Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Vantage point | Fraction of a day


رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَذا بَاطِلاً سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
Rabbana ma kholaqta haza batila 
subhanaka faqina aza bannar
"Our Lord, not for naught You have created this.
Glory be to You.
Give us salvation from the torments of the Fire."
(Surah Al Imran: 191)

I tried counting the value of the buildings and businesses out there. They are probably worth billions of dollars. From this vantage point, one should work 200% and try to produce some great stuffs bi-iznillah.

You may recall from yesterday's posting, Dr. Halima Boukerroucha saying we ought to have a vision and mission. I found her talk very inspiring. It's not always easy to write and summarize lecture points but with such a good view from my new blogging station, I was motivated. Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah.

It's nothing new - vision & mission - it's a cliche but we often forget its importance as we get sucked into the spirals of our daily routine. We get sucked into the small tasks, thus losing sight of the bigger picture. So it's good to be constantly reminded of our objective, vision and mission. It's about having good niyyat really. Carrying out the niyyat or the vision and mission can be overwhelming at times and thus we stumble every now and then. Indeed, our deeds may not be all well and good. It's probably dented here and there because we are imperfect and we are weak. But again the beauty of Islam is that we can be comforted that we will be judged based on our niyyat

And in yesterday's posting, we learned about being brave and not wait for the right time to act. We just have to take actions. We have to walk as did Siti Hajjar and we will have to run sometimes. We can start now from wherever we are. No need to get to a vantage point or be in a privileged position to play our real roles. Still we need to ask Allah to facilitate our work and trust Him. And still we cannot solely depend on our deeds.

This life is short, as it's just a fraction of a day compared to the eternal life that's ahead of us. How am I filling up that fraction of a day - I ask myself. Never mind the self-appointed 'Haram Police'. Never mind the people who think they are holier because they claim they are regular in doing tahajud this and that. They should know that the sin that makes us sad and repentant is more liked by Allah than the good deed which turns us arrogant. That's a saying of Sayyidina Ali radhiallahu anh.

Never mind the people who are envious because whatever Allah has destined for us, will come to us. Never mind the people who backbite. I saw this meaningful poster on a friend's FB. How true. Why waste time and be angry? Let God play His role. He is the one and only Judge.

Most importantly, pray so that Allah will forgive our past, present and future - just a fraction of a day.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dr. Halima Boukerroucha on "You completed me" | Role models for Muslim women

Dr. Halima Boukerroucha
speaking at Putrajaya International Convention Center, Malaysia
26 April 2014


Dr. Halima Boukerroucha was one of two guest speakers at the Yasmin Mogahed's talk held in Putrajaya, Malaysia last Saturday. She is an Assistant Professor at the Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyah of Laws at the International Islamic University of Malaysia.

She began with a story about a man who participated in a race and arrived first. Yet, he was not announced as the winner. Puzzled, he asked why not, and was told he ran in the wrong direction.

Dr. Halima said it's important that we be on the right path, do the right thing, in the right way. That's why we need to check ourselves 17 times a day when we recite the Fatihah - "Guide us to the Straight Path. The path of those whom You have bestowed favor..." This is our daily check. And once a week on Fridays we have a general check by reciting Surah Al-Kahf.

The main topic of her speech was on the role of women in Islam and how Allah completes us, hence the title "You completed me'.

She said, we always talk about the rights of women in Islam, is it correct? How to use this right? We need to have a mission and a vision. For a start, we need to understand two points: As a Muslim woman what is our real role? What are the challenges of playing this role?

We must get the concept right. Our role as a Muslim woman is bigger than the typical roles we all know i.e. being a wife, serving husband, being a mother, praying, giving zakat, etc. This is just a small picture. We must see the big picture, she said.

Our main mission is to be khalifatullah. Those other things we do like praying and paying zakat, those are tasks. We must be able to relate praying and paying zakat to our main mission as khalifatullah. Only then our solah, almsgiving all become perfect.     

Who will teach us about our main role? The Quran. Allah is fair. He completed us.

The real roles of women are:
  • To revive the ummah. To do this we need a revolution and who will make the first step? It's you, sister. 
  • To give birth to an ummah (a nation).
Bani Israel, during the time of Firaun, was a weak nation. Who began the revolution then? It was two women and a young lady. They were the mother of Musa; Asiah the wife of Firaun and sister of Musa.

Allah sent them ilham - action plan. Allah said to throw Musa in the Nile river. It's something that contradicts logic. And what could the percentage of success be for throwing a baby in a river? 10%? 20%? But Allah promised Musa's mother that He would return her baby. We need to trust Allah. But can we trust someone we don't know? No, so, therefore, we must get to know Allah through His Names. Not just by memorizing the Names but from seeing the meaning of the Names in our life, in the Prophet, in sahabah and the things around us. 

The second lady - Asiah, the wife of Firaun, we learned about her in two situations. In the first situation, we saw her as having a common point with Musa's mother. She too wanted to protect baby Musa. She had a creative idea. She thought of breaking the law though it wasn't easy because Firaun was like God. But it's ok because "Allah completed me". So she went ahead convincing Firaun not to kill Musa. And not just that, she also suggested the idea of adopting him. She used her softness. They both only had daughters, they needed a boy, so then Firaun was convinced.

In another situation, we saw Asiah announcing her becoming a Muslim in her bid to challenge Firaun. Asiah, as a wife, was in the best position to prove that Firaun was just a normal person. He got sick and had normal needs. She could have kept her Islam secret but she chose to publicly declare it hence denouncing Firaun's claim as God. 

