Resilience

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Of late, I could see an extraordinary level of resilience in my mother. Not that it was not apparent in her before but perhaps recent events just opened my eyes and accentuated that beautiful maternal resilience inherent and abundant in herself.

I could see resilience in her holding back her tears in talking about her children. I could read fortitide and out-of-this-world composure in her fighting for justice for her children. I could sense pride in her introducing her children of all ages to her colleagues. I could see perseverance in her spending hours breaking her back to provide for her family and to give back to society. I could read rigour and yet concern in her discussing over the ills of society with me intellectually. I could sense a deep sense of gratitude in her sacrificing her limited amount of time for the sake of her parents and family. I could see hope and ultimate reliance that she has in her long sujood and tearful supplication upon the Almighty praying for the best for her family. This is a woman that is nothing less than extraordinary.

All of those descriptions couldn’t possibly do justice to who she is to me. But, just wanted to give a glimpse of the love and sacrifices that are dispensed generously daily by my mommy.

Thank you Mak and may Allah reward you with the only true reward awaiting you, The Garden of Perpetuity

Unity in Diversity

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It is often a rarity that I come out of a lecture bombarded with so much awe and hope.

Living in a world with so much intolerance for other people simply for their views has bothered me continuously all this time. Islamic history is replete with examples of tolerance, mercy and love for each other despite the differences in religions, sects or madhahib. Yet, today we are quick to label one another as that or this and argue over the most trivial and technical of things, i,e: the right way to put your hand in prayers. It is ultimately the khuluq (characters) of the poeple in the past that were able to attract large masses of people to Islam, stretching from the Balkans to the Indian sub-continent and to China. It is the respect, love and humility that we had for one another despite our diversities that bound all of us together, not our harshness or rigidity.

 

We need to get past the labels today and come together in the spirit of reviving the solidarity of brotherhood of the past despite the differences. We have to be able to nurture humility in respecting differences of opinions. And yes the opinions are diverse and that has always been the strength of this religion and it should be cherished and preserved.

 

And please for the love of God, go and seek knowledge wherever and from whomever you can. Be careful in attaching judgements towards someone based on what you hear or see from them before even affording them the rights to tell you what they have to say. I personally don’t care whether you’re Salafi or a Sufi. I have praises and criticims for both. I care for no labels. All that I’m interested and thirsty of is in what you have to say. This religion is too vast that it can include everybody. Sectarian minds dont take us anywhere. We have greater challenges that we have to face today instead of arguing among ourselves.

 

This is taken from a Facebook post dated May 7th 2016.

 

We have a lot on our plate! #InternationalWomenDay

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So its ‪#‎InternationalWomenDay‬ huh?

Lately a thought has been lingering in my head; women these days have so many things to juggle simultaneously…..

I mean, not only are we expected to be on top of the class now that we have a right to education compared to our predecessors and our unfortunate fellow sisters in different parts of the world, once we graduate, we also have to think about getting a job, a good job also, taking into consideration the tough economic condition facing the world these days. Based on a discussion that I had in my class today, apparently only 40% of Malaysia’s workforce are women, in comparison to more and more women getting a university degree these days. In other words, we sisters, ought to weigh our muscles too in helping grow the economy. Wow. *sigh*

Alongside a job, those who take up education loans will have to think of ways to repay the loans. We gotta learn about and also pay the insurance, countless number of bills; electricity, water, phone, etc. And of course, you would also be expected to get a house and a car (convenience they’d say) and the list goes on and on. *more sighing* This is all on top of how obscenely erroneous reality has been portrayed by the media (dramas which shows you’ll land a CEO position of your papa’s corporation the moment you graduate. Seriously?! Malay drama man!)

And then surely as expected of your society, you will get married. And nope if you think responsibilities are about to lighten up once you said “I do”, you’re sorely mistaken. Its true. You will have a company, a team partner that by the will of God who would be sharing the duty of marriage alongside you, but there’s certainly more on the plate. You will get pregnant. Your body will change. For 9 months, your womb will become a protective home to another life.And once the moment arrives, let’s admit it, our bodies tear apart in ways we thought are physically unimaginable in order to let another soul to live. Think about that.

I’m not even going to dwell on the enormous pressure that unfortunately plagues our fellow women when it comes to conforming to society’s flawed, unattainable standard of beauty. That’s a topic for another day inshaAllah. But you get the jist right? We have A LOT on our plate.

Look. This might sound like a complain. But, I’m merely stating the reality that women, at least in the context of Malaysia and certainly other parts of the world are facing. So, first let’s drop this whole idea that women are weak because tell me if you can handle, ok maybe not labor pain, hmm maybe our monthly period pain and its complementary emotional instability phase?

