Saturday, 11 November 2017

Inside a Troubled Mind

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” 
― Laurell K. Hamilton

I used to wonder what goes on in the mind of a depressed person. Why do they do the things that they do and why do they lack reasons or rationale? Are they really genuine or merely seeking for attention?

There's a saying, 'never judge a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes'. Well.....that exactly what God made me do....walked  miles in their shoes.

When I suffered post-natal depression, all the irrational things that I used to question, were the exact things that I did. Looking back now, I understand the anxiety, fear and misery, that a depressed person feels.

Among the irrational feelings that I had was anxiety about having people i.e. guests over at my house, even if it was my own parents. I felt claustrophobic and suffocated amongst people. To me then, my house was my sanctuary and when people came, they intruded into my personal space. When my helper took out the cups and saucers, to serve tea, I would start to hyperventilate and panic about who was going to do the dishes later. It was too much for me think about. But yet, I remained quiet. I was afraid of being judged, even by own parents.

Simple tasks like folding the mountainous laundry in the basket would overwhelmed and freaked me out and made me pace inside my own room. I always felt a tremendous sorrow that I broke down into tears for no apparent reason. Loud noises especially coming from the tv would unsettled me and made me jumped up to to switch it off, regardless of who was watching. The speed of the fan must always be at no. 2 otherwise, I'd get agitated and start pacing the living room.

Don't even talk about appearance. Whilst I was obsessed about keeping things squeaky clean, I couldn't look at myself in the mirror because all I saw was an ugly image of me, hence I looked like a very clean version of Medusa, hair un-combed.

My world, in those few months that I suffered, was very dark and gloomy. It felt like Grim Reaper was my constant companion and the Dementors (from the Harry Potter movie) had literally sucked out all traces of happiness and light, I had in my life. The funny thing is, despite feeling utterly useless, my imagination and creativeness was striving.

It took all of  my will power to not scream out my frustration and anger. I really did feel helpless and hopeless. I didn't know how long my condition would last and that really scared me. I was definitely NOT myself. I was a different person, a stranger. It was like having an out of body experience where you can see what's going on but somehow, unable to stop it.

I recovered from my depression with help and support from my husband and good friends and also lots of dua. I kept my depression from my parents because I didn't want them to worry. Having support, even a listening ear, made me feel less alone. Talking it out lessen my anxiety and made me slowly see reasons. Being assured by my husband that I was not crazy (or crazier than before), changed my agitated pacing into an exercise routine. Having the Wise Owl tell me that I was not possessed, kept my imaginary Grim Reaper and Dementors at bay. Being correctly diagnosed by my doctor made it easier for me to deal with the symptoms.

Most important thing of all, it was His Mercy, when I begged for help, what kept me sane.

‘O Allah, I am Your servant, son of Your servant, son of Your maidservant, my forelock is in Your hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just. I ask You by every name belonging to You which You name Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the unseen with You, that You make the Qur’aan the life of my heart and the light of my breast, and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety.’
Hadith Muslim

God had briefly gave me a glimpse of the world of a troubled mind so I can be more compassionate. I was lucky that it was only temporary but there are many others out there that needs help. Some of their condition may be permanent.

"No doubt, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured."
Quran 13:28

Don't judge. If you can't personally help them, then help them find someone who can.

 if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind.” Quran 5:32

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Latest book- Calling me Softly

Alhamdulillah. new book is out. Thank you everyone  for the continuous support and love.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Expectations vs Faith

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” ― Alexander Pope

Recently, I was badly let down by someone whom I considered as close to me. I felt disappointed and most of all -hurt. As hubby and I sat down to talk about my woes, hubby gave me a statement, "Babe, I think you had expectations and it was not met, hence that's why you're disappointed"

I stopped and thought very hard. Was it 'expectations' or was it 'faith'? What I mean by 'faith' is having the good impression or assumption or thought that the person will do the right thing i.e. husnozon.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the most false of speech. Do not seek out faults, do not spy on each other, do not contend with each other, do not envy each other, do not hate each other, and do not turn away from each other. Rather, be servants of Allah as brothers.”
Hadith Bukhari

Almighty Allah Says: "O You Who Have Believed, Avoid Much [Negative] Assumption. Indeed, Some Assumption Is Sin. 
Quran 49:12

So, by me trying to have good assumption that people will do the right thing in fulfilling a trust, is it considered as having expectations? If so, where do you draw the line? When do you put your guard up? How do you learn to trust?

Pretty tricky isn't?

Hubby always tells me that not everyone thinks like I do hence I shouldn't have expectations. I guess there's a very fine line between having faith and having expectations. It's not always easy to tell the difference. It's a balancing act between obeying commandments and controlling emotions. For an emotional person like me; who cries buckets watching cartoons; the scale will always tipped heavier towards the emotions.

Sigh! For now, I think I will just have to try to have good impressions and if the person turns out to be the complete opposite, then I need to tell myself that it's a lesson that I need to learn and move on.

It's like giving it your best then leaving it in His Hands....InsyaAllah.

Put your trust in Allah. Allah loves those that trust [in Him].
Quran 3:159

Saturday, 17 June 2017

The Secret of the Night

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars, 
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Used to be, in the wee hours of the night, you'll  find me snoring away. Even during my student days, I was never the 'burn the midnight oil' kind of person. I need my sleep or I'll  turn into this really cranky bear.

