Tuesday, 28 January 2014

A Thousand Meaning.....

Nothing is so aggravating as calmness.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

People say a picture speaks a thousand words and each picture has a different meaning to those who is viewing it. One picture can have different effect on different person.

So...what do these pictures tell you?.....

Post Manic Depressive

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”
― Heraclitus

This happens to me EVERY time without fail. Each time after I come back from the holy cities, I would be terribly depress for a couple of days and this time is no exception.

At first I thought I was weird or gone cuckoo because almost everyone whom I spoke to, came back happy and elated. No one spoke about bing sad or unhappy so what is wrong with me? My depression was so bad that I was literally moping around the house for weeks. My forlorn mood persisted until I found the courage to speak to the Wise Owl about it.  I dare not speak to others for fear that they will say that there is something wrong with heart or that God has rejected my umra hence that is why I'm feeling blue. Telling me that my umra was imperfect was not something I would like to hear.

When I confronted the Wise Owl, he simply smiled and told me I am not weird but quite normal. Phew! That's good news!

Anyway, the Wise Owl said that the depression is normal. He said that whilst I was there, my soul was used to the peacefulness and tranquillity of the Holy cities that it longs for the same even when I'm back home. Unfortunately, once I'm home, it's difficult to find peace with my chaotic schedule.

The Wise Owl said that it is easy to devote one's self entirely to worship when one is in the Holy cities but the real test is to continue the devotion when one has returned home. Sometimes, the heart gets frustrated because a person can't spend the same amount of time in worship once back home. That frustration also contributes towards the depression.

Somehow, what the Wise Owl said makes perfect sense to me. I'm glad I'm not a weirdo and now I'm able to deal with my post-umra depression better now that I understand why I'm feeling sad. My moping has been cut down to 2 days instead of weeks. I still do get weepy looking at the Kaaba but I don't turn into a wailing banshee so that's progress. Now I just tell my heart to be patient because In Sha Allah, we will be given the opportunity again to visit the Holy cities...Ameen......

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Clueless's Basic Guide to Hajj part 1

Hajj shall be observed in the specified months.*Whoever sets out to observe Hajj shall refrain from sexual intercourse, misconduct, and arguments throughout Hajj. Whatever good you do, GOD is fully aware thereof. As you prepare your provisions for the journey, the best provision is righteousness. You shall observe Me, O you who possess intelligence.
Surah Al Baqara 2:197

Many many years ago, performing hajj was farthest in my mind and was absolutely clueless about what hajj is all about. When I finally came to my senses, I performed my hajj with much trepidation.

Learning about the whole ritual of hajj can seem quite daunting for someone who was as clueless as I was. It can also be quite overwhelming. I mean I couldn't grasp the whole sequence of what was required to be done. The books were no help to me as there were too much information and that got me confused even further. Somehow my slow brain couldn't digest the information that I read.

So in the end, I went back to the very basic of hajj ie I started with where I was supposed to be and when. Once I got the logistics right, it was very much easier to fill in the blanks.

Ok let me just tell you the logistics of hajj the way I understand it. We start at Arafah. We have to be in Arafah on 9th Dzulhijjah from zuhr. After maghrib or isya' you would then be mobilised to Mudzalifah and you will stay there until after midnight. Thenafter, we go Mina where you will throw your first throw at Jamrat Aqabah to release you from state of ihram. For the next three days after that, you will throw your stones at all three Jamrat. After that we finally head back to Makkah for perform our hajj tawaf , saie and tahlul ie cutting of the hair. 

That, in a nutshell is my simplified version of the logistics of hajj. All you need to know is that you need to be in four places in sequence ie Arafah, Mudzalifah, Mina and finally Makkah. There are variances and loopholes to the sequence but let's us just learn the basics first.

Once you know where and when you are suppose to be then it is easier to fill in the blanks later. At least for me it was...





Friday, 24 January 2014

Daring to be Different

"When you're the only sane person, you look like the only insane person.” -Criss Jami,

When I was in my teens, I strived to look different and be different from my peers. Reason being was that I wanted to stand out amongst the rest. Honest to goodness, it was the attention that I seek. Being in her teens, any girl would be basking in the glory of the attention that she receives as it equates to popularity. Admittedly, my intention to be different then was not a correct one but quite the opposite.

Then, something happened that altered my notion of being different. One fine day, I was wearing a self-designed blouse to town. The blouse was full of tiny gold safety pins that I had painstakingly attached to. I thought I looked ‘cool‘ as I sat down at the bus stop waiting for the bus. While I was waiting, I saw a homeless man talking to himself and laughing alone. He was quite disheveled looking. I then concluded that he was not quite sane. As he drew close, I silently prayed that he would not come near me. Then, suddenly, he stopped in front me. I started to panicked. I said to myself that I would scream my lungs out if he were to attempt to do anything funny but instead, he stood at a distance from me, pointed his finger at my safety pin blouse and laughed his head off. Apparently, he found me funny! Imagine that! A mad man actually laughing at me because he thought I  was being crazy by wearing my supposedly cool safety pins blouse. Who's the crazy one here ? Him or me?

