A Special Space for the Solemnisation

As mentioned last Thursday on finally booking my solemnization venue, here is the mosque where my solemnization, or nikah is going to take place InsyaAllah.

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It’s the Alkaff Kampung Melayu Mosque! I want my nikah to be held in a mosque because not only is it Allah’s abode, there will be more angels praying for our wedding and marriage InsyaAllah. I love it when angels pray for us, MashaAllah. The awesome thing is that this mosque is just beside my house so it will be a stone’s throw away from the reception area which is at my block.

Months prior to my booking, I asked my aunt who teaches at the mosque to collect the booking form for me. Recently, I went to the mosque office and sent in the form for booking of the solemnization area. The sister then showed me the space where the nikah is usually held, at an area in the Muslim guys’ prayer area.

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Masjid Alkaff doesn’t charge for usage of space in the prayer area, which typically takes around one hour for solemnizations. Only if you book the multipurpose hall will they charge accordingly (though I’m not sure how much). Afterwards, I sent these pics to my fiance and he was like, “I’m nervous just looking at that…” well my dearest husband-to-be, better start practicing your lafaz akad nikah (acceptance of marriage contract) from now on! 😉

Alhamdulillah that I’ve managed to book the space for our solemnization. I hope that the nikah will be as smooth as possible InsyaAllah. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward for our first solat (prayer) together like newlyweds Diana Amir (one of my favourite Malaysian celebrities, presenter-actress) and her husband, Habib who recently got married last week, on 25 October 2013.

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Not forgetting the first salam as husband and wife! I love her shawl style, very long and flowy and most importantly loose and covers the chest area. The color is lovely, too. As well as the intricate beading. And the dais, is just so gorgeous. Like being in an enchanted garden… Love everything in this photo!

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And now, come November, just slightly less than 3 months to the ijab qabul (offer and acceptance of marriage contract). InsyaAllah.

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May Allah ease our affairs in planning for a blessed wedding, and may He put sustenance, happiness and blessings in all our lives. Ameen.

Source for Diana Amir’s wedding photos

How to Cope (and Heal) with the Grief of Losing a Parent

Grief.

What a short five letter word, but which carries a huge burden of emotions.

On 23 December 2006, I lost my father due to an unexpected heart attack. I was 19, and it was my final year studying in Nanyang Polytechnic. As he left very suddenly, my family did not have any time to prepare mentally for his passing as compared to if he had been suffering from any major illnesses. Death is like that. When your time on Earth is up, your time is up. As Muslims, Allah teaches us that death is inevitable for every human being and it has been written in the Book of Records (Lauh Mahfuz) the age that we will die and leave this Earth to move on to the Hereafter.

“Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere,”Al-Baqarah, 155

Accepting his death was manageable, but it was dealing with his loss that was difficult. To accept and redha with Allah’s qada’ and qadar is the key to dealing with the grief of a loved one’s passing. It is only then can you be at peace with the loss. But how does one actually accept and redha, and overcome this huge grief, all the while filled with the pain of knowing that you will never see this person again, ever..?

I’m sure everyone who has gone through a similar experience has their own ways of dealing and managing grief, but these were some of my ways of coping, grieving and healing as well as the lessons I’ve learned along the way:

1. Realize that death is NOT the end. It is only the beginning to Hereafter, and that you WILL meet them in Jannah, InsyaAllah.

We have been put on Earth to worship God and collect pahala, or rewards, and then return back to Jannah, our permanent dwelling place. So death is just the opening to that world, the place where we truly belong. The place where we came from. Heaven. Eventually, we will all meet in Jannah one day, so don’t worry about not being able to meet them anymore because you will, insyaAllah. This thought has comforted me a great deal especially at times when I miss my father so much. My father was a gift to me, but now Allah had taken back this beautiful gift because truly it had belonged to Him in the first place. Who am I to complain?

“So glory to Him in Whose hands is the dominion of all things: and to Him will ye be all brought back.”Yasin, 83

2. Don’t shut off from the world completely. Keep your support system close; even if you do not feel like talking to anyone.

I had a healthy social life but there were many times when I just wanted to be alone. I wanted friends to stop asking me how am I? I wanted to say, of course I AM NOT OK. But I didn’t want to be looked at pitifully as I already was. I didn’t want people to think I am weak. So I would say I’m OK and flash a smile. What I had done was put on a mask instead of being honest with myself and other people. What I should have said was,

“I’m not OK, but I do need to be left alone at this moment. Thank you so much for checking with me, I truly appreciate your concern. But at this moment, even I don’t know how to exactly cope with this so do give me space to figure it all out. I know I can always contact you if I need your help.”

