Lailatul Qadr 101

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

 We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power (Lailatul Qadr). And what will make you know what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand Months. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit (the angel Jibreel) by Allah's permission, on every errand. Peace.... until the appearance of dawn!
 Surah Al Qadr, Holy Qur'an

We've already reached the last ten days of Ramadhan! Can you believe it? Time zoomed past us and the end of the month is here. We have every reason to be sad because life won't be quite the same anymore once Ramadhan is over. No more daily taraweeh, no more daily iftars (in other words, no more good food at the mosque) and no more night gatherings in the mosque. 

But the last ten days of Ramadhan also means that we have something very significant and special  to look forward to. 

Lailatul Qadr. The Night of Power. 

Every Muslim knows Lailatul Qadr is an important night to look forward to, but a little Lailatul Qadr 101 couldn't hurt anybody, right?

In reference to, the word al-qadr can be also translated as 'tightness, closeness'. Taking into account this meaning of the word religious scholars have said: ”In this night such a great number of angels descend to earth that there is simply no room for them all”.

It can be also translated as 'limitation, restriction', which means that awareness and knowledge about which night of the next month of Ramadan will be Lailatul Qadr is limited by Allah the Most High. The Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (may Allah greet and bless him) gives only approximate information on the matter. Allah (swt) does not tell us when exactly Lailatul Qadr will take place, rather He tells us about the various signs we should look out for.

Sometimes the word combination Lailatul-Qadr is translated as 'The Night of Predestination'. It is especially true when the word qadr is read as qadar (fate, destiny). Islamic scholars are said to have explained:” Depending on how a believer spends this night and with what prayers he invokes God the Most High, it may have a significant impact on the following year of the life of this person, with his actions going in line with the original all-awareness of the Creator. 

In simple terms, Lailatul Qadr is incomparable to any other time of the year as there is no other night or day which brings as much mercy from God. It is said that when our rooh (soul) is being placed into our body as a mere foetus in our mother's womb these three things have been written for us: time of birth, time of death and our final destination - Heaven or Hell. During Lailatul Qadr we are able to change our destiny in terms of whether we are People of Heaven or People of Hell. Well this is clearly a no-brainer - obviously we all want to enter Jannah. So what can one do to enter Jannah?

Seek forgiveness... from The One who created us and brought us into this world to worship Him.

Make sincere repentance... (also known as 'tawbah' which  literally translates as the act of turning away) for the wrong-doings we have made towards others to cause them hurt and most importantly, for the mistakes we have done to displease Him.

Start and continue good deeds...  that will hopefully make us better people, better Muslims.

Each and everyone of us has sinned and we will continue to sin whether we are doing it intentionally or not because we are imperfect. However, that isn't the point. The more I learn about Islam the more I understand that being a good Muslim isn't about being perfect. Nobody can say for sure that whatever good we do will please Allah swt. As human beings we must humble ourselves and remember that we can only try our best while hoping that He will accept our efforts and reward us for the inner and physical struggle we go through to become better Muslims. We must not be arrogant and we must be patient.

What can be done during Lailatul Qadr (apart from the usual prayers and recitation of the Holy Qur'an)?
  • I'tikaf
  • Perform Qiyam al Lail
  • Pray Nafawil
  • Recite this dua which Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had revealed to his wife, Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her)

Allaahumma innaka ‘afoowoon tuhibbul‘afoowa fa'oo foo’anni
“O, Allah! You are the Forgiving, You love to forgive. Forgive me!”

Now, what are the signs of Lailatul Qadr?

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

The Prophet (pbuh) said, "Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of Ramadan ,' on the night when nine or seven or five nights remain out of the last ten nights of Ramadan (i.e. 21, 23, 25, respectively)."

