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The Aram

with Tahmina Begum
I usually share this newsletter on a Sunday evening. When readers are probably cosied up on the sofa, flicking through their ASOS emails because they've given themselves the permission to rest more easily. Then I realised, well everyone, including myself, needs to be reminded that rest should not be dictated by anyone else nor reserved for the end of the week.
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I know, I know, I know, that this is rather hypocritical from someone who was raised as a workaholic and after reading Emma Gannon's The Multi-Hyphen Method had never felt more seen but rest is something I have had to deeply unlearn and relearn in my mid-twenties.

It's why you'll never catch me advocating for the glamorous (false) realities of being a freelance creative and why I'm honestly in therapy. When you physically and mentally burn out, over and over again, you realise that maybe something isn't adding up in the lifestyle you work endlessly to create and so deeply crave. 
It was only this week, after reading this Twitter thread on 'revenge bedtime' procrastination that I finally had a term for what I had been doing for most of my teen and adult life. 'Revenge bedtime' is when you're so knackered, on barely any sleep but are still refusing to go to bed. You eventually fall asleep in the early hours of the day because these silent nightfall hours are the ones you get to yourself.
The realisation of 'revenge bedtime' and running on a scarcity schedule, of trying to cram everything into my life for the sake of fulfilment, (not ignoring the impact of living in a culture that encourages turning every hobby into a money-making scheme) is that for so long, I've only been watching that film at 1 am or dancing at nearly three in the morning because it's easier to taste instant gratification instead of facing and reevaluating what works for my entire wellbeing and not just my career. 

And this has been a recent personal revolution: to care about my wellbeing over everything else. To pray that whatever comes my way, for it to not cost my health nor my ability to be all the things I love. Just because I have the time to do something, doesn't mean I have the mental, spiritual, emotional and physical capacity. That sometimes overworking all the time means an underlying lack of faith. 
All that's to say, here's a reminder that your rest — the real stuff that doesn't feel like you're rushing to squeeze everything in, including your self-care routine — is not up for debate. That after centuries of women taking care of everyone else first, rest is an underrated act of rebellion.

Even when rest is the most inconvenient, it should work on your terms because you know your body best. And, if your body is a stranger, well I guess it's time to recognise how to make yourself at home for the most important person in your life. 

And now, for nearly two billion Muslims in the world, it's Ramadan. What I like to call my favourite Muslim Wellness And Forgiveness Month, Ramadan is my time for realignment. For forgiving myself as well as others (cause how you going to ask for mercy if you can't dish it out?) and concentrating on what's exactly in front of me.
Ramadan always comes at the best of times, when my body and mind really need it, even when I don't feel like I have the time or space to pause. Though I've personally had a slow start to the holy month this year, that itself is a reminder that how we look after ourselves is not a performance. It’s not a race but as my friend Mariam Khan says, a steady and amble meeting to where we are.

When you're trying to figure out what rest really looks like for you, it's easy to fall into the arrival fallacy that rest will come after you buy that candle or reach that certain goal. And sometimes, you do need to buy that candle but mostly, Ramadan, just like any other real requirement for rest shows us every time that we are exactly where we need to be. That I have everything already and anything else I may desire has to work around the love, the care and the priority I have for myself first. Or else, is it really worth it and is it truly for me? 

Sending rest, ease and a Ramadan Mubarak to all, 
Tahmina
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A special thank you to Pandora Sykes and The Sunday Times for recommending The Aram under newsletters to currently read and subscribe to in 2021. If you haven't already, feel free to send this to a friend (or four) and spread the aram. 
The Aram is a bi-monthly newsletter that explores our relationship with ease and joy. In "Getting Aram With...", I ask a woman of colour and/or Muslim woman I admire, three questions surrounding her comforts.

#11 is Lamisa Khan, co-founder of Muslim Sisterhood and freelance producer, stylist and creative. Featured in British Vogue recently, Lamisa is not only 'the plug fr fr' but she's always felt like home to me. She so humbly cares about preserving culture while fostering new conversations so if you're not following her, you're truly missing out on history. 
What's currently bringing you aram?

At the moment I’m finding aram in taking a break, organising myself and being present. I’m a bit of a busy body and I find it really difficult to say no, switch off and enjoy the moment. I find a lot of pleasure in the work that I do, Alhamdulillah but being a workaholic and balancing multiple jobs means that I have to schedule in time to switch off without feeling guilty.

I find a lot of ease in planning ahead. It keeps me on top of deadlines and allows me to make time for rest and play. I’ve tentatively wrapped up some projects that I’ve been working on so I’m ready to fully embrace Ramadan InshaAllah.


How do you plan on looking after your wellbeing during Ramadan? 

Ramadan is my favourite time of year because it gives me the chance to recenter and nurture my relationship with my Creator. Like most people throughout the year, I get caught up in 'the dunya' and unfortunately, my iman and faith faces the brunt of that.

This year to ensure I’m making the most of my Ramadan and reserving my energy for what matters the most. I’m taking a break from creative projects. I’ve made the annual promise of eating less fried food at iftar and I’m planning to eat slow-burning foods like porridge for suhoor. As always I’ll be drinking lots of water to stay hydrated and my family drink lemon and mint juice at iftar which really helps with any bloating. 

Spread the maya and tell me about a platform or person you'd like to bring light to this Ramadan.

This year in the spirit of loving and giving during Ramadan, Muslim Sisterhood is partnering with grassroots charity Jusoor to raise money to support the education projects of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. The charity is Zakat approved, and your donation will go on as a long term investment, providing a better future for a young person InshaAllah. 
 

I’d also like to give a big shout out to Reconstructed Magazine, a platform run by Black, Shia and queer Muslims.

Let’s be honest being Muslim in the West is difficult enough without considering the divisions within our own Ummah that can push people away from Islam and wrongly skew their perception of the beautiful religion. Having a sense of community eases that sense of isolation and it’s so important that we have inclusive spaces for people to practice their faith, that embraces the intersections of their identities and allows them to be close to Allah free from judgement. At the end of the day, we are human, our iman fluctuates and Allah is the only one who can judge us. He is All-Loving, so as His creations, we should be too. 

Things That Have Bought Me Joy & Comfort Recently 

Award(!)
I've been nominated by National Diversity Awards 2021 for the Positive Role Model award. Feel free to vote for me here and a big thank you if you do!

Books

The Cost Of Living by Deborah Levy
Love In Colour by Bolu Babalola

On-Screen 
Dr Omar Suleiman's YouTube channel
Harper's Bazaar Food Diaries (especially Nadiya Hussain's one) 


Social
Zainab's prophetic recommendations and recipes
Ravneet Gill's baking
Hola! I'm Tahmina Begum 👋🏾 I'm a writer, editor and creative consultant. The Aram is currently free to subscribers but it does take a labour of love to write and produce, so if you'd like to support, you can buy me a digital Ko-Fi. If you'd like to commission me for any work, feel free to check out my website

Images via @sohohouseberlin @archdigest @znali @haatichai @warriorprintess and British Vogue


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