When I learned  about night prayers i.e. tahajjud, the first thing that came to mind was, impossible!

"And from [part of] the night, pray with it as additional [worship] for you; it is expected that your Lord will resurrect you to a praised station."

Surah Al-Isra', 17:79

Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) said, “The best prayer after the obligatory prayers is the night prayer.” [Muslim]

Still....wanting to be better, I tried. More often than not, I failed. I just could't get up at 3 am. Then, I read that one of the companions of the Prophet pbuh had missed his night prayer and he had said that the reason he was prevented from waking up was because of his sins. Eerrkkk! I must have mountainous of sins if I'm not able to wake up at all. Seriously?  Am I that bad?

So, feeling rather upset, I spoke to the Wise Owl about my predicament. Surely I can't  be all bad and surely  there must be a way for me to wake up for tahajjud.

The Wise Owl said to me that everything  starts with intention. I must truly wanting to wake up for Him then only it can happen. Plus, I must sleep early so that I get enough rest. If I really  want to wake up so bad, then it will happen.

"Allah's Messenger said that Allah said: He who comes with a good deed, its reward will be ten like that or even more. And he who comes with vice, his reward will be only one like that, or I can forgive him. He who draws close to Me a hand's span, I will draw close to him an arm's length. And whoever draws near Me an arm's length, I will draw near him a fathom's length. And whoever comes to Me walking, I will go to him running. And whoever faces Me with sins nearly as great as the earth, I will meet him with forgiveness nearly as great as that, provided he does not worship something with me. (This Hadith is sound and reported by Muslim, Ibn Majah and Ahmad in his Musnad). Another prophetic tradition says: (He who met Allah associating anything with Him, will enter Hell)"
(Hadith Muslim)

Night prayer is a special time between God and His creation. To some, it's like a lovers' tryst where everything else ceased to exist except you and Him.

"Abu Hurairah reports that the Messenger of Allah (saws) said: “Our Lord Descends to the lowest heaven during the last third of the night, inquiring: `Who will call on Me so that I may respond to him? Who is asking something of Me so I may give it to him? Who is asking for My forgiveness so I may forgive him?”
[ Bukhari and Muslim.]

Now, in this holy month of Ramadhan is the best time to pray tahajjud. If you have never tried, try at least once. I can tell you, it's an experience that you'll unlikely forget. If you can't  wake at 3 am then just wake up 30 minutes before fajr prayers. During Ramadhan it should be easier since you're  waking for sahur.

I still do have my lapse days where I sleep like the dead till morning but I would like to think that it was due to pure exhaustion rather than sins. Ok...maybe some days it was sins but keep trying I must.....

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Life is a Journey

Life is a journey.

It's almost 1/3 into Ramadhan and I feel lost. I think that I've been too caught up in worldly affairs that I let my relationship with my Creator slipped. I also took many of the blessings given to me, for granted.

Are you feeling lost like I do? It helps to know that you're not alone in your struggles. It's a daily struggle for me. Is it too late to embrace Ramadhan? Nope! InshaAllah, we can catch up, in our own way.

The best way to start fixing the relationship with God, to me, is to pray.

We often forget that we recite a very special dua whenever we pray.

"In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the 'Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists). The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
The Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) . You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything). Guide us to the Straight Way 
The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger, nor of those who went astray."


Surah Al Fatiha is the only Surah in the Quran, that I found, ends with 'Ameen'. It's a very powerful Surah.

Before we embark on any journey, we need to get the correct directions so that we arrive at the right destination.

Similarly in life, to be on the right path, we must seek Guidance from Him alone. So ask... "And your Lord says, "Call upon Me; I will respond to you." 
Quran 40:60

#ramadhankarem #itsnevertoolate #askandyoushallreceive

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Welcoming Ramadhan

Abu Huraira related that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. Whoever prays during the nights in Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. And he who passes Lailat al-Qadr in prayer with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven (Bukhari, Muslim).

I've always knew Ramadhan is a very special month, even during my ignorant days. I used to hear how magical things happened to some people the moment Ramadhan arrives. I was lacking in many ways back then but still, I wanted to experience the 'euphoria' some people experience during the holy month. 

I remember once many years ago, I was standing in prayer on the 1st night of terawih at the masjid and thinking to myself, "Ok God. Hit me! I'm ready to embrace ramadhan". I stood, in anticipation of a miracle happening; squeezed my eyes shut and tried very hard to feel something in my heart as the Imam recited the verses of the Quran. I thought to myself, this is it!'s gonna happen! The euphoric spirit of Ramadhan is gonna descend down and envelope me like a lover's embrace and I would be sobbing my heart out. As I waited and waited, nothing happened. I then told myself...wait for it...wait for it....still...nothing happened. I ended zoning out in between the prayers and my mind wandered off. There were absolutely no miracle....zilt!

After many years and many books and many lessons, only then that I understood I can't  simply jump into Ramadhan like how I jump into the pool.

A dear sister told me that, Ramadhan is like running for marathon. You need to prepare yourself ahead before the race. If you expect to be able to do your best and win the race when you run on the day of the race without any prior preparation, then you are sadly mistaken. That was my folly. I didn't make any preparation but instead just jumped into it and expected to come out triumph. 

