About Me

My photo

She writes simply to put her thoughts together.
Sometimes they're well-structured, sometimes they're in absolute mess.
But always, they're personal.

Ultimately, this is all for Him.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Connecting the Dots

Bismillahir rahmanir rahim,

I’m now halfway through my winter break and biiznillah, I travelled to Andalucia, Spain for 8 days and went to FOSIS (Federation of Student Islamic Societies) Winter Conference the weekend right after. This year, the conference was held at Keele University, located near Stoke-On-Trent.

When I wanted to register for the conference, I was hesitant, mainly because I would’ve just gotten back from Spain the day before it starts and thought that it would be too exhausting. But I decided to register anyway since I know my spirit was in desperate need to be boosted. So I reminded myself of the intention of my doing all this, and then bismillah, bought all the tickets needed to go there. When I was on my way there – even when I was in the middle of the event – I still hadn’t had a clue of why I was attending it. So I kept renewing my intention and making dua, 
“Oh Allah, I do this just for you. I came here only for you. I don’t know what good this will bring to me, but you know me better than I know myself. Teach me of the great knowledge you own, ya Allah.”

My days in Spain taught me a lot of things. Mainly of the further understanding of the history of the Muslim world. I never bothered to understand history before, especially when it’s just so boringly taught in secondary schools *I had really awesome history teachers but the whole syllabus being too factual and the system being too exam-oriented wouldn’t catch anyone’s interest. It was only after my trip to Turkey last spring that I realised the importance of history: that it makes up who we are and what’s happening in the world around us, and that it teaches us how to work our way from the present to something that we can predict in the future. Learning history is so powerful given that you live by the spirit of it. I regretted the days when I never truly learn by heart the history taught at school. But, I believe it’s never too late to start anything.

At the archeological site of Medinat Azzahra

So, post-Turkey, I decided to buy Steven Runciman’s The Fall of Constantinople 1453 and have a read at it. I couldn’t understand a thing. There’s just too much background to everything and I had too little knowledge of the Ottoman empire in Istanbul, let alone the background of the Muslim kingdom in general. I bought another book on Crusades, hoping it would shine some light on it but, that too came to a dead end. I didn't even know where things are in the globe. How did I expect that I could make sense of the spread of these movements? So I dropped my pursuit of understanding history and ventured into other things instead (and refocus on my studies!).

Then that trip to Spain happened. The spirit was rekindled. I was thirsty to know of the details at every corner, especially because the Muslim Spain empire lasted for so long that it links a lot of points in history. 
One of the pillars in Alhambra, Granada

It even feels so connected to today’s modern world! It was only through the history of Andalucia that I can finally make sense of the inheritance of Islam through these years i.e. why there were different khilafah empires at different times, how the Muslim population nowadays are spread out as how they are, how Europe is now so synonym to being the land of Christians, and just so much more. I was enthused by the knowledge that I gained yet I wondered what I could do with it. As someone who finds pleasure in gathering more and more knowledge, these questions bothered me. 

Why do you really want to know this? 
Is it just for the fun of putting the pieces of the puzzle of history together? 
Or is it because you want to make use of it to create a better future?

There’s this authentic hadith that describes the 5 phases of the final ummah, with each one subsequently leading to the other (of which you can listen to a rather nice explanation here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84mD-whEfxw)
1.      The time of the Prophethood
2.      The time of khilafah which follows upon the prophetic methodology
3.      The time of biting kingship (monarchy, lasts for so long)
4.      The time of tyrannical kingship (forceful, military)
5.      The time of khilafah which again follows the prophetic methodology

After telling of these 5 phases, Rasulullah s.a.w was silent. As a believer that lives by the shahadah (there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah), it is a must for me and other Muslims to believe in this prophecy. I came across this hadith a long time ago and amazingly, every single time I reviewed it, my understanding of the hadith developed deeper and deeper.