What I’m saying is that it sounds nice that just with any other special date of the year, you now have a special date on the calendar just to honor women. But, the truth is, everyday is indeed a women’s day. Everyday is a day in which you honor the presence of your mother, sisters, wives and daughters. Appreciate the different kind of struggles that they go through. Love them and tell them that you love them. Though you might say over the time, you cannot live WITH us, we know deep down, you cannot really live WITHOUT us! *wink wink*

p/s: This post is of course a shout out to my mak, who without her sacrifices, struggles, perseverance, and iron-strong attitude, I would not be the person that I am today and she would not be where she is today. Thank you for everything and I love you mak! Siti Alawiah Siraj

Captivating Beauty ﷺ

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These days looking up the sky night time, I would catch the radiant glimpse of a full moon. And inevitably my mind would be swiftly reminded of the beloved prophet ﷺ and how the companions, radiya Allahu anhum have described him, ﷺ using the full moon as the metaphor.

Ka‘b (ra) said, “When he was pleased, his face would shine so bright that you would believe it was a piece of the moon.”

His grandson Hasan (ra) would comment on his, ﷺ beauty by saying, “his blessed face shone like the full-moon.”

His best friend Abu Bakr (ra), mesmerized by his captivating beauty also composed a few lines of poetry about him ﷺ : “He is faithful, chosen (by Allah), and calls to forgiveness. He shines like a full-moon when it is far from dark (clouds).”

A famous Arab poet, Zuhair on the prophet ﷺ : “Were you other than a human being, you would be the brightness on the night of a full-moon.”

There is indeed something about the moon and its beauty that is quite inexplicable. Gazing at the moon, you are captivated by the serene and calm quality of its beauty, even if you turned around, you would want to catch its glimpse again and again. Indeed, the brightness of a full moon is the height of beauty and to know that our beloved master, ﷺ was described as such makes the heart forever yearn to one day catch the radiant glimpse of the blessed face of the best of mankind, Muhammad ﷺ.

May Allah make us among those….

This is taken from a previous Facebook post dated February 23rd 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

A Reflection on My Missing Kitten

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As of my writing, my kitten, Creamo has been missing for around 32 hours. And I have managed to finally stop myself from continuously being bed-bound, made myself look a bit decent and finally shoved something down my throat so that I don’t end up fainting in unexpected places. The screen of my TV is blasting commentaries on the recent Jakarta bomb blast, but, my face is reaction-less. It is the same stony, cold face ever since my Creamo went missing. Minus the crying of course and thank God, my eyes are less swollen and less zombie-like than they were just a couple of hours ago. Everything around me, from the noises of the cars outside, the mumbling conversations happening outside the door of my room, people coming into my room to check up on me (I guess), are just external noises, according to my deluded senses. Being bed-bound just a couple of hours ago allowed my head to wander to different places. It was treading paths of somewhere beautiful and somewhere scary simultaneously. The plain, ivory ceiling has allowed me to reflect on life so much more than perhaps devouring the beauty of nature of a lifetime can perhaps offer me.

My phone was my closest companion in bed. Somehow, constantly checking up on what’s going on through all forms of social media seemed to be the most important thing for me in the world. I did not like or favorite anything, nor did I update or tweeted anything about my current state. It was just for the sake of checking up on what’s happening everywhere else beyond the confines of my room, beyond the confines of my emotions, which at times suffocated me immensely. But I guess, Whatsapp was the worst. I just could not for the life of me at that time, garner the remnants of my social skills to respond with any sort of mildly-consoling responses or emotionally-relevant emojis to let people know that I’m fine, I’m doing okay. Even when I managed to finally collect the courage to be earnest about my current state, for some reason, the consoling, advice-like responses that I received from my friends sounded simply like pure noise to me. I just could not take them in. It all sounded too ‘rational’ for me at the time. Some even told me off for being excessively emotional and made me feel that if I can’t even handle this “small” of a matter, how could I possibly handle other big tribulations coming ahead of me. And I remember the exact feeling that I had then, I needed someone so bad. Just someone to hold on to, someone to tell me that everything is going to be ok. And nobody was around, unfortunately….

Because the thoughts in my head were haunting me. I was frightened to even visit my phone gallery which makes it prone for me to bump into videos and pictures of my baby Creamo. I could not. Because funnily enough, I did not need to steal a look at the pictures or view the videos. My thoughts are full of his images. How his gaze fixed at me just the night before he went missing. How I was up until 6 am in the morning accompanying him who could not shut his eyes too due to him constantly throwing up. Out of pure fear, I would, times and times again, force-fed him with zamzam water while murmuring adhkaar (this spiritual remedy worked with his mother last time), getting him hydrated, so that he did not collapse. But every time I gave him water, he would puke and became weakened. He did not like the force-feeding I gathered from his reaction of running away from me every time the routine kicked in. But then, I would approach him gently again and gave him a petting around his necks and chin so that he felt consoled and became less afraid of me. So that, he understood that I didn’t really mean to hurt him. That night he couldn’t cuddle and share the warmth of my body on my bed like he usually does. He just wanted to be on the cold floor. And then I realized why. Because he was constantly salivating that night, he did not want to end up puking on my bed, he decided to be on the cold floor. I accompanied him on the floor too. Sometimes, stealing a few momentary naps when I saw him shutting his eyes. And when his eyes were opened, his gaze would be warmly fixed on me. You know how kittens have those big, round, black eyes to die for, he was giving me the same look throughout the night whenever our gazes fixed on each other’s. Just that it was differently more warm, kind of indicating to me something. Something that my heart could not possibly fathom emotionally comes the next day.

