2020, A Disaster, or a Blessing in Disguise?

The year 2020 has come to a close. After nearly a whole year of lockdowns, quarantining, virus, illness, and loss, the globe looks forward to a new year – 2021. Hoping to begin a fresh new start. To adjust to this ‘new normal,’ to cover up their losses and begin all over again. All the hopes we had at the beginning of a new decade were dashed by a microscopic virus. Creepy, but the truth. 

Most people would say that 2020 has been a terrible year, a horrible year, a year not worth appearing in history. Countless memes have been made based on it – no other year got that honour. What we did this year was just existing. No one lived this year, it was basically existing. Yes, there is a difference. 

Is that your opinion as well? (That 2020 has been a terrible year for humanity?)

Yes?

Ahh, I don’t blame you. I must say that I didn’t find it very amicable either. 

But look at it through another perspective. 

To every single thing, there are at least two opposite perspectives. Every good has a bit of bad and every bad has a slice of goodness nearby. Whenever something good happens, we ignore the wrong in it. And vice versa. 

But that’s wrong. 

Absolutely, Utterly, WRONG. 

What if I say: 2020 has been a great blessing for humanity. Sure, it had it’s ‘badness’ but it was worth it. 

Will you agree? No? Hopefully, by the end of this article you will. 

Let me start by first stating all the ‘wrong’ and ‘injustice’ 2020 did to us: 

  • A deadly virus.
  • A pandemic.
  • Nearly 2 million deaths. 
  • Global lockdown 
  • More rules
  • Ban on travels.
  • Closing schools and offices. 
  • No gatherings.
  • No celebrations.
  • Job losses.
  • Separation from family & friends. 
  • Boredom.

And the like. But maybe we’re looking at 2020 through the wrong perspective? Maybe it would be better if we looked at it through a better, more positive perspective? If we do that, perhaps it shall overcome the negativity.

Firstly, it bought families together. Before the pandemic arrived, the kids would be at school for about half the day, dad at the office (sometimes the mom as well). Once they got home, it was resting time and homework. Someone has to do the grocery shopping, there goes dad again. The only bit of time they spent together as a family was at dinnertime, then ta-ta because it’s time to go sleep and tomorrow’s a busy day. This was “life” in 2019. The woohoo, boom, 2020 arrived to set everything straight. It rescued the routine that was driving families away from each other. It came and taught the world what was to live with a family and what families are.

People came closer to Islam. Staying at home and having plenty of free time got us thinking. When the realization that ‘We have nothing to turn to except Allah SWT and Eeman(faith)’ many people turned towards it. Not everyone, but some. It gave us time to sit back and reflect on what we are, what we’re here for, what worthy thing have we done in our lives, and what will happen if we get COVID and die. It gave us time for more Ibaadah(worship), more prayers, more dua’s, more Adhkaar etc 

Now, if you think of it. COVID-19 actually created the atmosphere of homeschooling throughout the globe. Online education is very hectic, and it’s pretty difficult to understand what the teacher is saying at times. But you’ll have to admit that homeschooling was what the world has done this year. And I want to say that I personally found it very good. How was your experience? For us as homeschoolers, it didn’t make much of difference. But that’s a topic for another day. 

It gave us a chance to let go of the past and begin a new start. For most of the time this year, we were free and didn’t have anything to do – especially at the beginning when people were unsure about what was happening. We had enough free time to sit down and study in a completely new field toward an absolutely different career. Coursera (an online courses website) offered several of it’s paid courses entirely free – alongside valid certifications, too I may add. Islamic Online University gave its diploma in many Islamic courses free. Webinars were held regularly. So yeah, that’s my point. Education was made simple. 

Pollution. The increasing rate of pollution dropped massively. The environment because healthier and cleaner. Since transportation and vehicle movement decreased, gases in the air also sank alongside it. Factories weren’t working half as much so water pollution and the release of poisonous fumes receded. All this helped in making the world a cleaner place to live and the growing the ozone layer which both have been a great problem to us for years. Scientists noticed that the sky got bluer. Evidence that the world is cleaner now.

Hygiene has much been looked after. Washing hands regularly, wearing masks, staying hydrated etc all count in hygiene. People now have realized its importance and implement them more in their lives. 

It bought up the realization that everyone on earth doesn’t need to go out every day to learn or work and that all this can be done at home as well. Work-from-home, study-from home, earn-from-home, stay-at-home, buy-from-home(yes people started online delivery for groceries) do-everything-from-home. And now, we have full proof that we can study from home, earn from home, buy sitting in your house and YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO OUTSIDE EVERY SINGLE DAY OF YOUR LIFE IN ORDER TO EXIST ON EARTH. 