What is agreed upon by scholars is that we are currently living in the fourth phase of the hadith and nobody knows when the fifth phase is going to come. The fact that it’s already written in Lauh Mahfuz and there’s nothing we can do to change it (unless Allah wills it) makes it thought-provoking. My thoughts of this hadith progressed from
“Oh okay. God knows when that fifth phase would happen. We’ll see if it’s going to be in my lifetime or not,” to
“I wish I could see how that fifth phase would be like. Wouldn’t that be nice,” to
“I want to be part of the fifth phase but how?” then finally to
“For goodness sake, can’t you see Sofina? Everyone is working towards making the fifth phase happen. You can foresee with your own bare eyes that it is already approaching that time. Islam doesn’t need you to make it happen. It’s going to happen anyway, with or without you. If you don’t do anything now, then you’re definitely going to miss out!”
So coming back to the story of Spain. Now that I’ve witnessed the history of the third phase and learned how it links with the fourth phase that we’re in, I just know that I need to start working so that I can be part of the people who are the soldiers of Allah that helped implant Islam back on the face of the Earth. At least when I’m done with this world and return to my Creator, I can say “Oh Allah, this is what I did for your deen, may you be pleased.”

I left Spain with the question: how?
Part of Alhambra seen from Albaizin

It’s funny because this was the exact same question that was on my mind (of which I bugged other people into thinking about it as well) as we had our trip to Turkey. Over the summer, I thought I’ve resolved it but as I got back from Spain, the question popped back again, demanding a more precise answer this time.

               As I was attending the FOSIS conference, this question kept ringing in my head to the point that I was bugging my close friends with it. At the same time, I was attentive of everything that was happening in the conference. The event was wonderful mashaAllah but the one message I believe Allah wanted me to take home is: 
Indeed, Islam is going to rise back up real soon. Real real soon.

               If it’s not within everyone’s knowledge, FOSIS is the overseeing body responsible of supporting the Islamic societies (ISOCs) in universities all over Britain. In this conference, besides giving insightful talks and beneficial workshops to the members of isocs (or simply, Muslim youths), FOSIS also connects directly with isocs by discussing relevant issues faced by isocs, how to help isocs overcome their struggle, etc. And the connection doesn’t just work one way. Isocs are also able to help improve FOSIS by putting front what they think is lacking/slacking in the body, ask questions to clarify things, and give suggestions on things that could be improved. FOSIS committee themselves held a session where they put everything on the table of what they’ve done through half of the term of their holding the post for the sake of transparency and accountability. Furthermore, FOSIS is deeply involved with NUS (National Union of Students – United Kingdom) which politically connects with the government, and FEMYSO (Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisation) which gather together Muslim youths throughout Europe. Simply put, this makes FOSIS a legit both national and international body.

               Coming from Malaysia, I was jaw-dropped to see such professionalism in the whole organisation of Muslim students. All this while I thought FOSIS is run by people in their 40s but no, these people are basically my age (I don’t think any of them who runs the things directly has actually reached their 30s) and they’ve done such phenomenal things. The fact that they can unite Muslim students nationwide firmly is in of itself amazing but, internationally? Mind-blowing, dude. There’s this brother who said that he’s connecting with another brother in Istanbul and they’re planning of putting together something big. That’s like one end of Europe to another man! As I listened to the things he said, suddenly the whole of Muslim empire that once stretched from Spain to China is flashing right before my eyes. If that isn’t unity, I don’t know what is.

               A few years back, often, when I hear about the issues related to the ummah, my reaction would be the same as many other people “We’re not united. How can we react when we’re not united?” and always there would be a tinge of hopelessness in it as I don’t see anyone doing anything about it and I myself don’t think I can’t do anything about it. Even until now, whilst the Muslims community in Malaysia are fighting over trivial things, here in Britain, they just put it flat on your face, “We’ve got bigger things to think about.” They still have trivial issues that keep popping up and they still try to tackle them but they don’t get bogged down solving that particular issue. They may think that they keep falling into that trap but believe me, from the way they work, you can tell that they see a bigger picture, and they have a set goal to achieve.

