What I Wished I’d Said: “Me time”

Had dinner with my friends and 2 of them who are married shared some marriage stories and advices. I’ve got to mention this one advice especially, and that is to really cherish the time that us singles still have to ourselves now aka “me time”.

As usual my introvert brain was busy listening and processing thus I didn’t say much in return so it was just my facial expression and body language that showed I was listening. I really was. But to think back over the conversation, I wish I had said this. Something alone these lines.

If couples were like what’s one of the best thing that happened to them the past year, they’d be like pointing to one another. But me? Myself! Yas! Hahaha. I’ve never loved solitude more than I did the past year. I’ve been learning the art of self-love. I learn to be comfortable with myself, with the silence. In a noisy world with information overload it’s necessary to just plug out and turn off the wifi for a while. I go days without opening instagram and my inner peace is at its best. I read, reflect, write, do things intentionally, de-clutter better, I learn what is it that I want.

Quitting my job last year paved a way for much “free time” especially in between school assignments and after exams. And I never get bored, thankfully. I learn my tendency towards certain bad habits and I also finally got to know how I study best. I eat in public by myself sometimes and don’t look at my phone while eating. I go to some classes/talks alone. I don’t know about guys but most ladies I know would usually prefer a girl friend to go do things/go places with and this was and sometimes still the case for me but I’ve learnt that I need to live alone sometimes. We won’t always have a friend. And that means deciding for myself, going to places alone and doing things alone, as nerve-wrecking as it may be at times. 

But alone time and silence is not always rosy. Some days are harder with loneliness kicking in, triggers of past pain haunting, whispers of the shaytan, when my self-dialogue is akin to myself becoming my worst enemy, squandering time away on social media etc. If I don’t control myself I’d get myself knee-deep in wreck. Alhamdulillah, strength is ultimately from Him.

I learnt how to organise my intentions from Aida Azlin and sorted them out into different categories in a notes app, spent hours writing and editing my blog entries and started  Quran journaling, made a list of criteria/ideal characteristics of my future spouse. Above all, solitude is important. And it’s not just because I’m an introvert and I need to recharge my batteries. Also, even if I were to marry(insyaAllah), a bit of me time is essential so that it helps me to be the best wife. Sorry not sorry eh. But with kids a bit hard? Haha. Maybe I’ll learn other ways to cope. Allah knows best. And so “me time” is really just the blessings of solitude that we need to reap the benefits from, insyaAllah. To learn, to experiment, to be creative, to be still, to make time for our Creator.

Ok, you’re too kind if you’re still reading this. Guess there’s a reason why some people simply express themselves better through writing than in speech :p 


Quran Journal (3) : Eternal Refuge 

Hope the new year has been well for everyone (:

For Quran Journal this time round, I refer mainly to the 99 Names of Allah series by Sister Jinan Yousef of virtualmosque.com
The text below are from her writings. It’s an oft-repeated verse that we read and I found that I was able to better relate to this particular name of Allah when I read up on it, alhamdulillah. May it be of benefit.

Allah is the One who we turn to for both our needs and desires and who is our ultimate goal, because fundamentally He is the Master, the Eternal, the One who remains firm and unchanged – so who else can we turn to?

Surat al-Ikhlas was revealed when the people of Mecca asked the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) to describe to them His Lord. This Surah answers their question and tells them (and us) about Allah. So when the people of Mecca were being told who Allah was, His being as-Samad was mentioned. Why would this be mentioned out of all His attributes? Because essentially what you need to know is that Allah is One and Unique (Ahad), and also that He is as-Samad, the Eternal Refuge, that One who is our means and our end. We go to Him for our desires but we should also ultimately desire Him—this is sincerity (ikhlas).

We need both dunya (this life) and akhirah (the hereafter), so we shouldn’t be ashamed when we feel we have worldly needs. The Prophet  ﷺmakes a beautiful du`a’ where he asks for both dunya and akhirah:

“O God, set right for me my religion which is the safeguard of my affairs. And set right for me the affairs of my world wherein is my living. And set right for me my Hereafter to which is my return. And make the life for me (a source) of abundance for every good and make my death a source of comfort for me protecting me against every evil.” [Muslim]

And we all ache.

Sadness has not left me
Took some words to bring forth an understanding
Intertwined with memories
To finally understand the root cause of the long-time misery

Don’t ignore the things that trigger you. Your thoughts and emotions. If you’ve always wondered why, there is a reason why. Why you tend to behave a certain way, why this particular habit you can’t seem to shake. You need to first identify and tackle it head on. For no one but yourself. Sit down with yourself. Away from everything. Listen close. It may take time but take your time. When you feel that things start to make sense you might have just cried. It’s hard. But it’s a blessing, to understand. Self-awareness is a gift. Yet it can get pretty tough when you’re too hard on yourself.