I also realised that everyone receives and reacts to Ramadhan differently. The spirit of Ramadhan is not like snow that will blanket each and everyone at the same time. Whether we will be touched by the spirit and experience the 'euphoria' or peace and calmness of the holy month, very much depend on the state of our hearts, our imans and also His Wish. 

For me, I had to repair my heart first and understand the true spirit of Ramadhan before I could shed a single tear. There were many night before when I felt that my heart was made of stone because the person next to me was sobbing uncontrollably in response to the recitation of the surah by the imam in the terawih prayer and there I stood totally unmoved and unfazed. I thought for certain that my heart was dead. I thought that I was beyond help. 
Prophet pbuh said, “There is a piece of flesh in the body if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoiled, the whole body gets spoiled – and that is the heart.”
Hadith Bukhari

  Not good!

And then a few nights after, I was the one sobbing uncontrollably while others maintained their cool. 

Over the years, I've learnt not to have expectations about how your Ramadhan should be. It will not happen according to our plan or wish but according to God's Will. Sometimes, we get too caught up in doing the physical act of worship that we neglect the spiritual part of it. You know, like an empty vessel. 

I also understand now, that even if I'm not consumed by overwhelming sadness or feeling of high on the first night of terawih or first Ramadhan, it does not mean that I'm beyond redemption. It just mean that I have to re-examine my heart and trace back my footsteps leading up to Ramadhan. I need to discover my 'miss-step' and rectify it. 

For some people, the spirit touch them in the first few days of Ramadhan and for some, the last 10 days. Some might not even get 'touched' at all. Everyone's experience is different from each other. The last things you should do is compare your self to others. There's no ruler for piety. Only Allah SWT is the Judge of that.

With Ramadhan just around the corner, let's start preparing for our spiritual marathon. Slow and steady wins the game....

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Heaven Sent...

E-book version of 'Heaven Sent' is available  at payhip.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Say a Prayer....

“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

I had an interesting conversation with someone recently. This person asked me why Muslims pray in a certain way, i.e. our movements in prayer.

I remember asking this very same question to the Wise Old Man many years ago and his answer blew me away but I wasn't sure if this person is willing to accept the same explanation.

Since this person works in journalism, I decided to try to explain in a way that perhaps she can relate to:-

Whenever we want to see a King, there are certain protocols that we need to adhere to which includes the way we walk, the way we speak and even the way we sit. Each bow and salute has its own purpose and meaning. Each king has his own ways and protocol. Whether we like it or not, it's something that we just need to follow if we want to speak or see the king. The King sets his rule and we follow it with respect.

To me, similarly with prayer.

"Narrated Abu Dhar:

Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "While I was at Mecca the roof of my house was opened and Gabriel descended, opened my chest, and washed it with Zamzam water. Then he brought a golden tray full of wisdom and faith and having poured its contents into my chest, he closed it. Then he took my hand and ascended with me to the nearest heaven, when I reached the nearest heaven, Gabriel said to the gatekeeper of the heaven, 'Open (the gate).' The gatekeeper asked, 'Who is it?' Gabriel answered: 'Gabriel.' He asked, 'Is there anyone with you?' Gabriel replied, 'Yes, Muhammad I is with me.' He asked, 'Has he been called?' Gabriel said, 'Yes.' So the gate was opened and we went over the nearest heaven and there we saw a man sitting with some people on his right and some on his left. When he looked towards his right, he laughed and when he looked toward his left he wept. Then he said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious son.' I asked Gabriel, 'Who is he?' He replied, 'He is Adam and the people on his right and left are the souls of his offspring. Those on his right are the people of Paradise and those on his left are the people of Hell and when he looks towards his right he laughs and when he looks towards his left he weeps.' Then he ascended with me till he reached the second heaven and he (Gabriel) said to its gatekeeper, 'Open (the gate).' The gatekeeper said to him the same as the gatekeeper of the first heaven had said and he opened the gate. Anas said: "Abu Dhar added that the Prophet (ﷺ) met Adam, Idris, Moses, Jesus and Abraham, he (Abu Dhar) did not mention on which heaven they were but he mentioned that he (the Prophet (ﷺ) ) met Adam on the nearest heaven and Abraham on the sixth heaven. Anas said, "When Gabriel along with the Prophet (ﷺ) passed by Idris, the latter said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious brother.' The Prophet (ﷺ) asked, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Idris." The Prophet (ﷺ) added, "I passed by Moses and he said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious brother.' I asked Gabriel, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Moses.' Then I passed by Jesus and he said, 'Welcome! O pious brother and pious Prophet.' I asked, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Jesus. Then I passed by Abraham and he said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious son.' I asked Gabriel, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Abraham. The Prophet (ﷺ) added, 'Then Gabriel ascended with me to a place where I heard the creaking of the pens." Ibn Hazm and Anas bin Malik said: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Then Allah enjoined fifty prayers on my followers when I returned with this order of Allah, I passed by Moses who asked me, 'What has Allah enjoined on your followers?' I replied, 'He has enjoined fifty prayers on them.' Moses said, 'Go back to your Lord (and appeal for reduction) for your followers will not be able to bear it.' (So I went back to Allah and requested for reduction) and He reduced it to half. When I passed by Moses again and informed him about it, he said, 'Go back to your Lord as your followers will not be able to bear it.' So I returned to Allah and requested for further reduction and half of it was reduced. I again passed by Moses and he said to me: 'Return to your Lord, for your followers will not be able to bear it. So I returned to Allah and He said, 'These are five prayers and they are all (equal to) fifty (in reward) for My Word does not change.' I returned to Moses and he told me to go back once again. I replied, 'Now I feel shy of asking my Lord again.' Then Gabriel took me till we '' reached Sidrat-il-Muntaha (Lote tree of; the utmost boundary) which was shrouded in colors, indescribable. Then I was admitted into Paradise where I found small (tents or) walls (made) of pearls and its earth was of musk."
Sahih Bukhari

