Sanadka Cusub

Waxaan gooste sanadka cusub inan af somaliga barto

I’ve decided that in the new year I will learn Somali

I’ve always had the desire to know the language of my people, but the inconvenience of asking my parents about grammatical nuances and struggling in pronunciation deterred me. Where and how would I even start? This isn’t a rhetorical question, starting with the basics would not work for me. I ‘d grow incredibly bored and consequently quit the whole effort.

So I’ve settled on a more sophisticated approach. Each morning, I jot down intriguing headlines from Somali BBC and translate it with one of my parents, whichever is awake at the time. I then think of my own phrase, one particularly relevant to my life, and I translate that as well. Google translate can be helpful but inaccurate, and it doesn’t convey the “woqooyi” dialect I prefer.

Below is a translation I did with Aabo this morning. The verse of this song personifies the new year. It is simply beautiful.


waan ku heybinaaye

ilaahey hakaa dhigo adna hogol

da’aysiyo habeen dhalad barwaaqiyo


I’ve been seeking you

May Allah make you a designated rain

That falls in the night bringing forth an abundance


Hogol is an enchanting word. It is not just describing any rain, rather hogol is like a sole cloud, releasing rain upon where it is most desired. It is rain that attends to the specific need of the chosen recipient.

…Perhaps it’s best that I only now begin to learn the language, for I can reflect upon and dissect the nuances that native speakers might undervalue in the mode of practicality.

P.s.  It is January 1st, so happy birthday to the many Somalis who were “fortuitously” born on this day.

Peace and Blessings,

Karima Osman

La Fin

As the year reaches la fin, I am satisfied with how I’ve grown. Notably, there are two points that I have consistently reflected upon throughout 2019 in efforts to enhance my candor and presence.

  1. “A bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul”
  2.  “Don’t greet people with your head but rather with your heart”

Understand that not everyone in your life will recognize your sincerity, some people are deluded by chronic skepticism and that is their prerogative. Don’t live to convince others of your goodness, if they can’t recognize it, they can miss out.  It is not your responsibility to prove anything about yourself to anyone. Just be.

In entering the new year, I want to work on solidifying my values such that I do not waver across my social circles. Overall, I’m consistently kind and respectful, but I’ve identified an area for growth.

It is embedded in most of us to please others to a certain extent. Such allows us to be more agreeable and socially accepted. In many cases, it is to our benefit, as the full truth can offend. For example, telling your colleague you like the color of their blouse is a safe part of the truth, and it’s perhaps best not to share that they should avoid wearing that material given the size of their sweat stains — you could if you were closer, but this is just your colleague and your upbringing has taught you discretion (i hope).

Anyhow, when sensitive topics arise in conversation…I don’t know, say of religion, politics, or anything personal, the answers I deliver depend on who I am speaking with. Are they liberal or conservative? Are they civil or offputting in their aggression? These factors influence how comfortable I feel in my expression… I  don’t quite like this.

In the new year, I am going to minimize the influence others have on the discourse of my expression. To do this, I will revisit all of my values and debate them with myself. I want to engage in the practice of formulating the opposition to some of my opinions,  not so that I can script a rebuttal, but rather that I may find knowledge gaps. I know some may argue that my approach is prone to confirmation bias, but it isn’t. I am not strictly seeking evidence to support my values, rather if I do reason to actually believe in something, that must not be the end, but rather an invitation to explore what I proclaim a stance on.

The productive conversation necessitates knowledge of what is being discussed. I’m a very emotional being and thus have PLENTY of emotional dialogues. This is primarily why I fall short. I’m all for the pathos, but ethos and logos need some attention too.  In 2020, I want more conversations infused with evidence.

Peace & Blessings,

Karima Osman




Take advantage of your disadvantages

“Take advantage of your disadvantages” that’s what someone said to me yesterday. What a stunning perspective!

I tend to give an overwhelming focus to my strengths in hopes of optimizing my performance in areas I already perform well in.

I do also pay mind to my shortcomings to grow, but never do I look at my deficits as areas that can already serve me as is.

What I’m trying to express is a bit confusing, but stay with me. I’ll give you an example.

