Sunday, 28 September 2014

I am only Human

“To hurt is as human as to breathe.”― J.K. Rowling.

One fine day, I was driving and I was feeling dejected and demoralised. Suddenly, a song came on the radio. I didn't know then the singer of the song but it was the lyrics that caught my attention.

"But I'm only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I'm only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart"

Yup! That pretty summed up what I was feeling at that time.

Every one has their own battle to fight everyday. My on-going battle is trying to be a true Muslim and to share whatever little knowledge that I've acquired in my quest to correct myself.

I have to be honest, it hasn't been easy. It's not that I expected it to be but some days were just too much for me to bear. I'm only human and God has given me a very sensitive heart. I fight back when I'm angry or irritated but when I'm hurt, I would keep quiet and crawl into my shell and hibernate. I would avoid the person who had hurt me at all cost and for as long as I can until I feel that my heart has properly healed. But, how does one stay away from strangers who hurt one's feelings? You can't stay away from the world. Of course, one can become a recluse but that would beat the purpose of our creation.

Trust me, I know that people can be very mean and vicious with their words sometimes. Some criticism has the ability to destroy a person that's why there's a saying that 'a pen is mightier than a sword'. So, there will be days where my sanity hangs by a thread and my courage had plummeted to the ground. I too get affected by harsh criticisms about my efforts to try to spread the deen.

There were days when I feel that I just don't have the strength to carry on and I will hear whisperings telling me that I'm not qualified to share anything. I get whisperings to tell me to stop writing, which is how I mostly share my thoughts but I learnt a long time ago that the whisperings are the work of the devil, trying to dissuade anyone who wants to good so I have learnt to shoo it away but, how do I persuade my hurting heart? How do I pick myself up and find the courage to face the world again?

"Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, 'We believe,' and that they will not be tested? We did test those before them, and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false" (Quran, 29: 2-3).

The first time I crashed and almost got burned, the Wise Owl shared with me the above Quranic verse. He also told me the story of Prophet Ayub, who remained steadfast in the face of adversity. Of course, me being me, had to argue with him and pointed out that Prophet Ayub is a prophet hence possessed the patience of a saint. I'm no saint. The Wise Owl then said, "sister, you are missing the point, it's not just about patience, it's about even the prophets were tested, so why should we be spared?". Oooooooo....

I also found out that I'm not alone in this. Those who shares the same journey and mission as me, also suffered the same fate sometimes. But despite that, I am thankful that each time I fall, God picks me up, fix my heart and show me the fruits of my sacrifices. Though my heart has many battle scars, it is still functioning perfectly, for now. He also sent people my way to help me along and I am very grateful for those people. 

So for those who has been hurt in their quest to share this beautiful religion, I can only share with you the advice that was given to me, Don't give up! If your intention is in the right place, God will watch over you and help you along the way. You may slipped, but that's God's way of showing you how to deal with the glitch. If you fall, get right back up and try again. You are never alone.....

"Verily, with every difficulty there is relief."
(Qur'an 94:5-6)

Sunday, 21 September 2014

I'm not a Fanatic......

“You have to quit confusing a madness with a mission.”
Flannery O'Connor

A couple of years ago, when I started my journey to re-discovery, someone had called me a religious 'fanatic'. This person had labeled as such because I wanted to make sure I kept my five daily prayers at its appointed time. Because, I changed to wearing black abaya in order to dress more modestly and in line with the teachings of Islam. Because I wanted to reveal my beauty to my husband only. Because I was striving to re-learn the contents of the Holy Quran. Because, I was trying to revive the forgotten teachings of our beloved Prophet pbuh. Because, I wanted to spend less time for worldly matters and start investing in Hereafter.

Fanatic means :-

a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics; zealot.

Seriously? I mean, this person must be joking right? The irony of it is, the person who labeled me as such, is also a Muslim. Imagine that...

The thing is, I admit that I apply a different set of rules on myself but I don't enforce or impose my rules on others. I don't expect others to follow my rules either. The thing is, my own personal rules are not at all extreme. I'm still struggling in trying to perform the basic obligatory acts, so let's not get started on the voluntary acts. All I have done is share the little knowledge that I've acquired with others but what they do with that knowledge, is entirely up to them. I'm not the keeper of their conscience and neither do I judge them. I leave the judging to God. But, if the very act of me trying to get my basic acts together is considered extreme or fanatic, then, I'm really loss for words.

Maybe some who observe me find that my ways are a bit too strict for their taste but like I said before, my rules apply to me alone. I really don't expect anyone to understand, let alone, follow me. One thing that I know that I don't do is blow up people in the name of religion or participate in suicide bombing or go around labeling others as inhabitants of hell or  force the non Muslim to accept Islam.

