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Diary of a not-so-baby BarriSTAR

An alternative perspective

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Faith

A Sky Free of Bombs 

As the sun sets in a sky free of bombs and where birds can fly, I think of my beautiful big sister who travels to Greece tomorrow to provide urgent dental treatment across refugee camps. Every day this world becomes a more difficult place to live in, where for some just being who they are is a threat to their existence. Everyday I battle with what my role is supposed to be in this world and how I can better fulfill it. The last few months have helped remind me of two things. Who I am and who I want to be. I have learnt that each and everyone of us has a role in maintaining the light in this increasingly dark place. Those roles vary and are for each of us to find.

For those who know me well, I love the sky, the water, sunrises and sunsets. As my return back to the UK is just days away, I chose to say goodbye to NYC here. Somewhere beyond the glits and the glam, somwhere I am reminded of God.

In belief, that whilst there are still people who care, there will always be hope. 

I am so proud of you big sis.  Xxxx

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ferdaus-islam-1 

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Sanctuary in Death

Today feels different.

As I walked to the subway to get to work, the sun was shining. What a beautiful day.

I wonder if the sun is shining in Aleppo.

Despite the corpses littering the streets.

I thought about how many absolute truths we share as humans.

The sky.

The air we breathe.

The blood we bleed.

Yet, how our humanity is qualified. Contingent. Conditional.

On,

Geography.

Colour.

Politics.

Ethnicity.

Faith.

Power.

 

Scrolling through social media feeds.

Aleppo has fallen.  Civilians shot dead. Children burnt alive. Scores of men disappeared. The rebels are baddies too. MPs are holding an ’emergency’ debate. The UN says atrocities are being committed.

“A Meltdown in Humanity”

Nothing in actual fact is particularly different today. Innocent people die every single day at the hands of oppressors in this increasingly dark world.

But today feels different.

I hate the international community, governments, the UN every day.

But today feels different.

I feel anger, sadness and helplessness every day.

But today feels different.

Today the tears fall.

Today, I struggle to find hope.

 

“Families in Aleppo are asking religious scholars if it’s permissible to kill their daughters before they are captured and raped.”

 

What must one have endured, what must one fear when killing your own child is the better option?

My heart doesn’t just break for Syria. My sadness today isn’t just for Aleppo.

It is for an existence where the only sanctuary for some is in death.

I know for some, they choose not to read what is going on, because it is too sad. Because we feel helpless.

But we must

Read.

Watch.

Feel.

Over and over.

It is the least we could do.

 

I want my sadness to consume me. 

 

The only glimmer of light I have felt today came from what I paste below.

Even if you categorise yourself as an unbeliever, it is at times like this that a belief in eternal divine justice can provide even you, some hope- because what else is there?

 

Prophet Muhammad (saw) said:

“When the believer is about to depart from this world and go forward into the Next World, angels with faces as bright as the sun descend from the heavens and sit around him in throngs stretching as far as the eye can see. Then the Angel of Death comes and sits at his head and says, ‘Good soul, come out to forgiveness and pleasure from Allah!’ Then his soul emerges like a drop of water flows from a water-skin and the angel takes hold of it.

“When he has grasped it, the other angels do not leave it in his hand even for the twinkling of an eye. They take it and place it in a perfumed shroud and a fragrance issues from it like the sweetest scent of musk found on the face on the earth.”

“Then they bear it upwards and whenever they take it past a company of angels, they ask, ‘Who is this good soul?’ and the angels with the soul reply, “So-and-so the son of so-and-so,” using the best names by which people used to call him in this world. They bring him to the lowest heaven and ask for the gate to be opened for him. It is opened for him and angels who are near Allah from each of the heavens accompany him to the subsequent heaven until he reaches to the heaven where Allah the Great is. Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, says, ‘Register the book of My slave in ‘Illiyun and take him back to earth. I created them from it and I return them to it and I will bring them forth from it again.’”

