When Shahirah Met Tahirah

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Blogging is a pretty cool thing. 

Having blogger friends is fun.

Meeting blogger friends in real life is even more fun!

Especially when they come to visit you when you live 5000 miles away. 

I first met the beautiful doctora, Tahirah, when she came to the Live Fashion / Love Music event by Hana Tajima and Yuna last December. I was ecstatic when she emailed to tell me that she was coming to New Zealand for a holiday. It's always so nice to meet friends from the blogging world in real life. There's a special unspoken connection between us and we had a lot of fun together last Saturday when we met up and I took her around this little town o' mine for a day.

Tahirah with her husband and friends. They're all medical doctors by the way. How cool is that?
I took them to Angus Steakhouse for some good old fashion NZ steak.

All of us ordered the 200gm NZ sirloin steak. $17 only! 
It was good but I think they got our orders mixed up cos I didn't get the medium-rare steak I asked for. 

After all that food we had to exercise.
We walked up Baldwin Street a.k.a. the steepest street in the world.

I walked all the way up with these pair of heels. You best believe it! 

Goofing around. Typical. The guys were cracking me up all day.
We took photos like crazy.
The guys even took a photo of the mail-woman who was doing her rounds on Baldwin Street! 
She's definitely very fit and healthy-looking.

Then off we went to the Botanical Garden. 
Tahirah and hubby going all Bollywood here. 

Forget coffee, wake up and smell the roses!

Went to feed some hungry ducks

Finally, I showed them around my university's campus. 

T'was a good day. I'm glad I had the opportunity to show them around even though we didn't have much time as they were leaving for Queenstown the same day. It was fun nevertheless. I can't wait to meet up with her when I'm back in KL and hear all about the rest of her trip. I think they were very lucky because the weather was sunny and gorgeous in Dunedin when they came over! Dunedin's not usually like that. It rained and hailed the very next day.

So... anyone else coming to my side of the world anytime soon?

Good Food

Monday, March 28, 2011

I recently found out that the only Middle Eastern restaurant we have here isn't open anymore and I was distraught for a couple of days. I was even thinking of going back to KL. No kidding. So what's my solution to this predicament? To surround myself with friends who know how to cook! After living in Dunedin for several years there's not much I can get very excited about unless my idea of having fun means a) travelling around South Island (which costs a lot of $$) and b) getting absolutely smashed on the weekends, which isn't my idea of fun by the way, just in case anyone is wondering! Well ya never know. People have all sorts of wrong and weird ideas. 

But food (combined with good company, of course) never fails to get me going. In the 3 weeks that I've been back I've had the privilege of eating Afghani and Arabic food cooked by my friends *drools* and if there's anything I've learned about myself this year it is that I cannot, I just cannot, live without Middle Eastern cuisine.

If I have hummus in my fridge it's enough to make me a happy girl.

2 weeks ago.... 

Afghani food with my favourite girls: Rice with caraway seeds, spicy chick pea curry, potatoes and plain yoghurt, fresh salad

Last weekend...

4 dudes, 2 girls and some yummy Arabic food: Lamb kabsa, tabbouleh, fuul (beans) soup

And whee! There was Wii!

Things got a little heated up during the Wii boxing game. Let's just say never underestimate girl power ;)

Faith Friday: Do Animals Go To Heaven?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

... is probably one of the most frequently asked questions by Muslim children. It sounds silly but it's still a legit question and it stumps adults all the time. So do they or do they not go Heaven?

The short answer is: No.

Having said that, it doesn't mean that they go to Hell either. Neither the Holy Qur'an nor compilation of hadeeths specify what happens to animals after they die. I suppose it's because their afterlife doesn't really concern us but we are, however, given many examples about the importance of kind treatment towards animals. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) forbade the killing of animals in a cruel manner and without a good reason (e.g. to provide food)  and he also forbade the abuse and mistreatment of animals especially for mere entertainment (e.g. blood sports). (source)

Allah subhana wa taala created everything on this Earth for two reasons; to test us and to serve us as a purpose.

