Madame Blossom's Book of Poems

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Calendar.

It has always been an exciting moment for people when they have finished going through the dates of the current calendar and changing to a new one. Having countdowns to the change of the year count. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for 4-5 hours party.

Of course what the New Calendar Year really is for adults like us, is nothing. Other than that change in the year numbers. It's still another day, another hour, another minute, another second, forward, doing the things we do just the day before or the week before.

It'll be different if the mark of the new calendar means you no long have to work, or you're free from prison (literally, physically, mentally or spiritually). That is something to celebrate for - even then, agak2 lah.. not to overdo it.

But this is how we are now, right? We do absurd things.

I enjoyed reading Age of Absurdity. Recognising all the absurd things we do in these modern times. It was quite a best seller. But the irony is, we still do it anyway. Most of our actions make no sense. We are like zombies being swayed here and there in a drunken state, whichever way suits the money making plans of the corporations and government. Sometimes it's just following the unexplained trends, without questioning at all.

People no longer do things because it benefits others or benefit them. They do it because the media tells that it's cool, they were ask to do it, or everyone else is doing it.

I went off topic.

What I'm trying to say is.. relax lah, take it easy. It's just another calendar, another year.

Shouldn't we celebrate every single new day, that Allah has given us, with solat and the aim and effort to be better. insyaa Allah.

In any case.. Happy New Calendar, you all.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Patience is beautiful

"Sabar pun cantik ah"

..is the Malay slang that always comes to mind when I read " فَصَبْرٌ جَمِيلٌ " (fasobrun jamiil) - as in The Qur'an, Surah Yusuf, 12:18 & 12:83. Because the literal meaning of those words to me is 'patience is beautiful'. And that Malay slang literally means 'patience is also beautiful'.

If someone says something like that, he would really be saying, 'patience is best'. That is also how it is translated in Qur'an translations. Other translations include 'patience is most fitting' or 'it is best to be patient'.

In any case, don't you think, patience IS beautiful?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Answering irritating sales calls


I have grown tired of the world's cunning and dishonest ways in selling products. In almost every advertisements and every call, products and services are exaggerated or fine prints or additional charges not mentioned until you have signed up for it. There is always an element of dishonesty in their selling.

I'm also tired of answering calls from banks offering credit cards and loans, from spas, gyms, insurance companies etc.

I have been responding to these sales calls in different ways.

1. I don't pick up calls from unknown numbers.
2. I hang up at 'Hi maam!' or 'Is this... '
3. I answer in a lazy, monotonous tone and one word answers.
4. I lecture them back about how loans bring more problems to people.
5. I talk about One God to them.

I guess the above is in order of my energy level.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Final Message

From the time God put man on earth, God has always given him guidance.

God kept on assigning messengers among men, to teach us about our Maker, to worship only One God. Therefore we have known messengers like Noah A.S. and Abraham A.S. and Moses A.S. and Jesus A.S. - they all preach the same religion that is the religion of worshiping ONE God, the Maker.

However, a lot of people either don't believe in the message brought by the Messengers or diverted away from the True Message. Satan made sure of that, because he promised God that he will do all he can to divert people from the true worship of One God.

God sent the Final Messenger, Muhammad SAW, with the Final message for the people of all nations and all times. God has promised to guard this Message from being changed or distorted.

This message now remains intact and relevant for man till the end of time.
Our last hope and source for True Guidance. To God we belong, and to Him will be our return.

Read the Final Message.
Read the Qur'an.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

easily distracted?

How easily distracted I am now.
I strongly believe it's due to my usage of facebook and twitter.
The mind is slowly conditioned to process small amount of information before moving the attention to the next one.
So after daily conditioning, it responds to most situation that way.

Okay, perhaps it's not just FB and TW. Basically our modern life is designed that way. Look at how the news is being presented on TV.
We're given the news about war and in the next few seconds, some happy news at home. There is no time to ponder or react emotionally.

Alhamdulillah, we still have our prayers and Qur'an reading to train our mind to stay focused. I hope. insyaa Allah.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Meet me at sunrise! (as opposed to meeting me at 7:30am)



Cooped up in a modern cave.
Unaware what part of the day it is.
Very dependent on the clock.
To have a sense of time.
Don't like the numbers on clocks.
They tell you to hurry up.
Or that you need to wait.
We are the clock's slave.

It'd be nice if our time
Is governed by parts of day.
'We'll leave at the break of dawn'.
'Meet me at sunrise!'
'I'll be home by sunset.'
How much more at ease we'll be.
With the task at hand.
Not enslaved by the seconds and minutes
Like fingers tapping, ticking away.

- madame blossom -

Thursday, October 18, 2012

God forbid that vice be embraced

"Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace."
― Alexander Pope

What will happen when there is no one left who would invite to all that is good, enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong (in a wise and respectful way, if I might add)?

God forbid that vice be embraced by all.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The last week

Ya Allaah, in You I put my trust. You know best what is better for me in the long run. I need to learn my limits. I know we learn from mistakes.

Ya Rahman, make me calm and strong in facing these worldly challenges ahead of me.

In the end, what's most important is the purpose of life.

I am capable, insyaAllaah, of switching off. Let this be the last week to go all out for that smaller vision, and leave the results to Allaah SWT. Ya Allaah, make my task easy for me.

Then as for the biggest mission, make me stronger ya Allaah, make it easy for us ya Allah. Accept our good deeds and worship Ya Allaah. And blot out our sins. Aamiin.

Laa hawla wala quwwata illa billaah.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Parkia Speciosa (or better known as Petai)

It (Parkia tree) is beautifully shaped, like a great flat-topped umbrella. It’s leaves are doubly compound, like feathers. It’s bark is smooth but not too smooth, in some species dotted with red. But most glorious of all are the flowers, pompoms of stamens and styles, bright red or pale yellow or bronze depending on species, that hang from on high on long thin threads like Christmas baubles.



The topmost flowers in each inflorescence are sterile, with copious nectar, which begins to flow early in the morning. By mid morning the first flowers begin to open, and all of them are open by mid afternoon. At dusk, the flowers begin to release their pollen. Then the bats come. By morning all nectar has gone, the filaments that bear the anthers have wilted, and the flowers have faded. One of nature’s most glorious shows lasts only one night. Showbiz is not the point. Replication and multiplication is the point. One night is enough.

*Excerpt from The Secret Life Of Trees. LOVE the title.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The soul

Heaven is Real. A Doctor's Experience with the Afterlife. Dr Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon actually.
"It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed verily in this are Signs for those who reflect."
Az-Zumar 39:42 - Translation of the Qur-an by Yusuf Ali

So, the most amazing thing for him is that, even when his body was not functioning, and his whole brain is totally 'switched off', 'something' was experiencing what he related. It's definitely not the body, neither was it the mind. There can only be one thing left. It's the soul that is experiencing all that. There is a soul. That soul is the real us.

Science intrigues me. Another book I've read explained about our senses, i.e. the mechanics of seeing and hearing, feeling. Seriously it's technical, how light waves and sound waves gets converted into energy and is processed in our brains. The interesting question is, so our body is a tool for our senses - then who are what, is the body processing those information for? Who is the ultimate user of all those information? The answer again is, the soul.

This soul that will be accounted, for all our words, actions and feelings. This soul is an abstract thing. Nobody knows the true nature of a soul. Like is it made of of any matter in this universe? Nobody has actually been able to identify or find a soul physically. So when I say I, I'm actually referring to my soul. This soul that can leave the body or return to the body, by Allah's will. This soul that I believe experience our dreams.

And as for the doctor, and all of us.
And say: “All praise is due to God! In time He will make you see [the truth of] His messages, and then you shall know them [for what they are].” And thy Sustainer is not unmindful of whatever you all may do.
~ An-Naml 27:93 - Translation of the Qur-an by Asad

Saturday, September 29, 2012

More divine intervention.

Just got back from offline edit for the TV Hari Raya Haji drama. Frankly, when I first saw the scenes lined up, and it was 63 mins - I didn't know if I can do it well, if the story will make it. Many scenes to cut, because we must fit the given transmission time of 43 mins (1 hour, then must give time for CB. (CB is commercial break.. I know.. when I first heard it, I thought it sounded a bit vulgar too.) Anyhow.. after 2 nights (no.. didn't work whole night.. i meant I worked on the edit only after office hours, abt 3 hrs a night), it was still 56mins.

Then on the 3rd night, I assured myself we must do some brutal editing. CUT scenes! Yes, even though we spent hours on certain scenes for set up and many takes.. but if it has to go, it has to go. It turned out to be a good exercise. Cause when you're forced to shorten the scenes and number of scenes, you'll pick only really relevant ones and therefore omit all draggy and not so relevant scenes.

Today, at the end of 4 evenings and a day (hmm.. that makes a good title), we've finally finished the offline version - final offline cut - 43 mins, WITH credit roll song that I like so much! The song which also came from Divine intervention. How?

After first few days editing, I was still looking and thinking of a good song to end the movie with. Problem is, I don't listen to many songs. We don't have the budget to pay big artists for songs. I was still looking.

Then, out of the blue, really, Adzim, who writes and performs his own songs with his band 'Disember' wrote on my FB wall, asking me how I was. We chatted and I remember he has some songs, so I asked him if he has one that is quite relevant to the story I'm doing. Lo and behold, he does. I listened to it and immediately KNEW I want to use that song. Disember is also still unknown, in the industry, and they are of course excited to be featured in a telemovie. Alhamdulillah, so we're using their lovely song. Now, I'm so excited about the ending mostly because of that song!

Truly, it really was a Divine intervention.. I mean, why did he contact me for no clear reason, right at the point when I was looking for a song? Subhanallah. Really.

