Aleppo's Oldest Bookseller

Monday, December 28, 2015

I don't know much about this man except that he is a bookseller. I will probably never meet him but this elderly Syrian man gave me the hope and inspiration I needed to be resilient. I came across his photos via Mustafa Sultan's Twitter account a few days ago. 

The caption read:
أقدم بائع كتب في حلب يستمر في عملها بعد قصف منزله ومكتبته..
 #حلب #Aleppo

"Aleppo's oldest bookseller continues to work after the bombing of his house and library."


Faith Friday: Rumi on Purposeful & Meaningful Work

Friday, December 18, 2015


Two inspiring Muslims, Muhammad Ali and Peter Sanders, from two very different career fields. (source: Peter Sanders Photography)

The Amir said: “Night and day my heart and Soul are intent upon serving God, but because of my responsibilities with Mongol affairs I have no time for such service.” Rumi answered: Those works too are work done for God, since they are the means of providing peace and security for your country. You sacrifice yourself, your possessions, your time, so the hearts of a few will be lifted to peacefully obeying God’s will. So this too is a good work. God has inclined you towards such good work, and your great love for what you do is proof of God’s blessing. However, if your love of work were to weaken, this would be a sign of grace denied, for God leads only those who are worthy into those right attitudes that will earn spiritual rewards.  
Take the case of a hot bath. Its heat comes from the fuel that is burned, such as dry hay, firewood, dung and the like. In the same way, God uses what to outward appearance looks evil and nasty, yet in reality is the means to cleanliness and purity. Like the bath, the man or woman fired by the efforts of work becomes purified and a benefit to all people. - Jalaludin Rumi, 'Fihi Ma Fihi'

When I was working in the fashion world I enjoyed myself and learned a lot but I also felt that I wasn't fulfilling my purpose. That troubled me, perhaps because of my aspirations and responsibilities as a Muslim. I began asking Muslims of various professions and from numerous industries how they reconciled faith with their work. Many of them said, "I wish I was doing something more meaningful." I could relate to that a lot. At the same time, I also thought, "Hang on, we can't all be imams, sheikhs, teachers, doctors, scientists, counsellors, etc. Muslims can and should make a difference in many industries. We can't all make hijrah to an Islamic country or volunteer in a developing country. If we can, we should try to make a difference and benefit others wherever we are."

Be Unapologetically Muslim: Dealing with Islamophobia & Racism

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

(Listen to the full speech here)

"I always hear people say Islam is a religion of peace. But I always tell people what's more important to me about Islam is that it's a religion of justice. If we don't talk about and don't show that Islam is a religion of justice, it's hard for us to talk about Islam being a religion of peace." — Linda Sarsour 

There is an intense climate of fear surrounding Islam and Muslims that began on 9/11 and it has gradually increased since then. Unfortunately, often times this is due to the acts of people who claim to be committing violence in the name of God and Islam. As a Muslim, I cannot think of anything more blasphemous than to selfishly take the lives of innocent people, Muslim and non-Muslim, in the name of God. How will this create peace in our communities? As a human being, I am sickened by these heartless acts. Overall, I am disturbed by the lack of the use of intellect amongst people who apparently share my faith and those who discriminate against Muslims without considering the complexity of the politics of violence and terrorism. Professor Hamid Dabashi says in his latest Al Jazeera article 'Trump is a Symptom not the Disease', "Today, Muslims around the world face not one but two dangerous fronts: One internal, the other external."

This is why I truly appreciate Linda Sarsour's keynote speech at the 2015 UMMA Benefit Gala on upholding justice and dignity and serving others while being unapologetically Muslim. If I could add to it, I would say:

Yes, we should serve others regardless of their faith but if we, as Muslims, aren't willing to take care of our communities and uphold the rights of our brothers and sisters don't expect others to do the same for us. If you have any consciousness within you, I implore you to reflect on yourself. Being unapologetically Muslim doesn't only mean a resistance towards practicing Islam in a way that appeases non-Muslims but to also practice Islam in a way that pleases Allah and to uphold justice among non-Muslims and also Muslims, regardless of the differences in terms of our skin colour, social status, school of thought, and nuances in our practices.

