Faith Friday: Forgiveness - When It's Ok and When It Isn't

Friday, April 29, 2011

I used to think that I'm not as forgiving as I was in the past because when I look back I am surprised at the people I forgave and the kind of things I was willing to let slide. I don't have any regrets about them but when my mum once said to me, "Wow aren't you noble" I don't think she meant it as a compliment. However, I've just come to realise this. It's not that I'm not as forgiving today, rather, I have a different definition of forgiveness. I'm more cautious now because let's face it, once something is said or done there's no rewind and delete button at our convenience. No magic wand to make it all go away. Plus, some people like to take advantage of how forgiving you can be. They take you for granted. 

While I believe it's harder to forgive certain people more than others and some things must not be forgotten I also believe I cannot change people nor the past. I can however have inner peace by letting go of grudges and accepting some people will always behave how they choose to behave. Yes, I say choose because their actions are their choice and my actions are mine. Forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean allowing things to be as they were because there's no such thing. Circumstances are always changing. If our experiences remain the same throughout our lives then what will we ever learn? 

I've realised there any many ways to forgive but the best way I can think of so far is by accepting people and things are destined to be as they are today. There's only so much we have control over in this life but the rest really is just destiny. There is no point in being angry over something we can't control, is there?

Forgiveness ultimately means letting go of resentment. On the other hand, reconciliation means establishing peace and rekindling good relations. I know people like to quote this beautiful hadeeth,

Rasulullah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “He who does not show mercy to people, Allah also does not show mercy to him.” 

However, I don't think they always know what it means nor do they highlight the difference between divine mercy and human mercy because we cannot compare God's attributes with our attributes. I understand Islam teaches us that forgiveness is best teamed with reconciliation but I don't think it means allowing ourselves to be placed in the same vulnerable situation as before. If anything, forgiving others should affirm our faith in Allah subhana wa taala and strengthen our character and this includes being smart enough to protect ourselves from the harm others might cause. A good Muslim is not a push over but an intelligent, tactful person. A person who can decide on what is the best action for a given situation. When there's no harm posed we should make an effort to forgive and reconcile with those who have hurt us.

But when it comes to people who are plain toxic it is best to stay away from them. It doesn't mean you haven't forgiven them but it makes no sense to be close to people who hurt you again and again or once they show you their true colours. Forgiveness can mean a lot of things. It can mean choosing to walk away from a dispute. It can even mean giving someone a hug to assure them you've accepted their apology. Hence we can't and shouldn't define acts of forgiveness but the basis of any act of forgiveness is compassion and making peace with Allah's plan for us.

Wedding Dress of the Year

{source: Daily Mirror}

A simple and elegantly exquisite wedding dress - a reflection of the royal bride.
She looked stunning and absolutely regal.
And what a ceremony... it was magical and fairytale-like. Everything a wedding should be.
If only the late Princess Diana could've been there.
I'm definitely looking forward to see more pictures tomorrow!

Katedown to the Royal Willding

I won't deny it. I am one of those people who will be glued to the television screen tonight to watch Will and Kate's royal wedding. I can't wait to see Kate's dress! Although I don't think I can match some people's enthusiasm for the occasion...

All The Way From Istanbul

Monday, April 25, 2011

Speaking of holidays and travels, one of my dearest sisters in Islam, Hana Fedora, sent me a postcard when she visited Turkey a few weeks ago. I can't remember the last time someone sent me a postcard so I was totally happy to see this little surprise in my mailbox. It was like having a little piece of Istanbul sent to me. Since I'm on my Easter break at the moment I finally have a little bit of free time to share it with you all and I stress a little bit because I still have research to do during this 1 week break. 

Now run along and read Hana's post on Istanbul. 
It's filled with gorgeous pics that make you float away in dreams of far away adventures. 
(Awww, Hana, writing this post made me miss you more!)

xoxo, Sha

A Delicious Affair in Melbourne (Pt. 1)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I've said it many times and I'll say it again. I'm in love with Melbourne city.

Whenever I'm there I feel at home and I don't even feel that way when I'm in Malaysia. What does it feel like?, you may ask. Well.... 
Like you are where you are supposed to be. 
Like everything fits. There's a sense of excitement yet it's comforting.
Like coincidentally bumping into an old friend when you are lost in a strange, new city. 

I've always been drawn to the 'modern-traditional' and to places of many cultures and these are exactly the things that Melbourne has to offer. I, being a total foodie, think it's awesome that these attributes are reflected in the types of food you can find there. From continuous rows of colourful and inviting Italian restaurants at Lygon Street to baklava-filled Lebanese cafés in the suburbs, Melbourne is the place to be if you simply love diversity because the city is all about diversity - from food to people. You'll see Somalis, Lebanese Arabs, Indonesians, Malaysians, Greeks, Italians - you name it. 

(l-r): I think that was probably my first time to see a parking lot sign board with 10 different languages! 
Snapshots of an Emirati jewellery store and a Lebanese café in Brunswick. I had Lebanese bread with haloumi cheese and baklava of course. 