So I have difficulties sleeping sometimes. A lot of the time. I never bothered with melatonin or other remedies because I still function well throughout the day, so there isn’t a pressing need for me to sleep soundly… I suppose from a biological perspective there are many needs so to speak, but I’m not going to get into that realm right now. I listen to my body, so if I feel good, I’m probably good.

Anyways, back to my point, I have trouble sleeping because my thoughts grow louder than the sound of the heater. For the longest, I dreaded this inconvenience, but I’ve had a recent change of perspective. My thoughts are quite incredible at nocturnal hours. I think of book plots, hit songs to ghostwrite, global sustainability solutions, & general ways to just dissolve subtle tensions in my life. It’s very much like a combination of cognitive and problem-solving dream theory, expect it happens while I’m bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (such an odd idiom, loolzz).

I’m going to now start paying more attention to these loud thoughts of mine. Better yet, I’ll keep a journal and lamp by my bedside so that I can jot down any novel idea that pays an unwarranted visit. I do somewhat worry that by putting the lamp on, my cortisol levels may spike, but why premeditate potential problems? I’ll address that later if need be.

I do acknowledge the evidence-based research to support recommendations of sleep, but at the same time, I want to explore my limits. Certain scholars and other brilliant minds are often known to have lower sleep quotas. Yeah sure, a slight wiring difference can account for needing less sleep, but more likely I think it has to do with the state of mind and quality of food we ingest. In feeding our bodies the right fuel and having a mentality less narrowed in on human limits, one could vastly expand their potential.

So while I can’t so easily suppress my consciousness in the hours designated for sleep, I can welcome these thoughts and make use of them, I can “take advantage of this disadvantage”. If I’m credited for some spectacular discovery in the next decade, I owe it to this shift in my perspective.

How will you seize the good in your inconveniences?

A little more adventure & dream-less nights

I’ve had so much on my mind, and there is a great deal of content that I have written, but they all remain in my drafts. So much of what I’ve been going through has involved other people… for better or worse, and altogether, it is best not to put it out there. Yes, I could keep things anonymous and distort details, but I can’t be bothered. I’ve moved on.

All the writing I’ve kept to myself isn’t in vain, It has served as a form of therapy. I looked into counseling twice in the last 5 months and never went through with it, but putting pen to paper is my shit, and it works!

I have made the intentional effort to make each and every day exciting in some fashion. On some days, that means getting an overpriced scoop of gelato, espresso flavored of course. On other days, that means going for a walk downtown with a world-renowned pianist who happened to be in town for Cecile McLorin Salvant’s show last Thursday… that whole encounter felt like I was in a movie & I don’t really feel like elaborating haha.

The world works in funny ways. I’ve been going out to dance more, meeting interesting people like seafood chefs or bouncers lol. I’ve also been keeping my nails painted and polished, toes too even though the old me wouldn’t bother in the colder months, for who can even see when I got boots on? No more of that though. New me puts in the extra time to stay on point for my own satisfaction, I have literally no one but myself to impress, and it feels damn good.

On another note, I really haven’t had dreams at night for the longest, so I’ve been doing brain research and listening to self-proclaimed lucid dreamers for how they hone in on the skill. Collectively, they advise people to journal first thing in the morning about what they can remember from their dreams.

How exactly am I suppose to do this when I dream of nothing? I don’t even see darkness or something I can describe, it is as though I never fall deep enough into sleep to exit the realm of consciousness. Well anyhow, I woke up at 5 this morning and sat at my desk, all I could write of was how I didn’t know how to dream… I think I wrote a random line or two of feeling full again, not of food, but of something. Not of happiness but of something along those lines, full of something good, I don’t know an exact word for it though.

…I daydream more than I should, maybe that depletes from what I have left for when it is night. I don’t know, I’ll keep at this journaling thing and see if and when a breakthrough happens.

Peace & Blessings,

Karima O.



The Aquarius Woman

Melancholic yet compassionate. For the people yet for my solitude. I’m weary of horoscopes, I don’t appreciate when they overstep boundaries and attempt to predict the future. I don’t keep up with them nor have an interest in delving into astrology. However, It’s quite entertaining to read the personality descriptions. Beyond entertainment purposes, this video gave me clarity, dissected my reservations and unspoken understandings and laid it all out in sunlight. It’s interesting, and I’ll leave it at that.





