It has been some time since I wrote anything here. I miss this space.
Just 2 days ago Singapore turned 50. The Golden Jubilee year. While it seems pretty young for a country, we’ve come a pretty long way from just being a small trading port in the past. We’re still a tiny little red dot in the world map, but this tiny little country is where I call home. It is where I was born and raised, met my husband, got married, and recently gave birth to an adorable little baby boy two months ago, Alhamdulillah.
The past two months have been a journey of sorts while we navigate through a lot of first times, but our hearts have never been so full. Of love. Of faith. Of mercy and compassion. Towards this gift and amanah presented to us, and towards each other as we slowly embrace our new roles as parents.
And so a new journey begins. One that I’ve never been on and each step will be a first. The exhilarating journey of motherhood and parenthood.
May Allah guide me and my husband throughout this process, and may He make us the best of parents for our little one. InsyaAllah, ameen.
Recently, a dearest friend of mine lost her mother. She passed away peacefully in her sleep during the wee hours of the morning.
It was one day before the wedding day of another dearest friend of mine as she embarks on her new journey as a wife.
I was reflecting on how we go through endings and beginnings every single day on earth and shared this short poem in my facebook page:
Today a dearest friend’s mother passed away. Tomorrow, another dearest friend is getting married.
One will begin life without a mother, While the other will begin life with a husband.
Two new beginnings, Two totally different circumstances.
The ending of a soul in earth, And the ending of singlehood.
Life in dunya, filled with beginnings and endings. An ending brings a beginning of something. With a beginning, there is an end. And our ultimate end – is back to Him.
“Therefore glory be to Him in Whose hand is the kingdom of all things, and to Him you shall be brought back.” – Yaseen, 83
It’s true isn’t it? One day our life in this world is going to end and we will move on to the world that we came from, to a world that is eternal.
Speaking about beginnings, currently I am going through a new beginning (MashaAllah, who knew a career switch would be really t-o-u-g-h). Another thing about beginnings is the importance of breaking out of your comfort zone and have the guts to learn new things. For my newly wedded friend, she has to adapt to having a new person in her life 24/7 and her new responsibilities as a wife. For my friend who has lost her mum, she will have to learn to slowly deal with her own emotions of grief – as well as her father’s.
May Allah bring us through our different personal challenges and may these tests that He has presented us with, only aim to bring us closer to Allah s.w.t. InsyaAllah ameen.
We mostly prepared our own food to save cost so that we didn’t have to spend it on eating out all the time. But there were occasions when we did buy food from the available halal restaurant available, Turkish Kebabs. Before we left for our trip we researched on the nearest supermarket along our lodge so that we would know where to go to get any groceries.
Hence on our first day upon our arrival, after collecting our car we went to the supermarket at Queenstown central “Fresh Choice” to shop for groceries before checking-in. Bread, eggs, instant noodles, mayonnaise, canned tuna, cheese slices, tea, mineral water, dried mixed fruits pack for snacking and also box of tissues… Buat macam rumah sendiri lah kan with all these groceries hehe. This is because we were mostly staying in lodge or apartment kind of accommodation instead of hotel kind, where there is a kitchenette available so we could prepare our own meals.
Mainly we made simple egg and tuna sandwiches, half and full boiled eggs, and mee goreng instant for our meals accompanied with a warm cup of tea and/or coffee.
Halal restaurant in Queenstown
Out of the three places that we went, Queenstown, Tekapo and Wanaka, only in Queenstown did we find a halal restaurant. We initially found it online through this blog before we went but we didn’t know if it was still there. Alhamdulillah, we were glad to discover that Turkish Kebabs was still around and it was still located along Queenstown Mall. There were some changes to the building but overall still the same.
We dined here on our second day for lunch after riding the Skyline Gondola, and then on our third day we bought some for a takeaway breakfast before leaving for our drive to Lake Tekapo. Then on our final night at Queenstown we came here again for our last dinner for the trip (sob sob). A plate of kebab set costs around 11 – 15 NZD each but it was worth it as the servings were huge.