At that precise moment, the bus came and I quickly hopped on it. When I reached home, I took off the blouse, chucked it to one side and vowed never to wear it again! If being different with the intention to gain popularity resulted in me being laughed at by a mad man then being ordinary was quite alright by me after all.  

Then years after, the Old Wise Man told me that to be a Muslim IS to be different. He said that a Muslim should be different in conduct, dressing and outlook from a non Muslim. I suppose that it is alright to be different provided it is for the right reasons i.e. to please Him and not others.

Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar: The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) as saying: If anyone wears a garment for gaining fame, Allah will clothe him in a similar garment on the Day of Resurrection. 

Sunan Abu Dawud

For many years, I was contented to being ‘common' but the day I decided to overhaul my wardrobe and wear only black abaya, it made me stand out and become different again. However, this time, hopefully I'm different for the right reasons. It wasn't easy at first as it invited some unwanted and some even downright nasty comments but, I have set my intentions to try dress modestly so I'm sticking to it. Well, at least, this time, no mad man is laughing at me !

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Humbling Journey

“The only journey is the one within.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

I always pray that God Al Mighty grants me the opportunity to visit Makkah over and over again and God has granted my wish. In the past,  in all of my trips, I was on my own so I was able to devote most of my time in worship.

This time however, the trip is different. This trip is about fulfilling my parents' wish and also the wish of my children. I knew from the very beginning that this trip will be different in that there is a possibility that I would not be able to devote my entire time for Him as I would be busy handling the kids.

Eventhough I couldn't spend as much time in the Masjid as
I would like or sit for hours gazing at the majestic Kaaba, I didn't feel disappointed or frustrated because the trip is not about me but the people around me. In replace of the opportunity that I lost, I got to know my children better and closer whereas before this I was too busy to stop and listen. I also got to spend precious time with my wonderful parents.

When my hubby asked me, "Babe, how is your trip so far?" I can only answer, "Alhamdulillah, couldn't have been better"  When we bade farewell to Kaaba, my two eldest girls felt the acute sadness that I felt and was equally reluctant to leave.Subhanallah! I do thank God Al Mighty for giving them the best experience ever. I'm truly humbled......

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Down memory lane

SIX years ago, when I first visited this place as part of the tour, I had palpitations and started hyperventilating. This historical place is part of hajj and at that point of time, I felt that I couldn't do tents or outdoors.

Now, looking back and after re-visiting this wonderful place, I'm very glad that I pushed aside my diva-ness to embrace the sacrifice that I was supposed to make for His Sake ie comfort.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Walking Wounded...

Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.
Will Smith.

Just the other day, someone said to me that I looked chubby. Ordinarily, I would bite this person's head off for being nasty or retorted back with something equally rude but that day I kept my cool and just smiled. I realized that this person was just not worth me getting all riled up about.

I learnt from the Wise Old Man some time ago that nasty people are actually unhappy people. They are the walking wounded. They are handicapped due to their defective heart but without the privilege of a disable parking space.

On the authority of Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him), the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak good things or keep silent. Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should be courteous and generous to his neighbour. Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should be courteous and generous to his [travelling] visitor.”
(Recorded in al-Bukhari and Muslim)

So, if you are face with someone who is nasty or rude, don't take their words or conduct to heart. Just walk away. Just remember that no one can hurt a person unless that person allows it. When confronted with such unfortunate soul, just pretend that you are facing a mentally unstable person. You don't normally get angry with a lunatic because you know they have no control over their actions. Similarly, these people are unable to control their words or conduct due to some internal disability.

If they are unhappy with you are, then the problem is theirs not yours. Let it go and pray that God will cure their defective hearts so that they can be a better person.

By walking away does not mean that you are a loser but quite the opposite. It means that you are the better person. If you retaliate in kind then you are no different than your tormentor.

The messenger of Allah  said:

“A (true) muslim is he from whose tongue and hand other believers remain safe”

[Al Bukhari & Muslim]

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Count your Blessings....

“Reflect upon your present blessings -- of which every man has many -- not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” ― Charles Dickens

Have you ever felt that nothing is going right in your life? Do you feel that you have suffered a series of bad luck? Do you feel unloved or unappreciated? Do you feel that God is punishing you? Are you feeling blue?

Well…push all those feelings aside. Ignore those negative whisperings in your ears or the cruel voices in your head. Don’t jump off the cliff or set yourself on fire if you are sad or depress as neither will solve your problem but instead will create bigger problems for you in the Hereafter. In Islam, suicide is totally unacceptable.