Two Italians, A Muslim Girl & a Pizza Place: In Honour of Syria & San Bernardino

Thursday, December 03, 2015


Repost from my Instagram account:

"Today, the UK Parliament voted in favour of the bombing of Syria and some alleged criminals, one named Syed Farook, killed at least 14 innocent people and wounded 17 others (some reported to be Muslim) at a centre for people with disabilities in California. When I saw the name 'Syed Farook' I was even more devastated. Can't us Muslims catch a break?! Even if these criminals weren't devout Muslims just their names alone will do enough damage.

In light of these atrocities, I thought I'd share a story that reflects a glimmer of hope. A new pizza place called La Pizzetta recently opened on Willis Street and I decided to check it out yesterday. The lady behind the counter took my order and said to me in a thick Italian accent, "Ah it's very nice! The way you wear your scarf, it's very nice." I grinned and thanked her. "Where are you from?", she asked. I told her I was from Malaysia. The man who was helping her with my order, whom I later found out was her husband, went speechless and looked pleasantly surprised. In fact, both of them did. "Have you been there?", I asked curiously. "Yes! We LOVE Malaysia! We spent one month in Malaysia. We visited KL, Taiping, Penang, Pulau Redang."

We ended up chatting about Malaysia for a good 15 minutes but this is what I want to highlight because I could feel the Italian man's sincerity when he said it: "With so much news on Muslims and war it was very, very important to us that we met Muslims in Malaysia. We are Catholic but we saw that like the Christians, there are good and bad Muslims. And I think the Muslims in Malaysia are better than the people in my country. Malaysia was not just a vacation but an important experience for us."

Faith Friday: Humility: The Path to Being Truly Human

Friday, November 27, 2015

A man peacefully performing his prayer, an act of humility, at the Topkapi Palace mussolah overlooking the Marmara Sea, Istanbul.


Those who learned to be truly human found everything in being humble.
While those who looked proudly from above were pushed down the stairs.
A heart that must always feel superior will one day lose its way.
What should be within, leaks out.

The old man with the white beard never sees the state he’s in.
He needn’t waste money on making the Hajj,
if he’s broken someone’s heart.
The heart is the seat of God, where God is aware.
You won’t find happiness in either world, if you break a heart.

The deaf man doesn’t hear, 
the blind man mistakes the day for night.
Yet the universe is filled with light.
We’ve seen how those who came later move on.

Whatever you think of yourself, think the same of others.
This is the meaning of the Four Books, if they have one.

May Yunus not stray from the path,
nor get on his high horse.
May the grave and the Judgement be no concern,
if what he loves is the face of God.

 Yunus Emre (1238–1320), Turkish poet
(click here to read an alternative translation)


Birth. Life. Death. The signs point towards the reality that we are all on a journey. However, some of us are more aware of it than others. Our journey doesn't end with death but with our destination in the everlasting Hereafter. In this journey, if we do not ask for 'directions' (seek guidance) we will surely lose our way or wander aimlessly, which leads us to feel a void or emptiness within us. The desire to fill this emptiness may lead to destructive behaviour. This explains why the world is in the state it is in right now. But the path to peace is real and it begins with humility. 

What is humility? In 'The Knowing Heart: A Sufi Path of Transformation', Kabir Helminski describes humility as,

On Paris, Jihad and Western Privilege

Sunday, November 15, 2015

'Peace for Paris' by Jean Jullien

Dear Paris:

The crime that was committed against you yesterday was another senseless and heinous act caused by ignorance, greed and the love of power. My heart goes out to the victims and their families who are mourning the loss of innocent loved ones. I have seen what terror has done to Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Myanmar, Nigeria and Lebanon, and I wouldn't wish the same for anyone else in this world regardless of their nationality or faith. Anyone could have been in that crowd - French, Muslims, Americans, Malaysians, atheists, Catholics, Buddhists, agnostics. It doesn't matter. A life is still a life.

At the same time, I fear for my brown-skinned, Arab and/or Muslim brothers and sisters in the West who will bear the brunt of bigotry, discrimination and Islamophobia. However, with campaigns like #IWillRideWithYou in the aftermath of the Sydney attack this year (which was unrelated to ISIS but made by the perpetrator to seem that way due to mental illness) and tweets like the one below, I believe there are informed and rational people out there who will take a stand against bigots, racists and Islamophobes.


