About Me

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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.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Ya Latif

It started with the realisation of this quote below
Do excuse the grammatical error
Should be "its" not "it's"

It is winter now, where fajr is from about 6.30 to 8.15 am. In theory, yes, the above picture is true but it's easier said than done. For the last 2 years, waking up for fajr in winter had been one of the biggest struggle. Partly because I'm the type who sleeps a lot. Another, the air would be so cold during winter that getting yourself out of the duvet is definitely one of the major struggles of the day. If you want to talk about fasting, no bother. Fasting during winter had been hard because you tend to get hungry fairly easily when it's cold.

Of course, you can come up with a million reasons of not doing things you don't want to do. Nak seribu daya, tak nak seribu dalih, kan?

After experiencing the whole summer in the UK this year, and knew the struggle of waking up early enough to catch fajr and fast the very long hours of the day, I am determined to not let this winter go to waste. Plus, if this is to be my last winter in the UK, I might never get this chance again.

I was very determined and managed to hold the determination for some while. But then, I got complacent. I tend to get bored very easily and sometimes I forgot to appreciate the blessings that I have, especially if it's obtained easily. Due to my packed (final year!) schedule, fasting was never hard (alhamdulillah, mashaAllah) because my classes or labs would usually be done when it's maghrib time(or after maghrib). So, often I didn't even have the time to feel hungry. And because of my packed schedule, I usually end my day quite early, very consistently due to exhaustion. Therefore, it is quite easy to set the alarm at 5.30 and even after half an hour of snoozing, I can wake up fresh and still have ample time for qiyamullail. But after all this had become a routine, I became satisfied to the point that I could no longer feel the sweetness of doing ibadah. Later on, I became lazy and fell back into the same old pit.

If you didn't get the idea from the previous paragraph, I actually dread this academic year. Last term was about assignments after assignments on top of applications and some other things I do outside of uni. I was overwhelmed by all the things that was happening that all I wanted was a break. Then alhamdulillah, the 4-weeks Christmas break came. I was overjoyed during the first week. I get to sleep whenever I feel like it, read non-academic books, and many more activities that I would feel guilty of doing during term time. I've decided that I would only get back to my academic works on the second half of the holiday, since I have got assignment due by the start of next term.

Halfway into the break, I had fun the last couple of weeks, trying my best to not think about anything academic-related that I put on hold. Now that that is over, reality hits my like a tsunami. I have got an 8-pages interim dissertation to hand in, and I have got tonnes of applications to make. Again, I got overwhelmed by everything that my thoughts were all going against me. I have had insecurity, anxiety, grief, and depression, all hitting me consecutively in the span of a few days. I was battered by my own emotions and I know I had to find cure.

You know how some people keep on saying that qiyamullail is the cure to everything? Even till now, those words still don't make sense to me. This is real pain kot. I still couldn't digest how that extra 2 rakaat, 10 minutes before fajr time can be a cure to anything. But they do. They really do. There's no explanation to it but trust me, they do. Whenever I tell people of my problem and all they could reply is "take care of your relationship with Allah. Do qiyamullail," a voice inside my head would go, "oh come on. Not this again. I want actual solution!" but somehow, I do it anyway.And miraculously, everything works out smoothly afterwards.

So the actual purpose of this post is this next part. Haha. Sorry for the long introduction.

Yesterday was probably the day when my prayers were replied as fast as lightning. I had been lazy the past few days and woke up for fajr at 7.30 for no apparent reason. It wasn't like I wanted to wake up earlier but I couldn't, I was genuinely intending to wake up that late. But during the day, my head was a mess. I told myself that I'm tired of being an adult (though I know I'm barely starting.lol). I was suffocated with everything that I have to do that I fell down to that low point again. So yesterday, after ranting to a couple of people, I decided to rant to Allah. Yes, I know, I should've went to Allah first, before going to anyone else. Sorry, that's a flaw that needs to be fixed.

I rose for a quick qiyamullail and poured my heart to Allah. One best thing about telling Allah your problems is that you don't even need to put them into words. Unlike telling to human beings, you don't need to explain your situation. The way I like to see it is like having a tangled earphone in my pocket. I just need to take out my earphone from my pocket, show it to Allah, hoping that He'll untangle it for me, and He would. That's usually the condition of my heart. Constantly tangled. And all I need to do is to present my heart to Him and He would do the rest.

So yesterday I received an invitation by Kak P to have lunch at her house. Kak P and her family had always been nice to me and I had not seen them in so long. I decided to accept that offer, with the simple niat of having some fresh air. At her house, she invited some other friends so it was like a small gathering of people. There was me, another undergraduate girl named S, and one other family. Throughout that afternoon, all we did was eat and talk.

At the dining table, we talked about all the hardcore adult topics. From starting up life, to financial issues, and even to family plans. It was a very dynamic conversation of the young ones (me and S) sharing their concerns, and the older ones sharing their experiences. It was a really amusing moment when S and I realised that we were sitting and having an intense conversation amongst the adults whilst their kids (who's aged 16 and below) were sitting in front of the telly, not having even the tiniest interest at our conversation. Abang M, Kak P's husband, did his PhD at my university before. He's now working as an engineer. Abang D, Kak P's friend's husband, is a research fellow at another university. He used to lecture at UiTM for a number of years before. They are amazing people with very rich insights. I was just expressing my concerns about my plan to further study when they provided me with a whole load of tips and advices. They gave us their opinions of what we should do next, why they think so, and the reality of today that made us think. Overall, it was a very fruitful afternoon/evening. This is why I believe that this statement below is very true.

I'm constantly amazed at how Allah works His wonders. His tarbiyyah is definitely personalised to that particular person He wishes to do so. He knows me well, better than anyone else. I walked out from Kak P's house yesterday with a clearer picture of what I should do, high on spirit, and ready to take on the challenge. Bismillah. I just hope that He continuously grant me strength from His side to endure all that is to come.

ٱللَّهُ لَطِيفُۢ بِعِبَادِهِۦ يَرۡزُقُ مَن يَشَآءُ‌ۖ وَهُوَ ٱلۡقَوِىُّ ٱلۡعَزِيزُ
"Allah is gentle to His servants; He gives provisions to whom He wills. And He is the Powerful and the Mighty" (42:19)

I used to sing out this verse everyday in my primary school. Now that I know its meaning, Allah showed me the true context of this verse. He would definitely help me out (i.e. give me His provisions) in whatever I do. And His help would come in the most loving (i.e. gentle) way possible :')

Monday, 17 August 2015

Grow and Change

The other day a friend of mine shared a personality test on facebook. Called the Myers-Briggs personality test, by far it has been the most reliable and trustworthy test, where most employers and organisations use it as a tool to get to know their employees/workers better. I've done this test multiple times (I would say it's pretty much accurate) but since this link has a better visualisation, I thought of sharing it here.

I first did this test when I was applying for a scholarship after SPM - when I was 18. I had a different personality back then. But I never thought it would be that different until I found out my result for the same test when I was 20.

So this test breaks down into 4 main categories.

  1. Either you're an Extrovert (E) or Introvert (I)
  2. Sensing (S) or Intuitive (N)
  3. Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
  4. and Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)
They each have their own weightage and percentage for each category. I'm not here to tell what the test is about and what those letters represent - you can try the test or google it if you want. Basically these 4 categories make up the personality that you are. Some might be a bit skeptical about it but as far as I know, all this while, it has been reflecting my personality perfectly.

So here is the comparison between the 18 year-old me and the 20 year-old me (until now).

This was me when I was 18 (and basically anytime before that).
Thorough description here.

And this is me from when I was 20 until present. Read more here.
By the look of these two results, I can confidently say that I changed 180 degrees! Minus the perceiving (P) instead of judging (J) bit of course. But I'm glad that didn't actually change because I've always considered myself being a very non-judgemental person.