Sahih Bukhari Volume 3, Book 32, Number 238}

Narrated Abu Salama:

I asked Abu Sa'id, and he was a friend of mine, (about the Night of Qadr) and he said, "We practiced Itikaf (seclusion in the mosque) in the middle third of the month of Ramadan with the Prophet . In the morning of the 20th of Ramadan, the Prophet (pbuh) came and addressed us and said, 'I was informed of (the date of the Night of Qadr) but I was caused to forget it; so search for it in the odd nights of the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan. (In the dream) I saw myself prostrating in mud and water (as a sign). So, whoever was in l'tikaf with me should return to it with me (for another 10-day's period)', and we returned. At that time there was no sign of clouds in the sky but suddenly a cloud came and it rained till rain-water started leaking through the roof of the mosque which was made of date-palm leaf stalks. Then the prayer was established and I saw Allah's Apostle prostrating in mud and water and I saw the traces of mud on his forehead."

Sahih Bukhari Volume 3, Book 32, Number 233

Other useful signs:
  • The night will be peaceful, neither hot nor cold, with a clear moon shinning but with no rays.
  • There will be no shooting stars in the night
  • One companion of the Prophet (pbuh) reported that on Laitatul Qadr he tasted sea water and it was sweet.
  • The next morning after this night the sun will be bright, brilliant and encarnadine (light-red). Its shine will be tender, not blinding just like the full moon in the clear night.
  • Taking into account of the local climate, the weather in that night won’t be either cold or warm i.e. the night temperature will be average for this climate, region and season.

Keen to know more about mercy, forgiveness and Lailatul Qadr? Check out these videos.

Abu Eesa Niamatullah on the Night of Power

Radio interview with Imam Suhaib Webb on what it means to repent, why it is challenging and what are its rewards.

Fashion Friday: Safari in Spring

Friday, August 27, 2010

I know it's technically not Spring yet but the weather's warming up and I'm a bit impatient. I found this lovely long skirt while rummaging through the wardrobe. I think it belongs to my sister (thanks sis!) and I really adore the olive green colour. So I came up with a very down-to-earth safari-inspired look in anticipation of Spring. The safari look is very easy to do. Just wear brown or khaki green and add some animal print to the ensemble.

To spice things up I wore red on my lips. I love the classic ruby lips.

Cash Acceptor

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Spotted at a local gas station.

Weird, I know but it made me laugh. 

Can you believe we've been fasting for 2 weeks already? It doesn't feel like....... 
Actually it totally does feel like it's been 2 weeks. 

I've been skipping suhoor time way too many times this week and my body was totally in pain today. 
It didn't help that I didn't get enough sleep as I had a group presentation at 10 a.m. earlier.
I didn't want to break my fast. Instead I studied to keep my mind off the fact that I am famished. 

On a happier note, I am on my week-long mid semester break from tomorrow onwards.

(who says that anymore?)

Beauty of Ramadhan 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

During my somewhat apathetic teenage years I never gave Ramadhan much of an in-depth thought. I knew it meant waking up as early as 4.30 a.m. to eat suhoor, staying away from actions and things that would make my fast invalid and not forgetting, taraweeh night prayers (which can be long and tiring). I knew it also meant increasing deeds that would please God. Deeds such as reading or reciting the Holy Qur'an more frequently and giving sadaqah (charity). Fasting during Ramadhan was a tradition and deep down inside I knew it was a positive thing to do so I didn't question why or why not. My friends and I would learn in school about the benefits of fasting and the beauty of Ramadhan but it was more of learning so we could get an 'A' in Islamic Studies and not really because we were interested in understanding our faith a lot more. I guess that is what happens when you live in a Muslim country. You do things because it's socially acceptable, everyone else is doing it and they expect you to as well. Not because you truly understand why.