Towards An Illuminated Heart

Sunday, November 08, 2015


“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” ― Oscar Wilde

When you're going through a rough patch it's easy to only focus on all the things that are going wrong instead of all the things that are going right. Sometimes all it takes is a surprise from a friend (like the flowers I received last week), a line in the book you're reading or knowing the smile on your mother's face is because of you to make you realise how blessed you are regardless. Perception is everything and the heart that is filled with Love will always find Light and allow it to shine through and provide clarity. Work on purifying and illuminating the heart. Or even better, realise that the work has already begun through these blessings and trials. Now your task is to respond with Love.

A heart filled with Love is like a phoenix that no cage can imprison. ― Rumi

Love God. Love knowledge and truth. Love ehsan (excellence). Love humility. Love His creations. Desire contentment. Stop wasting time. Fulfill your responsibilities. Spread salaam (peace). Walk away from fights and unnecessary battles.

People are walking contradictions. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. This world is a place of trials. Look out for each other. Leave the judgement to Him. Only then shall you find the echoes of love around you and be free from the anxieties caused by dunya.

A reminder to myself, first and foremost:
In generosity and helping others, be like a river
In compassion and grace, be like the sun
In concealing others' faults, be like the night
In anger and fury, be as if you have died
In modesty and humility, be like the soil
In tolerance and acceptance, be like the sea
In presenting yourself to others, either appear as you are or be as you appear.
―  Rumi

Qalbi

Sunday, November 01, 2015


There is only one word for me to describe my mother: Qalbi (my heart). But her love is a reminder of something bigger. I remember being sad about something and I didn't tell anyone how I felt. One day, a Muslim scholar came to over to the house as a guest and it was as if he looked into my heart because he said:

"Do you believe your mother loves you? God loves you more that. He is al-Latif."

Al-Latif via wahiduddin.net:
"The One who is most subtle and gracious.
The One whose nature is gentle, affectionate, courteous and refined.
The One who is kind, gracious, and understanding, with regard for the subtle details of individual circumstances.
The One whose actions are so fine and subtle that they may be imperceptible, beyond our comprehension.
The One whose delicate perception reveals the subtleties of all things.

From the root l-t-f which has the following classical Arabic connotations: to be thin, delicate, refined, elegant, graceful to be gentle, gracious, courteous, kindly to be subtle, to know the obscurities of all affairs to treat with regard for circumstances to be most soothing and refined in manner to treat with kindness, goodness, gentleness, benevolence, affection."

Faith Friday: Walking in Peace With Those Who Haven't Found It

Friday, October 30, 2015



The mind 
                        can go in a thousand directions,
                                but on this beautiful path, 
I walk in peace. 
             With each step, 
the wind blows. 
             With each step, 
a flower blooms.”
                                         ― Thích Nhất Hạnh


I truly believe in the power of walking in peace. Everything we do has an impact on others. A thoughtful gesture can create ripples of kindness. But what others do has an impact on us too. How do we continue to walk in peace when those around us are not doing the same? Perhaps there is no simple answer but these verses come to mind:

"Seek Allah’s help with patient perseverance and prayer. It is indeed hard except for those who are humble, who are certain that they will meet their Lord and that they will return to Him." (2:45-46)

May we continue to walk in peace or at least, create a pathway of peace for others so they can use it when they are ready to do so. Jumaah mubarak everyone. 

Sacred Love

Monday, October 26, 2015


sacred love

in a world filled with egocentricity,
it is easy,
to fall in love,
with a person of humility,
again and again. 

 se 

"There is a difference between loving for the sake of your own self and loving for the sake of Allah subhana wa taala. There is a very subtle difference... The stronger one's iman becomes and the more these meanings become rooted in the heart the closer it gets to being connected to the sacred type of love. Which is, in a sense, the goal because love is the most powerful emotion of the human being." - Shaykh Yahya Rhodus in 'Imam Al-Ghazzali's Book 36 on Love, Longing, Intimacy and Contentment'

I have been reflecting on Shaykh Yahya Rhodus' contention on the difference between loving a person, be it a family member or  a friend (or any of His other creations), for the sake of ourselves and the sake of God. I suppose when we love a person for the sake of Allah, we love them because they possess the qualities that He loves or we are aware of our amanah (responsibility) to love them. When we love God we love what He loves and when He loves us He makes our hearts drawn towards what He loves. 

"My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him so, I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks." - Hadith Qudsi

Loving someone for the sake of Allah could also mean that even when the situation becomes difficult we will do the right thing, be it to show compassion and patience or speak up against injustice, despite what our nafs (ego) tells us to do. To love is a courageous act, especially when it is done for His sake and not merely our needs and desires. الله اعلم.