It is 2:38 am and I lay wide awake with thoughts sprinting across my mind. I don’t know if it’s the double shot espresso I had at 4 pm last afternoon, or if it’s the lack of control I now suddenly feel. Perhaps being on the second day of my mensuration cycle would have something to do with this too, but damn it, I hate attributing my inconsolable state to hormones, for if that’s all this is, then it’s a matter of a waiting till I come afloat rather than having a valid source to address and mend… right here, right now.

Overwhelmed is an understatement. Without disclosing too much, I must preface this by saying my dear companion is incredibly supportive. However, I still lay awake at what is now 2:41 am, overthinking it all, and frustrated with the fact that I can’t appease everyone in the process of this very particular journey.

I hope to look back in some years with the wisdom and newfound ability to better compartmentalize my emotions…to not take the visions of others so personally at the expense of how I want this carried through.

What is to be done when one party says this is how it must be done whilst the other says that’s not how they know it to be done?

What is to be done when the resolve you and your companion devise puts more responsibility on the both of you when beforehand you entrusted your mom to do the timely matters on your behalf?

What is to be done when you contemplate ivy garlands, songs for the playlist and questions to ask the man in charge of staging decor all in the span of 5 minutes like a madwoman?

What is to be done so that I no longer lay awake, at what is now 2:53 am.


Sometimes I share too much, and sometimes I don’t share enough.

Rather than worry yourself over the source of stress I vaguely allude to, just know that none of us have it perfectly together. We just make it work.

2:57 am. Good night?

Realistically speaking, these things are never easy, but they’re worth it in the end. I am grateful. In me, there is love.

Dimensions of Spirituality in Islam-

*The following is a small excerpt from a paper I wrote, If you are interested in the full text or works cited, please ask. *

While one’s morality is the manifestation of guidance, their intuition is the result of acquired knowledge and introspection. In the Alchemy of Happiness, Al-Ghazali states “Nor are such intuitions confined only to those of prophetic rank. Just as iron, by sufficient polishing, can be made into a mirror, so any mind by due discipline can be rendered receptive of such impressions”.  The acquisition of merely any type of knowledge does not guarantee profound intuition. Rather the knowledge must be sufficient in that it is from the right cloth and of the right length of thread, i.e. the right quality and quantity; this is for the individual seeking knowledge to discern. Furthermore, in alluding to a mirror, it suggested that the internalized knowledge must then be reflected outwardly in character, as knowledge without action is only a dead letter.

One’s morality may be greatly influenced by their culture. Culture is the enactment of ideologies and often varies geographically. The generational teachings that constitute a culture may serve various agendas, either contributing to objective achievements or in the oppression of a scapegoat. I will not make a case for what makes a culture right over another, but it is worth highlighting than an individual may exercise autonomy in choosing which aspects of a respective culture they wish to follow, with recognition of the associated implications. In the cultural context, knowledge is useful in preserving the integrity of traditions, while also preserving dignity in the face of oppression or ignorance.

 It is narrated in the authentic book of the prophetic tradition, Bukhari and Muslim, that during an Eid celebration, Ethiopians celebrated outside the prophet’s mosque with spears in their hands, dancing to the rhythm of leather drums. The prophet’s companion, Umar ibn al- Khattab was inclined to interfere in the joy of the Abyssinians, as their means of celebration was not aligned with the celebratory practices Umar ibn al-Khattab was conditioned to through the Arab culture. The prophet ﷺ seized the interference and stated to the converts, “Play your games, sons of Arfida, so the Jews and Christians know there is latitude in our religion”. The prophet ﷺ made a point to bring his wife Ayesha to enjoin in observing the celebration—lifting her on his back so that she could witness the celebration clearly and so that they could bond in appreciation of the Abyssinian culture.

In doing so, the prophet ﷺ made clear that the Arab tradition was not a prerequisite for adhering to the Islamic faith, but rather, that Arab customs are lawful within the premises of Islamic law, and that the customs of any other culture are religiously valid when they are in accordance with the Quran and the messenger’s teachings.