When I moved to New Zealand at the age of 15 years old, Ramadhan was a different experience. At first I missed going to the various food bazaars around Kuala Lumpur and being absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to what I wanted to eat for iftar. I've always had a sweet tooth so choosing desserts such as caramel pudding and tepung pelita would be the highlight of my days! But here in Dunedin, my family and I would break our fasts at the local mosque instead of at home. Muslims from all over Dunedin would gather in the spirit of Ramadhan and everyone was always happy to see and help one another. Every night we'd eat meals that were cooked by different people everyday. One day it would be Malaysian, then it would be Afghani and then the next night we'd have Arabic food. Getting to know all these different Muslims from around the world and trying their traditional food was one of the experiences that made me fall in love with Islam in a way I never did when I was living in Malaysia. For the first time in my life, I saw how Islam was able to unite people of different cultural backgrounds and ethnicities so beautifully. We blended together as one Ummah (community). Hence, I have always enjoyed Ramadhan in New Zealand for the past 6 years or so because socially it's a lot of fun; family and friends come together and iftars are exciting. However, I don't think I've ever enjoyed Ramadhan spiritually, not until this year. Instead of sighing about how fasting gets in the way of my daily activities this year I actually complain about how my assignments and studies are getting in the way of my ability to focus on my ibadah.

Those who know me would know that is not a very 'Sha' thing to do... not until recently at least.

And I even enjoy taraweeh prayers too! They used to feel like they last forever but no, not this year. Perhaps I have to thank the 17 year old almost-Hafiz who is our imam for taraweeh. He recites pretty fast plus we only do 8 rakaats a night. But still. I usually wouldn't stick around for the night prayers but this year I want to. I take no credit for all these changes as I'm quite surprised with myself too. Maybe I'm just growing up or maybe as my best friend, Marissa, said I'm going through self-actualisation. She's a Psychology major so I'm sure she knows what she's talking about ;) I've heard of this notion of self-actualisation by Abraham Maslow in some of my Marketing courses. I decided to look it up and this is what I found:
The first thing to note about self-actualisation is that it is a process not a goal. In other words, self-actualisation is not something that you aim for: it is something that you do... It is a growth process that enables you to transform the unhappiness you feel into personal satisfaction with who you are and how you connect with the wholeness of your existence.
(Sourced from ChangeZone)

My oh my. Pretty interesting stuff!

Ramadhan gives us the opportunity to reconnect and rebuild our relationship with our Creator through good deeds and ibadah. It is also a time of purification in every sense of the word. When our efforts are focused on doing good, that consequently purifies our intentions, thoughts, heart and soul. These are the parts of ourselves that we tend to overlook or neglect when we're so busy chasing dunya (worldly desires). When I put aside all the distractions in my life, I can honestly say that I'm happy and contented. My life isn't perfect, I'm not perfect and I don't have everything that I want (or everything that I think I want) but alhamdulillah, I have so much to be thankful for. Even little things that others might scoff at can make me feel excited and happy these days - things like spending time with my Mum, finding out that a fellow blogger just had a baby, sitting through an illuminating lecture or reading an inspiring hadeeth or book. I guess self-actualisation does explain what I'm going through in life at the moment. I do feel like things are starting to fall into place and this Ramadhan has opened my eyes and made me realise that.

Some facts about Ramadhan:
1. The name "Ramadan" had been the name of the ninth month in Arabian culture long before the arrival of Islam; the word itself derived from an Arabic root rmd, as in words like "ramida" or "ar-ramad" denoting intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of rations.

2. The Prophet (pbuh) passed through approximately nine Ramadans after the Hijrah. They were filled with decisive events and left us a shining example of sacrifice and submission to Allah swt. To know more about what the Prophet (pbuh) experienced during Ramadhan in his time read 'Ramadhan in History'.

3. Fasting develops a spirit of patience [and gratefulness] in man, with the realization that the days of fasting, though seemingly unending, do have a successful and happy end. Thus is life. All bitter situations pass, and come to an end. For more benefits of fasting visit Ramadan 101.

4. Ramadhan is truly about making positive changes within ourselves. What Ramadan demands of us is the internal change – a change that positively transforms our lifestyle, character, attitudes, conversations, and habits. Allah has described this change in the month of Ramadan as follows: “so you may exercise self-restraint (Taqwa)” [Quran 2:183]. Find out 16 ways to kick bad habits (and not just for Ramadhan!)