What made me change, you ask? Who was I back then? Was it really different from the Sofina today? hehe

I was indeed a debater. At school, I took pride of it, especially on being extroverted. Because when you get all the opportunities and attention, who doesn't? But then the environment changed. Throughout the two years (and a bit) between the two tests I took, I went to a pre-university college that was harsh to my emotional and mental state, I went through several breakdowns, and I looked for God (not that I didn't believe in God before, but I didn't take religion that seriously, despite being in an islamic stream). I could feel the transition, really. 

Example 1
It was my first year in A-level. Since my college is basically a school with the A-level students being the sixth formers, there was this one time when the secondary school kids organised an interhouse debate and my house was lacking one debater. Since I have a background of being a debater, they signed me in. Simply said, I won, unanimously. Then I got into my second year. They were aiming for me this time round because of the glorious victory I had last year. Having gone through what I had gone through, what with our IELTS classes require us to provide unbiased arguments (stating both the pros and cons) for all of our essays, I wasn't able to be firm on my stand for that debate - hence lost. You might say that I was on the wrong side of the fence for this particular topic but...... yeah we might have had stronger arguments if we're on the other side but, no, really, I saw both the pros and cons of both sides. In the middle of the debate, I was actually agreeing to what the opponents said.lol. Enough said, that was the time when I was really sure that I have lost that debater side of me. 

Example 2
My parents had always advised me to listen more and tone down my harshness, especially in speech. I might have took heed a bit of the latter but it was slow and difficult as most of my friends were guys and you can't be friends with guys if you're soft and gentle - you'll be a girlfriend then.lol. The former, I never understood why my parents tirelessly said that to me. I believed that I do listen, but I also have a point to make. This is exactly an attribute of the debater personality - they do listen to people's points, but they have their own that they demand to be heard as well. Then my number of male friends shrunk and I developed to suit more in the feminine environment. The last close male friend I had, when I asked him if there's anything I should improve, he said nothing except "do you think you ever back down whenever we argue or have different opinions?" and he had me at that. I'm pretty sure he did most (if not all) of the giving in throughout our friendship. Yeah, I was that kind of friend ._. So I grew on, swallowing my egomaniac behaviour bit by bit until I happily listen and take in people's opinion before I develop my own.

The old me was hard, emotionless, and fierce, but I wouldn't say it was entirely bad. It was necessary for me to be so at that time. And even understandable too. Otherwise, I might have not survived my teenage years to come out as successful as I had been - big lol to the glory days. The new me is softer, full of empathy, and perhaps more open to things. It is understandable considering all that I went through and indeed, the behaviour is necessary for the conditions that I'm in.



People change. In fact, change is the only thing that we do. 
It's just that, it is upon ourselves whether to improve for better or for worse.
I've changed. In fact, I change every day - and I'm fully aware of it.
I just hope I constantly change for the better and not for worse.

Allah won't change a nation unless they themselves make that change. Right?

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Scientists

Someone printed this off and put it up our notice board.
Hilarious.
7 weeks in being a full-time scientist.

I left school with the aim of being a lecturer.
I got into uni with the aim of doing a PhD.
And I applied for the summer research project with the aim to get an insight of being a researcher.

I'm on a 10-weeks project so I'm just a couple of weeks away to being done now. The experiments are now tougher with frustrations being witnessed at every corner. After 7 weeks being in an office full of postgraduates and sharing a huge lab with a lot of people, I can safely say that all of the words mentioned in the picture is heard almost every day. I thought scientists are sensible intellectual people that don't curse but haha, they do. Very rarely do experiments work that when they do, you're in cloud nine.

Today was probably one of the worst days. One of our equipment wasn't behaving nicely today and after various efforts from very early morning till noon fixing it, with little to no effect, our mentor broke down. A lot of people were trying to help resolve the issue but my friend and I, being project students, just sat there minding out own business quietly, trying to not add to the tension. In the midst of the mess, one of the postdocs exclaimed to us "this is why you should never do a PhD in solid-state NMR" and a moment later another said the same. Funny, because one of them had been in the group for most of his career life.

I get entirely what they mean, and I can truly relate to the statement. Often do I find myself being brain-drained at the end of the day, doing the work that I'm assigned to do. But after looking at the end result that I obtained, I get this really high sense of satisfaction, and the frustrations and exhaustion all went away. I must say that I quite like doing what I do now.

I don't know. It seems like I'm doomed to be like this. Loving things that would definitely make my life a catastrophe, that I would definitely not excel in, that everyone else would tell me to avoid. Like physics, or Chinese, or perhaps solid-state NMR. Al-kisah orang sentiasa bertepuk sebelah tangan *insert awkward laughter*

But my heart is as stubborn as it can get, no matter how much the matter drives me to the wall. I cannot just tell myself to stop doing physics - I'm dead serious about furthering my studies after my degree. And I can't seem to tell myself to not do Chinese for another academic year - must be one of the stupidest decisions I would ever make in my academic life but I'm doing it anyway. I guess this is how Allah is teaching me of His love. Whilst I seem to be rejected by almost everything that I love to do, if I seek His love, He would definitely never fail me. It would never be one way. He promised that if I come closer by an inch, He'll come by a yard (figuratively), and if I come to Him walking, He'll come to me running.

So, if your heart is stubborn enough to chase those things that won't "love" you back, how strong is it to chase after the love that would guarantee you a better return?

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Bingit

Berdiri dalam kalangan manusia yang asyik berbicara,
Berebut hendak berada di tengah-tengah pentas dunia,
Mengutarakan pandangan mengetengahkan hujah.
Amar makruf nahi mungkar katanya.

"Kita orang Islam, 
Tak boleh duduk diam tak berbuat apa-apa."
Tapi berbuat "apa-apa" kah kita bila yang dibuat hanya berbicara lantang semata?
Atau itu hanya alasan kita untuk merendahkan manusia?

Jangan dikatakan kau berdiskusi,
Bila kau menilai hanya berdasarkan apa yang orang sebarkan.
Bila kau turut sama menembak manusia di alam maya dengan berahi.
Bila ruang diskusi di alam realiti hanya sibuk membicarakan perihal perkahwinan.

Sudahlah.
Teruskan berkelahi merebutkan trofi imaginasi,
Aku disini tetap teguh dengan perjuangan abadi,
Walaupun aku dilihat seperti diam sendiri.

Berbumbungkan langit, berlantaikan tanah.
Dengan cuaca yang sangat sedap, ah rasa nak minta nilah kat syurga nanti :3

Stale

Earlier this month, I had a conversation with a graduating senior during an Eid celebration hosted by the Malaysian community here. He was the only other Malaysian undergraduate doing Physics at my university and he did the summer research project (the kind of work that I do now over the summer) twice. After telling him about my doing one right now and how exciting everything is, he said "This is your third week right? Wait until you've done six weeks. Excitement usually dies off by then."

I find the statement interesting. I always keep track of the number of weeks I had gone through so I was looking forward in reaching the 6-weeks mark just to see if the case would be true to me too. Weeks went by and I still find my project interesting. Experiments had been working well, results were tremendously good, and I even received a good-job praise from my supervisor. Of course there's the occasional I-don't-feel-like-going-to-work-today feeling, but I never felt like I'm dreading for the week to end (of which I always felt when I used to work as a teacher). What could go wrong?

Then the sixth week came.

By then scholarship applications for postgraduate study in 2016 was starting to open so I had to start making up my mind on which area I want to pursue, which university I should pick, which course I want to apply to, etc. The constant searching and browsing through the net had led me thinking "yeah I enjoy my summer project, but am I really sure I want to do this for the next 3-4 years to come?" The thought process was long and exhausting, what with the experiment I did on the fifth week wasn't all that smooth and the sixth week was of reading articles and a failed attempt in the lab. It was on the Wednesday that this thought occurred to me: "I'm bored".

So the hypothesis was true after all.