(Sorry for the outburst lol)

All those are roughly the blessings 2020 bought, and I’m sure they are more. However, in the meantime, here you go. Obviously, it had its bad, many people had huge harm bought to them but what can one do? Remember the thing about every bad thing having a good side and vice versa? Maybe looking at things through another perspective will help? 

Anyhow, here’s 2021. Let’s just pray and hope for a better year! 

Have a splendid year folks! 

Helpless Humanity

Something small and deadly,
Something dangerous and tiny.

Changed the world,
And the course of humanity turned.

Unexpected and instantaneous,
Disasterous and extraneous.

But it changed thought,
And bought up a terrible truth.

We’re helpless,
Us as humans are powerless.

Fighting against a microscopic virus proved fruitless,
Protecting oneself from an unseeable particle was useless.

The technology didn’t assist,
Robots didn’t appear on the helping list.

The “superpower” of the world shattered,
The countries, with or without, nuclear weapons all were battered.

Conspiracy theories worked day and night,
We believed them. Without realizing what was wrong and what was right.

We entered an unbelievable trance,
Got stuck in a frozen stance.

After all, it was hard to admit,
That we humans – we smart, clever creatures – have to throw our weapons and quit.

Hard contest.
Difficult test.

We lost,
The virus continues its victorious worldwide jaunt.

There’s no way to stop it.
A little virus is impossible to outwit.

Live with it and adjust to the “new normal” is only what we can do.
Rather funny after what we tried to prove ourselves, too.

The Path to Reading

All this time I’ve been blathering about reading but never thought to sit down and write about it. Now, how did I come to reading? Umm, people do ask these kinds of questions and I’m pretty sure I’ve never given a satisfactory answer. I mean like what can one answer anyway? It’s not going to be a one-lined answer, it shall be a long lecture. And a normal human can’t exactly think of a whole lecture and give to the person who’s standing in front of you in a matter of seconds. Here, I’ve tried to give some tips on how you can begin your reading journey – it’s a great journey I may add. Let’s see what job I’ve done.

OK, I don’t mean to brag or sound vain but I’ve personally inspired three kids to read and now, I must say, that they are avid readers – Ma sha Allah. Since of course I don’t remember how I started my reading habit, I’ll look through how they started their reading journeys, with a few points from here and there.

First of all, drill it into your mind that reading isn’t boring. Don’t you dare insult my beloved books. Maybe if you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you know what exactly are the benefits of reading. However, if you haven’t, I’ll link the posts at the end.

Anyway, back to where I was.

Some benefits of reading are:

  • Imagination, which leads to creativity which leads to invention.
  • Learning.
  • Expansion of general knowledge.
  • It doesn’t need the internet.
  • Inspiration to write.

And the like.

Alright then, next point.

Don’t think that reading is only for nerds and you don’t have the stamina to read. If you do think so, then that is the most absurd thing I’ve heard of in my life. Hmm, actually, I don’t get why ‘nerd’ is considered an insult. It should be considered a compliment. Anyway, that’s a topic for another day. Remember that reading is necessary for everyone and that authors don’t go around finishing their ink pens just for the sake of the few scattered nerds around the globe.

Start with good books. The term ‘good books’ here means books you’ll enjoy reading. Not those fat things you have to force yourself to read. That’s not ever going to work. Don’t make it a task it should be something you’ll look forward to. Some people are like ‘this is a very important book regarding my work. Even though it’s very boring, I’ll have to read this important thing first before moving on to another.’ It’s literally the same as saying that I have to read that dusty encyclopedia before moving on to a thin magazine. So basically, what I’m saying is that. Start reading what you enjoy. Once you get into the habit. Reading those long things will be easy.

For example, once I met one of my cousins after a long time. I used to read 24/7 at that time and she didn’t at all – I did spend time with her! One day, one of us took into our minds that she ought to start reading (I don’t remember which one but it was probably me XD.) I was reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl those days and gave it to her. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to finish it in time but she promised that she would read it once she got back because she found it interesting. She did. And now she’s an avid reader Ma sha Allah. So moral of the story is not that you should go and read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory if you’re not a bookworm, but that you should start with a good book. 

Please don’t get lazy. Don’t say that watching is better/easier than reading. Because I’m telling you, reading is definitely a million times better than watching. It’s the original thing. Movies are never better. ESPECIALLY if it’s made based on a book. And remember to take out time to read each day! Because frankly speaking, that’s the only way to start a good habit!

Read at your own speed. If you’re a slow reader, do NOT, I repeat NOT let that come in your way. The book will finish, it’s not infinite! Besides, along with time, you’ll improve. I’m telling you.

If you get tired of reading one fine day, then leave it. Oh no! Not forever. Just that day. I often get tired – maybe not that often – of reading. Leave it aside overnight (why does this sound so much like a recipe?) and by morning you’ll get to it easily!