It is He Who hath created for you all things that are on earth; Moreover His design comprehended the heavens, for He gave order and perfection to the seven firmaments; and of all things He hath perfect knowledge. 
Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent (khalifah) on earth." They said: "Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?" 
He said: "I know what ye know not."
{Surah al-Baqarah: 29-30}

I used to wonder why God would choose certain surahs to be named after animals, such as al-Baqarah (The Cow), an-Nahl (The Bee), al-Fil (The Elephant) and an-Naml (The Ants). SubhanaAllah, this was done for an incredible reason. There is a story behind each and every one of these animals to teach us about Allah's Greatness and Miracles and about our role and purpose on Earth. For instance, cows were designed to produce milk and bees, honey. Not only are they some of the most nutritious foods on Earth but milk and honey are both mentioned in the Holy Qur'an as part of  the description of Heaven. (Read more about the miracle of honey)

"Is then one who is on a clear (Path) from his Lord, no better than one to whom the evil of his conduct seems pleasing, and such as follow their own lusts? 
(Here is) a Parable of the Garden which the righteous are promised: in it are rivers of water incorruptible; rivers of milk of which the taste never changes; rivers of (non intoxicating) wine, a joy to those who drink; and rivers of honey pure and clear. In it there are for them all kinds of fruits; and Grace from their Lord. (Can those in such Bliss) be compared to such as shall dwell forever in the Fire, and be given, to drink, boiling water, so that it cuts up their bowels (to pieces)". 
{Surah Muhammad: 13-14} 

Just like the bees, ants are known for their orderliness and the spell-bounding way they work together. It is fascinating to watch these insects at work. SubhanaAllah! Watch the video below or read the book, 'The Miracle in the Ant' by Harun Yahya.

Everything Allah subhana wa taala has created reflects the Greatness of His Being and His Miracles thus we must treat nature with respect. Be it in the beneficial things they produce or the efficiency in the way they work together as a community, it is their complete submission to Allah, the Creator of the Universe, that we should most of all understand as a sign. 

Everything Allah subhana wa taala made has a purpose, a reason to exist. Animals, insects, plants, rivers, mountains, stars, the sun and the moon. Unlike us, every non-human creation of His was designed to follow His order. As humans we were given the gift of free will and while it’s easy for us to say our purpose is to worship God I think it’s important to take a step back in the midst of our daily lives and analyse what that really means. Acts of worship aren't limited to performing prayers and reading the Holy Qur'an. Don't forget that our purpose in relation to this Earth is to be its khalifah, its guardian. I'm not asking you to save the world. All I'm saying is we can all be khalifahs in our own little ways and fulfill our duty towards our family, friends, community and environment as part of our worship towards Allah. 

O ye people! Adore your Guardian-Lord, who created you and those who came before you, that ye may have the chance to learn righteousness. 
Who has made the earth your couch, and the heavens your canopy; and sent down rain from the heavens; and brought forth therewith Fruits for your sustenance; then set not up rivals unto Allah when ye know (the truth). 
{Surah Muhammad: 21-22} 

 P.S. My apologies for posting this a day late. I wasn't feeling well yesterday but I'm all good now alhamdulillah!

Sweet Farewell

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

To bid my girls a sweet farewell I had a lunch date with The Scarflets and Hana Tajima a few days before I left Malaysia. In fact, it was the day after I attended Maher Zain's concert. Talk about a star-filled weekend! After Hana's très lovely tea party all of us wanted to chill out with her again and we invited her right hand woman, Puteri (Yuna's cousin), to join us. 

What do you get when you put 20 women together? Well, why don't you see for yourself! 

Say hello to Hana Tajima, Puteri, Shea, Emmy, Ami Schaheera, Aimie Bahirah, Farah Mislina, Farah Ilyana, Farah (btw, all 3 Farah's are sisters), Zafirah Hanis, Nurul and Jezmine. Phewh! 

Top: Japanese Soba with Soft Shell Crab - yummeh!
Centre: More yummeh food!
Bottom: Alexis' famous pavlova smothered with whipped cream and topped with fresh blueberries and strawberries

With my beautiful girls (top left to bottom): Hana Tajima, Ami Schaheera, Aimie Bahirah, Lyna, Adriani, Farah Ilyana, Fatin Alwani

A close-up look at the outfit of our shining star, Hana
I don't know how she does it but she always looks good mashaAllah!

Check out everyone's styles! Allow me to introduce Nanie, Wanie, 
Aishah Amin (the lookbook superstar is now a blogger!) and Eyqa this time.

Sue Anna Joe and baby Luqman came a bit late but they made it in the end and that's all that matters.

The sweetest woman ever, Yunne, and Hana
Then there was Cik Epal, fashion photographer Mr Garbagelapsap himself and his friend, Johan, who came by to take photos of some of the girls (have a look at the photos), Aishah Amin and her sister, Fatimah, and last but not least, Maria!

All in all, it was a wonderfully girly and glamorous day! And meeting Hana Tajima again was of course the cherry on top of the ice cream but all the ladies who came that day are beautiful in their little and not so little ways. I love our meet ups because it's fascinating to get to know these otherwise virtual people with more depth. All of us can somehow connect to each other despite how different we are. I guess that's the power of hijab, fashion and Islam all thrown in together. Truth be told I miss my Scarflet sisters dearly and alhamdulillah we do keep in touch frequently. 

