Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Twins of Faith 2013


We have bid 2013 goodbye and welcoming 2014. Usually I would have my year end reflection but I did that in my own personal time and place (because I am corny like that) and Alhamdulillah, 2013 has been the year of self discovery, in a good way.

"O Son of Adam, You are nothing but a number of days, whenever each day passes then a part of you has gone." - Credit to Sheikh Sajid Umar

Hence, I want to talk about an event that close my 2013 wonderfully:  Twins of Faith 2013 (TOF2013)

I wanted to go this event for quite sometimes, which is organized by Mercy Mission yearly since 2011 but never seems to have the opportunity to go. God willing, one of my friends sold the tickets so I decided to go.

I did not know what to expect but when you go or do anything without any expectation, you will be surprised. And I was indeed surprised by how awesome the event was! They had amazing speakers with great topics, workshops and even corners for children and women. The only thing that I had to criticize was the queue in the cafeteria and lack of lunch options. And maybe Malaysians toilet etiquette (well not all toilets, some of them, we really need to change our behavior people).

The theme for this year TOF 2013 was the sunnah the better (hashtag #thesunnahthebetter and #tof2013), which mainly revolved around why sunnah is very important and about the man who is the prime example of our Deen, our prophet Rasulullah SAW.

It's not lectures all day long though. They had halal entertainment, with the ever so funny Omar Regan, the talented (and my fave spoken word artist) Kamal Salleh , singers Mu'adz Dzulkefly, Fathi Omani and art by the graffiti artist, Aerosol Ali hence it was refreshing to be in Islamic convention that appeals to young audience (most attendees were youngsters).

Aerosol Ali "The Wall"

All the speakers were flown from around the countries, impressive scholars; Muadhin of Masjid An-Nabawi (Sheikh Ayyad Shukri), Imam in Jeddah (Sheikh Assim al-Hakeem), Imam Masjidil Al Aqsa (Shaykh Abu Bakr Gaith), Al-Kauthar Institute Instructors  (Sheikh Daood ButtSheikh Sajid UmarSheikh Alaa ElsayedSheikh Abdur-Raheem )McCarthy) and even the founder of Mercy Mission, Sheikh Dr Tawfique Chowdry. What an amazing man to organize such a convention that gathered great scholars to give us knowledge and keep on reminding us to live life according to Quran and Sunnah.

The Speakers :)

The talks were great reminders how beautiful Quran is, explanation for all the questions in life, and how Rasulullah SAW is the living Quran. It is true that people nowadays (me included) don't really value the importance of sunnah but they are indeed the ticket to Jannah. It's scary how little we do, yet we want to enter paradise. One of the reminders by Sheikh Alaa on his opening speech was we have all these certificates and achievements we hang on the wall, but the most important one we haven't seen yet: the Death certificate. A one way ticket to the unknown. As one of the Hadiths to remind us on this:

As we know, charity is mentioned a lot in Quran and Hadiths. One of the talks that I like was by Sheikh Sajid Umar on charity. He talked about all the benefits of doing charities (according to Hadiths and Quran), and he mentioned that wealth is not something obtained but ordained. All the wealth in this life mounted only to a portion of mosquitoes wings. Indeed, Allah is Owner of everything we own, and it's a test to see if we will help one another (we need the poor to get to Jannah). Something I indeed always believe in, but his talk strengthening the importance of charity. The fundraising that came afterward was amazing! So many generous people in Malaysia. Alhamdulillah, I think they managed to raise over one million Ringgit by just asking the audiences :). Faith in humanity: Restored.

All in all, it was a very great convention. I benefitted a lot from all the speakers, may Allah preserve them, bless them and their family. Amin. It's great seeing our ummah comes together, and instead of debating on our differences, we share the same love for Allah and his messenger Prophet Muhammad SAW. Islam is such a beautiful Deen, I am slowly learning to appreciate my religion more. May Allah makes me steadfast in keep on learning about Islam and practice them in real life.

The workshop I attended where Kamal Salleh talked about using your talent for Da'wah inspired me for this post. I may not be the world best writer but just trying to share the best way I know how: by writing :). I haven't written for a while but I believe this convention is worth sharing (and for me to remember); the foods for our lost souls.

