Taking Love to New Heights in Langkawi

Saturday, November 11, 2017

In awe of nature.
(Top: Poplook, Backpack: Gaston Luga - 25% off everything from 11 - 12 November 2017!)

I have always sought and created adventure in my life. Maybe it was all those Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl books I read as a little girl that made me like the feeling of wonder and a sense of triumph after overcoming a challenge (don't all adventures somehow include a challenge of some sort?). As an adult, I can see the wisdom in a child's love for play and adventure - they keep things in perspective. When I face something difficult I tell myself it's part of an adventure; meaning the tough part will be over eventually and at the end I will learn from the experience and victoriously rise above 💪😄 That's exactly how I coped during difficult days when I was on my Hajj pilgrimage. By the way, I promise a post about my recent Hajj trip is coming up!

I don't know if I've portrayed it enough on my blog but Malaysia is a tropical paradise and there are plenty of places and opportunities for adventure here. Langkawi has been one of my favourite holiday destinations in the last few years and to my surprise I haven't blogged about Langkawi at all. However, a very recent and memorable trip has changed that. 

Let's say it involves flying and I have photos and a video to prove it!

Trust the Timing of Your Life: A Journey Through New Zealand

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Timing is everything. Anyone who tells you otherwise has not met a person who spoke to their heart or come across a book or film that touched the depths of their soul. A little dramatic, I know, but it's the truth. A person who doesn't see grace in the timing of pivotal moments in their life has probably never realised their prayers have been answered in the most subtle and serendipitous of ways. Life is far from a bed of roses and someone somewhere will always act selfishly and unjustly, but should that be the only focus in our lives? We have to see things as they are, not worse than they are. Why not consider the good that might come from an unpleasant or unfair situation and do something constructive about it?

As I prepare to leave for the Hajj pilgrimage tomorrow I feel somewhat nostalgic and compelled to dedicate a post to Aotearoa. It is said people who are preparing for Hajj are also preparing for death. While the literal meaning of death is a possibility when we go for Hajj due to the sheer number of pilgrims, I think it is also symbolic of the death of the ego and the old self. When one performs the Hajj the hope is that they will go through a spiritual rebirth. A few months ago I wasn't sure if I'd be performing Hajj anytime soon but I trust the timing of my life. Nothing is a coincidence.

If I were to write my absolute final post, I want it to be about New Zealand for it has taught me much about God, life and humanity. It is/was a place of spiritual rebirth for me. I'd like to honour the beautiful Māori culture by sharing whakataukī (Māori proverbs) as captions for photos taken from a recent trip there.

Here's your occasional reminder from me: the world is a beautiful place.

Faith Friday: Divine Love or Self-Love?

Friday, May 12, 2017

"When we feed and support our own happiness, we are nourishing our ability to love. That’s why to love means to learn the art of nourishing our happiness." - Thich Nhat Hanh

What if I told you the only thing standing between you and happiness is self-love? "What about love and money?" you ask. Well... yes, they do help us create a fulfilling life but the key to having them is self-love.

What is self-love? 

The term 'self-love' initially made me uncomfortable but perhaps that was a sign that I didn't understand what it means to love myself. I associated self-love with selfishness, conceit, arrogance and complacency, things I strive to avoid and eliminate from my state of being. I used to think self-love was antithetical to Islam and the act of seeking divine love because it's a faith that is characterised by modesty, self-denial and humility, but I realised God said, "But those who committed misdeeds and then repented after them and believed - indeed your Lord, thereafter, is Forgiving and Merciful.... My Mercy encompasses all things" (Surah al-A'raf 153, 156). If God is Merciful towards us, we should be merciful towards ourselves too. We can still be kind to ourselves while being faithful, modest and humble. It's time to understand the differences between humility and self-deprecation and compassion and complacency. It's time we embrace and understand our humanness.

Today, I define self-love as self-compassion - the art of being kind to one self. It's simple but revolutionary because it involves a paradigm shift. 

Being kind to yourself is more than about being nice to yourself. Kindness entails honesty, authenticity, forgiveness, sincerity, gentleness and having good intentions. When someone is compassionate,  thoughtful, wants the best for us, sees the good and value in us and withholds judgment, they're being kind. What if we treated ourselves this way?

Our lack of compassion for ourselves and for others is the reason why the words uttered by Prophet Yunus remain a powerful supplication today: "There is no deity but You. Glory be to You! Verily, I have been among the wrongdoers/oppressors" (Surah Anbiya, 87). We don't have to choose between divine love and self-love because they are interdependent and interconnected. We oppress ourselves and others when we lack self-love. Why are we unkind to ourselves when everything God decrees or allows is out of His Wisdom and Mercy? Even when He allows us to go through hardships He is like a teacher who is giving us the lessons we need to succeed in life or a doctor who prescribes unpleasant tasting medicine for us to consume until we are better. The unpleasantness is only temporary. Who knows what great blessing you will receive in the future because of what you patiently endure today or because of what you've learned from your trials and hardships?

Is Sexual Harassment Real?: Victim vs. Victim Mentality

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Have you ever felt disempowered or discriminated because of your gender (think 'gender pay gap') or the intersectionality of your gender, sexuality, race and faith? Do you know what it feels like to have people dismiss your concerns and be told that looking attractive is the reason people of the opposite gender sexually harass or assault you?