I’ve come to understand that people will understand it if you are honest with them. After all, they just wanted to help even if they may not know how. Let them help you, in their own ways.

3. Don’t be afraid to get help. There is nothing wrong with you if you seek help for grieving. You are NOT mental.

Two years after his passing, I was at the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was the eldest of my siblings and I was feeling very stressed with the added responsibilities. I felt that I had to do something about it. I had a family friend who was a counselor, and without anyone knowing at that time, I requested to see her. She recommended me to her friend, a psychologist and counselor from overseas who would be coming to town that weekend, arranged for our meet-up and even booked a place for the consultation. The psychologist, Hani, had me do some exercises which were very useful and listened to me objectively. Hani was such a warm person to begin with. I didn’t know how much she was going to charge me for it, knowing how much these sessions usually cost, I just left it to God and prayed,

“Dear God, I want to be a better person and be redha with your plans but it is so difficult now. Please make it easy for me.”

And MashaAllah, at the end of the session, she told me that I didn’t need to pay a single cent! Wow, truly Allah is the Best of All Planners.

4. Throw away your guilt and regrets. Nothing happened because of you, and no amount of “if only I had…” will help you with anything.

When my father came back home from work the day that he passed away, I was in the room using the computer and did not go out and salam him like I usually do. I can’t remember why but I must have been busy with something. Moments later, the Angel of Death had taken him away. I felt guilty and regretted not salam-ing him afterwards. But no amount of “if only I had..” will help you with anything. Realize that these are just the whispers of syaitan who aim to make you feel guilty and regret so that you are so consumed with grief that you forget about God. Do not succumb to the devil’s whispers!

5. Listen to Yasmin Mogahed’s videos and read this amazing article; “Why Do People Have to Leave Each Other?

Do not attach yourself to dunya. It is very easy to say that but Yasmin Mogahed has a such a beautiful way of expressing and articulating this. Reading the article, listening to her videos and audios really helped me lot in my healing process, Alhamdulillah.

6. Realize that your mother is going through this for the first time and sometimes, she will not know what to do.

What happens when you lose a father? You start to discover your mother at a whole new level. Allah says in Surah Al-Baqarah, 187, that husband and wives are garments of each other. They are tag team players in their marriage institution, they are supporters of each other, they complement each others’ strengths and weaknesses, and most importantly, they cover each others’ shortcomings. So when one of them is gone, the children start to see things in the other parent that they normally do not see because the other parent, now gone, does such a good job of being an excellent partner who covers up for the other. It was through this experience that I can see how truly what Allah means in the verse, MashaAllah. It is only natural that when you lose a partner, you will feel lost doing things alone.

7. Ask Allah to make you and your family strong. Allah is the Almighty. True strength only comes from Him.

This may sound simple, but many times we forget to ask God because it is so simple. Prior to losing my father, my mother lost her mother one month before that. Imagine the “bomb” she had to go through. Imagine the devastation that she would have felt. But Alhamdulillah, Allah gave her strength to carry the tests and overcome it in a matter of years.

8. Take time to grief, do not rush the process. Do not compare your grieving period with others because it differs and that’s okay.

I eventually took three years to overcome my father’s death, but it was only after three years that I could admit that it had taken me three years to do so. Previously, I had been in denial and thought that I didn’t need to grieve. It varies from person to person on the time it takes to overcome grief after the passing of a loved one, and the grieving process should not be rushed.

9. Your family will surprise you. They need to heal too, and they are what they are – human beings designed to feel.

I’ve always seen my aunts as “my aunt”, my uncle as “my uncle” and my grandmother as “my grandmother”. My father was the eldest among his siblings of five. He was the leader of the pack, always the organizer of events, the jovial person in the family, the one who would lead the prayer in family events. So when he was gone, even his siblings were at a loss and needed time to heal. My two uncles, sibling number 4 and 5, now had to step up and lead the prayers. My first aunt, the second out of five now became the eldest sibling. My grandmother, who had relied on my father for many things, now had to cope with losing her first son. As she was approaching the 80s, she was also sad that her son went before her. Through this experience, I could see them as siblings going through the loss of an older brother, and a mother going through the loss of her first son.