               In my eyes, what they’ve accomplished so far is a huge success. And seeing how they work, there would be much bigger success in the future inshaAllah. I may not have stayed in my country’s system for long to really understand its behaviour but what I admire about these people the most is that everyone keeps reminding everyone of the words of Allah, their priorities, and their position as the slaves of Allah. And that even though they ask one another of each other’s ethnicity (they're really diverse!), they never put weight onto any of that as they see each other as brothers/sisters in Islam more. The common ground is Islam so it doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or brown or yellow or red or blue or green, born-Muslims or reverts, as long as you’re a Muslim, they’ll take care of you. I also truly love it that they really mean it when they say
“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re all here for the sake of Allah, inshaAllah”
“May Allah Azza Wajal accept from us”
“MashaAllah, we’ve accomplished…………alhamdulillah”
*although to be fair, some of them do speak Arabic but still, some of them don’t and they still know what they’re saying

               So as I’ve witnessed such a movement after attending the event, I was really hit that that fifth phase in the hadith mentioned is really going to happen sooner or later. What huge loss I would be in if I choose to be just an observer from afar and let everyone else do the work of upholding Islam. As clearly said in the Quran,

“....So race to (all that is) good. Wherever you may be, Allah will bring you forth (for judgement) all together. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent.” (2:148)
Imagine on the Day of Judgement, you see someone you know be held accountable for all the goods that you witnessed they’d done and you could’ve had the chance to be part of it but you didn’t, then you were left on your own, with no “complete race” to present to your Lord. Nauzubillahi min zalik.

"It’s either we make history, or we become history" 
– Soldiers of Allah (rap group from Los Angeles)

Monday, 7 July 2014

Blessed first third of Ramadhan

People kept on asking me why I decided to go back to my hometown later than other people this year. I might have given different reasonings to different people but the real solid reason is that I want to feel Ramadhan here. Some might say that it's a ridiculous thing to do considering that I have an option not to. Here are some of the reasons why they say so.

  1. Because of its long hours (19 hours)
    • Well honestly, I see Ramadhan as a mean for me to boost my iman and I see that the long hours could help me get that boost. Otherwise, does that mean that Ramadhan is just for the sake of feeling hunger and thirst that I should be put off simply because I have to fast for a longer time (well, 7 hours longer to be exact)?
  2. You get to do that next year
    • Are we even sure that we would be around to have another taste of Ramadhan next year? Besides, even if we get to experience it inshaAllah, it would be during the exam season. It won't be much of a festival of ibadah by then (more like festival of study).

The main reason why I want to experience Ramadhan in the UK this year is because I want to get that spiritual experience that I feel lacking throughout my years of fasting during this month. Malaysia has its own culture of Ramadhan (which is beautiful mashaAllah!) but I would like to break away from doing Islamic things culturally and truly get the essence that Allah wants me to get from Ramadhan. So I sought on my adventure of having a third of the Ramadhan month (10 days) in the UK this year. No study, no commitments, just me and my Lord.

Despite the long hours, I never actually really feel hungry. Honest! Yeah, my tummy grumbled, my throat felt dry, and I feel drained at the end of the day but I never actually feel hungry for food. It is strange because I usually have this behaviour of having food cravings and imagining food (even regularly having dreams of eating food during my naps) while I'm fasting, be it in Ramadhan or voluntary ones. Yet, I don't get any of that nonsense throughout these few days. Amazing. What's more amazing is that I eat very little food during iftar. I am never excluded in being one of those people who stuff their face with food right after the Maghrib azan and eat till their tummy can't take it anymore but this time around, I ate just what I needed. I had iftars at different people's places and all they do is feast me but yeah, I had only tolerable portions of dishes. The only thing that is a problem to me is that how short our nights are. Maghrib is about 9.45pm and Isha' is about 10.45pm while fajr is about 2.30am. The amount of ibadat that can be done is very limited that I try my best to not sleep at all until fajr so that not a single minute of the night is wasted.
*now don't go all "you shouldn't sleep after fajr" with me. How else do you think I should get my sleep.

In the first three days, I need not to think about having to cook at all since we kept getting invitations to have iftar here and there. From here I get to feel the sweetness of brotherhood in Islam and how everyone rushes in doing good deeds this month (especially in the part of feeding people who are fasting).

Starting from the 2nd of July (my birthday) till the 6th, I planned on following a friend to go on her North tour. This friend of mine is an Alimah so she gives Islamic talks at different places. She was having programmes all over North in the first few days of Ramadhan so I asked if I could follow her around and she said yes. I had no idea what to expect. I even bought my train ticket just a couple of days before departing. For all I know, I just need to get to Preston and from there, all my accommodation, food, and transportation would be taken care of. Little did I know, that Allah planned my 5-days journey to become a beautiful story.