In Islam, many Muslims believe that abiding by the teachings of Islam is paramount; however, this does not mean that individuals reject all aspects of their culture. Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah, an American Muslim theologian indicates that Islam is a vast tradition and like a river, a means of purification for the heart and soul, reflecting the patterns of the bedrock it runs over. Just as water runs on top of the bedrock, Muslims believe that religious observation rank above cultural obedience. It is up to an individual who wishes to practice Islam to discern which religious and cultural practices they choose to participate in. In Islam, it is believed that every person will be held accountable for their actions on judgment day, and so many Muslims discern between culture and religion on the premise of what serves them best in the pursuit of attaining heaven as outlined by the Quran.

Disfigured Maymuna  


You are the fountain of patience that the inflicted wish to borrow from,  

and you are the night star that the dweller longs for.  

Teach me to be more like you in a world that is foolish to think you should be more like them,  

verily anyone who seeks to change you is misguided in thought 

If only they had a share in the immense joy to me you’ve brought. 


Seven weeks after the troops left, Hibaq became pregnant. It was as though her body knew not to bring a child into the world until the clouds of destruction no longer blocked the starry night. Her husband Adam fell to prostration when she told him, such news was deliverance from the hardship they endured— fallen livestock and moving to the outskirts of the land, away from the cities engulfed in the most turmoil. While clinging to her gown like rope, he returned to his feet—repairing the roofs of destroyed homes had damaged his knees. Adam pulled Hibaq close and wept into her shoulder, repeatedly whispering, “Alhamdulillah” praise God.       

The two had been married for seven years and the possibility of baring a child became less like thirst and more like the third meal of the day in which you could skip without feeling deprived. The two learned to see through windows rather than colored idealities. 

In a way, they were grateful to not have children when war did not have careful regard for whose life was stolen. And it was the war that had allowed them to suppress such insecurities. For in the early years of their marriage, when houses stood upright, and people had gardens, not having a child to bathe or take to gatherings for the elders to bless was a great deprivation.  Yet it was something that was never openly discussed between the two, partly because they still had hope, and partly because both did not want to explore the issue only to discover that it was their own reproductive system at fault. For Hibaq, she did not know what womanhood meant beyond sustaining life, and Adam never hinted that it deeply troubled him as it very well could be a fault in his seed and not the soil. 

But At last, this was their time.  


 Hibaq screamed, but no one was home to hear her. The house helper had left to buy watermelon and tangerines as Adam went to the city to trade. The two had not moved back into the inner town, and the closest home was at the least, two kilometers away. Hibaq had been perfectly strong the day before but was now overtaken, governed by what beat against her abdomen and ribs. Sweating with fever, she left from her bed and crawled past the hall and towards the doorEach motion forward was at war with the overwhelming contractions that overcame her—feeling more like convulsions. She had made it to the door, it suddenly opened, and there stood Adamboth surprised to see the other, she then collapsed 


At dawn, it was born.  

Hibaq had lost liters of blood and could no longer separate what was being said among the voices outside her room from the whooshing sounds of dizziness, It all was outside of her, her true self was outside of this body—a spirit wanting emancipation but confined to this bed and to the debilitating pains of a stomach that had been ripped open.  She could not muster the energy to engage with those who stood on the other side of the door, and to others, this was best, as they needed time to decide on how to tell her. No time would be enough so long as traveling back in time remained an impossibility 

As the daylight waned, Hibaq’s consciousness improved, and by night her speech was in communion with her thoughts. Everyone had left the hospital besides Isra, Adam’s youngest sister. She was heavyset for a nine-year-old but made the crude jokes of the khat vendors, and for that, none of the children picked on her, for their esteem could not withstand the blows of the girl with a way of knowing all that you wished to conceal. Despite this, her heart was sincere, she did well for those who meant well. Her pretext was that she was born during the war and became an older woman encased in a child’s body because of it.   


While struggling to sit upright, Hibaq called to Isra, startling the young girl. Isra stood and hastily rushed to Hibaq’s bedside, kissing her hand in respect and relief.  

You’re awake! How are you feeling habo macaan, my sweet aunt?”  