*Image via Alaa Basatneh

There is only One

I was reminded today at Jummah and following yet another beautiful khutba delivered by Khalid Latif, how blessed I am to be Muslim. Whilst the world increasingly becomes a more sinister place to live in, where your skin colour, ethnicity and religion dictates whether you live or die – I am reminded that my faith is one for all.

I am reminded that when the Prophet SAW’s sunnah, which proscribes equality & justice for all is properly followed – Islam necessitates social justice.

In a room filled with Muslims from all walks of life today after Friday prayer, a black brother took the shahada. The declaration of faith – to one God & His last messenger. I was truly moved. I remembered the Prophet’s choice of who should make the first call to prayer. Bilal ibn Rabah. An emancipated black slave.

Whilst black people are shot dead on the streets of America, I am reminded of the beautiful message well over a thousand years ago which allowed all people to live in their full humanity.

He is sent here for nothing else but a mercy.

How will you bring the Prophet into your life? Where are the lessons of compassion and mercy?

Getting a piece of jewellery from all the places I travel to, is one of my ‘things.’ Stumbled across a quaint stall this weekend at @bkflea, where they sell various silver, copper and brass items offering personalisation. I normally go for something with a bit of quirk, sparkle or colour. But something drew me to the simplicity of these bands. I wanted something I could just keep on. I thought a while about what I wanted it to say. What I wanted to carry with me, always. I opted for: lā ḥawla wa lā quwwata illā billāh | لا حول ولاقوة إلا بالله | There is no power or might except by Allah. A reminder that transformation and strength can only be through Him. Thank you @theagrantdesign for my beautiful piece.
#NewYork #Brooklyn #DUMBO #Bespoke #Faith (at Brooklyn Bridge Waterfront)

The T* Word

When we started this process of Pupillage, there was talk of the big T word. Tenancy. And the series of assessments that preceded it. It felt like something so far down the line, that it kinda just floated in the background. The intensity of just trying to get through each day has meant the months have slipped by.

13/14 months in, the time has come.

Every day of this process has been an assessment. Everyone, everywhere is watching you. Thinking something. Making a judgment. Forming an opinion. Whatever it may be, there is a constant spot light. The instinct is to survive, not F up and on a good day- try and do well.

The uncertainty is difficult. Not knowing. Never knowing. But you continue. Plough on. In the hope, that it has all been enough. That you are enough.

Having faith and believing in the fact there is a wider plan is a defining feature in this journey. And every journey we make in this life.

Strive for excellence in all that you do and all that you are.

Leave the pieces to fall into place. The way they were always supposed to. The way they were designed to.

We were made to struggle. With the best of us being able to stay afloat and one day thrive.

To do justice to those who have supported my journey, facilitated my growth, shown goodness to me in ways I cannot count, who believe in me in ways I am unable to believe in myself – this is for you.

The First Six Months

Currently doing the standard Friday night Chiltern train run back home. Except this time, it’s not totally standard. Having sat in five hours of back to back conferences, totally brain frazzled and hungry, today I left chambers having completed my first six pupillage. That is to say, from Monday- off I go into the big bad world, to represent clients and *try* and defend their liberty. All on my tod.

I don’t know where the time went. It’s such an overused cliche – but I don’t actually know. It just seemed to evaporate. And now looking back- most of it feels like a blur, whilst some things stick in mind.

I remember clearly all the pre pupillage prep. The need (!) for an entire new wardrobe, flying the nest, excitement leading up to call day, anticipation as to who my supervisor would be and whether they would be mean. I remember receiving an email from mine introducing himself. I remember clearly where I was- the Westfield Stratford bridge. I remember analysing the email to figure out what he would be like. I concluded he sounded nice. But I was still shitting it.

The only thing I remember about pupillage induction was how my lovely black and gold smart flats literally killed my feet and I was left hobbling into chambers. It’s also where I got my first ever blue book. I haven’t worn those shoes since.

So day 1 of pupillage dawned. I remember waking up to a beautiful morning with wisps of sun and cloud in the sky. I wore a black shirt which is now two sizes too big and off I went. I went to meet my supervisor at Southwark Crown Court which soon became my favourite court I think-because I spent so much time there- not because of the canteen food.

