Ramadhan is Here and Why I love This Merciful Month

Ramadhan Mubarak! πŸ™‚


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. πŸ™‚

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… Β 

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. πŸ™‚

Have a blessed Ramadhan this year to my brothers and sisters in Islam πŸ™‚

7 Ways to Say I Love You to Your Spouse

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… πŸ™‚

So here are the 7 I Love Yous…

1. I love you

The original.

(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.Β  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. πŸ˜‰

Moments of Tranquility at Masjid Khalid

I stepped into Masjid Khalid for the first time this year, recently for a gathering commemorating Isra’ Mi’raj, the Night of Prophet Muhammad’s Ascension into Heaven. Many mosques in Singapore will organize this gathering where we will pray in congregation “solat jemaah” (in a mosque, men and women sit and pray separately), listen to a talk by the Imam about what happened during the night followed by lessons and key takeaways for us.

As the event finishes, before we part we will eat together in a big tray or “makan berdulang” enjoying the delicious nasi briyani provided by the mosque. It is barakah (blessings) to serve people food and it creates a spirit of togetherness in the community. Similar to praying in congregation which creates a spirit of united-ness in serving God.

Cozy and peaceful

Being in Masjid Khalid gives off a lovely and cozy kampung vibe. It is lovely to i’tikaf (sit and reflect) inside this mosque. A feeling of peace, simplicity and tranquility. It is no wonder my husband likes to go this mosque, especially for special nights in the Islamic calendar. I usually headed to another mosque, but decided to follow my husband this time – and I have come to love it. I love how marriage brings upon new opportunities like this, Alhamdulillah. There are 69 mosques in Singapore, so there’s bound to be one you haven’t yet explored.

My second visit

Today I was at Joo Chiat area with my mum and after having our meals, we went to Masjid Khalid to do our Asar prayers. There are 2 places of worship in Joo Chiat area – Darul Arqam Convert’s Association where there is a praying space “musolla” and Masjid Khalid. Usually we would head to Darul Arqam to perform our prayers because the location is more convenient. However, as Darul Arqam’s restroom and musolla were closed for renovations, we headed on to Masjid Khalid, which is a little far in, a 5-minutes walk from Darul Arqam.

One door closes, another one opens

As I was sitting in the mosque after my prayers, it made me ponder on several things. If not for DA’s musolla renovations, we wouldn’t have walked to Masjid Khalid for our Asar prayers. It made me reflect that MaashaAllah, this is a good illustration of how when one door closes, another one opens. Truly, Allah is The Opener. The One who opens hearts, doors and everything else.

It also goes to show that Allah wants to give us more pahala because for every step you take to do ibadah, like going to a mosque, Allah rewards your every step. So, the more distance you walk to the mosque, the more pahala you get. That’s because Allah is Al-Kareem, the Most Generous and He gives most generously. SubhanAllah.

Last but not least, it feels like Allah wanted us to step into another of His houses SubhanAllah. You know when you’re invited to someone’s house, you feel honored for being invited? (Assuming that’s how you feel most of the time of course πŸ˜‰ ). So when Allah wants to invite you to His house, shouldn’t we feel more honored and accept it with open hearts? πŸ™‚

May Allah bless us with more moments of peace and tranquility… and may we be blessed with the peace and tranquility that we seek in this life and the Hereafter, InsyaAllah.

Rezekiku dan Rezekimu Semuanya Rahsia Allah

“Sesungguhnya di kalangan hamba-hamba-Ku ada yang keadaannya itu baik dalam keadaan kaya, kalau Aku menjadikannya miskin akan rosaklah keadaannya, dan ada pula antara hamba-Ku yang keadaannya itu baik jika dalam keadaan miskin, kalau Aku menjadikannya kaya akan rosaklah keadaannya, dan ada daripada hamba-hamba-Ku yang keadaannya baik jika dalam keadaan sihat, kalau aku menjadikannya sakit akan rosaklah keadannya, dan ada di kalangan hamba-hamba-Ku yang keadaannya baik jika dalam keadaan sakit, kalau Aku menyembuhkannya akan rosaklah keadaannya.”