Asiah, before her death, made a prayer asking Allah to build for her a house in Paradise near Him. She was being very specific. She asked for a house when it's understood that when in heaven one could ask for anything and it will be granted. She asked for what she asked because it must have been hard being in her position and making the choices she made as wife of Firaun. It was she who gave a closure to Firaun. She wrapped him up forever.

The third lady was Musa's sister who was entrusted to supervise the baby's cot as it drifted along the Nile river. Did she run or did she swim? We don't know. How did she manage to get the info from the palace and how did she convince the palace guard to let her enter? How did she manage to control her emotions because the baby was in fact her brother? 

Dr. Halima said, when you have a vision and a mission, you will develop your abilities. You will acquire the necessary skills. So be active and learn how to apply the skills. Women are known to perform under stress. If a woman is convinced about something, and she wants to do it, she will do it. 
The second of the two roles is to give birth to an ummah that never existed. The person or rather the woman who did this was none other than Siti Hajjar. She gave us three formulas:   
  • Give full submission/trust in Allah.
  • Have patience.
  • Doing her best.
Hajjar trusted Allah. By right Allah should have tested Ibrahim because he is a prophet, and not test a woman and a child. Hajjar surely demonstrated a great deal of patience, being left alone in the dessert with her baby and husband only visiting her once a year. Hajjar did her best to find food and water for Ismail. She could have just sat and prayed for Allah to help because afterall Ibrahim had left her there on Allah's order. Instead, she gave her best in dealing with the situation. She walked back and forth seven times. And at certain times she ran. That was the only "tool" she had in her effort to get help from any passing caravans. Then Allah gave her more than what she was hoping for. Allah gave her 3-in-1. Zamzam is water, meat and medicine - all three. Hajar was in fact the first woman in history to have made a business contract. She asked for food in exchange of water. From Siti Hajjar, an ummah was born.

We must imitate Siti Hajjar 100%. When we give our best like Hajjar did, the impact will go beyond our time. We learn from her that we have to walk fast at a certain point. So don't you go out from Sai'e (Safa and Marwah) if you don't have an action plan. Consider this. Hajjar was asked to fulfil this mission before Ibrahim was asked to build the Kaabah. Why? Kaabah is a symbol of aqidah/tawhid. We can't have a symbol out of something that does not exist. Aqidah is a deep concept. So is patience. Hajjar established the concept and transmitted it to her son Ismail. The results of which we saw in Ismail who helped build the Kaabah when he was asked to help his father and most significantly he was willing to be slaughtered. 

We see a common point between Siti Hajjar and Asiah. They were both mothers defending their babies. It's the same theme. We must understand the relationship between a mother and a nation. Mother is derived from the Arabic word umm and nation in Arabic is ummah. Ummah is derived from umm. We are not just talking about mothers but someone who is an educator and anyone who does tarbiyah.

Make sure you don't get the wrong concept. Know your main roles. Remember, Allah completed us. Have a vision and a mission. Actively acquire skills and the abilities. Allah already gave us the role models.


In the second part of her talk, Dr. Halima listed the challenges and some advice to overcome them.
  • Don't wait until you come to a decision-making position and only then you would do the best. Don't wait until you get a job or become a director. Hajjar didn't wait. Asiah didn't wait. You should start wherever you are. Make a difference wherever you are.
  • Free yourself from slavery. You cannot be a slave if you want to give birth to a nation. Free yourself from slavery of desires (shahwah), from wealth, sex and position that is not according to shari'a. When you are not controlling your desires, you are a slave.
  • Don't link success to popularity. You need not be a famous speaker, lawyer or activist. Your action is the most powerful "speech" you can give. The mother of Musa was not popular. Don't judge yourself by your achievements but also by the seeds you plant. But in fact, you are popular. Because as in a hadith narrated by At Tirmidhi, we know that the creations of the heaven and earth, ants in the hole and even fish in the sea, all do istighfar for a person who teaches other people good things. You are not just popular in your village or city, but the universe. Allah knows you. Allah bless you with rahmah. No need to have your photos everywhere. You are famous if you have a vision and a mission and you work for it.
  • Don't wait for two things. Don't wait until things get better. Asiah didn't wait. Mother of Musa didn't wait for Allah to grant hidayah to Firaun. Don't wait for a man to motivate you. Allah appointed Adam and Hawa as khalifah at the same time. Musa's father was not in the picture at all. As for Asiah, Firaun was a strong man but he was the problem. Hajjar was on her own when her husband was busy as a prophet and only visited her occasionally. Remember, Allah completed you. You can play your role with or without the help of a man. But you cannot discover your skills and abilities if you don't have vision and mission. You will become great when you start playing your real role. And remember, if you can't do great things, do small things in a great way.     
Allahu a'lam.
May I be forgiven for any errors and omissions in my note taking.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Start of day | Passing moment


Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah, I woke up to this beautiful view yesterday and thought of some of the people who told me their day begin by checking this space. It's humbling to think of how generous people can be towards one another, generous in having kind thoughts for other people.

Having listened to Yasmin Mogahed last Saturday, I am feeling liberated, more than ever. True freedom is about being detached from people, things and even moments. Being detached from someone does not mean that you don't love them. In fact, love is not defined by the degree of the attachment you have with the people you love. Love transcends ownership. 

I leave you with this quote from Yasmin:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Blogger meets poets | Pyan Habib & Sani Sudin


Alhamdulillah washukrulillah. This weekend is like celebrity weekend and bookish weekend. Bookish because the KL International Book Fair has just begun. And I am like star struck. Yesterday, I was at Yasmin Mogahed's event. This morning, believe it or not, I saw a glimpse of President Obama's entourage. Yes, the US President is here in KL y'all.