 “Isra is my child a boy or girl? Hibaq’s lips were cracked from dryness  

“Habo, I don’t know. 

“What do you mean you do not know?”  

“Nobody let me see her, they all left to the mosque to pray for your child, but they would not let me come, I wanted to come, but they said I must take care of you. Adam told me to tell you that your baby is a gift and that he will come back to you soon, but he was about to cry when he said that, so I was confused. 

Hibaq’s dizziness began to return, and the color drained from her face. Isra motioned a cup to her lips to help her drink. Hibaq stared blankly at the open door before her and drank from the cup. The water then came back up from her esophagus and into her eyes, letting out a large single tear. She would rather be cut open several times over than be withheld from knowing where her baby was. The little energy she had was converted into overthinking, and after each racing thought stripped from her sanity, soon after there was nothing left, she passed out.  

Isra ran into the hall to retrieve the nurses.  


“Maymuna my love, are you ready to go?” 

Hibaq put Maymuna on her hip and placed a shawl above her as to cover her small body completely before opening the door. “The sun is hot so we must give the princess her shade, she said to her daughter. 

Hibaq was torn between guilt and shame. When buying from the women at the market place, no one ever made the effort to say Masha’Allah to Maymuna, as to invite that she be protected from the evil eye as they would do for the other children, the pretty bride, or the intelligent student. No, to them, Maymuna didn’t need protection as no one was envious of the beauty or skill they did not believe she had to begin with. For this, Maymuna felt a sense of guilt for what she had no control over.  

No one would address Maymuna, and the lack of notice was often more painful than the stares the younger children would give when they saw Maymuna’s face. Maymuna was blind and did not see what her mother did, but stark silence transcends ability, and it hurts the same.  

When the shawl is not drawn over Maymuna, and the children or strangers see the disfigurement of her face, Hibaq smiles and tells those who stare too long, “Say Masha’Allah”. Sometimes they’ll immediately comply and say Masha’Allah with an embarrassed smile for having stared unabashedly, and other times, people will say some variation of I’m sorry this happened to you, or that this life is full of tests and the child will at least be granted heaven for having been this way.   

Knowing that she cannot change the way other’s see her daughter, her gift, Hibaq puts her lips to the ears of Maymuna and whispers, “you are the fountain of patience that the inflicted wish to borrow from, and you are the night star that the dweller longs for. Teach me to be more like you in a world that is foolish to think you should be more like them, verily anyone who seeks to change you is misguided in thought.”  

Hibaq does not wish for things to have been different, only that her daughter grows to see no wrong in being different, for surely there is no wrong at all.  



A sip for an upset stomach but not this

Vicks vapor rub can fix all that is broken. No, wait, a glass of ginger ale is the antidote to everything.

A sip for stomach pains, a sip for menstrual cramps or two sips simply for a sunny day, a one size fits all ordeal.


She weighed 90 pounds. My hands brushed past her upper arms as we embraced, I felt the hanging skin that outlasted any fat or muscle— hanging for the sake of her daughter and grandchildren.

The color fled from her face, aside from the patches of hyperpigmentation around her nose and hollow cheeks. Her bright pink shawl and the blue that outlined her aged irises reminded one that she still lives. She smelled like vanilla and sweet pea. I couldn’t identify which between the two, and quite frankly I know those scents are easily distinguishable, but she smelt equal parts warm and sweet, like wisdom and youth at the same time. Graceful even in her dying days.  The boniness of her forearms gave her a type of elegance, the way she motioned her veiny hands when she spoke made me begin to envision how beautiful a gold bangle would have looked on her, her wrists had become as thin as mine. I was wearing one, and I should’ve given it to her.

It has been a year since her diagnosis, and I only visited now. I was ashamed. Had I come sooner, could my prayers have shifted her disposition? I’ve heard that the prayers of a child weigh heavy in the heavens, and while I’m not a child, in ways, I possess the same hopefulness. I know that the jadedness that comes with life experience detracts from the spirit’s optimism, and on the days that I am introspective, I thank God for sparing me from grave hardship. Perhaps it’s wrong to foreshadow tragedy, but I often pray that nothing painful befalls me until I am in the company of my soulmate. Sure, it’s better to pray for the absence of hardship, but if the prophets endured the death of their children and abuse, what should lead me to think that the inevitable won’t find me? One can never prepare for suffering, but surely the touch of an honest lover could attend to the pain that ginger ale would do no good for. Loneliness is the drought to the fruit of heart, and yet the fertile soil for depression to sprout.