A few other things that are to me, quite miraculous, are
- the sudden ability to get a well known Malaysian actor for this telemovie, to be directed by this first-time-tv-drama director. Sudden I say, because he was contacted and confirmed only about a week before shoot.
- He only came for a day for shoot - that's all. That afternoon, we had to shoot a picnic scene outdoor. While we were taking our break, dark clouds began to form above us. It looked set to rain. The cameraman has also gathered his equipment in case it rains. It was already nearly 5pm and we only had that specific time to shoot that scene. If it rains, I don't know how and where and when we can cover this scene. I prayed real hard for Allah SWT to help me get this over with. Then, subhanallah walhamdulillah, the clouds passed and it became sunny again with nice evening rays. We quickly prepared and shot the scene.
- For the ending scene, after the lead gets into a cab and is driven off, suddenly 'extras' start coming out of nowhere, crossing the road and van passed by, making it look like 'life goes on' y'know. It's really the effect I want. Subhanallah. :p

Of course, this whole string of events, falling into place is itself, also masyaAllah.

Having said all these... it's not over yet. We still have to show the offline telemovie to the station for acceptance. And then there is still the online, and the airing. Then, finally we'll see if the audience likes it, and if they can draw a lesson or inspiration from it (that is the ultimate aim).

May Allah help us in doing good. Aamiin.


*unplugged*

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

integrated within a universal plan

It seems like it was only a few months ago (actually it was last year), that I was sharing a story idea I had about a Hari Raya Haji telemovie.
At that point, I had no idea, how possible it could be to produce for TV. I was also contemplating a short film for this. I was really feeling sincere about wanting to share this story with a lot of people out there, a lesson we can draw from the story of Nabi Ibrahim A.S. and Siti Hajar.

Then, subhanallah, how Allah SWT answers silent prayers and unsaid wants. A couple of months later, a TV producer whom I was introduced to earlier, asked if I would like to submit a story for... Hari Raya Haji to Suria (Singapore Malay TV Channel). Gave it a shot. I submitted without placing too much hope. Mind you, I had no experience in directing a full TV drama. So far it's only short films. But of course, there must be a 'first time' right? A few months later, I received the news, our story was short-listed.

Next the producer invited me to go do the pitch at Suria, to the station's decision makers. Alhamdulillah, I guess we did a good pitch. Few weeks later, we were told, our story was accepted for production.

Now, yet few months after, we have now prepared the plot and did the script. And tomorrow is the shoot!!

I want to tell you more about the production itself, but let's wait till it's done and perhaps near the telecast date. I mean, we still don't know right.. anything can happen... masyaAllah. Tawakkaltu a'lallah. I hope something good and pure comes out from this, that more goodness is spread through this project.

Now, I'm just thinking about how this whole thing has developed, with Divine intervention - alhamdulillah. This reminds me of Asad's words :
"The religious human being knows that whatever happens to him and within him, can never be the result of a blind play, of forces without consciousness and purpose. He believes it to be the outcome of God Conscious will alone, and therefore, organically integrated within a universal plan." Allahu Akbar.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A way of life, that is Islam

Islam is not only about the 5 pillars. It's not something that we do part-time. It is a way of life. Yes, we keep hearing that right?, Islam, as a way of life. Well, because it really is.

When we were a baby, do our parents just make sure we're fed and leave everything else up to us? No. We are looked after in every way.

Don't you think then, that it's only logical, for our Maker, Who created us, will guide us in all aspects of our life? About how to take care of ourselves, how to treat other human beings, how to treat animals, how to appreciate other creations. Yes it's a wholesome teaching. Yes, it's wondrous. Yes it's complete. And why not? He is God, Most Merciful, Most Wise.

When a person is truly a Muslim (as in he surrenders his life to the Will of Allah SWT), and therefore he follows as much as possible all the teachings of the Qur'an and the (authentic) Sunnahs, you will find him to be the most humble, kind, generous, sincere, honest, courteous, but firm towards those who does wrong to him. If only he follows the Qur'an and Sunnah.

That is for one person. Imagine a community, where each individual is trying to be the best in this sense. What a nice community it'll be.

Me. Yes, I'm trying.. I'm working on it. Sometimes I forget. I try to remember and follow all the teachings of the Qur'an and Sunnah. I find it beautiful. I want to be a part of that beautiful being...
I want Islam, as a way of life.



We seek Allah's assistance and guidance.
May Allah SWT make us constant in our faith and effort. Aamiin.

Friday, August 10, 2012

the definitive definition

Wow, I didn't realise how deep the dialogues in Alice in Wonderland can be. I guess I never really paid attention.

Hamza Yusuf quoted in his article "When you're a statistic" :

In Alice in Wonderland, when Alice questions Humpty Dumpty about his usage of words, he says, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

Alice responds, “The question is whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

Humpty Dumpty replies, “The question is which is to be master – that’s all.” That is, which definition is going to be definitive?

The article is basically asking us, who speaks for Islam? Are we going to let the others who don't understand about Islam, or worse, hate Islam - define to others what Islam is?

The problem with most Muslim especially in my region is, we are shy about being M.uslim and about making prominent our Muslim characteristics - such as giving salam to others, saying 'insyaAllah (if God wills), keeping to our 5 daily prayers (and not hide the fact that you're going for prayer when people ask), being sincere and honest at work!, not backbiting others, ability to answer people when people ask 'so what is Islam?'

When people ask what Islam is, we need to know what to answer. Our first answer shouldn't be about the prayers and the fasting etc. It should be about the very basic belief.

The basis of Islam is the believe in ONLY ONE GOD, the Creator of the Universe. He has no partners, no children and He is unlike any of His creations.
And we submit ourselves to the Will of the Creator - that is by abiding to His Words and His Commands, sent through his Messengers.

That is the very basis of our faith. And then, the other details such as who are His Messengers, what are His Books? etc.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Seeing women as objects

There is a recent study done by Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, on how women are more likely to be seen as objects/tool compared to men.

(Ref: Gervais, S. J., Vescio, T. K., Förster, J., Maass, A. and Suitner, C. (2012), Seeing women as objects: The sexual body part recognition bias. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol.. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.1890 )

Here is what I gather from the study report. (if you want to search the study just copy and paste the whole ref above).

1. The study confirms that women are more likely to be seen as objects/tool compared to men - because perceivers tend to focus on 'sexual parts' of a woman, such as chest and hip.

2. Men is more likely to be perceived as a person, even in those situation.

2. They mention that the effect of this objectification is graver for women than for men. (but of course).

3. When women are seen as 'sexual' objects, the cognitive function of the perceiver is reduced (meaning, less feelings & intellect involved, and the focus is more on 'using' ).Hmm.. so when women sometimes feel like they are being 'used' perhaps they actually ARE being used, unconsciously by the men.

In my conclusion, if we want to avoid being perceived unconsciously as an object rather than a human being - then we should not display our body (as a tool) to attract others.  In other words, dress modestly and cover (not wrap) those parts well - don't even reveal the shapes.  

And in such studies, again we see how Allah SWT knows best.  And we see how God loves us and wants to protect the dignity of a women.

"And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's father, their sons, their husband's sons, or their sisters' sons or their women or the slaves whom their right hands possess or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex, and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments.  And O ye Believers, turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss."
An-Noor 24:31 (translation by Yusuf Ali).

May Allah safeguard us all. Aamiin.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How to ask for true guidance?

When a person feels lost, amidst the confusing claims and acts of people around them. Perhaps people who claim to be pious, but they see so much that does not make sense, they should seek help for true guidance, from God.

When you pray asking for true guidance, you need to pray earnestly and sincerely to the One God who Created you.
Direct, between you and God. No intermediaries.

Once you pray to others (thing or person), e.g. thinking or saying things like 'Jesus, if you're there, please show me and guide me' - then Syaitan, the avowed enemy, will gladly come to ensure that you proceed to believe what you were thinking. And it is easy for him to appear as whatever would move the person.

Another important thing we need to have is a concept of God, the Supreme.
He is UNLIKE any of His creations. (Means He is not like a man, a tree, an animal etc). Astaghfirullah.
God is far greater and superior to any of His creations. And He created the Universe. Subhanallah.

God gave us a brain for a reason. To use our intellect, to think and ponder about His existence, to be reflecting upon the creations around us and the creation that is us.

May we be guided. Aamiin.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Right of Allah upon His slaves

It is narrated that Mu'adh bin Jabal (May Allah be pleased with him) said:
I was riding behind the Prophet (May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) on a
donkey and he said to me "O Mu'adh, do you know what is the right of Allah on his slaves and
what is the right of the slaves upon Allah?" I responded: "Allah and His Messenger know best."
He continued, "The Right of Allah upon His slaves is to worship Him Alone and never to
associate anything with him. The right of slaves upon Him is not to punish any person who does
not associate anything with Him." I said: "O Allah's Messenger, may I not give the glad tidings to
the people?" He replied: "No. Do not inform them lest they rely on (this promise and lapse in
their service to Him)1.” [The above Hadith is mentioned in two Sahih Books (Al-Bukhari and
Muslim)].

If we think this is an easy way out for us to enter Heaven, we need to stop and ponder. What does it mean to "worship Allah Alone and never to associate anything with him"?

The obvious one is of course not to assign Allah SWT, partners, or representation, or intermediary - for which we have no authority to. Our communication with Allah SWT is direct. There is no need for any other person or thing as intermediary whatsoever. And the fact that Allah SWT does not allow us to do that is being repeated over and over and over again from the old prophets to Prophet Muhammad SAW, and also very often reminded in the Qur'an.

If we are not worshipping or depending on any other person (imam, sheikh, medium ) or things (grave, makam, limau, broomstick etc), THEN, alhamdulillah - we've saved ourself from clear shirk. But what about the subtle and unknowing worship of other things?