(Riwayat Abi Dunya dan Baihaqi)

10 jobs I’ve had in 10 years

When I was in primary school, I grew up wanting to be a Teacher. Probably because that was one of the only jobs I was exposed to at a young age. When I was in secondary school, some classmates said I looked most like a reporter (perhaps I looked a little reporter-ish with my roundish-square glasses but definitely not anything like Rita Skeeter) but I never thought of becoming one until I did an internship at the local newspaper. When I was in polytechnic, I thought of taking my ACCA (an accounting professional certification) after my accounting diploma and then become a full-fledged accountant. But a 1-year stint in the accounts department made me realize I was not up for that occupation. So here is a list of jobs I’ve had since I first entered the working world at 16, right after my GCE ‘O’ Levels while waiting for entry to tertiary institution.

1. Factory worker

(Temporary) This was my very first job, after I finished my GCE ‘O’ Levels. I joined a factory producing spare parts along with three other friends. The sweetest thing was buying my first mobile phone with my first hard-earned pay.

2. Tutor

(Part-time) The closest to being a teacher. During my polytechnic days, I tutored a primary 4 kid on 3 subjects – English, Maths and Science. It was a rewarding job but can be stressful knowing that the student’s improvement lies in your hands. Her family was very hospitable which made me feel welcomed every time I tutored at their house.

3. Telemarketer

(Temporary) Yeah I was one of those pesky telemarketers from an insurance company. But I wasn’t selling insurance, instead my job was to recruit people to join a team of advisors.

4. Purchasing assistant

(Internship) Assigned to a company producing CDs and electronics for my school internship. The company had originally asked for an accounting assistant from my school but filled up the position with a full-time employee by the time I joined. So I was attached to the purchasing department instead. Perks of the job included getting free CDs of movies before they were up for distribution.

5. Money desk journalist

(Internship) Joined the local paper for an internship shortly after I graduated from polytechnic. I joined the money desk department as I felt it was relevant to what I was learning in poly and keen to learn more about business reporting. This was my first foray into the world of journalism and I truly enjoyed the experience.

6. Accounting executive

(Full-time) Joined a media company finance department. Wanted to make use of my accounting diploma and put into practice what I learned. However I eventually discovered that accounting was not to be my career path.

7. Retail Shop Assistant

(Temporary) The same media company had a subsidiary company with a retail shop selling media-related items and they needed an urgent replacement for one day. I was involved with cashiering duties, assisting with walk-in customers’ enquiries and taking care of the shop for just that one day.

8. Editor

(Contract) In-charge of editing the content for a Ramadan website in SG as part of a yearly Islamic fasting month of Ramadan campaign. Liaising with freelance writers and working with a small team who were as passionate on making the site a beneficial platform for the community. This was one of the best jobs I’ve had. Best moment was interviewing Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, a Muslim astronaut from Malaysia who spent a few days of Ramadan in outer space.

9. Assistant production editor

(Full-time) Managed the production of scientific journals in a publishing house research arm. Contrary to the job title, my job scope did not involve any editing to the content of the publication but processes on making the final article suitable for print and online publication.

10. Writer

(Freelance) After my internship with the local paper ended, I continued to write with the paper on a freelance basis up till today. One of the memorable assignments was an overseas one, covering a group of student’s village homestay experience in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. I also write freelance for some online platforms in SG.

* * *

This week I chose point #5 from Anna Fonte for the Weekly Writing Challenge: List Lesson. I didn’t realize it’s been 10 years since I first entered the working world! I didn’t even plan the title this way but I only realized it after listing and writing them down – and it actually fit perfectly to be “10” (jobs) on “10” (years). Anna was right, this list ended up to something more.

“But certainly, editing is what pushes the list over the line into literature. You tricked yourself into thinking you were making a list but SURPRISE! You’ll see you made something much more.”Β 

It’s been an interesting journey with many life lessons and experiences Alhamdulillah. I shall pat myself on the back for being brave enough to go through these working experiences, regardless of my failures, successes and mistakes. MaashaAllah. I’m still finding my cup of tea, but let me consider that with a cup of tea in hand…

Strawberry Cheesecake for Love

strawberry cheesecake

Last week I attempted to make a cheesecake for my husband’s birthday. H is a cheese-lover all around so I wanted to impress him with a cheesecake made by yours truly the wife.

(Also wanted to gain extra points for pahala by following the Prophet’s s.a.w sunnah of serving the husband teehee).

