If you must know something about me it is that I've always had trouble when it comes to putting my feelings into words. The fact that I have a blog, and one with many readers might I add, surprises me! However, what I've noticed is that when I write from my heart my thoughts flow quite nicely and people tend to respond positively to them (for the most part). That has been my main purpose for writing and sharing my stories with you and it took me a while to realise this: I really want others to benefit from my existence as opposed to me always wanting to benefit from others. The girl you see today is far from perfect as a human being and a Muslim but she's happy and she's committed to herself. (Read on and find out what I mean by this.)
Monday, July 20, 2015
Syawal Day One
Yes, I know I've been MIA a lot this year. I can't really help it when I'm working and writing my thesis at the same time but here's a quick post to wish all my Muslim readers Eid Mubarak and Selamat Hari Raya Maaf Zahir dan Batin. Taqaballahu minna wa minkum.
I haven't written a fashion post in a while so when http://www.raishma.co.uk asked me to do an Eid post, I thought, "Why not?". I wish I could have featured one of their stunning dresses! I especially love this one.
Anyway, here are the outfits I donned for Eid celebrations this year. I think simplicity goes a long way, don't you agree?
Sunday, June 14, 2015
First and foremost, let me congratulate you on winning a gold medal at the 2015 South East Asian Games. I admire you for having the determination, discipline and dedication to become a world-class gymnast. As a fellow Malaysian, I am proud of you because I know not anyone can do what you have just achieved.
Secondly, I would like to apologise on behalf of your nay-sayers and harsh critics. While I would not encourage a woman to dress immodestly in public I would also never condone the way some people have spoken about you. Why? Because being a woman myself, I understand what it must be like to be in your position. I myself have only made the decision to don the hijab around five years ago. However, I know for a fact that just because I wear the hijab it doesn't make me a better person than you or any other woman who chooses not to wear it. The hijab may be a symbol of piety for some women but for an ordinary woman like myself who has many shortcomings, the hijab is an expression of faith and a manifestation of my desire to become closer to my Creator by trying to embody humility. It is by no means a representation of my level of piety which is only for God to judge.
Saturday, May 02, 2015
"Forget the world, and so command the world.
Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder.
Help someone's soul heal.
Walk out of your house like a shepherd." — Rumi
The more you try to please the people of this world - by blindly following them or ignoring your fitrah, instincts and intuition - the more troubling this world becomes to you. The moment you decide to be your own person with the intention of spreading good on this Earth and seek truth and happiness from the Source of all things pure, that's when the world starts to serve you in your journey towards Him.
Sunday, April 19, 2015
|My heart expands when I travel and every time I remind myself to embrace life's experiences - both good and bad.|
"God observes the hearts for they are the containers of His most precious jewels and treasure stores of the true knowledge of Him." — Al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi
It has been a tough week. A few days ago, I found out one of my friends had passed away after taking her own life. The last time we saw each other was in 2011 and we had grown apart due to various reasons but she never stopped being kind and supportive to me. I felt guilty, angry, regretful and confused. I also felt broken, messed up and alone. But even though my heart still aches today, I now feel a strong urge to create beauty in the world in memory of Elizabeth, a beautiful young soul who deserved so much more. I'm not ready to write about my friendship with her just yet but I will when the time is right. Her existence mattered to me and sadly, I never told her that. But I want the memory of her vibrant personality to live on. Elizabeth has inspired me to continue making and sharing beauty in the world and to question the meaning of my own existence. In light of that, I'd like to share a piece of writing that really spoke to me and my struggles. It's an article entitled 'Live from the heart: cultivate your powers and unleash your whole person' by Tim Rayner. The full article can be read here.
Biographers have struggled for centuries to account for the source of Leonardo’s genius. Our question, however, is not what made Leonardo so talented, but how he was able to cultivate such a range of talents. How was Leonardo able to cultivate such a wealth of powers, and by cultivating his powers, become everything that he was capable of being?
There is no doubting the fecundity of Leonardo’s gifts. Our question is: what made it possible for him to realize these gifts, thereby to unleash his whole person?