10. Keep the Quran close to you all the time. The Quran is a Healer, take time to read, understand and reflect on it.

Last but not least, never underestimate the healing powers of the Quran. It is Allah’s love letters to you, your Creator who knows every single thing about you regardless of whether you show or hide it. Surely, His words will heal you. He presents you with tests and He also presents you with the tools to help you pass the test. It is not his wish to see you sad without a purpose, but to make you stronger in faith. I shall end this article with one of my favorite verse, a beautiful verse from Surah An-Nur. Remember that grief, a time of darkness, is only temporary. Allah will get you out of this dark times and into His Light, InsyaAllah.

“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.”An-Nur, 35

There is Something to Be Grateful for Everyday

5 Things I’m Thankful for Today:

1. These kiwi and starfruit muffins I made today! Recipe from here, but as the recipe called for two kiwis and I only had one kiwi I added up starfruit instead. Yumz.

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2. My awesome 11-months younger brother who is my wali for the wedding. He’ll be sitting beside the kadi during my solemnization and although my wedding hasn’t happened yet, I’m just so proud of him now.

3. For having money. Just yesterday I after I bought a meal with my sister, I was left with no more cash notes. My brother then came to join us and jokingly (or not jokingly) asked me to buy him a meal. I immediately said, “I have no money” when in fact I should have said, “I have no cash right now (so I can’t treat you)”. He reminded me that if you don’t have cash, don’t say you have no money because God has indeed given you money, Alhamdulillah. Saying you have no money is like saying you are not thankful for the sustenance God has given you. Alhamdulillah for the timely reminder.

4. Applied for our marriage through ROMM website yesterday. Wow this makes it really real.

5. Last but not least, getting our preferred kadi to solemnize our marriage. Alhamdulillah. 🙂

My Kinabalu Story: Chapter 3 – Summit & Descend

We woke up at 12 am and proceeded to the canteen to gather and start our climb to the summit. It was really cold by then and I had 4 layers of clothing – thermal wear, 2 layers of outerwear plus my adidas windbreaker-like jacket and gloves. Wore thermal leggings as well and then proper track pants. For my headscarf I had 3 layers of outerwear; a knitted inner, a ninja (so my neck is extra protected as well), and my thick pashmina shawl. Alhamdulillah, all this layering paid off because it kept me warm. Temperature was minus 3 degrees! Since we would be climbing in the dark we had to wear a headlight as you can see below. All set to go!

gear up for summit

Something funny happened after this though. Our group was supposed to gather at Gunting Lagadan hut before we all leave together to start climbing, but silly me had followed this Japanese group in front of me and missed the path to Gunting Lagadan hut! Slenger seh. After a while something seemed amiss as I knew I was supposed to stop somewhere first, but somehow as it was dark and I was not sure where the hut was plus I was too scared to turn back, I continued on…

guys at gunting lagadan hut

My group at Gunting Lagadan Hut – with the exception of me who had unabashedly started climbing without them. I promise it was completely unintentional. At all. Starting with them would have been more comforting (I mean like D-U-H, although in hindsight having a headstart might have prevented me from suffering from AMS and disallowed me to deal with any nervousness or anxieties while waiting to start). But no worries, I soon caught up with some of them especially Bai and Wan, the 2 fastest climbers in the team.

sampai gate

Taken during the day, but this is the gate near Gunting Lagadan hut that starts the climb to the summit. The one that I missed while climbing up at night… So once you see this gate on the way down, you know rest is near!

path to summit

The steep uphill path towards the summit (taken after I descended and managed to take a breather). No more walking or hiking here, but climbing, bouldering, however way you can think to navigate your way up. This part was truly mental strength 80%, physical strength 20%.

me at summit

Finally reached the summit of Low’s Peak at about 6+ am Alhamdulillah. It was no longer very dark and the sun had started to appear. Felt extremely thankful Allah allowed me to climb His mountain and reach His summit. The sun had already risen by the time we reached, so we could not sit down and see the sunrise. Which was absolutely fine with us! The view was just breathtaking. Magical that is Allah’s creations.

mus ez me sg flag

Whose “brilliant” idea was this?! (note: sarcasm) There, that guy on the left. Funnily enough, a Caucasion climber saw and said to us, “Hey you guys from Singapore! Cool!” Ya must tell the whole world right Ezriel? Haha. Malu seh.

south peak

View of the beautiful South Peak. Subhanallah. Simply amazing.