My blogger-turned-real-life-friend, Fairuz, and her lovely family took me to QV for a Malaysian lunch. 
One chicken rice and soya bean drink with grass jelly later, I was stuffed! 
Not to mention, I had a little bit of Auntie's massive ABC (crushed ice with sweet condiments and peanuts)

Ah, Max Brenner. I heard a lot about this chocolate food joint from friends. I finally had the chance to go there and try their mouth-watering desserts and oh-so-refreshing pink grapefruit ice blended drink (thank you Iva!) 

... to be continued.

Egyptian Revolution and the Media

Sunday, April 17, 2011

As a Communication Studies major my dissertation will  be on the role of communications in the Egyptian Revolution. I will be looking specifically at the role of news networks and the new media. Undoubtedly, Al Jazeera covered the issue with more depth than any other network out there and they are still continuing to do so and it'll be interesting to know why this is so in a critical sense. The Egyptian revolution was also framed as an 'e-revolution' in the news and there have been debates and discussions about that. While political commentators and journalists disagree with this term none of them can deny the role it played in the uprising. I think blogs and vlogs have been an incredibly fascinating aspect of the revolution especially in terms of mobilising and informing the global community.

Take this video which I found via the egypt blog. It features Samuel Vengrinovich a young man who went to Tahrir Square to experience the protests firsthand. Most news clips we usually see on television are from the perspective of activists but in this case we are witnessing a foreigner's point of view.

And not just any foreigner but an American-born Jew who currently lives in Tel Aviv.

I think it's a very well-made video in the sense that it portrayed the revolution as a positive change and Vengrinovich stayed quite objective throughout it except when he brought up the topic of Israeli-Egyptian relations at the end.

He succinctly explained his reason for going to Cairo when he said, "I've studied international politics for the last ten years, but some things you just can't learn in a class room - sometimes you just got to be there." You can read an account of his experience here.

Dedicated to my Egyptian brothers and sisters

Saturday, April 16, 2011

When I first heard this song a number of years ago I instantly fell in love with it. I had no idea what Nancy Ajram was singing but it was definitely love at first hearing. It's amazing how this song has so much relevance today and as most of you know Nancy's not even Egyptian.

In reflection of my love and support for anyone and everyone struggling for their right to faith, freedom and fulfillment I have decided that my post-grad dissertation will be on the groundbreaking Egyptian revolution earlier this year. I'm not too sure why but this topic feels very close to my heart. I will gradually fill you in on my progress as it's a research project that will go on for the next 6 months or so. Wish me luck and please make du'a for this to go well for me.

p.s. To all my Egyptian blog friends, you will be in my thoughts as I do this! 

Faith Friday: Sticks and Stones

Friday, April 15, 2011

I’m sure at some point in life your parents have warned you by saying, “Think twice before you act!” because they assume you’re about to do something stupid. 8 out of 10 times they were probably right. Hey, I’m equally guilty as charged. Or maybe it’s just me.

We are often reminded to be careful with our actions because they can negatively affect us and/or others. Nobody likes damage control but sometimes we forget that our actions also include the words we speak and write with. In fact, words can be as detrimental, if not more, than physical abuse. Bodily pain can go away but hurt in the heart can linger for quite a while because the emotional healing process usually lasts longer.

A few weeks ago a relatively famous Malaysian blogger decided to write a post to condemn one of Yuna’s African-inspired hijab style. The post generated hundreds of comments – most were in support of him. Yuna reacted by setting her Tumblr page to private. The girl was publicly humiliated; of course the first thing she wanted to do was to feel a sense of control as to what people say about her. It's hard being a celebrity because you become an easy target for criticism.

What shocked me while going through the comments was the kind of words some of them used to criticise her. The blog writer claimed he wrote the post with good intentions, God knows best, but my question is: If he never intended to cause Yuna any hurt then why didn’t he take some responsibility in moderating the comments? Or better still, why didn’t he just drop her an e-mail to voice out his concern?

I don’t know about you guys but I respond to constructive criticism much better when I’m not being publicly humiliated. Thank you very much.

I’m not saying Yuna is the perfect role model who never makes mistakes. My point is, neither are you and I, and neither are those people who said nasty things about her just because of one hijab style. I don’t know what gives people the idea to think it’s ever okay to act holier than thou. It’s never okay. Never.

Shaytan has many tricks up his sleeve and provoking people to cause social disharmony is one of them. He causes arrogance to arise in us in order for us to feel that we are better than someone else but in truth, only Allah knows whose fate will be better in the Aakhirah. We see it happen all the time. People argue over something hurtful someone has said or done in the past.

Why do we succumb to Shaytan’s provocations easily? We, and myself including, should try to be more careful with feelings of anger and pride that can cause us to be complacent with our choice of words and actions. God did grant us free will, after all. That's the main reason why we're accountable for all that we do. Shaytan plays the role as the provoker while we carry out the deed.