The talented Kamal Salleh :)

Before I end my post, I would like to share the seven things that Inshaa'Allah will guarantee us paradise, notes by Sheikh Dr Tawfique Chowdry:

1. Putting a smile on someone's face - help ease the burden of fellow sister/brother who need help

2. Perform as many Hajj as you can to attain Mabrur
3. For sisters - Listen to your husband. If you die when your husband is pleased with you, you will go to paradise (and if the other way around to hell!)
4. Guard the tongue and chastity

5. Keep your intention sincere

6. Dhikr 

7. Iman in Allah & His Messenger SAW (In words and actions)

May Allah gives me (and others) a chance to attend again this awesome event, and at the meantime keep on striving to become a better muslim; starting by applying sunnah of Prophet Muhammad SAW from the time I start my day till the end. Amin :).

"When the tree bears fruit, the branch comes down” - Knowledge should humble you, like the tree branch 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ramadhan 2013 - A month of reflection

27th Ramadhan 2013/1434 AH. 

3 more days left of this year's holiest month in Islamic Calendar. Just can't help but to do some self reflection: Have I really utilized the month to the best of my capabilities? Have I finally understand the reason why this month is really important; is it because Al-Quran is descended on this month? Is it to feel what unfortunate others are going through every day in other parts of the world? To get closer to our Creator, Allah?

One might say all of them and more. A lot will say and quote the verse of Surah Al Baqarah (Ayah 183):

Sahih International
O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous 

I have to admit that growing up, Ramadhan is an important month, but I don't really understand the real reason behind all the extra efforts in intensifying your ibadah (besides getting more rewards); terawihs, qiyam, reading the Quran and ultimately trying to find Lailatul Qadr. As I grow older and going through some hard times in life, I begin questioning the depth of my knowledge of my own religion. Yes, I am thankful I'm born Muslim, but sometimes, you do things because you are accustomed to it. We questioned our lecturers, governments and a lot of other people, but for some reasons, religion is one thing I am not curious about for large parts of my life. What I know is I will follow the rules of Islam as often as I can as I don't want to go to hell. 

This Ramadhan is a different one for me. I'm not saying I'm taking a 180 degree turn and completely turn into a religious person, because I know I will always make mistakes, will always have sins, intentionally or unintentionally, but Allah had open my mind and my heart that every single day of this month I had learnt something new about my religion, about the Quran and how beautiful our Deen is. That makes me realize that I have so many things to learn still. Will I have the time to really become righteous? To have takwa sought after by so many so that I can really enter Paradise? I pray that I do. Because I know so little it scares me. 

What's amazing about this month is Allah's love. He asks us to read the Quran as a life guidance, so we don't go astray. He's training us this month to have more patience, do good deeds and face the next 11 months with the guidance and training we got out of this Holy month, a battle against our own nafs and against devils. He asks us to talk to Him, to ask for forgiveness because He is nearer than ever. And that is truly unconditional love. I regretted not having this curiousity or even the right intention before, but I really do hope I will improve and get better. May Allah keeps my intention good and always remember Him, bad and good times, Ramadhan and other months, Always. 

Awesome lectures from a lot of scholars like Nouman Ali Khan, Suhaib Webb, local ustaz/ustazah on TV Al-Hijrah and videos from Quran Weekly helped me a lot this Ramadhan (May Allah reward them by sharing their knowledge with others). Last but not least, if you feel like you are a great sinner that you don't think Allah will ever forgive you, just watch the videos and you realize that it is never too late to repent. Never. If it has to start somewhere, better be today right? May Allah forgive all our sins and keep us steadfast in our faith. Amin.

Forgive Me Allah

Eid Mubarak/Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri peeps! Sorry for all wrongdoings that I've done. Stay safe and enjoy the festivities :).

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Just Sharing.

Just sharing an advise that I think is brilliant (and perfectly timed with the wedding season) :). I think I'm beginning to be happy again. With the help of a handful of awesome people (you know who you are). Have a good weekend everyone!

Marry your best friend (by some random guy on the world wide web)

I am truly amazed that I have the most successful marriage of all my friends -- going strong after fifteen years. Most of my friends are amazed, too, because, growing up, I was the geek who couldn't get a girlfriend. I had almost no relationships until I was in my mid twenties. I got married at 29. I'm now 45 and still deeply in love. Meanwhile, I have seen so many of my friends get divorces and/or grind their teeth through loveless, combative relationships.