At the KL International Book Fair, much to my surprise, by chance (though nothing happens by accident really) I met a poet who very much reminds me of my teenage years. You may recall from a posting about the Penang Bridge in which I mentioned a poet who would literally shout out his poetic lines at the Penang Bridge construction site - a place where the kampung (village) folks hang out to enjoy the afternoon until sundown. I also remembered tagging along my siblings to watch his performance at the nearby university. He is Pyan Habib. 

After 30 years, today I met Pyan in person mashaAllah. It was at a meet-the-author session where Pyan was present to promote his book - Balada Pyan Habib. The book is published by ITBM - the Malaysian Translation & Book Institute. 

The funny poet wrote: Senyum mau lebar, gigi mau bersih! 
meaning "grin wide and keep your teeth clean"
I sure hope I didn't have anything stuck in my teeth when I met him. LOL.

Then I met another famous Malaysian poet and singer Sani Sudin promoting a collection of his poetry Di Dalam Dalam [Inside the inside] which is also published by ITBM. As someone who studied publishing, I know a well designed book when I see one. And his book is one of those. Kudos to ITBM. As for the contents of the book, as the title suggests, it demands some deep reflection - 'Inside the inside' sounds almost like Ibn Arabi's book 'Kernel of the Kernel'. 

With Sani Sudin at KL International Book Fair 2014

Last but not least, if you have been wanting to buy the clever "Quranic Pen", go check it out at Darul Andalus booth on Level 4, PWTC. The KL International Book Fair runs from 24th April to 4th May 2014.

Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah
Allah Karim

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Yasmin Mogahed's sparks of brilliance at Malaysia's Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC)


Yasmin Mogahed at PICC Malaysia

When Allah honors a person with so much wisdom, his/her speech is nothing but sparks of brilliance. MashaAllahYasmin is simply brilliant. One most important takeaway was how she elucidated the meaning of loving for the sake of Allah - how to love the right way.

She said in regard to personal relationships: "Many wish things were different. As in many sicknesses and issues that need to be resolved in marriage, amongst family and friends, the solution is with Allah and healing is in the Quran. The Quran teaches us the way to love and interact with a creation that is healthy and not based on neediness or selfishness. So how do we love for the sake of Allah?

Yasmin gave an analogy of a rich person and a beggar and their differences. A rich person is in a position to be generous, whereas a beggar is someone who is dependent, needy and always taking. A rich person is someone who enters a marriage with not many expectations compared to a beggar. The rich person is in a position to love for the sake of Allah because he/she would have a more positive psychological and emotional disposition because "I am not being filled by you. I'm not dependent on you. I'm not expecting you to make me feel good about myself because I already get all these things from Allah. I am already rich because Allah gives me."

But when we enter marriage, we have lots of expectations. 'I expect you to fix me. I expect you to complete me. I expect you to save me.' These are false expectations. We cannot expect a human being to be like Allah because only Allah can heal us, complete us and save us. No Prince Charming can do it. Prince Charming is a myth. And your life doesn't begin with a marriage or a man. So never go to the creation to fill you, complete you or save you. Only go to Allah for these things. Only then you will become a rich person and when you are married, you won't be a beggar. Only then you will be a generous wife, daughter, friend, etc. This will transform a relationship. 'I love you because of Allah, not because you fill me, give me or help me.' So this is how the Quran heals our relationship.

Yasmin also talked about dealing with anger, frustration, and disappointment. She said it all lies in the expectation. So we need to manage our expectations. We expect so much from this dunya as if it's Jannah. To a question from the audience about people who get especially disappointed because (they think) they are a "giver" yet the other party is not acting or reciprocating as per their expectation, Yasmin advised: When you give for the sake of Allah, you should expect your reward from Allah and not that person (the recipient of your favors). You cannot be thinking "I give you so that I could get from you." Instead, "give so that I could get from Him (Allah)."

She said from her experience, people whom we help are likely to not appreciate it and they might even turn against us. But if we give for the sake of Allah, when this happens, we will be ok. However, we cannot blame people for behaving that way (for not appreciating) because we are not perfect. But Allah will always reward us and He never forgets anything.            

More from the event in other postings, InshaAllah.

This entry is especially for Hajjah N of Cape Town who informed this faqir of the event. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Love Spring | Love springs


"You can cut all the flowers 
but you cannot keep Spring from coming."

That's a quote a close friend shared with me earlier today.

Heh true. It's like love, when it springs, one cannot be foolish to want it to fall, let alone wither. Everything has its time. Everything happens at the appointed time. And He is Time. He plans and He executes His plans. What is destined to take place in Spring, one cannot be foolish to want it to happen in Fall or Winter. If something is meant to fall or wither in Spring, it will.

I wished I was walking in a park in Tokyo right now to savour the lovely colors at Shinjuku Gyoen, but here I am. We are wherever we are at now, for a reason.

It's tiring to want to control things, people, circumstances etc. Not just tiring, it's a futile effort. When will the time come when we just let life springs and blossoms as it should be? When we do that, when we flow with the flow, when we dance in harmony with the Divine Plan, life will be what it should be - plain marvellous, far from plain, it will be wonderful :)

May Allah beautify our lives with brightly coloured flowers. May we appreciate the scent of Spring while it's still around. May Allah let love spring in our hearts for Him, His Prophet, the awliya, the habaib, shuyukh and all who love Him and His Beloved Prophet. And everyone who loves us. Yes, we must love people back, you know.

Jum'ah mubarrak!


Aunty S, your phone call made my day :) A million thanks for your du'aLove you for the sake of Allah.