Definition of WORSHIP (from Merriam-Webster)
1 chiefly British : a person of importance —used as a title for various officials (as magistrates and some mayors)
2 : reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also : an act of expressing such reverence
3 : a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual
4 : extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem [worship of the dollar]

Do you think you can spend 23 hours a day, forgetting about even the existence of Allah SWT, 1 hour (in total) for praying the 5 solats and you're done? If this is so, what happens to the other 23 hours. What do we worship in the other 23 hours?

If in the other, okay minus 8hrs of sleep, that leaves 15 hours of your waking hours - you spend your time and money and energy on glorifying or attaining something that you feel is of more importance to you - e.g. material goods, money, status, position, fame, your own desires - then, is this is what you may be worshipping.

Hast thou (Muhammad SAW) seen him who chooseth for his god his own lust? Wouldst thou then be guardian over him?
Al Quran, Al Furqan, 25:43

Does it mean we have to pray 24 hours a day? NO, of course not. The Mercy of Allah SWT is that, our daily usual act can be an act of 'worship' just because we are doing it for the sake of Allah SWT alone. E.g. When we go to work, to get halal income, to feed the family for the sake of Allah SWT - that is an act in the worship of Allah SWT. We decide not to lie or cheat our friend for fear of Allah SWT alone, that is an act in the worship of Allah SWT.. Intending to sleep early in order that we can wake up for Fajr/Subuh prayers, that is an act in the worship of Allah SWT.

We act that way or do the things you do, because we revere, respect, fear and devote to Allah SWT - that is worship.
To put it simply - if we are God-Conscious most of the time, in our every word and act - then, that's because we worship Allah SWT.

We need to take a look at our lives, what our priorities are, and is Allah SWT in mind and as the ultimate reason, when we plan to do the things we want to do, when we plan our lives?

Surely, everything on us is just a test, to see who is best in taqwa. The good life comes later in Hereafter (if we are saved). Aamiin.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mystery of the Great Pyramid was no mystery in the Qur'an

Time after time, new findings are proving that the Qur'an contains miraculous information. Information many of which are only proven in this age and time. What makes those findings more credible and interesting is that the ones finding these new 'discoveries' are the Westerners, as such they cannot claim it's just Muslims trying to give credit to the Qur'an.

So apparently in about 2007, some scientist and researchers discovered that the stones of the pyramid were not carved stones, as it was thought for many many hundreds years before. The idea that those stones were carved, was even portrayed in one of the Western movies. NOW, they found that the 'stones' were actually 'made'. Meaning in those times, people were already making cement. And for a long time, they thought the Romans were the first one to invent cements for buildings.

This comes as a very big surprise for scientists. Some others are still unable to accept the fact, for they have been holding on to the idea that it was indeed carved limestone - even though they are unable to explain, how the people of those times could have carried these carved stones weighing tonnes, up to the top of the pyramid.

Details of findings and research here.
Live Science
New York Times

Meanwhile in the Qur'an unchanged from 1400 years ago, it is mentioned:

Moses said, "My Lord knows best who it is that comes with guidance from Him and whose end will be best in the Hereafter; certain it is that the wrong-doers will not proper."

Pharoah said "O Chiefs! no god do I know for you but myself; therefore O Haman! light me a (kiln to bake bricks) out of clay, and build me a lofty palace, that I may mount up to the god of Moses; but as far as I am concerned, I think (Moses) is a liar!"

And he was arrogant and insolent in the land beyond reason, - He and his hosts; they thought that they would not have to return to Us!

Al Qasas 28:37-39

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

rainfall


Rainfall, cool skies;
A bird dances in the air,
Welcoming the shower.
Subhanallah walhamdulillah.

- madame blossom -

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Losing your religion?

Religion : a particular system of faith and worship.

The choice to be a Muslim or a Christian or a follower of any other faith - is not about subscribing to the most popular group or the simplest ritual group or the richest group etc.

It's about you. You and God. You and your destiny in the Afterlife.

It's about your belief in God, the concept of God and what God wants for us.
For most of us, there is no doubt that there IS a God.
However the different religions manifest the worship of God in different ways - some by assigning partners or helpers to God.

But which is the way that God wants us to perceive Him and to worship Him?
As one with partners? with helpers? with a bodily form? with children?
Or as God the One and Only?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A reminder for what one already knows

Excerpt from 'Moonwalking with Einstein - Joshua Foer' (MasyaAllah, I remembered his name without having to refer to the book again!. Ok, insyaAllah the book may shed some light on the art of remembering.)

"If men learn this (writing), it will implant forgetfulness in their souls. They will cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful; they will rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks. What you have discovered is not a recipe for memory, but for reminding. And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by telling them of many things without teaching them anything, you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they will know nothing. And as men filled not with wisdom but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their fellow-men."

Must start remembering.

Most importantly, the Qur'an.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Afterlife : The Strange Science of Decay

I'd call it "the amazing science of decay."

This video is awe-inspiring. It let's us see the natural process of decay.
The agents of decay - the mould, the flies, the beetles, and then still even more tinier organisms are involved in the decay process.

Among the things that truly amazes me are..

-about a kind of fungus. How they are able to grow in an ant's brain. Then it produces chemicals that controls the ant's behaviour(!) forcing it to crawl up to the top of a plant. Then the killer fungus burst out of the ant's head (!) growing a bit higher, allowing it's spores to spread.
Doesn't it sound like something coming out of a science fiction horror story??

- lignin makes wood tough, it's brownish and it makes the weight. Without lignin, woods are not heavy. Fungus feed on lignin - where the nutrients are. It's an important process of decomposition of wood. Without it doing that, the earth would be a different earth and I don't think we'll survive.

- Now, this is so amazing to me. Slime mould is a primitive life-form, the largest single cell organism on earth. Slime moulds are found to be an intelligent life form. It has no brains or no nervous system, but it can somehow work out solutions. E.g. it can find the shortest route in a maze, to get to a food source. In fact, it can design a remarkably good network in just a few hours. So good that it's even better compared to a network designed by group of brilliant engineers for the Tokyo train networks. And mind you, Tokyo has one of the most efficient and well organized network in the world, So now they are using slime moulds to design road and train networks in some western countries. And then, even computer scientists are studying the slime mould for it's radical method of processing information. Subhanallah!! this single cell organism!
(And Who you think could have taught this slime mould how to do what it does? Allahu Akbar!)
They are 'shy'- not easy to find in it's natural environment.. :p
This has got to be my favorite slime.

Without further ado, here's the video to go watch for yourself :



The conclusion in the video was that from the complex system that those living things (including us) are, when living things die, they decompose back into the very basic building blocks of life. And then, another life comes out of that building blocks. This is the process of renewal that we are all a part of.

So it makes me ponder over some verses I've read in the Qur'an:

"It is Allah Who cause the seed grain and the date stone to split and sprout. He cause the living to issue from the dead, and He is the One to cause the dead to issue from the living. That is Allah; then how are ye deluded away from the truth?"
(An'am 6:95)

"Thou causest the night to gain on the day, and thou causest the day to gain on the night; Thou bringest the Living out of the dead, and Thou bringest the dead out of the Living; and Thou givest sustenance to whom Thou pleasest, without measure."
(Ali Imran 3:27)

"And they used to say, "What! when we die and become dust and bones, shall we then indeed be raised up again?"
(Al Waqi'ah 56:47)

"Our Lord! not for naught Hast Thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire."
(from Ali Imran 3:191)

translations by Yusuf Ali.


Thursday, June 07, 2012

Déjà vu

Déjà vu (French pronunciation: [deʒa vy], literally "already seen") is the feeling of certainty that one has already witnessed or experienced a current situation, even though the exact circumstances of the prior encounter are unclear and were perhaps imagined.
- Wiki -

Just now, as I was sitting on my side of the bed, using the laptop, my hubby on his side, asked me to show him how to navigate to a command that he wanted. As I showed him and looked at his laptop screen, I suddenly felt and realised so vividly that I have been in this EXACT situation before - and even with that exact webpage on his laptop. Come to think of it, it could not have happened before, because he just got his laptop yesterday. This is so mind-blowing.

And then he related to me that the same thing happened to him when he was in KL. While in a car, he saw a man walked pass, and another man calling out to that man - and suddenly he felt that he had seen this scene before, from that same spot in his car. The thing is he had not seen or met the two men before that incident.

I am intrigued. He said, maybe we could have dreamt it before.

Whether we dreamt about it, or the scene was just sitting somewhere at the back of our minds and recognised when it happens - may probably have a scientific explanation. You see, scientist have studied about space and time, and they think that space and time - is like a block of ice. Basically everything is set already, and we're just going down the passage of time. If this is so, any events happening to us, are all pre-determined already (of course as Muslims we MUST believe this, as Allah SWT always tells us - e.g. in Al-A'raf 7:37 "...Whatever has been decreed to be their lot [in life] will be theirs..."). Like a printed film being played - we're just going through each scene, according to our time.

From this, I'm thinking that perhaps some of those times when we are struck by 'deja vu' - it was probably a future scene, that was played in our mind before, either in our dreams or perhaps retrieved from some part of the mind that is actually holding our total life events.

Isn't it mind-blowing??


And it's not such an impossible idea, since scientists have actually proven through tests that life is pre-determined.


I'd like to continue on, to explain how scientists have actually proven through tests, that our life, in fact the future events of everything on earth and in the known universe is pre-determined. But it's kind of complicated and I'd like to confirm my memory before blabbering away. But I'm kind of tired right now, so insyaAllah, I MAY, if I get the mood to, talk about that in future (if that's Written :p) insyaAllah.

Meantime, for those who can't wait - go read 'Fabric of the Cosmos - Briane Greene'. It's explained in much detail there.

Good night and salam.