Prayer was made compulsory on us on the day of isra' mikraj. The movements in prayer was taught by our beloved teacher, Prophet Muhammad pbuh.

Narrated Malik:

We came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and stayed with him for twenty days and nights. We were all young and of about the same age. The Prophet (ﷺ) was very kind and merciful. When he realized our longing for our families, he asked about our homes and the people there and we told him. Then he asked us to go back to our families and stay with them and teach them (the religion) and to order them to do good things. He also mentioned some other things which I have (remembered) The Prophet (ﷺ) then added, "Pray as you have seen me praying and when it is the time for the prayer one of you should pronounce the Adhan and the oldest of you should lead the prayer.
Sahih Bukhari

The way I understand it, God has decreed that if I want to talk to Him specifically in prayers, then I have to perform certain movements as taught by our beloved Prophet pbuh. That's the protocol. At any other times, I can still talk to Him through my dua.

But prayer is not just a means of communication between us and Allah SWT but it's also a way to show our love and gratitude for the blessings that He has given us. Each of the movements in our prayer has its own meaning and purpose.

When we love someone, we would bend over backwards trying to please them so if we have fallen in love with Allah SWT, prayer will not be something we do because we are forced to by commandment but rather something we love to do in order to please Him. It doesn't become a task but a pleasure.

The Wise Owl once told me that if a person has fallen in love with his/ her Creator, all acts of worship will be easy to perform as it's done out of love. It will come naturally.

Also, when we do sujod, that is when we are closest to God. 

" Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “A slave becomes nearest to his Rubb when he is in prostration. So increase supplications while prostrating.” [Muslim]

So, my advice is, check how you approach your prayer. Is it with love and devotion or as a reluctant servant?

Monday, 3 April 2017

A Tonne of Sins

“Hate the sin, love the sinner.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

A funny thing happened to me one day.

I have this love-hate relationship with the digital weighing scale in my office. On days I see a nice number displayed, I would love the scale to bits but on days I see a not so nice number displayed, I vow never to set foot on it ever again. It's a vicious cycle that continues till today.

Anyway, that day, I stepped on the scale right before I took wudhu for my zuhr prayers. Needless to say, I was quite upset with the number displayed. Feeling disgruntled, I went to take my wudhu and promptly performed my prayers.

After I finished my prayers, I stepped on the scale again. This time, I was 2 kg lighter. Eh! How is that possible?  I stepped on the scale for the 2nd time and again, it showed that I was 2 kg lighter than before.

Being someone with a vivid imagination, the first thing that came to mind was, "boy! I sure did had a lot of sins! All 2 kg of them".

Alas, as much as I want to believe my prayer removed 2 kg of my sins,  I know it's impossible. We can't physically weigh our sins. Explanation ; the scale must be spoilt.

But, what if we could physically weigh our sins and rewards? Wouldn't that be awesome?  We can have a proper check and balance of our lives.

"And if Allah were to impose blame on the people for their wrongdoing, He would not have left upon the earth any creature, but He defers them for a specified term. And when their term has come, they will not remain behind an hour, nor will they precede [it]."

Quran 16:61

If we had that then chances are that we will be too complacent. We will take things for granted and would not be scrambling for rewards. If we can weigh our sins, there might be a possibility that we'll perform good deeds just enough to balance or slighty outweigh our sins. Once we reached our 'quota', we'll stop. Then, the act of performing good deeds will become just a means to an end and no longer because of the sincerity of our hearts.

Anyhow, despite us not being able to keep track of our sins and rewards, God Almighty still tells how we can erase our sins.

"Uthman reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, say, “No Muslim attends a prescribed prayer and performs its ablution, reverence, and bowing in the best manner, except that it will be an expiation for his previous sins as long as he did not commit a major sin, and this applies for all time.”
Hadith Muslim

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever declares there is no god but Allah, one without partner, unto him is the sovereignty and praise and he is powerful over everything one hundred times a day, then he will have the reward of emancipating ten slaves, a hundred good deeds will be recorded for him, a hundred sins will be erased from his record, and he will be guarded from the devil during the day until evening. No one will exceed him except one who recited these words more often.”
Hadith Bukhari & Muslim

Moral of the story is, do not believe everything that the weighing scale tells you and even though we can't see our sins,  we must strive hard to collect rewards as if our sins are as high as Mount Everest.