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
As a Muslim I have never been more confused about the role Muslims play in violence and terror in the context of the 21st Century. "Who is a Muslim?" is a question I am sure many have pondered on, even Muslims, dare I say. I am tired of trying to demonstrate that ISIS' ideology is not based on the Islamic faith that I have embraced and cherished all these years. Therefore, when I came across this passage from Post-Orientalism: Knowledge and Power in the Time of Terror I could not help but feel the need to share it because there are points in there that deserve thought and consideration.
As a Muslim who has absolutely nothing to do with the acts of violence done by other Muslims I feel disparaged by those who continue to demand the need for collective Muslim guilt. Why must I feel ashamed of something I did not do nor support? Why must another Muslim's definition of Islam have a debilitating impact on my life? Why must I live in fear of being inadequate simply because Western media have assumed authority over the representation of what constitutes Islam and Muslims? Why must I be subjected to this pressure and injustice?
"What we call 'Islam' is the historical outcome of a colonially ravaged people in search of an ideology of resistance. From the scattered memories of their ancestral faith Muslims have sought to narrate an ideology of resistance and then called it 'Islam'. We cannot, as does Mr. Fukuyama, neglect the last two hundred years of imperialism and the havoc it has wrought on Muslims and then make a transcontinental leap that 'Islam' is this, that, or the other thing.
'Islam' is nothing except that which Muslims have actively imagined and institutionalised it to be. And Muslims have actively imagined and institutionalised their faith over the last two centuries under very specific historical circumstances, of which Fukuyama is either frightfully ignorant or deliberately dismissive. Islam has been an ideology of resistance as has socialism and nationalism or any number of its amalgamated ventures. Constitutional to that resistance has been the material basis of opposing tyranny at home and imperialism from abroad.
It was simply a joke, had it not been so pathologically dangerous, to consider Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait as an "Islamic" movement. The Shi'i population of southern Iraq, the Kurdish population of the northern Iraq, and the entire Muslim population of Iran have lot to say to Fukuyama about the 'Islamic' incentives of Saddam Hussein." (Post-Orientalism: Knowledge and Power in the Time of Terror, Hamid Dabashi, 2009, pg. 234- 235)
Update (21/2/2015): I recently came across ISIS Isn't the Real Enemy. The "Game of Thrones" Medieval Mindset That Birthed It Is by Amir Ahmad Nasr. In my opinion, it's a worthwhile read.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
|Our three winners: Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha and Razan Abu Salha.|
Peace be upon you.
Many of you would have heard about the brutal murder of three outstanding individuals in Chapel Hill, North Carolina today. The late Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu Salha and her sister Razan Abu Salha (may God bless their souls) were killed mercilessly by Craig Stephen Hicks who turned himself in to the police and claimed he committed the crime due to a parking dispute. Given what Yusor's best friend, Amira, shared about her experience with Craig Hicks here I have no doubt he is a mentally and emotionally unstable man who deeply resented Muslims, not that the state of his mental health justifies what he did at all. Watching the family's media statement was absolutely heartbreaking. A lot of speculations are floating on social media and people want answers. Perhaps because emotions are high right now, which is understandable considering the socio-political climate in America (and the West, in general, at the moment). I believe many people can relate to Deah, Yusor and Razan because like many of us they were just living their lives as young and ambitious members of their community.
Hence, we need to ask ourselves, "What would Deah, Yusor and Razan do if they were in our shoes right now?"
Sunday, February 08, 2015
"You seem more you there. Is that strange to say? You seem happy," Feda wrote.
It's funny how people notice these things but she's right. I am happy and I do feel more like myself here. Perhaps people who have experienced living in two different countries (or even cities and homes) will understand how an environment can make a huge impact on a person's state of mind. Wellington is the best city I've lived in so far, apart from Kuala Lumpur, because that is my hometown after all. I know I've only been here for over two months but it feels right, you know?
If you follow me on Instagram you would have probably seen the array of photos I've posted. I realise I haven't posted many photos on my blog so here I am to share a few pictures depicting my life in Wellington so far.
