Thursday, December 16, 2010

on sleeping in a storm

i absolutely love this story.

"A man seeks employment on a farm. He hands his letter of recommendation to his new employer. It reads simply, 'He sleeps in a storm.'

The owner is desperate for help, so he hires the man.

Several weeks pass, and suddenly, in the middle of the night, a powerful storm rips through the valley.
Awakened by the swirling rain and howling wind, the owner leaps out of bed. He calls for his new hired hand, but the man is sleeping soundly.

So he dashes off to the barn. He sees, to his amazement, that the animals are secure with plenty of feed.

He runs out to the field. He sees the bales of wheat have been bound and are wrapped in tarpaulins.

He races to the silo. The doors are latched, and the grain is dry.

And then he understands. 'He sleeps in a storm'.

My friends, if we tend to the things that are important in life, if we are right with those we love and behave in line with our faith, our lives will not be cursed with the aching throb of unfulfilled business. Our words will always be sincere, our embraces will be tight. We will never wallow in the agony of 'I could have, I should have.' We can sleep in a storm.

And when it's time, our good-byes will be complete."
- From Have a Little Faith, by Mitch Albom

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On ice

went ice skating with messieurs Maaba and Yim yesterday.

and afterwards we went to Nandos to celebrate Ubee's birthday. While waiting for the chicken i kind of spouted philosophies from ice skating. Must be the stomach talking.

"Every large glide begins with a small step"

"Being a beginner while watching professional figure skaters doesn't feel so bad with friends to help you"

"When we fall only do we appreciate the value of getting up"

"When we enjoy an act, falling feels better"

okay i'm starting to sound like Chairman Mao. Hmmm..'the little green book'. Save that for now.

On the currents that sweep us

Any revolutionary, or revivalist, or champion, must understand the currents that drive the society he lives in, in order to reverse those currents.

On a side note, looking up, I found that synonyms for 'revolutionary' are anarchistic, rebel, get the idea =.= and that is a simple symptom of the currents that we live in. Branding people who bring change as 'rebels'. People who practise religion as 'fundamentalists'. Reminds me of the time I was in form 4, seniors used to brand juniors who were a bit friendly as 'social'. And that term is derogatory.

Which isn't unusual. People in power determine the language that we use. Why do we have so many arabic words in the malay language? Because in the olden days Arab trade was powerful and spanning the globe, and Arabic was commonplace as the language of Islam and the Quran.

So these days the culture we practise reflect the currents that sweep over us. not fighting that current is giving it legitimacy. For example, why do we not push for having tea and scones for breakfast? Because we think nasi lemak and roti canai are awesome. Nasi lemak and roti canai, are, in our minds, legitimate breakfasts.

Why do we not fight injustice then?

Why do we fight, or at least dislike, people who look too 'alim'?

Now think.

This is what every revivalist understands.

I'm not saying this is right and that is wrong. That is up to you, dear reader, to decide whether the currents pushing you are pushing you towards heaven, or otherwise.

And if you think the current situation is wrong, keep on reading.

To be fair, the currents are very strong, and have had a headstart for hundreds of years, and have engulfed and drowned many of the unwary. Many people are trapped, unable to swim away, not even wanting to swim.

We must show them the currents are filled with dirt and filth, and teach them to swim away, so that they themselves could teach others to swim as well. The currents are strong, yes, and this is an uphill task. Or upriver, if you prefer.

And this is what every revivalist understands.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Saturday, December 11, 2010

On the simple joys of being a minority

today is malaysia day in Finsbury Hall.

Morning menu:
Nasik lemak Kota Bharu (rice cooked with coconut milk)
Sambal (that red spicy thing)
Timun potong ala vogue (cucumber cut ala vogue)
Kacang goreng (fried groundnuts)
Ikan bilis (fried anchovies)
Telur rebus (boiled egg)
Telur dadar campur mentega dan mayo (omelette with butter and mayo)

Evening menu:
Roti canai Farid Nazer (how do you explain this in english? i just kn
ow there's a huge amount of oil and butter)
Kari ayam (wishful thinking, it hasn't been cooked yet)

To non-malaysians, this might look a bit exotic.

To Britons, it might look luxurious, a far cry from that bland thing you call 'food' (which i consume everyday, nonetheless).

To health enthusiasts or doctors, you might already be fainting after counting all those calories. (two types of egg?? fried everything??? coconut milk and butter??? *faint*)

To Malaysians, you might be thinking what's so great about something you eat everyday?

But to me, in this strange land with strange cultures and a strange duty, it just feels and smells like home :-)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

On fathers and sons

Based on my observations whilst living in the UK, rarely do I see British children with their fathers.