Then later during the week, as I was talking to my postdoc mentor, for some reason I brought up this conversation I had with my senior, before that saying that I cannot imagine how people in the research area can withstand doing the same procedure again and again for more than a few years. Then my mentor asked "so do you feel that way?" to which I replied "well........." and basically said yes. What she answered back was probably the best answer anyone could give.

It was something along the line of
"Well, yes, the excitement dies off after a few weeks because nothing is new to you any longer. I think it's not because things are less interesting, it's just that you've obtained a certain level of maturity in the research. So really, you are actually going on to the next stage. So it's good."

Her words struck me so much that my passion for the research that I'm doing is restored :D

I can really reflect her statement on this conversation I had with a friend the other day. We were discussing about how pious people can be consistent in doing qiamullail while at the same time constantly feel it at heart when in my case, if I've been going on for some while, I no longer feel the sweetness of doing the night prayers. It would become a mere routine. The same goes with my interaction with the Quran. When I first know of the wonders of it, I craved more and more understanding but now that I've gotten the gist of the large portion of it, reading the Quran and its translation become routine. In the end, to most of us, the spiritual journey that used to be really sweet became dry and we begin to think: "is this all there is to it?"

It's normal. I used to feel bad about it. Which is also normal. But I didn't know how to go about it. Now I know that it's actually good to feel that way. Because it means we've progressed. But it also means that we had only gone through the first level. We need to be patient and be strong, because that's the only way to get to the next level.

And who doesn't want to attain the highest level of closeness to Allah? Kan?

It's wonderful to know that the teachings of Allah to his slaves can come from any angle at any direction, even from a non-Muslim :')

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Future

The future is daunting, what with I'm about to become a finalist (British colloquial term for a final year student) in a matter of a couple of months time. Despite knowing the fact that the final year carry the heaviest weight of my degree, having known how I've performed in my studies for the last couple of years, I decided to not stress too much about my academic performance anymore. Yes, it's important but being in a very fast-paced British system, it's about time that I take actions for my future plan.

Here's how I plan to go about it.

  1. Till the end of this year, go on an application spree. Apply for every single scholarships that I can qualify to, eventhough I have not decided whether I want to do a Masters first or jump straight onto PhD.
  2. Keep an eye on PhD projects across the country. Again, application spree. Apply whichever that catches my interest. It's best if funding is included. Will do Masters only if it's taught(?)
  3. By spring next year, if there's no news about scholarship/funding, do some job hunting for relevant research posts in Malaysian universities.
  4. In summer, if there's a postgraduate placement offer yet still no funding, application to JPA and MARA would be the last straw to further my studies. Be on the lookout.
  5. The ultimate last straw, go back home, continue job hunting. Preferably a post that includes a fellowship.
  6. Worst case. Fully dedicate myself in finding a husband if not have found yet by then.lol
That's basically the end of my degree right there.haha. Time would surely fly for the next year to come.
Trying hard to not panic. ha. ha.

May Allah ease everything.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Coffee chat

Siapa kata summer kita dok lenggang ja?

Dia punya penat tu rasa macam nak have a long coffee chat with a loved one.

Nak rant, nak complain, nak share my biggest fears, nak share my happiness.... Basically nak jadi human.

Mungkin ini cuma after effect orang yang dah lama tak telefon rumah. Almaklumlah, timezone punya beza dahsyat sangat. Yang kat Malaysia sibuk raya, yang kat sini sibuk bekerja.

Homesickness, kau main jauh-jauh!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Time vs Money

I recently moved out from my old house in E and moved into a house in C (which is closer to the university) for the summer. Cycling from this new house to my workplace takes about 5-7 minutes along flat ground (whilst the previous house requires 13-15 minutes downhill to uni and 20-30 minutes uphill going back). Besides having to only leave the house just 5 minutes before my office hour starts, I can also come back home for lunch. Talk about not having to pack my lunch early in the morning and have a very comfortable place to pray dhuhr!

Before moving to C, I had to commute from E by bus to my workplace because my old bike got stolen and I hadn't replace it yet. The bus takes about 10-15 minutes to reach the university with waiting time that can range from less than a second (in the event of my having to run to catch my bus) or 20-30 minutes (in the event that I missed my bus). I had to wake up at least an hour and a half before my office hour starts to get myself and my lunch ready. During lunch hour, after a very rushed lunch, I had to walk at least 10 minutes to a multifaith prayer room, of which I had to take my wudhu' in a toilet.

Having a bicycle is such a blessing, living near to my workplace is another!

This made me reflect on Malaysian's lifestyle, especially those who live in KL. So much of our time is spent on the road, getting from one place to another. On one hand, this is good for the radio companies as the demand would always be there. On another, too much stuff are wasted! I remember being stuck in a traffic jam in KL. When I looked around, almost every single car has only one person in it. Not just that we are wasting space (as one person would at least occupy 10 metres squared of the road) that leads to congestion, we are also wasting our petrol being at standstill or moving so slow at a time due to the congestion, and hence wasting our time being stuck in the congestion which could be spent to do lots of other things!

But of course, issues are easier addressed than solved. Most of us have no choice but to submit to such "wastage". Like in my case, I can't afford living in a house in C throughout the year. The houses in E generally have monthly rental of £100 less than the houses in C. So that's approximately £1000 savings per year! The reason that I'm able to do so now is only because I'm living on top of my friend's rent who's back in Malaysia for the summer (I pay a little bit less than she should). Although this house is undeniably cheaper than the other houses in this area, I wouldn't want to live in it outside summer because the house is too cold to live in. Even in summer right now, I stay in my duvet most of the time. So really, it's a matter of balancing time, money, and comfort.

As a student with money being crucial to life, I can only sacrifice what is free of mine, which is time (and sometimes, comfort). Hence the willingness of having to spend more time to commute. I guess it applies to most students too. Some are willing to cycle everyday through wet and snow throughout the year just so they don't have to buy the £350 yearly buspass. Some, make use of the little contact hours that they have in their course to work for £7 an hour instead of reading/studying.

Everything has a price to pay. 
If you choose to save money, then you are required to spend extra of your time and/or sacrifice your comfort. 
If you choose to have more time and/or be more comfortable, you need to agree to have less money. 
Whatever the choice is, just remember to spend wisely.

One of the characteristics of a mu'min is
"being heedful of time"

Hopefully I've optimised the balance between time and money in my life right now so that I can answer it well on the Day of Judgement when I'm asked "How did you spend your time during your youth?". Although, I do hope that one day when I have my own family, I can afford to have more time to spend with them. Wouldn't it be wonderful if by then I can live like how I am right now? i.e. not having to rush to work so I can send the kids off to school, being able to come back home midday to have lunch with them and arrive home early to spend the rest of my day/evening with them.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Graduation day

14/7/2015 marked an important day to a beloved friend of mine, namely (here) Kak S. She graduated from the University of Warwick with Degree of Masters of Engineering (Hons). Since the professional photography session would cost her a fortune, she opt for my service (lol, "service") as her personal photographer for the day instead. Of course, as an amateur recreational photographer, I don't produce pictures nearly as good, especially since I never covered a graduation ceremony before. Nevertheless, I decided  to post it up to commemorate the day.

Academics on stage, with their colourful robe, and Hogwarts-styled procession.

British style of "cap mohor kebesaran".

The choir group with the conductor. Unseen is the wind orchestra.

The celebrated person of the day, amongst the many seated graduates in the hall.

So I was placed at a seat with the worst view for this.

Part of the Sulbah "gang"

I suppose they set up this flower stage just so there's a scenic view for graduation pictures :P

In front of the department she was in for 4 years.


So the next couple of pictures were taken in the rain. It was heavily drizzling that day and we had to find shelter. After a few minutes of sitting down underneath an overhead roof, Kak S decided to stand in the rain and pose for some pictures whilst I remain un-wet under the shelter.

What are graduations, if there's no mortarboard-throwing picture, eh?



And that was it. Nothing fancy with studio photography or whatnot. Just some bunch of girls having fun celebrating their friend.