Fashion Friday: Eskimo Inspired

Friday, August 20, 2010

It's been pretty cold these past few days. Sometimes winter strikes its worst just towards the end of its term but hijabis always know how to fight back - layers and fur usually do the trick.

I've had these fabulous faux fur boots for 2 years. They never fail to keep me warm!

Beauty Product of the Month: Vitamin C Skin Boost

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ever had one of those moments when you enter a shop without any intention of buying anything and then come out realising that you've just splurged?

Yup that is precisely what happened when I went to Body Shop recently. Occasionally I'd go there to check out their latest range of products and when I was there I noticed a some bright orange-coloured bottles which I didn't think I had seen before (perhaps due to the fact that I always get distracted by the make up products that they have there). I wasn't looking for anything in particular but I was intrigued by the fabulously packaged stuff across the shop. I could see the words 'Vitamin C' on the bottles so I walked over to see what exactly these products do.

I was aware that Vitamin C is really good for the skin as I've heard of women getting Vitamin C shots to improve their skin's appearance. After my eyes scanned the entire Vitamin C range I decided to try the tester for a product called Vitamin C Skin Boost which had caught my eye.

I dabbed a little on the back on my hand and I was really amazed at how soft my skin felt after trying it on that I bought it instantly! So let me tell you all about this awesome stuff.

It's a transparent gel infused with Lanolin and essential oils of grapefruit and orange. It lightly moisturises and gives my skin a smooth and velvety texture just seconds after application. The secret is that it is a combination of Vitamin E and Vitamin C and the fact that it's packed with antioxidants which boosts collagen production and improves the skin's elasticity. Whenever I apply it on my face my skin feels a refreshing and very subtle (but exciting nevertheless) tingling sensation for the first few minutes. Another amazing thing is that it keeps my skin feeling smooth and looking matte throughout the day and just when I thought that was all it can do, I also noticed that my face appeared more radiant even though I wasn't wearing any foundation. And as the cherry on the ice cream, the Vitamin C Skin Boost gel smells wonderfully citrusy.

If you're curious about its ingredients you can read all about it over here.

I would definitely recommend this to everyone who feels like their skin needs a little boost. I mean, with all the pollution we expose our skin to I think it deserves a little treat everyday. If you have oily skin, it's a great replacement for most moisturisers out there that are quite creamy and oily. If you have combination skin like me it's a great base underneath your moisturiser or sunscreen. I've been using it for a month and I just love the results.

It's a little bit on the expensive side as it costs $58 in New Zealand and RM 85 in Malaysia but I think it's pretty worth it for a 30 ml bottle filled with effective natural goodness! A bottle of foundation is 30 ml and that lasts me for about a year so I can imagine the same would happen with the Vitamin C Skin Boost. I did a little more research and found that Body Shop Malaysia even created a Facebook page for the range. If you love Body Shop and everything it stands for then there's no reason for you not to try this product. I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the Vitamin C range - facial cleanser, microdermabrasion (I tried this one as well and it's a very gentle scrub with very fine exfoliating particles which reminded me of beach sand), eye gel and even a facial spray, just to name a few.

Fashion Friday: A-Line

Friday, August 13, 2010

If you've been following my Fashion Fridays you might have noticed that I've been wearing more skirts and dresses these days. I usually prefer to wear jeans for everyday wear especially when I go to Uni and attend lectures but for some reason skirts are starting to grow on me.

Furthermore, they're much more comfortable than a pair of jeans after I break my fast at the local mosque, if you know what I mean. Skirts are easy to wear and I think my main tip when it comes to skirts is make sure you are aware of what suits your body type.

A long A-line skirt like the one I'm wearing here is a girl's safest option because they are designed to flatter any figure. It makes the vertically-conscious girl appear taller and it also has a slimming effect for those who want to look a little more slender. The secret is in the fact that A-line skirts are fitted above and around the hips and they gently flare to the bottom of the skirt.