I see a lot of men with dogs. And I see a lot of the dogs' by-products -.- In one sociology lecture I went to, the lecturer told us that there were even people who were paid to walk other peoples' dogs.

That sort of thing. There was this one time I was walking in the park with a tennis racket and a can of tennis balls and this dog started to chase me. I think it was just being friendly and wanted me to throw the balls, but when you're Malay you'd think that every dog was trying to eat you, so I ran backwards and tried to shoo it off. But when that failed I threw the can of balls at the dog's face. It just stood there, stunned. I guess British dogs aren't used to brutality. And the owner started swearing at me. That's how much people here love dogs.

But strangely this sort of public affection doesn't apply as well to children. Sure I see lots of mothers pushing their children in prams, but surely no one in the world today experiences virgin birth anymore.

But its a different picture at the Muslim Welfare House (MeWaH), our local mosque. I usually see children with their fathers, praying together, sitting while the father reads qur'an. And they're (usually) quiet and disciplined, no need for Pakcik Fauzi (pakcik fauzi is a pakcik in Kota Damansara whose very name strikes more fear in the hearts of children than Puaka Niyang Rapik) Like just now i saw a man sitting down and reading the qur'an, his son patiently waiting beside him. The man's face was calm and had a semblance of Yusuf Islam. To me that was a beautiful sight to see and made my heart flowery-flowery.

And another time there was this kid returning from primary school and his dad was following behind, lecturing him in Arabic. I didn't understand what he said but it sounded tarbawi. hihi.

Syeikh Ahmad Saad said, Rasulullah told us to

just go with what the child wants at the ages of 0-7
be firm on them ages 7-14
14-21 treat them like a friend
after that all birds eventually leave their nest.

I love seeing this kind of informal education which starts at home. That's where you actually learn things. Like writing sentences. Or how to pick up stuff if they fall down toilet bowls. and especially important, my parents taught me how to be a good Muslim :)

I believe in this potential of the young generation :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

On history

One of the reasons i love being at LSE is its a social science institution. You know, the science of studying human beings. Not putting people in cages and prodding them and giving electric shocks, no. For that i'd study at the CIA.

Social science. How human beings behave, how they interact, why they prefer their own race and why some consider others as monkeys, why nations rise and fall. Even in the field i study, Accounting, its more than just number-crunching. When lots of money is involved, politics flare up as well. We start to blame others for losses. Some backstab.

Which gives it a lot of drama and emotion, even more drama than the 'Nur Kasih' shows you all like, believe me. And studying all this has flourished my interest into becoming an amateur historian. Not a book nerd, a historian. History is one of the engines by which God drives the world.

History, says Niall Ferguson, allows us to make analogies between what happened then and what could happen now. It doesn't give major theories, like 'the whole purpose of existence is to outsmart each other just like animals in the jungle' (anyway i think that line of thinking is a bit ridiculous). What it has are exactly that, stories. His stories. And the Qur'an uses stories a lot, to make you realise the reality of things and relate to it so you can act accordingly.

Strong and powerful and technologically advanced?

The tribe of 'Ad were all those. They were physically huge (saw some pictures on the internet of their remains, but not sure of their credibility) and they could build palaces on mountains. But that wasn't enough to prevent their punishment. And the Thamud. And the pharaoh. And a whole host of once great nations that we hear of their name in the history books, but no longer see.

Which brings me to the point of reading history. Its a living, breathing thing, not like the government-engineered pseudo-history that we memorise for SPM. Once we learn history, we'll recognise that the Age of Empires hasn't ended. We're still living in it, and we'll continue to live under empires. Only unlike empires of old, who project visible power and physical governance, the American Empire prefers to project its influence economically and culturally. Which movies do we see? Hollywood. Which model of consumption do we use? American-style consumerism. And the list goes on and on.

And we thought we're independent. The creation of an illusion of independence is one of the great successes of the post-world war. The actual colonialism is in here

The Mental Empire. different color, different culture, similar beliefs. Because most of the world is under that sphere of influence.

So you see, history is more than just dates and names. That this thinking is prevalent in society is an unfortunate offshoot of trying to paint a rosy picture of the ruling party.

Imam Abu Al-Qasim Al-Junaid said, "History is one of the soldiers of Allah to strengthen the heart.."

It enables you to see the world for what it actually is.

Welcome to the real world.

On memories

I was eating PCP (pizza chicken point) with Shuk just now (erk) and our conversation started to drift into the topic of memory. It's amazing, how conversations develop and you start talking about butterflies and end up with how to topple the government. No, this conversation did not happen. I've always been fascinated with conversation flow and said to my mum, like, zillions of times
"we were talking about something else, and now all of a sudden we're talking about this"
Mum replies
"That's called conversation. If two people had nothing to talk about then it'd be boring"
Mums know a lot of life's truths :)

True. true. What if two people were talking and they suddenly ran out of ideas? You'd start looking at the walls and at the road and saying

"hmm..sooooo..there are ants on the sidewalk"


And I'd better start eating some fruits. All this chicken is making me feel clogged.