Other than that, and outside of Queenstown, we chose to prepare simple breakfast, lunch and dinner meals ourselves. As worth it as the servings were, it was still cheaper to eat-in and we chose to save whenever we can so that we can stick to our budget and spend on activities and souvenirs. Plus we can’t possibly eat kebabs every day right? Hehe… For our trip to Milford Sound, we prepared cheese sandwiches and brought it along for the ride. But we did indulge in cuppa coffees throughout… Sejuk sejuk sedap minum kopi mmdaappp…
Our priority was to go to New Zealand no matter what so we knew the limited choices we would have there hence didn’t mind spending lesser on food (I guess for some people they would want to stay in nice hotels, eat good hotel food for their honeymoon etc)… If you are not was-was you can also choose to dine in non-halal restaurants and have the seafood and/or vegetarian choices but for us we chose to stick to halal ones and DIY meals for the reasons I have mentioned. To each is their own preferences.
One of the beautiful things about Islam is the ease in prayer that Allah has provided for us when we travel. We can shorten the fard prayers (qasar) and pray two solat times together (jamak). Allah has presented us with blessings to travel to another part of His lands, so we must remember Him and give thanks in the way that He has ordained us to do right? So don’t leave our fardhu prayers when we travel overseas :)
Before we went we checked out the prayer time in Queenstown for the duration of our trip there. As our flight from SG to Melbourne was at 7.55pm, we prayed our Maghrib in the plane, sitting down. When we reached Queenstown then we started praying jamak and qasar. Alhamdulillah due to the more than 90km distance between the towns that we went, and that we didn’t stay in each town for more than 3 days, we were able to jamak and qasar throughout our 7 days there. During our transit while waiting for our flight back to SG, we did our final prayers as musafir at a corner spot in the airport lounge (lucky thing it wasn’t that crowded).
So that was basically how we got around for our food and performing our five daily prayers in NZ as fellow Muslim travelers. As I’m typing this, I am in reminiscing mode and I can’t wait to go there again… I don’t know when that will be but who knows, one day InsyaAllah… :)
Epilogue: As a concluding note, I will clarify that we DIY our honeymoon aka mini road trip instead of following any tour companies. This means that we had control over most of the things, from our itineraries, food, transport and accommodation. The only thing is you do have to do a lot of research, do very thorough planning and drive your own car (except for the day trip to Milford Sound, my husband drove so we kept our distances short). But I am pleased with how everything turned out Alhamdulillah and we would not have had it any other way.
Since it’s a honeymoon, we managed to have our own privacy (instead of traveling with other people in a tour), make the trip free and easy instead of having to stick to fixed schedules, and the most important thing is it increased our appreciation, love, and complete trust and tawakkal for Allah s.w.t. who kept us safe throughout Alhamdulillah. I would say it’s also a good test on your marriage and relationship hehe… with just you and your spouse planning the whole thing, with Allah by our side always.
To read the rest of the entries on Kiwimoon, click here.
Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all my Muslim brothers and sisters! :)
(You can also say “Eid Mubarak” which means “Have a blessed Eid to all of you.”)
This year is the first time I am spending Hari Raya with my husband, so it is kind of a big deal. Ok, not kind of. A really really big deal. Hehe. So this year we decided to go green! Why green? Well there is a story behind this actually.
My sister-in-law bought this lace green fabric for my mother-in-law to wear for our wedding. My MIL then made a mini kurung out of it so she only used half of the fabric and had a balance of 2 metres. So not wanting to waste it, she gave it to me some time before Ramadhan. Since I had not bought any fabric or outfit for Raya, I thought, why not make this part of my outfit and go green this Raya. So I asked my husband and family to also wear green for the first day of Raya, because that’s what I tend to do as the eldest. Be the boss of my family. Haha. Actually there’s another reason why I thought of wearing green, because the last time we wore green together was a long time ago… I mean look at this:
The last time we wore green was when we still had my father with us, and my sister was still that small! So how long ago was that lah kan. Now forward to 2014, a group photo of us this Syawal with my grandma:
We took this photo at night because I only managed to go to my grandma’s house in the evening because… I spent the first half with my husband’s family, my in-laws:
Previously when I was still single ehem ehem, I would go to my grandma’s house with my family somewhere in the afternoon after visiting elders from my mum’s side with my cousins. But of course, there are some changes this year. Because not only do I have my own dad and mum’s side to visit, I also have my husband’s dad and mum’s side to incorporate into the raya visiting schedules. MashaAllah! The challenge is to balance all four sides as fairly as possible.