What I've noticed about these people is that, 90% of the time, (a) they got married really young and (b) they mistakenly thought that long-term romances work best when when they're based entirely on lust and trivial shared tastes (e.g. "We both like the same bands.")

Sometimes, I hear people say things like, "I've been dating this guy for a year. We get along okay, but sometimes I think about leaving... How do I know if he's 'the one'?" This makes me really sad, because it's SO obvious to me that my wife is 'the one.' Why? Because she's my best friend. Whenever anything good or bad happens to me, she's the person I want to tell! When I need advice, she's the person I run to! When I need to laugh, she's the person I joke around with!

If you don't KNOW that the other person is 'the one,' he's not (or she's not). And though it SUCKS to be alone -- believe me, I know. I was alone for YEARS -- it's better than settling. DON'T settle. You'll STILL be alone. It is very possible to be alone while being in a relationship. Many people are.

(Let me be really clear about what I mean by "don't settle." I don't mean "look for someone who is perfect." No one is perfect. I mean that if you feel luke-warm about someone, he's not the one. If the person you're with makes you continually unhappy, she's not the one. Don't settle for THAT because "it beats being alone." It doesn't. You evolved to think it does. Your brain will continually tell you that it does. It doesn't.)

The other sad thing I hear is "Bill is my best friend. We have so much in common. He's always there for me. We talk for hours. I completely trust him and we have the exact same sense of humor ... but ... I don't know ... the spark isn't there..." 

When I hear this, I don't say anything, because it's none of my business, but I want to scream "GET OVER THIS 'SPARK' THING! STOP BELIEVING IN HOLLYWOOD VISIONS OF CATCHING SOMEONE'S EYE ACROSS A CROWDED ROOM! You found someone you connect with on SO many levels, and you're not getting down on your knees and proposing?!? Do you think you're going to find 30 more people like that in your life?!?" 

The "spark" doesn't last, anyway. I'm not saying that sex dies or anything. I'm just saying that incredibly exciting, new romance feeling inevitably fades. But, if you're lucky, what comes next is much, much better. You spend years in that loving, warm place with the person you know you want to grow old with. And if you have good communication with someone, the spark can come later, even if it's not there at first. 

Lots of people seem to learn this after a long time and a lot of pain. They marry the "bad boy" or the "hot chick" instead of their best friends, because doing so is more exciting. Then those marriages -- which are based on nothing -- fail. Sometimes, if these people are lucky, they later marry those best friends who they should have married in the first place. If they're unlucky, they can't, because the best friends have moved on.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Where True Happiness Lies =)

I want to set a positive tone to this post.

Most people, at one stage (or even more) in their life, goes through hard times, feeling like everything is working against them.

And each time, you will try to pick yourself up, dust off your shoulders and move on. Easier said than done right? Some even falls into depression.

I won't be a hypocrite and say I'm a truly positive person. I fell into the category of "why me" a lot of times. I sometimes envied other people lives and wished I was in theirs instead.

Usually the phase will pass and I will be regretting the so called 'depression' mode that made me an ungrateful and negative person. However, I won't say it's completely a waste, especially in my recent 'dark' times, as it really taught me a lesson or two: this world is indeed temporary. What is real happiness? Nobody has the textbook answer to the question. Putting the ideal worldly definition: To be rich, good looking, have a picture perfect life, yes, some might agree with that. But as a muslim, you should look beyond this life. It's a concept we are all aware of (yes you either go to Paradise or Hell, so make good choices) but do we really get it? We are imperfect, we can't be making good choices all the time (even our intentions are at stake everyday). Hence, we need constant reminder. And Allah indeed knows us best. He tests us constantly, for us to really understand the meaning of life. For us to pass this big exam (like how our tests build up to our final exam) and get the most desired result: Jannah. Allah is indeed the Greatest and loves us all.

So, what do we do when we have tests? We study. And today, so many materials readily available. Facebook, Youtube, Google....all you need is a click away. I used to listen to songs, watch movies, read all the quotes when I was sad. I read the Quran and pray but I admitted it, I don't really dig into the meaning of the ayahs. I felt at ease spiritually but the cycle will repeat when I was tested. Nowadays, I am beginning to appreciate the beauty of Quran and I hope it's not too late for me to really grasps all the words that my Creator is conveying to make me realize that nothing in life is worth being stressed about. And for me to look into Rasulullah S.A.W (peace be upon him) sunnah and behaviors to make me a better person than what I am today. In the end, those are the two most important books for me to pass the final exam. Hopefully Allah keeps on reminding me (all the time) and surround me with positive people, Amin. I hope whenever I'm going through difficulties in life, this post will remind me, that this, shall too will pass :).

