Monday, February 27, 2012

Second Hand Smoke

Assalamualaikum WRT WBT

I havent been writing for a while, and people have been repeatedly asking me when my next post will be. Believe me when I say, I am the harshest person when it comes to pushing myself to update my blog. Hehe. Ofkos there will be reasons on why updates are a little slow sometimes, so patience my fellow readers, patience. Good things come to those who are religiously patient :)

This incident happened yesterday. I was with my girl friends, on our way back from organising a program. We decided to stop by an infamous ABC stall just to treat ourselves after a rigorous 2-day of emotional, physical and mental handling of humans. We were dead tired, but before crashing on our beds to let out our pure exhaustion, treating ourselves with some fun times with friends seemed like a joyously awesome idea.

So there we were, looking for the ABC stall. To my international readers, ABC stands for Air Batu Campur (which is a special ice desert). None of us knew which stall it was, so we asked around. The brother answered us "Oh, ABC ke. Ha, pegi kat belakang tu, kalau nampak orang tengah beratur panjaaaaaaang tu, tu la die". Translation: "Oh, ABC. Go at the back there, if you see a looooooonng line of people queuing up, that's the stall".

Alhamdulillah, we found 2 tables that could fit all 7 of us, right behind the famous ABC stall. Placed our orders and waited as we watched in amazement at the line that didnt thin out as the minutes passed. We also watched how the stall-men expertly made the desserts and stacked them real high. I regret not taking any pictures of this eye popping scene.

Anyway, as we were waiting for our treats, we noticed this foul smell. Cigarette smoke! Ugh. I HATE cigarette smoke. So I looked around to see where the smoke was coming from. There I saw 4 youngsters (not THAT young, maybe my age), smoking away at the table right next to us. So as my usual practice, I cover my nose with my hand. One, as a sign of protest since smoking is prohibited at eating places anyway. Two, because second hand smoke is much WORST than actually smoking, so I dont want to get sick just bcoz some idiot is being selfish by smoking in public.

As me and my friend (who was closer to the next table) did this, I saw from the corner of my eye what happened next. Apparently they saw our silent protesting gesture, and I guess they were offended by it. God knows why, since they were the ones doing something wrong.

So, what they did next was unbelievable and immature. All 4 of them sucked in their cigarettes real deep and started blowing their smoke PURPOSELY at our table. The youngster who had his back to me blew his smoke over his shoulder! At first I was speechless. What?!

Inside, I was brewing. How dare they! So when they repeated the same gesture a second time, I faced them, put on my garang face and said "Kalau nak hembus, boleh tak hembus ke SANA?" (translation: "if you want to blow, can you please blow at THAT side?") with ofkos a strong and purposeful voice that kinda conveyed "dont you dare mess with me", along with my hands showing to the place where there was absolutely no one at the other side of the table.

Each face conveyed shock at my outright and firm 'request', and straight away turned their heads back from our table. Ya Allah! What kind of attitude is this?

From where I stand, did they expect that a bunch of long scarfed, feminine looking group of girls wouldn't stand up when they are faced with rude, obnoxious and totally pig headed attitude? Did they think we would just keep on silently protesting when we are faced with ill behaved guys who are actually 'killing' us? Did they think we wouldnt take action?

Well, weren't you shocked at our counter attack. I guess the thing that shocked them most was the fact that we voiced out our dislike with what they did right on.

My late grandfather got a lot of things due to his early years of smoking. COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) bcos of Bronchitis and Emphysema. The experience of seeing him suffer, seeing how hard it was for him to breathe was heart breaking. I wouldnt want anyone to go thru that.

So when something like this happens, the selfish attitude of smokers who dont have even an ounce of respect to those around them, then ofkos I will have my defense up, ofkos I will stand up for my rights as a human being.

If YOU want to kill yourself, then by all means, go ahead and do it. But to drag other people around you who actually want to make good use of the time Allah has given them on this earth, that is mean and selfish and utterly over the top. Have some respect for others! Go smoke and kill yourself in a small little corner, out of other people's way. If someone gets lung cancer or any other lung related illness bcoz of you, then in youmul akhirah, you have a lot of things to answer to. Take my word for it.

Islam teaches us to care for ourselves.

And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining]. And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good (Al-Baqarah:195)

Smoking is Haram in Islam bcoz it is considered putting yourself in the road to destruction. The fatwa has been said, has been announced, and yet these selfish people are still out there, choosing to ignore this hukum.

People in general have the right to say they do not like or even respect those who smoke. So, no need to be defensive since its wrong anyway. We have the right to protest and voice out our opinion, since we are talking about our own life, we are defending our health.