Congratulations Kak S! May Allah guide your ways and may you be blessed always :D

My Hijab Story Day

The other day, I went to a seminar on the X-ray facilities available at my university. At the end of the talk, we were able to visit any of the facilities if we want. I didn't intend to but ended up going because I hung around the concourse too long that I got invited to join them and just went anyway.

As we reached the lab, there were two people at the computer near the X-ray instrument. I recognised a face belonged to an undergraduate that I know is doing a summer project. We sat on the same table during our Get Started briefing and talked a bit at that time. I thought we went along fine so, intuitively, I expected a "Hi" or a smile at least, as a gesture from him. But he didn't. So I wanted to act that way to him instead, but having to realise he was avoiding any eye contact from me, I dismissed that thought. Oh well, never mind. The other person was an academic, whom I'm not sure whether he taught me before or if I had any interactions with him (as I am awful at remembering people's names and faces) but I recognised his face as well.

Our tour guide introduced the three of us (yes, there were only 2 who were interested in visiting the facility except for me) to those two people. First he introduced this one lady who is a chemist, from the Chemistry department (obviously). As he was about to introduce me and this other guy (who's a physicist), the academic immediately said "Oh I know them. You don't need to introduce them to me."

I was shocked. Partly embarrassed because he knows me although I can't remember him (but that happens too often) but I was mostly shocked due to the fact that he knows me well enough to not be introduced. Being an antisocial in a very non-sociable course, I can count the very few interactions I had with any academics. With this particular academic, I'm pretty sure that we haven't had any active interactions before. The closest contact I could have had with him is most probably of him being my lecturer (of which I can't remember for which module). If that's the case, it's not actually surprising that he knows me - but surprising still, that he remembers. I am in fact the only hijabi (specific term for a Muslim wearing a headscarf) amongst my batchmates in my course. With a selective number of the students being female, it is indeed really probable that I stand out from the rest of the class, physically.

That's one of the perks of being a female practicing Muslim. Your very presence is enough to make yourself memorable. You don't have to do much to get people to recognise you, if not remember you. It's good and bad, depending on how you see it and how you behave. If you do good, then it's not hard to gain a good reputation. Meanwhile, if you do bad, it's much easier to create a bad reputation. Like if I ask a question in a lecture hall, people would immediately take note of me - unconsciously if not consciously. One of my coursemates once remarked me as someone who's active in class (lecture) although I might have only raised my hand in the lectures a couple of times. On the other hand, once during my early days in my first year, I'd forgotten to bring my lab script and asked a very naive question to the lecturer "do I need my lab script for the session today". He rolled his eyes, said nothing, and disappeared. As I sat at a table, I felt a smack on my head and it was the lecturer, handing me a new lab script. See, I didn't even introduce myself. And the lab isn't tiny, with students sitting in a very scattered manner, assigned to various lab assignments. The fact that he could remember me without having to say a word, sends chills down my vein on the effect I can create if I slip at being good.

Later that day, after I got back from the visit of the X-ray facility, there was another incident.

I was at the bus stop near my house, waiting to catch a bus to go to the prayer hall to break my fast (it was still Ramadan then). I was on my own and later a man came and looked at the bus timetable. As the real time screen at the bus stop was not on, I told this man that the bus to the university was going to arrive in just 5 minutes time. We chat a bit about trivial stuff, like how the British does it. At the end of our conversation, he complimented my scarf of which he followed by asking "if you don't mind me asking, which religion is that?" and later I told him a bit about Islam, and that it's fasting month and I'm on my way to break my fast and stuff. He seemed interested.

That experience left me awestruck. One, because I seldom get to tell a non-muslim about my faith (which is a shame for someone who declared herself as being a daie) and two, because it wasn't just a compliment by a man (which is still unusual in Britain) but a non-muslim man. I mean, it's normal for us here to receive compliments from non-muslim women (mainly because it's a fashion and they don't usually know how this hijab fashion works so to see a Muslim working it, is something) but from men, no. And believe me, this wasn't the kind of questions that guys throw to pick up a woman or being flirtatious. It was completely honest (at least as how I see it) and he seemed so keen to know that I told him as much as I can tell in the little time I had.

I was wearing this hijab from Amsons, Birmingham.
Bought it for the one time we joined a nasheed competition.
(This maxi dress is from Poplook, Malaysia)
This encounter reminds me of the kind of encounter that Idris Tawfiq had on his holiday in Egypt when he wasn't a muslim. He told us in his talk at our university that there was this one boy on the street who constantly greeted him with "Assalamualaikum". It wasn't much from the boy but it was Tawfiq's first encounter to Islam. Later on he commented that he doesn't know what happened to the boy and the boy - who should be a full-grown adult now - must've not known of what happened to him later on as well. But he said, as he's an Islamic speaker, all of what he said in his talks that touched people's hearts, all of the people who came to Islam by his means, these all started with the simple salaam from that random boy on that random street. Imagine the amount of reward Allah would've given to this boy, collected with the simple act that he did.

This story truly motivates me in being a good ambassador of Islam, spreading the goodness of Islam by any means. And being a hijabi is actually a given advantage because I can "preach" Islam to people effortlessly.

Indeed, Allah has chosen that boy. May we be amongst that He chooses as well :)

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Scalding Heat

The other day I went to have iftar at a sister's house in London with a bunch of other sisters. My friends and I decided that we want to make murtabak, a type of Malaysian stuffed pancake (as how Wikipedia described it lol). After much considerations, we thought of making the fillings beforehand and cook them at that sister's house so we can save time and the murtabak can be eaten as fresh as possible.

Initially, everything went well. Well, quite. Londoners have a comparatively smaller house than non-Londoners hence the appliances that they fill up their house with are fairly limited. The sister didn't have a large pan for us to fry the ready-to-be-cooked murtabaks so we had to fry them one at a time. It took a while but we managed.

Running simultaneously in the kitchen (or the living room, I should say) were the preparations for the main dishes and whatnot. One of the things that were going on was two large rice cookers, cooking 10 (or more) cups of tomato rice. Everything was manageable until suddenly one of the rice cookers went out and caused a short circuit to the power plugs of the whole house. The lights and the electrical stove were fine though. Just the power sockets. Several attempts were done to fix it but all came to a failure. We had to resort to cooking the rice manually on top of the hob.

There were 4 hobs on the stove, with one not working so well. Now the rice occupied a good two thirds of the whole thing. Since the main dishes were yet to finish, they had to stop the process of our cooking the murtabak since it's just a side dish and we already made enough to feed the people for iftar. So we stopped.

After iftar, before our maghrib prayer, our murtabaks were high on demand. What served were cleaned, and we had plenty of uncooked ones left. Someone came up with the idea of cooking them in the oven simply because unlike the hobs, the oven was available. The murtabaks needed to be cooked that very night anyway, otherwise it would be spoiled. And it seemed like a good idea since we could cook several in one go and we didn't have to attend it the whole time. So we did just that.

It didn't turn out as how murtabak should be, of course. It looked more like a stuffed pastry than a stuffed pancake. We called it "murtabak puff". Nevertheless, they were still good in taste and by the time of suhoor, all of them were wiped off the plate.

What an actual murtabak look like

What our murtabak puff looked like

One of the incidents whilst handling the puffs in and out of the oven was that the tip of my finger accidentally touched the oven tray. It was just for a fraction of a second but my skin suffered from minor burn. A similar incident happened to me again when yesterday, I was with my friend, baking a cake. This time, my skin went purplish red after a few hours.

I know I might sound like a spoiled kid never getting rough or even a scratch but no. I just find it weird for me to get burns a couple of times over the span of just a few days. I've always considered myself being sensible enough around hot objects since I never get burnt scars before (but scars from other activities, plenty). The effect it has on my skin (decolourisation, pain, etc) still dazed me a bit. I mean, that's just a tiny burn from a fraction of a second in contact with a hot object. I cannot imagine what Khabbab, one of the companions of Rasulullah had to face - when he declared that he became a Muslim, he was tortured (like many other early companions) and one of the most distinct tortures he had was to have his clothes taken off and dressed in iron armor and left on the ground in the middle of the city where the sun was in zenith and the ground was scorching hot.

