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 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!