International Ramadan Photography Competition 2014

Monday, June 30, 2014

What does this remind you of? The story of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and al-Buraq's night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and back, yes? This photo is fantastic on so many levels! 

I've always loved photography. I'm not a professional photographer but I do admire good art and photography. Some photos have a way of making you look at them again and again, some bring out feelings of wanderlust and others invoke thoughts and inspire you to take action. 

This is one of the reasons why the International Ramadan Photography Competition - Capture the Spirit of Ramadan was launched by StudioBasel. Apart from encouraging amateur and professional photographers from all over the world to use their creativity and passion to strengthen the spirit of Ramadan within themselves and others, it's a great way to counter negative images of Islam and Muslims with positive ones. There are 3 categories - architecture, spirituality and culture - and you are welcome to submit a maximum of 3 photos a day. Here is an extra incentive: the first prize is USD $1500. 

I will be sharing more of my favourite photos from last year's IRPC in the course of the week, inshaAllah.

Drama Before Ramadhan: Learning to be Pleased with Allah in Times of Hardship

Sunday, June 29, 2014

illustration by Sarina Iskandar 

SubhanaAllah, how fast time flies and how lucky we are to welcome this blessed month of Ramadhan into our lives once again. Alhamdulillah - all praise belongs to Allah - for another precious opportunity to become closer to Allah, our Creator and Sustainer, and to earn His pleasure through acts of worship, kindness and generosity. I'd like to wish you a fruitful Ramadhan in which you'll reap the rewards in this life and in Jannah. Ameen. I also want to share with you a story about an incident that happened to my family and I two days ago and what I learned from it, alhamdulillah.

Lessons From My Father and His Death

Monday, June 23, 2014

My Abah and I in Perth, a place he often referred to as his second home

If my father was still alive today would have been his birthday. My father passed away seven years ago but every 23rd of June I still think of him and say, "Today's Abah's birthday!". Being the youngest in the family and a true blue daddy's girl I sometimes still don't know what to make of his passing. I had lost family members prior to that but I never seriously thought about my Dad not being around anymore until it happened one summer's day in New Zealand.

One day I came home from varsity and found that my Abah had passed away in his sleep. Innalillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon. He wasn't at the peak of his health but he wasn't chronically ill either. I still remember that day very vividly. It was the 28th of February and the weather was perfect as the sun shone like I had never seen before in the typically gloomy Dunedin. I even remember thinking to myself, "Today is such a beautiful day! Nothing could possibly go wrong today."

[Faith Friday] Al-Munfarija: The Reliever with Imam Suhaib Webb

Friday, June 20, 2014

"Why do bad things happen?"

"Allahu'alam," Imam Suhaib Webb said. 

We won't always get the answers we want but if we continue to listen or look carefully, we'll know in due time. This is what I've learned in the one-day course "al-Munfarija" (The Reliever) by Ella Collins  Institute and Muslim Professionals Forum last week. Nobody has the perfect life and we're all bound to face hardship and challenges in some or another. What makes things worse is when we compare our lives to someone else's. 

But what if these "bad things" aren't necessarily bad? What if they're a means to better things and a better you? I know, it's hard to see it this way when you're under a lot of pressure and you can't seem  to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I've been there and all I can say is, it's not a pretty place to be but if you just hang on a little bit more when you're about to give up, things do get better, God willing.

I Met a Mountain Today: A Day with Peter Sanders

Monday, June 16, 2014

I met a mountain today.

He was not intimidating but I was in awe as he stood dignified, strong and unperturbed as he spoke about art and spirituality with a level of wisdom incomparable to anyone else I know. This "mountain" was none other than Peter Sanders, a renowned British photographer "who happens to be Muslim" [his own words].

Sanders is currently in Malaysia in conjunction with IRPC's exhibition launch at the Islamic Arts Museum of Malaysia. Today he conducted a workshop and represented IRPC's panel of jury for their "Capture the Spirit of Ramadan" photography competition that will run during Ramadan this year, inshaAllah. Sanders was also a guest speaker at today's symposium featuring  Basel al-Misshal and Lina Ali of Studio Basel, the organiser of IRPC's photography competition which is open to all budding and talented amateur photographers and professional photographers. All you have to do is submit a maximum of 3 photos per day during Ramadan and the panel of jury includes the likes of Peter Sanders and Steve McCurry (the man behind the famous Time magazine's "Afghan girl" photo). Selected photos will be featured on their social media platforms and the winners' photos will be part of IRPC's photography book and exhibition.

source: IRPC's Facebook page

Anyway, Sanders began his speech at the symposium by sharing his experience at the Malaysian immigration upon arriving the country. The officers curiously asked him if he was an imam. "Absolutely not," he replied, "I'm a jury for a photography competition. I'm here to see if Malaysia's got talent!" he joked.

[Faith Friday] Be Like the Bee: Sincerity in the Age of Social Media

Friday, June 13, 2014

After reading David Coolidge's post on sincerity, I thought about the things that have affected or can affect my sincerity. One of it is the pressure to fulfill people's expectations of who I should be as a Muslim. I briefly touched on this issue in My Muslim Identity Crisis. I think people don't realise that guilt-shaming others doesn't inspire them to do good for the sake of Allah but to appease the public instead.

It crossed my mind that this challenge with sincerity could be a common problem among social media users and public figures. It ultimately boils down to this: when we lose sight of our true purpose in life we tend to use publicity to seek validation and to feel important in a world where it's easy for us and our voices to drown in a sea of people vying for attention for whatever reason it may be. Our addiction and obsession with social media (or anything worldly, for that matter) is a sign that we are looking for God and/or love in all the wrong places. This clouds our judgement and compels us to do things we know aren't right for us.

SHAELAIZA GALLERIA UPDATE: Get 20% discount and donate to Carefugees

Saturday, June 07, 2014

I'm wearing the ravishing red Adinda blouse from ShaElaiza Galleria

Hello, hello June and Sha'aban! Phewh, you sure know how to make us busy. For Malaysians, the month of June means there will be weddings held every weekend, especially when Ramadan is just around the corner and it also means the month of Sha'aban has arrived, alhamdulillah. To welcome this auspicious time of the year has decided to give a 20% discount storewide from 7th to 9th of June 2014.

And that's not all. When I found out about Carefugees' awesome project a thought crossed my mind. Hey, why not pledge 10% of our sales towards Carefugees' "Feed a Family" campaign until the end of Ramadan? If you haven't heard about Carefugees, the gist of what they do is support Malaysian-based refugee communities from countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Syria. The "Feed a Family" campaign aims to provide food for our refugee brothers and sisters during Ramadan.

"Allah (subhanahu wa taala) boasts to His angels about a generous person who feeds others."  Imam al- Ghazali (may Allah be pleased with him)