Tortoise


At times, I want to be like the tortoise.
Going about life at a very slow pace,
To the urgencies it's oblivious.
Savouring time to absorb
Nature and ideas, to ponder.
And when the world gets too crazy
Retreat into the shell.
- madame blossom -

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Stories from Makkah & Madinah - The crying children.

(Actually there are not too many stories to tell.)

When I first went to pray in Masjid Nabawi, I experienced something new.

The prayer hall, was always full. Before prayer, you hear a constant hum - a combination of these hundreds of people reciting the Quran or talking to one another within the prayer hall. As soon as prayer starts, the hall is silent from voices but now the sounds of crying children/babies would fill the hall, as their mothers started to pray and leave the babies by their side or in front of them. Some of these cries continued to the end of solat. I was thinking, if this happens in Singapore, the mosque will probably get a few letters banning children and babies from the mosque so as not to disturb the jemaah. :-\ But here.. you fight for your own khushyu' Live with it.

After one of the prayers, on the way to Masjid Nabawi exit, and there are a lot of people sitting around the exterior part of Masjid Nabawi.

I noticed a mother seated on the floor with a, probably, 2 yr old child. The child was crying on her lap quite loudly and the mother was trying to calm the child down. As I was still looking at them, walking, suddenly I saw something small and hard being threwn at the mother and child. I was surprised and looked around, trying to locate the person who threw it at them. How can they just throw things at people because the child is crying?? Could it have been a mischievous boy?

The mother was also of course surprised and felt around her trying to locate the thrown thing. She picked it up in her hands and she saw that it's a sweet. She looked around and so did I. Then we noticed this old woman who is also seated on the floor 3-4 meters away from them, smiling and gesturing to her to let the child have the sweet, go on, let the child have the sweet. Apparently she was the one who threw the sweet at them. :D

The mother thanked the old lady and gave the child that sweet. In the midst of surprise and getting the sweet, the child had stopped crying.

And I was thinking.. astaghfirullah, how easy to think bad thoughts first - and it turned out to be a sincere, concerned act.

I must practise my husnozon (to think of the possible good intention) in any event.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The spirit of truth.

"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own initiative, but whatever he hears, he will speak; and he will disclose to you what is to come."

John 16:12-13

Who said the above? and who is the Spirit of Truth?


It is said to be the words of Isa A.S (Jesus Christ) - as indicated in the Christian Bible today. As Muslims who believe in the Last Prophet Muhammad SAW, we of course believe Isa A.S. was referring to Muhammad SAW.

Actually that verse came to mind, because I suddenly felt and thought of something along the same line. I think it is a lesson also for us. I guess sometimes, we have to learn to control what we say to others in person. Some people may not be ready to hear everything we want to say or share.

A dummy-proof example would be, I cannot explain about the bad economics of the world, and about economic hitmen and how the world is dominated by the the wrong people and how we should support local and small businesses - to a 4 year old child.

Or sometimes, we cannot share EVERYTHING because not everyone will feel or see things as we do. And we would seem odd to them, and we might just drive them away.

Or, the information may just be a bit too much for a person to bear in one single sitting or within a period of time. Sometimes, information are best shared over a long period of time. This is also as what I understand, from what is taught in the Qur'an:

سَنُقْرِؤُكَ فَلَا تَنسَى
إِلَّا مَا شَاء اللَّهُ إِنَّهُ يَعْلَمُ الْجَهْرَ وَمَا يَخْفَى

"By degrees shall We teach thee to declare (the Message), so thou shalt not forget,
Except as Allah wills: For He knoweth what is manifest and what is hidden."

Al-A'la 87:6-7

وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَوْلَا نُزِّلَ عَلَيْهِ الْقُرْآنُ جُمْلَةً وَاحِدَةً كَذَلِكَ لِنُثَبِّتَ بِهِ فُؤَادَكَ وَرَتَّلْنَاهُ تَرْتِيلًا

"Those who reject Faith say: "Why is not the Qur'an revealed to him all at once? Thus (is it revealed), that We may strengthen thy heart thereby, and We have rehearsed it to thee in slow, well-arranged stages, gradually."

Furqan 25:32

(Translations by Yusuf Ali)


We need time to absorb information, to change mindsets and to bring ourselves to the different levels of understanding and perspectives.

There are times I feel like "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now" Hopefully, insyaAllah I'll be intelligent enough to know how best to share my thoughts and feelings with close ones. Aamiin.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tired

Sometimes, I feel like dah tak kuasa nak layan kerenah dunia* Always making life more complicated. If it's simple and straight-forward, it cannot be good. It has to be complicated so as to appear impressive.

People don't want to wait 5 seconds. It's too long. They'd rather spend thousands to remove that extra click. They want to save steps and time. They still have no time.

They don't want to listen anyway. They can have it their way. It is a waste of time. So look at it as a source of income.

:/

*I don't know how to translate that to English, without losing the EXACT feel of that sentence.
Language shapes how a person think and feel, don't you think? The availability of words to describe a situation or the grammatical sentence structure somehow shapes how a person think and feel. Wouldn't that, then means that the more languages we speak, the more broad and vast our mind may be. (?)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Banks still at it

Wow, six years ago, I was complaining about it. Now, I'm complaining some more, but now I've become ruthless(?) to them.

I started responding the way I do, about few months back. At that time, I was really TIRED and I was just about the leave the office when I received a call from an unknown number.

Nowadays, most of the time, unknown numbers means banks, insurance companies or spas. So anyway, that evening I was very irritated and I picked up the phone and true enough it's the bank.
Again, they are asking me to take a loan.

Caller : We are calling from XXXX representing XXX Bank (why don't the bank call us themselves?) and we'd like to offer you an attractive loan at a low interest rate of xxxx

I : Why would I need a loan??

Caller : Oh, because it's on offer now, if you take now you enjoy the low interest rate...

I : But why should I take a loan? I don't NEED the extra money desperately now. I am quite happy having no debt to settle and you are asking me to get into a debt???
I don't think it's nice to ask people to get into a debt. They have no problems and you are asking them to get a problem. This is not a good thing to do, you should seriously consider changing your job. You are suggesting to people and coercing them into getting a problem. If they really NEED the loan, they will GO TO THE BANK to ask for the loan.

Caller : Sorry to bother you ma'am. It's okay if you don't need it. Bye.

This works. At the same time a wake-up call for them to STOP ASKING PEOPLE TO TAKE LOANS THEY DON'T NEED.

Usually, I'd be the one saying Bye... bye... bye.. and they'd still go on rambling. This time, they said 'bye' and quickly hung up. :p

Just now, one more.

Monday, May 21, 2012

cotton candy clouds



Wouldn't learning about clouds be so much more fun and easier if the names of the clouds are made simple like 'cotton candy clouds', 'the wave', 'the grand puff', 'fishy cloud' etc, as opposed to 'cirrocumulus stratiformis', cirrus uncinus, altocumulus translucidus. They are such a mouthful and it could have easily have been a name given to an animal instead.

Those mouthful names mean nothing. They are just a nuisance to learning. The point of learning about clouds is to identify it's characteristics, what it means to us, what we can expect when we see these kind of clouds. But all those points are lost in just trying to memorise the spelling for the I-suspect-there-is-a-conspiracy-to-ensure-that-not-many-will-KNOW-how-to-spell-it kind of names.

Man. Always making things difficult for ourselves.

BUT, who says WE have to really know those names? I'll just learn about the clouds itself and ponder about these Creations - not the man-given-name.


p.s. This reminds me of how simple the ideas presented in the Qur'an are, for easy understanding.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

About the so called 'Wahhabis'.

The first time I remember, hearing this word is when a sister told me to be careful of a person because he is a 'wahhabi'. I asked her what that means. She said she doesn't know, but she was told to be careful. And that's how the label spreads. With many people labelling others with it, but none of them knowing exactly what it is all about.

Mind you, none of the people who are being labelled as a 'wahhabi' has ever acknowledged themselves as one, because there is no such thing. This is a label created by someone and/or applied by the ignorant others on any person who doesn't agree with them in a matter of fiqh opinion.

Here is a video by Bro Yusuf Estes giving a short and clear explanation of the man who was being labelled as the leader of the so-called new or askewed belief, and where the name 'Wahhabi' came from.




I believe, none of the people who are labelling other people 'wahhabis', know the history of the label. If they know, they would find it silly to use it.

Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab, was just a scholar during HIS time and in HIS area who spoke and explained against the shirk practices of the people during his time. We have our own ulama's in our time and area, speaking against shirk practices and we don't call our selves by the ulama's name or calling ourselves as his follower. We are just all MUSLIMS - trying our best to do the right thing and for the sake of Allah SWT alone and nobody else. So don't label Muslims other than Muslims and considering that there are sects and groups within Islam. Don't be like the people that Allah has warned us about in the Qur'an.

فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا فِطْرَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

مُنِيبِينَ إِلَيْهِ وَاتَّقُوهُ وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَلَا تَكُونُوا مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ

مِنَ الَّذِينَ فَرَّقُوا دِينَهُمْ وَكَانُوا شِيَعًا كُلُّ حِزْبٍ بِمَا لَدَيْهِمْ فَرِحُونَ

So set thou thy face steadily and truly to the Faith: (establish) Allah's handiwork according to the pattern on which He has made mankind: no change (let there be) in the work (wrought) by Allah; that is the standard Religion, but most among mankind understand not.

Turn ye back in repentance to Him, and fear Him: establish regular prayers, and be not ye among those who join gods with Allah,-

Those who split up their Religion, and become (mere) Sects,- each party rejoicing in that which is with itself!