And I can never imagine myself being in contact with burning fire, let alone living in the hellfire. Just the thought of being killed in a fire gives me chills. My skin can't even handle the heat of the world (not even the maximum of it. For goodness sake, it was just a 170 degree oven temperature). Nauzubillah, may Allah protect us from anything that would lead us to be thrown into Jahannam and never allow the flames of Hellfire touch our skin.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Playing with Probabilities

The subject statistics taught us that if there's a bag of 10 sweets, with 7 being green and 3 being yellow, the probability of picking a sweet at random from the bag is higher for the green sweet, for obvious reasons.

Any layman can make sense of that.

Try this.
So say for us students (now I'm just assuming that my readers are mainly of my circle of friends lol). If most of our time is spent at the university studying instead of at home watching TV, the probability of us being called to meet our Creator whilst studying is much higher than whilst watching TV. And vice versa. That's why we should never stop working for His sake. Both for the reasons that we never know when would be our time, and also to increase the probability of having husnul khatimah (a good ending). Of course, everything is due to God's willing but Allah also stresses on the need to follow the sunnatullah a.k.a. the "law of the universe". For example, if you don't revise for an exam, you would most likely fail that exam and have almost zero chance of scoring it well. You can't expect to score magically well, do you?

Today I heard of the news of the death of brother Bashir Osman, who was the president of FOSIS (Federation of Student Islamic Societies) which is the organisation that managed the well-being of the muslim students in the UK [I attended the annual conference last year and blogged a bit about it here]. He did so many amazing works and even with his departure, he's in the middle of achieving some things. There is a facebook page that the brothers and sisters who are close to him set up to dedicate to Bashir, in the efforts of finishing his work.

The news of death of the people in my close network is not alien to me. I was really shocked when I first encountered it but I'm no longer surprised now. In fact, I long for my own death, if it means meeting my Lord. I only hope that Allah would choose me when I am in my best state i.e. Him being pleased with me and I'm being pleased with Him. Much like the state of the people in 89:28 (from the Quran). And this particular ayah resonates this fact about death really well.

"Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So the person who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desires during his time in the world].

And what is the life in this world except the enjoyment of delusion"
- (3:185)

Really really envious of those whom Allah invited to meet Him at the highest peak of their amal, much like the case of brother Bashir. May Allah spare His mercy on him and grant him the highest level of Jannah.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Seusianya Bahagia

"Bahagia itu dari dalam diri,
Kesannya zahir rupanya maknawi,
Terpendam bagai mutiara di dasar hati.

Bahagia itu pada hati,

Bertakhta di kerajaan diri,
Terbenam bagai mutiara di lautan nurani.

Bahagia itu ada di jiwa,

Mahkota di singgahsana rasa.

Bahagia itu adalah suatu ketenangan."

-Hakikat Bahagia, UNIC


Hari lahir tahun ini terasa lain dari yang sebelumnya. Walaupun keputusan peperiksaan baru-baru ini bukanlah seperti yang diidamkan, hidup telah banyak sakit dan perit, tapi entahlah, hari ini cuma terasa bahagia. Betullah, hati tu Allah yang pegang. Gembira dan bahagia kadang tak perlu bersebab. Kurnia Sang Ar-Rahman buat hambaNya di atas muka bumi.

Teringat bila dikatakan dalam al-Quran, seorang manusia yang melalui kehidupan dunia yang sangat perit sepanjang hidupnya, tatkala dicelupkan ke dalam syurga, dikatakan ia hanya merasa bahagia. Seakan tak pernah berbekas runtunan jiwanya selama di dunia. Sedangkan aku ini, baru dipinjam secebis rasa bahagia, dah rasa terpadam sakit dan luka yang dulu. Tak tebayang apa perasaannya nanti di syurga :')

Bila disoal apa perancangan untuk menyambut ulangtahun, sungguh aku tiada apa rencana. Cukuplah dengan aku mengenangkan segala nikmat yang telah dikurniaNya.

Di tengah-tengah jabatan Film and Television Studies,
kumpulan Magnetic Resonance dari jabatan Physics mendapat tempat dan makmalnya.
Di tengah-tengah liku-like bangunan yang membingungkan,
Allah menunjukkan cintaNya kepada seorang hamba yang hina.

Disampaikan lagi ke Ramadan, dan disempatkan melalui separuh perjalanan, walaupun dengan ibadah yang patah-patah.
Dipilih untuk menyambung perjuangan orang lalu sehingga ke hari ini, walaupun hati dah hitam legam dengan karat jahiliyah.
Dikelilingi orang soleh dan orang yang cuba hendak menjadi soleh, walaupun hidup dalam lautan maksiat.
Ditawarkan pekerjaan yang sangat mengujakan diri, walaupun sebenarnya sangat tak berkelayakan.
Diberi rakan sekerja yang sangat baik dan mentor yang sangat sabar, walaupun diri ini susah sangat nak dipupuk untuk bersifat demikian.

Syukur.
Itu sahaja yang boleh aku katakan untuk hayatku genap 22 tahun ini. Alhamdulillah. Semakin dekat dengan mati, semakin dekat menemui Illahi. Ah, tak sabarnya!


Monday, 29 June 2015

Rat race

Unlike every other day where I normally have my iftar and dinner at the university's prayer hall, today I decided to break my fast at home. After 10 evenings of being around so many people, I kind of miss my quiet time over meal. As an introvert, I get my energy from not being around people and I desperately need my energy to endure the remaining 20 days of Ramadan. Baru first third of Ramadan dah pancit. Adoi. Being a much more introvert than I am, one of my housemates decided to do the same.

So there we were, on the same table, yet eating different food, each absorbed in our own laptop, with headphones over our head, only with occasional attempts to chat with each other. She was watching a documentary about a woman being poured with acid (yes, I have that sort of housemates), while I was watching the Umar series. It's fine though. We're comfortable with each other that way.

Midway, I laughed hard enough for her to hear while I still have my eyes fixed on the screen. She had a quizzical look on her face. Knowing that the Umar series has a very serious storyline, she asked "Why are you laughing?" I paused the video and explained what I was watching.

It was the episode where the Prophet had come out of silence and openly invited people to Islam. At that time, the people of Quraish were mainly against him for various reasons. Rasulullah's prophethood was basically a game changer to everything the society of Mecca was used to. When the head of tribes of the Quraish gathered, they discussed of what they should do to handle this issue. In the movie, Umar said that these people all have the same aim, which is to eliminate Muhammad pbuh and his teachings, but they each have different reasons on why they want to do it. 
Amongst the Quraish, they're basically envious of the Bani Hashim tribe (which is the tribe the Prophet was from). 
Amongst Bani Hashim, they're actually envious of the Abdul Manaf family (the family of the Prophet). 
Amongst the family of Abdul Manaf, they're envious of the Abdul Mutalib branch (Abdul Mutalib was the Prophet's grandfather). 
And amongst Abdul Mutalib, they're envious of Muhammad himself!

Funny because this kind of behaviour is so childish yet it normally occur amongst the elderly. In the movie, it showed that Umar was a young man in between the elderly people of Quraish and his urge for them to fight for the same cause was simply brushed away. Boy, was he frustrated.

I then remarked that no matter how you think something is wrong, when you're in the system, it's hard to break away from such mentality and behaviour, especially when you have been in it for too long. To which my housemate replied, "that's why I never like the 'house' system at school. It's fine with having 'houses' to develop healthy competitions among students but the exact same mentality like so would also develop".

