Women

In Conversation with Rashida Ben M.

March 12, 2017
Rashida_M. (1)

In conversation with Rashida M.  
Illustration Fatema A. (cosmicweavers)
Foreword Batul S. 

Separator.

As you’ll soon find out, Rashida M. is many things and an enigma is definitely one of them.

Her splash of hair and toothy grin only highlights the colourful chaos that is her personality.

She’s a business powerhouse, blogger and mother of five- all while being a Boris Johnson fan.

Take a peek at her unique and quirky personality – but with caution.

You’ll be diving in the deep end.

 


Tell us a little bit about yourself. What was life like growing up for you?

I don’t think the important things can be said – so I’ll give that one a miss. But, I have a cousin called Sherebanu. And a bestie called Sooni. Those relationships were formed in my early days.

 

What made you want to pursue psychology?

Well, here’s the thing. You know how they say you have to be a bit loopy yourself to study psychology? It’s true.

 

What is a typical day in your life?

A typical day in my life is to wake up in the morning and worry about my dreams. Then have a cup of very very hot tea worrying about my dreams. Then get to work and try to forget my dreams. Then go to bed and have more dreams. Psychoanalysts think this is good. It’s called alpha-functioning. My husband implores me to stop it.

 

Why blogging?

Blogging is like tweeting. It lives in the moment, in that, it’s heady like adrenaline. Like bungee jumping. You do it without thinking too much. That’s very important for a person who claims to be a psychologist.

 

How do the roles of mother, wife, muminah and blogger intertwine for you?

How do these roles intertwine? You know I don’t know these things. They’re too deep for me. But I’m on a forum with amazing friends who anguish about this a lot of the time. So, I’m going to introduce you to them and I promise you, what they say, is true for me

 

If you had to express yourself through any medium other than a blog, what would it be?

I like poems.

I think that I would like to be.

Something one. Like a tree.

I have too many jobs you see.

A tree is one.

Like poetry.

 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

When I grow up – I want to be – I was going to say – duck, but that’s taken, so I guess I’ll have to settle for kangaroo.

 

What would you like to say to those who insist that working from home equates to baking cookies.

I’ll say, if anyone is baking cookies, I will fly over to eat ‘em. My mother baked a lot. I miss her every day of my life. I don’t think there’s a nobler profession than baking cookies. Home-made Victoria Sponge or Persian Bakery Mawa Cakes sold out by 11 am. What more does one want from life?

 

We find “Child on Hip, Hand on Computer” a very intriguing- remarkable piece. Can you elaborate on the idea behind it for our readers.

I’m happy you like Child on Hip. I think Aali Qadr Moula is most awesome in how he recasts our life, changes our priorities, deepens the dream. Shakespeare, of course, had a word for it too. He called it sea-change. Those are pearls that were his eyes. So Child on Hip is about the sea-change and I think that’s why it may be intriguing. Because you know, those are pearls that were his eyes. You’ve got to let the process happen to you.

 

Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?

Hunter or gatherer? Gatherer is a lovely word. It sounds like Mighzal, so I’ll go for gatherer. Did I say that I think it’s wonderful that you’re doing this work? You give words to our silence. Mighzal is spinning our identity and our language. I can’t commend you enough.

 

Donald Trump or Darth Vader – who is more likely to find the light and why.

My only regret is that Trump looks like Boris Johnson who I like a lot. Incidentally do you know that it was Boris Johnson who said that because girls go to university and don’t want to marry boys who don’t, a significant number of women in Britain are going to remain unmarried in the future? He didn’t suggest that women don’t get educated. We don’t want our daughters to be either uneducated or unmarried. There’s just something here, he pointed out, that we need to think about.

 

What is the biggest challenge you’ve come across in your work life? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge in one’s work-life is to stop dreaming and start doing. I think Zoella (you know Zoella, the vlogger, right?) said, “I did it by not not doing it.” That’s just spot on. That’s everything.

 

What challenges in your opinion are women facing today?

You know I grew up in the seventies. We were feminists, make no mistake. And being feminist you have a deep respect for women. So, you can imagine how closely I watch Busab from the corner of my eye. And she told me something very useful recently, that could only come from a person who had sussed it out. And I can do no better than to repeat that, giving credit like a true professional to the one I heard it from – I was still going on about whether a woman is equal or not – and if she is equal, whether she can ever be more than that, and actually ever, even get ahead, or whether being Muslim women, we were always destined to be second place – and she said, most eloquently, “You can win. But you know, if you run a man’s race, you’ll find at the end of time, that you’ve run the wrong one. A man’s race is like the sprint. But a woman’s race is like the cross-country. It’s a bit of one thing and then another and then another. You have to do it all and keep running, then you will have won in your race.” I was completely dumbstruck. I thought she hit the nail on the head.

So really, then, the challenge is not whether to run a race or not but to figure out, just like men, which race one wants to run or what work one wants to do. It’s a very serious question and one must find the answer.

 

Your favorite memory of Maula? Is there any teaching in particular that you hold dear?

What we have to learn to do with Maula is to pick up the teaching that is the next step in one’s own spiritual development, isn’t it? Or what’s the point? Like ridah or hifz. Or thaali. Or working from home. They’re all hard. How can a hard thing be a favourite? Transformations are always painful but what you essentially choose is a transformation that can be light or just decay in a good ol’ sulkiness.


 

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1 Comment

  • Reply Tasneem P March 15, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Great interview 🙂 I wish I could meet Rashida ben and all the other wonderful women you interview!

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