Sunday, January 04, 2015
|"Love & Light", Petone, Wellington|
“Both light and shadow are the dance of Love.
Love has no cause, it is the astrolabe of God's secrets.
Lover and loving are inseparable and timeless.
Although I may try to describe love, when I experience it, I am speechless.
Although I may try to write about love, I am rendered helpless.
My pen breaks, and the paper slips away at the ineffable place where lover loving and loved are one.
Every moment is made glorious by the light of Love.” ― Rumi
It feels like it wasn't too long when I wrote Dear 2014. It's almost unbelievable but here we are in the first month of 2015. SubhanaAllah walhamdulillah. 2014 was one of the most challenging years for myself and the people of my home country, Malaysia. But Allah (swt) told us to be patient in times of trial and tribulation and I'd like to think we are continuously doing our best to remain steadfast and calm through it all. Patience always pays off. Everything I did in the last 2 years, I did as part of my plan to return to New Zealand and increase my knowledge. I envisioned my dreams coming to life and with much determination and perseverance He fulfilled my prayers, alhamdulillah! 2014 was not easy but it was amazing in many ways, nonetheless. Having said that, I believe 2015 will be a year of healing for me. It's time to heal from the things that have weighed heavy on my heart during my years in Malaysia. But I trust they were all part of my journey to become a better and wiser person. To reiterate what Rumi said, "Both light and shadow are the dance of Love."
Monday, December 22, 2014
|Dervishes in motion.|
Travelling to a place like Cappadocia was one of the most uplifting experiences of my life. I may be in my twenties but I am an 'old soul' and the older I get the more obvious it is or the more intense it feels. Now, it could be due to the fact that I may have a case of the golden age fallacy (something I recently became aware of thanks to a movie called 'Midnight in Paris') I can't help but be in awe of iconic places, achievements or events in the past and admire figures like Rabiatul Adawiyyah, Jalaludin Rumi, Ibn Arabi, Socrates and the like.
If you're an old soul like me it's likely that you'll love being immersed in a place that delights in pure nostalgia and history and not to mention, spirituality. After our hotel check-in and a bit of sightseeing at the Göreme Open Air Museum we attended a whirling dervishes ceremony at the Sarıhan Kervansarayı which was built in 1249. I paid close attention to every step because it was my first time witnessing such a ceremony in person. We weren't allowed to take photos of the prayer session but I can tell you that verses of the Qur'an were recited melodiously before the actual whirling took place. The acoustics were amazing. I could hear the sound of Turkish classical instruments such as the ney (reed flute) and the more familiar daf (frame drum) very clearly in the high-ceilinged caravanserai. Dancing and whirling is not practiced by all Sufis but it is a peaceful way of expressing one's love for God which is quintessential Sufism. It was a new experience for me and I'm always open to learning about the different ways people practice their faith.
Friday, December 19, 2014
|View of Göreme town centre from Cave Hotel Saksagan.|
A whirlwind of events have taken place in the past few months but I'm happy to say things are finally settling down and this blog post is being written by yours truly from the bustling capital city of New Zealand - Wellington. YES, what a dream come true, alhamdulillah! And now I'm finally in the right state of mind to write again and continue my blog series on my trip to Turkey last August. I love Turkey and I'm completely smitten with it. It's a land I feel very connected to so I'm always happy to talk or write about it. By the way, don't forget to read Part 1 and Part 2 of the 'Unforgettable Turkey' series if you haven't already.
We adjourned to the region of Cappadocia or Kapadokya ("the land of beautiful horses") in Central Anatolia after spending 3 days in Istanbul. It was a must-see for us as in Cappadocia lies a UNESCO World Heritage site, Goreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia. This region is famous for its fairy chimneys, hot air balloon rides, cave homes and cave churches. We flew with Turkish Airlines and the flight lasted around 2 hours. We landed in the province of Kayseri where a shuttle bus arranged by our hotel (at the price of USD $10 per person, if I recall correctly) picked us up from the airport to take us to Cappadocia which is about an hour's drive from Kayseri.