old paramedic living in Miami, said he had spent £4,600 on a full beard transplant from side burns to chin as he believed his patients would trust him more if he had a “stronger, manlier look”.

During a beard hair transplant procedure, tiny hair follicles are harvested one-by-one from a donor area of the body and then transplanted to the chin. The transplanted hair typically starts growing in immediately and usually patients can shave two weeks following the procedure.

For more details, see the Beard Clinic and the Bearded Gospel Men.

beard eyes

Every now and then, various Islamic terrorist groups will order local men to grow a beard. For example Hizbul-Islam militants in Somalia have ordered men in Mogadishu to grow their beards and trim their moustaches. “Anyone found violating this law will face the consequences,” a Hizbul-Islam militant said, announcing the edict.

You also had the Taliban and their ‘beard police’ enforcing local men to keep beards. So strong was this policy that many American special operations forces grew long beards themselves so as to blend in on arduous and isolated missions in rural Afghanistan.

beard forces

More recently ISIS have had roaming ‘beard patrols’ in places like Mosul, Iraq.

Despite this, most Muslim scholars consider having a beard as a recommendation rather than a compulsory obligation, similar to the hijab for women.

beard mugs

In case you wanted to know what it’s like for a Muslim guy like me to have a beard, these two videos should answer all your common questions…

Whilst beards are trendy and not contagious, be careful if wanting to touch one…

If you are stupid a beard can make you look slightly smarter…

beard dubya

According to a ‘study’, men who have beards are more likely have cheated on their partner, stolen something and been in a fight. The study found the 47 per cent of men with facial hair had cheated on their partner, compared to 20 per cent clean-shaven men.

Having said that, if you know how to rock a beard properly, it can be a thing of respectful beauty. Just on the off chance you don’t believe me, feel free to ask basketball player and Khloe Kardashian dater James Harden…

beard james

Another beard to be fully respected belongs to Sikh woman Harnaam Kaur, who says that having a beard “makes me feel really strong…It makes me feel like a brave, confident woman who isn’t afraid to break society’s norms.”

beard woman

There are plenty of health benefits to having a beard, such as:

  • A beard can protect your face from the sun’s damaging rays.
  • A beard can ward off throat disease.
  • A beard can assist those with asthma.
  • A beard can reduce the chances of bacterial infection.

Still don’t think beards are amazing? Well I’ll just let this guy say it like it is…

So, remember, you are never too young to go forth and follicly multiply…

beard baby




Cinematic secret spies and government agents are everywhere these days. You can’t swing your popcorn at your local multiplex without hitting a Jason Bourne (Matt Damon in The Bourne Identity), an Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible), a Harry Tasker (Arnie in True Lies), a Harry Hart (Colin Firth in Kingsman), an Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie in Salt), or any of the other gaggle of spies, many of whom for some reason seem to have either lost their memories, or they’ve gone rogue.

Daniel Craig as James Bond

The best spy, as we all know, is good old British James Bond. Monday sees the release of the latest Bond movie, Spectre, which I assume is short for Spectre Gadget. Anyways, quickly moving on…

Over the years Bond has been portrayed, either on screen or on radio, by the likes of: George Baker, Christopher Cazenove, Bob Holness (yes, the Blockbusters “Can I have a ‘P’ please Bob?” guy), Michael Jayston, Barry Nelson, Toby Stephens, Sean Connery, David Niven, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and most recently by Daniel Craig.

Cinematic Bond as we know him began life with Sean Connery who, according to Kim Nicolini, “…set the standard for James Bond when he hit the screen in 1962 with his insatiable appetite for women, fast cars, cocktails and high tech gizmos. But Connery’s Bond was a different character for a different era. Connery’s Bond came from a time where pure escapism still had room to exist. He was a Bond born of the Cocktail Generation that lived and breathed economic denial. Connery’s Bond was brought to life during the advent of globalization. It was a world where Commies were the bad guys, and Capitalism was Savior of all mankind. Bond burst onto the screen at a time when the illusion of infinite economic prosperity seemed possible. We were sending astronauts into space and the world could watch on satellite television. The Cocktail Generation was living high, confident that Western Civilization was conquering the earth and the universe.”