“Conduct yourself in this world, as if you are here to stay forever; prepare for eternity as if you have to die tomorrow.” (Bukhari)

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Never too old to learn

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

When I was small, my parents had arranged Quranic classes for my sisters and I. Me, being the most mischievous one of all, would always find ways to skip the classes or you'll find me snoring away.

Back then, I didn't understand the need to learn reciting the Quran in a correct manner. Now, after many years, I realized my folly.

As a result of not paying attention in class and not reciting the Quran at all during my younger days, I can't recite the Quran properly as I don't know the rules of tajweed. I can read the Quran in arabic but not recite it in the correct intonation and manner.

"Or add to it, and recite the Qur'an with measured recitation."
Quran 73:4

Someone once said to me that it's a sin to not recite Quran with the correct tajweed. Hmmmm..... then logically it's better for me not to recite the Quran at all, in order to avoid incurring any sins, right? It would have been the perfect excuse but, if I were to wait until I master the tajweed before reciting the Quran, then that might take forever.  Surely that can't be right. So I turned to the Wise Owl. He in turn, shared with me this hadith.

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, "The one who is proficient in the recitation of the Qur'an will be with the honourable and obedient scribes (angels) and he who recites the Qur'an and finds it difficult to recite, doing his best to recite it in the best way possible, will have a double reward."

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

The Wise Owl advised me to keep on reciting the Quran on my own but at the same time, to try to learn the tajweed. Mmmmm.... a bit tricky. Learning is one thing but finding the right class is a different challenge altogether.

I didn't want to join a public class as I was ashamed of my inabilities. I didn't want others to hear how horrible I sounded. I didn't want sniggering from fellow students or the look of pity or worse, being judged for my lack of knowledge. Yes...I had my pride, wrong as it may be.

So for years I searched and prayed for a class that would be suitable for me.

"And your Lord says, "Call upon Me; I will respond to you." Quran 40:60

Then, Allah SWT literally sent a teacher to my doorsteps.  My sister and friend also joined the class. Since we were all on the same level, I could put aside my shame and pride and start learning.

The class is truly a blessing. Now in my 40s, I finally learnt tajweed and how to recite the Quran properly. I now appreciate the beauty of it.

I'm still far from perfect and I still have to work on my pronunciations but at least I'm making progress.

What I would like to say is don't be shy to learn things even if we are old. If there's a will there's a way. Don't despair or worry, just ask Allah SWT and He will answer. Kun faya kun.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The thing about mistakes

“We learn from failure, not from success!” ― Bram Stoker

Mistake has many meanings. It can mean blunder, error, oversight and slip-up. It can also be misconduct, error of judgment and screw-up.

Whatever the meaning is, one thing for certain is that, it was done unintentionally and maybe also, innocently.

Everyone makes mistakes. Some minor and some, grave ones. No one is perfect. I know I made tons of mistakes when I was younger and I still do make mistakes even now. Every time I think about the mistakes that I made, I would cringe but now I know that I was meant to make those mistakes. I learnt a whole  lot of things from my mistakes. In fact, my mistakes made me the person that I am now.

"and mankind was created weak."
Quran 4:28

Mistakes are part of learning process provided we pay attention to the lessons behind it. Mistakes are also success in the making.

"The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The one who repents from sin is like one who did not sin.”
Hadith Ibn Majah

The only problem is that sometimes people remember you by your mistakes and hold you to it. They could friends or even families. No matter how much you have repented or changed,  it would seem that you can never redeem yourself in their eyes. Even if you've become a role-model in the society and are in a better position to advice them, chances are, they would not listen because they hold your past wrongdoings against you.

I know it can be quite frustrating, not to mention disheartening when that happens. Don't despair. Make peace with yourself and move on. Perhaps, they are not ready to accept you and perhaps they may never be.  Their acceptance is not relevant but Allah's acceptance is. Just make dua for them and leave everything in His Hands.

" Say, "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful."
Quran 39:53

Also, sometimes, even though we have committed a particular mistake in the past, we may not able to stop or prevent others, especially our loved ones from committing the same mistake, as much as we want to. Perhaps like us, they are meant to make those mistakes so that they can learnt from it. It may be a bitter pill to swallow for them at first but they will remember well then after.

One more thing. Treat others as how we would like to be treated. As much as we dislike our past wrongdoings be thrown back in our faces, don't remind others of their past mistakes when they are trying very hard to change.

"O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one's] faith. And whoever does not repent -  then it is those who are the wrongdoers."
Quran 49:11

Monday, 13 March 2017

Living up to Expectations

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” 
― Bruce Lee

A couple weeks ago, I felt somewhat stressed and to some extent, suffocated. I felt that I had a huge boulder on my shoulder, pushing me down. I felt like a failure because I felt that I wasn't doing as much as I ought to. I was really feeling out of sort. 

Then, I spoke to a dear friend. 

 I really do find it amazing how whenever I feel lost or out of sort, God always sends me someone to help me work out my kinks, to enable me see things clearly then after. We must always have faith that God will answer our dua every time we recite 'Guide me to the straight path' - Al-Fatihah 1:6. 

 Anyway, I was telling my friend about being frustrated in not be being able to do certain things and she said to me, "sister, we must live according to our expectations and not other people's". Her statement was like a bolt of lightning that went straight into my fuzzy brain and zapped my senses back to earth.

