Modesty-

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She walks down the street from
head to toe she is covered.
Lower your gaze sister
keep your body undiscovered.

They say ‘The Parda’ is a veil
to protect the beauty of the face
Don’t attract too much attention sister
don’t attract a moth to the flame.

But why is her modesty judged
by how much she veils herself.
Instead of focusing on her values,
her morals and the people that she helps.

Let’s redefine modesty to dress
in what we feel comfortable in.
As what may be modest to you and me
for someone else it may be a sin

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The Truth About…. Lebanon

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The Masjid al Amin Mosque in downtown Beirut 

When I started telling people I was going to visit Lebanon I got one of 2 reactions. The first being the typical response of ‘Where is that?’, the second response was the typical one you always get when you tell someone you’re travelling to the middle east. The over cautious ‘Why are you going there?’, ‘Is it safe?’ and ‘What if you get caught up in a terrorist attack?’.

The Middle East has drawn my interest over the last few years. I have become to accustomed to the language and culture, something so similar yet very different to my own. My expectations of Lebanon were somewhat hazy, having been to Palestine the year before I had some inclination of what to expect from a Middle Eastern country but I wasn’t entirely sure what this may entail. I believed Lebanon to be a sort of revolutionary capital within the Middle East, a home to a variety of Arabic residents full of creativity and ambition. I imagined Beirut to be a thriving capital full of intellects and nightlife. That is exactly what I found, to an extent.

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The Philosophy of Rumi

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‘Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.’ – Rumi

Jalal Ad-Din Muhammad Rumi was a 13th century persian theologian, poet, mystic, scholar and philosopher. One of the most read poets he was born in 1207 in what is now Afghanistan, but his family traveled and settled to live in Konya, Turkey to escape the mongol invasion and destruction. Rumi is one of the most spiritual masters and poetical genius’s known to man and was the founder of the mawlawi sufi order, a leading mystical brotherhood of Islam.

In his late thirties Rumi met a wandering holy man by the name of Shamz Tabriz, in Rumi’s own words, after meeting Shams he was transformed from a bookish, sober scholar to an impassioned seeker of the truth and love. they spent around 2 years together where they would lock themselves away and create music and poetry and discuss ideas of love and philosophy. Their strong spiritual bond was too much for some people to handle and Shamz was brutally murdered. The death of Shamz sent Rumi into a spiraling cast of depression.Having seen the Divine in Shams, almost Godly, Rumi was saddened  with grief out of that pain out poured nearly 70,000 verses of poetry.

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The Truth About…. Life

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It has been quite some time since I’ve posted on here but I’ve been busy, busy with this thing called life. Life is what happens when you’re trying to fit in all the things you planned on doing when you should have been revising for your last exam. When I graduated at 21, a bright eyed deer in headlights bursting with excitement and jitters of uncertainty about what life has to offer me, I had no care in the world. I had no idea what I wanted to do and no desire to try and even pursue a career or any other kind of wise or important life decision. Instead I packed my bags, blissfully and unaware flew of too Italy for the summer. I spent a good 5 months living on the Italian lakes, where my only qualm was what to do in the Italian sunshine with my new best friends I had only know a few weeks. Whilst my real life friends celebrated end of their academic life by walking up to the majestic red brick great hall at Leeds to collect a small piece of paper which enclosed all our hard work, those late nights in the library where we was convinced we wouldn’t make it. We made it. They wore their draping gowns and collected their prestige degrees before swapping that elegant gown for a suit and tie to being a corporate life. I was happy, I was doing what I wanted, I felt rebellious and free. Not restricted by gowns or paper, not suffocated by a suit or tie. I felt at home.

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The Truth About…. Palestine

I’ve always been that sort of person who was never satisfied with giving to charity and then sitting back with a sense of accomplishment. I feel this never helps people, mostly because I never know what’s happening with that money, whether it’s being used to feed those in need or swallowed into the tornado of corruption in the developing countries political pockets

Palestine has been the one of the most campaigned about causes, people of all religions and races fighting for the independence and freedom of the once individually government country now befallen remote areas within the so-called Israel separated by walls and ridiculous laws and extreme racial segregation. Me being the curious mind I am, against the intentions of my mother, decided to embark on a trip to experience the realities of Palestine.

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Images show a busy market street in Jerusalem and the Dome of the rock in  Al Aqsa compound

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Alif the Unseen by G Willow Wilson

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“When Alif comes into possession of a mysterious book, He discovers a door into another world”

Star Rating: 4/5

At first glance this book sounded like a Middle Eastern version of Harry Potter travelling to Narnia, fighting giant sand snakes and looking for an Indiana Jones sacred relic. To some extents it is exactly that.

It begins by introducing Alif a modern day computer hacker, concealing the identity of his numerous clients. His clientele ranges from pornographers in Saudi Arabia to mere bloggers in Egypt.  Being of a half Indian heritage, which was considered him as a lower class compared to his full Arab blooded inhabitants, Alif gave his protection to anyone who could afford to pay for it.

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I’m coming home!!

I’ve done it! I can’t believe I’ve actually made it to the end. It’s the final week in Tanzania, we leave out host homes on Wednesday morning to start out debrief and then leave Bukoba on Friday morning for the two day bus journey back to Dar.

On Saturday we had our community farewell where a teacher from my school have a speech about how we helped them. She said that she was very grateful for having us and that they have learned a lot from us over the past ten weeks. It made me feel really good and helped us all realise what amazing achievements we had gained during this programme. Thinking back to the end of the first month were I was feeling so hopeless I can now say that our determination and hard work has definitely paid off.

This experience has made me a much stronger person and I feel that I can tackle anything that comes my way now. I’ve had a lot of time to think about my own life and where I want to go and I must say that I will be taking out a lot of time to go travelling. Also I can’t wait to have home comforts again and not carry all my chargers around with me begging to get things charged.

As I leave at the end of this week I leave behind an old me, not one who has change drastically in terms of thought but one who is more ready to face the world. I also leave behind some amazing people that I have formed such strong bonds and friendships with, who without these last 11 weeks would have been unbearably painful.

My advice to anyone who wants to take part on the ICS programme is that is your living in a host home your are going to get a cultural experience, don’t go if you want to travel but go if you want to fully immerse yourself in the culture and do some development work. But overall no matter what difficulties you face always look to the positive and try make things better because once you’ve finished you will be so proud of yourself.