Al-Qur'an, Ar-Rum 30:30-32 (translation by Yusuf Ali)

May Allah make us all among the people on the straight Path. Aamiin.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Solat


Solat, so that Allah may forgive your sins.
Solat, so that Allah may make life easy for you.
Solat, so that Allah may increase your Rezq (sustenance).
Solat, so that Allah may make you a stronger person.
Solat, so that Allah may help you refrain from bad things.
Solat, so that you may thank Allah for all that you have.
Solat, so that you may remember Allah always.
Solat, so that you will have more peace of mind.
Solat, so that Allah may save you from Hellfire.
Solat, with much hope that you will be among the dwellers of Paradise.
Solat, so that Allah may ease your problems.
Solat, so that Allah may purify your heart.
Solat, so that Allah may make you a good person.
Solat, so that you may Praise Allah.
Solat, because it is our obligation to solat.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How NOT to name an event.

I literally cringed at a couple of inappropriate names I saw for events intended to be soul-inspiring.
How to be inspired when the 1st image painted is of trash or out-of-the-world association?

The drama series (I don't even want to type out the name) is such a TRASH - all parents I meet agree that this is doing NOTHING but planting negative ideas into the minds of the youth. They ban their children from watching it. NO, the kids don't seem to learn anything positive from this series. Articles have been written in the newspapers suggesting that we just take this series as one for pure entertainment. My GOD! That is even worse for entertainment. Such a pollution to the mind and soul. Enough coming from the West already, we have to create our own TRASH??

AND THEN, somebody thinks that it would be a effective to associate this series name with a soulful talk. Of course it was with the good intention of trying to address wayward youth and bring them to something meaningful - hopefully God-consciousness. BUT, do we seriously believe the youths will be attracted to the event BECAUSE the errghh name, which everyone will relate to the trash series, was used? I'm totally turned off.

Another one quite recently which made me cringe is the association of the blessed name or 'Rasulullah SAW' with a thing that is not only known to cause much distraction to people and is used to spread negative things (besides the little good things). There are more negative than good, and you really need to sift through the contents in front of your eyes, to try and just read good ones. Yes, I'm trying to mention the thing as far away from the beloved name. They put the name beside ' & Facebook'. It's nothing you say, but I ask you, even if it's meant to create an interest - if you are a serious, God-conscious person, having much resistance to worldly distractions and calling people to Solah and Zakah and Good Deeds, would you like to see "YOUR NAME & GAMEBOY" "YOUR NAME & JUSTIN BEIBER" ?? Do you get the idea? You really think Rasulullah SAW would have been happy to be associated with the name that they associate him with? It's quite appalling.

It's sad, sad, SAD, that we think we have to accommodate THEIR WAYS to invite people to goodness. That we have to acknowledge a bit of trash to invite people to being God-conscious?

The other sad thing is, now there is more HYPE compared to actual work of bringing people to good, and the objectives always ALWAYS get blurred. People get excited in the planning and making things grand, to create hype until they forget what they are doing it for. The sincerity and simplicity of it is gone. Rasulullah didn't need to have a carnival or banners to spread the message of Islam. It is spread through good deeds and good advice and a clear example. Like I hear from a few reverts who have become scholars, the best way to invite people to Islam is by being a good Muslim yourself. Let's get back to basics.

Let us be proud of Islam. Let us be proud and stand firm on the beautiful, gentle, clean message of Islam and don't associate it to something useless. Where is our pride in our faith?

It's not just a name of an event - that name can reveal a LOT about how confident we are of our Deen.



Sometimes, after I get so disappointed and I wish I can do something about it - I'd wonder (realise?), as I do now, that, I guess, some of these crazy things were meant to happen because The Hour is approaching(?) We cannot make ALL things good. There will be good and bad. And there will be a lot more of bad, and only little good. I truly hope and pray that we will be among the little good left in the world. Aamiin.

Oh boy, I'm pms-ing.

Still.. :(

Sunday, May 13, 2012

When you reach 40 years of age

Alhamdulillah, we've been given the complete and most perfect Book of Guidance, the Qur'an.

Just now my father shared with me this ayat, which I would like to in turn share with you, especially those 35 years old and above. It's a doa that Allah teaches us, when we reach 40 years of age.

وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ إِحْسَانًا حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ كُرْهًا وَوَضَعَتْهُ كُرْهًا وَحَمْلُهُ وَفِصَالُهُ ثَلَاثُونَ شَهْرًا حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَبَلَغَ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً قَالَ رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَى وَالِدَيَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ وَأَصْلِحْ لِي فِي ذُرِّيَّتِي إِنِّي تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَإِنِّي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

أُوْلَئِكَ الَّذِينَ نَتَقَبَّلُ عَنْهُمْ أَحْسَنَ مَا عَمِلُوا وَنَتَجاوَزُ عَن سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ فِي أَصْحَابِ الْجَنَّةِ وَعْدَ الصِّدْقِ الَّذِي كَانُوا يُوعَدُونَ

We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (a period of) thirty months. At length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years, he says, "O my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Thy favour which Thou has bestowed upon me, and upon both my parents, and that I may work righteousness such as Thou mayest approve; and be gracious to me in my issue. Truly have I turned to Thee and truly do I bow (to Thee) in Islam."

Such are they from whom We shall accept the best of their deeds and pass by their ill deeds: (They shall be) among the Companions of the Garden: a promise! of truth, which was made to them (in this life).

Al-Ahqaf 46:15-16 (translation by Yusuf Ali)

Aamiin.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Imitation

An excerpt from Islam at the Crossroads.
Every Muslim whose environment is bombarded with Western ideas/images/behaviour should read this book. Written by a... or should I say, ex-Westerner. The late Muhammad Asad, May Allah reward him for his earnest effort to uphold the idea of a true Muslim.

And only very superficial people can believe that it is possible to imitate a civilisation in its external appearance without being at the same time affected by its spirit.
(At this point I'm imagining those who dress up as gothics or punks or trojan heads - can they possibly dress like that and still feel like a true Muslim?)
A civilisation is not an empty form, but a living organism. As soon as we begin to adopt the outward forms of that organism, its inherent currents and dynamic influences set to work in ourselves and mould slowly, imperceptibly, our whole mental attitude.

It is in perfect appreciation of this truth that the Prophet said:

"Whoever imitates other people becomes one of them" (Musnad Ibn Hanbal, Sunan Abi Da'ud)

This well-known hadith is not only a moral admonition but also an objective statement of fact - in this case, the fact of the inevitability of Muslims being assimilated by any non-Muslim civilisation which they imitate in its external forms.

everyone-is-happy day

There was a bit of a hoohah about Mother's Day celebrations among the Muslims. Some group of people has strongly suggested that it is HARAM! And then there are others who say, this is just a Mother's Day celebration for heaven's sake!

There are several opinions or versions for the history of Mother's Day (just look up the web). One stemming out of a Christian's 'Mothering Sunday' celebration, and then some people relate it to the honour of Maryam or Mary - Mother of Jesus Christ A.S, and another which states that it is basically to have a day to appreciate mothers generally.





You know what - I feel silly wanting to talk about it for very long, and thus making a fuss. All I want to say actually is that - I have no strong resistance to the celebration if for all these people, they really feel it's basically THE day to honour their mothers and it will make their mothers happy.

However, I just wish that we don't make a big fuss with this Mother's Day thing because it is kind of funny to think that we should pick a day to honour our mother or make her happy, when we should on ANY OTHER DAY AND EVERY OTHER DAY, honour our mothers and make them happy. This concept of honouring and making mothers happy should be all year round - don't highlight it on this single day.

Mothers themselves shouldn't feel the slightest bit hurt if their children happens to be busy on or even forget Mother's day, when they have been good children every other day.

Like every declared 'something'-Day - the happiest people are the shopowners. All these X-Days have become a commercial and business opportunities to increase sales.

Some children feel pressured to get their mothers something, (and this applies for birthdays) because they feel that it's so wrong not to get her anything on this specific day - then they end up buying something that the mother do not actually use or like. All the unnecessary pressures and wastage. Any other time of the year - if you're out walking and you see something that your mother (or any loved ones for that matter) have been wanting or you know they would like to have - get it for them. No, don't wait for something-day.

I also hope that siblings don't fall into arguments because someone forgot to book a restaurant and they cannot get a place on a declared something-day. The food doesn't taste any better on that day - in fact it could even be more expensive than on other days. You can go another day. Oh, but there is a day when food taste better - that's on Hari Raya Puasa, after a month of fasting. :D



Why do I have to write about this today? Ok, nevermind. I just would like to wish everyone an Everyone-is-Happy Day. InsyaAllah. Aamiin.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Everyone have equal opportunity to achieve success

We have been bombarded with the wrong definition of success over and over and over again - until it seems like the truth. It's almost abominable to say, high education and wealth is NOT what success is. High education and wealth MAY be a tool to attain success. It could also be an obstacle to attaining success.

Some people hope that the general standard of living among people will rise - that we can 'educate' everyone - and by that they mean that everyone can get a piece of paper that says they have reached a certain level of study. Never mind if the person actually really LEARNED something for the years of school - as long as they get the high scores. However for most of these people, if we ask, what is the objective of your study? Most would say, it's to get the certificate, the degree the PHD - so that you can get a good job.

A good job. People want a 'good' job - meaning a job that pays well. WHY do people want a 'good' job that pays well? So they don't need to work as hard as the others? So that they get easier money?

What do they want to do with the easy money and a good job? To enjoy life? And then what? Do people think that the purpose of life is enjoyment?

This is how far we have been deluded in our effort and determination for 'success' in life.

This definition of 'success' in life has caused so much strain in the lives of people - those who cannot attain this 'success' or even for those who have 'attained' this success because they are still searching for something more.

The truth is - these are all delusions. The truth is hard to swallow. Just because it is being said repeatedly, it does not mean it's right.

There is only one objective of this life on earth - and that is worship Allah SWT who created us and to whom we will all return.