BTW, just a random fact. If you read for a long time at night – or short it depends – you’ll find yourself getting sleepy. This is very good for sleepless nights when whatever you try one can’t sleep. I’ve done this a couple of times and it works 😉 Oh yeah! This is only if you’re reading from a hard copy. Soft copies wake a person up even more.

All in all. I hope this post was helpful!

The links:
Out of The Box Studying System
Golden Chests of Imagination, Creativity and Invention
Disposable Books vs Living Books – written by Aymun, a friend.

A Dozen of Writing Tips

‘There are such things such as ghost words which actualy mean nothing and have originated from errors, misjedgments and misrepresentations.’

Well yeah, it’s weird but true. So the next time you make a typo, don’t feel bad about it. It could be the foundation of a completely new word in the English dictionary. And here I am back again with some writing tips. 

  • Firstly, try to write whatever writing idea comes in your head in the hour you think of it. Delay it for a day and then ta-ta good idea. I’m telling you that you’ll never get the exact same idea in your life if you forget
  • Secondly, learn to make drafts. The first draft is NEVER perfect. What I usually do is to write my idea – or the whole article – on paper – this is because I don’t have the laptop open 24/7 and anyway, it’s nice to write on paper once in a while. Then I copy it on the screen. You’ll, and I do as well, find a lot of mistakes and much that can be improved. Compare the softcopy with the hardcopy and the difference found will be amazing. I don’t mean to say to practise this tip when you’re writing an above-hundred-page book. I’m talking about articles. Most of my articles have been written this way – and this one as well I may add. 
  • Thirdly, don’t force yourself to write. That is never going to work. Forcing is wrong. Ever noticed when you’re forced to do something you don’t exactly do it nicely and don’t throw your whole heart and soul into doing it? Exactly, whatever you’re writing shouldn’t be forced or the result won’t be good. 
  • Fourthly, once you’re done with your book leave it aside for a month or so. And during this period, do NOT read the book. After the month is over go back to it and read it. Realize how pathetically it’s written – no offence haha. Once you do, edit it accordingly. 
  • ‘Where to write my book?‘ Hmm, I would personally prefer MS Word as the best option. But since unfortunately laptops are so unreliable and are bound to crash one day, upload it on OneDrive, Cloud or something like that. What I use for a substitute for Word is Google Docs. It’s good, you can access it from anywhere, it pretty much resembles MS Word and it’s reliable – at least in my experience alhamdulilAllah. 
  • Now, do not, I repeat NOT compare your writing style with someones else’s. If you’re writing the first article in your life, it would be silly to compare it with someone’s fortieth. Everyone has their own writing style, learn to be unique. 
  • Don’t give up. After a month of working on your book, you might find yourself thinking that the plot is too silly and ‘what trash am I writing? It’s not worth being read by others.’ No, don’t think that it’s not right to do so. You’ll probably be satisfied with the result. And even if you aren’t, one can always edit it remember? 
  • If you think something can be improved and you don’t know how to do it just then, then leave it for later. You’ll understand how to improve it I once left a poem I wrote for about two months – really, I’m not kidding – and then went back to it and rewrote the whole thing. Even though the thing I first wrote was good I knew I could do better. And I must say that the last result was better than the first one. The main thing is to lay the foundation and build on it later if it can be done. This poem I wrote is the “Sparkles of Shining White” by the way. 
  • Perfectionism has to go. If you’re seriously starting of thinking of writing then let me clarify thoroughly that if you’re a perfectionist then you won’t get to write ANYTHING. That’s because first drafts aren’t perfect, they aren’t supposed to be perfect. That’s because writing and something coming out of a human’s brain can’t be perfect. But in order to write, you’ll have to give your perfectionism a fantastic farewell and throw it in the trashcan. Speaking of which, I’m no perfectionist but I know a couple of them well enough to judge. 
  • If you’re a person like me who gets ideas about what to write each day then I’d suggest you to keep a rough register to write in. You know those big, cheap and fat things which are made of recycled paper? Yeah those, nothing fancy and expensive, please. You’re going to jot with your worst handwriting here and make a lot of mistakes… right? 
  • Use synonyms if you’re writing about one particular topic and you know that this particular word is going to be used a lot. Repetition gets boring and it doesn’t give a very good impression. One doesn’t need to open a big and fat thesaurus to do that these days. Just a few typed words on google does the trick. 
  • Have a sentence variety. Not all simple sentences will work and nor will all compound/complex sentences work. All short and simple sentences will display a lack of language and writing skills. While all long complex sentences will bore the reader and make them feel as if they are reading some sort of written lecture. Having a variety such as a couple of medium-sized sentences, then a short one and lastly throw in a long one. Or anything like that. Basically, have a balance. 

There, I’m done with the promised dozen tips. BTW, I wrote another post on writing tips, you can get it here

Hope this helped! 