Throughout his rather short stay in my house (well, he’s a kitten right?), everybody knew how overly attached I have become to Creamo. I felt that since he is a kitten, he has to be given sufficient and at times, extra attention too. And by virtue of it being a kitten, I have always felt that he is more vulnerable and thus that gives me the license to treat him like a real baby. I could not see him sitting still somewhere. There’s always that instinct within me that would scream for me to go and pick him up, carry him like a baby and cuddle with him underneath a cozy blanket. Or when he’s hungry, I would rush to the kitchen and make sure the freshly-boiled chicken is not too hot for him to chew and swallow.

So, my room is eerily haunting for me right now as I would easily reminisce my moments with him. The same thing goes to the sliding door where I would expect him to safely return. You might wonder why I am all melodramatic? Well, that’s because if you happened to be an owner of cats, you would have noticed that they usually would die very far away from you, out of the thought that it would haunt you for them to pass before your very eyes. And for that very fearful thought, my knees failed me every time I wished to go beyond the compound of my house to seek him. Even when my dad told me that he could not find him anywhere around the neighbourhood, the images of him dead by some drains in some faraway neighbourhood overwhelmed and traumatized me.

But, remember how I said previously that my head wandered to somewhere both beautiful and frightening simultaneously? The beautiful was me implanting within my paranoia, the power and might of God. That my du’a can be so powerful, it is heard up in the heavens. The, maybe he was just out to seek his much-needed natural remedy and that one fine day, he would be coming through the sliding door again. That beautiful feeling where he would meow at me faintly again. The beautiful feeling where I would finally say, “Oh my Creamo baby, where have you been?” and I would see his beautiful black eyes again. And until that day comes, I would be patiently and strongly waiting for him…..

I fully understand how my story above illustrates nothing but perhaps at best, triviality to most readers. You might question, there are millions of human lives that are lost out there, blown to pieces, starving to death, but why did I not go all melodramatic for them? But the reason why I have decided to even write such a ‘trivial’ story about my own personal vulnerability is to perhaps shed some light upon the notion of attachment. I have been baffled of my own actions in treating him like another human being, while in fact he was not. I did treat him as if was a baby of my own. Perhaps, there is a gap in my own life, a void that was screaming to be filled, and I filled it with this attachment instead.

The truth is your attachment, my attachment, it can all be different in nature and triviality. It might be plain simple or it might be purely complex. But, the journey of overcoming that attachment is rather universal. The pangs of pain and loss might be something that we all can sit down and discuss about. And the decision to be strong or paralyzed about it is also at our disposals. Its either you want it or you don’t.

“I’m A Mess”

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The hardest of battles is when it is fought behind closed doors out of people’s sight. When tears are shed in the presence of no one. When the tongue is hardened and you consequently failed to verbalize the heart. It’s like there is lost signals. I wish I can paint what’s inside my heart. But, I’m afraid it will be just like a huge blob of messiness. Just like what I am right now. A mess. Too tired and weakened to force myself to get up and fight the world. Too tired to fight and face the stormy world. Too tired to utter a coherent explanation. I don’t know where it begins or where it ends. So, you just end up storming the world with your tongue tied in a knot carrying the heavy baggage of emotions that you have been stockpiling, waiting for the perfect time to explode.

I’m a mess. And it’s dragging me down deeper and deeper into an ocean of despair. I’m not even fighting the drowning by sticking my hands out to be saved. I’m just letting myself sink deeper and deeper into the darkness of the sea. And I intend to stay there for quite a while.

You look around you and you see the sun shining, the smiles and laughters of people everywhere blanketing your vision. Only yesterday, you were doing the exact same thing. Only yesterday, you were considered one of them, normal, emotionally-stable humans. Your broad honest smiles and your joyous talkative spirit now all look quite foreign and distant. You discovered that apparently your emotions do not intend to stay in a plateau for quite sometimes. They rebel and run amok within you. And you are only too emotionally, psychologically, physically fatigued to care. And another question adds to an already full plate of issues and problems: “Why Am I like This? and Why Am I Not like them? What is wrong with me?”