Allah has defined for us, what success is. It is NOT wealth and children. It's the good deeds that we do for the sake of Allah SWT. These can be achieved by anyone, young and old, rich or poor, one with a formal education or one without. Everyone has an equal chance at attaining THIS true success.

Then, should we let there be poor people? It's not about 'letting there be'. It's more about it being a natural state of being. Some people are born to lead, others to follow, some born male, others female. Some born rich, others poor. Some become rich, others become poor. We can't possibly have a uniform state for all man.

"For, He it is who has made you inherit the earth, and has raised some of you by degrees above others, so that He might try you by means of what He has bestowed upon you. [166] Verily, thy Sustainer is swift in retribution: yet, behold, He is indeed much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace."
Al An'am 6:165 (translation by Asad)

Having poor people is a blessing for the rich - it gives them the opportunity to do more good deeds - which is persistently mentioned in the Qur'an - that is to give to charity. If there are no poor people around, to whom can the rich give charity to?

Being poor or being rich is part of the Test that Allah has set for human beings. As mentioned, the best among them is not those who manage to attain more wealth, but those who can show more faith, piety, patience and perseverance in the state that are put in.

"Wealth and sons are allurements of the life of this world: But the things that endure, good deeds, are best in the sight of thy Lord, as rewards, and best as (the foundation for) hopes."
Al Kahf 18:46 (Yusuf Ali's translation).

So, what's the conclusion? Don't need to study? don't need to work?

Of course not. First we make clear our purpose of life. To seek Allah's blessings and therefore in whatever we do or try to achieve, we do it in order to seek His blessings. We work to seek the sustenance of Allah SWT, with intentions of giving back to the community, with the intention of being able to support our family and give back to charity. Be grateful for what Allah has provided for us. In whatever state that we are in, continue to have faith in Allah and his Rewards in the Hereafter, enjoin patience and perseverance.

The rich must remember their duty, and must not be miserly nor should they be wasteful. The rich have their own set of tests and their current wealth does not ensure their success in this world and Hereafter.

A successful community is not one where everyone is formally educated and wealthy. It's one where there are a mixture of the rich and the poor or needy, where the rich respects and helps the needy and the needy are not a nuisance to the society out of envy for the rich - in that they are knowledgeable in the deen of Allah SWT and practise it's teachings. Of course this applies to the rich too. In this scenario, people live in calmness and in harmony.

True, this situation is almost unimaginable - but the thing is, Allah will judge us individually - so it doesn't matter if this cannot be achieved at a community level. We are still required to do our part as an individual, as we are answerable for our own efforts and deeds.
We must try to find the meaning of life and peace and tranquility in our pursuit for the right kind of success - as defined by our Creator.


May we become a better Ummah. Aamiin.




Monday, May 07, 2012

the mere man

Live commentary on my reading Stephen Hawking's (& Leonard Mlodinow) - 'The Grand Design'.

Just bought it this afternoon. I bought it to read more about what we 'men' have known till now.

He wrote : "The M-theory predicts that a great many universes were created out of nothing. Their creation does not need the intervention of a supernatural being or god."

:-/

Up till now, man only have had a mere 'glimpse of a slice of Reality', according to another scientist, Briane Greene in his book Fabric of the Cosmos.

I can't imagine how Stephen H can confidently come to that deduction. Isn't it a wonder, isn't it proof enough that the whole universe is created and kept running in perfect balance & order? If even a single element is or goes out of proportion, we cannot exist.

Some men claims that every single perfect thing is mere coincidence. The theory of everything happening on it's own, the theory of 'coincidence'. Imagine getting 1 million women to put flour, sugar, and egg into an oven and see if perhaps just one of them, can coincidentally turn into a perfect cake.

"Glorify the name of thy Guardian-Lord Most High,
Who hath created, and further, given order and proportion;"
Al A'la 87:1-2



Man.


"He has created man from a sperm-drop; and behold this same (man) becomes an open disputer!"
Al Quran, An-Nahl 16:4



*all translations of the Quran above, by Yusuf Ali.


To be continued,
if I have the mood.
insyaAllah.





*UPDATE* - don't want to waste my time. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajiun to the money lost.






Saturday, May 05, 2012

Where do they go to?

Just now I went to a talk titled 'If today is your last day.' It was done at a mosque near the graveyard, Pusara Aman Mosque :D How apt.

That talk was good alhamdulillah - Ustaz Mizi asked us to think what if, a doctor tells us we're going to die within a few days/weeks? How that will change the way we look at life and things. I believe the important lesson here is to always be prepared for death. For the Muslims, isn't living basically, all about preparation for death?

However what I want to comment on is, how glad I am to see quite a number of Bangladeshi workers attending the talk. They had questions after the talk. I've always wondered if they have the opportunity to listen to sermons or attend regular Islamic classes on weekends.

I know the church near my house, is very active in getting foreign workers to the church. They have church masses in Chinese, Tagalog and even in Indonesian language! They provide buses for the people to come.

I wish our mosques can be more pro-active like that. Perhaps some mosques already are, and I just don't know about it. :)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Boring

I think you can read my slow transformation, into this kind of a monotone person, if you read the blog from 5 years ago.
I also noticed, how I wrote previously. Perhaps I was more playful. Now I feel like I am more conscious about my language, because I heard in a lecture that day that a good Muslim also speaks in a good and clear way - they avoid using slangs.

However when I am being talkative, I think these things still escape my mouth. But I only become very talkative with people I know well and/or am comfortable with. Or if the subject matter is something that interests me. It does not include shopping seasons, bags or entertainers. Other than that, I think I'm (verbally) quiet most of the time.

Perhaps these are 'trivial' stuff.
But then, a single atom may also be trivial, with a lot of empty space, but together they make up everything in the universe we know.

I know I may not be 'fun' to a lot of my friends already. I think I have become kind of boring.

"Boring is good, boring is safe." - heard that in some cartoon show.

I think there is some truth in that.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

About the universe and the earth - from the Qur'an

For my own reference. Connections between scientists' findings and the Qur'an, always intrigues me.

1) The flat universe.

Scientists found the universe to be flat.

What's amazing to me is that, Allah SWT said in the Quran :

"The Day that We roll up the heavens like a scroll rolled up for books - even as We produced the first Creation, so shall We produce a new one : a promise We hae undertaken : truly shall We fulfil it."
Al Quran, Anbiyaa 21:104


I guess it's only logical that the heavens (universe) can be rolled up like a scroll, if it's flat like a piece of paper.


2) The earth, like a carpet.

The other time, someone has ever wondered what this ayat means, because we generally understand the earth to be a sphere.

"He Who has, made for you the earth like a carpet spread out; has enabled you to go about therein by roads (and channels); and has sent down water from the sky. With it have We produced diverse pairs of plants each separate from the others."
Al Qur'an, Ta-ha. 20:53


Now I personally think and understand that this refers to the crust of the earth, which is thin, like a carpet spread out on the floor for us to sit on.
Geologists have found that the earth is made up of 4 known parts:

a) The inner core, the hottest part of the Earth.
b) The outer core, still extremely hot, with temperatures similar to the inner core.
c) The mantle, made up of semi-molten rock called magma - about 2900km in diameter.
d) The crust, which is the outer layer of the earth. It is a thin layer between 0-60 km thick. The crust is the solid rock layer upon which we live.


Wallahu a'lam.


رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَذا بَاطِلاً سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
3:190

Monday, April 30, 2012

Character Building and Values Education

I attended a lecture last Saturday morning at MUIS, titled as above. The speaker, Dr Salih Yucel is currently residing in Australia and has worked with the Gulen Movement for about 9 years. The lessons or tips on character building and values education is shared from the Gulen's movements story.

Dr Salih Yucel himself, is a very humble man, masyaAllah. He asks audience to ask him questions or give him feedback on how he can improve himself, if they find any shortcomings in his presentation. I can sense his sincerity and he is a very confident person. Confident with the values that he has in him, which is Islam.

He speaks about how the Gulen movement began and progressed with these very Islamic values. Islamic values that were shown through actions, not so much printed words or titles. There is no mention of the word 'Islam' in the movement's schools or hospitals and other entities' names. However the values of Islam is strongly felt and acted upon by the people in these organisations, be them Muslims or non-Muslim volunteers or employees.

ROLE MODEL
Dr Yucel stressed that character building and values education happen most effectively through having a role model. A teacher's sincerity for a child's success will have a strong impact on the child. Other than just teaching the subjects, the teacher should be a role model for the child to emulate.

The role model can also be the volunteer mentors who meets the child on a regular basis. If the parents agree, they have some after school programs for the child - which may even include learning the Qur'an. The mentor visits the home of the child they are in charge of, 1-2 times a year, to talk to the parents and see the living and studying conditions at home, to fully understand the child's situation. Mentors are also available 24/7 for the child to call and speak to, if they have any difficulties. It's very personal.

The values that these mentors and all volunteers of the Gulen movement are suppose to practise and show, includes being sincere, humble, caring, kind to parents and others generally, generous etc. (can't recall a few more).

The Gulen movement is a very successful and rich movement with branches in many other countries. However the employees do not get very rich from the movements. They earn enough to have a decent life - but even then most of them donate a portion of their salaries back to the movement. Even the founder, Fethullah Gulen - does not live in a mansion. He lives in a small flat and he dedicates his earnings and himself to the movement as much as the others do. He refuse to be called the leader - he insists that he is a servant of the movement just as the others are.

Dr Yucel says that in a study to compare the dedication of teachers towards students, he found that volunteer teachers and tutors, are more dedicated compared teachers who are rewarded with a (good) salary. (a point to ponder).

He also mentioned about trade. Successful businessmen involved in Gulen, instinctively gives back a portion of what they earn back to the community. As Islam teaches us, we are not to hoard wealth but to let the wealth circulate through trade, and charity.

