Selected from a Divine Palette

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You just like me, looked at yourself in the mirror today. Just like mine, maybe, that’s your daily routine first thing in the morning. “Hmm, I look a little tan today, tanner than usual. (read: that’s apparently not ok in our twisted, brainwashed minds) Urghh, really?! Spots? I thought I have washed my face like a million times in a day. Arghh! My waist? Did I gain a few more pounds? It must have been that burger last night at 12!” *sigh and more sigh*

The sad truth is that’s not only time that we sigh in a day thinking and ruminating about our looks. We sigh silently and enviously when we meet our friends, when we meet the friends of our friends. When we watch TV, when we see billboards and when we scroll down our Instagram feeds that is annoyingly filled with selfies of girls with flawless fair (read: white) skin, strange contouring technique (to actually achieve natural looks *smh*) posing with full pretension as if “Hey, I didn’t know I’m gonna look this good, I was just giving my normal poker face -.-)

We have become obsessed with looks. Someone’s worth before your eyes are instantaneously judged and filtered by what they offer to you visually. Our first reaction to meeting someone, “OmG, she’s so pretty! MashaAllah, she’s really beautiful.” And you haven’t even talked to them and seen their personalities. Look, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong in appreciating God’s gifts to someone by praising them, but I feel that our “natural” reaction to beauty is not that natural after all. It’s been influenced by our surrounding and environment which dictates what is the accepted standard of beauty. And that standard of judgement, hate to break it to you, is not very accommodating  and inclusive of every type apparently, my friends!

Well, first of all, let’s take this whole weird where-does-it-come-from obsession with white and fair skin, in Asia and Africa, places where pigmentation is a product of evolution inherited from our ancestors in order for us to survive. This phenomenon baffles me that I had even written an assignment on it. Why do we yearn for fair and white skin when the majority of the population are naturally tan or dark in complexion? Why are Bollywood celebrities busy at work promoting, the latest whitening products, even for guys? Why are all, yes all, Korean make up stores sell BB creams and products that help you to achieve a lighter and a whiter skin tone? Why is skin bleaching products, one of the number one bestselling cosmetic products in Africa? Why does Malaysian TV is annoyingly filled with skin whitening ads mocking darker complexion and patting yourself at the back if you are pale as ghosts? Why? Have you ever asked why? I’ve been asking why since I was a little girl. Then, I learned that it’s a product of colonisation, coupled with the mentality that white is right, white is pure, white is heavenly, white is good behaviour, white is high status and wealth and white is the ultimate rare form of beauty told by our ancestors and advanced by the modern means of advertisement.

As little girls, we were admonished for playing under the sun. Because, hey you don’t wanna get darker, do you? Our natural ancestral remedies are full of beauty secrets for a healthy, white and fair skin. From turmeric, lemon juice to apple cider vinegar. And who’s never heard of Fair & Lovely. A product with many of its clones today that tells you that being fair will land you your dream job and your dream man. And as older girls, you would face the offence of not possessing the right complexion when shopping for foundations or compact powder. Nothing comes close to your skin complexion. Sometimes the punishing complexion palette does make you feel as if you belong in the wrong continent. You see, how they play with our minds and hearts?

Look. Just because I’m preaching to you all this does not mean that I’m immune from feeling bad about my looks either. I, too, most of the times are sucked into this tight bubble of what is beautiful created by the society when I gaze at myself in the mirror. And it does not matter whether you live in the West or the East, no one is forgiving about the way you look, the way God has intended to create you.

And for whenever I am down just overthinking about my look, this verse from the Holy Quran, empowers me:

“We have certainly created man in the best of stature;” (95:4)

God tells us that we are beautiful the way we are because He created us. And nothing is wrong with God’s creations. Any flaws or blemishes are deemed as such because of our blindness to see beyond the apparent.

You are beautiful because you were designed by the Divine. Every single one of you; dark, tan, fair and many other in-betweens are masterpieces of the Divine. Your complexion is unique and ultimately beautiful because they were selected from a Divine palette. What’s a MAC’s foundation palette compared to His palette?

The truth is, we are all seeking some form of validation. Some of us seek validation in our works, some of us in our relationships and some of us in our looks. Seeking the validation and approval of others chain and enslave us. As we draw closer to almost 6 decades of independence, let us start with unchaining ourselves from our enslavement to the conception of beauty.

And God knows best….