Over fifty years later, however, and this heavy description of Bond is no longer relevant. Times have changed pretty much everything, which means Bond also has changed. Nicolini continues her commentary thusly: “…the Bond franchise has done what most businesses do. It has created a new model to meet its market, and that is where Daniel Craig’s older, less glamorous Bond comes into play in Skyfall. The character has been transformed into a guy doing his job for the ineffectual bureaucracy he works for. He’s a company man, but the company only cares about itself, while giving Bond the illusion that it cares about him. Both his job and the system that employs him are on the brink of collapse, yet Bond keeps doggedly holding on, doing his job, and slugging away even as he’s beaten down.”

If you think that analysis was deep, try this comment from Sheldon Richman on for size: “We might say America has a James Bond complex. In the eyes of many Americans, the United States has a “Double O.” Bond said the Double O indicated “you’ve had to kill a chap in cold blood in the course of some assignment.” As Ian Fleming’s series went on, the Double O became a license to kill. Judging by how the U.S. government gets away with murder, terrorism and other horrible offenses, it apparently has a de facto license to kill. Although by the U.S. definition, nothing it does can ever qualify as murder and terrorism.”

A classic Richman burn there. Whilst much more than this has been written about Bond over the decades, be it about his relevance, his sexist attitudes, his place in the pantheons of cinema, etc, Bond’s last outing in Skyfall made one thing abundantly clear: people love Bond, so much so that Skyfall is the highest grossing Bond movie of all time, even out-grossing Batman’s much anticipated last cinema visit in The Dark Knight Rises. This makes Bond the third most successful movie franchise of all time, currently sitting nicely behind Harry Potter at number two and Marvel’s superhero universe at number one.

In fact, there is a strong Batman-esque theme running throughout Skyfall, with all of it’s dark brooding, it’s home coming climax, and the main character’s search for meaning. The image below, of Bond overlooking his home city of London, is reminiscent of Batman standing on a rooftop, overlooking his home city of Gotham…

Bond overlooking London

Skyfall was Daniel Craig’s third outing as Bond, following Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace. Spectre will his fourth. In honour of the momentous celluloid moment of the release of Spectre, below are some of my favourite quotes from the first three Daniel Craig Bond movies. Enjoy!

Casino Royale (2006)

Casino Royale poster

  • Why is it that people who can’t take advice always insist in giving it?
  • Arrogance and self-awareness seldom go hand-in-hand.
  • You never play your hand, you play the man across from you.
  • Vesper Lynd: It doesn’t bother you? Killing all those people?
    • James Bond: Well I wouldn’t be very good at my job if it did.
  • Vesper Lynd: You love me?
    • James Bond: Enough to travel the world with you until one of us has to take an honest job…which I think is going to have to be you, because I have no idea what an honest job is.
  • There isn’t enough room for me and your ego.
  • Who the hell do they think they are? I report to the Prime Minister and even he’s smart enough not to ask me what we do. Have you ever seen such a bunch of self-righteous, ass-covering prigs? They don’t care what we do; they care what we get photographed doing. And how the hell could Bond be so stupid? I give him double-O status and he celebrates by shooting up an embassy. Is the man deranged? And where the hell is he? In the old days if an agent did something that embarrassing he’d have a good sense to defect. Christ, I miss the Cold War.
  • Sometimes we pay so much attention to our enemies, we forget to watch our friends as well.
  • I’ve got a little itch, down there. Would you mind?

[This last quote only painfully means something if you’ve seen the movie!]