The guilt rests behind my eyes, but I smile at her, she deserves no less. I sit beside her on the couch and wish I could recite proverbs to ease her spirit, but I cannot speak Somali, and truthfully my understanding of my mother tongue has diminished with age. I wanted to cry. What was my excuse? The busyness of school? Forgetfulness? Life does not ask permission to appease one’s conveniences.

We held hands, the heat from mine was absorbed by hers, a gift of energy.

She began to tell me a story and my mother on the couch next to us translated.

“When my father was still alive, I would fly back to Somalia often to visit him. He was a farmer and didn’t have an inhaler for his asthma. I would bring some for him, along with ibuprofen and other simple medications. The first time he used the inhaler, he was amazed at how it healed him momentarily. Then when he took ibuprofen for a headache, he was astounded!

I visited again three months later, and most of the medication I had bought was almost all gone, I was shocked! I had bought him enough the first time to last a year, La Ilaha, very crazy. Guess what he did with them Karima?”

“Did he not believe in medicine and just toss them?”

“Worse! He gave them to his sick goats! ”

I began to laugh in surprise, “No, are you serious ayeeyo?”

“Yes, yes, he did! He convinced himself that it did something for them, and maybe it did who am I to say, but he had no idea how much that all cost me and here he was using it for his animals! It gave me such a headache I wanted to down a bottle myself!”

We all began to laugh. Habo Sabreen chimed in, “The love a farmer has for his animals is powerful, I mean think about it, the same way white people love their dogs, we love our goats and camels.”

Habo Sabreen had a point, love can make one do seemingly irrational things, but whose to judge but the giver and receiver? Whether that be between two people or a farmer and his animals, what difference does it make?

Shortly after our tea and talk, Ayeeyo said she had to get up to pray the evening prayer, Maghrib. I looked at my phone and saw the notification from my prayer app indicating that the time for prayer began only two minutes ago. How did she know? There was no clock around, nor an athan in the house. I was amazed. Had sickness made her so vigilant of her relationship with God that she developed an internal clock with such accuracy?

She stood up and walked to the downstairs bathroom to make ablution. A minute or two after, I decided I should pray with her. I often pray alone as I enjoy reciting the verses aloud and feel too shy to do so around anyone but my youngest sister. But I wanted to be beside ayeeyo as she prayed, to pray with her and for her. I went to the upstairs bathroom and washed as I do before each of the five daily prayers. I came back downstairs and found a scarf in ayeeyo’s room. She had already begun to pray, so I tugged downwards at my skirt to cover my ankles and draped a shawl around my head. I could make out her recitation as she whispered the verses loudly while I read mine silently. As she began her third rakat and I began my second, we were in sync as we recited Surat Al-Fatihah. It was beautiful.

To be in sync. If the body and soul are blended together, what is to be said about how disease and death are tethered? Can one rectify the dying process simply by choosing to no longer see it as a tragedy? If death is instead perceived as one’s return to their maker rather than a mere departure from this world, than does that make it easier? And for whom does it become a lighter plight? Surely not the loved ones left behind to see an abandoned bed. But if such view of death eases the heart of the dying, then perhaps the loved ones will be at ease knowing one came to terms with their prescribed time, with dignity and grace.

I won’t pretend as though all deaths are equivalent. Yes, the death of a child is more incomprehensible than that of a great aunt, and yes, the unforeseen call of a loved one’s fatal accident is more forceful to the heart than a slow foreseeable departure. While all death may inflict pain, disease before death pacifies the shock factor, and in many cases has a way of bridging relationships between forsaken ties among kin, rebirthing relationships through a loss.

They say that when illness befalls a believer, their sins shed. Despite ayeeyo’s inoperable liver cancer, and the insurance company refusing to any longer support her chemotherapy given her lack of progress, she still smelled like vanilla and sweet pea and wore the brightest of pink shawls.