 

It Will Come At The Right Time

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When you’re single, you dream of being married. And once you’re married, you reminisce the freedom of being a singleton. *sigh*

Focus. Focus on what you have at any given time. And be grateful for whatever status you have at any given time. If you’re single, that’s not the end of the world. Don’t get all depressed viewing wedding photos of your friends or their honeymoon snaps. God is giving you a golden opportunity now to maximise your potential on your own. To seek yourself. To contribute and spend time with your near and dear. And it has been proven times and times again that just when you’re not thinking about it, it will come. The moment and the right person will come because 50,000 years before the creation of the heavens and seas, all those have been divinely decided. And don’t get angry when your aunties and your mom’s friends teasingly queried, “When are you getting married?” Because to be honest, that’s just by default what they like to ask everyone 😛 Once you’re married, they’ll ask, “when are you getting a baby?” I mean that’s just an auntie-ly thing to ask 😉

Now, stop over thinking and get on the road of progress. And please for the love of God, I hate to break it to you, ‪#‎relationshipgoals‬ are superficial! And things seen on Instagram are what not what they seem in real life. Instead, make dua. Make dua for a pious partner.

And, Allah knows best

This post is taken from a previous Facebook post dated July 25th, 2016.

Building Strength through Difficulties

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Earlier in the day today, I was greeted with a frustrating news. All of my planning and efforts yielded only in disappointment, or so I thought. And for those of you who know me well, I am big on planning and scheduling my time where I don’t do well when things do not run according to my earlier made plans, something that I believe I inherited from my mother. (perfectionist mother-daughter duo :P) I have always held and would still continuously hold that, that’s just basic organizational skill that everyone is supposed to have.

So, this morning something that I’ve been planning for like months and dreamt of ages ago did not happen. And there I was crushed. And while I was pondering (read: crying. Yes, I’m that vulnerable), something was knocking hard on my senses, trying to wake me up. I realized that growing up, I was not spoilt with material luxuries or any of that sort, but I was well protected by my protective parents. I saw the difficulties that my parents had growing up, but I was never had to face the same difficulties that they had to go through. Yes, I have worked, but it was never to support my family. It was simply for my own experience and for my own pocket money.Then, I remembered how others who are in my age, perhaps not in a very lucky situation would have reacted to the disappointing news that I received if they were in my shoes this morning? Would they have time to over think about it and cry? Absolutely not.

Sometimes, we whine and cry over things that we do not receive that we forget to be grateful for things that we did receive. Sometimes, this world deceives us by making us see those who get everything as a standard and not those who make do with little things.
Sometimes, we forget that getting out of comfort zones is not detrimental to us but fundamental in making us stronger.
And sometimes, you might think, why am I ranting over this thing when it’s a given but sometimes, experiences are the most powerful teachers.
And sometimes, the best reply that one needs to give to oneself in facing any difficulty, small or big is, “Khair, inshaAllah”.

‪#‎RamadanReflection‬

p/s: Kudos to Michelle Obama because honestly I got all inspired through her commencement speech on the same topic the other day.

This post was taken from a Facebook post dated June 9th 2016.

Lamentation of a Wounded Servant

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My soul is battered. My soul is bruised. From all the Divine surgeries that make up life. And every time I can feel it weaved. Though it does take a long time. But I know that my wound is tenderly nursed by my loving Master.

I stared hard at the prayer mat after my salah. “What did I recite just now? What did I feel in every utterance of Your name?” I could feel my heart murmuring no reply. I felt empty. And the emptiness is swiftly filled with the rush of guilt. I have betrayed my own heart. I have cheated my own soul. My mind wandered far in my meetings with You. I tried hard to focus on You. But it did not remain as long as I thought it would be. I guess I have lost the battle with the damned.

I no longer feel that rush. That intoxication of the heart, filled with ecstasy of spirituality. My soul now feels stationary and solitary. Perhaps this is the low that people often talk of faith.

I look right and left after my congregational prayer. On my right, tears flowing down the sister’s cheeks. I want that. On my left, a sister is severely quiet and focused in her supplication, her eyelids shut. I want that too. That composed devotion is graceful and beautiful. Intimacy with You is what I yearn.

Nowadays , I try to spend a little longer in my last sujood. Just trying to gather the perfect words of supplication. But that supplication now feels more and more like a repetition. I no longer shed tears out of desperation. I now shed tears out of frustration. Frustration of lifeless spiritual routine.

I heard the chimes of the trees. I heard the whispers of the wind. I looked up the sky and saw a glimpse of heaven. They are all holding the secrets of my soul. Secrets that are safe with You.

