Saturday, December 31, 2011

After a delightful dinner by Miss Amina, the girls and I went to the town octagon (Dunedin doesn't have a town square but instead, an octagon) to watch the annual new year's fireworks show. As this is my first time  to celebrate new year's in Dunedin I was quite impressed with what I saw especially considering the fact that it's a relatively small city. Nonetheless, us girls enjoyed ourselves.

Happy New Year everyone!
xox Sha

2011 in Retrospect

I can’t believe we’re entering 2012 in less than 24 hours! I’m excited to start a brand new year and open up fresh pages in a chapter of my life, inshaAllah. I would normally say that the year has gone by really fast. Not this time though. 2011 was a long and arduous year for me but it has also been undeniably unforgettable.

2011 has been the year of many firsts. I lived by myself for the first time and learned to take on more responsibilities. I wore niqab for the first time. Took part in Hijabi Fashion Week. Hosted a 30 Day Photo Challenge. Attended Maher Zain’s sold out concert. Attended a winter wedding. Went to a World Cup rugby game. 'Colours of My Life' was featured in a magazine. I met a number of inspiring people such as Imam Suhaib Webb, Sheikh Tawfique Chowdhury, Imam Afroz Ali and Ustadh Mustafa Davis. I also explored Melbourne and Doha - yup, you guessed it - for the first time. 

Come to think of it we’ve done a fair bit of travelling as a family this year. It’s a huge deal considering everyone’s various commitments. Although I really enjoyed the relaxing holiday we had near Pangkor Island and the lush time we had in Doha, I feel we were incredibly blessed to have another opportunity to visit Saudi Arabia for an Umrah pilgrimage, alhamdulillah. This time we went during the middle of a smouldering Arabian summer and I discovered that no matter how many times I go there I will always fall in love with the city of Madinah and the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.

Faith Friday: Salawat

Friday, December 30, 2011

"Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet:
O you that believe! Send your blessings on him, and salute him with all respect."
(Holy Qur'an, Surah Al 'Ahzab, verse 56)

The Holy Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa salaam) said : 
"Increase your recitation of salawat on me on Friday because on this day Angels present themselves to me. There is no servant of Allah who recites salawat upon me, except that his voice reaches me from wherever he is". The Companions asked, "Even after your death?" "He replied, "Yes after my death too, because Allah has made it Haraam upon the earth to consume the bodies of the Prophets".
{Recorded by Imam Tabarani (r) as narrated by Abu Darda (r)}

How can we benefit from saying the salawat?
Umar radi Allahu anhu said, “Duaa is suspended between heaven and earth
 and none of it is taken up until you send blessings upon your Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa salaam)”
{At-Tirmidhi, Hasan Al-Albani}

More benefits and virtues of the salawat

When Poetry and Islam Come Together

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A poem based on An-Nawawi's 40 Hadiths
Cleverly and beautifully said, mashaAllah!

This line is my favourite (if I can even choose!).
Which one is yours?

Style Sunday: Cinnamon

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Faith Friday: The Struggling Muslim Series - Islamophobia

Friday, December 23, 2011

Question 1:
Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh Sha :)

Recently I came across a blog whereby there's a page exclusively questioning about our religion; Islam (The page is labeled as "A few simple questions for Muslim visitors"). After reading the whole page, I was furious but somehow I calmed myself down, Istighfar a lot of times and reminded myself that the long-written blog entry was written by a non-believer. And it's clear that non-believers (the blogger is a Christian) will never believe anything that we believe in our Holy Quran and that's how they'll write to channel in their skeptiscm towards the Holy Quran and Islam.

But then I thought, what if, one day I meet someone like the blogger in real life (and not through the internet) and what will I answer if he asks me the presumed-"few simple questions"? Will I get to answer all his skepticism towards Islam without being twisted and confused by him back? Or will I fail defending my religion and let him leave, rejoicing his false opinion on Islam and let him have the thinking that what he believes in all this while is true? Will the knowledge that I have which is in my opinion is quite insufficient (since I'm still learning too) will able to make him at least to try to re-think of all the things he doesn't believe? Sis, have you ever encountered this situation before? And do you have any advice for this?

JazakAllah Khair,

Question 2:
AsalamuAlaikum Sha,

I had this experience of one my colleagues talking wrong about Muslims. At that moment I was just doing my work and didn't understand clearly, so I just kept silent. What do we do at such circumstances? It really hurts to work in such an environment. Can you share if you ever experienced such situations.