OMG!. It was then that I realised that I was working myself to the bone in order to live up to what people expects me to be. In other words, I lost myself and became miserable in the process. I also became very tired both physically and emotionally.

Each and every one of us have our own purpose in life. We each have our own strength and weaknesses. We have our own goals and aims. We even succeed and fail differently. That is how unique God had created each of us. When I got swept away by world, I forgot that I'm suppose to celebrate being different, being ME. I can never be like anyone else and chances are, I can never live up to other people's expectations of how or what I should be. I should only be myself.

After talking to my friend, I feel somewhat liberated from the invisible shackles that were dragging me down. I crawled back into my coconut shell (haven't done that in a while) to think and started remembering my own purpose and goals. I recounted the original reasons as to why I do the things that I do. I started doing what I do for God and me and I want it to continue that way till my last breathe.

I also looked at my own family. As a wife and mother, I have responsibilities towards my husband and children. They are my amanah and they are my Jannah. 

So, here's my advice. Work and strive on your own expectations. Forget about what others expects of you as you may never be able to fulfill them. Doing your best should be enough for you. Know your own limitations and work around your own schedule and not others. It's okay to fail sometimes as failure is success in the making. Make yourself and the people who matters to you, happy. If others are unhappy with you, then it's their problem and not yours. Take your time and savor your moment. Don't let anyone rush you. Dictate your time. Accept the obstacles encountered along the way as stepping stones to excellence. Making a positive progress is better than completing the task miserably.

Life is short. Hold on to your dreams and don't let anyone tell you that achieving it is not possible. Always be thankful to Allah SWT for all the blessings that He has bestowed upon you. What others think of you is irrelevant but what Allah SWT thinks of you, is utmost important.

"But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not."
Quran 2:216 

Last but not least, NEVER stop making dua to Allah SWT

"Is He [not best] who responds to the desperate one when he calls upon Him"
 Quran 27:62 

"Al-Nu’maan ibn Basheer (RA) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (SAW) say on the minbar: “Dua is worship.” Then he recited the verse (interpretation of the meaning): “And your Lord said: Invoke Me [i.e. believe in My Oneness (Islamic Monotheism) and ask Me for anything] I will respond to your (invocation)…”
Hadith Tirmidhi

Monday, 6 March 2017

A Balanced life

“When the actions of others no longer matter, then you will have succeeded within your own mind.”
Jo De Raman

The other day, I listened to  a dear friend of mine talked about having a balanced life. For me, the topic is so close to my heart as I used to constantly struggle to strike a balance between being a servant of God, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a working person and a friend.

There were times when I felt that I was stretched so thin that I was near breaking point. I felt I was pulled into so many directions that I was losing focus and getting overwhelmed. People's expectations of what and how I should be, proved too much for me to shoulder. It's not easy to strike a balance in ones life, unless you know how and what to prioritize.

One thing that I learnt over the years, is that 'balance' does not mean equal. 

The very first things that you need to ask yourself is 'who do you want to be?'. For me, at that time, more than anything, I wanted to be a good Muslim (still do). I felt that needed to make up for loss times during my ignorant days and that was one of the root of my problem. The thing is (now I know), it matters not how many acts of worships that one performs but it's the quality and sincerity of it that counts.

"Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few.”
Hadith Ibn Majah 

In trying to do too much, I felt disgruntled and resentment whenever my family or anyone else for that matter,  demanded my time. I felt spending time with them was time away from God. I also felt that they were in the way of me achieving Jannah. I was so wrong! It's actually quite the opposite.

At times, I forgot that Islam is not about rituals but it's a way of life. That means, everything that we do or say is related to God. 'Obedience' is not confined to performing ritual acts of worship or scrambling to do good deeds. 'Obedience' also extent to keeping relations, safeguarding 'amanah' or trust and fulfilling one's responsibilities.

"And they say, "We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination."
Quran 2:285

Each one of us have different ways of life. Each one of us have different needs. I learnt that a balanced life is where you have achieved peace and tranquillity in your life. You learn to accept your limitations and flaws and focus on your capabilities and strength. You may not be able to divide your time equally between all but you have managed to earn His Blessings in everything that you. 

A balanced life is what works for you to achieve that equilibrium between body, mind and soul and not what others think how your life should be. A balanced life is about managing your own expectations and not the expectations of others. What works for you and what makes you happy may not work on others. 

I remember the Wise Owl once said that our entire life can be an 'ibadah' and a huge blessing where we get rewards and baraqa for every single thing that we do. The secret is to do everything sincerely and only for sake of Allah SWT. Once we have managed to condition ourselves to that then somehow, we would achieve the balanced life that we seek. To quote what my dear friend said,  it's progress that we should seek for and not perfection.

It is narrated on the authority of Amir al-Mu'minin (Leader of the Believers), Abu Hafs 'Umar bin al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), say:

"Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended. Whoever migrates with an intention for Allah and His messenger, the migration will be for the sake of Allah and his Messenger. And whoever migrates for worldly gain or to marry a woman, then his migration will be for the sake of whatever he migrated for."

Hadith Bukhari & Muslim

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Every bit of blessing...