'In Times of Terror, Wage Beauty'

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


The moment I saw this book I knew I had to have it. I had been following Mark Gonzales on Twitter for a few months at the time and I was looking forward to reading his contemplations and elaborations on how to love, heal, grow, communicate and inspire. So much has happened and so much will happen. Such is the nature of this worldly life.




Out of all the things that have happened so far this year it was the news of Elizabeth's suicide that shook me the most. I regret not taking her public confessions of suicide attempts on Facebook more seriously. I regret not being a better friend. Until this day, Facebook reminds me of our friendship and her sad demise. I think that is one of the reasons why I often associate the social networking site with negativity these days. As soon as I found out about what happened to Elizabeth I contacted her sister. She informed me that Elizabeth had registered herself as an organ donor and that she had saved the lives of four people. I thought it was inspiring, poignant and ironic all at the same time; a girl who ended her own life had saved the lives of others. 

Inspiration is an Oddisee

Tuesday, October 20, 2015



It's been a tumultuous week for me. With so much going on, it's easy for me to lose clarity, focus and balance. Today, Sarina and I were talking about feeling uninspired when I said, "Inspiration: Let it come naturally or seek it".

I was casually browsing Instagram when I found Justin Mashouf's account and mashouf.tv. I eventually stumbled upon his inspiring video of Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) discussing the significance of the late Malcolm X.

Serendipity.

The video of Bey led me to the aptly-named Oddisee (a play on the word 'odyssey', if you didn't catch it).

Mind blown.



Oddisee says: "Belong to the World" is a song about making a transition from feeling like I didn't fit into anything, into understanding we belong to everything. It is a song about understanding that the world is bigger than the small things we want to be a part of.  
About the video: Director Zack Kashkett worked to provide a sense of isolation and introspection that often accompanies the physical and metaphorical idea of being inside and alone juxtaposed against spacious shots of Oddisee within the larger world outside. The sense of isolation goes away when the scope gets large enough and the world's size becomes encompassing not enclosing. This is similar to the sense one gets when they realize they are part of something greater.

'Belong to the World' is one of his songs from his latest album 'The Good Fight' but I listened to 'People Hear What They See' and an older instrumental album 'The Beauty in All' which I found to be reminiscent of Jhene Aiko's beats. I was mesmerised. Truth be told, I'm really feeling his recent work too. And guess what? He's coming to Auckland and Wellington this December :)

Music, when done right and when it fits, can move, uplift and inspire you.

Moral of the story?

Inspiration: Let it come naturally or seek it, but most of all, be open to it.

Inspiration. Sometimes serendipity but always an odyssey. 

Faith Friday: Dear Anonymous

Friday, October 09, 2015


Recently, an anonymous Australian Muslim woman commented on a few of my blog posts. I was particularly touched by what she said on my post entitled 'The Struggling Muslim: Hijab and Modernity', not because she said kind things about me but because she reached out to me with sincerity. She shared her struggle with me and it was something I could really relate to.

It's been a while since I wrote a 'Faith Friday' post. I have had my apprehensions on writing about Islam in the last one year or so because I don't feel I have the authority to write publicly about something as beautiful and nuanced (and to some extent, contentious too) as the Islamic faith. But even as a flawed Muslim I still love discussing about Islam and asking Muslims how they reconcile their faith with culture or with their line of work. Contemplating and discussing about Islam brings me peace and as much as the stubborn side of me tries to argue against it at times I have found this ayah to be true: "... truly it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find peace" (13:28).

Not too long ago, I received a comment that bothered me.

Critiquing Freedom and Islam in Malaysia

Monday, October 05, 2015



Today The Malay Mail Online published an article called 'For some Muslims, life in Malaysia is like living under a microscope'. As one of the people interviewed for the article I could tell from the journalist's questions that she was going to frame this issue in a manner that could make Malaysia sound like a difficult and intolerant country for some Muslims to live in. In fact, one of the reasons why I was selected as an interviewee is due to my status as a Malaysian Muslim who is living abroad. There is truth in the perception that Malaysia can be a restrictive country. I admit I often disagree with the way a number of Malaysian politicians or leaders tackle certain religious issues based on what I understand of Islam.

I also don't always agree with the news framing of some articles by The Malay Mail but I'm usually up for a challenge and I was happy to answer the questions. I saw it as a chance to share my perspective with others, including the journalist herself, who may have strong beliefs about Islam based on the very extreme and/or controversial cases involving Shariah law in Malaysia.