Thank you,


I Graduated!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I graduated yesterday!
 (subhanaAllah wa alhamdulillah)
You are now looking at a graduate with a
BA in Communication Studies (First Class Honours)
*happy dance*

I can't wait to post more pictures of the event. For now I want to share some videos of the graduation procession that is uniquely Otago. Dunedin has a Scottish heritage so Otago University graduands usually parade down the city's main street, George Street, with the university's Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, lecturers, members of the University council, fellow classmates and family members whilst being accompanied by the sounds of Scottish bagpipes.

2-in-1 Hijab Tutorial: 2-Layer Hijab

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Salaam lovelies, 

Some of you have been asking me for a hijab tutorial for a quite a while.
I'm in the midst of packing up 7 years' worth of things in my house.
I did this video really quickly yesterday, just for you,
so please excuse my no-make-up-face.
Think of it as an early Style Sunday post.
There are 2 styles in this tutorial and I hope you like them.

xox, Sha

I Care About Them.. Do You?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Visit the ICARE website
Show some love at ICARE's Facebook Page
Watch videos from ICARE's YouTube channel

Find out why the rest of the world cares about Iraq.

Mr. Bus Driver

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Auckland, November 2011
Mr. Bus Driver would read his book at every opportunity he had. 

"Education begins the gentleman, but reading, good company and reflection must finish him." - John Locke 

Faith Friday: The Struggling Muslim Series - The God of the 21st Century

Thursday, December 01, 2011

One of the hardest things about faith is often mistaken as being the simplest aspect.

Belief in the Oneness, Greatness and Uniqueness of God, and His right to be worshipped unconditionally and undividedly. Otherwise known as tawheed

As a person who was born into a Muslim family I was able to grasp this seemingly simple concept quite naturally, alhamdulillah. To a certain degree there are advantages to this but when something is handed to you on a silver platter you tend to take it for granted. I don’t know what it’s like to not believe in God but I do know what it’s like not to know who He is. I know what it’s like not to understand His importance in our lives.

I have asked myself, “The human mind sees what it wants to see. Does God really exist or do I believe in Him because that’s what I want to believe?” 

Praying for Time

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Praying for Time"
Written and performed by George Michael

These are the days of the open hand
They will not be the last
Look around now
These are the days of the beggars and the choosers
This is the year of the hungry man
Whose place is in the past
Hand in hand with ignorance
And legitimate excuses
The rich declare themselves poor
And most of us are not sure
If we have too much
But we'll take our chances
Because God's stopped keeping score
I guess somewhere along the way
He must have let us all out to play
Turned his back and all God's children
Crept out the back door
And it's hard to love, there's so much to hate
Hanging on to hope
When there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it's much too late
Well maybe we should all be praying for time
These are the days of the empty hand
Oh you hold on to what you can
And charity is a coat you wear twice a year
This is the year of the guilty man
Your television takes a stand
And you find that what was over there is over here
So you scream from behind your door
Say "what's mine is mine and not yours"
I may have too much but I'll take my chances
Because God's stopped keeping score
And you cling to the things they sold you
Did you cover your eyes when they told you

That he can't come back
Because he has no children to come back for
It's hard to love there's so much to hate
Hanging on to hope when there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it's much too late
So maybe we should all be praying for time

Poverty: The Real Weapon of Mass Destruction

Sunday, November 27, 2011



Roadtrippin' to Queenstown

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My friends and I went on a roadtrip to Queenstown during Autumn (circa July). 
I'm reminiscing the happy days before we graduate in December and go our separate ways *sad face*
South Island is the most scenic part of New Zealand and I'm really kicking myself for not going on more roadtrips around this place that has been dubbed "heaven on Earth". 

Living in New Zealand has made me appreciate nature a lot more and I think spending time in the wilderness makes you realise that 
everything God creates has beauty and purpose. 
It's up to us to open our eyes and see things from a different perspective. 

Faith Friday: Struggling with Islam

Friday, November 18, 2011

A lady once said to me, “Whenever I see you, I feel so happy.”

“That's kind of you but what do you mean?” I asked out of curiosity.

“You have a lot of positive energy and you make Islam look so easy.”

"Wow," I thought. "This lady must not know me very well." But I understand that it’s not the same when you’re looking in from the outside because I have my strengths and weaknesses, just like everybody else. I struggle with Islam too. There are days when I struggle to pray on time and moments when I struggle to have patience and humility. I also find it hard to live in this world and yet be Akhirah-centric because that is what Islam is about – living this life in preparation for an Eternal Life. The amount of attention and dedication that is placed towards the Hereafter is what distinguishes a Believer from an Unbeliever.

Life is tough. It will always be tough but what makes a good human being and Muslim is someone who never gives up on the Truth. I admit that there’s so much I don’t know about this life and I’m still learning about Islam. When my faith is shaken I tell myself that I don’t want to go backwards in my life. I’ve found something that’s very genuine and that is my relationship with my Creator, Sustainer and Protector.

