Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hari Raya Special Edition: Walking Down Memory Lane

*mind the spelling mistake (^_~)

As I sit in front of the laptop, pondering on what to write, I found myself going back in time. I found myself in ‘walking down memory lane’ mode, remembering back those days… when I was still a child, spending my Hari Raya abroad, or as they say, ‘Perantauan’.

No, of course it is not due to holidays during Hari Raya. Nor did I study at a university abroad. But my mother happens to continue her study there, so my father, my siblings and I joined her. So we spend the Raya together.

Well… in a way, I’d say that I really miss those two Eid I spend there. It is definitely different than any Raya spent here, be it in Johor (my mum’s side) nor Penang/Perlis (my dad’s). There are no ‘balik kampung’ traffic, nor can we go down to Sogo, Masjid India or Plaza Angsana to shop for Baju Raya. But we did manage to get one or two pairs of new outfits as there’s a Muslim tailor in the area (thankfully! *smile*)

A few days before raya, there’s the usual rush of baking our favourite ‘kuih raya’, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and a few others. There are no announcements of the Yang Dipertuan Agong, “dengan ini diisytiharkan esok, ……. Adalah hari raya.” But it was replaced with a phone call from my mum’s Muslim friend, calling in to spread the good news: “tomorrow is Raya!!”. My siblings and I, being very active kids, immediately jumped up and down our bed upon hearing the news, anticipating the day ahead.

The most memorable time during the blessed day was, for us kids, after the ‘Eid prayer. Being unfamiliar with the culture of the Muslims there, my brothers and I were quite surprised when they announced that all the children are to go to the side of the hall after the ‘Eid khutbah. As I followed the crowd, I found them all lined up in a long line. I stood in the line and waited. To my surprise, we each get a small present, for the girls around my age, we get a box of beads. I was very ecstatic, as during those days, my favourite pastime was making jewelries out of beads. I still consider the present one of my favourite gifts of all times, and still remember it exactly – although almost a decade had past by.

After the prayer, the few Malays in my area get together at a small function room in the university for a pot luck feast. We did not have any Malaysian hall or what-nots there, as there were so few of us – only around two families and six bachelors. Some Malays from nearby towns also came and joined the feast.

Hm… what about the food? Of course, we cooked all the raya food from each other’s hometown. My mum came up with a very creative way to get us some nasi empit (mind the spelling) for the lontong. She collected milk plastics (instead of boxes, fresh milk there come in plastics), wash them up and put rice in them to boil.

The feast itself was a very merry occasion, with a lot of food and fun chatter, and of course, for us kids, play as well. I love it a lot as I was able to meet other Malay kids my age during the occasion (as the family from the other city had two children my age, whereas the Malays in my city had none).

Of course, as in Malaysia, we still go to our friends’ houses. But there, the Muslims don’t give out ang-pows (well… except for the Malays). Instead, those who are really close to me gave me little presents. My parents quickly adapt this culture, asking my siblings and I whether we wish presents or money for Hari Raya. Obviously, the answer is unanimously toys. We all agreed that toys that we will ask for is more expansive than the money that we may get *grins*. Hence, every year since, we’ve been getting presents instead of duit raya for ‘Eid.

Another major difference with spending ‘Eid at ‘Perantauan’ or, more specifically, where my mum was studying at the time, is the excitement of exploring other cultures. As we visit friends, we had discovered many interesting things about their respective cultures. We had discovered how Iranians have a passion for youghurt to go with most of their dishes, how the Arabs cook very superb rice dishes, and how, with Egyptians, you’re not to praise or show too much interest on their toys or belongings, or else they will simply give them to you. We also gained a lot of insight on how Chinese Muslims cook their food, not to mention Lebanese and Pakistani delicacies, as well as how they spend their ‘Eidul Fitr Festivals.

In a way, while being away from Malaysia and unable to spend the Hari Raya at my kampung, I had a lot of fun. The ukhuwah Islamiyyah which bonds Muslims, the brotherhood ties allows my family and me to be happy and contented, despite being away from our homeland. This beautiful tie transcends the barrier of culture and language, going beyond family ties, a bond of ‘aqeedah Islamiyyah. And I was thankful for the valuable experience, Alhamdulillah.

Wow.. I've been musing and walking down memory lane for quite some time. Admittedly, I really missed those times, and the friends I make there. And I love the Eid I had spent there. I hope that some day, Allah will allow me to meet them again, InsyaAllah..


‘Eid Mubarak everyone!!!

Sorry for anything inappropriate, or any faults posted at this ‘Writing Den’ of mine.

And for those who know me, sorry for any mistakes which I intentionally or unintentionally did

May this ‘Eid brings in joy and rahmah to us all,

And strengthen our ukhuwah.

May our ibadah in the month of Ramadhan that had just ended brings about maghfirah from the Almighty

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Crying in Front of Allah: It is NOT Impossible

Source: http://soundvision.com/Info/ramadan/10.cry.asp
by Abdul Malik Mujahid

When was the last time you cried? Not a few drops of salty water from your eyes, or the odd tear that slipped down your face while watching a tragic event.