The day started with solat hari raya or Eid prayers at the mosque with my husband and my mum. After that, I got ready to siap-siap to go to the first house of the day, my husband’s grandma’s house. Hubby’s brother and my SIL usually spent the first day of Syawal visiting hubby’s grandma and then proceed to SIL’s side, so we decided to tag along before they left for visiting SIL’s side.
What is raya without visiting our grandparents and elderly family members right? Hubby is left with grandparents from his mum’s side and for me is my dearest one and only grandma from my dad’s side. Let’s treasure our grandparents while we still can… May Allah bless their years with tranquility, mercy and love… InsyaAllah.
Next up were to two houses – my father-in-law’s eldest siblings (hubby’s grandparents from his dad’s side have passed on). And finally, to my grandma’s house in the evening until night time when I finally got to meet up with my grandma, aunties, uncles and cousins.
The night before, the night of 1st Syawal was the first time I did not spend (the first half of) malam raya at my own house. Hubby’s family has a gathering every malam raya for kenduri, takbir together and bermaaf-maafan because his father’s side is large and this was one of the times that they get to meet altogether. So off I go to follow the husband. Luckily for me I had my SIL to tag along with amongst my many new family members hehe Alhamdulillah.
It’s been an interesting experience to go visiting with a husband as compared to being single. The past week of raya roundings have been filled with introductions of the hubby to my relatives, neneks and datuks as they have seen him during the wedding, but not on a close-up level. “Nek/Tok Xxx, ini suami saya…” Hehe paisey dan malu semua tolak tepi lah. Coz you can’t just go into the house and leave your other half to introduce himself/herself to your relative, it’s you who must do the job. And my neneks and toks are the sweetest la MashaAllah. They even gave us presents and special duit raya for pengantin baru! Fuhlaamak, touching beb. Alhamdulillah… :)
Speaking of touching moments, I want to record down this moment when one of my closest uncles gave me and my siblings duit raya. We were all like, “dah keje, dah kahwin da etc…” and he said,
“Even if I’m 60 and you’re 40, I will still give you duit raya coz you guys will always be my nieces and nephews…”
*inserts tears rolling down emoticon from whatsapp*
SubhanAllah, may Allah bless my uncle with more rezki InsyaAllah.
So that was my first Syawal experience and as a wife so far. We have 3 more weeks to go, and I’m sure it’s gonna be more interesting and colourful as we go along, InsyaAllah. Have a blessed Eid everyone! :D
Outfit details: Mini kurung top sewn by me. Skirt is part of another baju kurung I already have which I decided to match with this mini kurung (had no time to make the skirt because I was sewing 3 other outfits for my family and closest friend). Satin pashmina shawl from Ameemoo – totally loving the mint green colour. Shoes from Vincci Malaysia bought a couple of years ago.
SubhanAllah we’ve already reached the final days of Ramadhan.
These final days and nights are so precious, for Laylatul Qadr could be on one of these nights…
As I’m blogging now I smell a whiff of kuih tart baking in the oven… Mmm…
I haven’t blogged since my previous post and that is by choice. I thought I’d set some goals this Ramadhan after following emails by Productive Muslim and watching Productive Ramadhan videos on being more productive in Ramadhan. For starters, spending less time on social media and internet. I actually deactivated my facebook on the first day of Ramadhan simply because I can be a busybody and get distracted easily everytime I log in to fb hehehe. So deactivating it was actually one of the best things that’s happened, lol. But really. I actually do get a lot more things done Alhamdulillah!
A couple of weeks ago during the beginning of Ramadhan, I had the opportunity to volunteer at an autism school. So I got to see how special education teachers work as well as seeing children and teens with autism in school. It was an eye-opening experience, because it was my first time being inside a school specially for autistic students, hence my first time seeing their many various behaviours and antics. I discovered that there are verbal and non-verbal students. Meaning there are students who can express their words verbally and those that can’t. There are many highlights and moments that I took away from.