Maysaa has some awesome long and hijabi-friendly A-line skirts. Be sure to check them out over here.

WANITA's September Covergirl

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Guess who's on the front cover of WANITA magazine's September issue?

'Wan Melissa has earned 5 qualifications'

My very own sister! 

Doesn't she look beautiful, mashaAllah?

The article about her is actually a little different because she wrote it herself as opposed to having a writer interview her and then compose the article. In the magazine she tells readers about her experience as a Phd student in New Zealand and also what it's like to write the first ever PhD dissertation about Halal food in the world. Yes, she's the first Halal food PhD holder in the entire world! My sister, Melissa, also shared why education is important for a woman. We've both had various men come up to us and say, "Why bother studying to such a high level? As a woman you're just going to end up in the kitchen anyway!". I know, right. The audacity! But that's the reality of the Malaysian society. Many men simply don't appreciate women who work hard to gain independence and a formal qualification.

Well, I'm not going to spill all the juicy details here of course. If you want to read what she has to say then go to your local bookshop and grab a copy of the magazine. They're already out in stores.

If you don't live in Malaysia and would like to see a digital copy of her article you may e-mail me at elaiza_(at) Oh I should also mention that the article is in Malay.

Dear Kakak ('older sister' in Malay),

I know you're reading this because you're one of my most loyal readers. Well it's not like you have a choice anyway ! Let's get on to the mushy stuff. I think only God knows how much you went through to get to this stage in your life. We're very proud of you for persevering throughout these years and we hope to see you achieve even more greater things in life in the future. Thank you for being such a great older sis who's always trying to be a good role model for me and thank you for spoiling me even when I've been such a brat. I think you are an inspiration to everyone and especially to Muslim women out there who believe in the power of knowledge and education.

<3, Me

Chocolate Night

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In commemoration of the beginning of the holy month of Ramadhan I'd like to wish all Muslims

Ramadhan Mubarak
Ramadhan Kareem! 

Oh and by the way....

here are some photos from 'Chocolate Night with Muslim Sisters' during Islam Awareness Week
*evil laughter*

Chloe helping out with the yummies

My girls and I - Malaysian, Kiwi, Malaysian, Omani.
Wish I had taken more photos that night but I have a really bad habit of not enjoying my own events.

The highlight of the night - the chocolate fountain.
*Photo courtesy of Lamya


A lady getting henna art done by the talented Adila

Told you Adila's talented!

Even these ladies agree!

Mum's homemade baked pasta and some pita bread with hummus

We had so much food that night I even forgot that I had bought this cake - Dessert Room's pressed chocolate cake! It's like the best chocolate cake in town. In the end we decided to share it between friends after everyone left.

Fashion Friday: Prints Mix 'N Match

Sunday, August 08, 2010

It's been a really busy week for me but I'm still determined to do a Fashion Friday post even though it's Sunday :P

As some of you may know, there's been a whirlwind of events this week - some were good, some were bad - but it's important to keep moving on and celebrate the good things in life that we have been blessed with, alhamdulillah. On Friday, I felt that mixing prints and colours would be a great way to celebrate the end of the week so that's exactly what I did.

I'm really sorry about the late update by the way. I've been busy organising an event called 'Chocolate Night with Muslim Sisters' which took place last night. It was a success, alhamdulillah! I will post some photos up soon so ya'll can drool at the sight of all the choccies ;) 

My Lips Are Sealed

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

I think I speak for many of the Muslims in Dunedin when I say the last few days have been incredibly stressful. It is Islam Awareness Week (IAW) and the days that have been leading up to this event haven't only been physically and mentally tiring but also emotionally draining.

As the Ameerah I'm given a certain amount of responsibility to ensure IAW runs well and every year MUSA holds a session called 'Converts Night' and we usually have a couple of men and women who converted/reverted to Islam and they speak to the audience about why they chose Islam as their religion. Converts Night is my favourite event out of everything because it's always interesting to listen to other people's experiences with Islam. As a person who was born as a Muslim there's a lot that I take forgranted and when I learn about how much strength and faith others have, it never fails to inspire me to become a better Muslim.