Welcome to the world of women and women of colour. Don't get me wrong - I love being a woman and embracing my strengths as a woman but I won't pretend it's easy even though I know some of us make it look effortless. The art of being a woman in the 21st century consists of an overwhelming amount of pressure to have it all while facing the challenges of living in a world where masculinity and whiteness are set as the standard. It took me years to understand that sexual harassment or assault is not about desirability but power, control and a sense of self-entitlement. Yes, sexual harassment is real and no, wearing the hijab doesn't prevent it. It's the gender dynamics in our societies and cultures that makes the mistreatment of women pervasive or not.

Faith Friday: Silence: A Response to Today's Chaos and Disillusionment

Friday, March 10, 2017

"Everyone needs to find a spiritual practice that nourishes our inner garden. Silence is one of the best tools we have." 

In a world where social media are traps and echo chambers, hyper-partisan opinions dominate media discourse and lies are referred to as 'alternative facts' to serve state propaganda I have come to value silence.

The challenge today is to not become cynical and to preserve our humanness. To find our voice and not become drowned by other voices as we 'make space for the other'. To be empowered and to empower each other. To listen actively and compassionately instead of doing it to compete or debate. To read between the lines and see the how brokenness is at the core of many hurt and angry individuals. To bring light where there is darkness and that always begins with taking care of our inner light first.

"All too often people impose their own experience and beliefs on acquaintances and events, making hurtful, inaccurate and dismissive snap judgements, not only about individuals but about whole cultures." — Karen Armstrong on why we should 'make space for the other', Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life

There isn't only one way to be strong but it's important to avoid despair, disillusionment and participating in harmful discourse by separating yourself from the chaos when you need to. Do we live in a depressing world or is the news simply depressing? One of the reasons I'm passionate about media and communications is because I see the power of media in our lives. They can inform us, emotionally move us, persuade us to desire goods and lifestyles and also distract us from reality/truth.

How I Learned to Love Again: The Forty Rules of Love

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My friend Chloe lent me a wonderful book called The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi written by Elif Shafak. Jalaludin Rumi has increasingly become one of my go-to sources of inspiration over the last few years and this has been particularly uplifting because I have struggled with some Muslims who can be harsh and sanctimonious. Additionally, as a Muslim woman I'm often exposed to personal attacks about my faith by people who don't understand it or even know who I am. It is a challenge to balance or to have harmony in my desire to have compassion for myself and for those who are ignorant, misinformed or sometimes downright judgemental. This book has helped me to revive my love for life, my faith and myself and I am here to share how it helped me to love again. Once you have tasted the sweetness of this love it is easier for kindness and compassion for oneself and others to ensue.

In The Forty Rules of Love, we are introduced to two narratives that have been juxtaposed to concurrently unfold into one enlightening and thought-provoking book in which forty inspiring rules of love are embedded for the reader to look forward to with the turn of every page. One story is about Ella, a Martha Stewart-like middle-aged Jewish woman who finds herself in a lifeless and loveless marriage and yearned to find her identity again in 2008 through a newly acquired job as a book script editor.

The more substantial story within the book is one about the life of Mawlana Jalaludin Rumi, a prominent 13th Century Islamic jurist and theologian who resided in Konya, Anatolia which is now known as Turkey and how he met his companion and soulmate, Shams Tabrizi, a travelling dervish, poet and philosopher from Tabriz in modern-day Iran. The Forty Rules of Love also uncovers how Ella comes across a man who caught her interest and made her wonder if he was her soulmate or not. Despite being two different stories set centuries apart they intertwine beautifully to show us that opposites have a way of revealing things that we may not have been able to see when they stand on their own.

7 Ways to Survive 2017

Sunday, January 01, 2017

New Year affirmation by Hana @frizzkidart

Happy New Year! Congratulations on making it to 2017. The past twelve months have not been easy - I feel you. But hey, we made it this far for a reason and I know we'll go even further if we invest our energy towards love, positivity and productivity. Forget about surviving 2017, let's thrive in 2017. I have a few ideas on how we can do this.

1. Bloom where you are planted and stop believing you're not powerful enough.
One of my favourite quotes by Steve Jobs is this one: "The people who crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do." When I look at the lives and personalities of successful individuals such as Jobs they all seem to have one thing in common: they are or were 'ordinary' people with extraordinary belief(s), drive and intentions.

Your mind is not only your greatest ally or enemy but it is also a 'training ground'. You must train it to be resilient by nourishing it with thoughts that foster confidence and a sense of purpose (e.g. "I am a unique gift to this world and I delight in sharing this gift."). Everyone has strengths to harness and weaknesses to work on. You have to believe that growth and learning is possible and part of life. We all have something beneficial to contribute in any situation or organisation.

Your unique gift, talents or skills + the power of the ripple effect = proof one person can make a difference

Pro-tip: Reading positive affirmations everyday is a great way to train your mind to be, well, more positive (sorry to be Captain Obvious here). I like these affirmations by Sarah Petruno but you can always personalise them to suit your needs. Gold Womyn makes really pretty ones too.