Until my next holiday in Malaysia I won't be seeing these ladies for a while. By then some of them will be married, inshaAllah. Oh how exciting! Anyhoo, this post literally took half a day for me to finish because of all the editing so think of it as an early Style Sunday okay? Adios amigos!

{some photos are courtesy of Ami Schaheera and Garbagelapsap}

Faith Friday: Confused About Decision to Wear Hijab

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dear Elaiza,

I'm very confused with the decision I'm making right now, as I don't want to be a hypocrite with this situation. I'm currently working in a marketing line, and before this I didnt wear hijab. Basically as a marketer, I have to deal with many people, and at the same time attending events; entertaining clients. But at some points, I'm totally lost and feel disgusted with my life as guys take me as a woman who is easily to 'woo' at, which of course I'm not. It's only because of my outlook and they judge me on that. I want to wear hijab to defend myself from the 'fitnah' but my boss wouldn't let me to. I don't want to lose my job, but at the same time I feel bad I can't fulfill my responsibility to Allah. Please tell me what I should do now.. 
Thank you very much. May Allah bless us

- Sister in Islam
Waalaykummusalam Sister in Islam,

To be honest, when I read your e-mail I felt like it was the 'old Sha' writing to me and I had a little déjà vu moment. I think it's safe for me to say I have a pretty good idea of what you're going through right now therefore my response to you is quite a personal one.

It’s okay to feel confused. I know the decision to wear hijab is not an easy one to make. You’re facing a situation that many women can relate to. Every woman wants to feel desired because there is a certain 'high' or satisfaction from being recognised for your physical beauty. You feel a sense of control and power when you walk into a room and people instantly notice you or they, especially men, favour you. This feeling is especially important in a social setting such as at a workplace where you know there is much to gain from having that control and influence over your boss, colleagues and clients. After all, good looks and intelligence, that’s the winning combination, right?

However, after a while you will start asking yourself,

Why am I using my sensuality or why do I need to use it in a professional setting if my boss, colleagues and clients are the professional people they should be?

What am I losing, emotionally and spiritually, by gaining people’s approval in this manner?

The fact that you feel something isn’t right and you want to do something about it means you have a good level of iman. Don’t take that for granted because whether you realise it or not a part of you is yearning for the truth and as cheesy as this sounds, God’s Guidance is the Truth.

Firstly, the power of prayers and du'a is incomparable so don't stop asking Allah subhana wa taala to give you clarity and confidence in your decision. He is always listening.

Secondly, do as much ibadah as you can. Pray istikharah, do dhikr, read the Qu'ran with its meaning, anything to make you closer to Him. Everyone is born with a spiritual void and it is up to us to fill that void with love and worship for our Creator, the one who made it possible for us to exist in the first place.

Has there not been over a man along period of Time, when he was nothing – (not even) mentioned?
Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm,
In order to try him:
So We gave him (the gifts) of hearing and sight.
We showed him the Way,
Whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will)
{Surah Al-Insan, verses 1-3}

Thirdly,  do as much research as you can about the concept of modesty and hijab in Islam. Read Islamic books and strengthen your iman. Understand Allah's 99 attributes. Surround yourself with positive people and talk to other practicing Muslim women whom you feel comfortable with. I can't stress how important it is to choose good friends. You can also read my previous posts about hijab.  Subsequently, once you've increased your knowledge about Islam, inshaAllah  the same effect will take place on your iman and you can get through just about everything in life.

Fourthly, I've created a pros and cons list that will hopefully help you.

Pros (inshaAllah)
- clear conscience
- peace of mind
- receive Allah’s Mercy, Love and Guidanceand in turn, He will make others love you too! (never fear the disapproval of people)
- re-prioritise the more important things in life thus chasing Jannah, 
the eternally blissful abode for people of Faith
- new level of self-love and self-respect by increasing focus on your iman and inner beauty
- develop a better sense of modesty
- become more confident in yourself without having to flash some flesh
- protection from men and women who will misguide and distract you from remembering and worshipping your Creator
- protection from jealousy and the evil eye
- save and protect your sensuality only for yourself and those who deserve and are permitted to see it (husband, family, girlfriends)
- find a better occupation that doesn’t make you feel that your worth only lies in your looks
- murah rezeki / more rizaq (provision) from Allah because even though we earn our money by working for people the True Protector and Provider is Allah
- start a collection of beautiful hijabs ;)
- meet people who like you for you
- ... you can fill this one

- guilty pangs
- no peace of mind
- distancing self from Allah
- attracting unwanted attention from inappropriate men
- chasing Dunya, a temporary life with temporary highs
- likelihood of losing current job and whatever perks that might come with it
- perhaps you’ll miss dressing up the way you used to but once you feel this way read the pros list.
Besides you can always dress up at home around your family and girlfriends.