I'm talking about warm tears of the heart. Tears that sting your face because they've been there so long, their bitter saltiness hurts your skin.

When was the last time you cried like a baby?

Aisha, may Allah be pleased with our mother, relates that: In the last ten of Ramadan, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, used to tighten his waist belt, pray all night, and wake up his family for the night prayers (Bukhari and Muslim).

Two thirds of Ramadan is gone. We powerless people will soon be looking for the Night of Power (Laylatul Qadr), which we are advised to seek in these last ten nights of Ramadan.

Aisha related that the Prophet said: Look for Laylatul Qadr on an odd-numbered night during the last ten nights of Ramadan (Bukhari).

We can't afford not to be crying in front of Allah, the Merciful, All-Aware.

Tears flow when we remember how much Allah has blessed us with and how much we disobey Him. We can never repay Allah for everything we have, yet we still blatantly commit sins both big and small: whether it's backbiting, hurting other human beings, not standing up for the truth, treating our family badly, lying, doing good deeds to show off, cheating, etc.

Allah opens ways out of problems for us, easing our burdens. Yet, we still disobey Him and take His Mercy for granted.

Abdullah ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said he would rather shed two tears from the fear of Allah than give a thousand dinars in charity.

And the most telling example of a man who few would think would cry because of Allah is Umar, may Allah be pleased with him. He was known for being strong, fearless, and uncompromising when it came to matters of faith. Yet, Abdullah ibn Isa said that Umar had two black streaks on his face because of constant weeping.

He feared Allah so much that he once said, "If someone announced from the heavens that everybody will enter Paradise except one person, I would fear that that person would be me."

Umar was one of the strongest believers. Yet he cried and feared Allah. And Abu Bakr, he was simply known for his crying. These people loved to serve human beings in the day and spent time begging God to save humanity at night. May Allah be pleased with them.

Let's be more contemplative and pray for an awareness of and forgiveness for our sins, as well as softness in our hearts. If Umar the brave and pious did it, we have even more need and urgency to do it.

Human beings are in turmoil. Connecting with God with our hearts and begging for His Mercy for His Creation will bring us Closer to Him and human beings.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Let Us Strive To Find This Nite!!!

Frustrations: A Reminder

A few weeks back, I had been upset. Well, maybe a little more than upset. I was frustrated. For at that point, I felt down, as I feel that my friends don’t really care. The feeling had perhaps been nagging at the back of my mind for a couple of days, and finally exploded, I guess.

Avoiding my fellow course mates, silent tears spilled down. Distraught and frustrated, I called my best friend, who somewhat manages to comfort me. I calmed down a bit afterwards, take wudhu, and pray. Pray for strength, to overcome the sudden feeling of loneliness. I placed another call, this time to my mother. She made me realize a major flaw in my imaan then.

What flaw? you may wonder. Ummi made me realize… that I’ve been fooled into relying to my friends, instead of Allah. I’ve been tricked by syaitan, to hope and expect more of my friends rather than my Creator. Sure, I did not do so intentionally. Yet unconsciously, I had been doing that. I had been relying more on my friends rather than my Creator.

According to Ustadh Khurram Murad in his book, In The Early Hours, reliance on Allah is knowing that at every step of your journey Allah is there assisting you. And hence, you are not counting on others to get you through your days, your years at university, or even your exams.

In a way, I had been hoping too much for friends who would help me out, yet failed to remember that I can count only on Allah to help me, in whatever I do. But Alhamdulillah, the frustrations and sadness made me realize what my mind had unconsciously relied on all this while.

Well…. Let us think back and ponder, who did we rely on throughout our life? Is it really on Allah? Or… do we rely on our parents to give us happiness, comfort and money? Do we rely on our best friend to make us laugh? Do we rely on JPA or PTPTN to get us through university?

Parents and friends are not going to be around us forever. They can be taken away from us at any moment. JPA and PTPTN… well, they are there, as long as the economy is stable, and as long as our bank account is okey. Even that is not guaranteed. At the end of the day, the only true reliance which brings us happiness here, and even in the next life… is always Allah.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

After a Long MIA in Blogging...

well... i'm back to writing.

so sorry for neglecting this blog in a while. I had been busy. yes, again, the ever famous excuse. But in a way... busy-ness is a part and parcel of a student's life. Assignments+quizzes+study=busy
oh yes.. and also other responsibilities.. towards Islam, family and friends...
Then there's Ramadhan... so in trying to juggle ibadah in Ramadhan and all the other activities, i decide that i had to compromise blogging for a while.

But alhamdulillah... i'm back to writing now. thanks to the early holidays we get. and just in time for the final 10days of Ramadhan too.

To all my friends... let us increase our ibadah and triple up our efforts. the Ramadhan offer of reward is coming to an end. And may we find the night which is better than 1000months, Lailatul Qadr.

>> till next post, salam ramadhan to all!