You see, years ago, I found out that I was a hypocrite. I declared myself a Muslim but I lied. I actually lied to God. I didn't follow the religion correctly. I didn't do the things that a Muslim should do. In fact, I did quite the opposite! It's like declaring oneself as a doctor but knows nothing about medicine.

The day I got 'slapped', I realised that I had a lot atoning to do. I wasted many years being a liar and I wanted to correct things as fast as I could.

"The Hypocrites - they think they are over-reaching God, but He will over-reach them: When they stand up to prayer, they stand without earnestness, to be seen of men, but little do they hold God in remembrance;   (The Noble Quran, 4:142)"

On the authority of Abdullah ibn ‘Amr (may Allah be pleased with them both) that the Prophet (pbuh) said:

"Four traits whoever possesses them is a hypocrite and whoever possesses some of them has an element of hypocrisy until he leaves it: the one who when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise, when he disputes he transgresses and when he makes an agreement he violates it.

Muslim and Bukhari

So my journey started in me re-learning about Islam. I knew that if I wanted to continue declaring myself as a Muslim, I must actually follow the religion otherwise, I would still be a hypocrite. I don't think I can look at myself in the mirror anymore if I were to continue with my past lifestyle.

I talked to the Wise Old Man about the labeling. He told me that the relationship between a servant and his or her Creator is a very personal one. It does not involve anyone else. It's strictly one to one kind of relationship. How close that relationship is, is dependant on the servant. Unfortunately, not many Muslims understand that but surprisingly, some non Muslims do.

To tell you honestly,  I wasn't upset with the labeling because I knew this person doesn't understand but I did tell this person that I am NOT a fanatic but a normal person who is merely trying to be a Muslim..........

Hadith Qudsi 15:
On the authority of Abu Harayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Prophet (PBUH) said: Allah the Almighty said:
I am as My servant thinks I am (1). I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assemble better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm's length, I draw near to him a fathom's length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.

It was related by al-Buhkari (also by Muslim, at-Tirmidhi and Ibn-Majah)

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Is it Truly Mine?

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” - Epictetus

Two days ago, hubby asked me "babe, who does our money belongs to?" I blinked at him a couple of times, wondering if this is a trick question. Hubby is beginning to sound like the Wise Owl. Would he be upset if I answer all his money belongs to me? Hehehe....

So, I answered, "I believe that all our wealth belongs to God Almighty. It's only on loan to us hence we are answerable for every penny that we squandered away" .
Then hubby said that the beauty of the ‘loan' that was given to us is that when we give it away for charity or spend it in the way prescribed by God, the rewards will be given to us. It's like we borrow money and whatever returns of investment made on the money, we get to keep.

I remember the Wise Owl telling me the same thing years ago. Of course at that point of time I panicked, thinking about the amount of 'loan' that I wasted away. Oooooo my handbags and jewellery....!! Yikes! Am I in trouble?

Upon seeing my face turned deathly pale, the Wise Owl smiled, as if he could read what was going through my head. Then, he calmly explained, "sister, whatever money that you have earned, you may spend it on yourself as long as it is not spent towards Haram things or wasteful. But, however, you must always remember that the wealth does not belong you so when God sends someone your way, asking for help, you must help if you are able to. Don't be stingy or selfish"

"Believers are merely those whose hearts feel wary whenever God is mentioned and whose faith increases when His verses are recited to them. On their Lord do they rely. Those who keep up prayer and spend some of what We have provided them with are truly believers" (Quran 8:2-4).

Asmah related that the Prophet said: Spend, and do not count, lest Allah counts against you. Do not withhold your money, lest Allah withholds from you. Spend what you can. (Bukhari, Muslim)

Abu Huraira related that the Prophet said: The Lord's commandment for every one of His slaves is, ‘Spend on others, and I will spend on you'. (Bukhari, Muslim)

We must never hoard our wealth. Pharaoh believed that he could take his wealth to the grave and be buried with it but he was wrong. I, for one, have no intention of being like Pharaoh, though I must admit that sometimes, it is difficult to let go of certain things.

" They who hoard up gold and silver and spend it not in the way of God, unto them give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom" (Quran 9:34).

In actual fact, no one can be proud of their so called wealth because it is never theirs to begin with. We are merely custodians and it can be taken away from us in a blink. We can be stripped off the custodian title whenever He wishes. Then, we might find ourselves to be on the other side of the fence, ie the receiving end.

Every day, I do try to remind myself that my money is His money so don't get too attached or spend it in the way that can incur His wrath but being human, of course, I do suffer from the occasional memory lapse. Still, the important thing is, I keep trying....

"Give the kinsman his due, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and squander not (your wealth) in wantonness. Lo! the squanderers were ever brothers of the devils, and the devil was ever an ingrate to his Lord" (Quran 17:26-27).