Sidenote:
Schools in Malaysia, especially boarding schools, adopt something called the 'house' system where each student belongs to a particular house. There would be several houses to start off with. In normal schools, this system is usually limited to sport events i.e. students have interhouse competitions in sports, where winners would add points to their house and the house with the highest points win. In boarding schools, this system is taken further where every achievement and every mischief would each add and deduct points of the house. This would then be accumulated and by the end of the year, annual winners would be announced. Generally this is the case, but there are some normal schools who follows this style as well.

Such with this system is that whenever someone achieves something, the points of that person's house would be raised, and at the same time, his/her individual points would also be raised (in something called the merit-demerit system which applies the same idea). While the school celebrates the individual's achievement, in between the students, those of other houses would be silently envious of the house that that particular student is in and even in between the students of that house, they would be envious of that person of having to collect more points than them.

Back to the Umar series story. The Arabs have heard for so long that the prophet of the jewish tradition would come and silently they know that what Muhammad brought was true. They didn't go against him purely because of what he brought but because in essence, whilst everybody was racing to gain extra points here and there for themselves and/or their tribe, suddenly he came with something that would surely be of much higher points than everybody else. One of the common comments that came up as per the movie is "If Muhammad is really the Messenger of God, why would God choose him? Why wouldn't God choose someone of higher status? I'm better than Muhammad. Why wouldn't God choose me?" It's not that they reject the Messenger, they just don't want to lose to him.

And that's one of the messages of Islam: to liberate ourselves from such childish behaviour, to pull ourselves out of this rat race, and to provide ourselves with a much higher purpose. Those who accepted Islam in the early days were either people who were discriminated by such system or those who can think rightly for themselves and submit entirely to the truth. Those who didn't? They were usually too proud to accept the truth.

Have we not heard of the truth?
Then choose the path that you think is right, not what makes you more advantageous in the petty rat race with others.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The Start

Day 7 of Ramadhan 2015. Almost a week in now.

The sisters in the prayer hall of my university initiated a tadarrus circle. Basically it's where we would almost literally sit in a circle, take turns to read one page of the Quran, until we finish one juzu' in one seating. This is to be done everyday, for the whole month of Ramadan. The plan is to complete the whole 30 juzu' of the Quran by the end of Ramadan. Alhamdulillah, the circle had been consistently on so far.

Being the nature of a university, though the circle is consistently on, the people who join the circle are not. Some people attended just on the first few days, some came for one day and not on the other days, some join the circle midway everyday, etc. Whereas I, having no commitment yet (as I have not started my summer work), alhamdulillah, managed to attend everyday ever since it started (excuse the lateness sometimes) and what I observed throughout this one week was beautiful.

As how the prayer hall is very inclusive, the circle is too. Anyone who wants to be in the circle are well accepted. Regardless of your background, so long as you're interested in reading the Quran or listening to its recitals, you're very much welcome. In the circle, we have those who are very fluent in reciting the Quran, those who are not so, those who really struggle to read aloud each word, and those who cannot read at all. Whoever you are, we'll help each other in getting our recitals right. This concept is so welcoming that people are not embarrassed that they're not good. Even if they are corrected for almost every verse, the environment is so welcoming that they're willing to come again.

Having being "cikgu mengaji" [Quranic recitation teacher - for kids] several times before, I can tell if someone's recitation is not smooth due to honest non-fluency or due to lack of practice. Regardless, it still never fail to get me whenever I see someone progressing from being such a poor reader to a rather smooth one. My heart feel so warm at the sight of such event. If there's anything I would ask from that point on is for that person to continue reciting the Quran to at least maintain his/her fluency. After all, we would want the Quran to be as close as we can have it to be.

Isn't it beautiful how Ramadan gets people to come back to the deen? Be it as small as wanting to read the Quran more.
Courtesy of my friend, for allowing
me to take a picture of her Quran

To me, one of the biggest joys of Ramadan is the fact that the shayatin are not around. Because what better time to start improving other than the time when your biggest enemy is away from you? It's like a reset button after a year of going pass the ups and downs of life. Sure, it's not going to be that easy. You can't compare the ONE month of the absence of silent whisperers with the remaining ELEVEN months that they groom the dark side of you. Allah is Merciful enough to allow us to get back on our footing whilst the enemy being locked up but we need to be quick and efficient as there's not much time to prepare ourselves to deal back with them for the next coming year.

Change is never easy. But with the right intention and loads of prayers, inshaAllah He'll guide you home. Start small, and progress from there.

If you've been missing dhuha, start maintaining it.
If all this while you only read mathurat once daily, start doing it twice.
If the last time you did qiamullail was last year, start doing it regularly.
If you never know the meaning of the Quran, start reading its translation.
If you hardly go to the masjid, start going.
If you like to shop so much, start giving.
If you've been talking a lot, start doing silent dhikr.
If you never read he Quran in arabic, start learning.
If you never prayed before, start praying.

There's always room for everyone.
Ramadan is not called the festival of ibadah for no reason ;)

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

A Fighter Never Stops

Of wintery sleepless nights and sunburnt faces to bring home.

The 4 days 3 nights summer camp just ended. It was a really wonderful excursion. We had to switch off our phones so we had only nature and ourselves to interact with. I can say that this is the first camp after a long time that I was being myself entirely (I usually have a lot of things to hide. Like not wanting to talk as much or acting so cold that almost everyone would be afraid of coming near me). And that's good. Because tarbiyah can only enter if you let your guards down and make yourself fully exposed. Without that, you can never know what to improve. And that was my aim for attending this camp. To be tarbiyah-ed immensely and be given a boost so that I can know where to go after this point.

Side note:
The word "tarbiyah" is an arabic word which roughly translates to be "education; nurture; breeding; upbringing". I prefer to use this word instead of the english/malay translations mainly because I relate "tarbiyah" with "rabb" which means God (they essentially come from the same root word). So everytime life teaches me something, I take that to be God doing His part in teaching and nurturing me to be a better person, hence the usage of that word.

As stated in the previous post, we had to live below the line i.e. £1 per person per day. This amount is then shared amongst groupmates. Since it was technically three full days, we had £3 each to contribute to the group. My group consisted of 8 people initially so we had £24 to spend for the camp. After deliberate budgeting, some of us had to pull out from the camp and some others were placed in our group at the last minute as our number kept going down. We ended up spending less than £10 to feed the whole group of 6 people. Miraculously, the food was just enough for the whole camp. We had other groups contributing their food to us (as they had extras or their initial groupmate was transferred to us) but ours was finished the very morning of the last day. Of course, afterwards, I grew tired of eating sardines and eggs.

The second day was filled with the hiking of Ingleborough peak, Yorkshire Dale, which is 723m above sea level. The walk from our camp and back was expected to be 8 hours. I volunteered to be the navigator for our group simply because I love reading maps.hihi. Besides the lovely scenic view, I was tremendously blessed with groupmates who constantly and openly reflect and ponder upon our journey besides filling it with loads of spiritual inputs. Here are some of it.

