Jonah.

Jonah. (Yunus in Arabic).

The Prophet who got stuck in the whale for a long period of time until finally, he got out of it by saying the tasbeeh.

Subhanallah. Walhamdulillah. Walailahaillallah. Wallahuakbar.

He recited it repeatedly, praying to God countless times, to have mercy on him and to forgive him for giving up easily.

He was supposed to spread Islam to his community but he had given up due to their responses. He got upset. And he was not willing to continue. Until he was thrown out of the boat he was in and landed in the whale’s stomach. The wet, disgusting, smelly, fishy, slimy, stomach of a whale.

That’s who I’d like to meet. One of the days we shall, sit under a tree in Jannah and have a little chat about his experience InsyaAllah.

It’s about “How I Survived Being inside the Whale’s Stomach.”

And if Allah should touch you with adversity, there is no remover of it except Him; and if He intends for you good, then there is no repeller of His bounty. He causes it to reach whom He wills of His servants. And He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. – Yunus, 107

It reminds me that when we’re stuck, feeling like there is no other way out, recite the tasbeeh. And repeat.

Glory be to God. Thank You Allah. There is no God but Allah. Allah is the Most Great.

And if Allah permits, I’d like to meet the perfect man, Muhammad. And courageous Moses, cool Jesus, handsome Yusuf, and the rest of the Prophets too.

InsyaAllah, Ameen.

Inspired by Daily Prompt: It Builds Character.

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.

sunrise mt k

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 🙂

A Muslim Astronaut’s Ramadan and Quran in Space

In today’s Faith Friday, I will be sharing an inspiring interview I did for Ramadan.sg in 2011 with Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, a Muslim astronaut from Malaysia. He flew to Space on 10th October 2007 and returned to Earth on 21st October 2007 under an agreement with Russia through Malaysia’s Angkasawan Program. An orthopedic surgeon by nature, he shares his experience fasting in Space (Eidulfitri was on 13th October 2007 so he managed to experience Ramadan in Space for 2 days). 

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“And whomsoever Allah wills to guide, He opens his breast to Islam, and whomsoever He wills to send astray, He makes his breast closed and constricted, as if he is climbing up to the sky…” Al-An’am, 125

That was indeed how Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shah felt while he was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the Soyuz TMA-11 almost four years ago. In Singapore for a 2-day talk at ITE Simei last week, Ramadan.sg interviews him about Islam, Ramadan and the Quran.

RAMADAN.SG (RDSG): This year’s Ramadan theme is Rejuvenate Ramadan with the Light of Al-Quran. So we would like to know, did you happen to bring a copy of the Quran when you were in Space?

SHEIKH MUSZAPHAR (SM): I did. I brought 2 copies of the Quran, when I came back I gave one to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, and the other one to my mum. I read the Quran everyday when I was in Space and it was the best feeling ever. And since I came back from Space, I’ve been studying the Quran a lot, because I realize that everything is in the Quran.

When I was giving a talk in Egypt, I was sharing about how I felt when I was launching up in the Soyuz and just couldn’t breathe as I went higher and higher into Space and a professor from Egypt came up to me and said, “Dr Sheikh, whatever that you have shared with us, it is in the Quran,” and he shared with me this verse;

“And whomsoever Allah wills to guide, He opens his breast to Islam, and whomsoever He wills to send astray, He makes his breast closed and constricted, as if he is climbing up to the sky. Thus Allah puts the wrath on those who believe not.”  (Al-An’am, 125)”

So it really intrigues me, and I have been studying the Quran especially on life in Space and life as a whole. Are there other life forms outside the Earth? The closest I have come to this was this verse, although it doesn’t say specifically if there are other life forms out there;

“There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, or a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you.  Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end.” (Al-An’am, 38)

RDSG: What is your favorite verse in the Quran?

SM: My favorite verse is definitely Al-Fatihah as it is the mother of the Quran.

