Madame Blossom's Book of Poems

Friday, September 30, 2011

help us help others help us help others

If we ask ourselves, which is more important - our outcome in dunia or our outcome in akhirah?
Most of us would say 'akhirah'. But most of the times, our actions, and what we spend time on, and our endeavours don't really reflect that.

Ya Allah, guide me to the Light, to the path that is straight. Ameen.

(How is the above paragraph related to what's coming next? well, it's complicated, there was a lot of detours and u-turns within my neurons but the start point and end point were about the low income families. Without further a-confusion...)

Yesterday, was the first time for me to visit a low income family, in my adult life. When I was young, I remember having friends and relatives staying in 1 room flats, and as a kid, to me they seemed happy, no troubles. I myself was living in a 3-room flat.

Anyway.. this family doesn't have enough money to send their children to preschool, which can cost anything between S$75 and above per month. So, their 5 & 6 year daughters, have not attended school before, and the 6 yr old will be in Pri 1 next year. The authorities have identified kids that did not attend pre-school and asked the various races organisations to assist these children. Mendaki will be helping the Malay families. They are going to hold a program whereby they will try to instill reading and writing skills within the 1-2 months at the end of this year - before they enter Primary School - as much as they can.

I can't imagine how these kids will cope with school in Singapore. Even the 'educated' parents have a hard time tutoring their primary school kids - what more these parents who are not good in English to start with. I don't like our education system, the subjects and the test and exams methods. It seems to be more about the ability to confuse the kids as much as possible - then to allow them to learn and achieve something beneficial for real life. I mean seriously, in my life so far, I have not yet come across any use for 2pir or the sin cos of stuff I learnt so hard in school. Unless I was going to work in a place that requires those knowledge and abilities.

And, wouldn't people learn faster and better, when they are in need of the skill and knowledge? Does every single person in Singapore or in the world, need to learn sin cos, to read and analyse Shakespeare? Full of meaningless and/or superficial time-wasting effort. Now children lack morale, compassion - basically almost lacking the skills to live with others considerately.

Actually I want to talk about the low income families and how they can be helped. How do you help them if you're not sure what they are lacking. I mean, yes, I can see that they are living very modestly - no furniture except for a low table. A very old TV - which I don't care for. Seriously.. they can, not have TV. I want to buy them books instead. But I THINK they have just enough food. NO, I will NOT bring the kids to McDonalds to allow them to even start having cravings for McD's junk food.

You know what's missing? Regular religious assistance! Are we providing them with FREE and regular food for the soul? Perhaps we can provide them with this - to help them prepare mentally, physically, spiritually of all the tests they are going through. We can also provide moral support, letting them know, that we will always be there in case they need something.

God help us all in our efforts if it will lead to goodness. Ameen.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

where are the real kings, emperors and leaders?

Leaders nowadays, they declare war or summon people to war, from the comfort of their air conditioned offices sitting on plush seats. While their men suffer in other countries, they get reports for the day and then they go back to the comfort of their home and their families.

As we've often read, in the olden days, when a leader declares war, to defend or to conquer - the leader would go with the troop and will be at the forefront of the army. They take the FULL responsibility of making such decisions. They feel the obligation to feel what the men feel - to experience what their men experience. THAT is a true true leader.

In the book 'The Places in Between', the author quotes snippets from an old chronicles written by Babur (himself), a Muslim Conquerer who lived from 1483-1531. He is from Turkestan, and he died in Kabul, Afghanistan. His real name is Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur. In a mission to conquer places, he and his men, walked across Afghanistan in the mountainous area and at one point, the snow was so heavy that he thought they would die there. They stopped near a cave.

"The first of the troops reached this cave while it was still daylight. About evening and night prayers the troops ceased coming in; after which every man was obliged to dismount and halt where he happened to be. Many men waited for morning on horseback.

The cave seemed to be small. I took a hoe and cleared for myself, at the mouth of the cave, a resting place about the size of a prayer carpet. Some desired for me to go into the cave but I would not go. I felt that for me to be in... comfort, while my men were in the midst of snow and drift... would be inconsistent with what I owed them... it was right that whatever their sufferings were... I should share them. There is a Persian proverb that Death in the company of friends is a feast. "

Can we find or name any leaders of the world today wanting to share their men's hardships?

Monday, September 26, 2011

As Muslims, amongst our values are..

I am feeling kind of restless today. The feeling of wanting to do/think/learn/write much more than I currently possibly physically and psychologically can.

Or it could be pms.

Right, blame it on pms.

I'm reading this book called 'The Places In Between'. It's about the author, Rory Stewart's journey through Afghanistan by FOOT. That's right, he walked across Afghan, across the snowy mountainous areas too. He came upon villages and villagers that people in the news don't even mention, or may not even know of - and therefore you and I, don't even know exist. Unless you read this book.
He spoke of our misperceptions of other people's wants and priorities in life. Most of us think that everyone wants the same things as us.