28: A Most Meaningful Birthday

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Birthday girl.

“Richness is not in having many possessions. Rather, true richness is the richness of the soul.” - Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him

I turned 28 on the 8th of September (الحَمْد لله). I had a very meaningful birthday because I celebrated differently this year. Let me explain. One of the perks of being a last-born is that your family often spoils you with a lot of love and attention. As a child, getting what you want all the time, especially on your birthday, feels good but as an adult, it doesn't satisfy or pacify the soul as much.

It doesn't help that there is an unnecessary amount of pressure for people to feel happy on their birthday. However, I did think about what would make me genuinely happy on my birthday. Apart from having dinner with my closest friends in Wellington, the answer that came to mind was: seeing the people I love and care about being happy. I think we need to stop teaching ourselves to be so darn narcissistic on our birthday. There's a fine line between being happy and grateful for your existence and trying to convince yourself that you're happy and grateful for your existence. Know what I'm sayin'? Yeah, you know what I'm sayin'.

So I came up with a plan.

1 Day to 28: Moment of Honesty

Monday, September 07, 2015


They ask me, "Are you looking for love?",
                        I tell them, "I am love." 
And that is the story of how I found everything I ever needed,
           Within myself. 
                                                         - shaelaiza


This blog post series was inspired by Mark Gonzales (@ideasbygonzales) of wagebeauty.com who started his 40th birthday countdown by sharing a photo blog of reflections on his Instagram account last week. I view Gonzales as a kindred spirit and my brother in faith whose work not only compels me to be myself but to be the best version of myself.

2 Days to 28: The Good in Goodbye

Sunday, September 06, 2015


I was told my late father was a temperamental man in his younger days. But this all changed when I was born. He became very subdued and patient. So much so, in my 19 years of living with him I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen him being very angry. I guess it's true, love conquers all. Thanks for teaching me that, Abah

They say it's important to look for the silver lining when a tragedy happens. Losing my Dad to a sudden death was probably the second best thing that happened to me. (The first being given the most loving and protective parents any child could ask for, of course.)

How could losing one of two most important people in my life be a good thing? 

5 Days to 28: My Happy Place

Friday, September 04, 2015


"Some cities you go to because you want to; some cities you go to because they want you to." - Elif Shafak

I got the idea for this post from the lovely Sarina. If you ask me where 'home' is I couldn't really tell you. Unless I'm up for a huge debate about the definition of 'home' and 'identity' I would usually say Malaysia. However, the first thing that pops into my mind when I think of my 'happy place' is Turkey. And then, the beach :) Honestly, just thinking about Turkey is my 'happy place' in my mind.

There is something about Istanbul and Cappadocia that really speaks to my heart and soul. It's the perfect blend of tradition and modernity, Asia and Europe, and tranquility and brokenness. I had never experienced love at first sight until I stepped foot in these cities last year. I said to myself, "This is it. There are no words just 'feels'. I'm done. My heart feels at home." It's not because I have a romanticised idea of Turkey. Not at all. I just love it despite its downfalls (every country has its ups and downs). And Turkish food, oh my. No offence to any Arabs but it's ten times better than Arabic food which is one of my favourite types of cuisines.

A year later and I still feel the same way about Turkey. Just thinking about it and looking at the photos from our trip puts the biggest smile on my face. It's funny how we were actually meant to go to Spain but due to a last minute change of plans we ended up in Turkey. This experience taught me that His plans are always better than ours. I had no idea I would be this smitten. What can I say? It was simply meant to be and I couldn't be more grateful (الحَمْد لله). 

"Spiritual experiences are almost always surprises so that the slaves do not lay claim to them due to their own preparations." - Ibn Ata'illah al-Iskandari (r.a.)

Check out my Turkish holiday blog series to understand why I'm completely enamoured:
Unforgettable Turkey: Sultanahmet, Istanbul
Unforgettable Turkey: Dolmabahçe Palace and Bosphorus Cruise, Istanbul
Unforgettable Turkey: Of Cave Hotels and Cave Churches, Cappadocia
Unforgettable Turkey: Dancing Dervishes and Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia


This blog post series was inspired by Mark Gonzales (@ideasbygonzales) of wagebeauty.com who started his 40th birthday countdown by sharing a photo blog of reflections on his Instagram account last week. I view Gonzales as a kindred spirit and my brother in faith whose work not only compels me to be myself but to be the best version of myself.