Quantum Of Solace (2008)

Quantum Of Solace poster

  • I don’t think the dead care about vengeance.
  • When you can’t tell your friends from your enemies, it’s time to go.
  • I guess when one’s young, it seems very easy to distinguish between right and wrong. But as one gets older, it becomes more difficult. The villains and the heroes get all mixed up.
  • There’s nothing that makes me more uncomfortable than friends talking behind my back. It feels like ants under my skin.
  • Well, they say you’re judged by the strength of your enemies.
  • If we refused to do business with villains, we’d have almost no one to trade with. The world’s running out of oil, M. The Russians aren’t playing ball. The Americans and Chinese are dividing up what’s left. Right or wrong doesn’t come into it. We’re acting out of necessity.
  • Camille: You can’t put a price on integrity.
    • Greene: I can try.

Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall poster

  • Q: 007. I’m your new Quartermaster.
  • James Bond: You must be joking.
    • Q: Why, because I’m not wearing a lab coat?
    • James Bond: Because you still have spots!
    • Q: My complexion is hardly relevant.
    • James Bond: Your competence is.
    • Q: Age is no guarantee of efficiency.
    • James Bond: And youth is no guarantee of innovation.
    • Q: Well, I’ll hazard I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pajamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field.
  • Today I’ve repeatedly heard how irrelevant my department has become. “Why do we need agents, the Double-0 section? Isn’t it all antiquated?” Well, I suppose I see a different world than you do, and the truth is that what I see frightens me. I’m frightened because our enemies are no longer known to us. They do not exist on a map. They’re not nations, they’re individuals. And look around you. Who do you fear? Can you see a face, a uniform, a flag? No! Our world is not more transparent now, it’s more opaque! It’s in the shadows. That’s where we must do battle. So before you declare us irrelevant, ask yourselves, how safe do you feel? Just one more thing to say, my late husband was a great lover of poetry, and…I suppose some of it sunk in, despite my best intentions. And here today, I remember this, I believe, from Tennyson: “We are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are. One equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will. To strive, to seek, to find, AND NOT TO YIELD.”
  • Hello, James. Welcome. Do you like the island? My grandmother had an island. Nothing to boast of. You could walk around it in an hour, but still it was, it was a paradise for us. One summer, we went for a visit and discovered the place had been infested with rats. They’d come on a fishing boat and gorged themselves on coconut. So how do you get rats off an island? Hmm? My grandmother showed me. We buried an oil drum and hinged the lid. Then we wired coconut to the lid as bait and the rats would come for the coconut and…they would fall into the drum. And after a month, you have trapped all the rats, but what do you do then? Throw the drum into the ocean? Burn it? No. You just leave it and they begin to get hungry. And one by one…[mimics rat munching sound]…they start eating each other until there are only two left. The two survivors. And then what? Do you kill them? No. You take them and release them into the trees, but now they don’t eat coconut anymore. Now, they only eat rat. You have changed their nature. The two survivors. This is what she made us.


Regular readers (not sure that should be plural) of this blog will know my favourite scholar is Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. One of the many reasons why is summed up in the following extract from a New York Times profile of him by Laurie Goodstein:

“Mr. Yusuf dazzles his audiences by weaving into one of his typical half-hour talks quotations from St. Augustine, Patton, Eric Erikson, Jung, Solzhenitsyn, Auden, Robert Bly, Gen. William C. Westmoreland and the Bible.”

I did indeed recently listen to a typical half-hour talk by Shaykh Hamza entitled Tolerance A Hallmark Of Muslim Character. There were, typically, quotes and references to many others, and there were also some rather controversial statements in there that not everyone will agree with. Despite this, the overall sentiments are something that I hold to be universally true. With that in mind, here are 9 quotes from this lecture, which is well worth a listen. Enjoy!

Hamza Yusuf – Tolerance A Hallmark Of Muslim Character

As Muslims we have lost a sense of our historical role, of what we are supposed to be doing…Many of us are so afraid to speak out against what is wrong, but the Muslim voice is a voice that needs to be heard.