"I came back to you because I could not find the kind and decent things I found in you anywhere else" - Rumi

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Everyone has a reason to run..what's yours?

Time really flies. Like literally because flying is one of the fastest way to get to places and boom, you're already in the end of first quarter of 2013.

Yes, so many things occurred in the world nowadays. Social Media has never been so imperatives for people to voice out opinions (albeit some of them are blindly done based on emotions or lack of truth) of the current issues. It's ironic when internet should make our lives easier but having too many school of thoughts nowadays make it time consuming to weed the right information to receive.

I still pray everyday for world peace though. God is listening :).

In personal life context, I have a confession to make. I was going through a dark time and getting through the days had not always been a pleasure. I didn't want to appear to be weak to others but I learnt throughout these times that expressing my emotions are my way of dealing with negative feelings. I've been reading a book titled "Happiness in Hard Times" (I know it sounds too literal) but the book was/is what I need at the moment. It tells you to accept all your flaws and your hardships and change the way you think about them. Anything that is beyond your control is not worthy to consume all your time and emotions dwelling in them. And reading other examples of people harder times made me realize that God still loves me and knows my limit of endurance. I needed a wake up call and the book did that for me.

Yes, I still need time to get back and up, walking and running. Talking about running, I completed my first ever 10 km run in less than one and half hour! I used to hate running, but the run was what I needed too. It felt so good :). No wonder Forrest Gump loves running. LOL.

I am putting ego aside, and I want to ask for forgiveness from everyone who was affected by my sombre mood. I vow to myself (and others) that I will try to be happy everyday and keep a positive outlook for life. The best take from these, I feel closer to God than I ever been. There's the silver lining and I hope Allah will always guide me to become a better person Insha'allah. Amin.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013 :)

Time for the usual end of year reflection. The virtual coffee shop is re-visited for looking back over the year and writing them on my idle blog.

2012 has proven to be another challenging year (and based on the things written here, an emotional one as well). Eventful.

Love is lost, but I don't lose hope. Whatever I have been through this year, they're all lessons learnt. I am a flawed person, what I can do is lowered my ego to ask for forgiveness for whatever pain I had put anyone in. And for people I love and care about to find their happiness. You can only stand up and try again. Hearts are not made of stone, hence I believe one day they will learn to love again :).

I have been interested in world issues: Israel-Palestine war, America's Election, Malaysia politic scenes, all the shits and wonders (more shits though) that are happening, they are both knowledge enricher and emotional wrecker. Fascinating that how much you can learn from observing and reading on these issues, but also they affected you in a way that you think the world is so screwed up you feel like moving away to an imaginary planet. Yes, empathy had me mad for things I have no control over. Well at least I have one vote to make some small change in my own country. And there are social medias to help out the suffering world. Call me corny, I am an advocate of peace and I believe everyone deserves a voice to be heard, and a chance to live a good life. All you need to do is read and evaluate. All you need is Google.

On a lesser serious note, Bruno Mars Unorthodox Jukebox is my Album of the Year, I have no Movie of the Year (maybe because I haven't watched Life of Pi or Les Miserables), Suits are my Series of the Year (but I also love HIMYM) and Call Me Maybe is my Song of the Year (Ok2, I'm kidding LOL). MU versus Newcastle was the most memorable match of football and Coconut Shake in Klebang Malacca won the Best Food of the Year (It can rival the new thai restaurant at PD Waterfront though).

All in all, 2012 had been one hell of a roller coaster ride. I thank God I have families and good friends to still keep me sane. And I thank God for giving me the strength to still keep a strong and positive front and have faith in HIM.

Keep Calm and Move On.

Bye Bye 2012, and Hello 2013!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sometimes, Big Girls cry too.

I've been contemplating to write this post but I just have to.

I am facing the biggest challenge Life has ever thrown at me.

And I am drowning. I am not the best swimmer.

As corny as this sounds, I believe Time will heal. And whatever that doesn't kill you, will hopefully make you stronger (and a better person hopefully).

It's time to grow up and be a big girl now.

In the end, I want my life to make sense to me.

I believe HE has a better plan for me Insha'allah :)