It's interesting to note how our priorities differ. Even as Muslims. E.g. there, it seems that amongst their biggest concern (besides the usual prayers & fasting) and what they try hard to comply with, as Muslims - is to ensure that their guests are taken care of, providing food and lodging. They feel a strong obligation to do so. I don't believe we, in Singapore feel the obligation as much - that you would take in a total stranger and give him food/lodging. This seems to be quite common in the middle east. I think I read of the same hospitality in Mohammad Asad's Road To Mecca too.

Whereas in Singapore/Malaysia, our common biggest concerns as a Muslim, other than prayers and fasting, are... is.....

...what ah?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

oh the blunders

I got tickets to the Jamal Abdillah's concert yesterday. But I thought I should give it to someone who would enjoy it more. I gave it to my domestic helper maid, Rus (what is so degrading about the word 'maid' anyway? why DID I think it's degrading? It's degrading as you make it to be. A maid is a female employee employed to help with household chores and that is exactly what it is. Nothing bad about that. Without my maid, my house may be a mess and I owe a lot to her being around. So.. back to the topic)... to Rus and my hubby's aunt, Cik Ita.

But I guess they were not sure how to get to the concert place, so I wanted to send them. Concert would begin at 8pm. So I said we should leave right after our maghrib at home. Hubby wanted to send to, with kids in tow.. so with all the hussle, we left home about 7:27pm

We were asking ourselves, why the concert was done today, it being an F1 weekend in Singapore, surely the place must be crowded and not easy to get to. We planned where hubby should drop Rus, Cik Ita and me, so that I can walk them to the concert place and smoothly and quickly get them to the door, so they wouldn't get lost trying to find the place.

I told hubby we should drop at Raffles City and I'll walk from the underpass to Esplanade. We got down at the hotel side. By that time it was 745pm. I was walking fast as Rus and Cik ita followed quickly behind. We headed to the City hall MRT basement. I know there is walkway to Esplanade from there.

But when we got down, and walking quickly and talking, Rus mentioned that there is a train station at Esplanade itself. Really? Ok then why don't we just take the train there. So I queued up for my train tickets (mind you, this is the first time on a train after a long time). Cik Ita and Rus have their MRT store valued cards. So they had to wait for me while I queued for mine.

After about 2-3 mins, I manage to get my tickets and we went in. We went down the two floors looking for the train to Esplanade. I realise then, that to get to Esplanade we had to change train at Dhoby Ghaut - to the Circle Line. I remembered the very long walk at Dhoby Ghaut, to get from one train line to the other. I told Rus and Cik Ita, that by the time we got to Dhoby Ghaut and walk to Circle Line for the Esplanade train, we would have reached Esplanade if we just walk through the walkway upstairs.

Agreed, we went back up and out, and started walking quickly towards Esplanade. Time check 8:07pm.

When we reach the exit to Esplanade about 8.15pm or so, it was blocked by officers. I asked them how to get to Esplanade because we have a concert to get to. They said the route is blocked, unless we have the F1 pass. He then asked us to try a 'Gate 7' up ahead. We walked further.

It seemed blocked, so we went around upstairs and downstairs trying to find a way to Esplanade. I asked an officer who was standing beside a map, again - how to get to Esplanade. And again, I was asked if I have the F1 pass. "No I don't have an F1 pass, but I do have our concert tickets and it is today, 24th September," I said. I took out the tickets and showed the officer. He read it out. "Yes... 24th September, 8pm, Singapore Indoor Stadium. Hmm.. Ok maybe you can go up here, and walk this way.." pointing to the map beside him.

I realised my biggest blunder then. 'Singapore Indoor Stadium'??? Not Esplanade?? SH*T!

I said, thank you and assured the officer, we'll find our way. I quickly called my husband to tell him of this I told him I'd just take the train to Kallang to meet him there (since I had no idea where he is). As we were walking back towards City Hall MRT station, we saw my hubby and the kids. He asked if there is a station near the Indoor Stadium - I said the nearest I know of is Kallang. He said that that is far, and therefore we should go by car.

We finally got to the place at about 845pm. I saw a 'Stadium' MRT station just beside the Indoor stadium. Pfft Erni.. right. Kallang is the nearest. Anyhow, I walked them to the concert venue door entrance to ensure that they get in correctly, before I felt relieved about leaving them. I hoped that the concert would not end soon.