  • Just a few minutes after our departure from the camp, one of us suggested that we memorise and recite our hafazan verse together while walking (one of the tasks for the camp is to memorise surah al-Anfaal verse 45-46) and we did it. Although this made us miss a junction which consequently made us to be the last group (evident when the sweeper came at us) but it made us quicker to finish the first checkpoint, which the task was to recite this ayat fully, without referring to the quran.
  • We passed by this incredible view of piles of stones. These stones were beautifully stacked and looked as though they were carved, it was almost impossible to think of this as just a natural occurrence. This area is covered with white stones so much that from above, it appeared as though the land was covered with snow.
    Walking through the Pile of Stones
    While walking through this area, we speculated how these stones were formed and one of the points was that there might be a civilisation at this area once upon a time. A civilisation so clever that they can build things out of rock. Perhaps this civilisation were wiped out and there's no evidence of their existence except this curious piles of stones. A civilisation with the like of the people of the prophet Saleh: Tsamud where in the quran, it was said that these people were able to carve mountains.
  • The walk wasn't that bad, as the trail that we chose was (presumably) the easiest one. Except for this one point at Little Ingleborough (a small peak before the ultimate peak) where the ascend was really steep.
    Part of the route we took. The purple circle is Little Ingleborough.
    You can see from the contour, how steep the trail is to reach that point.
    Most of our legs gave in at that time but we decided to walk slowly and paced ourselves, taking about 20 seconds break after every few minutes. Upon reaching the top, we looked out at the trail that we went and we couldn't believe that we just walked pass that. And the scenery was beautiful.
    The hike up Little Ingleborough
    That's exactly how mujahadah is. When there's a big hurdle laid in front of us, it's really daunting. Like when we first looked up the steepness of the trail from below. But there's nothing we can do but to go through it. It is tiring and would really challenge our physical and mental state but we still need to walk pass it, be it fast or slow. Just like the hike up that trail. By the time we know it, we've reached the top and presented with a scenic view which tells us that all that effort was worth it. That's why Paradise is sweet but not without the thorns surrounding it.
    The view from atop of Ingleborough peak
  • We were the last female group upon reaching the first checkpoint due to the missed junction stated earlier. But for some reason, we were the fastest paced group and by the second last checkpoint (which required us to change the map reader), we became the first group at the front, with the shooter facilitator being with us. As we were done with the hike, we approached the town near our camp. We were so complacent with the fact that we were about to reach the camp, and most probably the first to do so, we were deranged and missed a junction (again, but a different one). We ended up taking an hour detour. Upon turning back, we met another group and reached the camp with them. Enough said, we weren't the first. This hit me hard. It's clear that victory is Allah's and He can give it to anyone that He wishes. Now we know how it felt when the people in the battle of Uhud thought that they were already winning the battle that they became distracted with the spoils of war. This caused them to flee from their assigned posts and resulted in the Prophet pbuh became seriously injured.
We reached the camp after 7 hours and 59 minutes of walking (clocked by fellow facilitators), third (or maybe fourth) fastest of the female groups. But the hike wasn't about completing it quickly, neither was it about doing the tasks at the checkpoints well. We've learnt so much from our experience: encountering with cattles in the middle of the track, walked through the field of free-range sheeps, threaded the path of different types of soil and earth, and fulfilling our assigned roles throughout.
One of the best views we had upon reaching the top

Amongst many things we did and learned during the camp was a mafia game where throughout the remaining one and a half day, there were silent killers and healers amongst us. The activities went on as usual but every now and then someone would be killed and healed. Anyone who were killed by the killer need to remain silent of whom the killers and healers were. We would have proceedings every now and then where survivors were able to discuss and appoint several people to be convicted which later everyone can vote. The conviction lead to some killers and some innocent civilians to be convicted. Simply put, it was a horrible game.

By the end of the day, so many of us were killed that I became frantic, not wanting to come close to anyone that I don't trust. I didn't even trust my naqibah (who were in fact one of the killers and did try to kill me several times) and literally ran my heart out when I saw her. I can really imagine how my brothers and sisters in the war-inflicted countries felt. I didn't feel safe anywhere, especially since all of my groupmates were killed inside or near our tent. On the final day, I was pretty much the target as I was amongst the very few who still survived and was the head of the camp. Basically my voice needed to be shut. I remember being so scared to go to the toilet (as this was the usual spot for killings) and waking up in the morning, really cold, in need of the toilet, but the first thing on my mind was to check everywhere around me that there's no potential killers lurking. The game occupied our mind so much that it affected our mutabaah amal (we had several amals to be done in the camp, such as reading one juz of the quran in one day, do dhikr 1000 times daily, recite the ma'thurat twice daily, etc).

All in all, it was an intense training. Physically, mentally, and spiritually. What with british summer being rainy, sunny, and cold all in one day (we were in our sleeping bag while listening to a talk at 8 pm). I came out of the camp with stiff muscles, sunburnt face, increased love towards my fellow sisters in the camp, and a heart that required to be placed back on track. Jiwa koyak gila. As I switched on my phone on our way back home, I received tens of emails and messages that required immediate actions. My heart sank as the reality hits. 

The camp wasn't merely an excursion to escape reality. It was a training for me to be stronger to face it.

As the theme song quoted, "pejuang takkan berhenti".
A fighter never stops.



Sunday, 7 June 2015

Lepaskan

Lepaskanlah.
Dah memang semuanya Allah dah tentukan kan.
Kalau dia nak jadi,
Biarpun seluruh alam menahan dia daripada terjadi,
Dia tetap akan jadi.
Kalau tertulis kata tak akan jadi,
Biarpun seluruh alam bekerja untuk menjadikan dia,
Tetap takkan terjadi jua.
Tak apalah.
Biarlah kalaupun kena repeat pun paper tu.
Sekurang-kurangnya kau tahu,
Kat akhirat nanti kau boleh kata,
"Aku dah buat yang terbaik".
Dan kau tahu kau takkan boleh didakwa lagi selepas itu.
Bukankah itu sudah cukup untuk melepaskan segala sesuatu yang menyesakkan dada?

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Nightmare

Today I received a news that this year's Summer Training Camp wishes to adopt Living Below the Line campaign i.e. live off £1 on food and drinks per day. The moment I read that, my heart sank, remembering how hard it hit me when I joined this campaign last year. Yes, it was a true learning experience, but I've always wished to never experience that again. So when I came to know that I would need to experience it again, my heart went "NOOOOOOO"
*I even blogged how it went. Here's the link (opens up in a new window) if you want to experience my roller coaster of emotions at that time.

Aside:
Summer Training Camp UK is basically an annual Islamic summer camp for Malaysian students in the UK. Like every other term breaks, summer break has its own camp too. Just that with summer, instead of it being a program in a campsite (or some remote scout hostel), it's a proper camp where people hike, tent out, cook on their own in the wilderness and all sorts, alongside having a programmed intense physical activities (hence the term: training).

It's a 3-day camp so it wants us to live off £3 throughout the camp. What? T.T

God knows how I would survive. Last year the campaign was during exam season and I was almost pushed to tears numerous times (because I'm a tough girl and all so it is a big deal okay!). This time it's in a camp where you're expected to use a lot of energies to do physical work. Ha. Ha. Good luck on taking care of your mental state this time round, Sofina. I'm usually known to be one of those who would hoard chocolates to few-days programs. I guess that won't happen this time T.T

But isn't it always like that in life? Your bitter past coming back to haunt you?

I used to think of myself being closely related to Trisy, the character in Hlovate's Rooptop Rant. An anti-social with a skeleton in her closet (read: a haunting past she kept shut from others). Later on I've learnt that keeping that "skeleton" in my closet don't really bring any good (not that being an anti-social is much good either). The closet would be constantly opened and I get my scare again time after time. It was no use.

Over time, I trained myself to be stronger to face my fears. Well, to put it correctly, I was trained.

I had a discussion with a friend of mine the other day. That ever since we've decided to dedicate our lives to be the best servant of Allah that we possibly can, we basically have signed up for ourselves to be corrected and improved all the time until our time on Earth is due. Even the thought of "signing up" still gives me chills but that's what I did, a year ago. I promised to myself that there's nothing else that I want in this world besides being the best abid that Allah has promised to be able to see His face in Jannatul Firdaus. That marked my starting point and it was then a journey where He put me in to be groomed to be just that. Like, you know, when you join an apprenticeship, the company grooms you for a certain amount of time to prepare you to be just the person the company needs before you become their permanent employee. I like to think of it that way: I'm on an apprenticeship to be the permanent employee of Allah's Jannatul Firdaus "company".

So part of being groomed is to put forth a desirable characteristic set by the employer and eliminate all undesirable ones. See, eliminating undesirable traits is difficult if it's something that you love, and being able to have a desirable trait is also difficult if it's something you're anxious or feared of. So it's never an easy task.