RDSG: What about any particular zikir or doa that was in your mind the whole time you were up there?

SM: Well when I was at a very young age, my grandmother taught me this doa that says,

“O Allah, increase me my knowledge, ease my task for me, and remove barriers in my speech, so they may understand what I say.” – Taha, 25-28

I have been reading the doa repeatedly ever since and it just calms me down. I’m blessed that she taught me this doa.

RDSG: Can you explain in detail on how you spent Ramadan in Space?

SM: Even though I am the 9th Muslim astronaut to go to Space, I was the first Muslim astronaut to go during the fasting month of Ramadan. Spending 2 days in Ramadan before ‘Eid Mubarak was the best exciting experience ever. I did not feel hungry and tired, on the other hand I felt so calm and relaxed that I wish this Ramadan it would be the same. It was a great feeling to be able to experience Ramadan in Space.

RDSG: So what do you miss the most about being there during Ramadhan?

SM: The thing I miss most is just experiencing how beautiful and magical the Earth is. Allah’s Greatness could really be felt when we were above the clouds. I was in awe and at the same time feeling touched at how big Allah’s Greatness is, which can be felt all the time. Every time I look at planet Earth from Space, I would get goose bumps and I could feel my heart beating faster and my eyes just affixed on the magic that is Allah’s World.

During my Hajj last year when I was looking at the Ka’abah from my hotel, I noticed some similarities between what was happening (on Earth) and what I saw in Space. It was that the Tawaf was being done in an anti-clockwise direction, similar to how all the planets also orbit in an anti-clockwise direction. So why is that so instead of them moving in a clockwise direction? Everything is done for a purpose and that is something I would like to study about.

RDSG: So was the Ka’abah visible from Space?

SM: No, I could not see any man-made buildings from Space, but Prince Sultan (referring to Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud , the first Muslim astronaut who have traveled to Space in 1985) did mention that he saw the Ka’abah light up from Space. Everyone gets a different miracle while in Space, for me I heard the Azan while I was there.

RDSG: Yes about this, where did you hear the Azan from?

SM: It was inside the ISS and I was very sure I heard the Azan. I look around whether anyone else heard it, and I didn’t know whether they did not understand what the Azan was or they did not hear what I heard. But it was such a magical experience for me at that time.

RDSG: Wow. So what did you eat when you were there?

SM: We had so many kinds of food. The French brought cheese, the Italians brought pizza, the Japanese brought ramen, the Koreans brought kimchi, so we brought Malaysian food to space, like satay, rendang, nasi beriyani and kuih bangkit during my fast in Space. We even had chicken, fish and vegetables. But your taste buds changes in Space. Some foods that you like on Earth, you may not like in Space.

RDSG: That’s very interesting! So did you bring dates, or kurma, to break your fast?

SM: We did not. We were not allowed to bring just any kind of food as the Russians were very strict on the guidelines. So there were certain selective foods that were allowed. We even wanted to bring durians, and Malaysia actually created a no-smell durian which we thought was good, but then we were not allowed to bring it.

RDSG: Did you bring any supplements or good vitamin food to Space? Like raisins?

SM: Prior to our trip in Russia (for 6-months training), we had selected the foods that we would be bringing. Hence we selected the kind of foods that we like and everything was based on the amount of calories that we would consume every day in Space, which is why it was a very selective process. But, kurma is definitely one of the best foods ever as it is high in energy. If I am given the opportunity to fly to Space again, I would definitely bring kurma.

RDSG: How did the other astronauts react to you having to stick to Halal food?

SM: The best thing about Space is that it doesn’t matter what country, race or religion you come from, everything is being treated professionally. So I did not have any problems praying in Space or eating Halal food. They knew my religion as a Muslim and they respected it.

RDSG: So did they ask any questions about Islam? And what was the most-asked question?