So to those who are smokers, please please please stop. Its for your own good. Don't only start regretting when you come to the point where as a result of your stupid days of smoking, you'll have a hard time even breathing. When that time comes, you can't take back those immature days anymore. It'll be too late.

Change from now.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Looking in the Review Mirror of Life

Assalamualaikum WRT WBT

In the wee hours of the morning, I find myself sitting in front of the laptop. I can't seem to be able to sleep. So, with the intent of not disturbing my sleeping sister, I decided to come sit downstairs in the living room.

After tossing and turning in bed, Im try to crack my head around what exactly is bothering me, what is it that's making me unable to get my rest.

It's currently 2a.m. but I have still yet to figure this out. So I'm trying to blog. You never know what might come out into the page once the flow of words start forming in your head and is projected by your fingers tapping away.

I admit that sometimes, before a post, I dont have an idea or a topic in mind. Sometimes, it just comes to me as the time passes. And suddenly, I find that I have written more than a few paragraphs.

It is unbelievable at how much we can do in this world when we decide to do it. Priority wise, I am still working on what to do first and what to put aside for a later date. With the overwhelming responsibilities one has to do in order to achieve happiness in life and the hereafter, we tend to overlook at what is really important.

One of the things I've been hearing a lot these couple of weeks is "You can't always do the things you like. You have to do the things that should be done."

Learning to understand and follow thru is much harder than you think. Ofkos we will excel and enjoy the things we like to do. Ofkos we'll find ourselves willing to sacrifice a lot more when we know that in the end, we will be more satisfied with the end results.

BUT, it is a crime to simply put aside the tasks and responsibilities that we HAVE to do just because its hard and requires much more thinking and sacrificing.

I think this is what has me up at this time of night.

Ideally, it is important and routine for the nights to be a time to wind down and take a break from life. But sometimes, life surprises you with emotions that will require self reflection and muhasabah. Sometimes it is important to stop and take a look behind you to see what's been going on, what are the things you have done wrong and what should be improved from this moment on. Sometimes, all you have to do to be a better person is look in the review mirror to see where you've been and how have you been handling life.

Have you ever noticed how the sky looks more beautiful in your side mirror? Why don't you try it some time. While driving to work, driving to your destination, look into your side mirror and look at the sky. Its so much bluer, so much nicer, so much more beautiful.

You will find yourself surprised and try to look at the sky with your own eyes. Disappointingly, you will find that the reflection you see in the mirror is not as it is in real life. I guess what Im trying to say is, sometimes we think that the life we have lead is peaches and oranges. That what we have done is all good. But in reality, it isn't as perfect as we thought it was. Flaws are everywhere and the only way we'll be able to see it is to face reality even though it might be disappointing.

Some people think that my life is all smiles and all laughter. I know I try to project that sometimes. Mainly because I don't want to influence a situation with the emotions Im experiencing at a particular moment. Why ruin someone's happy day with your whining and a face that is equivalent with a dry prune?

But a reminder to all. Everyone is human. Sometimes we screw up. Sometimes that's how Allah makes us learn. I am no exception.

So I apologise to those I might have hurt in the past. People change as time goes by. During that time, I might have just been naive and ignorant of how to handle my emotions. People and animals have one thing in common that I fear; we are all unpredictable.

My advice to all: Be careful on how you tread on life. We only live once. Make sure you use every potential, every sacrifice to make good in the world. For making a difference that brings good will not only benefit the ummah as a whole, but also your own self. Make sure the sacrifices you make will be counted by Allah on the day of Judgement.

Don't do silly things that you will regret in the end.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Fear of Intelligence

Assalamualaikum WRT WBT

I guess the time has come for another controversial post.

During high school, I was not among those who excelled. I was sort of the low profile girl. People knew me more as "anak cikgu" than actually knowing my name. Although I was in the science class (which was the "it" thing during that time), and although my classmates were those who were known for their crazily excellent results, I was sort of the sore thumb in the class. Maybe my former classmates who read this will disagree, but ofkos that was how I felt.

I sucked at my science subjects big time. I seriously disliked physics and chemistry. To me, none of it made any sense! Another subject that was not in my target list was Add Maths. OMG, I found it really really really hard. I couldnt catch up with what my teachers were trying to teach me. So in the end, I kinda just gave up. This ofkos meant that homework was out of the question. Ha ha. And failing Add Maths or Physics was a norm for me.