What I really want to say is that if you’re struggling with your faith, don’t give up on God and don’t give in to your weakness(es). I see many Muslims slowly getting out of touch with their relationship with Him. We have to remember that this life is a journey and we are going to hit a few bumps along the way but we must fight back with all that’s left in ourselves and fight back by seeking knowledge about Islam because this is the most important battle in our lives. If we conquer this one, inshaAllah, all the other struggles and trials will become easier or even fade away.

I believe that we’re all struggling with something. Nobody leads a perfect life but our society and culture tell us that we have to put up the strongest façade and that has dehumanised us in a way because we've kind of lost our sense of compassion for other people. It’s important to realise that a big part of being human is to have weaknesses. Communicating with others about the things we struggle with is not about appearing weak because we have to be honest enough with ourselves so we can find ways to become stronger. With that, I hope to start a small series of Faith Friday posts, inshaAllah, where I discuss some of the things I’m personally struggling with in Islam and how I’m trying to overcome them. By doing so, I hope to build a bridge between you and I, and help others who are sharing the same dilemmas and difficulties. At the same time, I want to listen to your advice and ideas the same way you have been open to my thoughts by reading my blog.

Style Sunday: The Cuckoo's Nest

Monday, November 14, 2011

On the weekend, I attended the opening of a boutique called The Cuckoo's Nest. But it's not just any boutique. It's an ethical boutique. I will tell you what I love about this concept. The shop sells fashionable and fair-trade compliant items that are locally-sourced from around New Zealand and internationally-sourced from around the world. For instance, The Cuckoo's Nest sells clothes and skin care products that are made by Global Mamas, an initiative that helps to create sustainable income for women in Africa so they can become financially independent. Think micro-finance but instead of giving them money, companies like Global Mamas are providing these women with opportunities to generate their own income with their creative skills. You know the saying, "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish, feed him for a lifetime." 

The boutique is owned and managed by my friend and classmate, Susan, and her business partner, Annika. Susan and I have been friends for about three years now and I'm so proud to see her make her dreams come true. She is a top student and a very smart individual, so I don't expect anything less from her! Susan has also spent some time in Africa and the Middle East to do charity work; believe me when I say you can spend hours chatting with her about her experiences and adventures. 

And don't you think she looks amazing in her hand-made African dress?

Faith Friday: Slaughtering the Consumerist Monster

Thursday, November 10, 2011

written by Shahirah Elaiza and published in MuzlimBuzz.sg

Islam is called a way of life for a good reason. The principles and teachings of Islam provide mankind with the perfect guideline to ensure we lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle. One of the ways Allah (swt) has done this is by encouraging modesty and moderation in everything that we do. In other words, Islam gives us the strength to fight the consumerism monster in the sacrificial battle we face in our everyday lives. As our Creator, Allah knows best that the desires of the children of Adam are indeed insatiable but He also granted us with intelligence and self-control so that we may be tested in this dunya. As part of Allah’s Guidance, He has given us the Holy Qur’an, Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (saw) and parables of prophets that we may receive guidance from. To guide us in our lives, Allah has taught us the meaning and importance of sacrifice.

Prophet Ibrahim & Ismail's Sacrifice
In the story of Prophet Ibrahim (as) and Prophet Ismail (as), we find one of the earliest examples of sacrifice for the sake of pleasing Allah (swt). Prophet Ibrahim (as) is commonly known as the Father of Prophets and his relationship with Allah was so strong that Allah even described him as “an intimate friend” or His “khalil” (Holy Qur’an, 4:125). The intensity of his iman and trust in Allah (swt) is reflected in his willingness to sacrifice his worldly attachments for his Lord. Prophet Ibrahim (as) obeyed Allah’s command to leave his wife, Hajar, and their infant son, Ismail (as), on a barren hill called Al-Marwa. One can imagine how a big a sacrifice it was for Prophet Ibrahim. Not only did he love Hajar dearly but Ismail, who later on became a prophet, was his one and only child at the time. As Prophet Ibrahim walked away from where he left them he raised his hands and said a prayer:

“O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring dwell in a valley with no cultivation, by Your Sacred House, in order that they may offer prayers. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and provide them with fruits, so that they may give thanks.

Auckland Getaway {Part 2}: Creative, Young & Muslim

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

About a month ago I was in the midst of writing the final chapter of my dissertation. I felt like I was about to go crazy under all that stress. Then I found out Mustafa Davis was going to be in Auckland, a city which is two hours away from Dunedin by flight, to conduct a youth workshop called "Creative, Young and Muslim". Initially I thought, "There is no way I am going to be able to go because I am so swamped with work" but a part of me said, "Just go, you never know when you'll have another chance to meet Mustafa Davis and attend such a workshop, just go!"