QUESTION & ANSWER
These are a few of the interesting questions asked, during the Q&A session that I'd like to touch on.

1) This question came from a Catholic Christian Chinese woman. She is pleased with the presentation and the idea brought forth. She said, 'giving' as the volunteers do with their time and money, can be quite stressful. How does the Gulen Movement help their volunteers overcome the stress?

2) An old Chinese man, a Catholic priest said that he is impressed and very much inspired by the idea and the work of the Gulen movement. He acknowledges that Christians and Muslims, share some common history, both being a branch of the Abrahamic faith. However he sense that the Muslim's spirituality in how the Gulen's movement is carried out, is far more advanced that what he sees in his own Christian community. What, he asked, does the speaker think, is missing from them, that they for now, are not able to match the vigour that exists in Islam?

It was towards the end of the Q&A session and to save time, the moderator wanted to collect two questions, before Dr Yucel answers, so above were among the pair of questions collected. I forgot exactly how Dr Yucel answered the two questions. I believe he told some inspiring stories about the sincerity of people and how they are rewarded in other ways, through other means, with the grace of Allah SWT.

3) A Muslim sister said, she was moved to tears by the presentation. She asked, if Dr Yucel could give some tips on how to start such movement.

4) Another Muslim young man asked, Dr Yucel, if he could, provide in summary e.g. 7 steps to creating such movements.

There were other questions along that line too. Someone else asked how to start such movement or promote such ideas in a country or place that has already in place, a very organised education system (set by the government).

Basically as an answer to all these kind of questions, Dr Yucel says, start small. You need some 'mad men' he says, who will sacrifice most of himself, to start this movement. And then there is faith in the reward of the Hereafter, and sincerity and of course hard work.

Importantly he said, start with oneself, renew ourselves every single day. He says that Fethullah Gulen reads the Quran every day and does tahajjud. It's important that we keep ourselves in check regularly. He also mentioned that when we succeed in something or become rich or smart - we must remember that it does not belong to us. Always be humble and know that it can only come from Allah SWT and Allah can take it back anytime. So make use of Allah's gifts to us as His servants, as best as we possibly can by giving back to other people.

MY PERSONAL TAKE
As to the questions asked by the Christian audience, I think the answer can be one. It's strong faith. How strong is the faith in an Almighty God? How strong is the faith of the people in the Hereafter? It's only when people have such clear faith in these, that they are willing to sacrifice their all - because they are sincere and they don't hope for reward in this life. For most of them, their hope is in the reward in the Hereafter and the blessings of Allah SWT.

As such, I don't think the case of helping a volunteer overcome their stress - is a big issue. They feel tired, they face difficulties sometimes - but they face it with faith that Allah gives us tests in this life and they hope for Allah SWT's reward in Hereafter. I would imagine if individually anyone feels so tired and stressed out that they would take a short break. But if the volunteer is always 'renewing' himself by guarding his relationship with Allah SWT regularly (regular prayers, reading Qur'an), there shouldn't be a problem not manageable by the people involved.

I think one very strong point and reason why this movement has worked and come so far - is the sincerity and dedication of the leader (even though it is claimed that he hates being called that). He practises what he preach. He is being a role model to all his other fellow volunteers. Oh yes, Dr Yucel also mentioned this point - imagine if a school seek some help from parents, and the parents come and see the principal and the teachers doing hard labour in building or doing something for the school - it would naturally incline the volunteers to do as much.

However imagine a principal asking for help, and then parents come and see a teacher instructing parents what to do, while the principal is sits in his office doing paper work, the drive, is not the same - it's much weaker.

CONCLUSION?
I think if people are eager to start this project with an objective to be as successful as the Gulen movement, they will not get far, because the objective is not set right in the first place. However if the people start small, with the truest intention to help the others, and not care about how big it will get or if it can get as big as Gulen - insyaAllah they'll move forward.

We need to make an effort, then let the result be determined by Allah SWT. What matters for us is sincerity and effort and don't let the 'KPI's bother the volunteers with their work.

There is so much more I want to say - including a look at our current help organisations. I want to find an organisation where the 'leader' is as humble as Dr Gulen or Dr Yucel. A leader who is not just mostly talk and less action. I want to see a leader who REALLY does the thing that other normal volunteer does. Not just for a Kodak moment, but for real. I want to know of an organisation whose leader can name one of the people their organisation is helping - because it's personal, there is real empathy, real connection, where the recipients are not just another statistic to improve on.

Whatever our position and work, it still goes back to our truest intention. Our intention should be for Allah SWT. Not caring about recognition or wealth in this world. Not caring about what others think or say. However, this can only be achieved when our iman in strong. So again - it all starts with the strength of our iman.

I was also personally very moved by the talk. Yes, I cried. I cried was because I was so impressed by their dedication and I realise my own shortcomings - I have so much room for improvements. There are so many people so much better than I, and I must try to be like them or better than them.

I truly hope we all will benefit from the lecture in a REAL and CONCRETE manner. Aamiin.

Friday, April 20, 2012

In despising the true rival.

A hypothetical scenario:
'Would you wear a shirt with an Arsenal logo on it?'
'NO! not in my life!! Man U forever!'
'But it's just a logo'
'I'd rather not have a t-shirt to put on than to wear a t-shirt with an Arsenal logo on it - that's our rival!'
...and so the man feels oh-so strongly about the Arsenal logo, but they don't feel anything whatsoever about wearing the logo intended to feature the Devil, our REAL arch-enemy.
'Oh come on, don't make a big thing out of that. It's just a logo,' they say.
Right.
This is not about which soccer team you support - that's so trivial. It is food for thought and about checking our hearts and iman.
P.S. I read on a Man U forum, a guy nicknamed 'forever united' commented : If the reason for the Devil on the Man Utd logo is based on a nickname , I think its wrong to have it. We are just giving glory to the devil by it being there. I hope united can change it.
Verily Satan is an enemy to you; so treat him as an enemy. He only invites his adherents that they may become companions of the Blazing Fire. ~ Fatir 35:6
O ye who believe! Enter into Islam whole-heartedly; and follow not the footsteps of the evil one; for he is to you an avowed enemy. ~ Al Baqarah 2:208
(translation of the Qur'an by Yusuf Ali)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Baby's first few words/phrases

I just saw a post where someone was asking if anyone still lets their child listen to nasyid or qasidah, which reminded me of something that I was thinking about.

I wish I had had this thought when I had my first baby. Anyhow I hope it's not too late for me to instill good Islam in my children.
What's the thought? Being the long-winded me, let me explain how the thought came about and what the thought was.

I was sitting by my window one day, looking at the trees swaying gently as the wind strongly blew. I was reminded of the ayat, 'Annajmu wasshajaru yasjudaan' which roughly translate to "The stars and the trees bow (in adoration to Allah)" from Ar-Rahman 55:6.
Then I was thinking about how I can or am, albeit (very?) slowly, learning the vocabularies of the Arabic language by reading the Quran and trying to understand it through the translations. (May Allah make it easy for me. Aamiin).

Then I thought, masyaAllah if I have a baby now (not that I want..but it's a big hypothetical IF I have) I'd like to teach the baby his/her first few words from the Quran. Perhaps first word could and should be 'Allah'. Then, instead of pointing to the moon and telling the baby, 'Moon', why don't I say, for example, 'Qamar - Asshamsu wal qamaru bi husbaan'. I will not only be feeding vocabs to the baby, but also the Quran. Subhanallah.

Also instead of singing 'The wheels on a bus go round and round', why not I recite to the baby, over and over again, surah Al-Ikhlas? Reminding them, of the acknowledgement we made to Allah SWT.

Aaah.. how I wish I had known what I know (little of) now, then.

Perhaps I can do that with my grandchildren, insyaAllah.

Our Lord! Grant unto us spouse(s) and offsprings who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous. Aamiin.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Makkah & Madinah

People have told me of 'miraculous' things happening while they were in Makkah, or of an immediate retribution to either another person or themselves when they said something arrogant or they were not being nice.

They ask me what I felt when I first saw the Ka'bah' and if any 'miraculous' thing happened to me. I have to disappoint them by saying that nothing 'miraculous' happened.

Before the trip I imagined that when I saw the Ka'bah for the first time, I'd be crying. Just imagining and thinking about it, I sometime felt so touched and tears welled up in my eyes.

However, quite disturbing to me initially, was the fact that I didn't tear when I first saw the Ka'bah. We arrived Makkah after 9pm. We were not very fresh. The group leader brought us to Masjidil Haram, from the Hotel. Once we entered Masjidil Haram, we could see the Ka'bah, but there was no time to dwell into my awe or feelings or thoughts. There were many people moving and I was trying to stay out of their way. The group leader was saying something and then reciting a group doa upon seeing Ka'bah. And everyone was just trying to stick together and can only saying Aameen, Aameen to a doa that I can't hear properly, not to mention, don't exactly know what it means. I think I may have even forgotten to just say the words that Rasulullah's companions (R.A) used to say when they see the Ka'bah (Allahumma antassalam...).

People told me of miraculous happenings when they suddenly had access to the Hajar Aswad, where the many people around like as if split like the Red Sea must have split for Nabi Musa A.S. - so they could walk straight to Hajar Aswad and kissed it. Nothing like that happened for me.

After the chaotic first encounter with the Ka'bah, I had many chances to go to Masjidil Haram on my own. It was during those times that I was able to peacefully do my own prayers and doas and contemplate as I look at the Ka'bah in awe at the many historical events that had occurred here - from the time of Nabi Ibrahim A.S, Nabi Ismail A.S, Rasulullah SAW, the trials and tribulations, the conquest the victory. And now, masyaAllah, how the whole world is facing this place that I was looking at to perform their prayers. Allah has 'invited' my family and I here.. I was allowed to be here, masyaAllah.