Credit: AB & B.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Forenoon in Sharjah | Duha in KL


Wad duha wal laili iza saja...

"By the forenoon and by (the) night when it is still. 
Your Lord has neither forsaken you, nor does He hate you. 
And verily the hereafter shall be better for you than the first (life). 
And verily your Lord shall give you and you shall be satisfied. 
Did He not find you an orphan and shelter you? 
And did He not find you erring and guided you? 
And did He not find you needy and enrich you? 
So, as for the orphan, do not oppress (him) 
and as for the beggar, do not drive (him) away, 
and as for your Lord's grace, proclaim (it)." 
- Surah Ad Dhuha

Let this verse be here for my own reflection and reminder as in everything else that is written here. I have never written anything expecting to be judged. A writer simply writes.

This particular verse had a special significance to me when I was living alone in Sharjah UAE for a couple of months looking for employment. This was about eight years ago. Duha, the forenoonas a job seeker had been very quiet, comparatively.

It's a humbling experience as I have always regarded myself as an orphan eversince my father passed away and there I felt it even more as a loner. It's humbling to reflect on it especially when you feel like you are being forsaken and alone. It's humbling to reflect on this line - 'And did He not find you erring and guided you?' Everytime we err, people have the tendency to mock at us, whereas they are not in a position to save us even if they wanted to. It is He and only He who guides us. It is He who helps us, always. Therefore, for His ever pouring grace, for His generous bounties, we have to proclaim, over and over. 

Subhan is Allah. Subhanallah. Allah Karim. And nothing else matters.

8 years on - Duha in KL
Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Travelling ikhwan


When I was studying in the States, one of the favourite activities was shopping for clothes and stuffs at the Flea Market. One of the many T-shirts bought had this written on it: 
My friend went to California and all I got was this lousy T-shirt. 

Yeah...but my friends went to the holy cities and Europe and all I got was just some nice pictures.

I guess this photo is a way of telling me I was remembered because my full name is Ezatul-hada, in case you didn't know. Well, it's Shuhada Hotel actually, LOL.

Anyway, did you know, there is a boutique hotel in France called Chateau Eza? I kid you not!

And this one is from another travelling ikhwan (friend). He is now in Europe. Yes, having good friends around us are like being surrounded by daisies. Strangely, suddenly I feel so loved, like Muezza, the Prophet's favourite cat!

Allah bless all our friends.

Oh, one more habit I am picking up this year InshaAllah is to give Al-Fatihah after each prayer to all who have done me good, those who have prayed for me and those have requested a prayer but I never could say a proper prayer for them.

May Allah count our niyyat, for our deeds may not be so pure.

(Your imperfect friend)

Monday, April 21, 2014

When it rains in Kuala Lumpur


Alhamdulillah, thank God, it's raining.
Don't you just love it when it rains?
It smells good. It feels fresh and it's grey everywhere.

I just love the color grey. It has its own unique appeal. Some thinks grey has got no character, that it has a negative connotation as in being in grey area, being ambiguous, uncertain or doubtful. Some people like things to either be black or white, and in black and white because they have a low tolerance towards anything that is neither clear nor definite. 

But sometimes, life has to be grey. Some things just have to lie in the grey area, like a go-between before the dust settles and things become clearer. That makes the world beautiful because everything has its place and time. Allah is fair. Allah as the Master Planner cannot be wrong. He created all the colors for a reason. He sees all. 

We human tend to have a narrow and often myopic vision of things. We sometimes think only "my" favourite colors are beautiful. Not all that is fair is beautiful. Not everything pink is rosy. The sky is not meant to be in rainbow colors all the time. If it was, then a rainbow would lose its appeal.

When it rains, we pray: 'O Allah pour that which is beneficial.' Allahumma soyyiban nafi'a.
An Nafi' is one of His Beautiful Names. He is the source of Benefits, the source of Goodness.

Yes indeed, on this beautiful rainy day, we hope for everything good.

By the way, this is my favourite tweet of the day:
"When you love what you have, 
you have everything you need."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Armies of the Lord | Sorrow for sorrow


Ghammam bi ghammim - sorrow for sorrow.

I heard Habib Ali Zainal Abidin al-Hamid mentioned this phrase as he was expounding the meanings of verses 153 & 154 of Surah Al-Imran at Masjid Muadz bin Jabal last Friday. 

The phrase was in reference to the armies who feared the enemies hence they turned back from fighting. Those who did not heed the call of the Prophet to fight the battle they were in, so Allah gave them "sorrow for sorrow".  

"When you were going away, not even turning to look at anyone, and the Messenger was calling you from behind you. He awarded you sorrow for sorrow so that you should not grieve (in future) over what you lost, or for what you suffered. Allah is All-Aware of what you do." - Surah Al Imran 153 

Allah awarded them grief for having grieved the Prophet, on top of grieving over what was inflicted on them by the enemies; grief for being defeated in the battle, of death and not getting any booties - ghammam bi ghammim - sorrow for sorrow.

I think likewise in life, if we caused people to feel sorrow, Allah will reward us with sorrow - like for like.

The following verse 154:
'Then, after the grief, He poured tranquillity upon you - drowsiness overtaking a group of you. Another group was worrying about their own selves, harboring thoughts about Allah that were untrue - thoughts of ignorance. They were saying, 'is there anything in our hands?' Say, 'The whole thing belongs to Allah.' They conceal in their hearts what they do not disclose to you. They say, 'If we had any say in the matter, we would not have been killed here.' Say, 'If you were in your homes, those destined to be killed would have come out all the way to their (final) resting places.' (All this was done) so that Allah may test your inner qualities and may purify what is in your hearts. Allah is All-Aware of what lies in the hearts.'
[Translation credit: Mufti Muhammad Taqi Uthmani/Altafsir. com]

Habib Ali said those armies who were upright fell asleep out of mercy from Allah. By right, it is impossible for people in their condition to sleep, having lost a battle etc. So Allah made them sleep and spared them what the others among them were suffering. They were lamenting on their fate. 