Narrated Thabit bin Ad Dahhak: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever intentionally swears falsely by a religion other than Islam, then he is what he has said, (e.g. if he says, ‘If such thing is not true then I am a Jew,’ he is really a Jew). And whoever commits suicide with piece of iron will be punished with the same piece of iron in the Hell Fire.” Narrated Jundab, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “A man was inflicted with wounds and he committed suicide, and so Allah said: My slave has caused death on himself hurriedly, so I forbid Paradise for him.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 23 Hadith 445

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever purposely throws himself from a mountain and kills himself, will be in the (Hell) Fire falling down into it and abiding therein perpetually forever; and whoever drinks poison and kills himself with it, he will be carrying his poison in his hand and drinking it in the (Hell) Fire wherein he will abide eternally forever; and whoever kills himself with an iron weapon, will be carrying that weapon in his hand and stabbing his abdomen with it in the (Hell) Fire wherein he will abide eternally forever.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 71 Hadith 670
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “He who commits suicide by throttling shall keep on throttling himself in the Hell Fire (forever) and he who commits suicide by stabbing himself shall keep on stabbing himself in the Hell-Fire.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 23 Hadith 446

            So what can you do? Count your blessings and bad luck. Seriously! I mean literally count your blessings and bad luck. Someone shared with me a brilliant method of shaking out the blues.
            This is what you do. Find two jars or containers and marked one of them positive and the other negative. Every time something good happens to you, write it down and put it in the positive jar. If you experience a negative experience also write it down and put it in the negative jar. May I suggest that you start each day by writing down ‘woke up’ as your first positive entry. Then, write down ‘food for breakfast’, ‘car to drive’, ‘clothes to wear’ and so on. Everything that is positive in your daily life is considered as a blessing hence should be written down and put in the jar. Only incidents which are clear cut negative should be written down such as “death of cat’ or ‘lost a tooth’. Whatever you do, DO NOT CHEAT!

            At the end of the week, tally up all your positives and negatives and then only you will truly see that you are indeed blessed…..

Taming the Fire....

“Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.” ― Aristotle

Recently, the Wise Old Man commented to me that I am a much calmer person nowadays. It seemed to him that I have managed to keep my fiery weakness under control. Hhhmmm….have I really?

            I suppose the Wise Old Man is VERY familiar with my famous temper as I was under his tutelage for a good number of years. He was accustomed to my temper flaring especially when provoked at work. The Wise Old Man said that when I got angry, I would speak rapidly fast and my voice would become shrill. Sometime, he was afraid that if my voice became too high pitch, I would burst into flames like the phoenix, only, I would not be re-born! Thank God that didn’t happen! On the flip side, my temper sometimes did come in handy during the times that I wanted to intimidate my opponent or the witness in the witness box.
            But truthfully, losing one’s anger comes with a price. It would often sap all of the energy that I had and also I tend to say things I would later regret. Honestly, it was words that was spoken in anger that had me cringe every time whenever I reflect on my life. I know that I have hurt many people with my ‘acid tongue’ during my momentarily lapse of sanity.

“Narated By Abu Huraira : A man said to the Prophet , “Advise me! “The Prophet said, “Do not become angry and furious.” The man asked (the same) again and again, and the Prophet said in each case, “Do not become angry and furious.”
Sahih Bukhari , Book 073, Hadith 137

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The strong-man is not one who wrestles well but the strong man is one who controls himself when he is in a fit of rage.
Sahih Muslim Book 032, 6313

Looking back, I am ashamed and contrite over the things that I have said in anger that had hurt the feelings of others. The thing is, there is nothing that I can do to ‘un-do’ things. Sometimes, because of anger, one can lose a friendship that took years to build or destroy a marriage that took tears and sweat to nurture. Also, because of anger, it can destroy one’s reputation in a blink.

            So if I can’t turn back time what I can do to make things right? Well…first and foremost is….CONTROL MY TEMPER! Secondly, apologize to those whom I have hurt.

Narated By Atiyyah as-Sa’di : AbuWa’il al-Qass said: We entered upon Urwah ibn Muhammad ibn as-Sa’di. A man spoke to him and made him angry. So he stood and performed ablution; he then returned and performed ablution, and said: My father told me on the authority of my grandfather Atiyyah who reported the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) as saying: Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution.
Abu Dawud Book 036, Hadith Number 4766

It’s never easy to be the one to say ‘sorry’ because our ego gets in the way but just remember that God will not forgive sins committed against others until the forgiveness is given by the ‘victim’.

And the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said that:

"The doors of the Garden are open on Monday and Thursday. Every Muslim slave who does not associate anything with Allah is forgiven except for the man who has enmity between him and his brother

            I won’t say that I’m such a saint nowadays as you can still catch a wisp of smoke coming out of my nostrils every now and then but at least, those days are far in between. Now, when my temper is pricked, I try to walk it off so, if you see me pacing about, it’s better that you keep your distance.

Narated By AbuDharr : The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) said to us: When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise he should lie down.
Abu Dawud Book 036, Hadith Number 4764

My voice has not turned shrill for a very long time and that is a huge achievement for me. I do have my moments when my friends would term it as ‘possessed by the devil’ or the Malays would say “kena sampuk setan” but it is a much milder version of what it used to be…..Don’t believe me?  Try me! Errrmm….on second thought….better not!