Story build-up: Getting to know people in the North.
I headed towards Preston from Manchester, of which I spent the whole day in a city with the very usual sightings I get everyday. Preston was different. While I was waiting for someone to pick me up at the train station, I saw a number of women in niqabis and abayas. In other places, a niqabi would be seen as someone who looks very different than other people that they would get stares etc but here, there are so many of them that people don't really take note of them. Later on I found out that the places that I would go are the places that the central asian muslim community is so strong and big that occasionally I forgot that I'm actually in the UK.

My friend is a Pakistani whose mother tongue is Urdu but speaks fluid English. Most of her talks are in English since the community are largely British Asian (which can be of Pakistani or Gujerati or other ethnics) but she would occasionally slot in Urdu sentences or do it bilingual when there's older people in the audience who generally speak less English. Ever since I know her and my other friend who's also an Alimah, and after spending some time with them, I realised that my brain could automatically comprehend some Urdu words due to my basic knowledge of Arabic and my history of growing up with Hindustani movies. Despite being more comfortable speaking in Urdu, these people are so nice to speak largely English in their conversations because I was in the room with them. And they are always apologetic when they speak full Urdu in front of me. Some even made the effort of explaining what the conversation was about. Truly, they live up to this hadith:

Abdullah reported Allah's Messenger (pbuh) as saying: "If you are three, two should not converse secretly to the exclusion of your companion for that hurts his feeling" [Muslim]

And speaking of sunnah, these sisters I made friends with are just amazing pious people who live with sunnah in almost everything that they do. I feel so undeserving to even be around these people and never have I ever thought that I would meet such people. They say we should be around pious people but it seems that Allah is putting pious people on my plate. Truly, Allah never gives you less than what you asked for.

The Climax: Malaysia Day
It was the end of the third day of my trip and I was so tired after all the travelling etc. I have to admit that that night, I grew tired of seeing people with dark clothing (since Malaysians are known to be all colourful when it comes to clothing) and the Urdu language. Yeah, I do understand some of the conversations in context but it's not a language that I speak. Hence that night, involuntarily, the voice in my heart went "I miss speaking malay".

The next day, we went to a masjid for another talk. As usual, we met people, we gave salams, and we hugged each other. A little lady in niqab came to me and gave me salam etc and after all that, she said "Melayu ke?" (Are you malay?) and I was speechless. My jaw literally dropped and I didn't know how to reply "Err...haah. Are you malay?" *you can see how I was even unsure of which language to use*. Then she opened her niqab and exclaimed "Makcik melayu jugak!" (I'm malay too) and almost immediately I hugged her so tight and later on I did not speak even a single English word with her. After the talk, we had a long discussion over a matter that I can really relate to. You have no idea how she is the answer to a lot of my duas. Allahu :')

Later on, we reached a place where it seemed like everyone thought that I flew straight from Malaysia just to follow my friend. Hence, I got a number of people coming to me, telling that they went to Malaysia before, discussed with me on issues relating my country, etc. It was so nice although I cleared the misunderstanding that they had (that I was in fact travelling from Coventry, not Malaysia). It was mindblowing to think that I had only a brief thought in my mind in regards of Malaysia, yet Allah gifted me with more than I could ever ask for.

Denouement: Something to remember by
On my last day, I got to spend a little bit more time with some people and we got to meet each other more than just once. My trip was surely memorable, no doubt, but Allah decided to give me more than just memories.

I found out that there's this craze among children of making bracelets out of loom bands and I was interested to find out how they do it. Since I "took lesson" from a couple of restless 7 year-olds, it didn't really work out well. The next morning, a mother gave me this beautiful finished one that her daughter did as we were talking about it.

Unused miswak
A few days before Ramadhan, I decided to practice the sunnah of miswak-ing this Ramadhan and after a few days, I realised that it's hard to store the miswak since it's basically just a stick that would get wet and soggy if left in the toilet and is especially puzzling to figure out storage if we want to carry it in a bag for travel.
Again, it was just a mere passing thought when suddenly on the last day of my trip, a sister gave me this clever miswak container. Needless to say, I feel so much love from my Lord that day.