SM: They do. Majority of them are Christians and not many Muslims have gone up to Space. They always ask “What does Islam mean?”, “Why do you have to believe in Allah?,” “Why do you have to eat Halal food?” as these things fascinate them. Thus we try to explain to them the beauty of why we do all this, why we need to slaughter animals the Islam way – that it benefits the animals, and it is not healthy for us if done the improper way. They were amazed by the explanations and wanted to know more.

RDSG: Ok last question. What do you have to say to Muslims all over the world for this Ramadhan?

SM: When I went to Space, it was very important for me to show the world what Islam is all about. Islam is a way of life, no matter where you are – whether you are on Earth or in Space; you must do your ibadah as it is your responsibility as a Muslim. These are the things I did, and I am trying to bring back the glory of Islam especially in Science and Astronomy.

So I am trying to reach out to the Muslim community out there to be more “ber’ilmu”, or knowledgeable, especially in Science and Astronomy. This will bring back the glory of Islam so I do hope to inspire the Muslims out there, all over the world. InsyaAllah.

END.

Watch the video interview here: http://youtu.be/mGv2NNcUQ70

The Beauty of the Day of ‘Arafah

arafah_07

Today is 9th Zulhijjah, which is the Day of ‘Arafah.

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arafah normal day

This is how Mount Rahmah, (“Mount of Mercy”) in ‘Arafah, Makkah looks like on a normal day.

arafah hajj 2

And this is how it looks like on the Day of ‘Arafah which is today.

arafah hajj 3

Arafah was the place were Adam and Eve met once again when they were sent down to reside on earth. They came down on two different spots but eventually were able to meet and recognize each other on this plain. Arafah here means “to get acquainted”, so based on this opinion Adam and Eve got acquainted to each other on that very same land we call today Arafah.

The Messenger of Allah (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “ الحج عرفة “ or “Hajj is Arafah“. The Arabic text implies a very important concept of the meaning of Hajj. This short statement means that the whole hajj and its validity is confined in the actual day of Arafahi.e. Hajj becomes valid only when the day of Arafah is observed and witnessed by those who undertake the journey, the pilgrims. Regardless how long the hujjaj stay in Makkah, if they missed that single day, they have then missed the whole Hajj.

Source: The Truth Behind the Day of Arafah & Its Name

arafah hajj

To me, the day of ‘Arafah is such a special day. Even if we are not in Makkah, today is the day Allah grants all our prayers. The air is just different this day, it is a day where hearts are united; not just Adam and Eve but the hearts of Muslims all over the world. Unity in prayer. Unity in love. Unity in asking for forgiveness from God. And that is such a beautiful thing.

I received a beautiful message from a friend today and I’d like to include it here, making du’a (prayer) on “Makeful Monday”:

On this day of Arafah, the most favoured day of Allah my du’as for you…

May the Rahmah of Allah pour down on you and in your home continuously.

May Allah record your name amongst those who will be forgiven.

May Allah accept all your du’as and grant you sustenance with lots of Blessings.

May Allah grant you the strength to fulfil your obligations to the best of your ability and confirm your entrance into Paradise InsyaAllah.

To know more about the significance of the Day of ‘Arafah, click here.

Choosing To Be And Stay Happy

imam-ali-bin-abi-talib-ra-on-grief-over-the-past

5 Things I’m thankful for today:

1. I’m thankful to be getting married to my wonderful musician, IT-geek fiancé (I still find it weird to call him my fiancé, can you imagine calling him, err, my husband? Feels so “adult”… I knew him since 6 years ago in polytechnic back when we were in our late teenage years so sometimes it feels surreal that we are actually getting married soon (it does not help that we are both leaning on the petite sized spectrum). There are times when I am frustrated over the wedding plans and things not happening the way I want it to be… But I am reminding myself to be thankful for these moments and embrace it insyaAllah. After all, like Ameera from Muzlimbuzz says, the challenges are necessary.