Yeah, I was like any normal teenager who didn't like doing her homework. Don't be so surprised :P

Being so, I didnt really enjoy my years in high school. I didn't excel in anything. Well, maybe just my relationship with the teachers, but other than that, I don't think anybody really remembers me. I bet if I find my juniors in FB and try to add them, some might actually not know who I am! Unless I say Im my mother's daughter. Hahha.

Another reason why I didn't like being in the spotlight in school was, there was this bad rumor of me being a tattle tale. Ye la, anak cikgu kan. Dahla close with the teachers, ofkos that rumor will go around the school. So because of that, I didnt really want to socialise that much. I tried, but I guess people feared me becos of this.

I've told this story about how I sucked in high school to some of my friends and majority of them don't believe me. They think Im just making it up. Haha. But that is the truth. And my SPM results was terrible for science class standards la.

If I tell my friends in Uni, they'll just laugh bcos they just can't believe the top student in our batch started off like that. Seriously, the person I am today and the girl I was in high school are two totally different people.

So when I furthered my studies, to make the story short, I excelled my uni years with rainbow colours all the way. I was also actively involved with the Student Council, I was regularly invited to give talks to the students, I was given the task of being an English tutor, I was also a Research Assistant at one time. I represented my Uni for marketing purposes in a magazine, was interviewed on TV and interviewed in the radio. My life was so full, it was overwhelming.

But this is when I started noticing something very peculiar.

When you as a girl start to excel, getting A's, getting the highest marks in a subject, getting awards and being put in the spotlight, this is when the guys start avoiding you like the plague.

Guys start feeling they are unworthy of you, they feel intimidated by you and start to avoid you at all costs (UNLESS they need your help).

I have written a few controversial posts in the past. So today I feel this urge to dare these guys who call themselves men. My question to you my brothers is: WHY are you afraid of 'intelligent' girls?

Seriously, did you really think guys would want to hang out with me? Did you think since I was popular, guys would line up to make me their girlfriend? Did you think they would try to talk to me just to have a conversation? NO.

If you look at the current situation today, the majority of students in the tertiary level are GIRLS. In a class of 50, the usual sight is only 20-30% of the class being males. In the degree level, this is the case. Im not even going to mention the post grad statistics. Because it's too sad.

But going a little down to the diploma level, all I can say is, ahaaa.. so this is where all of you are hiding. Don't get me wrong, I have NOTHING against people doing diploma. In fact, thats where I started too. From the bottom.

But the issue here is, once the diplomas are in their hands, these males no longer see the need to further their studies. Only a QUARTER of my batch during diploma continued on to degree. From degree, not even a handful of them are doing post grad studies.

I know that no one can force anyone to do things they don't want to do. No one can force an adult to go back to the books and exams once they see the money. I understand that part.

But WHY does this disinterest in getting higher education among the men, in the end, EFFECT the females who want to pursue their interest in knowledge. Just because men dont see the need to get all these qualifications, WHY do you judge the females who actually do? JUST because you are too lazy to go read books, to go thru the difficult tasks of exams, WHY do you condemn the females who are brave enough and strong enough to survive another round in this journey towards pursuing knowledge. You penalise us for it, you 'punish' us bcos of it.

Even if you think you don't do it, you still condemn us because of our education. The more a female is higher in her academic qualifications, the more men run away from them.

Why? Because they fear them, they dont want a wife who is higher than them. They dont want a wife who knows more than them, they dont want a wife who might KNOW how to argue a point.

As I see it, men who have degrees, when looking for a wife, they will always look at where they are in their academic level. If she has a degree, they'll look at what type of degree (comparing ofkos to them). If she has a diploma, then that would be awesome. SPM, might be even better since to the males, "I'll be able to teach her a LOT". Same with the diploma graduates, so on and so forth.

Then what of those who have masters? Who are doing their PhDs?

Are you saying, to get a good husband, we have to put aside our hunger for knowledge, for qualifications, our goal towards achieving a good and stable career?

I can guarantee that during the process of flipping thru eligible bachelorettes as candidates for their future wives, men can deny it as much as they want, but the thought of having a higher qualified wife will always be a no no.

BUT with the situation all around the world, with more educated females vs the males who think that getting higher education is such a hassle; where, I repeat, where is this phenomena going? The times have changed where the word sekufu now holds a very different meaning compared to the old days.

Now, no matter at what level any female is at, with the realisation of Islam throughout the world, with Islam becoming the 'it' thing now, the main thing females look for in a prospective husband is his religious knowledge. It is exactly as Rasulullah s.a.w said.

In the old days, yes. Maybe sekufu means the husbands should be superior in education, in money making, etc. But lets face it, with the world population having more educated females, how can education be one of the main issues to compare to?