As an individual if somebody tells you something, before you condemn it or make a judgment you attempt to understand it. And this is something that is part of our usool, part of the usool of the Muslims, the methodology of the Muslims is to understand what your interlocutor, the person that you are speaking with, is actually saying. Before you condemn what he says you have to understand what he says. And this is why listening is part of the Muslim character. If you do not listen attentively, the Qur’an when it speaks to us it tells us to listen attentively, if you do not listen attentively to the person that you’re speaking to then you won’t be able to understand what they’re saying.

We always have to remember as individuals, as Muslims, when we speak to each other we have to speak to each other knowing that we have an enemy that is waiting to bring something between us, a wedge, we have to be aware of that.

Before you attack somebody else, you have to look at yourself.

Sometimes we think perhaps that the Muslims have become more tolerant at the state level for other religions than they have for Islam itself. In fact if you look at some of the Muslim countries, we have countries where the hijab is not tolerated but a woman to dress like a secular western woman is tolerated, and an example of that is Turkey, and we’re going to have a sister [speaking later on] from Turkey who was thrown out of the parliament even though she was democratically elected because she wore a hijab. So there’s no tolerance in the Muslim world now for just practicing Islam. So…sometimes we actually become too tolerant about the wrong things and not intolerant enough about the right things.

We’re living in dark times and we have to be aware of the times that we’re living in and understand the nature of the times. Islam is a religion that teaches people to be intelligent, it teaches us to think and to deliberate before we act. And this is where we’re lacking, the Muslims are lacking in strategic planning, we’re lacking in strategic planning, we don’t think in long term. We’re people that get angry easily and then our anger subsides and little is done. It’s better to be cool headed in the face of a tribulation and then to act in a way that will benefit the situation, not in a way that will make it worse or won’t change it at all. This is something that the Muslims have to realize: we have to realize as a community and a people that we have to stop being emotional, we have to stop shouting, we have to stop screaming. The demonstrations that we do have very little affect the way that they’re done, they alienate more than they educate. If you want to win people over to your side and your understanding then the vast majority of people are level-headed, and if they see that you’re level headed and that you’re presenting the facts as they are, not hiding them, not white washing them, because we have skeletons in our history, we have persecution in our history, we’ve done things that we should be ashamed of as Muslims. But that in no way taints the truth of our teaching, because you cannot take a teaching and look at what the students of that teaching do and say “That must be from the teaching.” It’s not fair, because sometimes students don’t understand the lesson, sometimes they got it wrong, they didn’t understand what the teacher was saying, and they go out and they do something that ends up disgracing the teacher.

Patience is in the first slap, not in the second. Patience is when the tribulation first occurs. That’s real patience.

Any time you mention Al-Habib, the heart should yearn to be in the presence of the beloved.

Sa’di, the Persian poet, said “What would you say if you were invited to a banquet by the Lord of the Worlds?” And you went to that banquet and you went into this huge banquet hall and you saw all these other guests that were invited to the same banquet by the Lord of the Worlds. He said “How would you treat those guests?” And then he said in his poem “Sa’di knows that every soul on this earth was invited here by the Lord of the Worlds to share in the banquet of life.” This is the way we should look at the earth, we should look at the earth as everyone on it is a guest of God. And there are some guests that misbehave, there are some guests that do terrible things, there are some guests that soil the house, there are some guests that wreak havoc in the house. But they’re all guests of the same generous Lord and all of them have the potential and the ability to rectify their state to make tawbah to Allah…so we should have patience as long as we’re here. And I believe that all of the tribulations that are happening in the Muslim world right now, we should reflect deeply on these tribulations, and first and foremost…turn here because this is the only change that you as an individual can enact initially. But that change, we cannot underestimate the profound impact of that change, we can never underestimate the profound impact of the change of each individual. And so above all we should be intolerant to those qualities in our own selves that Allah dislikes and to be tolerant of those very same qualities in those around us, knowing that they are in a state of tribulation.

For more quotes from Shaykh Hamza Yusuf please see this previous blog post.