However, this year's Ameer (President) of MUSA decided that no Muslim sisters should speak during Converts Night. He informed us 3 days before the event was going to take place. As you can imagine, many women were furious with his sudden decision. For the first time ever we were told that women are not allowed to give speeches in front of non-mahram men because it would create too much attention towards them. The didn't consult any of the sisters and there was no discussion about it. He simply said no and referred us to the Imam of the mosque to justify his decision. In effort to obtain a clearer understanding of this problem the girls, some aunties and myself decided to consult the Imam ourselves. To cut the long story short this is what he told us:

A woman's voice is her awrah and she shouldn't give speeches or make presentations where non-mahram men are present.

So what about us going to Uni, attending lectures and tutorials, working in group projects not only with non-mahram men but also non-Muslim men?

That is permissible because it is a necessity.

But isn't it a necessity for women to take part in da'wah and share their stories with non-Muslims so they can have a better understanding of the religion? So what about the sisters being at the exhibition. Wouldn't it be wrong for us to speak to non-mahram men then?

No, it's not and no, because they are seeking knowledge.

But isn't it the same thing???

We asked all sorts of questions but his answer was still the same and the women were very upset at the way the situation was handled. Why were we told on the eleventh hour? Why didn't the men discuss this issue with us? I personally thought it was quite hypocritical as well. Despite how we felt the members of MUSA peacefully agreed to disagree on Monday. The sisters decided that they weren't going to speak at Converts Night because they didn't want to cause further problems as the whole idea of Islam Awareness Week is about educating non-Muslims regarding the beauty of our faith.

The girls who were going to speak wear hijab and dress modestly. Furthermore, they will be speaking in a non-alluring manner about a serious matter - their faith. Why are some men making such a huge deal out of it? At the same time, I also didn't want to disrupt the peace within the committee and community so that's why I came to the conclusion that we should set the problem aside for now and discuss it after Islam Awareness Week. The boys agreed and that was that.

However, the word got out to some of the older members of the community and that's when things started to get ugly. Some of the older men and women were adamant about the girls rights to be able to speak. Honestly, I completely understand where they were coming from but I just didn't think this was the time to continue arguing. A group of women threatened to stage a protest and to contact the media and the police if the Ameer insisted that the sisters don't speak. I didn't think that they would actually do it.

Oh but they did.

You can read about last night's protest here. It took place just outside the room where the Converts Night was going to take place and things did get a little heated up but no one got physical and hurt anyone. However, a lot of people think that because it got out in the media the Muslim community will now bear a bad reputation. A couple of emails were sent around about how people should be punished for going against the Ameer, yadda yadda... come on, get a grip! He made a mistake and he needs to own up. And while the issue became larger than it should have and the media shouldn't have been informed about this internal conflict, I believe people had every reason to be upset.

If a woman is modest in the way she dresses and behaves and a man still thinks she's too seductive then don't you think the problem is actually HIM? Why do women have to compromise their rights, identity and beliefs all the time?

In the past few days, I've been questioning so many things about myself and my religion. I had to keep reminding myself that what happened was stemmed from differences of opinion and it shouldn't be attributed to Islam because you can find Muslim female scholars and leaders in many countries around the world not just today but during the time of the Prophet (pbuh) as well. God knows best.

So where do we go from here?

In my opinion, the conflict wasn't handled properly from the beginning right until the end. I know that a forum will be held after this week so we can finally talk it over and get the issue solved in a peaceful and respectful manner but I think the most important thing is to make sure that we learn from this experience. This is an opportunity for the Muslim community to improve the way they communicate. Ignoring different opinions will only make people feel marginalised and angry. If there's anything that I've learned from yesterday it is that we should always choose our words wisely and be tactful because by not doing so is precisely how this entire problem began.