Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pride and Prejudice

Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim

Assalamualaikum WRT WBT

Good Evening everyone. I am here again, writing again, just before bed, again. I have to admit that it is very hard to concentrate on tripling your ibadah in the 10 last days of Ramadhan when you are allowed 'rest' time for a week. You find you still want to wake up for qiam, but frustrated because you can't do the most closest thing there is to be near Allah -- Solah. Reading the Al-Quran is one of the most powerful healing practices there is, and yet even that you cannot do. *Sigh* Somehow or rather, you have this feeling that you are so far away from Allah. Yet you know, there is always a hikmah behind whatever happens. So I am grateful nonetheless.

So as an alternative to be closer to Allah, I am writing about Him and writing about Islam. May Allah reward me for my efforts.

Being a student has certain advantages, especially when you can converse fluently in English. I've had my fair share of overseas experiences when I was a child -- which explains the writing. But when it comes to conversing with international people during adulthood, I haven't so much to brag about.

I can honestly say that I didn't have even a handful of international friends during high school. After graduating from the.. what word should I use.. ah yes.. After graduating from 5 years of the most stressful and.. let's just say I did NOT enjoy my high school days. After high school, I  made friends with a Pakistani origin guy from the US named Ashraf. He was in the US for studies. Good pen pal. But we lost touch when I finally entered university.

During Uni, hmmm we didn't have any international students at our campus. Most of them were Malays. Even though we were an English medium university, that meant that I only spoke with my awesome English lecturers, and ofkos during presentations. Other than that.. nada.

After graduating, I went to Australia for 3 months and it was awesome I tell you. English alllll the way. Even got the chance to converse with native speakers! :D It was proof my English was understandable.

Hey, if you're judging me right now, shame on you. Im not bragging. Im just starting the post from way back when so you'll understand later. And you can't blame me because my first official learning language was English.

And don't anyone DARE say that speaking in English is proof of how 'influenced' one is with western culture. Those who think that doesn't appreciate the beauty of multiple languages, and is questioning Allah's beautiful creation of language. Why on earth would one question and judge based on that. Tepuk dada tanya Iman.

Ok back to the story.

When finally given the chance to further my studies, I was exposed to all sorts of International students. No matter how we try to avoid it, we still define a person's intelligence with their English. If one is able to master English and speak, write fluently, then they MUST be of high intelligence. This situation is in Malaysia ofkos. But that isn't really true. Although I have to admit I kinda think a little like that when it comes to students. Why? Because for countries whose national language is not English, then these students must put in extra effort to  master a totally different language. Don't you agree?

As a post grad student, there is a NEED to be good in English. With all the international conferences, and thesis writing, and journal papers to read, and international experts to consult, you cannot run from it no matter how hard you try. This is also the time to build good reputation and network with fellow students (future experts). Which is why we should practice good conversing, always be in a positive attitude and most importantly be friendly by being generous with smiles.

I was invited to attend an iftar for a Muslim networking group named SDNLC (Science Development Network Leadership Centre) in UTM. It is a fairly new official Muslim group with the purpose of gathering future Muslim experts in Science, Engineering, etc so that we will work together in upholding and restoring the Ummah. That's one of the goals InsyaAllah. Would you believe that 16 members of SDNLC are hafiz? I was pleasantly surprised. And proud. These young huffaz were also learning to become engineers. MashaAllah!

Majority of the members were international students. There were students from Uganda, Nigeria, Yamen, Saudi Arabia, and so many more! During this Iftar, I made some new friends. One of them is Hidayah from Uganda (the only girl there).

Ayah always says that my PR is good. Alhamdulillah, I guess I have a nick at it. Ha ha. Well, not all the time. But when I feel like it, I'd do my best to be as friendly and as interesting as possible. hehhe. Oh come on, don't tell me you don't have days where all you wanna do is be alone. You wanna know my secret? Its sincerity. You have to be genuinely interested to know the answer to a question when you ask it. You have to be sincere in actually wanting to be friends with someone. Faking doesn't work one bit.

I have to admit that, majority of post grad students are friendly. I guess it comes with age. And alhamdulillah, conversation was not a problem. But what got me really concerned was what Hidayah told us.

It was surprising to hear her complain about how annoying Malaysian girls are at smiling. At first I didn't understand, but when she finally brought up the experiences she went thru during her stay here in Malaysia, I felt so ashamed of my race.

What kind of prejudice does one have of international students that they have the audacity to ignore a fellow sister in Islam? Ignoring her when she asks questions, avoiding her and not even smiling when you bump into each other in the corridor. Astaghfirullahalazim. And you call yourselves Muslims?

Islam is for everyone! No matter what race, no matter the colour of one's skin, no matter what language one speaks and no matter where in the world one comes from. Islam is for all. It is syumul and beautiful. And when one says Syahadah, then straight away they are part of this awesome and special family of brothers and sisters who have a stronger bond compared to relation of blood. Therefore, such attitude and treatment of a fellow sister is unacceptable!

All I can say and conclude is that people who have prejudice and preconception of others without trying to get to know them, well.. these people don't really understand the meaning of Ukhuwah. And I pity them with all of my heart.