This is my first time making a baked cheesecake. Previously I did a no-bake mango cheesecake which ended up tasting like an ice-cream cake – which was pretty yummy actually. I followed the recipe from here.

(The recipe was for blueberry cheesecake which I initially wanted to make but because I only bought the stuff the night before his birthday, shopping at my neighbourhood markets, it so happens that the blueberries were out of stock so I changed it up to strawberries instead).

I had fun making it, and even added some chopped-up strawberries into it. My sister was keen to help and she helped me cracked the eggs, mashed the strawberries and mix the digestive biscuits with the butter for the bottom of the cheesecake.

The funny thing is that it didn’t turn out the way I envisioned it to be, read on to find out why.

One of the ingredients in the recipe was for sour cream, which is hard to get here, and wasn’t available at the shops nearby my house. So I googled and came across a page which said that you can use yoghurt as a replacement but due to its thinner consistency they suggested to add a little bit of baking powder. Which I (foolishly) did. Into my cheesecake batter.

Which turned out to be a big mistake.

(Who puts baking powder into a cheesecake recipe?? Me.)

My oven is the see-through kind so I watched, horrified, as the cake rose and rose and ballooned. Luckily it didn’t explode.

At the same time thinking of justifying and convincing myself that the cake was going to turn out “alright”. While all the while thinking of how silly I was.

After 1 hour as the recipe calls for, I switched off the oven and let the cake cool down. Fortunately, it did and the balloon cake deflated to a flat level. However, that’s why it has the light brown layer on top instead of a smooth cream-ish white cheesecake color it’s supposed to have.

As the rest of the cheesecake actually turned out okay, I decided that, despite the minor blunder, this cake was a success Alhamdulillah. So I made a strawberry jam and spread it all over the top of the cheesecake, also meant to be a “cover-up” for the surface of the cake. Then I sliced some strawberries and decorated it on top of the cheesecake.

What’s important is my husband the birthday boy loves it. πŸ˜€

And the cake was eaten up within a day in my family household. Yey *pats back*

I still want to make that blueberry cheesecake though. InsyaAllah. Hehe.

Three Sweet Months of Love and Daisies

When the wife beautifies the husband's desktop space... Fresh pink daisies and a Hello Kitty pack of tissues
When the wife beautifies the husband’s (boring) desktop space… Fresh pink daisies and a Hello Kitty pack of tissue instantly prettifies the space!

Happy 3-monthsary to us, Alhamdulillah. πŸ™‚

My husband and me, we sort of look-alike. That’s a wonderful thing, though it makes some people assume that we are also very similar to each other. Sure we have our similarities, but like every couple we also have our differences. Some are minor and some are opposites like the sky and the earth.

For example, last Saturday evening we went jogging and running at the park. I learnt that my husband likes to run in the morning while I prefer running in the evening. I like to run my stress away reflecting the day’s events while enjoying the cooling evening breeze. My husband on the other hand prefers to run as a kickstart to the day while taking in the freshness of the morning air.

I’m sure we will discover more of each other and I am enjoying as well as embracing the process thus far. That’s what makes marriage so interesting isn’t it? Allah presents you with differences in your partner so that you can find ways to work together and make it work beautifully for the both of you. I believe marriage is about letting these differences be and making it work to the best of our abilities.

Afterall, it did take us a quarter of a century to become the individual that we each are now, a beautiful person that God has specially moulded us to be. So with two beautiful individuals combined, the result should be an art that is profoundly beautiful. And that is what our marriage can become, if He wills.

May Allah continue to put love and blessings in our marriage, InsyaAllah πŸ™‚

Before you love someone else, you must learn to love yourself.

Before you love yourself, you must learn to love Allah and His Messenger.

Only then will you love easily.

As love is the root of all creation.

Mencari Ilmu Bersama Walau Perjuangan Berbeza

Note: Blog entry is in Malay language today.

sl2-2a muslimahs
Bersama Ustazah Majidah (di tengah, dalam tudung putih labuh), guru ilmu fiqh kami.

Minggu lalu kelasku yang terakhir buat semester ini.Β Semester ini, kami mempelajari ilmu tasauf, serta sambungan ulum quran dan fiqh munakahat dari semester yang lepas. Menghadiri kelas di madrasah aljunied setiap minggu walaupun kekadang sukar dan penuh cubaan, sesuatu yang menyeronokkan terutama sekali apabila bertemu dengan teman-teman seperjuangan yang gigih menimba ilmu setiap pagi Ahad.