And so I went.

For those who don't know Mustafa Davis, he is an American Muslim filmmaker and photographer. Apart from commercials and music videos, he has also produced several documentaries such as "The Wayward Son", "Deen Tight" and "The Warm Heart of Africa". He's a real inspiration to me because not only is he a successful creative artist but also a very knowledgeable Muslim scholar, mashaAllah. Often times people think that being a creative Muslim is a paradox, but the likes of Maher Zain and Mustafa Davis are proof that you can be a knowledgeable, practicing Muslim and also work in the media industry. He has a remarkable life story - as a brief insight, he became Muslim at the age of 24 and studied Islam in countries such as Yemen, Morocco, and Mauritania. Hence the reason some people call him Ustadh or Sidi Mustafa Davis. Ever since I was a little kid, around the age of four or five years old, I knew I wanted to be a journalist. As I grew up I became very much interested in documentaries. I thought it was really cool to see how people from different parts of the world lead their lives and I loved the idea of helping other people tell their stories. I think this is how I am able to relate to Mustafa Davis as a creative person. Him being Muslim strengthened it even more.

I was surprised to see another familiar face at the workshop. It was none other than Imam Afroz Ali from the Sydney-based Al-Ghazzali Centre. I had heard so much about him from a friend and watched several of his lectures online. I felt truly blessed to have been a part of the workshop and it was definitely one of the highlights of 2011 for me, alhamdulillah. Ustadh Mustafa and Imam Afroz presented themselves as very understanding, open-minded and compassionate individuals. I think we need more role models like them. The workshop was an open forum where Muslims, both young and older, were encouraged to voice their concerns and share their experiences as born-Muslims or converts to Islam. Six hours went by very fast. All in all, it was an uplifting day for many of us who attended the workshop. I really enjoyed being around a diverse group of Muslims and even made lots of new friends, alhamdulillah.  Someone even said it was the best day of his life since he became Muslim. I think people want to be honest and real. And the workshop certainly embodied these virtues.

We were reminded about the importance of having rahmah (mercy) and compassionate towards one another because everybody's struggling with something in their lives - be it with Islam, work, family, etc. I believe Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) success in spreading the message of Islam was partially due to his kind and compassionate nature. If there's a Sunnah we should start following, that should be on top of the list.

Here are some snaps from the day.

Lupe Fiasco on Palestine

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Check it out if you haven't already.

Style Sunday: Liquorice

Been travelling, again! Hence, the hiatus from blogging. 
Here are some pictures from Auckland city.

The Art of Being a Friend

Sunday, October 30, 2011

This is one of my favourite quotes about friendship.
Who or what is a 'friend' these days? 
How do you define friendship in the age of globalisation and the Internet revolution? 
Things are not as simple as they used to be...

Faith Friday: Are Women "Fitna"? ft. Afroz Ali & Mustafa Davis

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Some of my readers may recall that during last year's Islam Awareness Week, Muslim women in the Dunedin community were told that they were not allowed to speak in public because a group of men decided they were considered a fitna (trial or temptation). Coming from Malaysia, a progressive Muslim country, this was the first time I ever had to deal with such a situation and it was a very distressing time. My friends e-mailed Islamic scholars from around the country and the rest of the world to find out if the claim of women as a fitna is true and they all said it's absolutely fine for women to participate in public life and speak in public, especially if they have good intentions. Of course, dressing modestly would be good as well. It's a simple thing but it's amazing how some people can blow it out of proportion. Unfortunately, the local Imam was not supportive of the women's cause and therefore many (not all) of the Muslim men in Dunedin were inclined to follow his opinion.

Now, whenever I have the chance to meet an Islamic scholar I would ask their opinion about the matter. I've spoken to Imam SuhaibWebb and more recently, Sheikh Afroz Ali, founder of Al-Ghazzali Centre, and Ustadh Mustafa Davis, filmmaker and photographer, when they were in Auckland in October to conduct a Muslim youth workshop, "Creative, Young and Muslim".

Alhamdulillah, both of them dispelled the myth of Muslim women as fitna in a very compelling manner. Have a listen to what Sheikh Afroz had to say about the issue.

P.S. Sorry for the late post. I was caught up with other things. I definitely know how to keep myself busy during my holiday!

Style Sunday: Auckland Getaway

Sunday, October 23, 2011

During my short visit in Auckland, Shaymaa planned an entire outing for both of us. The first thing on the list was to take me on a ferry trip from Half Moon Bay to Auckland city centre. I know it seems like a small thing to some people but it was exactly what I needed. Thank you for another magical time in Auckland, ya 3asal. You're beautiful inside out!