Miswak container

In fact, I felt so much love throughout my journey. The trip wasn't entirely planned. I went to Preston with very little idea of what would be happening. All I know is that I do it for the sake of Allah, not even knowing what to hope for. I learned countless things but these are of the main ones.

a) I have always known that I have this problem of having attachment to people. I've been trying to get myself fully detached from the world and alhamdulillah, I think I managed to get myself detached from other things (materials, success etc) but people. When I love, I just couldn't let go. And throughout this year, I can literally feel that Allah is training me to love for the sake of Allah and empty my heart from such worldly attachments. That I should only attach myself with the people that make me closer to Him yet willing to let them go when I have to, in the protection of Allah. It had been a tough training all this while but I can say that this trip was the ultimate climax of this tarbiyyah (teaching from Allah). I met so many amazing people that made me fall in love almost instantly yet I was able to say goodbye whenever necessary, praying that if we don't get to see each other again in the future, Allah shall reunite us in Jannah inshaAllah.

b) The hadith "be in this world as if you're a traveller" makes so much sense when you really travel. Besides not being able to have any attachments towards anything, travelling also taught me that I should make do with anything I have and put full reliance on Allah. Travelling is where you get your plans not able to work, and you don't know what exactly would happen at the place that you're going to that most of the time you would have to make sacrifices in terms of time and money and pray so much that everything would go well. I missed my bus, left my bag at another person's house, woke up later than I should and so much more. Travelling made me creative, developed my ability to make snap decisions and ultimately have full redha (satisfied) of whatever befalls me. Especially if you're the type who's always organised and wants everything to go your way, there are things that can never be learned if you don't travel.

c) Before going on this trip, I was doing 3 istikharahs. Basically there are 3 things in my mind that I need to decide on, that I seek Allah's guide. One thing about istikharah is that, I believe that we should do it more often (not just when we are deciding who to marry) so that we can develop the habit of thinking that our fate does not lie in our own hands and so that we can get used to how Allah gives us signs in answering our prayers. Anyhow, my point is, Allah answered all of my 3 istikharahs while I'm on this trip. With one even felt like Allah is telling me "What else do you want me to show? This? This? Isn't this clear enough?" lol.

d) Being a mother. My friend is a mother to an 11 months-old girl. Often when she's doing the talk, I would indirectly be the babysitter to the part that the girl already recognised me and got comfortable with me. I've been dreaming of having children ever since I was 12 but I had no idea how exactly it is to be a mom. The sisters that I met are mostly mothers that occasionally I would be asked whether I'm married and I would have a scripted answer "No, not yet. Make dua for me." hahah. I love to observe people so I truly understand now why they say that when you educate a woman, you're actually educating a nation. These mothers that I met are amazing people with such strong faith and you can see how that resonates in their children. With just one single pious mother, you can produce another 3-4 pious people for the next generation! Besides that, I learned about the high level of patience a mother would have especially when I get to experience it first hand. I need to bear having saliva all over my face when the girl gave me wet kisses, to not bother how messed up my hijab looks like after being constantly pulled and to not mind that my clothes smells of whatever food that the girl ate. But I was lucky because everytime the girl refused to stop crying, I can just pass her to her mother. My friend (along with other moms) is absolutely a Wonderwoman. Not just that she needs to handle the crying, but she also needs to struggle on putting her child to bed every single time, constantly waking up afterwards because her child suddenly wakes up at night, never able to rest during the day because the child would always do something and never be quiet, dehydrated because she would need to feed her and at the same time fast, and the list would go on and on. I'm not sure why Allah is showing my all this. Perhaps it's about time for me to get a heads up of being a mother? ._.

My friend's last words upon our farewell was amusing though. "I hope you get a husband as awesome as you and kids as awesome as Nukhbah (her daughter's name)" and well, what can I say. Ameeeeen :P

e) Last but not least, the barakat (blessings) of doing things for the sake of Allah. I stayed back in the UK simply for the sake of getting closer to Him and He showed mercy to me with all the unthinkable ease He showered. I mean, 19 hours of not feeling hungry is not normal, man. And in the middle of my travel, I was supposed to get my monthly back pain and cramps yet there wasn't a single sign of it. Not even until now. When they say count your blessings, truly, mine is countless. Allahu Akbar!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

That Iftar

Yesterday I had iftar at a sister's house. A close friend of mine. She held a talk at her house given by an Alimah (who's also my close friend) before we had the iftar. The evening's small event was only for sisters so we had two Malaysians (my housemate and I), a Sri Lankan, an Afghanistani and her daughter, two Iraqis, a sister from Trinidad and Tobego, a British Pakistani, a German, and the Alimah from Pakistan (I believe I got them all). How wonderful it was to have sisters from all over the world gathering in one room!