Just then a petite and lovely old lady from East Europe (I think) who was standing beside me, also looking at the Ka'bah, said 'La hawla wala quwwata illa billah' (There is no change/improvement or power except by Allah SWT).
Immediately I felt a sense of connection to her. I turned to her and we smiled at each other with the deepest feelings inside, which is somewhat reflected in her facial expression.

We are one - one ummah - praying The One God. We wouldn't have made it here, if not for the Will of Allah SWT alone.

When comes the Help of Allah, and Victory,
And thou dost see the people enter Allah's Religion in crowds,
Celebrate the praises of thy Lord, and pray for His Forgiveness: For He is Oft-Returning (in Grace and Mercy).
An Nasr 110:1-3


I guess my excitements and the 'miracles' I encountered were more subtle. It may be easily missed or dismissed if one does not pay attention to the small bits of blessings Allah SWT provide to us constantly.

I sincerely don't feel disappointed for not having experienced amazing 'miracles'. I am just so very grateful to Allah SWT that I was even ABLE to be in Makkah and Madinah with my whole family. It was what I have always dreamed of doing, and it became possible quite suddenly.

I hope that Allah SWT accept our humble and imperfect Umrah. I also pray that Allah SWT will provide us with more of such chances to visit Baituallah and Madinah again, and hopefully next time, more we aim to perform it better. Aamiin.

p.s. But I do have some little stories I hope to keep in this blog. Will update when time Allah permits. (And hopefully before I forget about it).

Here to see pictures.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

our roles and positions on earth

"Is it they who would portion out the Mercy of their Lord? It is We who portion out between them their livelihood in the life of this world; and We raise some of them above others in ranks, so that some may command work from others; But the Mercy of thy Lord is better than the (wealth) which they amass."

Zukhruf 43:32

sound

I was downloading a sound file onto my handphone, from the internet via wifi - and I suddenly thought about the process.

Can you imagine, taking our voices or any sound, turning it into some binary codes 0s and 1s. Then storing it somewhere in the far western part of the world, then make it travel through the atmosphere and then it gets identified as the specific set of codes called upon, to be retrieved and put into my handphone.

The fact that sounds can be recorded and reproduced is in itself amazing.

It is found that what we experience as 'sound' is actually caused by minute and very quick vibrations created on the thing that produces the sound. These vibrations are dispersed out, like waves, and gets transported through the available mediums (e.g. air or even solid). Then when the vibration hits our eardrums, it produces the sound to us. In the old days, voices or sounds are simply recorded by imprinting these vibrations. Now, these vibrations are stored digitally by translating it into bytes (0s and 1s)

But of course, it will never be the same as we seeing it or hearing it in person, because the quality of these original apparatus can never be beaten. In fact as I've blogged about before, these awesome gadgets and capabilities created derived from natural sources, utilised by man, is only a sieved out part of the whole Nature - which surely is so much more awesome and amazing.

Observing how amazing nature is, how sound and images can be reproduced, how cloning is possible, man in modern days should find it easier to believe how we can die, our body decompose, and then be made to rise and live again on Judgement Day.


I guess I have digressed quite a bit from the amazement about downloading a sound file.

BUT, truly, doesn't it all come down to this? Were we not asked to ponder about the Signs of Allah SWT in the very Nature than Allah has created?

In the end... Subhanallah, Allahu Akbar!

p.s. the sound file is still in the process of being downloaded from the time I started this till now.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The jihad to do good

The avowed enemy, Syaitan, when he can't convince us to do a bad deed, he tries to stop us from doing a good deed by trying to convince us that we're doing it to show off, and therefore shouldn't. If we fall for that, he wins, we lose.

How I try to overcome this is by asking myself what or who did I think of when the idea first occurred? Was I thinking about someone I was trying to impress? Or was I thinking about the thing I wanted to do or the person I wanted to help?

Another test to know if my intention is true, is to ask myself honestly, if I would do it, if no one knows or acknowledge. If the answer is an easy yes, masyaAllah, then I shrug the Syaitan off. That helps me ascertain my true intention. Then I istighfar, to ask Allah SWT for forgiveness if then the thought of trying to impress somebody did cross my mind. Keepinge in mind that Allah SWT is Oft Forgiving and All-Knowing, I go ahead and do what I intended to do.

But what if our initial intention WAS to impress someone? Do we just abandon the intention to do the good deed?

I think we should rethink our intention, istighfar, and do it.

May Allah grant us strength in this constant jihad within ourselves. Aamiin.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Caught in the act

After my Isya' prayers, I comfortably lay down on my bed, tucked my feet under the blanket, and picked up the book I was finishing. It's Akira Kurosawa's 'Something like an Autobiography'.

On the section of Random Notes on Filmmaking, I came to read this passage:

"I've forgotten who it was that said creation is memory. My own experiences and the things I have read remain in my memory and become the basis upon which I create something new. I couldn't do it out of nothing. For this reason, since the time I was a young man, I have always kept a notebook handy when I read a book. I write down my reactions and what particularly moves me. I have stacks and stacks of these notebooks, and when I go off to write a script, these are what I read. Somewhere, they always provide me with a point of breakthrough. Even for single lines of dialogue I have taken from these notebooks. So, what I want to say is don't read books while lying down on a bed."


Right.


I thoroughly enjoyed this book. At the end of the book, I felt like I personally knew him.

But, of course I don't.

Like he said, people tend to write a good description of themselves, or even a description that is more towards the type of person they'd like to be, but not necessarily is. Most of the time too, people would leave out the negative or ugly parts.

But then again, of course, right? I mean, who in the right mind, would write about their ugly parts for the public to read. As Muslims we are told not to go reveal our personal sins to others - just acknowledge it personally to God, and ask for forgiveness.

Anyway, like I said, I enjoyed the book. Apart from some of the funny incidences he related, I think a lot can be learnt from this man's thoughts about life in general, and filmmaking.

Friday, February 24, 2012

these happy events

I have so many things to express. So many things going through my mind, one after another.

[One after another - reminds me of the paper Leen let me read on 'multi tasking', which was found to be counter-productive. So one AFTER another is better than thinking/doing a few things at the same time.]

One after another are also the blessings I have received from Allah SWT in the last few weeks, among His other 'permanent' blessings (such as IMAN and the ability to breath and eat and go to the toilet normally, family, friends.. countless). Alhamdulillah!

I posted 3 of these rare blessings on my FB wall yesterday - I felt that I had my reasons. The first was about my films which will be screened to the general public. I'm hoping with the announcement, some people who had wanted to see my films can go and bring their friends if they want to. I'm also happy that it will be shown to the general public because the objective of making these films is to spread the messages contained in the films.

Then, about not being able to BE at the screenings because, alhamdulillah, I'll be in Makkah doing my umrah, insyaAllah. Then, suddenly I received news that my son won a golf tournament in KL. I felt I had to share this with friends and family who would be happy to know and would probably feel hurt if we kept quiet about it.

By this time, I suddenly felt quite tired of seeing my own posts about 'good' things happening. Don't get me wrong; of course I DO, I DO appreciate and am happy with these blessings. MasyaAllah, alhamdulillah - la hawla wa la quwwata illa billah.

However, it also got me thinking about a few things.

1/ I was afraid that people may think that I don't suffer from any misfortune - nothing bad ever happens. Of course that is not true. Surely some bad things also happen to us - causing us to grieve or be angry or disappointed. However, normally I would accept that in silence and supplicate to Allah SWT for assistance, and perhaps only share it with a few close, trusted friend/s.

2/ in the few moments of one good news after another, I had a sensation, or should I say, a realisation that as a normal human being, put on this earth, it's not normal for one to have only blessings and no difficulties at all. It seems unreal and unnatural. I started to worry. I felt that if we constantly get these blessings... (wait... I shouldn't use the word 'blessings' - being alive is a blessing in itself, and that does not equate to happiness all the time. What shall we call those things? Achievements? Things that gives us temporary bliss and happiness? Oh, let's just call it 'happy events') So, I felt that if we constantly have these 'happy events', it stunts our emotional growth, our ability to emphatise, to withstand hardships, to learn.

I see a bit more now, how difficulties and challenges are the ones that nourish us as human beings in our growth to be a better human being.

3/ I, my family, and everyone else must remember and understand that these 'happy events', the good things we receive on this earth are all a part of the series of tests that Allah gives to his servants. It's important for us to realise that these are all very temporary, that it can be taken away at any time, just as it has been given to us. As such, we must not be too proud of it, or too attached to it.

"That which is on earth We have made but as a glittering show for the earth, in order that We may test them, as to which of them are best in conduct."
Al-Kahf 18:7


We must remember to thank Allah... and I see how the surah An-Nasr acts as a good reminder for us. We praise Allah for these successes, not forgetting to seek forgiveness from him in our happiness, in fear that even for a moment, we forget that all these comes from Allah SWT.

"When comes the Help of Allah, and Victory,
And thou dost see the people enter Allah's Religion in crowds,
Celebrate the praises of thy Lord, and pray for His Forgiveness: For He is Oft-Returning (in Grace and Mercy)."
An-Nasr 110:1-3





p.s. ** I'd like to say here, that when I quote a translation of the Quran, that, firstly, this is not THE word of Allah - it's a translation. Some ideas or true intent of the original words, most of the time, they get lost in translation. What more the word of the Creator, whose knowledge is way beyond what we can even begin to comprehend.

Another thing is that, these ayats that I quote, is in relation to how it applies to ME in MY life. Or how it affected my thoughts or triggered it, within my own capacity. It may affect you in the same way, or not. Or it may affect you even more. I feel that our relationship and experience with the Quran, for each of us, will be in our own unique ways. Sincerity is key. May Allah guide us, and may we be guided, when we take the Quran as one of our guide (the other is Rasulullah SAW), as Allah has asked us to.