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A glimpse of the sunrise from afar. A contradiction of man-made creation, fading away and God’s creations standing tall and magnificent.

the other side

The other side of the summit, where some climbers sat to enjoy the view and take a break from a night’s worth of climbing.

Descend.

This was the exact route we walked and climbed, in the dark… Lucky thing we climbed in the dark, so we could not see the steepness of the boulder!

night climb morning view

We started to descend from the summit after about 30-45 minutes. It was still chilly (still had my gloves on) and also had to give other climbers the chance for space. The temperature was starting to rise and although it was still chilly, it started to get warmer bit by bit.

najib and duo uncle man to summit

Saw some of my group members coming up while we were climbing down. I started to take more photos and climbed down leisurely while the two brothers, who had patiently waited for me during the hike up zoomed on and left me alone started to descend quickly. Since I couldn’t take pictures during the hike up due to the darkness, I relished this opportunity to snap away! Furthermore, my toes were starting to hurt wearing the rubber shoes…

me and kasree

With Kasree, one of our senior guides. He’s very experienced this guy and told me to stick closely to the rope. He shared with me that Kinabalu weather can be very unpredictable, one moment it can be sunny and the next it may start being really foggy, start to rain heavily or become very windy. That’s why we are encouraged to climb with windbreakers on. Alhamdulillah and fortunately, we had good weather throughout our journey although Abang Amirul did mention the possibility of rain seeing that it rained the day before we started our climb.

me between peaks

Yeah and then I asked Kasree to take a photo of me in between two peaks…

sayat sayat check point

Sayat Sayat Check Point, which is the final checkpoint before the summit. Here, there is an officer-in-charge inside the booth and he will record all the names of the climbers as well as check their name tags. This is for the certificate and for tracking and safety purposes.

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Super amazed and inspired with this lady from Japan. She was much faster than me all the way climbing down, I felt like a weakling… She and her climbing partners continued leisurely climbing down while chatting in Japanese. I was trailing along behind them when I did not feel like walking alone and also nobody else was behind me! I enjoyed their company, even if I could not understand a single word they said…

timpohon gate

Reaching soon! Halfway there…

me at timpohon

Finally arrived at the end of our climb. Yes InsyaAllah, if God wills I will definitely come again 🙂

terima kasih sudi datang lagi

(Signboard says, “Thank You Please Come Again” in Malay).

mardmood: This post is part of the series “My Kinabalu Story” based on my expedition to Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia on 26th September to 1st October 2012. For more chapters go to ‘Kinabalu Khronicles’ in the Categories section.

Ten Things Off the Wedding To-Do List!

Today allow me to toot my own horn a little as I list down the things I’ve managed to settle these past few weeks in my never-ending wedding-related TO-DO list, Alhamdulillah.

  1. Recce-ed Nanyang Polytechnic for outdoor post-wedding photoshoot
  2. Booked solemnization venue at my preferred mosque, Masjid Alkaff Kampung Melayu
  3. Confirmed the color theme for my family’s outfits
  4. Contacted Nani@artsygeekchic to design a mock-up of invitation cards
  5. Settled wedding photographer
  6. Settled groom’s outfits with Kak Nonie
  7. Booked flights for NZ, Alhamdulillah
  8. Sent bridal evening gowns for drycleaning
  9. Got started on wedding day(s) itinerary
  10. Obtained my wali and saksi/witness details (full name and I/C numbers)

Alhamdulillah for these completed tasks. There’s more to come, I’m very sure of that. Fellow BTBs have reminded me that the TO-DO list gets longer as The Big Day gets nearer, MashaAllah. This week, I aim to settle my solemnization and traditional outfits, apply for marriage at ROMM website and settle NZ accommodation InsyaAllah. May Allah ease my affairs and put blessings in my days, InsyaAllah. Please make du’a for me and my husband-to-be 🙂

Green is My Hue. Weekly Photo Challenge: The Hue of You

green is my hue

I went to East Coast Park with one of my girlfriends today and we stumbled upon this spot and totally loved it. The tree branch was hanging and it was the perfect spot to sit and relax on it. I didn’t mean to wear green and be matchy-matchy with nature today, but I am loving the shades of green in this photo. Bright green, blue green, brownish green… Seeing all this green in this photo makes me feel peaceful and relaxed surrounded by nature, being at the beach… A timely reminder for me to relax and take a breather in the midst of the craziness of everything that’s going on. Alhamdulillah. 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Hue of You