Life is an uphill struggle and the journey is long. I used to think of everything as the destination and thus I chased and chased until I was battered and wounded. But, the truth is the Destination is only one, and others simply are the means, much like the signboards to get there. And in order to get there you will rise and stumble. This is perhaps my period of stumbling. I crawled and crawled to His door of mercy. And before I could knock it, my soul collapsed. Collapsed of the heavy burden of my sins.

I admit, I frequently succumb to the burgeoning desires and the ever-lingering whisper of demons. The demons outside and within me. At times, my soul ravages at what the movies and drama illustrates to me. The delusion of paradise on earth, of life free of trials and tribulations. The picture-perfect family, the happily-ever after relationships, the flashy cars and dream houses. But, when I finally woke up from the sleepwalking, I was panicked. Panicked at the incoming vehicles, rampaging to tell me to stop being dead, and wake up to the often-grim reality of life.

And I amassed the little energy that I have left, and I rose. I force myself to strut my heavy, lazy feet with tremendous difficulty because Your promise rings in my head:

“When My servant draws close to me by the span of a palm, I draw close to him by the space of a cubit, and when he draws close to Me by the space of a cubit, I draw close to him by the space (covered) by two hands, and when he draws close to Me by the space (covered by) two hands, I go in hurry towards him.”

(Sahih Muslim, Book 48, Hadith 3)

That vow fills my heart up with life. The empty vessel of my heart is filled again with a river of joy.  Though I know that my soul is drenched in sins, I know that by forcing my body to withstand 2 raka’at of nawafil prayers, done solely for the sake of gaining proximity with You, Your delight and pleasure in drawing close to me is ALL that my small, humble self will ever seek.

And there was a time when I thought I was losing fragments of my old self. And how much I feared for that. But, then, as Your light penetrates my little, bruised soul, I feel home again. I feel that I have arrived at a familiar territory all over again. A firmer, Handhold I could feel within my grasp now.

I am forging that bond again. I am making amends again. I am down at my knees, my forehead kissing the earth, whispering my vows to You again. And every time I am struck with any calamity or adversity, I am reminded of Your beloved ‘s grievance and lamentation onto You alone:

“O Allah! Unto You do I complain of my weakness, of my helplessness and of my lowliness before men.  O most Merciful of the merciful. O Lord of the weak and my Lord too. Into whose hands have you entrusted me?  Unto some far off stranger who receives me with hostility? Or unto a foe whom you have empowered against me? I care not, so long as You are not angry with me.  But Your favouring help, that were for me the broader way and the wider scope.  I take refuge in the light of Your countenance whereby all darknesses are illuminated and all things of this world and the next are rightly ordered, lest You make descend Your anger upon me or lest Your wrath beset me. Yet it is Yours to reproach until You are well pleased. There is no power and no might except through Thee.”

Prophet Muhammad’s dua at Taif
(peace and blessings be upon him)

And to You all my reliance belongs…..

#soulspeaks #RelyOnAllah

I Don’t Know How To Say It!

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There comes a time when you would not know what to do with sack of emotions that you have allowed to pile up when you once were so used to discarding them out of the system. You have forgotten what is it like to have a healthy system of emotions now that you have to deal with massive untended piles of outdated emotions added with stash of fresh new ones.  Then, you feel as if you can hear your heart screaming in pain for the enormous unbearable weight that it has to carry.  And then, when you  fear the responses that the scream of your mouth will produce, the tears start shedding. Then your face starts to be soaked with  heavy shower of tears. And there’s no way to control its production. They keep on running and running out of your eyes. Its true what people said, “the tears are silencing the screaming of your heart.”

Over thinking doesn’t help either. Neither does over caring. To feel excessively for something silly as cat’s cries is looked down. To explain it to someone, be it your best friend about the particularities of what’s plaguing your mind will only be a source of mockery. But, then you ask, who, really, can truly understand and be of a caring listener to your problems? How do you even begin to break down all the things clouding your head that it has even made it harder for you to breathe. How can people understand that when you cry, it is not out of anger, but out of frustration that you are incapable of controlling your anger.

Who would have the patience, you might wonder. With all the hustle bustle of life and piles of commitments and demands of life that other people have to shoulder, expecting on people to take a time to understand your lamentations seem to be an act devoid of mercy and compassion. And again, not everybody is well-versed in human psychology. And yes, it will feel pretty lonely when you think of the worldly realm. This social world that we have created only provides more loneliness to us, the social animals, when you think about it.