6 Days to 28: Please Don't Call Me Beautiful

Thursday, September 03, 2015


The truth is, I don't have anything against being called beautiful because I know there is a difference between being perceived as beautiful and actually being beautiful. But what I do hope for myself, my friends and loved ones, and for my daughter too should I ever have one, is for people to learn to humanise young girls and women. There's no denying it - there is a certain shallowness and double-standard in our society when it comes to women, beauty and the process of growing older. I'm not one to shame women for wanting to look good and presentable because I'm into fashion and beauty trends myself but I know there is far too much focus on how women look, or rather how women should look.

7 Days to 28: Roots

Wednesday, September 02, 2015


Every time I look at this picture of my parents my heart expands because this was the beginning of their journey as a married couple. Being a third-culture kid I have questioned my sense of identity many times but when I think of my parents I realise what truly matters at the end of the day are the virtues and values they have passed down to my siblings and I.

Culture can be a beautiful thing but it's always evolving and moving in current with societal trends. That's why we need to be vigilant by adopting the good and leaving the bad aspects of culture. When I was in Malaysia I found it very hard to understand the behaviour of some Malaysians and Malays. I struggled a lot with people of bad adab (etiquette) and poor akhlaq (character) in Malaysia. So much so, almost in desperation I asked a religious scholar, "I really want to learn [how to have] good akhlaq because I don't think I will learn it here and I don't want to become like the people here. Should I go to Tarim?". I suggested Tarim because that's where my paternal ancestors are from. I was taken aback by his response: "There are good and bad people everywhere. Go to Tarim for ziyarah (a visit out of veneration) and to give sadaqah (charity) because the people there are very poor. But to learn good akhlaq, stay at home. Learn from home."

8 Days to 28: Chasing Life

Tuesday, September 01, 2015


8 days until I celebrate the 28th anniversary of the day I was born. I feel good about 28. I feel I'm becoming more humane, responsible and conscientious. In ways unlike before, I'm ready to love and commit to myself, to love Him and to love others. So here goes 8 days of sharing lessons learned, anecdotes never revealed before (not in this space, at least) and artefacts or pieces that have inspired and uplifted me recently and/or over the years. 

Bismillah. 

Losing Faith, Finding God

Sunday, August 30, 2015

source: Life of My Heart

If you must know something about me it is that I often have trouble when it comes to putting my feelings into words. The fact that I have a blog, and one with many readers might I add, surprises me!  However, what I've noticed is that when I write from my heart my thoughts flow quite nicely and people tend to respond positively to them (for the most part). That has been my main purpose for writing and sharing my stories with you and it took me a while to realise this: I really want others to benefit from my existence instead of me always wanting to benefit from others. The girl you see today is far from perfect as a human being and a Muslim but she's happy and contented with everything that has happened and will happen, and most of all, she's committed to herself. (Read on to find out what I mean by this.)

#SyawalSwag: Hari Raya / Eid 2015 OOTD Shots

Monday, July 20, 2015

Syawal Day One

Yes, I know I've been MIA a lot this year. I can't really help it when I'm working and writing my thesis at the same time but here's a quick post to wish all my Muslim readers Eid Mubarak and Selamat Hari Raya Maaf Zahir dan Batin. Taqaballahu minna wa minkum

I haven't written a fashion post in a while so when http://www.raishma.co.uk asked me to do an Eid post, I thought, "Why not?". I wish I could have featured one of their stunning dresses! I especially love this one

Anyway, here are the outfits I donned for Eid celebrations this year. I think simplicity goes a long way, don't you agree?

A Letter to Farah Ann Abdul Hadi

Sunday, June 14, 2015


Dear Farah Ann, 

First and foremost, let me congratulate you on winning a gold medal at the 2015 South East Asian Games. I admire you for having the determination, discipline and dedication to become a world-class gymnast. As a fellow Malaysian, I am proud of you because I know not anyone can do what you have just achieved. 

Secondly, I would like to apologise on behalf of your nay-sayers and harsh critics. While I would not encourage a woman to dress immodestly in public I would also never condone the way some people have spoken about you. Why? Because being a woman myself, I understand what it must be like to be in your position. I myself have only made the decision to don the hijab around five years ago. However, I know for a fact that just because I wear the hijab it doesn't make me a better person than you or any other woman who chooses not to wear it. The hijab may be a symbol of piety for some women but for an ordinary woman like myself who has many shortcomings, the hijab is an expression of faith and a manifestation of my desire to become closer to my Creator by trying to embody humility. It is by no means a representation of my level of piety which is only for God to judge.