Following on from Islam and Humour parts 1, 2, 3, and 4

Racism is a very complex issue indeed. And that is a very heavy opening sentence. Whilst there are many ways to analyse racism, be it academically, culturally, politically, etc, I recently discovered a slightly quirkier way of plotting the evolution of racism towards those from sub-continental India, and that is by looking at how the good old Indian restaurant is viewed in the field of comedy.

The first appearance of curry on a menu in Britain was at the Coffee House in Haymarket, London in 1773. However the first establishment fully dedicated to Indian cuisine was the Hindostanee Coffee House at Portman Square, London in 1809, as recorded in The Epicure’s Almanack (the first ‘good food guide’ of its kind). It was opened by a Bengali named Saik Deen Mahomad from Patna, Bihar, India, via Cork in Ireland (no, I’m not sure how that works either). Mahomad appreciated all things Indian and offered a house “for the Nobility and Gentry where they might enjoy the Hookha with real Chilm tobacco and Indian dishes of the highest perfection.”

Whilst the Hindostanee Coffee House closed a few years later, today however no British high street is complete without a decent Indian restaurant: “going for an Indian” is now as quintessentially British as “going for a pint”. Some even consider chicken tikka masala to be the unofficial national dish of Britain. Taking this one step further, I would consider chips and curry sauce to be the unofficial national dish of students in Britain, although I still have no clue as to what type of curry that particular sauce is made from.

Indian restaurants are not only on our high streets, they are also in our comedy programs. Below are links to three comedy sketches, all set in Indian restaurants, that display (rather vaguely, I know) the evolution of racism in Britain.

We start with typically racist fare…

The first sketch is from the Two Ronnies, who are a classic British comedy institution. They have been very popular on British television for decades now, and continue to be as popular as ever.

This particular sketch is known unofficially as ‘The Pink Rupee Rap’ and, I am guessing from the décor and certain cultural references, is from the early 1980’s.

Despite the clever word play (which you always expect from the Two Ronnies) I consider this to be rather racist and insensitive as both Ronne Barker and Ronnie Corbett have ‘browned’ themselves up, one of them is called Ram-Jam, their accents leave plenty to be desired, and they have such silly expressions on their faces throughout.

I’m sure the intention is not to offend (it never is, as the offenders always counter) but a sketch like this would never see the light of day in our more politically correct times.

There is apparently a longer version than the one shown below which I could not source, a version that has the lyric in it of “Nana Mouskouri loves my tandoori.” Unfortunately lost for ever in the archives!

The Two Ronnies – The Pink Rupee Rap

We move on to something a little more positive…

The second sketch is a few years on from the Pink Rupee Rap, and features a solo effort from Rowan Atkinson as an endlessly patient waiter in an Indian restaurant, serving an imagined group of nine drunk English football fans. Known officially as “Guys After The Game”, on the internet it is better known as “Indian Waiter”.

Whilst Rowan Atkinson’s performance is hilarious, as you would expect from such a seasoned comedy veteran, he does thankfully keep his natural skin colour, but he does support a dodgy accent similar to the one adopted by the Two Ronnies. This sketch, however, is not as offensive as the previous one because the only really clever person is the waiter himself and it is the clientele who are the butt of the overall joke. Also there are several clever lines in there, such as the floor being described as “deceptively flat” after one of the drunks trips over.

Rowan Atkinson – Drunk English In Indian Restaurant

We end on the ultimate Indian restaurant sketch…

So far we’ve gone from silly stereotypically type-casted Indian waiters, to an Indian waiter making subtle fun of stereotypically white drunks. The final sketch picks up the comedy gauntlet and runs to the finish line, by turning these two sketches on their satirical heads.

The television program Alexei Sayle’s “Stuff” in the early 1990’s included a brief monologue where the residents of New Delhi got drunk and ate steak and kidney pies on a Friday night. The comedy sketch show Goodness Gracious Me went further than Alexei Sayle. In the late 1990’s they came up with their most famous sketch, “Going For An English.”