Out of The Box Studying System

People say I’m very smart, oh so very smart, and very studious. But the thing is… I don’t really think that’s true. I consider myself a normal human who’s just had a different childhood and schooling system than most kids around the world. And no, this is not about self-degrading or underplaying myself, I’m not saying that I’m pure dumb and haven’t got a grain of brains(wow, that rhymed.) I’m saying that just because I have a wide array of general knowledge (see? No self-degrading, that sounded rather vain I guess), love reading/researching and studying things I have an interest in doesn’t mean that I’m whip-smart. Yeah, I know that wasn’t convincing at all, lemme explain. 

I hereby dedicate and give the credit of having a wide array of general knowledge entirely to… books. 

Really, I’m not kidding. And nor am I talking about text-books, I never talk about them, I’m talking about fiction. Pure fiction. Oh yeah, I mentioned fiction in one of my recent posts and here I’m doing it again. Guess I’ll try to explain this better now. 

I’m gonna take a historical fiction – yes, I love history – I once read, and never forgot. It was named When My Name Was Keoko. So basically it was about the WW2 when Japan invaded Korea – this is before North and South Korea separated. And TBH, I never acquired the knowledge of that time, what happened to the Koreans, all the torture that was imposed on them, and the Kamikaze pilots better than how I acquired from here. I enjoyed the story and learned lots of history. 

BTW, I would definitely recommend you to read it, it’s a splendid book. This is its book review 

If you haven’t read it already.

Anyway, this book isn’t the only one from which I have obtained knowledge in a fun way. I wonder if you’ve heard/read about the Horrible Series? The Horrible Science, Horrible History and The Knowledge ones. I’ve learnt SO much from them, seriously. They’re presented in such a fun and humorous way that just makes you long for more. Yeah, they’re humorous, who said knowledgable books couldn’t have humour in them? So this is roughly how I gained general. I’m telling you, books are the seeds from which everything grows. Curiosity has another great factor in it but I’ll get to that later. 

Someone I know says that I study and basically all day. But the thing is, that I hardly do. Ohh, that doesn’t mean that I’m off scot-free all day, it means that if you compare the amount I study with the ridiculous amount school-kids study it’d amount to hardly anything. I do study, but not an inordinate quantity. A sensible one. And other than studying I’m doing Hifz, code learning, graphic designing, learning spoken Arabic, writing a book, and of course, blogging. All in a good days work. 

Even though this seems to be a lot it’s not really. I alhamdulilAllah always find time to ramble to my friends online, read books, and get bored. I want to add just as a bonus that I don’t watch movies/cartoons, sit on YouTube, or play video games. I consider them nothing but a waste of time. So basically, the only things I do on the screen are talk, study and write. 

Anyhow, now I’ll explain researching. 

I love researching, but that’s only true if the topic I’m researching on is interesting to me. Or in other words, if I’m curious to find out what happens when and why is this so and what is the difference and so on and on (see an example of this here) But I only get time for this cause’ I don’t get martian loads of homework and I’m not out of the house for six hours each day. So what the meaning of this paragraph is that researching also has a great impact on my brain. 

Well, I probably seem to you a nerd right now(just to clarify I don’t wear glasses alhamdulilAllah) but the thing is, I don’t really care. To be called a nerd will be a good compliment to me. Thank you so much. Nonetheless, I do want to clarify in the end that this is kinda the same style all homeschoolers learn and bloom. We aren’t aliens from Venus but are ordinary humans who have just have a different upbringing, childhood and schooling system contrasting with those of most people around the world. 

All in all, I ain’t a genius. I’ve merely read books all my life and when I waste my time it’s not wasted on movies, video games and YouTube. It’s wasted pondering over the million of things that enter my head, reading a book for the hundredth time, jotting stuff down or blathering to friends. I’ve said this before and I’m joining to repeat it again: books are the seeds from which everything grows.

Not all readers are leaders,
But all leaders are readers

Note: Please observe that this post was written based on how I used to study before I started studying for Matric. But this is how my kid siblings study. 

Sparkles of Shining White

Watching the white, shining stars against the black sky,
Late at night.

Wondering how much they have in common with,
The world’s plight.

In a vast carpet of unmerciful black lie,
Sparks of white.

These glowing bits of white having with the carpet,
A tremendous fight.

Trying for themselves to win over the darkness and in its place fill nothing but,
Shining sparkling light.

Blackness, darkness, the carpet of unmercy unfortunately won,
And reached victory’s hight.

Nevertheless, these shining sparks of white may be few, but they’ll always stand out and,
Bring more delight

It doesn’t matter whether there’s more darkness or not, these sparks of white are and always will be,
Nearby in sight!

A tribute to everyone who’s trying to do good in this dark world. To each and every star in the blackness of the world.