Rumi On a Saturday Morning

Saturday, May 02, 2015



"Forget the world, and so command the world. 
Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. 
Help someone's soul heal.
Walk out of your house like a shepherd." — Rumi 


The more you try to please the people of this world - by blindly following them or ignoring your fitrah, instincts and intuition - the more troubling this world becomes to you. The moment you decide to be your own person with the intention of spreading good on this Earth and seek truth and happiness from the Source of all things pure, that's when the world starts to serve you in your journey towards Him.

Live From The Heart

Sunday, April 19, 2015

My heart expands when I travel and every time I remind myself to embrace life's experiences - both good and bad.

"God observes the hearts for they are the containers of His most precious jewels and treasure stores of the true knowledge of Him." — Al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi

It has been a tough week. A few days ago, I found out one of my friends had passed away after taking her own life. The last time we saw each other was in 2011 and we had grown apart due to various reasons but she never stopped being kind and supportive to me. I felt guilty, angry, regretful and confused. I also felt broken, messed up and alone. But even though my heart still aches today, I now feel a strong urge to create beauty in the world in memory of Elizabeth, a beautiful young soul who deserved so much more. I'm not ready to write about my friendship with her just yet but I will when the time is right. Her existence mattered to me and sadly, I never told her that. But I want the memory of her vibrant personality to live on. Elizabeth has inspired me to continue making and sharing beauty in the world and to question the meaning of my own existence. In light of that, I'd like to share a piece of writing that really spoke to me and my struggles. It's an article entitled 'Live from the heart: cultivate your powers and unleash your whole person' by Tim Rayner. The full article can be read here

Biographers have struggled for centuries to account for the source of Leonardo’s genius. Our question, however, is not what made Leonardo so talented, but how he was able to cultivate such a range of talents. How was Leonardo able to cultivate such a wealth of powers, and by cultivating his powers, become everything that he was capable of being?

There is no doubting the fecundity of Leonardo’s gifts. Our question is: what made it possible for him to realize these gifts, thereby to unleash his whole person?

Understanding 'Islam' and 'Terrorism' Through the Lens of Post-Orientalism

Wednesday, February 18, 2015



As a Muslim I have never been more confused about the role Muslims play in violence and terror in the context of the 21st Century. "Who is a Muslim?" is a question I am sure many have pondered on, even Muslims, dare I say. I am tired of trying to demonstrate that ISIS' ideology is not based on the Islamic faith that I have embraced and cherished all these years. Therefore, when I came across this passage from Post-Orientalism: Knowledge and Power in the Time of Terror I could not help but feel the need to share it because there are points in there that deserve thought and consideration.

As a Muslim who has absolutely nothing to do with the acts of violence done by other Muslims I feel disparaged by those who continue to demand the need for collective Muslim guilt. Why must I feel ashamed of something I did not do nor support? Why must another Muslim's definition of Islam have a debilitating impact on my life? Why must I live in fear of being inadequate simply because Western media have assumed authority over the representation of what constitutes Islam and Muslims? Why must I be subjected to this pressure and injustice?

"What we call 'Islam' is the historical outcome of a colonially ravaged people in search of an ideology of resistance. From the scattered memories of their ancestral faith Muslims have sought to narrate an ideology of resistance and then called it 'Islam'. We cannot, as does Mr. Fukuyama, neglect the last two hundred years of imperialism and the havoc it has wrought on Muslims and then make a transcontinental leap that 'Islam' is this, that, or the other thing. 
'Islam' is nothing except that which Muslims have actively imagined and institutionalised it to be. And Muslims have actively imagined and institutionalised their faith over the last two centuries under very specific historical circumstances, of which Fukuyama is either frightfully ignorant or deliberately dismissive. Islam has been an ideology of resistance as has socialism and nationalism or any number of its amalgamated ventures. Constitutional to that resistance has been the material basis of opposing tyranny at home and imperialism from abroad. 
It was simply a joke, had it not been so pathologically dangerous, to consider Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait as an "Islamic" movement. The Shi'i population of southern Iraq, the Kurdish population of the northern Iraq, and the entire Muslim population of Iran have lot to say to Fukuyama about the 'Islamic' incentives of Saddam Hussein." (Post-Orientalism: Knowledge and Power in the Time of Terror, Hamid Dabashi, 2009, pg. 234- 235)

Updates:
21/2/2015: I recently came across ISIS Isn't the Real Enemy. The "Game of Thrones" Medieval Mindset That Birthed It Is by Amir Ahmad Nasr. In my opinion, it's a worthwhile read.