Spot the Sky Tower.


Finally made it to the city and absolutely loved the vibrant city life!

Auckland Getaway {Part 1}

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A month ago, I was fully stressed out with my dissertation and it so happened that the one and only Mustafa Davis was going to be in Auckland for a couple of days to screen his documentaries and conduct workshops. I knew it was a sign. I Facebook-ed my friend, Shaymaa, and next thing I know I booked myself a ticket out of my misery. 

Two weeks later, I arrived Auckland and Shaymaa graciously picked me up from the airport. The sun was shining, it was super warm and I was with a wonderful friend... I just knew I was going to have a good time in Auckland. At the very least, I knew I was determined to have a good time.

My beautiful Shaymaa.

Classic Apple Pie

(click image to enlarge)

Now that I'm on holiday I can finally do all the things I've missed!
I baked my first apple pie two days ago and I'm glad to say it was a crowd-pleaser, alhamdulillah.
I followed a very simple recipe which is perfect when you have apples lying around the kitchen and you don't know what to do with them.
The lattice work pie crust is tricky and I haven't mastered it as you can see.
This video really helped though.

School Books vs. Facebook

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Assalamualaikum Shahirah Elaiza,

I have to say that even though I try to study smart, I can never organize my time and follow through the plan. I always end up not following a time table I made for myself and end up doing last minute work. It really frustrates me sometimes and I hate to feel this way. I guess it is a mentality I have since a child that made me like this. I used to think that everything will fall into its right place no matter what, and that made me take things for granted. For once in my life, I want to earn something with hard work but I have a hard time to change my attitude.

My question is how do get yourself to get the job done and consistently study? I get distracted easily by my laptop, and at times I find myself just wasting time on Facebook or something else. I don't know what to do.

Kind regards,

Wa'alaykummusalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh Nur,

Many students (including yours truly) have trouble balancing social media time and study time. I kind of think that you've asked for advice from the wrong person because YouTube is my friend and foe at the same time, but I will share some study tips that have helped me throughout my years at varsity. 

I don't think you have an attitude problem because you're right, inshaAllah everything will fall into place but not without effort and initiative on our behalf, as you know. Steve Jobs didn't become an icon of the 21st century by doing nothing.

"I find myself just wasting time on Facebook or something else."

I personally think de-activating your Facebook account doesn't help much because you can easily sign in again. So here are some tips:

1. Get your friend to change your Facebook password and make them promise not to tell you the new password until you've finished doing what you need to. Repeat when necessary.
2. If you don't want to be completely deprived of Facebook, try using Facebook Limiter
3. Turn off Facebook chat. When you're "available to chat" you're inviting people to distract you.
4. Remove the stream of real-time updates on the top right-hand side, known as the "ticker". Talk about information overload, Mr. Zuckerberg! Facebook claims you can't close it but the good people at CNET.com have taught us how to hide the ticker.

Students usually go on Facebook when they really should be studying because they a) are bored, b) don't understand what they're studying, c) need a break. One of the best ways to overcome this is by studying with a group of classmates or friends who can make study sessions more fun and less monotonous. You can also remember details better when you discuss them. If you find yourself browsing Facebook or YouTube, etc. for more than 30 minutes, you might as well go on a real break. Try getting away from the computer screen! If you haven't prayed then maybe take a walk to the nearest mussolah or masjid to perform your prayer and take your mind of studies for a while. Whatever it is, just get off your seat and do something completely different for half an hour or so; exercise, read the Qur'an, make a sandwich, watch The Big Bang Theory - do anything that uplifts you. 

"I can never organize my time and follow through the plan."

When we set up study plans we are usually very idealistic about what we want to achieve. What we need to be is realistic and honest with ourselves. Is it really realistic to finish reading half of that thick book in one day? Be real with yourself and you'll be able to plan your study time more accurately and achieve more in the long run. 

This is a study tip from an Islamic point of view. Why not organise your study time around the 5 obligatory prayers? For example, set a goal by saying, "I'm going to finish at least 2 of these 4 readings before Asr time". I find this really helps to structure my day and prevents me from missing my prayers. This is also a very good way to discipline yourself because it takes discipline to pray 5 times a day.

I find that it helps to study in a spot that is conducive and makes me feel comfortable and focused. When I study I need to feel like I'm away from the world but surrounded by other students who are hard at work at the same time. It's tricky but after a while I did find that perfect spot in the library! Once that spot doesn't make you productive anymore it doesn't hurt to change your study area. I like changes so this works really well for me. 