But what I mean by change is, the meaning of superiority is Today, what females respect more is knowledge of Islam a male has. How many hadiths he knows, is he a hafiz, how well is his ilmu on this beautiful way of life, does he know how to speak Arabic? Is he an ahli masjid? Is he actively involved in spreading Islam? What are his practices in seeking Allah's rahmah?

All things related to the knowledge a male has on Islam is superior enough. Bcos, to me, my husband will be the one holding the responsibility of bringing the family to Jannah (our final goal and destination). So no matter how high or low his academic qualifications are, no matter how much money he makes, no matter how high or low his rank professionally, it is all mute when he is incapable of helping me achieve my goal and the goal of the family, which is to live in Paradise in the hereafter.

See what I mean?

I guess there might be some people who disagree with me. No worries. Everyone has their own opinion. Mine might also be a little bias. Since I am talking from the view point of a female. To me, an educated wife is an asset, not a burden, not something to be humiliated with. She will be responsible for your children, she will be the one yang mendidik anak-anak. How to didik with no knowledge?

So my brothers out there, set me straight if what I write here is wrong. Grow some courage and stand up for yourselves if this is not the truth.

For those who only just realised this, then my advice would be, open your eyes a little wider and forget your egos at certain times. The reason why females seems like the majority of the population isnt becos we are, its because you guys are invisible and dont see the need (or maybe are too afraid) to stand up and show yourselves.

Forgive me if this post is a little harsh. Im just disappointed in the male youths today. They are non-existent. Even if there are some, but its very few. Where are the Saidina Ali's of today? The Mus'ab bin Umair, the Khalid Al-Walid of todays younger generation?

Wake up and make difference in the world! Why can't there be more people like Aiman Azlan? (if you dont know who he is, you can always google him). Someone who makes a stand, helps in making the Islamic community a better community. Someone who is seen enthusiastic enough to help with the troubles of the Ummah.

And you ask me why Im not married yet? This is why.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Mutual Understandings

Assalamualaikum WRT WBT

Last Friday, like any other Friday, we had a small yet fun gathering of gals called Circle of Eiman. Basically, its an Usrah group that I have other than my usual Usrah. But this group consists of Sisters from around the world. Mostly international students in UTM.

These Friday gatherings (I've been to about 5 times), are always sessions where I find Allah opening my eyes a little wider than usual. He makes me see the beauty of Islam that is practiced all around the globe.

We have sisters mainly from Turkey, but there are a couple of sisters from Yemen, a sister from Somalia, one from Pakistan, two from Uygur and one from China. And ofkos, us girls from Malaysia :P

I have to admit that we (the ones from Malaysia) are just there to add flavour to the group. But again, it has been an enjoyable experience. Especially when talking about different cultures and sharing about Islam.

One of the things that really impresses me, is that the sisters from Turkey really really know their History. Especially when talking about the Uthman Empire. Well, it is to be expected since they held a huge role in it's history. But what made me so impressed was how enthusiastic the sister was.

I have to admit that I find it rather difficult to talk about Islam in English. Although I try to write, but speaking about it, expressing the teachings of Islam, explaining the meaning behind an ayat in the Quran with this western language makes me a little scared inside. Although I pride myself in expressing my FEELINGS so much better in English, it is a complete opposite when talking about this way of life.

Which is why these gatherings are so wonderful. I get to practice talking about Islam in English. We get to discuss and 'argue' and share.

Even though the knowledge we have been taught in school is very advanced, the ilmu we have to sponge in is vast and insyaAllah will stay with us in our life practices, but it was unfortunate for me that all these were in Malay. Which means, I only know the terms and words in Malay.

Reading English translations of the Quran, I find words that are way way out of my vocabulary. Truthfully, at first I found it difficult to understand. Maybe because my mind was only exposed to the Malay version, and conditioned to only understand ONE particular translation. Sometimes, when reading the Quran at COE, we make the other sisters read the translations in their own mother tongue. Just to expose everyone to different languages. Its really cool.

But having said that, I now fully grasp the meaning behind "Arabic the language of Paradise". EVEN when explaining and talking about Islam becomes a difficulty, no matter where we are from, each and everyone of our sisters in COE will use Arabic words when talking. And EVERYONE understands too. Isn't that just beautiful?