Before I started wearing the hijab I could only see with the naked eye and I could only understand the world in terms of my desires. Now that it’s been a year I can honestly say that I look at life in this world in a completely different way. I was searching for something pure and genuine and shukur alhamdulillah, I’ve found it. The kind of contentment I feel today is not something I can obtain from people or anywhere. It truly is a gift from God.

Despite what society says the most important thing for the women of today has nothing to do with climbing up the social or career ladder. If a woman doesn’t have iman in her heart and Allah’s Love in return she has nothing real and substantial to get her through this life. Money and power can only get you so far. We all need Him at the end of the day because our ultimate destination is towards Him.

As a woman you weren’t created to please and be a form of enjoyment for random men. You were created because Allah  loves you and is giving you a chance to live a life that will lead you to Paradise. I’m not saying wearing the hijab alone is enough for us to enter Heaven but it is a very good first step. A good Muslim is someone who is always striving to better his or herself for the sake of Allah and His reward is far better than anything and everything in this world.

I hope my response has helped you somehow. InshaAllah, with time you will not have any doubts about your decision to wear the hijab. Be patient and have faith in Him. And have faith in yourself. Trust me, if I can wear hijab anyone can! My prayers are with you. Best of luck.

In My Mind The Sunshine Never Ends

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Due to the fact that I was too busy to blog properly during the last few weeks of my holiday in Malaysia I now have a backlog of things to write about. To be honest, I don't mind it so much because I realised blogging is how I document my life, or some of the things that are happening in it anyway. Think virtual scrapbook-slash-notebook.

Today's post is about my seaside holiday which my family and I went on about a month ago, all thanks to my generous brother. I must warn you, this will be a picture-heavy post. Perhaps one to make up for how busy I am these days to blog as much as before. 

We stayed at Swiss Garden Damai Laut in Lumut, Perak which is right across Pangkor Island. My brother told me not to Google the resort because he wanted to surprise me and when we drove there we were all like, "Oh my God, where are you taking us?!" because he drove deep into the forest and it was night time. Creepy much? But we knew we were heading in the right direction thanks to the all the signboards. 

We arrived late at night and we couldn't really see much of the resort but when we woke up the next day... 

Breakfast buffet at the resort cafe (you know this post wouldn't be complete without photos of food)

More views from around the resort as it was incredibly big! They even have a golf course, paint ball field, jetty, and tons of activities for families and companies who send their staff for team-building workshops.

We also went outside the resort to discover a little bit more about Lumut. Here's a typical fruit gerai (stall) by the roadside selling rambutan, mangoes, jackfruits, pisang goreng (banana fritters) and my favourite, cempedak goreng (deep fried fruit which is similar to the jackfruit).

Fed some monkeys...

... visited the turtle conservation area and made new turtle-y friends

... and took some style shots, of course. 
I just wanted to have some fun before life became all serious again, y'know?

The veranda-like area was my favourite spot in the entire resort. 
It was breezy and peaceful and I like that it was shaded by a huge, leafy tree.

I always wanted to try wearing a big floppy hat with hijab (without looking like a paddy rice field worker lol) so I bought one and then my sister decorated it with a flower garland necklace from Diva. 
She thought this ensemble looked very Victorian and I must say I agree.

My big, floppy hat makes me happy!

And what do we have here?  It's the bag I won from Hijabi Hippie Hypo's recent giveaway. 
Thanks girl, I love it (and the necklace too)!

What can I say... I totally love the beach and I can never say no to spending some down time with la familia. The resort we went to was absolutely gorgeous and I like that it was kind of in an isolated part of the state because it made us feel like we were away from the craziness of the world that is always awaiting us.  Looking back at all the photos I took during the holiday makes me grateful to be surrounded by a loving family and good people in general, shukur alhamdulillah. Every now and then I think I do take them for granted but seriously, I don't know where I would be without my family. 

Style Sunday: Another Reason Why I Love Fridays

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Now that I am back in my second home I get to be with my girlfriends again *yay!* Last Thursday Lamya invited 5 of us for a sleepover at her new apartment (the 6 boxes of pizzas is a testament of our typical get togethers - who says girls don't eat?). It's a couple of minutes away from the Friday Shop so the next morning we took a stroll to our favourite pastry haven.

I decided to layer it up and dress comfortably. 
Trying to achieve simplicity was one of my new year's resolutions. 
And I must say... Dunedin is the perfect place for it.