You could also try the following: Post motivational sticky notes around your room, like on your mirror, noticeboard and the walls next to your bed. During exam time, be firm and spend less time with friends who distract you from studying. However, it may help to have a "study buddy" and the best part is the two of you don't even need to be in the same class. The point is to motivate each other to study.

My biggest advice is keep your eyes on the prize. Every now and then write a list of things you want to achieve in life to keep you in check because sometimes we lose track of our ambitions. Find someone or something to inspire you. Last but not least, make lots of dua because even if we put our heart and soul into something it doesn't mean it's going to work out the way we want it to unless Allah wills it. Nothing is possible without Him. If you humble yourself and acknowledge that you need God in your life, He will guide you inshaAllah.

My favourite study dua is

 اللَّهُمَّ لا سَهْلَ إلَّا مَا جَعَلْتَهُ سَهْلاً وَ إنْتَ تَحْعَلُ الْحزْنَ إذَا شِئْتَ سَهْلاً
Allahumma la sahla illa ma ja'altu sahla, wa 'anta taj-alul hazna idha shi'ta sahla

"O Allah!  There is nothing easy except what You make easy, and You make the difficult easy if it be Your Will"
(more study dua's)

Do you have any study tips to share?

Style Sunday: Earth

Sunday, October 16, 2011

RWC Ireland vs. Italy

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Salaaaaam! (Fousey style)

I've completed my dissertation (or as my friend Shaymaa says, "your dessert-thingy". I love you Shaymaa!) and I'm pretty much done with Uni for the year. The sleepless nights are over!!! A million alhamdulillah's. It's been a crazy academic year and I'm still "recovering" from the stress and panic attacks I've had while studying and researching. Having said that, I'm just stoked to have finished. I've missed doing so many things and one of them is blogging! Now, I'm ready to start living my life again. After I catch up on some sleep, of course!

So, I see I have a backlog of things to write about. For starters, my trip to Qatar. Unfortunately, when my old laptop died I lost some of the data and I'm still trying to retrieve pictures from my old hard drive. Therefore, I'll write about the things that happened recently for now.

I'm sure you know that the Rugby World Cup games are held in New Zealand this year. The country is filled with tourists and lots of energy. It's amazing to see New Zealand come to life like this. Since the World Cup is hosted in New Zealand every 24 years and I had never been to a game in all my years that I've been here, I decided I had to ditch the books and attend at least one of the games in Dunedin. It is very much part of the Kiwi culture. 

I present to you... Ireland vs. Italy! 

Sunset by the stadium

Wanna-be Italians. Yup, we wanted to support the underdogs. Although... half way into the game Areege decided to "convert"! 

National anthem time

When you put Irish and Italian men together you know there's going to be drama. 

The entire stadium was filled with supporters of the Irish team. Come to think of it, Dunedin city itself was a sea of green that day.

In the video below you'll be able to see a wave and how packed the stadium was. All in all, it was a really cool experience even though I was (and still am) pretty much clueless when it comes to rugby. I'm glad I took some time off from studies to do something fun. All work and no play makes Shahirah a very sad girl. 

Hope ya'll are having a good weekend, inshaAllah.


P.S. Ireland won.

Faith Friday: Akhirah Deficit Disorder

Friday, October 07, 2011

Assalamualaykum all, sorry for the lack of posts. I'm currently completing my dissertation which is due in exactly a week. Please keep me in your duas. Since it's Friday here's a video of a lecture given by Imam Suhaib Webb in Kuala Lumpur a few days ago. May Allah swt reward him generously for his time and effort in spreading knowledge to the ummah.

Jumaah Mubarak everyone and have a wonderful day!


Monday, September 26, 2011

I hate pulling all-nighters because of assignments. First of all, computer labs are freezing once it's past midnight. Secondly, I always end up alone and freezing. Thirdly, I can't sleep during the day so when I stay up all night I usually have to wait until it's night time before I can sleep so that means I'll be awake for 24 hours.

But this video totally made my night and suddenly all-nighters don't seem so bad after all.

Style Sunday: A Student in Spring

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I know it's been a while since I last did a Style Sunday post. 
I thought I'd show you what I would usually wear to campus because let's be real, I am a student. 
Not just any varsity student -a post-grad.
I don't get glammed up all the time. Or much, to be honest. I just don't have the time for it.
Just to let you know, my laptop died on me today (hence the mucked up watermark I have on my photo). Perfect timing!
Anyway, at uni I like to keep things simple and of course, modest.

It's also Spring time in my part of the woods. 
Cherry blossoms are out but don't let the pretty flowers deceive you. It occasionally snows and hails during Spring over here.
That's what I get for living way down south. Forget Australia, New Zealand is the real down under! 