But that’s only when you’ve limited the world in such a view. There is however, another landscape, another horizon of hope awaiting us. One that connects to a metaphysical realm, a spiritual enclosure, a Divine embrace. One that doesn’t require us to find the right words to say it or articulate them into coherent sentences. The screaming of the heart itself is a desperate whisper of help heard up in the Heavens above. You don’t even have to put out your hands in supplication, your tears are giving testimony to The All-Seeing. When nobody else knows how you feel, The All-knowing, knows.

Just having those notions in mind, you’re immediately comforted. The tears dried up. The heavy weight of the heart suddenly vanished. Your tongue can begin to mutter words of coherence again. Now, its not that you’re devoid of emotions, but at least your emotions are kept at bay, subjugated by the power of rationality. Your problems are now articulated well and can be easily understood by the listener, whoever they may be. And in that, lays the proof of:

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Sahih International: “And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – INDEED I AM NEAR. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.” (2:186)

May Allah comfort all of our hearts.

The Keeper of Hearts

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It was a beautiful sunny day with a cooling light blue sky. I noticed those particularly well that day.  I was seeking Him in those puffy clouds and I remember the continuous screaming of my heart : “Ya Rab al samaawaat al Ard!” (O’Lord of the Heavens and the Earth!) The mixed emotions of anger and pain as a reaction to what I just found out was a fertile ground for shayateen to cultivate their attacks of doubts, suspicion and insecurities. I realized that, too.  The famous hadith of “the REAL patience is at the first stroke of calamity” keeps ringing itself in my head. The battle was intense between my consciousness and the flaming fire of anger fanned by the devils.

But sometimes when you sincerely ask Allah to calm your heart down and eliminate the chaos within you, He answers you. And that swiftly, too.  Sometimes, we fail to notice the speed at which He answer our desperate calls. Perhaps, it is the blindness of our hearts that forbids us from noticing this, consequently making us fail to stop and wonder at the overflowing mercy and love that He continuously showers upon us.

And then the calmness slowly settled in. And in that calmness, I found that my du’a was answered. The conviction was found. The much-needed conviction that everything is going to be okay! I have a thing of always trying to look for someone to comfort me in times of confusion, grief or pain.  But in my desperate search for that someone, I made a quick du’a along the way. I remembered Him amidst the chaos of my heart. Thank God for that! For the feeling that I felt immediately then was different and unperturbed. Surely, radically different than if I ever sought a company and wishing that he or she will eliminate the chaotic feelings within my heart.

Indeed, He is the Keeper of hearts. He protects and guides your hearts. When you’re sincerely at lost and you know, ONLY He, al-Rahman who can help you escape the situation, nobody else will, only HE will.

I did not need anyone to give me a comfort or an answer to reassure me any more. Sometimes when He wills it, the answer can be shoved right in front of you. Clearing you of all the doubts and prevents you from all possible heartaches.

Auspicious Days

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Today I woke up with a sense of immense gratitude. I am grateful of the fact that as a believer, some days and moments are designated auspicious and sacred. Sacred moments where its all about creating and solidifying your relationship with your Maker. There are holy days where you sacrifice, starve and strive all in the name of your Lord. Because as a believer, you see and feel things that other people can’t feel. You feel the mercy and life that your Lord showers upon you on these few auspicious days. The strength and inexplicable contentment that He gives you. These selected days are blessed days that are meant to elevate you. Seize the chance & be present in the blessed moments. Increase and be intense in your supplication and moisten your tongue with the remembrance of your Maker.

Seize the chance of elevation and celebrate the spirit of renewal of the new you.

‪#‎Arafah‬ ‪#‎Hajj2015‬

This post was taken from a previous Facebook post dated September 23rd 2015.

Mending the Broken Heart

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Transcend. Transcend that pain. Transcend the pieces of your broken heart. Reach out to Him. For He is your destination. Through the mutterings of Allahu Akbar (Allah is Greater), you’ll find solace. For there is absolutely NOTHING that is greater than Him.

Your heart is broken. But, it’s not broken for long. You’re engulfed by the darkness and trembling, kneeling down in the abyss of your pain. No amount of tears can express the stabbing pain of what’s inside. But, light will shine through and you shall be walking up straight again, heading Home, heading to Him.  Trust me, the remedies are here and the journey is long, but, your heart will heal, it will be sound and functional all over again.