If you’re struggling with healing from trauma, forgiveness, attachments, self-worth, loneliness, the author of this blog is with you too. Even if you don’t identify with the struggles above, you aren’t alone too. We all need to know this, that we’re not alone. What’s done is done and we can’t undo the past. What’s important now is our intention and commitment in identifying the broken parts, undergo the healing process and continued mission of learning about and bettering ourselves and making peace by finding the wisdom behind it. There’s wisdom behind every pain. Please don’t ignore yours. You ARE important. So choose yourself.

In our journey of healing and growing, support is vital. Find a trusted friend or family member but if that’s hard do consider counselling. It might just be what you need to help you see things clearer. Our minds can be our greatest enemy especially when we’re down. And please remember, you will not be tested with more than you can shoulder. Remember that you matter and you are absolutely worthy of every ounce of goodness and love.

An article that you may want to read, and that which is part of the inspiration behind this blog entry is here.

Love & Pray Conference 

Below will be just about a verse of the Quran that one of the speakers, Dr Halima Boukerracha touched on. Amazing how we can get so much just from this one verse on the story of Prophet Musa AS, Firaun and his wife Asiyah RA.

Al-Qasas 28:9

وَقَالَتِ ٱمْرَأَتُ فِرْعَوْنَ قُرَّتُ عَيْنٍ لِّى وَلَكَۖ لَا تَقْتُلُوهُ عَسَىٰٓ أَن يَنفَعَنَآ أَوْ نَتَّخِذَهُ‌و وَلَدًا وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ

And the wife of Pharaoh said, “[He will be] a comfort of the eye for me and for you. Do not kill him; perhaps he may benefit us, or we may adopt him as a son.” And they perceived not.

Based on the verse, we’re able to extract some lessons.
First, Firaun’s wife, Asiyah RA, understood Firaun’s personality. She didn’t plan to convince him that he is wrong- especially for someone who claims he is God. Second, she made use of positive language. She could’ve said “Are you mad? What in the world are you thinking? You can’t kill that baby!” you know, something along those lines. Just imagine Firaun’s response if she said that. But she didn’t. Third, she explained the benefit of her argument. Lastly, she understood the needs and weaknesses of her husband and she addressed it. Asiyah and Firaun didn’t have sons, only daughters. She is so intelligent masyaAllah. What do we learn from this? The importance of learning negotiation and conflict resolution skills. Also to understand the personalities of those around us. Not just for marriage but for our communication with others.

Plus, the faith of Asiyah didn’t budge despite how her husband is, well, Firaun. She didn’t see it as an excuse. Another woman might have just given up and saw no point in fulfilling her mission to Allah and think, “How can I and what’s the point if I’ve a husband like him?”. Makes me think back to all the married couples. Look no further, our parents aren’t perfect too. But their imperfections don’t stop them from doing their best in fulfilling their rights as spouses to one another and as a servant to Allah. For singletons including myself, I’m sure we want a good partner right but we cannot expect him or her to be perfect even though he or she seems perfect (ok maybe just early stages? haha). Because we will live with them and see through all their strengths and weaknesses. And we’re all just human. We ourselves aren’t perfect anyway.

Dr Halima also mentioned how a successful marriage survives because a couple invest in their similarities AND manage their differences well. This is an especially important reminder, time and time again, for myself first, because marriage extends wayyy beyond the beautiful insta-worthy pictures that makes it seem like a whole lot of sweet loving goodness that we’re missing out on. It’s really more than just the wedding. It’s a lifelong commitment. There’s plenty to learn prior to marriage, maybe on top of attending a marriage course, pre-marital counselling might be good too? To address certain issues. Even after marriage, the learning continues. What more with children and all. May we be always willing and stay committed to learn and improve on ourselves, married or not. Because at the end of the day, the only relationship that lasts is our relationship with Him.

Unforgettable Mecca- Some thoughts and reflections 

I’m just one, among a sea of so many. Hundreds, thousands of people. All these lovers of Allah swt. I felt so small. Miniscule. As compared to the sanctity of the Kaabah, the sanctity of Masjidil Haram. To the greatness of Allah. What do I have to be proud of? Truly Allah does not look at our exterior. But our hearts. And we’re none to evaluate other people’s exterior because we don’t know their ranks with Allah. When you come to His House, you’re coming to Allah. You’re running to Allah. And so all these while I prayed facing the Kaabah and right then it was just in front of me. I would echo the sentiments of others who have experienced it in that it’s surreal beyond words. (You must come here! InsyaAllah!) 

Labbaik Allahhumma Labbaik – we repeat this as we were en route from Medina to Mecca. One of the ustaz mentioned how we were all, with our sins and flaws, undeserving to be there at such a Holy place. Allahu. Yet, Allah swt has invited us and that should make us humble. That we should walk with humility, out of gratefulness to Him for granting us the opportunity to be there.
To relate it back to our daily prayers, may we always remember this. That you’re coming before your Lord so be aware of your stand before Him. Humble yourself. Allah is The Greatest.