After praying maghrib, we had our meal. The food served was of a large pot of Briyani (cooked by the Afghanistani auntie), a feast of amazing German dishes (since the host was the German sister) and an addition of an Iraqi dish. Over the meal, we shared our stories, exchanged opinions, and discussed some issues regarding Islam/Muslim. Wallahi, that evening was one of the very beautiful evenings I've ever had though some of us never met each other. I felt truly blessed by being in the company of these people. We gathered in the month of Ramadhan, listened to a call to Him, observed the sunnah of making dua before breaking fast together, broke our fast together, and most importantly, we celebrated this one particular verse from the Quran.

Indeed, nothing stated in the Quran is of no importance. To be frank, I had this poster up my wall plainly because it was given by the Islamic Society (ISOC) during Fresher's Fair. Later on I discovered the beauty of this ayah as I started interacting with sisters outside my culture. Alhamdulillah, my university is very international so the sisters that I am friends with are basically from all over the world and they are all wonderful mashaAllah. I held on to this ayah all this while but I never thought the impact of it is truly vast. Everytime I interact with these sisters, there's always something new to learn and this doesn't seem like it's going to end anytime soon!

And yesterday was definitely one of the days that I had this burst of joyous blessing from this ayah.
I gathered strength from Syria, warmth from Asia, and awareness from West. It may not sound much but wallahi they are powerful. A tarbiyyah that goes straight into the chest, entered right into the heart.

It was so beautiful, I have no words for it. Thank you Allah for this experience. Thank you for bringing these wonderful people to me. Make them the people that you love, bless them with the gift of Jannatul Firdaus.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Living Below The Line: A Taste of Poverty

I am currently joining a project called Living Below The Line where it is basically a challenge for us to live with just £1 every single day for 5 days (or you can choose to make it £5 as a cumulative for 5 days). The rule was to count every single food or drink that we have, no matter if it is from our current stock or given by someone else. The only non-restriction that we have is the consumption of plain water since it is straight from the tap and should not cost us anything.

I came to know this when I was in the middle of my exam mess. It was a day before the start of my paper when my roommate told me of this and I didn't even allow any time for me to digest it in. I just joined because all of my friends are doing it and that my roommate was willing to sign me up.

As my roommate and I planned on what and how to eat, we tried to make rough estimation of the costs of the things what we normally consume day to day. Excluding the snacks, we probably just surpass that £1 limit since we normally don't spend in the uni (except for me indulging coffee occasionally) and that lunch and dinner are usually combined since we pack our food from home and stay at uni till late. So we concluded, it's not going to be that hard.

Or so we thought.

Day 1
I did my voluntary Monday fasting so everything appeared normal. With the fajr prayer now so early, I did not take any sahur at all (which is still normal to me) so my account remained £1 till the end of the day. It was just that, everytime I fast, I would develop some kind of cravings or thoughts of eating delicious food after I break my fast. I was thinking of chocolates and juice and coffee and a bunch of other stuff I saw while I'm at uni. Although I usually don't actually buy them (because I know it's just my nafs talking) or eat them after I break my fast (because I would already be full by then), it tore me apart that I CANNOT, RESTRICTED, PROHIBITED to consume those things because it would burst my budget. Already, I had a mental issue (even when I'm not even allowed to eat yet).

So I went back from uni after my exam, deciding what to cook for dinner. Thing is, I have this meat that I have always been wanting to cook because it has been in the freezer for ages. I am a meat lover so I don't want it to get spoiled even further. Thinking that I still have plenty of "cash" in my pocket, I decided to just cook it anyway, with the simplest dish that I have in mind: Daging Masak Kunyit (or literally translating it, meat cooked with turmeric). While cooking, my roommate and I were trying to estimate the price of things that we put in our dish, with me always saying "it can't be THAT expensive" and her being "I don't think it's that cheap".