One of them was this. At one of the classes I was attached to, there was a Malay Muslim 12-year old boy. I discovered with a pleasant surprise, being told by his teacher, that he was actually fasting. SubhanAllah, my heart suddenly welled with emotions. Children who have not reached puberty and especially people who are not of “complete sound mind” are not required to fast, and here he was, a 12 year old child with autism and he had chosen to fast. I felt touched. Boy’s going to Jannah InsyaAllah. During the class’ snack time, he sat at another corner of the cafeteria so I accompanied him while he colored in his coloring book. I managed to have a short conversation with him (he is a student who is able to verbalise his words) and he asked me when is Hari Raya. I thought, Allah presents these moments for us to learn so much things from, SubhanAllah…
Beautiful moments in Ramadhan, when you’re praying taraweeh and you didn’t bring the sejadah because you just don’t bother to and you don’t mind sujood at the carpets, and suddenly the sister beside you chose to share her beautiful soft and puffy sejadah with you. MashaAllah. Love.
And that is my short post for now, InsyaAllah I will blog more soon! Meanwhile, I wrote a summary on my Ramadhan last year and here it is. (Don’t mind the slightly “sad” tone of the post, because I was going through some trying times mainly wedding planning stress and work stress and whathaveyounot so Ramadhan came as a saviour. But Alhamdulillah this Ramadhan I am feeling a lot happier Alhamdulillah). Smiley face to show that :D
To my dear BTBs who are spending this Ramadhan as the last time being single, if you’re feeling stressed, hang in there ok sayangs? InsyaAllah all will be worth it when you get to spend the next Ramadhan with your significant other. If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it. And please do embrace your last single Ramadhan and do as many good deeds as you can as a singleton. Especially the personal time that you have with God, spend as much time to tahajjud with Him when you have more time for yourself now.
May Allah accept all our deeds, grant us Paradise, grant us His forgiveness and safe us from the Hellfire, InsyaAllah.
May Allah make us steadfast in our efforts and make our hearts gentle and peaceful always, InsyaAllah.
May Allah ease the pain of our brothers and sisters around the world who are going through calamities, and may Allah erase all their sins and grant them Paradise, InsyaAllah.
Alhamdulillah we have finally reached the blessed month of Ramadhan this time which starts on 28th June in Singapore.
I’m always excited for Ramadhan because this is the month of the Quran! What do I mean by that? Well, Muslims believe that the Holy Book of Al-Quran was sent down from God onto Earth on the night of Lailatul Qadr, which falls in Ramadhan. In addition to that, the first verse that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him), verses 1-5 in Surah Al-‘Alaq, was also revealed in the month of Ramadhan.
So this is why in Ramadhan, we are encouraged to spend more time with the Quran, be it in recitation, contemplation, listening, memorizing and most importantly increasing our understanding of the content of Al-Quran, which can be said as God’s love letters to us His humble servants. :)
On top of that, Muslims will fast from dawn to dusk, having our morning meal before dawn and breaking our fast when dusk arrives. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and every Muslim of age and health are required to fast in Ramadhan. The purpose of fasting is to clean our bodies, purify our hearts and soul. With an empty stomach, sometimes the body and mind performs better compared to a full stomach. But God does not mean for us to “starve” ourselves, that’s why we are encouraged to do our morning meals, or “suhoor”. Fasting also reminds us of humanity around the world who do not get to eat as much as we do on a daily basis.
Ramadhan is also an opportunity to do more good deeds. The solat taraweeh, an additional sunnah prayer that is only done in Ramadhan is an activity after iftar that I look forward to every year. Done in as little as 8 and usually as much as 20 sets of 2 rakaats each, accompanied by 3 rakaats of witr prayer to conclude the taraweeh prayers. This sunnah prayer can be done individually or as a jemaah. For motivation, usually I like to do it in a mosque especially since I live within walking distance of Masjid Alkaff Kampung Melayu.
The magical thing about Ramadhan is that every year, despite the similar activities and good deeds we are encouraged to do, every Ramadhan is actually very different from another. Of course for me one of the main differences is that I’m spending my first Ramadhan as a wife, and so too for my husband. InsyaAllah I will write another post about this. For now, I am enjoying all the goodness, the rahmah (mercy) that Allah is presenting this month SubhanAllah.
Let me share an incident I encountered this week on the beginning nights of Ramadhan that so embodies this to a T.