We were meant to meet at about 9am and I remember I got there super early. First time for everything.

I waited for about thirty minutes in the downstairs foyer and I had heard nothing from him. I think I sent a text I can’t quite remember. I recall wondering whether he had forgotten he had a pupil! I eventually plucked up the courage to call him, and he was in the canteen- the one you should never eat at. Up I went to first floor.

I had an idea of what he looked like from the website and all the pre reading I had attempted to do on him. Went over and introduced myself and sat opposite him on one of those awkward joined up seat table things. He was sat working at his laptop with lots of paperwork. Something which was always characteristic of him – using ‘dead’ time efficiently and getting something done! I remember little about the conversation but I remember he outlined some basics of how he liked to work. Particularly poignant, was him saying he wasn’t the type of supervisor who was going to take me down the pub for drinks. It was from then that I knew we would get on.

We were at the early stages of a multi handed money laundering trial. I had been sent the opening note before hand and was like wtf is boiler fraud?! I was convinced I would not particularly enjoy if. Lo and behold 2-3 weeks later when the trial had finished, we got our acquittal – I actually had really enjoyed it.

Everything else about day 1 is a blur apart from the following. We went back to chambers and I was asked to put some papers into a file. It took me about two hours and I remember thinking at the time- this guy thinks I’m a complete numpty. This was further compounded by the fact it took me about five minutes to figure out how to use the monster of a hole punch. Thank god I did. We are now friends – despite the fact I broke it at some point down the line.

I also remember my now beloved supervisor firing questions at me. This tradition followed relentlessly for at least the first four weeks. I often wondered how I even passed bar school and why didn’t I remember anything! The question on the first day was disclosure related. Time limit for serving a defence case statement. Basic stuff. But not on day 1 pupillage when you’re dying of sacredness & all of the BPTC has been emptied from your brain! My reply was 14 days. I was told it was incorrect. However upon reflection – it was kinda right. For the mags at least 😉

I left feeling exhausted, excited and shitting it.

Which ironically is exactly the same as I feel now. Six months on. But now, more excitement than anything else.

Wish I had started this blog then because it’s so hard to recall. Things always look different from this end. There have been so many poignant moments. Acquittals, diamond earrings, confused verdicts, finding that one authority that gets an anticipated four year sentence down by ¾, celebrities in court, the glamour of the Old Bailey, shadowing the Prime Minister’s brother, brilliant advocacy training, dropping two dress sizes and weening off caramel lattes in favour of the 99p white filters from Pret.

Looking back there were times I thought I couldn’t do this. I remember week 4 specifically and the tears on the early morning train to Hartford. There was something about that particular week. But I survived it. And like with everything, you get through and you grow. It is amazing how your body adjusts, sleeping pattern adjusts, emotional and mental and physical expectations/demands/limits adjust when you are thrown into the deep end and expected to swim. You start by semi drowning, then you start kicking your feet and manage to get your head above water, then you do a star shape float and then you’re able to paddle along for a bit. That’s where I’m at now. Not quite swimming. But paddling.

My swimming analogy is a testament to the miracle that is human being ness.

Strength. Resilience.

For me, there can be no greater indication of the presence of the Almighty.

Even at the most pushed, the most stretched – no hardship is too heavy for one to bear.

I’ve started writing and adding to this blog post at various points. So where it started on a train journey back home for the weekend, it ends having just packed my wig and gown and *heels* in prep for tomorrow’s case at Kingston crown court. Considering the solicitor strikes that are ongoing and no magistrates work, feel blessed and grateful to have the opportunity to start my first day on my feet robed up in the Crown. Praying all goes well.

I left this evening from chambers following an appraisal with my now ex-supervisor. He said me doing this hearing for him tomorrow was ‘to my utmost praise.’

This essentially marks the start of my life as an advocate. Everything I have studied towards, worked for and dreamed about.

And I start as I mean to go on.

In the name of Allah, the most merciful the most high.

Always remember Allah.

Phone call with dad is all I need.
Remembrance.
Roots.
Real.

‘And if you judge, judge between them with equity. Allah loves the just.’

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