14/11/2015: We do need a religious renewal, one that consists of pragmatic solutions and individual and collective determination to evaluate and address the threat of extremism. Here's an excerpt from another relevant article: "In the West, most people now think of ISIL when they hear “caliphate.” In this current, radicalized iteration, the phrase has come to suggest theocratic imperialism; an aggressive, ideological and murderous project. Yet the primary role of a caliphate in the Qur’an is put forth in a very, very different context. And early Muslims created their own caliphate to meet their circumstances. If modern Muslims want to be faithful to that tradition, they can best do so by showing some ingenuity. There has never been a more urgent need for religious renewal." (Only a real Islamic caliphate can stand up to the sham of ISIL by Haroon Moghul)

Moving Forward: Honouring the Lives of Deah Barakat & Yusor & Razan Abu Salha

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Our three winners: Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha and Razan Abu Salha.

Peace be upon you.

Many of you would have heard about the brutal murder of three outstanding individuals in Chapel Hill, North Carolina today. The late Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu Salha and her sister Razan Abu Salha (may God bless their souls) were killed mercilessly by Craig Stephen Hicks who turned himself in to the police and claimed he committed the crime due to a parking dispute. Given what Yusor's best friend, Amira, shared about her experience with Craig Hicks here I have no doubt he is a mentally and emotionally unstable man who deeply resented Muslims, not that the state of his mental health justifies what he did at all. Watching the family's media statement was absolutely heartbreaking. A lot of speculations are floating on social media and people want answers. Perhaps because emotions are high right now, which is understandable considering the socio-political climate in America (and the West, in general, at the moment). I believe many people can relate to Deah, Yusor and Razan because like many of us they were just living their lives as young and ambitious members of their community.

Hence, we need to ask ourselves, "What would Deah, Yusor and Razan do if they were in our shoes right now?"


Life in Wellington, So Far

Sunday, February 08, 2015


"You seem more you there. Is that strange to say? You seem happy," Feda wrote.

It's funny how people notice these things but she's right. I am happy and I do feel more like myself here. Perhaps people who have experienced living in two different countries (or even cities and homes) will understand how an environment can make a huge impact on a person's state of mind. Wellington is the best city I've lived in so far, apart from Kuala Lumpur, because that is my hometown after all. I know I've only been here for over two months but it feels right, you know?

If you follow me on Instagram you would have probably seen the array of photos I've posted. I realise I haven't posted many photos on my blog so here I am to share a few pictures depicting my life in Wellington so far.

2015: A YEAR OF LOVE, LIGHT & HEALING

Sunday, January 04, 2015

"Love & Light", Petone, Wellington 

“Both light and shadow are the dance of Love.
Love has no cause, it is the astrolabe of God's secrets.
Lover and loving are inseparable and timeless.
Although I may try to describe love, when I experience it, I am speechless.
Although I may try to write about love, I am rendered helpless.
My pen breaks, and the paper slips away at the ineffable place where lover loving and loved are one.
Every moment is made glorious by the light of Love.” ― Rumi


It feels like it wasn't too long when I wrote Dear 2014. It's almost unbelievable but here we are in the first month of 2015. SubhanaAllah walhamdulillah. 2014 was one of the most challenging years for myself and the people of my home country, Malaysia. But Allah (swt) told us to be patient in times of trial and tribulation and I'd like to think we are continuously doing our best to remain steadfast and calm through it all. Patience always pays off. Everything I did in the last 2 years, I did as part of my plan to return to New Zealand and increase my knowledge. I envisioned my dreams coming to life and with much determination and perseverance He fulfilled my prayers, alhamdulillah! 2014 was not easy but it was amazing in many ways, nonetheless. Having said that, I believe 2015 will be a year of healing for me. It's time to heal from the things that have weighed heavy on my heart during my years in Malaysia. But I trust they were all part of my journey to become a better and wiser person. To reiterate what Rumi said, "Both light and shadow are the dance of Love."