I felt quite guilty for my blunder and my ignorance about the public transport route, causing them all the unnecessary impromptu brisk walking exercise and the late arrival. When we arrived I heard Jamal singing already. But alhamdulillah, the concert finally ended at 1045pm which was about 2 hrs after they arrived. So, berbaloi jugak lah all the drama.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Personal Reflections

Al Quran 7:189-190
It is He who has created you (all) out of one living entity and out of it brought into being its mate, so that man might incline (with love) towards woman.  And so, when he has embraced her, she conceives (what at first is) a light burgen, and continues to bear it.  Then, when she grows heavy (with child), they both call unto God, their Sustainer, "If Thou indeed grant us a sound (child), we shall most certainly be among the grateful!"
And yet, as soon as He has granted them sound (offspring), they begin to ascribe to other powers beside Him a share in bringing about what He has granted them! Sublimely exalted, however, is God - above anything to which men may ascribe a share in His Divinity!

I asked ustaz just now, if this warning/advice can also be for us, who after the birth of a child, depend on other than Allah for protection of the baby - e.g. in using 'tangkal' (amulet). He said, actually he didn't want to mention this because there is a khilaf among the ulama's with regards to the ruling of wearing amulets in which is written Words from The Quran.   Some permits with conditions, others say it could be shirk.

I tried to look up for the arguments, and found the explanation and references provided in this site looks reliable to me.

In any case, personally, based on what I've read so far and what I understand, I would avoid using amulets - because the case for amulets are more for those who cannot recite or read. But the wearer CANNOT believe that it's the amulet that will protect him. He must believe that it's his doa (through wearing the amulet because he cannot recite or read) to Allah SWT, and that Allah SWT alone who has the power to help him. This is quite very risky to me. It's a very thin line between the person believing in wearing the amulet, and believing in the powers of Allah SWT that does not require any other thing or helper. Wallahu'alam. May Allah guide us.

Al Quran, 7:199
Make due allowance to man's nature;  and enjoin the doing of what is right; and leave alone all those who choose to remain ignorant.

This relates to doing dakwah.  Someone in class asked, 'must every truely believing Muslim give dakwah to others?'  Ustaz says yes.   I believe so.

But what is da'wah in the first place?  I feel that da'wah can be given in many ways, including being good role models as a Muslim.  When a person truely believes, da'wah may come naturally to him.  When he finds truth, he feels inclined to share it with others (perhaps through FB status or twitter) and wouldn't that be da'wah?  So insyaAllah, I believe that the inclination to da'wah, no matter how small or big, through sincere concern for our brothers and sisters, will come naturally with iman.

And I like Asad's transliteration of this ayat - 'make due allowance to man's nature..'
Man's nature - we are not perfect, we are forgetful - as such, we should make due allowance for one anothers weaknesses, and forgive and have empathy and doa for each other.


Do we make it a habit to question our intention for doing the things we do?
If the answers after answers, lead to one final objective, i.e. to attain Allah's blessings,
then wouldn't we be rewarded for the simplest things that we do?

The need to reach out.

I think the bigger urge or desire for something to be done, started with DR MAZA's post about zakat. About finding the people who is eligible for zakat, instead of waiting for them to apply for them. If the organisations and mosques can spend thousands of dollars and man hours looking for zakat payers, about the same amount of time should also be spent looking for zakat eligible people.

(Alms are) for the poor who are straitened for the cause of Allah, who cannot travel in the land (for trade). The unthinking man accounteth them wealthy because of their restraint. Thou shalt know them by their mark: They do not beg of men with importunity. And whatsoever good thing ye spend, lo! Allah knoweth it.

~ Al Baqarah 2:273

Prior to that, I was just thinking about those low income families, not getting the ukhrawi ilmu they SO require in life, perhaps because they cannot afford it. Or they have no drive to do it. So why not GO TO THEM and offer them for free? I think it's our obligation right?

In return for them learning their own religion, they get pocket money and some food served. Do this on a weekly basis? A regular class, where they learn how to read the Quran, learn how to pray. Not really structured, but just like - perhaps and usrah session - where they can come together and we talk about being good Muslims, and we read the Word of Allah a little bit, and we talk about ourselves and our challenges and motivate each other to overcome them.

This way, we become closer to them, we know ABOUT them and we know how to help them. It wouldn't be the monthly or yearly financial assistance - it will be a weekly life assistance.

Ya Allah, how do we proceed? Guide us. Ameen.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I have, at times, been exasperated at the things that we people,  normally do that are actually absurd.  The absurdity of this so called modern life.  Most people would argue that it is not absurd, simply because this is the norm.  Meaning a lot of OTHER people are doing it, therefore it must be okay and not absurd.

Absurd.. let me look up the meaning.

ab·surd   [ab-surd, -zurd]
utterly or obviously senseless, illogical, or untrue; contrary to all reason or common sense; laughably foolish or false.
the quality or condition of existing in a meaningless and irrational world.

Some men have lost the ability to think and judge for themselves.  That's sad, because man (and jinns) are the only known creations, given these abilities but we don't use them for ourselves. 