As a special treat I also thought I'd show you guys my favourite part of campus at this time of the year.
This is a lane behind the Music department which is next to Leith stream. 
It's looking pretty dreamy and romantic right now. Loves it!

Faith Friday: The Pursuit of Happiness

Friday, September 23, 2011

Would I be wrong if I said that in one way or another we are all in pursuit of happiness?

But... what is happiness? How do we define it? 

Because sometimes I feel like we're always waiting for one more thing to happen before we allow ourselves to be happy. We say these things all the time. I would be happier if I was skinnier. I would be happier if I had more money. Just one more thing in my life and I would feel so complete.  

So you see, sometimes we just don't allow ourselves to be happy. 

But what about the times when we're faced with a problem? How can we possibly allow ourselves to be happy when we feel we don't have a reason to feel that way? 

Then what we should do is to seek the feeling of ridha رضاء . In the Arabic language, it means to be contented or pleased with something. That's why after we say the name of a pious and revered Muslim such as a companion Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) we usually say "radhiAllahu anha/hu" or "May Allah be pleased with him/her". In the Malay language, when someone says he or she feels redha it means they have accepted the situation as it is because it is what Allah subhana wa taala has ordained. In other words, it is to acknowledge that not only does He know best but He also knows everything.

If only they had been content with what Allah and His Apostle gave them, and had said, "Sufficient unto us is Allah! Allah and His Apostle will soon give us of His bounty: to Allah do we turn our hopes!" (that would have been the right course). {Surah At-Tawbah: 59}

However, it isn't easy to feel ridha. Not because it's a concept that doesn't work but because we as human beings are insatiable... until we choose to feel ridha and be grateful towards Allah for what He has given us thus far. Go back to the most fundamental thing you have. Life. God gave you life. Why did God give you life? So you can obtain Paradise, inshaAllah. It's like having to sit an exam before we can pass and do amazingly well in a class. You have to sit the exam to get the A+. Allah didn't give you this life to see you fail but He is giving you a chance to do well in this life and then obtain an eternal life of satisfaction.

"(To the righteous soul will be said:) "O (thou) soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction![the nafs ul mutmainnah is the soul that is pleased with Allah's promise]
"Come back thou to thy Lord,- well pleased (thyself), and well-pleasing unto Him!" {Surah Fajr: 27-28}

Therefore, if we can't define happiness because it's too subjective perhaps we should try and understand what it means to feel ridha.

When one feels ridha one is at complete ease due to the realisation that Allah's Plan will result in something good for him or her despite feeling that things could be better if things were to happen differently. However, what is planned by us can't possibly be as good as what the Creator of the Universe has lined up for us. We  may think that option we chose is the best for ourselves but what we know is limited to what has been made visible to us. We can't choose to see more or know more unless Allah allows it to happen. Evidently, our finite knowledge can never compete with Allah's Infinite Knowledge.

Feeling ridha also means we have placed our trust in Allah azza wa jal  to be our Protector and Guide. It is not easy to depend on something we can't literally see with our eyes but tell me, do you not feel God's presence in your life despite not being able to see Him now?

"I am as my Servant thinks of Me."

Ibn Hajar (may Allah have Mercy upon him) said: “meaning, I am able to do whatever he expects I will do.” [Fath al-Bari]  (Read the full commentary of this hadeeth qudsi at HadithADay.org)

These are God's own words. SubhanAllah. And whose words can be more truer than God's? Therefore we should believe that He does want what's best for us and trust that He has prepared good things for us.  Yes, we will be tested and feel pain, unhappiness and frustration in this life and we may not always see the rewards of our good deeds in this life but surely true happiness and contentment will be waiting for us in the Hereafter where everything lasts eternally, inshaAllah. All we have to do is have faith in Him and true faith is always accompanied by action or acts of worship - performing prayers, saying dhikr, giving charity or any good that is done for the purpose of pleasing Allah.

When you feel happiness is too far away take comfort in knowing that the feeling of ridha is closer than you think. At times of sadness and hopelessness try reading and reflecting upon Allah's  Names and Attributes. You will see that Allah swt is the All Merciful (Ar-Rahman), Creator of Order (Al-Bari'),  Most Loving (Al-Wadud), Most Just (Al-Adil) and Most Generous (Al-Karim), just to name a few. So don't worry. We are in good Hands.

Simply said, to feel ridha is to feel peace and it is a kind of tranquility that can only be achieved by remembering Allah, being grateful towards Him and having faith in Him.

"Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah: for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction." 
For those who believe and work righteousness, is (every) blessedness, and a beautiful place of (final) return." {Surah Ar-R'ad: 28-29}

Faith Friday: When in Japan...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Keepin' it real in his kimono: My late Abah is the second last man from the right in the bottom row

My late Abah loved travelling and he was very much a people person too. He made friends very easily anywhere he went. He once went on a work trip to Japan where it is customary for people to greet one another by bowing. It is an act of humbling oneself and respecting the other person; the lower the bow, the more respect you have for the person. After exchanging bows with a new Japanese colleague my father made a remark.

"You know, where I come from we bow lower than this. Our foreheads touch the ground." 

His Japanese friend was amazed.

9/11: A Lesson to Muslims

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I remember the day of September 11 ten years ago. I was sitting in my room watching Armageddon on television. My attention was directed towards something else for a moment and when I turned my head around to continue watching the movie I remember seeing two planes crashing into a building. I flinched. I didn't know it was the World Trade Center.  Is this part of a movie scene or what? I soon realised that it was actually a news bulletin when a Malaysian news reader appeared on the screen right after the horrendous clip I had just seen. At that point in time I had no idea what that tragedy meant for the rest of the world. 

The next day I went to school and everybody was talking about it. Our English teacher even made us discuss the terrorist attacks during class. A student said some nasty things about Muslims and I couldn't believe my ears. Really? This guy in my class has a problem with Muslims? I was surprised. I mean, he was born and raised in a Muslim country all his life. Surely he would know that what happened the day before was out of the ordinary. But he didn't. And I'm pretty sure what he said was a repeat of whatever he had heard in his home. 

The truth of the matter is, prior to September 11, Islam was not related to violence and terrorism. I don't think the West really thought anything in particular of Muslims. But all of a sudden, Muslims were dangerous people and anyone who matched a certain profile were terror suspects. Ten years later, this hasn't really changed. In some countries, Islamophobia is continuing while in others people are starting to realise that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam.

As a Muslim I know and believe Islam cannot be attributed to September 11. I know someone has to be accountable for it, and as brothers and sisters in humanity we should mourn the loss of innocent lives, but let it be attributed to those who committed the crime, and not the rest of us who are trying to be good, practicing Muslims. Call me biased but I know my faith better than a non-Muslim would and people have to respect that.

“Indeed God calls for justice, a high standard of virtuous interaction, and preserving the rights of kinship. He forbids ugly immorality, sin and aggression. He reminds you so that perhaps you will be mindful.” (Quran 16: 90) 
The acts of 9/11 were completely in contrast to this authoritative definitive verse of the Qur’an, so we will not accept the horror of 9/11 as being related to Islam. The burden now rests on the shoulders of every Muslim to understand their faith correctly and how to properly relate it to our neighbors. In doing this, we can promote the truth of Islam and dispel the lies and anti-Islam rhetoric. (Yahya Ederer, 10th Anniversary of 9/11)

So how can I explain the existence of Islamist terrorist organisations such as Al Qaeda? I may be oversimplifying it but I think they are a result of the combination of a political agenda and a misguided interpretation of Islam. 


That's how problems begin in this world, doesn't it? When people lack the right knowledge to help them decide the difference between right and wrong that's how trouble starts brewing. That's how violence begins and spirals into hate, fear and injustice. As a Muslim, I don't support violence, hate and injustice, and I will not justify the acts of Muslims who carry out actions that are in any way related to these things. However, I will say that as a global community we do have a problem and the only way to address it is by starting a wave of guidance to lead Muslims to the right path.

The path of peace, activism and brotherhood. 

Somewhere along the way I think we have become complacent, apathetic and distracted. We stopped remembering about our responsibilities towards our Muslim and non-Muslim families, friends and neighbours and instead we neglected what Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has preached about being a global community, an ummah.

None of you [truly] believes until he loves for his brother that which he loves for himself. {Sahih Bukhari and Muslim}

But as Yahya Ederer wrote in 10th Anniversary of 9/11, if we can say anything positive has emerged from the terror attacks it is that Muslims and Islamic centres have woken up from their complacency and are slowly rising to mould a better future for Muslims and non-Muslims by increasing tolerance and understanding between one another. Let 9/11 be a lesson to all of us. Like it or not, as Muslims we have a positive part to play in this world because that is the purpose to our creation. We have been given a trust to guide people away from the bad and enjoin them to take part in what is good and beneficial for all.

"It is He Who hath made you (His) agents, inheritors of the earth: He hath raised you in ranks, some above others: that He may try you in the gifts He hath given you: for thy Lord is quick in punishment: yet He is indeed Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful."  
{Surah al-An'am, verse 165}

Some Muslims may take this trust or amanah too lightly but it's important to know that for those who are making an effort to set things right in this world, God is well aware of their good works.

"On that Day will men proceed in companies sorted out, to be shown the deeds that they (had done). Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it."
{Surah al-Zalzalah, verses 6-9}