So my fellow Malay girls.. If for instance, when a fellow Muslim asks you a question in a language you are not fluent in, all you have to do is smile and layan her as best you can. Just try to be empathetic. How would you feel if you went to a foreign country and conversing with the locals is super hard. How would you want people there to treat you? Be polite for God's sake. If you really don't understand, then just say so. Don't just ignore them and walk away. We as Muslim were taught to be polite and to treat fellow Muslims with respect.

Again, I feel so ashamed. With all the bad experience she had with most of the Malay girls, she was surprised how well she was able to get along with us during Iftar.

Girls, DO NOT be the cause of such things. Be the GOOD in the world. Act as MUSLIMS. Compared to the whole world, we are but a speck of dust. Maybe even smaller than that. Too much pride will bring you no where. Don't think for a second that you will go far with that kind of attitude. You are a nobody if you do not have good akhlak. Being Malay is nothing. It doesn't guarantee you do go to Jannah. Being a good Muslim does. So, throw away such pride of being a certain race.

May Allah forgive us all for all the disrespectful things we may have done during our lives. Because to gain the love and Rahmah of Allah, we must also take care of our relationship with fellow humans.

I'm sorry if I sound harsh. Im just angry and ashamed.


Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Real You

Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim

Assalamualaikum WRT WBT

Salam Ramadhan everyone. I have been procrastinating a lot of things for quite a while and suddenly you'd realise how time flies by just like that. This blog of mine has been ignored for some time now and I see the need to make it lively again. Ever heard the saying "Guests bring Barakah when they come to visit?". I see the same thing when it comes to blogs. Don't get me wrong, this is not a quest to see how many visitors I have, it is not a competition to see who has the top ranking. This is my vision and my effort in spreading Islam thru my writing, with hope that whatever is written and read will bring some benefit to those who are interested to learn.

Rasulullah s.a.w said:
"When Ramadhan comes, the gates of Jannah are opened and the gates of hell are closed, and the devils are put into chains" (Sahih Bukhari Wa Muslim)

It is the 21st night of Ramadhan today. So are we all ready for the 10 last days of Ramadhan?

I think Ramadhan can bring only two things in people; either it brings the best in people, or the worst. We've heard so many talks and tazkirah when it comes to Ramadhan, but we can never say that we've heard enough. Therefore, I see the need to do a post on Ramadhan as well.

It's pretty hard to describe how awesome and marvelous Ramadhan makes you feel. Without syaitan around, you finally get the chance to know your own self. The real you -- without any influence from our enemy. Ramadhan is a time where you do things based on what you want, how you want, with reasons only you can choose. With the freedom Allah has given us on this blessed month, what have we done with it?

Four weeks isn't really a very long time. Pretty short I tell you. I can't even believe we are already in our last 10 days of Ramadhan.

Sometimes, we forget how fortunate we are. We forget how much Allah really loves us. We forget that Ramadhan is Allah's special gift to his faithful servants. We forget that Ramadhan isn't a burden, it is a reward to those who take advantage of it's precious time.

Let us really reflect (me included), how have we spent our Ramadhan this year? Are there significant changes from last year? Have we been doing more good deeds, more ibadah this year compared to last year?

Let us not be those who do not get the chance to feel the beauty and specialty of Ramadhan. Let us be those who cry when praying, who cry when talking to Allah, who cry when asking forgiveness from Him. We will feel Allah's love for us if we really open our hearts and our minds to whatever surrounds us. Let His love envelope you.

I got the privilege and honor to join a qiamullail organised by IKRAM Johor and Aqsa Syarif last week, featuring one of the young Imams from Gaza. And MashaAllah, I have no words to describe how extraordinary the experience was. The first time Imam Taha started reciting during solah, I was transported back to Makkah. I could feel being in front of Kaabah and praying. The feeling that seeped into me was the exact feeling I had during the days I prayed at Masjidil Haram. MashaAllah.

The first 2 rakaat, Imam Taha read surah Qaf. He read it so beautifully. When I closed my eyes, I imagined myself back in front of the Kaabah, feeling so close to Allah Taala. Oh how I miss that feeling. How Imam Taha read that surah with such feeling, made my heart skip a few beats. I found myself crying just like I cried when the Imams in Masjidil Haram made me cry. It was as if my heart knew the meanings of the ayahs being read, even though my ears didn't understand them. Oh how beautiful the workings of Allah.

After two rakaats, we were read back the meanings of the ayahs in Malay. And I finally understood why it made me cry. What a wonderful and moving surah. Such an eye opener.

For the last rakaat for the next solah, Imam Taha read doa qunut nazilah, and Subahanallah.. Even though the doa took 25 minutes, I cried to every bit of it. Alhamdulillah I know a little bit of Arabic, I understood the doa, and my God, how it went into my heart and stayed there. I haven't cried that much in ages. And Im so grateful to Allah for such an opportunity. Alhamdulillah, thank you Allah.

I miss feeling so close to Allah. Sometimes, there are days where I feel so far away and I know it's all my fault. It's Allah's love that never dies. He will always be there no matter how bad we feel, no matter how bad we have been. Allah will never abandon us. It is us that always forgets Him. Nauzubillahi min zalik.

Come on folks, there is still 10 days to go. Let's fight hard for Lailatul Qadr. We are the ones who will regret it if we don't try. So let us try. Allah will reward us for our efforts, insyaAllah.