• Naheed Hanif

Toastmasters – 4th Speech: “Faith & Validity”

I have just delivered my 4th speech from the Competent Communications manual this week at Toastmasters.

Although I did not win the Best Speaker award, it seems the speech went down well – and of course, I was competing against great speakers, one of which is a very experienced Toastmaster.

In reflection, I think I should probably have shortened it a bit by perhaps leaving out the last section entitled “Faith – Safety, Comfort and Freedom” – just because of time required for pauses.

Please note, some parts are intentionally embellished for effect.  I am not an “ex-Muslim” – just in case you get that impression.  I do have an issue with the religious interpretations, but I do still belong to the faith.

Faith & Validity

Faith – is a pillar of human nature.  We cling onto it with all our might.

We go through enormous struggles to find the purpose to our pain.

We seek validity – without any trace of evidence for what, validity is, if it is anything at all.

In my journey, to seek validity, I have stumbled upon theories upon theories for what my mere existence may be ….. Or may not be…

Completion By Husband

When I was a girl, my mother told me that it is highly important to one day, have a husband.  I watched my young aunts; cousins and family friends all go through the process of finding a suitable husband.  Each and every one of them, ready to sell their souls for the purpose of some kind of validity that had been engrained in their brains from birth.

They had complete faith, in the purpose of this pain.

One day, they will have husbands, that day, they become valid – an existence that has the right to be.

Until then…..however…. they seek, they cling onto hope, they believe, they have

Well that was all trashed as soon as I realised that this “completion by husband” is only one part of the formula.  This part only applied to your own family (immediate and distant).

The problem?  I am not sure ANY woman (in fact, any MAN or WOMAN) can control this – so really, it is out of our hands.

This stands still – in our own generation and sadly, I am unsure how long this will go on.

So I gave up seeking that validity a while back.  Not that I could do much as I hadn’t got married to a chap from the right side of town anyway.  Anyone I chose wasn’t just from the wrong side of town; he was from the wrong country, so my aim was way out before the party had even begun.

Faith – From Birth

Still, faith though – in what we are told from a young age is hard to break.

Sometimes, even I have to get up close and almost smell her to make sure it is indeed my mother I am speaking to.

It wasn’t until I went to the holiest place on the planet – almost as if to investigate and nip this in the bud.  At the risk of how the place, Mecca in Saudi Arabia may magically turn me into some seriously religious woman, I went along to see this place and experience it for myself.

Mecca is where the pilgrimage takes place, and only Muslims are allowed in this area.  So, when I tell you about it, I could tell you anything.  But I lie not, as I have something important to disclose.

During my travels around the world, one thing I always do is to immediately purchase outfits from the local shops to match the people of the place.  So when in Mecca, I wanted to experience being a local.  I wanted to see what it was like to wear the whole cover up.  I got the head scarves, I got the long black cloak and then I wanted the facial covering.

To my surprise, my father disapproved!  He said that the mosque will not let me in wearing this whole costume.  Ignoring him I went for it.  My two eyes being my identity, I headed for the mosque like a good little Muslim girl.

Only to be refused entry until I remove and allow them to confiscate my facial costume.  Yes, that is what they called it.  “Facial Costume”.

Well I never!  Here we are in England, being told off for showing our “selves” whilst in Saudi, the holiest place on the planet, the Arabs; rulers of the Muslim world are calling it facial costume because they don’t have a respectful term for something illogical and dangerous.

Faith – Safety, Comfort and Freedom

Faith – sometimes not even down to what is drummed into us, because sometimes it simply feels safe.

In my pursuit for safety, comfort and freedom, I spent most of my life running from Eastern influences to Western

It was only during 9/11 did I come to realise that there is no place that can provide me with safety, comfort and freedom.  It was only then and only because I lived in Paris.   Perhaps if I was still living in London, I would not have felt the hatred toward my slightly Arab looking face.

Having run towards the West, I was no longer welcome and realised that even being British, I am still an outsider.

Wow, I hadn’t minded (even though I was surprised) when my Pakistani cousins called me an “English girl” when I had visited Pakistan as a 5 year old.  I still somehow felt that there may be a truth to this label and was comfortable with it.

Time to Conclude

Faith – is a pillar of human nature.  We cling onto it with all our might.

We go through enormous struggles to find the purpose to our pain.

We seek validity – without any trace of evidence for what, validity is, if it is anything at all.

Thankfully, once we learn to seek evidence, we usually find it within ourselves.

I learnt, the validity of my existence actually lies within my soul – and my soul has never been for sale.  Faith in religious beliefs varies within the religion itself and from place to place – hence you can rely upon only one interpretation – that which is yours.

I may have thought that the West provides Safety, Comfort and Freedom, when in reality there is no nation, no place, no species that provides such.  Only the surrounding you choose for yourself can give you a sense of safety, comfort and freedom.

Ladies and gentleman, faith, true faith which one has no need to struggle for – is so because it is indeed within yourself all along.


Toastmasters – Where Leaders Are Made

Chiltern Speakers – Toastmasters Club J2 M40

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©2020 by Naheed Hanif.