According to Habib Ali, sleep is one of Allah's "armies". He then listed the "armies" in terms of their respective strengths:
1. A solid mountain.
2. Steel - by which you can destroy a mountain.
3. Fire - which is more powerful than steel.
4. Water - is stronger as it can put out a fire.
5. Cloud - the source of water.
6. Wind - can break clouds.
7. Man - who is stronger above all these.
8. As sukur (an intoxicating drink) - can make a man drunk.
9. Sleep - cure for a drunkard.
10. Al gham/al huzn (stress/worries) - that is why, said Habib Ali, people who are stressful and have plenty of worries, have difficulties sleeping.
Interesting. And how true.

That's why, Habib Ali said we should pray: "O Allah, I seek refuge in You from worry and sorrow..."

And surely Allah is All-Aware of what lies in the heart.
Wallahu 'alimum bizaa tis sudur

And surely death will come to us no matter where we are.
Allahu a'lam.

Habib Ali praying upon arrival
at Masjid Muadz bin Jabal last Friday

The above pic was taken with Dr. N in mind, who is jihad-ing in Sarawak. I miss u sis and this is for u :) Just pliz say a prayer for this faqir. Thanks.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Murtadza | Darul Murtadza


Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah we were able to attend the weekly majlis ta'lim at Darul Murtadza last night. It's been ages! May Allah forgive us and make us worthy to sit with the pious and those whom He loves.

I learned something new from watching videos of the lessons organized by Darul Murtadza held in March and April 2014. One important piece of information gathered - Murtadza is actually a title conferred upon Saidina Ali karamallahu wajhah. And Saidina Ali as we all know from a hadith of Rasulullah salallah alaihi wasalam is the door to knowledge. The Prophet salallah alaihi wasalam said: I am a city of knowledge and Ali is the bab, the door. Effectively, Saidina Ali is a door through which we could reach the Prophet salallah alaihi wasalam.

We heard for the first time, the meaning of murtadza, from Habib Abdurrahman Ali Mahsyur bin Hafiz of Yemen. If not for him, we would just frequent the majlis taking for granted whatever murtadza means. 

May Allah forgive us and grant us more beneficial knowledge as we age. Ameen.

I wish y'all a meaningful weekend.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Make your face radiant | A lesson from Al-Muhaddith Shaykh Mustafa Al-Nadwi of Egypt

Shaykh Mustafa Al-Nadwi
(Pic credit: Darul Murtadza)


The honorable Shaykh Mustafa Al-Nadwi, was born in 1955 in Egypt. He was raised by a pious and learned father from whom he studied - Shaykh Said Badawi Ahmad Sulaiman, who was a prominent guru and leader of Tariqa al-Qahwajiah al-Syazuliah. Shaykh Mustafa is the youngest of four siblings, all of whom are men of knowledge and good akhlak. This special family traced their roots to Saidina Hussin, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad salallah alaihi wasalam.

Shaykh Mustafa studied medicine and was qualified to become a doctor but chose not to pursue a medical career. He, by the grace of Allah, went on to become a muhaddith, a graduate of the reputable Darul Ulum Nadwatul Ulama University.

Shaykh Mustafa was at the weekly majlis ta'alim organized by Darul Murtadza in Kuala Lumpur on 21st March 2014.

It's Friday, we may not be able to make millions of salawat so that our names could be among the first to reach the Prophet salallah alaihi wasalam. But here we are in awe of his descendant, a muhaddith from whom we have heard about a hadith in which the Prophet prayed so that our face would be radiant if we become among those who listen to a hadith, learn it and share it with others.

Shaykh Mustafa Al-Nadwi said:
When I arrived at this majlis, I heard a hadith being read. I had planned to talk about that hadith actually but having seen the radiant face of the audience, I wish to mention a hadith on nadhiroh (radiant face). It's a hadith narrated by Al Tirmidhi from Ibn Mas'ud:
[I loosely translate it here, may I be forgiven for any errors]

Rasulullah salallah alaihi wasalam said:
"May Allah make radiant the face of the one who listens to my words, memorize it and conveys it to others. There are many upon whom it [the hadith] is related, could understand it better than the one who conveys."

Nadhiroh means radiant or glowing as in a verse in Surah al Qiyamah in the Quran: wujuhun yau ma izin nadhiroh - "Faces that day will be radiant."

Shaykh Mustafa said, when we listen to someone relating a hadith, we should listen with our ears, eyes and our entire body, out of respect to the owner of the words that is the Prophet salallah alaihi wasalam, and not so much the person who is talking. We must respect the owner of the words. Knowledge is in the heart, we must keep it there and not depend so much on technology. So let it enter your heart and then share it with others. The Prophet urged us to convey his words even if it is just one sentence.    

It is possible that the person who is listening has better capabilities to memorize the hadith, has a better understanding of its meaning and can do better in spreading the words. There are many cases where a murid has surpassed the guru. Shaykh Mustafa related a story about Shaykh Tahir al Qurdi of Makkah who had a murid from India by the name of Ahmad bin Abdul Rahim al-Dehlawi who later became known as Waliyullah al-Dehlawi. The guru, Shaykh Tahir said in praise of his murid al-Dehlawi: "On many occasions have I related ahadith to him, but it was he who gave the meanings to me!"