Cut down the story short, with a dish that could be eaten by 3 people, eaten with rice that costed 40p per kg, along with some dates, we concluded that we had eaten 60p worth of food (though my roommate insisted that it was more and me holding to my ground that it's just 55p).

While planning for our meal tomorrow and realising how expensive things actually are, I already have the thoughts of giving up "But I'm having my exams. I need my energy. I eat a lot."
Weak. Lemah.

Day 2
This was a tough one.
The first hurdle was to have breakfast. Of course, the cheapest is some cereals with milk. But my cereal was a Special K with Strawberries and Chocolates! I bought it off Home Bargain last week because I thought it was rather cheap as compared to the price at other shops. Also for the fact that I grew tired of eating the ever-so-cheapest Crunchy Nut and Kellogg's Frosties that I deemed unhealthy because they are too sweet. Little did I know that I would be having to be on a very tight budget! So instead of being able to get it for lower than 20p (of which what my roommate concluded hers), mine had to be 40p (or possibly higher since I obviously eat at a larger volume than her).

Next, I was sleepless the night before and had to wake up around 4 am for fajr and had to stay awake afterwards because my exam would be at 2. I was still kind of sleepy and thought "I cannot be drowsy all morning! I wouldn't be productive!" so I said "Screw this. I need my coffee." and made a cup of instant latte that cost 37p.

Then, my roommate and I decided to study at the library of our university's Prayer Hall for that day. Of course we didn't grab our choice of chocolates or biscuits from our cupboard for this challenge but boy, for as long as we've been living in Britain, snacking is almost compulsory! So my roommate grabbed her large pack of cereal (which is the cheap one) so it can be our cheaper alternative of snack. Despite refraining ourselves, we ended up gobbling half of the whole pack which is like 50p for each of us (probably more). I don't know. I just couldn't stop. I was hungry. And I couldn't eat anything else. God knows how much moans I gave out that day. I became cranky just for not having food.

I kept on reasoning that I am having my exams, I cannot not eat, I need glucose, yadayada. But when I reflected back, my brothers and sisters in Syria and Palestine have a whole bigger reason to need food yet they're the ones who least have it. Shame on you Sofina! How petty is your struggle if it were to be compared with the people who are at war. It is true that Allah will never burden a person more than they can bear because frankly, I am more than 100% sure now that I would never ever survive this, not even poverty, let alone Syria. If I were there, I might even be one of the first ones to die. These people had to suffer so much and I thought that my suffering because of exam is beyond everything. What a shame.

As I went to my exam hall, I passed through the university's Piazza which is the centre of uni where everyone and everything is there. I was enjoying the sunshine when my eyes caught the sight of the ice-cream van. I was geared with joy! The van had already been coming regularly since the last days of last term but I was so busy back then to even bother its existence (and the weather was still cold to me). By the time I wanted a taste of ice-cream on my tongue, it was term break. And now it is right in front of my eyes!! I gleefully thought "Oh I'm gonna buy one right after my exam" then all of a sudden reality hit me. I can't. I. just. can't. You have absolutely no idea how heart broken I was at that time.

Good thing our meal plan for lunch and dinner was carefully laid out. They were both combined to be of fried rice with some eggs and half a packet of Malaysian fried rice flavouring (which I'm not sure if it's considered cheating or not because the price is almost negligible once converted to GBP). All in all, the maximum price it would be is just 20p per person. The struggle was that there wasn't plenty. We made it just enough for both meals and since I was not the one who did the cooking and everyone else don't eat as large a portion as I do, the meal was literally just enough to make me not hungry (i.e. barely full).

Towards the end of the day, I was drained. Partly because I've been up since 4 in the morning, another part is because of the tremendous amount of study and doing exam, and another part is of course, minimum food intake. Yet, we went to the Islamic Society's talk in the evening. They provided some refreshments and we account this as "courtesy food" so no charge on us (we're not supposed to but we weren't aware of this before). By golly, we (read: I) hoarded all the Bourbons and digestive biscuits. It was such such pleasure to get to eat even these simple biscuits. My heart bloomed with every bite that I get. Now I appreciate that every little amount of sadaqah (donation) that we give matters a lot to the people of need.