Now there are a lot of fuss over doing things that are actually of no benefit whatsoever to the final objectives - but instead, making more complicated for people to reach the good objectives.  In fact, some of these objectives have become blurred because of all the 'frills' of reaching it, that some of us don't even know THE objectives.   One big example is the objectives of an education.

Have we thought deeply about the objectives of sending our children to school and the objectives of getting an education and the objectives of learning the subjects learned in schools?


Saturday, September 10, 2011

the option not to behave like an animal

‎"The human creature is the only animal that knows it is only an animal... and therefore the only animal with the option of not behaving like an animal." - The Age of Absurdity (Michael Foley)

"Verily, We create man in the best conformation; and thereafter We reduce him to the lowest of low; excepting only such as attain to faith and do good works: and theirs shall be a reward unending!What, then, [O man,] could henceforth cause thee to give the lie to this moral law? - al Quran At-Tin 95:4-7

We have been created with the ability to judge between good and bad, to choose between doing good and bad.  If we don't use this judgement, and we just go with the flow, with the norms of the society regardless good or bad - then we are as good as creatures who cannot think.

Friday, September 09, 2011


When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon -- do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)

To strive, do good, gain experiences, seek knowledge, seek the truth.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

What life is about.

The news is, life is NOT easy. It's meant to involve struggle.

I always strongly believe that most psychological problems can be cured by understanding our purpose in life. As I have learnt from the Quran, life is a series of tests, to see who amongst us can strive with patience and perseverance.

As a Muslim, we understand that everything we 'own' on earth does not really belong to us. We must be ever ready to accept that God decides how long the loan is, and how it can be taken away from us at any time. So the tip to not becoming a lunatic when one loses their wealth is to know in the first place that it does not belong to us. When a Muslim man has wealth, he must understand that the community has a right to a part of it. Wealth itself is also a test from God.

And again, knowing what we learn from the Quran, that the world is indeed nothing but an illusion and amusement, we should become more aware and conscious of these illusions and therefore not let it keep us in a dreamy state, and sway us from our purpose in life.

Happiness on earth is in the striving, not in the having. For once you have what you strive for, the happiness fades. The more you have to strive, the happier you'll be towards reaching your goal. If strive or pain is not a part of it, there is no happiness nor satisfaction. That's why we don't appreciate free gifts as much as we would appreciate something for which we put effort in or paid for with our sweat, time or our money possessions.

May Allah guide us, Ameen.

*money sounds so temporary, meaningless and worthless. It is only worth something if it can get you something in return. but that is not always true or may not remain true..

The Age of Absurdity - on distinction and conformity.

Currently reading The Age of Absurdity. By Micheal Foley.
"The genius of branding has been to disguise the undesirable conformity of consumption as it's highly desirable opposite, distinction. So conformity is the result of everyone striving for distinction in d same way."
:p hokay, so back to square 1.
"In general, branding continues to flourish, with consumers paying exorbitant prices for what is suppose to distinguish them from the crowd, but only reveals them to be a part of it. Much consumption is driven by the futile attempt to get ahead of the pack or a defensive need to avoid falling too far behind."

And so the crowd goes in a circle, spending even more on stuff they don't need, paying amounts that could have fed the whole orphanage for a week - trying to be ahead of the crowd they are in. The irony.

I hope my not wanting to conform, is not a sign of an unconscious desire to be distinct, but just a sincere want to stay awake and alert, and not be deceived by the glittery illusions of this world. Astaghfirullah. Ameen.

Monday, September 05, 2011

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

This book by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, is a real story of a woman in Khair Khana, Afghanistan - who braved all odds and dangers to survive and feed her family. It's a story of a woman who survived the Taliban rule, the inside story of how the women in Afghanistan felt and went through, when they were forced to cover themselves from head to toe. Forced to stay indoors most times.

Having read the stories of their ordeal and difficulties, it's hard not to appreciate our own environment. Despite all the complains we have about the government or the people or the 'restrictions' and whatever we can think of, we still have it so good, compared to a lot of other people around the world. What we lack here is gratitude and contentment.

 MasyaAllah, I am inspired by Kamila's perseverance and her bravery in doing and starting something she didn't even have experience in. So what's our excuse? :(

Saturday, September 03, 2011

warding off evil thoughts

"If a suggestion from satan assail thy (mind), seek refuge with Allah; for He heareth and knoweth (all things). Those who fear God, when a thought of evil from satan assaults them, bring Allah to remembrance, when lo' they see (aright)!
But their brethren (the evil ones) plunge them deeper into error, and never relax (their efforts). "

Al Araaf 7:200-202

I get them all the time - evil thoughts or distractions of the mind.. and I can sometimes feel their incessant attacks. So it's truly a constant Jihad to ward off these evil thoughts and distractions in my solat and at other times.

May Allah protect us all, always.

A'udzubillahi Minassyaitonirrajim.