There is another story about Hassan al-Basri and his murid Habibun al-Ajami. One day both murid and guru were fasting, so the student al-Ajami brought food for iftar. Just before Maghrib, someone knocked on the door begging for food. Al-Ajami hence gave away all food to the beggar leaving none behind for him and his guru. When it was iftar time Hassan al-Basri asked his murid, 'Where is our food?' Al-Ajami told the guru that he had given all to the beggar. Hassan replied: "Didn't you keep some for us?" Al-Ajami then profusely apologized to his guru, and he said: "May Allah grant you patience while I make istighfar." Afterward, they heard a knock on the door. When al-Ajami went to the door he found someone appearing with a tray full of food. Al-Ajami was indeed delighted. Hassan said to his murid: "I may have been longer than you [in seeking knowledge] but you have overtaken me." Hassan commended his murid for having tawakkal in Allah. 

Shaykh Mustafa said we must have yakin (confidence) in the hadith that the Prophet prayed so that our face will be radiant in Akhirah if we were to learn hadith and help spread it to others. The Prophet's du'a is surely mustajab. So get on this path of learning and sharing.

Allahu a'lam. 
Credit: Ustaz Ashraf the interpreter and Darul Murtadza the organizer.

Jum'ah Mubarrak!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Al-ikhtimal | Test of patience


A day is made when I get to learn a new word, be it English or Arabic or anything. Alhamdulillah may Allah increase us in knowledge and understanding. 

Al-ikhtimal is being patient in having to bear the pain when people do you bad - as said Habib Ali Zainal Abidin Al-Hamid during a majlis ta'lim in early April 2014. He was speaking on the qualities of the Prophet salallah alaihi wasalam being very forgiving.

Of course, it's not easy to forgive. I for one, find it hard to forgive people who are compulsive liars who would make up stories and create drama after drama just to get people's sympathy and attention or even love for that matter. I believe they are special envoys sent by God to test us. But this could be a prolonged untreated psychological illness, we don't know, so let's pray Allah will cure them and cure us of our sickness too. We seek refuge in Allah from thinking we do not have any sins because that is an even greater sin. Na'uzubillah.

In another majlis which I missed - but thanks to Habib Ali's team at Darul Murtadza who regularly updates the website - Habib Ali talked about earning Allah's love through patience. He said:
"We admit of loving Allah and loving Rasulullah salallah alaihi wasalam but does Allah love us? Among those who are guaranteed of getting Allah's love are those who are patient. Therefore, when you are tested, take it as an opportunity to earn the love of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. It is foolish for one to reject a musibah (test/calamity) because that is like rejecting Allah's love."

Subhanallah. Habib Ali, his speech is as profound as ever.

May Allah make us istiqamah in offering Al Fatihah as a gift to all the habaib and shuyukh whose words we have heard in person or online, those we have met or never met, yet whose name we have mentioned. May Allah forgive us for our lack of adab in quoting their words. 

May Allah forgive us all, our past, present, and future. Ameen.

Habib Ali Zainal Abidin Al Hamid
Pic credit: Darul Murtadza

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Every little thing counts | Remember fiver (5er)


Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah for little opportunities, for the opportunity to say something positive, for the opportunity to make some people happy, for the opportunity to love and be loved.

And yes, every little thing counts. That is if we care to count them no matter how small or insignificant they may seem in the big scheme of things. We strive to be shakirin - people who are grateful, don't we?
  • After all the work is done (well for now), we rejoice in having free time, we can take 5, before the time comes when we become busy, busy, busy.
  • We rejoice in being relatively young and useful for the people around us before the time comes when we are overcome by old age and are not in a position to contribute much. 
These are two of the five things we ought to be fully cognizant of, as a person. And that we are:
  • healthy
  • financially-able and 
  • alive. Yes, alive! Alhamdulillah.
These 5 things (the fiver/5er) as we all know, are mentioned in a hadith. So, remember the fiver.

Oh, on another note, another good habit am trying to pick up this year - becoming a fiver collector - as in the five dollar notes. Yes, every little thing counts.

In case you haven't seen a mattress
that makes you think you are sleeping on cash ;-) 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Imagination |As if


Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah for another what looks like a good day InshaAllah despite hectic times ahead.

Early bird catches the worm they say. Yeah...and for 'good words-hungry' people, it's always a pleasure to be greeted by inspiring quotable quotes like the above. Saw it at breakfast - food for the soul.

Hence, am reminded of the words 'as if' in the often quoted phrase: Worship God as if you can see Him. 'As if' demands a lot of imagination and faith.

And that relates quite well to the saying on the blackboard: "Imagination is the eye of the soul."

Imagine a God who is kind, merciful and generous. And He is as you think He is. What a lovely religion. Alhamdulillah, for being Muslims.

Wish you a fruitful week.
Be good y'all.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Reflections | Seeing double


Oh oh seeing double on account of hectic work. It's definitely not a typical Sunday. The above picture is a pretty reflection that caught these tired eyes as I rest in my hotel room before running to level 30 in the next building. Been running around and I just needed to get the stress out of my system. Thanks folks, for being a sounding board, in a way. The best thing about having a blog is that, all you have to do is hit the keyboard.

Being busy with work is very good. In fact, it's a good escape especially if you have to deal with some "interesting" personalities e.g. people who are compulsive liars even in their 50s. May God forgive them and forgive us, we all have weaknesses.  