People flock to you for advices and emotional assistance. But nothing beats yourself harder inside when you begin to sincerely ask, how can you help them when you cannot even help yourself? Your lofty walk of strength indicating the victorious survival of your experiences are mere façades. The truth is, you need those words of advices more than anybody else. People think that the brokenness, the indentations created out of your ordeals and experiences have stopped somewhere in the past. But little did they know, the ordeals keep on coming and more indentations are being made, abusing your tiny, little, fragile heart.

Perhaps we like to put people especially ourselves high on the pedestal of angelicness, bound for perfection and flawlessness. And when you discovered that you’re just a weak human and when its ugliness is glaring itself onto your face, you just failed to fathom. Thus, the fall. That invisible fall that no one can see. The fall that takes place from a lofty tower of expectations will not end up looking so good. Your morale, your self-esteem are squashed. And since it is an invisible fall and given the generous façade of smiles that you have allowed to veil your true face , they will inevitably get trampled and trampled and no apology is offered. But you know that the battle does not subside. Tomorrow, when the sun peeks herself onto your face, you have no choice but to rise up and storm the world. AGAIN.

The battle will not cease until you begin to understand yourself more than other people can. And until then, garner your provision and brace yourself for the continuous battles ahead.

“And every night she would change herself, stay up late and grow deeper in love. She wanted to love it all. Everything and everyone, and how ironic was it, she wanted to save the world, the same world who couldn’t even remember her name.” (r.m. drake)

#WelcomeToCanada

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In the face of the bigoted statement made by Donald Trump earlier in the week, banning the entry of Muslims into America, Canada, its northern neighbor today stands lofty in manifesting its humanitarian vows, greeting the entry of Syrian refugees warmly into their arms, setting a high standard for all the other Western countries to race towards. And indeed the choir of “Tala’al Badru ‘Alayna” sends a powerful and significant message to humanity. This very song was originally sung to warmly welcome and celebrate the joyous occasion of the arrival of Muslims fleeing persecution in Makkah. Now, this very song echoed in a choir, a traditionally Western pride of musical ensemble welcoming the Syrian refugees which many countries have shut their borders to, into their new and safe home. This is undoubtedly another level of humanitarian gesture that the world has not seen in a long time. And if you’re aware what a winter weather is like, such a warm gesture will certainly force warm tears down your face :’)

#WelcomeToCanada #GoJustinTrudeau

This was taken from a previous Facebook post dated 13th of December 2015.

 

History is Repeating Itself

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Just as David Cameron decided to ‪#‎BombSyria‬, we will be instantaneously taken to a disgraceful recent past when Tony Blair decided to invade Iraq in 2003 alongside the Americans. Just as much Tony Blair today is not heralded as a war hero and instead a war criminal, Cameron shall inevitably face the same fate soon. Just as much as the moral-voice of Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons and the anti-war protests taken place across Britain are drowned out by the need to wage war against “terror” and to protect “national security”, their rational and morally-sound voices shall be recognized and honoured soon and Cameron’s disgraced. The war stance adopted by Cameron today demonstrates the moral catastrophe of a country known for its superb establishment of humanitarian values. Undoubtedly, reactionary, play-on-emotions politics only breeds more insecurities in the world. Terror only breeds more terror.

Indeed, history, if its not learnt is only bound to repeat itself.

‪#‎StopTheWar‬ ‪#‎AllLivesMatter‬

This is taken from a Facebook post dated 4th of December 2015.

A Time of Great Trials

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Any loss of innocent lives has to be recognized and mourned over, whether it happened in Paris, Beirut, Jerusalem, Darfur or Rakhine. The Quran explicitly states:

“….Whoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind and whoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind…” (5:32)

Political grievances do not validate the taking of innocent civilian lives wherever they may be. And the fact that the media attention is predominantly given to the latest carnage in Paris and not in Beirut or to the rest of the Muslim world should not be a source of mockery to the innocent souls that perished and of the griefs felt by their families and close friends. The analysis of why the carnage took place, the indiscriminate media attention granted and what can be done to solve the terrorist activities affecting humanity, be it Muslims or non-Muslims should be actively debated.

This is a trying time for humanity in general and Muslims in particular. The sanctity of our Quran and the pristine reputation of our prophet SAW have been tarnished by those criminals who claimed to represent them. In this time of great fitna, the Muslims need to be more than ever vigilant of the Quranic injunctions and the prophetic traditions that engender love and mercy towards one another. Remember that our prophet SAW was sent as “mercy to all mankind”. The values propagated by our beloved SAW are those that universally appeal to humanity at large and not just the Muslims. It is upon us to exemplify his prophetic traditions in order to overcome the waves of trials ahead of us.

And Allah knows best.

This was taken from a previous Facebook post dated 16th of November 2015.