Semakin aku belajar, semakin banyak yang aku tidak tahu…

Aku kagum dengan semangat teman-teman yang seusia dengan ibuku tekun mencari ilmu dalam usia senja, serta salah seorang temanku yang baru melahirkan anak pertamanya akhir tahun lalu tetapi cekal menghadiri kelas setiap minggu. Terima kasih Allah, kerana memberiku peluang mengenali hamba-hambamu yang istimewa ini.

“Seseorang itu sentiasa menurut kelakuan temannya, maka hendaklah seseorang kamu memerhatikan siapa yang dia berkawan dengannya.” (Riwayat Tirmizi)

Pada permulaan semester, aku seorang muslimah yang belum berumahtangga. Tetapi di akhir semester pula, aku sudah bergelar seorang isteri. Ada seribu satu perasaan yang bermain di minda apabila mengenangkan pernikahanku, yang telah berlaku dalam masa enam bulan ini. Bagaikan mimpi tetapi ia adalah suatu realiti. Aku tersenyum dan juga memikir panjang. MaashaAllah, suatu perubahan yang besar dalam hidupku.

Aku sedar perkahwinan adalah satu amanah dari Allah s.w.t, dan insyaAllah akan ku pelihara amanah ini dengan seerat-eratnya dengan kasih sayangNya.

Ahad depan dan yang seterusnya merupakan minggu-minggu peperiksaan pula. Setelah itu, kelas berhenti buat sementara waktu untuk cuti dan semester baru akan berlangsung pada akhir bulan Jun insyaAllah. Semoga Allah mempermudahkan urusan peperiksaan kami, dan menerangkan hati serta meluaskan minda kami insyaAllah.

Kepada yang membaca, mohon du’a ya! πŸ™‚

Spiderweb Swing (Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art)

spiderweb swing

Yesterday my husband and me went to Bedok Reservoir Park for an evening run. It’s my husband’s second time running at this park, but for me I have been coming here since my childhood. There is also a playground for children at the park, but the playground constantly changes through the years. I discovered yesterday that a new swing has been added to the playground family. What I love about it was the spiderweb-like pattern chains making up the seat of the swing. I have never seen this kind of swing before, and I thought it was a lovely work of art on its own.

(Also, I could not help but played on the swing for a while before starting our run! :P)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art

Aku Kagum DenganMu.

Aku kagum dengan bahasa Melayu.
Aku kagum dengan ulama’ terdahulu.
Aku kagum dengan ilmu.
Aku kagum dengan Tuhanku.

Bahasa Melayu bahasa ibundaku.
Bahasa yang indah kekadang menusuk kalbu.
Ya, ia mungkin tidak seindah bahasa Arab,
tetapi mempunyai keistimewaan tersendiri.
Berjiwa sopan penuh kelembutan, itu sudah pasti.

Ulama’ terdahulu sangat aku banggakan.
Semangat membara mencari ilmu yang mendalam.
Alhamdulillah kerana kerajinan dan kekentalan mereka,
Yang membolehkanku membaca kitab di depan mata.

Ilmu dunia, ilmu akhirat.
Semuanya datang dari Allah.
Jangan sesekali menyombong diri akhwat,
Kerna ia boleh ditarik darimu bila-bila masa sahaja.

Tuhanku yang Maha Esa, yang Maha Segalanya
Sembilan puluh sembilan nama yang dikenalkan pada kita
Wajarlah kita mengambil masa mengenal personalitiNya
Kita akan menjadi manusia bahagia penuh taqwa, InsyaAllah.

Sepotong karangan dariku, hamba yang kecil
Sepotong ilham yang ditulis, di blogku yang terpencil
Terima kasih kerana membaca
Salam sayang dari siti mardhiah

Nota penulis: Bahasa Melayu, ahli ulama’, ilmu dan Tuhan. Empat topik ini mungkin ada atau tidak ada hubungan sesama sekali, agak “random” jika difikirkan, tetapi bila digabungkan ia mewujudkan satu karya yang sempurna. Sebenarnya itulah kehidupan. Semuanya berhubung dengan satu sama lain, tidak ada yang berdiri sendiri tanpa teman. Kecuali Tuhan semesta alam.