Just last Monday as I was doing my Taraweeh in Masjid Alkaff, there sat next to me were 2 sisters – one about 11 years and the other about 5 years old. Such adorable ages! But the thing is I did not notice them until after we were done with the 8th rakaat and the “Ya Tawwab” zikr has finished. When the Imam got up to continue doing the 9th rakaat, I heard the 5 yo girl said to her sister (in a very audible voice nonetheless), “Diorang solat lagi???” (They’re praying again???) Apparently she had thought it was over because some mosques end their Taraweeh at 8 rakaat, but for Masjid Alkaff the 8 rakaat set is only done on Saturday nights.
The big sis then turned and asked me about it, with a confused look on her face. So I explained to them the above, in which she then asked me. “Mbak ikut?” (So will you be continuing to 20 rakaats then? Also, that’s when I knew they were Indonesian; In Singapore Malay language we would refer to a sister stranger as “kakak” but in Indonesian she is referred to as “mbak”) In which I nodded and smiled, and I saw that they then decided to stay and pray until the end of 23 rakaats.
Oh MashaAllah.. Suddenly, I had the strength to continue until 23 rakaats! Even though I had decided to stay, just a couple of minutes ago I was already counting down to 20 hahaha but seeing them decide to leave or to stay, and deciding to stay because there was an older sister beside them (me) who was going to continue on… made me feel so touched and even more motivated. We gather strength from each other…
At the end of the 12th rakaat, big sis asked me, “Masih kurang berapa?” (How many do we have left?” In which I answered that we had 8 more rakaat to go followed by 3 rakaats of witr prayer. At the end of the 18th rakaat with only 2 left to go, I thought I’d encouraged them, “Lagi 2 sahaja!” (Only 2 more left sisters! We can do it!). And then as we had finished 2 rakaats of witr with only 1 rakaat left, I saw the younger sister gesture to her big sis and holding 1 finger up as if to say “Only 1 more left right kak?” Awwww I swear that moment was just the cutest moment ever. Their semangat despite their struggle was really touching for me. So we finished it together, me and my 2 younger sisters in Islam. It was such a beautiful moment for me. Alhamdulillah.
Afterwards, they waited for me to pack up my telekong (praying garments) and we headed to the exit together. Alhamdulillah for these moments. Alhamdulillah that I was able to motivate them to complete the full 23 rakaats, but in fact in motivating them, they were actually the ones motivating me to finish, even if they might not have realized it. MashaAllah, truly Allah is the Subtle and the Knowing. :)
Have a blessed Ramadhan this year to my brothers and sisters in Islam :)
There are 1001 ways to say I love you to your spouse or any of your beloved ones, and from fairy tales to marriage talks, these seven I love yous are the most simple and sweet and in my mind recently.
Point 6 and 7 is specially focused on Muslim married couples, which I learned from talks on Muslim marriages. They are excellent expressions of love to your Muslim husbands and wives, as they remind you to love for Allah, the Creator of Love…:)
So here are the 7 I Love Yous…
1. I love you
(Why is it that it is kind of weird to say this in Malay eh? “Aku Cinta Padamu…” Hubs and me tried and it sounded so funny and weird coming from our mouths. Like, so jiwang kan the line.)
2. I love you too
Your usual reply.
3. I love you soooo much
When you’re feeling more loved and just feeling more expressive XD
4. I love you more
I just watched Tangled recently and what is it about animated characters that make it just so irritatingly cute when they go all “I love you..” and then, “No, I love you more…” but you can watch and not feel so annoyed compared to movies with real people in it? Lol.
5. I love you most
Again, from Tangled. Haha. This will never end.
6. I love you for the sake of Allah
What I learned from Ustazah Norhafizah Musa at the Konvensyen Muslimah Kontemporari 2, last month. I love this because it reminds me that love comes from Allah first and He can also take it away anytime.
7. I love you for the pleasure of Allah and also for my own pleasure
What I learned from Mufti Menk’s lecture on marriage at Muhajirin Mosque few weeks ago. This, I find is the best way to say I love you to your spouse because it reminds you to love your spouse for Allah and it is also realistic in saying that hey, in striving to be better persons, we’re just human afterall and we derive pleasure from loving our spouses, InsyaAllah. ;)