This sketch is still a classic yet modern parody of cultures and behaviours nearly 20 years on. It begins with a satirical 1970’s style cinema advert for the restaurant Mountbatten’s English Cuisine, complete with badly filmed and heavily scratched images, and then launches into the actual sketch itself.

Its cleverness rests in a total scene reversal. The ethnic minority becomes the dominant culture, such that we are no longer in England but in India, we are “going for an English” instead of “going for an Indian”, the restaurant itself is English not Indian, the clientele are Indian not English, and the staff are the ones who are foreigners, being English not Indian.

It is this cultural and comical inversion that says something about British society that perhaps was not really seen previously. The sketch asks the viewer to consider how patronising and embarrassing things can be when viewed from another angle. By using some cleverly worded interplay between clientele and staff, the sketch sends up the typical behaviour of many English people in Indian restaurants, all from an Indian perspective. Because stereotypes are subverted, the dominant become the dominated, and white viewers come to realise what it feels like to be treated in the way that white people commonly treat Indian restaurant staff.

The sketch was voted the 6th greatest comedy sketch on Channel 4’s 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches (a sketch from Little Britain was number one, in case you’re wondering, which you probably are).

Two versions are presented below, the original one from the television series, and a slightly different version from the 2001 Amnesty International We Know Where You Live, Live concert in Wembley, London.

Goodness Gracious Me – Going For An English

Going Out For An English – Amnesty International Concert London

As an added bonus, I found this really bizarre sketch of Michael Palin playing an Indian waiter. Not sure what to make of it!

How To Irritate People – “Restaurant”


Is it me or does there seem to be a general increase in fear, paranoia, anxiety, depression? Are people getting more and more worried? Are we getting increasingly scared? Is society facing greater mental health issues? Is the news getting progressively more violent and morbid?

We have now reached a stage where my wife cannot watch the news for more than a few minutes before asking the channel to be changed to The Big Bang Theory or The Great British Bake Off, basically to anything that will mask the pain of the reality surrounding us because we all fail to live peacefully.

She cannot bear to see news about comedians committing suicide, tyrants committing genocide, taxi drivers committing child abuse, and the rest. And neither can I, to be honest.

Below are some examples and quotes about this rising state of apprehension and angst. Whilst there is an element of depression and negativity, I hope the last quote will provide some crumb of spiritual comfort.

For what it’s worth, enjoy…

Susie Pearl in an article entitled ‘Modern Success: How It Can Screw Us Up and Squash True Happiness’, says:

Stress is becoming the number one health killer in our modern world…For many of us, life is a continuous drip feed of arranging more things to do – working harder, more meetings, more output, taking the kids out more to keep them busy, buying more stuff, eyeing up the latest must-have goodies.

David Macaray, in a recent article (well worth a read) says:

…politicians and the media have basically conditioned us to be afraid of everything: Young black men, skinheads, hippies, China, immigrants, socialists, Halloween candy, trans fats, transsexuals, melting glaciers, inflation, unemployment, labor unions, taxes, nudists, Moslems, having our identity stolen, and the prospect of living an “unfulfilled” life.

He goes on to say that, whilst modernity has made much progress…

modern man has to acknowledge that at any given point in time there are about 300 things out there that frighten us. It’s true. When we contemplate it, we realize that most of the time we’re walking around scared shitless.

Here’s Russell Brand on the Jonathan Ross Show echoing very similar views to David Macaray:

The first thing I discovered is that they need us to believe that there’s no alternative. As long as we believe there’s no alternative we’ll shut up. As long as we’re grateful that we’re not being butchered in the streets, and that there’s the threat of Islam, and there’s the threat of gays, and there’s all sorts of threats, and the immigrants are taking our jobs, then we’ll sit down and we’ll shut up. Because we don’t think there’s an alternative…We’ve been striped up, marked off, and turned into passive little consumers, and I’ve had enough.