People of different ages behave differently, naturally. This morning I received a thought provoking message from a wise old friend who had just performed umrah. He said something which got me thinking. He said what sounded like his reflections from the umrah: "Returning to the source is all about returning to Allah in its absoluteness. Man does not exist. At death this is the central theme. Slight deviations has untold and long time consequences, thousands of years."

Slight deviations? I can imagine myself lost wandering for thousands of years.

May Allah guide us and forgive us weaklings.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What's your worth?


Came across this quote which made me chuckle.
"Your value doesn't decrease based on someone's inability to see your worth."

Heh...heh... a woman, especially, should have high confidence in herself regardless of people's opinion of her. They should everytime they look at the mirror, say: "Because I am worth it!"

You know my vocab is not so big. When an acquaintance told me he worked with the 'Airworthiness Dept', I was surprised at hearing such a word. But of course an aircraft ought to be airworthy.

As a human what do we need to be worthy of? As a daughter, I want to be mother-worthy. We all want to be worthy in the eyes and hearts of our mother.

Do we want to be worthy in the eyes of our enemies? The answer is in the form of a question: why bother?

Pat yourself on the back if you are worthy of someone's love. Especially if that someone means a lot to you. But life is such that sometimes the feeling is not mutual. You can't force someone to love you when they don't. When you have to force someone to tell other people that he/she loves you then maybe you are not worthy of that person's love and desperate at that. They say, a bad relationship will make you feel more alone than when you were single.

But let's not be too pre-occupied with that which is fleeting and unimportant. The bigger question is of course, are we God-worthy? Are we grave-worthy?! When the mind is able to think at macro level, it does not really matter if Mr. and Mrs. Jones think you are not worthy in their eyes. Rise above. Don't think trees, think forest.

Be happy, cos you're worth it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

We plan | Allah plans


Supposed to be busy in the office but here I am stranded on this beautiful island - my hometown Penang - a UNESCO World Heritage site. Can't resist mentioning that. 

Well, we plan. Allah plans.

Wanted to bring my travel mate but I forgot! LOL. Just kidding. Oh...the things we all forgot when we travel, especially when it's unplanned.

The hotel asks if you forgot to bring a comb, cotton bud, sewing kit...
Wait a sec, sewing kit?  And if you forgot, dial 0. 
Don't you wish life is as easy as that? 
Of course in real life, the "I forgot" list is a lot longer!

Anyway, our needs are different. And people forgot all kinds of things. But this posting proves that I did not forget to fulfill a request from a reader who wanted to see something from Penang.

When you forgot something or someone,
what you have is only half of you ;-)

Come visit Penang.
2014 is Visit Malaysia Year.

On a serious note, yes we plan, and Allah plans. But of course His plans will prevail. Even if the whole world gang up to harm us, or prevent a bounty from coming our way, nothing will happen except that which He permits. So fret not.

Wish y'all a productive week ahead.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Remembering Shaykh Abdul Aziz (Baba Aziz)


We received the sad news rather late. That one learned and pious personality had passed away on the evening of April 6th, 2014 and was buried on the following day, in Kelantan, a state in the northeast of Peninsula Malaysia.
Inna lillah wa inna ilai hiraji'un

Baba Aziz
(pic credit: Ba'Alawi KL)

You may have come across several postings here on lessons given by the honorable Shaykh. This was the shaykh who was instrumental in making this faqir re-embrace Islam and put on the hijab circa 2002. This was the guru who prompted this faqir to pay a visit to another arifbillah, the late Habib Ali bin Jaafar al-Aydrus of Batu Pahat, Johor. This was the guru whose simple words made this faqir see the myriad of Allah's blessings.

I remembered the saying of another shaykh who is a resident-guru at Ba'Alawi KL. Shaykh Fahmi Zamzam al-Maliki said, there is no such thing as ex-guru. Once a guru, always a guru. Still I am ashamed to undeservingly say he is my guru because I am so very lacking of adab.

Of the many lessons we heard from him in person, there is one we remember and may Allah make us remember always to recite:
Astaghfirullah hamimma siwallah
wa kullu syai'in 
ya qul Allah

What it basically means is: O Allah forgive me for having in my heart other than Allah, when everything else is saying Allah.

It is without a doubt that only a man of tawhid, could impart lessons on tawhid.

May Allah forgive us for our lack of adab towards any shyakh whose majlis we had sat in before. May Allah forgive our gurus and bless their souls. May Allah forgive and bless all the gurus out there. May Allah gather our gurus with the muqarabeen and reward them as He may deem fit, for only Allah knows who is near to Him and who is sincere towards Him. Ameen.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Love me tender | O Ya Wakil


'Love me tender
Love me sweet
Never let me go
You have made my life complete
And I love you so...'

That, you may recognize, is a song by Elvis Presley.

No, not feeling mushy tonight. The truth is, the mind is flooded with the word TENDER as in bidding for a project - it's my work, people, it's tough, far from tender. I ask for your prayer so that Allah will make things easy and grant success, ameen.

When we are overwhelmed by something, we pray and sometimes we just have to sing the blues away, just to distract the mind a bit.

'Love me tender
Love me true
All my dreams fulfilled
For my darlin'
I love you and I always will...'

Also when the going gets tough we say:
Hasbunallah wa nikmal wakil
La hawla wala quwwata illah billah 'Aliyil Azeem

My colleagues and I should do a human formation like this
when all the work is done :)

See you when I see you, InshaAllah.

Love me me la la la la...

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dr. Tawfique Chowdhury on prostrating with the heart


I found this lesson forwarded by Hajjah N of Cape Town, extremely beneficial. When you read this, imagine a thoughtful friend who lives 6,000 miles away who is always sending this needy soul, timely reminders. What would we do without friends who pull us up when we fall, who help heal our wounds? Allah blesses all the beautiful people in our lives. 