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” ― Henry Ward Beecher

When I reflect back, going through post natal depression is actually a blessing to me. One of the things that caused me stress and anxiety was seeing wastage.

I flipped when I saw the tap being turned on full blast with water gushing out. Wastage of water. The sound of water gushing out made me mental and guilty at the same time.

"Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, passed by Sa’d while he was performing ablution. The Prophet said, “What is this extravagance?” Sa’d said, “Is there extravagance with water in ablution?” The Prophet said, “Yes, even if you were on the banks of a flowing river.”

Hadith Ibn Majah

The other thing that drove me mad was to see wastage of food.

O children of Adam! Attend to your embellishments at every time of prayer, and eat and drink and be not extravagant; surely He does not love the extravagant.

Quran 7:31

Now, I'm almost fully recovered from my post natal depression but certain things I noticed stayed with me. I still can't abide wastage in any form especially food and it can drive me nuts. It seems that the after-effect of being sick left me with a sense awareness. That's why I said it was a blessing. Otherwise, I would like continue living being oblivious and insensitive to my surroundings.

Last night, my husband and I went to a restaurant to meet some friends. The place was full with patrons. The food was good. As we looked around, we were dismayed to see plates of unfinished food on the table.

Now, that both irritated and saddened me at the same time. The fact that we live in a world where's there hunger even in our own neighbourhood, but yet, there are still people who are wasting food.

Did you know that every morsel of food is a blessing from God?  By throwing away unfinished food is akin to throwing away His blessings and telling God, that we don't want His rizq.

Jabir (RA) reported: “I heard Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: ‘The Satan is present with any one of you in everything he does; he is present even when he eats food; so if any one of you drops a mouthful he should remove away anything filthy on it and eat it and not leave for the devil; and when he finishes (food) he should lick his fingers, for he does not know in what portion of his food the blessing lies.’” 

Sahih Muslim

Anas r.a said:"The Prophet Pbuh ordered us not to leave anything on the plateand he said: "You do not know in which portion of your food Allah has put the Barakah (Blessing)"

Hadith Muslim

Every time we pray, we ask for rizq but yet when He gives it to us, we simply throw it away without a blink or feeling or remorse. What have we become?  A wasteful nation or an ungrateful one?

Sigh! This is what we can do the next time we dine out or even at home. If we can't finish the food on our plate, for whatever reason, then have the waiter pack your leftovers. Bring it home for you to eat later or give it away to some who needs it. It's far better than throwing it away. Don't be wasteful.

Don't let the possibility of a small morsel of food be the cause of our rizq and blessings being withdrawn from us......

Friday, 3 February 2017

Brief Darkness

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 
― Martin Luther King Jr.

I remember once, reading about one of Prophet's companions who used to get distraught if he had not fallen ill for a long spell.

When I read that, I thought it was a bit weird. I mean, who in the right frame of mind would asked to be sick instead of healthy? I understand about the part where sickness can reduce our sins but still....being sick is quite nasty business actually.

"I visited Allah's Apostle while he was suffering from a high fever. I touched him with my hand and said, "O Allah's Apostle! You have a high fever." Allah's Apostle said, "Yes, I have as much fever as two men of you have." I said, "Is it because you will get a double reward?" Allah's Apostle said, "Yes, no Muslim is afflicted with harm because of sickness or some other inconvenience, but that Allah will remove his sins for him as a tree sheds its leaves."

Hadith Bukhari

"Abu Sa'id al-Khudri r.a. reported that the Prophet said: Whenever a Muslim is afflicted with a hardship, sickness, sadness, worry, harm, or depression --even a thorn's prick, Allah expiates his sins because of it."

Hadith Bukhari & Muslim

Anyway, last week, I was given a glimpse of the answer to my wondering. I was stricken down with dengue fever. For those who had this fever before,  would know how physically painful it is. People call it the 'bone breaking' fever because you literally would feel like every bone in your battered body is breaking.

Prior to that, I couldn't pray as I was on my usual monthly leave so when I was admitted into the hospital, I was still in the state of impurity hence I couldn't pray.

On one hand, it was kinda relief as I was in too much pain to move and spent my time lying on the bed. I suppose God was giving me time off so that I can recover physically but on the other hand, I have never felt so alone in my entire life! It was a spiritually feeling of being alone.

Yes, it's true that I could do other things such as zikr but somehow, it wasn't enough.

At that time, I felt darkness had descended on my soul and I was spiralling into utter depression. I desperately wanted my physical link with my Creator but I couldn't. I didn't like it one least bit!

I don't know about others and I don't judge but for me personally, not being able to pray and be the closest to God during sujud for a long period of time is just horrible.

Every prayer we start with the intention to perform the prayer for the sake of Allah SWT. Then, we recite 'Allahuakhbar' which means 'Allah is Great'. It is an intimate meeting between us and God that no one else can intrude. To not be able to do that 5 times a day for a long spell is just depressing and complete darkness to me. I needed the 'light'. My body needed to feel it's not alone eventhough my soul knows He is near.

Now, I understand why the companions had asked for sickness. Being in that vulnerable state somehow heightened our senses and in my heightened state, I felt I needed to connect to the right channel otherwise I would feel lost. Make sense? Hhmmm....somehow, to me, it does...