The comedian Dylan Moran, from his stand up show Yeah Yeah, gives his twisted opinions about life in the modern world:

Who can sleep? Who sleeps? Really, if you’re a proper grown-up person in the 21st century and you’re an adult human being, how can you relax at all? The mind keeps churning. You think “What if this thing happens? Um-hmm? What if that thing happens? What if they happen together? What if I lose my job? I hate my fucking job, but what if I lose it?”

Your mind is a hive of worms and worms don’t live in a hive so it already feels unnatural.

You lie in bed, you’re beside your partner…This thing, that thing…“What if I died?” If you don’t have a partner, you just think “What if I died?…Okay, I would be dead.” But if you do have a partner, and a family, you think “What if I died? How would they cope? How would they? They wouldn’t. They would be out on the street in half an hour stealing food from seagulls’ mouths. Or worse, they would cope! They’d have a much nicer, cleaner house. And an improved sense of self-worth. Probably more money.

Finally, here is a quote from my favourite Islamic scholar Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, from a speech he made at the Islamic Society of North America annual convention in 2013. I am hoping this video, which is less than 5 minutes, offers some inspiration to Muslims and non-Muslims alike:

I’ve heard a lot of Muslims lately say “I’m so depressed”. I was recently in Arabia and I have a Muslim friend, he was a very active Muslim, and I said: “What are you doing these days?” He said: “No…I’m…I just…I’ve given up.” That’s what he said to me. He said “I’ve given up. I’m…I’ve had enough…you know…there’s no hope.” I grabbed him, and I shook him, literally, physically, and people who know me know that I am very capable of doing that. I shook him and I said to him “What do you mean there’s no hope?”

If you want a bid’ah [an unwanted innovation], hopelessness is a bid’ah. We are a religion of hope. We live on hope.

Every time you’re depressed or you say there’s no hope, what you’re saying to every African that was brought over in chains and survived the transatlantic crossing and came here and lived in slavery, and marched to get their civil rights, you’re saying to them “that was all a waste of time.”

If you’re depressed you’re dishonouring all those Andalusians who were chased out of what was called paradise at the time, they were chased out of Andalusia, but they made new lives for themselves in Tunisia, in Morocco, and today you have Andalusian families that hail from Andalusia, just like you have Palestinians here that were chased out of their homes.

You are dishonouring all of those Indians that migrated to Pakistan with the hope of a better life.

You are dishonouring the Afghanis that have lived in over 30 years of war, and they are still trying to hold their heads high.

We can’t do that: “there’s no room for hope”. I’m in it till the last breath. I’m in it till the last breath. Because in that last breath, and I pray to God that Allah subhanawata’ala [May He be glorified and exalted] gives me on my last breath: “Ashadu an la ilaha ill Allah wa ashadu anna Muhammadan rasulullah” [There is no God except Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger], because I believe in the promise of God, I believe that His prophet was true, I believe that hell is true and that the fire is true, and that the day of judgement is true, and I testify to the truth of the seerah [life of the Prophet], that we will be weighed in the balance, and there will be those who are found wanting, and there will be those who are given grace, and there will be the out-strippers.

These are all true things that every prophet has taught and I believe in them, and I will hold to them till I die, and the struggle continues. This world was never meant to be Paradise. God has created a world that is meant to drive you to God, and if you’re been being driven to the devil you’ve been duped my friends, because all of the hardships that you suffer in your life, if you believe in God, you will find those rewards on the day of judgement.

I was in Abu Dhabi in a taxi and I said to the taxi driver: “Where are you from?” He said: “Darra” and I said to him: “I hope that your family is safe”. He said: “The house caved in on them, my father was killed. I’ve worked 12 years and every month I sent everything I could back to my father to build that house and it was destroyed. I feel like my whole life is a waste.” I said to him: “Ya akhi [Oh brother], you were in filial piety to your parents. Believe in the promise of Allah subhanawata’ala. What you are doing is not to build in this world. If you build for this world, what you build will go to nought. We build for the next world, not for this world. If my college in California is destroyed by an earthquake, so be it, so be it. But we are builders for the akhira [the next life], and this is the place where we do it.