Looking at so many people doing the tawaf at a single time, to doing the sa’i, masyaAllah. It was a really beautiful sight to see so many of the Muslim ummah, from all over the world, from all walks of life, coming to answer His call. I was brought to think, ya Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon you always for all the work you and all the prophets had undertaken to spread the beautiful Deen. We’re not where we are without their work. 13 years in Mecca and 10 years in Medina of relentless and sincere da’wah, together with his noble family and companions, carried forward to the righteous men and women up till now where we are blessed with the greatest blessing that is Islam. How do we show our gratitude? How do we carry on this work of da’wah? What I can think of is by following closely to the sunnah of Rasulullah ﷺ , learn the seerah and about him, his ahlul bayt, his companions and the righteous people and strive to follow them in ways that we can. Make it a point to always send selawat upon him every day. As for continuing the work of da’wah, our mission is to be a good ambassador of Islam. What more with trying times like now. Perhaps we can start with ourselves first, our akhlak, the way we treat others and so on.

Another thing I learn is that having the financial means does not necessarily guarantee that we get to go here and that those who lack it don’t get to. To Mecca and Medina, it’s an invitation really, not any random holiday. People who are poor get to go here too. How? Allah knows best. He can make the means easy for those whom He wills. Some people may be wealthier but they may not have the will to go here as yet. Some people may want to come but their health condition does not allow them to even if they could afford it. So the lesson is, yes, prior planning is important considering the rising costs of umrah as the years pass. But more importantly I believe is the du’a and the intention for his Tawfiq. Because when He calls there’s nothing that can stop you from answering His call. He can make easy even when it seems impossible. Let’s make du’a that He invites us all to His House to perform the umrah/hajj and to visit Rasulullah ﷺ in Medina again and again and that He makes it easy for us. Amin!

In sum, humility, gratitude, turning to and having faith in Allah swt 🎀❤

Quran Journal (QJ) 2: Sufficient 

One theme I get from this verse is centrality. We have many things going on in our lives but I feel it’s very important to always ask ourselves these 2 main questions. Amidst our wants, aspirations and needs, what is our main goal in life? Who do we put as centre? Is it a celebrity, a particular someone, a spouse or children? Or is it Allah swt and Rasulullah ﷺ ?

The other way I think of it is such that if our world were to crumble into pieces will we also fall apart or will we still be strong? And if we are strong what is it that gives us the strength to hold on? Thus for me the only answer is the handhold that never breaks and that is Allah swt. It scares me the possibility of us having everything that we desire of this world but we don’t have Allah swt.. may Allah protect us. This verse reminds me that it is absolutely okay to not have everything or to understand everything that happens because we have Allah swt. Because when we have Him, this brings me to the next point that..

Allah’s knowledge suffices us. Our knowledge and understanding as humans is only limited as compared to that of Allah swt, our Creator, who knows us best. And it brings a sort of comfort and humility to realise that I don’t know everything and I don’t really understand everything right now but in due time He will make me understand. In a way I figure it teaches us patience and forbearance. Also, it is a reminder on trusting Allah’s perfect timing. No matter what people say, that’s just that. When you do get caught up with social comparison and the likes, remind yourself that His timing is always, always in your favour and thus, is perfect.

To elaborate, we should care less about the people and care more about how Allah sees us. This is a personally crucial point for me as I tend to get worked up with people’s perceptions which are basically, at the end of the day, just perceptions and assumptions which may not be true. Here I believe it takes courage to do me and to live by what I believe is right as aligned with the Deen. And this is where I believe renewing many good intentions help, with whatever that you do. Intentions for posting that picture, writing a new entry on the blog, sharing something with friends etc. If you do it for the people and their pleasure, it’s usually a set-up for disappointment but if you do it for His sake, nothing will go to waste, even if you don’t see the immediate rewards, insyaAllah.

Building this mentality of “They don’t know and it’s ok, Allah know and that’s enough” when you pray for someone. How you wish they only knew? Perhaps that’s the wisdom behind praying for someone in their absence. To keep it sincere and a way of manifesting our love for them for His sake.

Actionable (for myself first): to recognise and make time for moments when it’s just me and my Creator. Make it quality time. When does it last feel that nothing else mattered but you and Him?

Mornings in Mecca 

Fajr in Masjidil Haram, Mecca.

My mum said she was awoken at 3am one morning and from her window she could already see people walking to the mosque. Some people stayed quite a distance from the mosque, some even further they had to cab down. We were blessed in the sense that our hotel was about 10mins walk away. Nevertheless, the rewards of those who had to cover a larger distance just to pray in the blessed mosque, Allah knows best. When we reached the mosque compound many chose to settle outside the mosque. Some waiting, others already praying. May I always remember this.
  الصلاة خير من النوم
“Assalatu khayrum minan naum”
Prayer is better than sleep  

That were I to feel lazy or “too tired”, I remember this sight. It’s said that you need a good and personally convincing reason to wake up early and I believe this is it for us, aside from getting work done etc. The lovers of Allah swt and Rasulullah ﷺ will come. Run, walk, crawl. Regardless, they will still rise. Rise for Allah. Of themselves and their lower desires they put aside and Allah swt and Rasulullah ﷺ first. May Allah swt ease our struggles so we can be the best servants of Him, amin!