Behold, two (guardian angels) appointed to learn (his doings) learn (and noted them), one sitting on the right and one on the left
Not a word does he utter but there is a sentinel by him, ready (to note it).
{Surah Qaf, verse 18}

I think there are many ways for us to be more positive and courteous in our everyday speech but here's some I can think of from the top of my head:

Say ‘Assalamualaykum’ (peace and blessings be upon you) when greeting your Muslim friends. Think of it as the Islamic version of ‘I come in peace’. Besides, it’s sunnah and we really should bring sunnah back.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

Don’t say something about someone else that you wouldn’t say to their face.

Say Bismillah (in the name of God) more often.

Resist the temptation to reply a mean comment with a nasty comeback. God has promised to reward you for your patience and whose promise can be truer than His? 

Be kind when giving naseeha (advice). When someone does something sincerely for the sake of pleasing God they will do it in the most gentle and cautious way possible.

Choose your close friends. You can be civil and friendly with everyone but choose the people you keep close to you for they can influence you to become the kind of person they are without you even realising it.

Try to limit frivolous talk that doesn’t benefit anyone. There’s nothing wrong with small talk and playful banter to keep the conversation cheerful but if you find yourself talking about the latest piece of gossip all the time then you know what needs to be done.

Do you have a tip you'd like to share?

Every word we say (and type and read by someone!) can’t be taken back. We will be accountable for every single thing we’ve said and yes, that’s a lot of words, but Islam is all about accountability. It’s only fair but Allah subhana wa taala is the All Merciful and Forgiving so seek forgiveness from Him sincerely and He will forgive you. If there's one thing I want people to know by reading this post it would be:  A good Muslim is a good human being.

Jumaah Mubarak everyone!

And remember, a kind word or gesture goes a long way because it can even take you up to Jannah ;) 

Alhamdulillah for the Good Times

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Assalamualaykum all,

It’s been forever since I last had the chance to write here. In case you didn’t know, two weeks is equivalent to forever on the Internet. I feel like I owe you guys an explanation especially because even though I kind of stopped updating frequently it didn’t stop some of you from sending me kind words through your messages and e-mails.

Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts. I was, still am, drowning in post-grad work. Everytime I receive an e-mail from a reader it always warms up my heart. So thank you for making a very busy and burnt out girl very happy! I don’t know if you have any idea what it’s like to be in my shoes right now but every single day I come home tired – mentally and physically. I’m not used to it and I’m still trying to adapt myself to the workload. I am left with hardly any free time to do leisurely things such as hanging out with my friends.

Last weekend, however, I gave myself a break and had some girlfriends over for a little slumber party. I have a new motto now…

Work hard and play hard!

We watched ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and ‘Four Lions’. It was my second time to see ‘Four Lions’ and for some reason I think it’s funnier the second time around. The girls and I are in love with Waj a.k.a. Kayvan Novak a.k.a. Fonejacker, by the way. We’re going through this phase of always quoting his lines from the movie.

If you haven’t seen ‘Four Lions’ yet I strongly recommend you do (if you can put up with some of the swearing). Just for laughs. It’s about a group of British Muslim men trying to become terrorists. It all its funniness the movie does have a point. “Muslims” who are aiming to become terrorists aren’t as practicing and religious as they seem. They just have a twisted and sadistic view of religion. What they do doesn’t represent Islam. Instead it mainly represents them. Most of all, THEY DON'T HAVE A CLUE ABOUT WHAT THEY'RE DOING!

Anyhoo, I also cooked up a storm and believe me, that night I realised just how much I enjoy cooking and that I wish I had more time to dedicate myself to it. The main dish was angel hair pasta with chicken and tabasco hot sauce garnished with fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese. As for the side dish, I made potatoes with almonds and cream. My friends have asked for the recipes so, inshaAllah, they'll be up on this blog soon.  

The next day, Lamya's car, Dreamy, arrived from Christchurch. It's her first car in NZ and it was an exciting moment for her, of course. We had an Afghani breakfast courtesy of Saj. It's made of eggs, onions and tomatoes. It was really yummy even though it kind of looks like a skull in the picture lol. After our hearty breakfast we headed to the beach. We simply couldn't let a sunny day go to waste, could we?

Once the fun was over it was time to start work again. I know I'm lucky to have a group of friends who are caring enough to pull me out from under a rock when it is much needed so I could see some sunshine and enjoy life again. Alhamdulillah, for all the good times and the stressful times that make us grateful for those good times!

May God bless all of you always.

xox, Sha

Post Grad Better Be Worth It

Friday, April 01, 2011

I'm so proud of my girl, Vivy, and I'm happy my darling Ami had a good time but...

I can't believe I missed this super glamourous tea party by Fashion Valet and Minz!

Aww my two girls together! 

Vivy with some of Malaysia's top supermodels

Congratulations to Fashion Valet and Minz on their first major event together.
For more photos, head on to Ami's fabulous blog and 'like' her Facebook page!

{photos are courtesy of Sputnik Sweetheart}