In school, one of my many difficult subject was indeed Arabic Language. If the teacher was considerate and sporting, then it would be fun. My favourite Arabic teacher was Ustazah Zuraidah Aman. She was the coolest because she will consider all types of students. I was one of the slow ones when it came to Arabic. Maybe because I didn't fully understand, mainly because I think my Arab teacher in primary school wasn't very good :P. BUT in Ustazah Zuraidah's class, I was able to get an A. An A ok. That for me is such a miracle. One of the things she taught me (which I practiced till I finished school) was NOT to memorise an essay for exams. Seriously, I never did. What I did before every exam was memorise different words that can be used rather than a whole essay. Because lets face it, that's what makes an essay good. Variety of words.

As a result of not enjoying the majority of years learning Arabic, I wasn't very good. I only understood simple simple words. I understand some words when reading the Quran, I sometimes get jiffs of words when I hear someone talking in Arabic (I get some words, and self-translate the whole sentence based on assumptions. Hahaha). But apart from that, I didnt pursue to improve my vocab, I didnt do any revision what so ever since finishing high school.

Which made me pleasantly surprised when I was pushed into a conversation with this Arab-speaking uncle a few days ago, and I was able to understand and reply! Its been 11 YEARS since I left school (man do I feel old). Anyway, its been more than 10 years since anyone has spoken Arabic with me. So I was seriously freaking out when this Pakcik tegur me.

I was minding my own business, browsing thru some Muslimah socks at a local souk, when I was asked "Kaifa Haluki?". Ofkos I still remember how to reply. Hehhe. So when the uncle heard me reply in Arab, he straight away asked questions one by one. Hehhehhehe again, I understood and replied. There were words that I forgot, so when he saw my face go all confused, he surprised ME by translating the words in Malay. Hahhahhhaha. But Alhamdulillah, I have not forgotten the basics. I need to revise, and learn back words I used to know.

Bila dah tua ni, baru I start to appreciate the beauty and importance of the Arabic Language. Oh how I wish I took my studies seriously. Hehe. One of my many dreams in life is to at least be able to converse in Arabic.  I need a good and patient teacher. Which is why, I adore Arab-talking guys. I find those who have such an ability to be so sexy and so attractive in my eyes. Which is why, I would just LOVE to have a husband who is fasih in Arabic.

If only I were worthy of such a man.

Taking the First Step

Assalamualaikum WRT WBT

Let me start this post with this ayat:

Allah says:
"For each one are successive [angels] before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allah . Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. And when Allah intends for a people ill, there is no repelling it. And there is not for them besides Him any patron." (Ar-Rad: 11)

It is a known fact: once you stop doing any type of writing, you'll take an even longer time to restart. Unless ofkos you have a strong will and even stronger determination. Not to mention the discipline. That's one of the things I am lacking Im afraid. Discipline :(

It was known by my friends in uni, how NOT last minute I am at any sort of work. I'm always one of the guys who relaxes on due dates. Oh, dont get me wrong, ofkos the night before the due date I would still stay up. But the workload and stress beforehand was not as severely equivalent to my other friends.

So it is such a mystery how this "last-minute" attitude has somewhat grown into me AFTER I finished university. Last minute, procrastinating, regretting starting a project late -- you name it. It's my current practice. I am so ashamed to admit this out loud, but to start afresh, to step forward in doing things differently, to simply CHANGE, we have to admit our faults first. Which is what I am doing.

I am so bummed at how much time I have wasted, just doing nothing. Eh wait, its not like Im doing NOTHING, I have tons to do, and I do them. They are all completed in the end. Its just that, I take too much time doing things that are not priority, that I sometimes miss out on more important stuff, more important due dates. Then ofkos, I think back and regret it all.

There are times when you regret putting off doing things, that in the end the work load gets to you and overwhelms you. And sometimes you forget and decide to not do it altogether.

One of the most celebrated geniuses today, Mr Albert Einstein said "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

Islam teaches us to be better individuals today compared to yesterday, and make tomorrow better than today. This is well known by all, not only Muslims.

These two quotes convey a similar meaning when we think about it. What can be derived is about how we as people should strive to be better each and everyday. Learn from the mistakes we make, and don't repeat a situation where you will get the same results.

Which makes me wonder how I became like this. How on earth did I end up with this sort of practice? WHY am I not focused on the important things in life?

There are a couple of things I can list down that I have started, but have not finished. Not yet anyway. And it seems like these small but important 'projects' have been put on hold indefinitely. Makes me real sad when I think back.

So here I am, determined to change back to my former student-life. I was on a roll in my uni days. Why can't I be like that anymore? What made me change? This needs some major reflection.

Please pray that I'll be able to get rid of this toxic attitude. I personally hate it because it is ruining my life. So I need to do something about it. I NEED to make myself disciplined again. I cannot procrastinate my work. Pray for me ok. I need all the help I can get.