Abu Said Khudri related that the Prophet said: There are two habits which are never present together in a believer: miserliness and bad manners (Tirmidhi).

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Calling me Softly....

“Every day, God grants us the precious gift of life. Yet every day, we squander it with our selfish, petty concerns, rather than helping someone as He helps us.” Kirn Hans

A very long time ago, I was not exactly on the desired path of a Muslim. I was clueless about Islam and neither was I bothered to find out. Do you know why? Honestly, because I was put off with Islam because of the impression that was given to me by some of the Islamic scholars that I met.
I admit that my appearance then was not syariah compliance and there were many things that I was lacking but that was due to my ignorance and lack of knowledge about this beautiful religion that I was born into. My dad had taught to be vocal and not to be afraid to ask questions so I asked a lot of questions. The Wise Old Man had trained me not to be bullied by anyone so I refused to be bullied even by the Islamic scholars.
The problem I faced back then, while I was trying to find God, was that these scholars had painted a very grim and bleak picture about Islam. They kept pointing out my flaws and were eager to sentence me to eternal hell! I may have been very naughty in my younger days but I was not completely evil. Ok, it’s true that some of my aunts and uncles used to say “Auzubillah Minashaitan Nirajeem” which means ‘"I seek refuge in Allah from Shaitan, the accursed oneevery time I passed them by but I can assure you that I am not Cruealla De vil!. Which kid was not naughty when they were small? In fact, even the adults are not saints.
Anyway, I was very discouraged and disheartened when I heard that Islam is all about the ‘don’ts’ and the forbidden. You know, things that you must not do or things that is Haram. It’s always haram this or haram that. Then, I thought to myself, is Islam really a negative religion? Why isn’t there anything cheerful about Islam? Gosh! Is Islam truly gloom and doom?
So, I ended up getting into one argument after another with each scholar that I met.  I also became very defensive whenever I meet an ustaz or ustazah, I felt the need to put up my invisible shield, to ward off any possible ‘attacks’ on me. This went on for years until I was almost on the verge of giving up. I couldn’t find the answers that satisfied me and put my restless heart at ease.
Thankfully, that all changed when God decided that it was time for me to meet the Wise Owl. The Wise Owl is also a scholar so naturally, when I first met him, I looked at him warily, anticipating criticism from him about my appearance but none came. He spoke to me gently and with respect. I was intrigued.
Then, I bombarded him with all the pent-up questions and he answered each of them patiently. Not once did he brush me off or made me feel inept. He coaxed me into reading more about Islam and started telling about our beloved Prophet SAW. I find myself, going back to the Wise Owl countless of time, as my interest about Islam was piqued.
Over the years, the Wise Owl had managed to make me fall in love with Islam. All he did was enticed me with the positive and beautiful aspect of Islam. He shared with me, the rewards of being righteous. I, in turn, asked him about the punishment of being disobedient. 

“Allah's Messenger (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said:
"Indeed Allah is gentle and loves gentleness, and gives due to gentleness that which He does not give to harshness."
Reported by Ibn Majah

The Wise Owl once told me that once the soul has fallen in love with his or her Creator, he or she will naturally leave the negative aspect and strive harder to please God. The heart and soul will only be drawn to the good and the positive vibration. 

 Abu Hurayra said, “A bedouin urinated in the mosque. The people moved towards him and the Prophet SAW, said, ‘Let him be and pour a bucket or pail of water onto his urine. You were sent to make things easy and not to make them difficult.’” [Al-Bukhari]
Anas reported that the Prophet SAW said, “Make things easy for people and do not make them difficult. Give good news to people and do not frighten them away.” [Agreed upon]

Now, I truly believe that if we want to entice people into Islam or if you want your fellow brothers or sisters to be better Muslims, we must approach them with gentleness and love. Being harsh and judgmental will only turn people away.
Don’t be petty. Don’t pick on the small things. Don’t argue on minor issues. Maybe that brother or sister has committed minor sin but with the Will of Allah SWT, they will change for the better on their own accord. Change must come from within. You can’t force it on them.
Don’t overwhelm those who had just embraced Islam with minor matters that can confuse them. Even I, a born Muslim, get suffocated sometimes especially when people argue about petty things in Islam, let alone those who are new to the religion. Let our new brothers and sisters grasp the basic principles first. Let them strengthen their footing and then, slowly progress to a more advance level. Don’t tarnish our wonderful religion by giving the wrong impression. Islam is SIMPLE. Do not make it complicated.
Most important of all, NEVER judge a person who is ignorant but instead share your knowledge sincerely and unconditionally with them. Who knows, that person might even secure a special place with God, in the Hereafter that you and I can only dream about……….. 

* This article originally was published in writer's corner at . Zaahara is an online Islamic Mall selling many wonderful stuff.