I reproduce verbatim the message being a lesson on prostration. 

Having good expectations and hopes from your Rabb is one of the best forms of relieving anxiety and stress. For no one who hopes for good from the Creator of the heavens and the earth gets anything less than what he expects.

Dr. Tawfique Chowdhury defines 12 ways to prostrate with your heart.
  • Don't lift your head off the floor until you get at least one Subhana Rabbiyal 'Ala that comes from the heart, mind, tongue, and limbs. 
  • Zoom out, picture yourself like there's a camera over you that goes up and up and help yourself with feeling and becoming small in front of Allah 'Azza wa Jall.
  • Ask for at least three things you want in each sajadah.
  • If Syaitan comes to you telling you that you're showing off if you make a long sujood, make it even longer.
  • Eliminate the thought of time from your mind.
  • Picture yourself making sujood in Makkah or imagine every single believer making sujood on the Last Day.
  • Realize that Allah the Almighty has complete power and right to destroy you right then and there for the millions of times you've slipped made mistakes etc.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of a Muslim prisoner. 
  • Picture yourself doing sujood in a small, dirty cell with four walls closing in on you.
  • Do sujood in random places and vary as much as you can, as every piece of ground you've prostrated on will testify for you on the Day of Judgment, InshaAllah.
  • If you can't shed at least one tear in sujood or during prayer, remember the sunnah of Umar radhiallah hu anha when he would pretend to cry if he couldn't.
  • Imagine RasulAllah salallah alaihi wasalam making sujood.
  • Do sujood al-Shukr (the prostration of thankfulness). The Prophet salallah alaihi wasalam prostrated frequently in response to a calamity or a blessing that came to him salallah alaihi wasalam. Revive this forgotten sunnah in your daily life InshaAllah.
  • Let's end with a beautiful incident from the seerah:
Rabi'a bin Ka'b radhiallahu anha a companion of the Rasul Allah salallah alaihi wasalam said:
I was with Allah's Messenger salallah alaihi wasalam one night and I brought him water and what he required. 
He said to me: "Ask [anything you like]." 
I said: "I ask your company in Paradise." 
He said: "Anything else besides it?" 
I said: "That is all [that I require]."
He said: "Then help me to achieve this for you by devoting yourself often to prostration." 
  • Sujood is the greatest thing a Muslim can do; it's the one thing Syaitan wouldn't do.
  • O Allah, make us of the saajideen, make us increase our sujood, make our hearts present, elevate us through every sajadah and erase our sins. Ameen.
Kindly forward as much as you can. If someone's khushu' in sujood or qiyam increases after reading this, InshaAllah, Allah subhanhu wa ta'ala will reward you too of experiencing/tasting khushu' in your ibadah.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Search questions


Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah a week has just passed so quickly and we are still standing, we are able to prostrate before the day comes when we would just lie flat, good for nothing. Yes, time flies when you are having fun they say. Well, time flies, fun or no fun.

I was thinking of what to offer to this white space when I discovered the keywords people searched and brought them here, like it or not. Some interesting search words recorded on this blog today are: 'I am lost' and 'I am nothing'. Let's just hope people will get whatever it is they are looking for.

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasir in his lovely and thought-provoking book 'The Garden of Truth', people by nature have the same basic fundamental questions like: 'who are we, where we came from, what are we doing here, and where we are going.' And there are people who take the question 'who am I?' more seriously than others and would devote a lifetime finding the answer to the seemingly simple question of who am I.

The author says: 'In any case, how we choose to live in this world - how we act and think and how we develop the latent possibilities within us - depends totally on the answer we provide for ourselves to this basic question of who we are, for human beings live and act for the most part according to the image they have of themselves.'

And I will add, that people act and think, also according to the image or consciousness of their own individual Lordship, that is their unique relationship with the Creator. To put it simply: my God alone rules me and judges me.

Another interesting point the author makes is that we are above our emotions and psychological state. We are not defined by them. The fact that sometimes we say: "I must control my temper" essentially means there is something more and higher than the temperamental "I" that exists within us. We are more than just our feelings, more than just our minds. Our true identity lies at a deeper level of our being. The author says, it is in the heart that the final answer to the question 'who am I?' resides. Sufism shows you the way to the answer. Those who undertake this journey to the heart to find the answer to that million-dollar question is known as 'people of the heart' or ahli dil.

That leaves us with something to think about - a big question needs an answer or answers.
As we think hard or look hard for answers, let's not be so hard on ourselves, let's not forget to count blessings, and count not problems ;)

Have a good weekend y'all.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sweet turnovers | Agony of love


I chanced upon this dessert stall on a beach in Pangkor Island, Malaysia. The pancake is known as Apam Balik. I think the word Apam has an Indian origin. Balik means turnover. This dessert is something like apple turnovers, only that the filling comprises of sweet corn and ground peanuts. According to a dear friend of mine, Singaporeans call it Kuih Pulau Pinang, after my hometown Penang. Some Singaporeans must be obsessed with Penang, LOL!

Seeing the stall reminded me of the coconut pancakes known as tourments d'amour sold on the beaches of Les Saintes island, near Guadaloupe. Wives of fisherman would make them while waiting for their men to come home, hence the name 'agony of love'.

Love is sweet. It should not be agonizing, though it sometimes is. It's in your heart and no one can take it away from you because it is Allah who places it in there in the first place. If it agonizes you too much then maybe it's not it. Maybe it's something you had and not have anymore. Maybe it's over.

"Learn to appreciate what you have, before time makes you appreciate what you had."
- Women of History