"And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah ]"
Quran 2:45

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Heaven Sent is available in Ebook

Good news! Heaven Sent is now available in ebook. Just click on the link to purchase

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Expiry Date....

“The more we love the more we lose. The more we lose the more we learn. The more we learn the more we love. It comes full circle. Life is the school, love is the lesson. We cannot lose.” ― Kate McGahan

Today, we got a disturbing news that one of our neighbours had passed away. She was one of my favourite elderly neighbour. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away a few days after that.

I was shocked when I heard the news as I only saw her last week, doing her usual walk. She always waved and smiled at me whenever I drove by.

The news of death always jarrs me back to the reality that we are living on borrowed time. It kinda put things into least until I get distracted again.

There a Malay saying that once we've reached the age of 40,  we've already have one foot in the grave. What the saying means is not that once we hit 40, we are as good as dead but it's a reminder that age is catching up and we should spend our remaining time wisely.

Nothing is certain except death and nothing is permanent except hereafter. We must find a balance between living in this world and preparing for hereafter.

It's easy to get swept away with the daily chores and routine but God do sends us signs, from time to time, to remind us that one day, we will return to Him.

" Who, when disaster strikes them, say, "Indeed we belong to Allah , and indeed to Him we will return."

Surah Al Baqara 2:156

Last Ramadhan, I suffered a minor heart attack. At first, I couldn't believe that it was happening to me because apart from being chubby, I was in good health. I did my regular check-ups and even my mammogram. But, God knows best. 

Even though it was a minor attack, I received an earful of lecture from my doctor friend, whom till today, I feel indebted to for being there when I needed her. She told me that I needed to slow down and watch my diet or risked a second attack! I was kinda over-worked the weeks prior to the attack.

Truth be told, I wasn't sure that I would last another month let alone another year. I am thankful that God had decided to 'extend my lease' but that spurred me into completing things that I was supposed to do. It also made me look differently at life. Recently, a friend taught me a new hashtag......#JOM which literally means 'lets'. Lets march ahead and allow nothing to hold us back from striving to be the best that we can be. (Happy to say that I know how to use hashtags now!)

Now, for certain I know that life is short. Spend time with your loved ones, as much as you can. Love and be loved. Learn to forgive and forget. Stay away from toxic people. Don't be petty. Make sure that you have investments for hereafter. Don't cling to worldly material stuff as you can't bring them to your grave. Charity also means spending time doing good. Appreciate true friends and respect everyone, even your enemies. Learn to leave the past behind and be positive about the future.  Always try to be better.

Most important thing of all.....check your connection with God. Is it still intact?

" Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death.”

Hadith Ahmad

Friday, 6 January 2017

Feeling of belonging...

“Helping someone feel they belong is a magic all its own.” ― Seth Adam Smith,

I believe that everything happens for a reason. Incident and accidents are lessons to be learnt as such I try as much of possible pay attention in 'class'.

I do look forward going to Islamic courses and conferences as I get quite a bit of gem from it but there's a downside to it. I don't know about others but whenever I listened to the lectures by the respected scholars and I looked at the people around me, I always feel like a hypocrite. Let's face it, I'm no saint, in fact far from it! I know that I am no where near the ideal Muslim described by the scholars. Every day is a constant struggle for me to stay on path. Don't get me wrong, I do feel inspired by the lectures to be better and to do more but I also feel at times that it's such an impossible feat to be that ideal Muslim described by the scholars. I always come out of the lecture theatres feeling that I'm doomed to hell. Sigh!

 Have you ever felt that you don't belong anywhere? Well, I did. I no longer belong to my past life but I've yet to be become the person whom I would like to be. I felt lost sometimes because I felt like I was in-between lives. Neither here nor there. I couldn't find the correct group of people to try to fit it.  In a way, I felt like I'm was a traveller in a huge airport, who has not reached her destination, hence, always in transit and amongst strangers. 

Then, one day, God sent me to a group of people who are not scholars but their life mission is to spread His Words and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad pbuh. They don't preach but instead they encourage others to do good. 

"The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) was reportedly asked: “Which of our companions are best?” He replied: “One whose appearance reminds you of God, and whose speech increases you in knowledge, and whose actions remind you of the hereafter.”

It was then that I finally understood. 

The purpose of me being at the lectures and conferences is not to feel like a failure but to increase my knowledge in Islam. Thenafter, Allah sent me ordinary people as teachers, to teach me how to put the knowledge that I acquired, to good use. I understand now that I may never be a Hafiz or an ustadha or even a scholar in Islam but that's okay. I don't know who or what I will be in the future but I do know that God will not forsake me for as long as my intentions are sincere. I also understand now that I belong where my heart is and inshaAllah, my heart is with Him.

Every one has his/her own journey to take and each journey is unique in its own way. One thing that I realised is that, even after all these years, I'm still trying to be a Muslim and that's, not a bad thing....

Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

Allah the Exalted says: I am as my servant expects me and I am with him as he remembers me. If he remembers me in himself, then I will remember him in myself. If he mentions me in a gathering, then I will mention him in a greater gathering. When he draws near to me by the span of his hand, I draw near him by the length of a cubit. When he draws near me by the length of a cubit, I draw near him by the length of a fathom. When he comes to me walking, I will come to him running.

Hadith Bukhari