Let Quran be your close company. Travelling together with you in this long voyage, in hands and inscribed in the heart. For verily: “We send down Quran as a HEALING and MERCY for the believers.” (17:82) No other words can soothe the burning pain and remove the scar of your wound, apart from His words subhanahu wa ta’ala, for in that bears the greatest level of unconditional love of your Lord for His striving slaves. Just as He consoled and comforted the hearts of His beloved messengers through Quran, open your heart to receive the same comfort and consolation that it offers. Do not dwell on what has taken place. Instead, spend time to recite gracefully, memorize and attempt to understand and live by the messages that it carries. As it heals your heart, it also slowly purifies your heart and taqwa (fear of Allah) can ultimately sprout within it, a prized and rare possession sought by many these days.

In order for your heart to heal, it needs to follow a strict routine. Apart from Quran, waking up in the middle of the night bears the strongest manifestation of your will and desire to heal your heart by prostrating, pleading to Him, crying to Him, when nobody else is watching. Rise for tahajjud. Cry to Him. Wholeheartedly. Tell Him. Everything. When the tongue is tied and the words have dried up, let the shedding of tears speak for you. The following day will be different you, trust my word! Your vision will be cleared up and your heart will become your compass for every decision that you make.

Your heart is restless. You worry. Worry for what has already transpired and what’s to come and what has been written in your book of destiny. The Most Merciful says in His glorious Quran: “Verily, ONLY in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (13:28) Do not underestimate the significance and the enormous healing impact that dhikr (remembrance) of Allah brings to your heart. It transforms your heart from a place of chaos and unsettled emotions into a warm, cozy abode of serenity and tranquility.

Supplication. It is your most powerful weapon. To protect you and put the broken pieces of your heart back together. And nothing sweeps the breeze of love of ar-Rahman into our hearts more than when He says: “Call upon Me; I will respond to you” (40:60) This ayah is a consolation and a promise that du’a is a means for us to rise up, a stairway to help us climb higher, that when nothing else seems to work out, when no one else seems to be there for us even when they promised to be there for us, we have got Allah. Allah. The best of companies. Seek auspicious moments to supplicate your endless wishes and desires. Seek and speak with Him in your sujood (prostration).  Feel His loving embrace in the firmness of your heart that He will DEFINITELY answer your call.

Sometimes, in order to let your heart properly healed and mended, you have to escape. Escape from the chaos of this world and enter His house. Spend some quality time and seek refuge in his masaajid (mosques). Seek time just between you and Him. Stop your pretense of being strong. We were created weak. Admit your weaknesses before Him and seek His help to get through whatever struggles of this life. The stillness of the heart that you were thirsty of will be quenched in your solitude in His house.

He is watching you. Watching you crumbling down and broken. But, He would also be watching you rise and bloom into a new you. He is there. Always watching over you.

These are not words of consolation, for words of consolation cannot be anyone’s words but His. But these are spiritual remedies sought by many, but only granted to few. Seek His help for “Allah is your protector and He is the best of helpers” (3:150).

A Healing Month

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The blessed, long-awaited guest is finally here.

Ramadan. Our hearts have yearned for you for too long and now you’ve finally arrived ushering abundance of mercy and blessings to heal our ill hearts. Let this Ramadan be a month of healing. Healing of the body and soul. Let this month heal the broken parts of our hearts and our relationships and give a little break to our exhausted bodies. Yes, you will tire yourself physically and mentally. But, know that all the doors of paradise are opened in this month and every single good deed will be multiplied in rewards. Plus, who knows if we still be allowed to experience another Ramadan comes next year. Compete in all forms of good deeds and yearn to earn His pleasure, forgiveness and eventual meeting with Him azza w jal :’)

Ramadan Mubarak!

This was taken from a previous Facebook post dated June 18th 2015.

Collecting the Pearls

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This dunya can sometimes be ugly. Sometimes we may find ourselves falling into the deepest pit of the ocean. We find no way out. We feel that an inconceivable calamity has struck us. the whole world has come tumbling down. The darkness engulfs our sight. Such descriptions that we have for our pain. But we forget that only by being in the deepest pit of the ocean, we can collect the purest of pearls and rise back up. It is only through being forced to fall on our knees can we fall into the position of greatness, the position of begging to the Most High. And out of everyone in the world, we who have Allah must believe that there is Light at the end of the tunnel. There is nothing be it good or bad that has befallen a believer except that it will be good for them at the end. Engrave that in our hearts.

Being in this dunya is a bit like swimming. If you’re panicked, you’re going to drown. Relax. What do we have to worry when we know that our affairs are safe in His hands?

#RelyOnAllah

This post was taken from a previous Facebook post dated March 20th 2015.