Although I've said time and time that I don't really mind that much about money, I guess deep inside, I'm actually afraid of poverty. And Allah knows that. He always does. And He wants that to be fixed before my time is due. I mean, how else would you want to love the poor and needy (as how Rasulullah pbuh wanted us to be) if you cannot understand what they feel in the first place. Not just sympathising their physical state, no. But really understanding them, inside out. I made a lot of mistakes the first time round (like quarreling with my best mate whom I never argued with otherwise). He's just training me to be better at it this time around. Besides, I really don't have that much time left on this planet to further delay that process.

I am weak. I am afraid. But whatever Allah gives me, that would surely be the best for me.

After all,
Jannah is not cheap.
It's paid through sweat and blood.
Not simply with uttering "till jannah".

May this STC makes us closer to His redha ;)

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Exam rant

Dah pergi jauh, basic lupa.
Belajar tinggi-tinggi, foundation hilang.
Tahun kedua fizik, dah siap belajar bra-ket and all the ridiculous mathematical operations and whatnot, Taylor expansion tak reti-reti, construction of Feynmann diagram kelaut.

Ramadhan dah dekat, bila entah kali terakhir tadarrus.
Belajar aliran agama, rukun islam rukun iman pun tak tahu apa maksud, sekadar hafal.
Dah lebih umur 20, iman entah bila kali terakhir ditanya khabar.

Dan kau masih ingat kau boleh pergi jauh? heh.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Passenger's Seat

Today could be one of the worst-managed days. My sleeping pattern is very much distorted now since fajr is at awkward times as summer is approaching. So today I woke up at almost noon despite having my alarm clock set at 9. I don't have any commitments today but I did plan on going to the bike repair stall at uni.

Addendum:
The gear cable on my bicycle need to be changed and since I can't fix it myself (there's so many junctions for the cable on my bike!), I surveyed the cost for me to get someone else to change it for me. When I went to Halfords, they wanted to charge me £10. As I'm on a very tight budget and the shop was about to be closed when I went there, I dismissed the idea, yet got the cable for free (it was a 3 for 2 offer and I bought a couple of other stuff). The shop near my house wanted to charge me around £5-7.50 but having known that my university has a bike-repair stall set up every Friday and said to give 20% discount to students and staffs, I thought I'd give that a go instead.

So back to the story,
I had my breakfast and dreaded of the thought to cycle to uni as I technically had nothing else planned for things to do there except to get my bike fixed. I'm better off doing revisions at home anyway. But I got ready anyway. Cooked myself a pack-away lunch, had my shower and waited for Dhuhr. In that meantime, I packed my bag, only to find that my d-lock has gone missing. Searched high and low and there was just no sign of it. How am I supposed to bring my bike out of the house without a lock?

Dhuhr had passed for half an hour and I was still trying to figure out where my lock was. It was almost 2 o'clock and I had to pray that instant because if I delay it further, I would miss the charity sale that's going on at the Prayer Hall during Jum'ah, and I might not be able to catch the mechanic as the stall would be closed by 4, and on top of everything, I haven't read my Kahfi yet!

After praying, as I was getting ready, it suddenly RAINED. My day hadn't been good thus far, I am certainly not interested in getting myself soaked for the day. Then I just dropped everything, changed my mind, changed my clothes, and sat at my room to read Kahfi instead.

It's just not the day to fix my bike.

Tried all other methods to get to the mechanic to ask for the price if not face to face. None of them worked until later in the afternoon that I found his email address. Made the enquiry, and he replied this evening, saying his minimum charge for labour is £15.

I was actually glad things didn't work out as I planned today.

God knows if I had gone to uni, I might just surrender to the price (despite it being the highest of them all) due to my bike lock being missing and I wouldn't be bothered to immediately cycle back home (my house is 20 minutes away!). Or I might return back home straight after (because I cannot park my bike at uni, unlocked) and wasted a good 1 hour on the road, not getting anything done.

At the end of the day,
I get to do more revisions than I planned,
I get to read Kahfi before it's due,
and I don't need to spend a single penny.

It's like Allah is telling me that the bicycle is the least of my concern right now (since I'm at home most of the time anyway). "Just study and focus on your exams, will you?"
And that He's fully supporting my idea of saving some money for the next few months.
That's what makes me feel loved so much. To know that He cares for me, even for the most trivial issue.

I don't mind of not being in full control of my life.
All I want is to get to the right destination.
It's good that I don't have to be concerned of what route to take, or whether I would get lost.
After all, I have the best "driver" one can ever ask for ;)

A Hard Pill to Swallow

Everyone has a dream if not many. Be it realistic or just utter fairytale. I always try to keep mine close to realistic, though occasionally it would be borderline impossible.

For every step that I take in my life, it's usually accompanied with the reason why I want to do it, my goals to achieve in it, and a back up plan for the case things don't work out really well. Then I work on that goal like there's no tomorrow.

In my teenage years, the dreams usually come out fine, if not just a kink of minute failure here and there. Straight A's for PMR, gone to a boarding school, became amongst the best in that school, and lastly, got a full scholarship to the UK. Life was probably too good back then.

Then as I grow older, dreams got bigger, yet life gets harder. I learned to keep on reflecting, just so failure won't hit me so hard and I wouldn't need to hit the ground running. But you never really know when to stop working hard towards your dream, do you? Yes, you should never give up even if it takes every drop of sweat and blood in you but there would be a point where you just have to accept the fact that you're not going to be able to reach your goal. Be it because of unforeseen circumstances or you're just simply not good enough. Like when you really want a first class in your degree but no matter how hard you try, the highest you can get is a second upper. When most of the time, you know, you're actually settled with a pass.

It's good to be optimistic but very so often you need to be realistic too. And it's always hard to accept when your dreams would be mere dreams and your reality is going to be somewhat different. Like when you're climbing uphill on your cycle with a high gear, determined to go through that hill with that gear so you could reach the top much faster than everyone else. Midway, your legs give in and you have no choice but to shift to a lower gear. You might reach the top slower than what you aimed for but had not you made that shift, you might not have the strength to reach the top at all.

In life, it might take weeks if not months for you to decide to change your "gear". But life goes on and you need to move on too. What's more important is for you to be happy. And happy is a state of contentment, not really a sense of achievement or satisfaction. There's another word for that: triumph.

After all, whatever God has destined for you is indeed the best for you, even if it didn't feel like it at first.

I never planned to go to my current university but Allah brought me here and it is one of the best things that has ever happened to my life.

For everything that happened,
Husnu dzon towards Allah.
Trust Him.
For His plans are mightier than ours.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

A Beauty That Can Only Be Felt

Recently, amidst the stress and tension brought about by the exam season, I had one particular issue that has been bugging my mind, more now than ever. Just a few days ago, I begged for my dear life that Allah would show me a way to resolve it for good.

Caught up with all that, I just thought, I needed someone to talk to. An actual physical person. Just so I can air it out. This matter is starting to suffocate me, what with my being alone in the room to do my revision most of the time.

Then today, after a long hiatus, I had two people, out of nowhere, wanting to talk to me, discussing this particular issue of mine. Yeah, two people, in one day, brought up the same exact topic, a topic that I hardly discuss. And today is one of those boring-days where I am supposed to do my revision, but not so. Talk about coincidence, huh. And it gets better. It was as if both were speaking my mind out. Just that, one, spoke from my jahiliyah side, one, with tarbiyah.

After the two-hour call from the latter person, only then I realised, that Allah is answering my prayer right now. But see, He's doing it with style. He chose not to just lay things out flat on my face. It's as if He's trying to not insult my intelligence and at the same time training me to handle things through the tarbiyah that I had. My interaction with Allah never stopped being interesting :')

"Think Sofina, think. A daie should be able to think through Islam's point of view ALL the time."

Didn't I myself choose to soar out to become an intelligent musleh? This is just one step towards achieving that. Redha of what He gives you, and may He be redha of what we offer Him.

Istikharah,
Istisyarah,
Make a decision,
Tawakkal.
And lots of du'a along all those.