Day 3
I misread my lectures' timetable and was late for class. I didn't have breakfast and grabbed a couple of granola bars. I became cross at myself because I know that having one of these bars won't fill me up, let alone keeping me full until lunch. Good thing is that I bought them off Home Bargain which cost me 99p for one whole box instead of £2.99 so for each bar, I spent 16p. Luckily my roommate cooked noodle for lunch+dinner and brought them with her or else I might just beg for food later on.

Today would most probably be the saddest day of all. I was in the prayer hall's library when my stomach growled like there's no tomorrow. Long and loud. Everyone was looking at me so I decided it was time for lunch. I lasted with only that one single granola bar till 11.30. Hence, I ate that lunch that my roommate made. I was supposed to eat it with a friend of mine but she wanted to go to the toilet first. I put the meal in a bowl where I estimated enough for the two of us and started eating first but by the time she came back from the toilet, the food in the bowl was gone. I didn't know that I was that hungry to the part that the food just.... dissappeared. and I wasn't even full yet. and that is all that I can eat for now. I was on the verge of tears. Sumpah sedih gila wo.

Afterwards, I went to another lecture, with hunger still bears in me. I tried to concentrate in the class, not thinking about the hunger at all but I can't. Imagine someone, living a life that appeared to be the same as you, go to class with you, walk along with you, when actually they are dying of hunger. I was really really sad. Sad of myself being hungry, sad of the realisation these kinds of people really do exist. How ignorant I am!

I went back to the library and told my roommate that I need more of that noodle. I know it's for dinner but I am starving. Literally. When I looked into the bag, there was clearly not much left and I asked her if this is for 3 people's dinner and she said yes. I don't know what I felt at that time. It was a mixture of a whole bunch of thing. Angry, "You have got to be kidding me. If this is only for me, it might finish in two seatings. At this time, I can probably just finish it now". Sad, because food is scarce and all I could think of at that moment was "I am hungry. I want to eat". As I ate, I pondered that that kind of argument that I just had with my roommate could further be amplified in the case of an extremely poor family. "Yes I know you're hungry. I'm hungry too but there's just not enough food. If you eat now then there wouldn't be any food left for later. You need to hold on a little bit longer." Realising that this is actually a real case somewhere, I lost my appetite. I ate just a few spoons of that noodle, enough to stop myself from starving, and kept the rest for later.

Thank goodness for the no-restrictions for water because at least I don't feel thirsty at all. Though of course, it's still sad that I need to rely on water everytime hunger strikes.

Alhamdulillah, if there isn't going to be any other intakes besides dinner for today, I spent 32p on granola bars, and 50p on noodles.

My emotions are still bitter from today. Now that I have tasted actual hunger and starvation, I feel sick of those time that I moaned on twitter that I am hungry. How could I complain of being hungry and not do anything about it when there are other people who literally can't do anything about it. And in actual reality, if you're really hungry, you don't even feel the need of telling it to the people. All you want is food.

Then, in terms of sadaqah, I used to think that my monthly charity is good enough. Well yeah, better than not giving at all. But in truth, what can a £10 do to even one single person? My groceries are at least £50 a month and I expect that I could do my part in feeding the poor just by giving £20-£30 per month? Shame on me. Truly shame on me. All along I thought I had empathy towards these people but no, I was just sorry for them. Only now do I really feel them (well, still not entirely).

Alhamdulillah I'm already halfway there. Honestly, I'm dreading for this to end but imagine those people that lead this kind of life, not knowing when would be the end. I can bet that they are experiencing worse than this. I have to live off food and drink over £1 but they have to live off EVERY.SINGLE.THING. over that £1. And this doesn't just apply in places like Syria, Palestine, Africa, etc. Poverty happens everywhere. Even in the UK. Now I truly understand this, watching this video by NZF (National Zakat Foundation) again tears my heart.

And alhamdulillah, I learn new things everyday. I appreciate more things everyday. If you want to really know how I feel, how these unfortunate people feel, you can still participate in this challenge. I can tell you that it is all going to be worth it. But if you're not, you can still do your part. We took part in this challenge as to raise funds for charity under the name of Made In UK so you donate as to support what we're doing. You can visit our event page and get all the informations you need.