2. I’m thankful I was able to perform my umrah, or mini pilgrimage in 2009. It is Hajj season now and due to the current renovations happening in Makkah causing space constraints in the areas of the Masjidil Haram, the quota for pilgrims this year has shrunk tremendously. The impact this brings to a small country like Singapore is that many would have to wait for a long queue – at least 5 years – despite having sufficient amount of savings and preparations for Hajj. Even though I have not done my Hajj, I am thankful that at least God gave me the opportunity to step into the sacred lands of Makkah and Madinah. Even though it was only for a short period of time (13 days), for me it was the most memorable trip of a lifetime.

3. I’m thankful for my cats. As I am typing this, Kak Long is sitting on my lap about to doze off soon. Having cats made me see that even cats have feelings and their own personalities. I have 4 cats at home and they couldn’t be any more different despite having the same DNA. And having cats gives you the opportunity to do good deeds, as taking care of animals are considered good deeds as well. That was why Abu Hurairah r.a., the Prophet’s companion decided to keep cats as pets. His name “Abu Hurairah” is actually a title given by the Prophet s.a.w. which means “Father of Cats” because he always had a cat following him wherever he went!

4. I’m thankful for my Don’t Be Sad classes every Tuesday nights. I always look forward to the class after a long day at work, especially if the day happened to have had some problems or issues that could give me a headache. Last Tuesday, Ustaz went through with us the contents and meanings of Surah Ad-Dhuha, which means “Morning Light”. In it he reminds us that Allah can overturn one’s condition as He is the One who provides all sustenance. And that the Hereafter will be better than the present…

5. I’m thankful for coming across this saying, “Wealth is not determined by abundance of possessions, but wealth is the richness of the soul.” As human beings we don’t consciously choose to be happy so it is a conscious effort to be happy *and* stay happy. The best thing is that we forget sometimes we don’t have to have much to be happy. I’m choosing happiness, and so should you! 🙂

One Last Salam

The night my dad passed away, I was using the computer in my brother’s room.

I heard the usual turn of keys at the door lock, and my dad entering the house. It was 11pm and he’d just came back from work. Usually I would go out and salam his hand (kind of like a handshake, but an informal one, something you do out of respect and something I’ve always done with my parents) but that night, for some reason I did not. I continued using the computer. I can’t even remember if I acknowledged him or not.

A couple of minutes (or maybe more) later, in a panicked voice, my mum called me and both of my siblings.

I went into my parents’ room to find my father in his last few moments of life.

He’d had a sudden heart attack and the impact was immediate. He was 47 and does not have a history of heart illness. But he was, a smoker. And several years ago, my granddad too had passed on due to the same cause of sudden heart attack at 63 years old. When something is meant to happen, nothing can stop it from happening.

It has been seven years since his passing. I miss him everyday.

If time were to have stood still, I would rewind it to the moments before God took him back. I would get my butt out of my computer chair, out of my brother’s room and salam his hand. Or maybe give him a hug. Who knew it would have been the last one I would ever have?

For now.

I’ve grieved enough Alhamdulillah and I can honestly say I don’t regret or feel guilty about it. Regret and guilt is something no one should ever have to live with. I don’t wish for things to be different, but I do think about it sometimes. Those everyday moments we tend to take for granted.

Till then, I look forward to the day I meet him in Paradise where I’ll run up to my father excitedly, salam his hand and embrace him with a big, long hug. I am thankful for this life is not permanent and a better life awaits us. Perhaps in Paradise, insyaAllah. If God wills. Janji Allah itu pasti.

“Is not He Who created the heavens and the earth able to  create the like thereof?” – Yea, indeed! for He is the Creator Supreme, of skill and knowledge (infinite)! Verily, when He intends a thing, His Command is, “be”, and it is! So glory to Him in Whose hands is the dominion of all things:  and to Him will ye be all brought back.” Surah Yaseen, 81 – 83

Inspired by today’s Daily Prompt: Standstill