Where was I? Oh yes, the topic of memory. We started talking about memory. Shuk said he didn't remember anything before kindergarten. The farthest my memory goes is looking at the inside of the womb. I don't know if its a dream or not, but that's the earliest life experience i remember. I remember seeing my hands. And some blood vessels. And this reddish light. Shine-a-torchlight-through-your-hands kind of reddish light.

And suddenly i'm 3 years old. Standing at the edge of my parents' bed. Sitting in a car to go see my newborn baby brother. And we're all grown-up now, when did that happen? I don't know, but you can only cherish and smile at the things that have happened :') The irony of memories. You wish them to last forever, but if they were forever you wouldn't have sweet memories.

I love the times when i was 7 years old and we were in Ghana. It's ranked 130th on the Human Development Index, but when you're 7 years old you don't think about these things. The worst problem on my mind back then was how to write sentences using the given words. My mum said "just write simple words, like 'the pencil is red'". But I didn't want simple sentences, heavens no. I wanted sentences like 'I have a red pencil and it's used for doodling in my spare time'. Now that's an awesome sentence for a 7-year-old.

And i love primary school. Going back from sekolah kebangsaan. Eating lunch with my mum while the zohor azan was being called out. Sleeping a bit before sekolah agama. cycling to school. Losing my bicycle keys down the school toilet and asking my dad to carry my bicycle home. The little things are repetitive and boring when you're in them. But its the repetitive little things that you remember.

And i love the carefree months after finishing KY, before flying off. That's when you realise lots of things. These are the things money can't buy.

And i love now. Learning things that not a lot of people get to learn. Not accounting, anyone can learn that. Other things, things that are important when all is said and done. Filling my days with remembrance. Laying the groundwork for a revival of society. These are the things only God can give, and all the things he gave before? It's to shape you for what you are now.

You, the reader, i may not know your story and your memories, but you're not reading this as a coincidence. Once you really think about it, you'll realize you have a blessed life and all that God asks from you is obedience. simple :)

A friend of mine once said that i'm too optimistic. I know. And i love that as well :)))

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bearers of the Light

Fly forth bearers of the light!

Like the bee,
Searching many flowers
For a single precious drop
Man thinks you a nuisance
But your spirit never stops
Though they hum and they haw and they swat you away
They still drink the fruits of your tireless day

Fly forth bearers of the light!

Like the eagle,
You're blessed with the gift of unclouded sight
To see the whole world in a whole new light
How high you may fly, wherever you go
A great many hearts fill with wonder and awe
And though the great skies are a lonely outpost
The Creator is with you, and he is very close

Fly forth bearers of the light!

Like the swan,
How noble, full of grace
Unblemished, serene
A white and pure face
And though your wings are to bring you great heights
Your head is bowed down, o bearer of light.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Friday, December 3, 2010

On loose cannons

Play this simple game.

What you'll need:

- a voice recorder (blackberry, obviously)
- a group of friends (if they're gossiping friends, all the better for the purposes of the game)
- a moral sense of right and wrong (so no psychopaths..or if you want to catch psychopaths then play this game)

The rules are: there are no rules. Just switch the voice recorder on, and put it in the middle of a conversation where everyone can see.

Then talk.

I played something to this effect and the responses were very..intriguing.

"Sshhh, don't say that, we're recorded"

"*not saying anything but looking at the other person with a we're-being-recorded-silly look*"

I wonder how politicians feel. They say silly things on recordings all the time.

"With my kasyaf, I saw the hand of the devil when he wanted to shake hands with me"- member of a political party

"You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test." - bush

"I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." —Barack Obama (duh)

"I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office." —President George W. Bush

Or maybe they're psychopaths. Which explains a lot of things.

Anyways, try it out with a group of'll be surprised at what people aren't willing to say on film..and while we were doing this, somebody pointed out

"Aren't we recorded all the time?"

And our recordings, good or otherwise, will be shown on The Day.

(Perghhh. Torn.)

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Chicken soup for the soul

Do you feel empty?


trying to talk but only the walls talk back?

need light?

We've got just the thing for you:

Pocket Quran..with tajweed and translation =)

And it's got themes explaining what certain verses are about, and that's really helpful.

Plus it fits in the palm of your hand:

Price? 15 pounds. there's a slightly larger one for 17 pounds.

And you'll find that God talks to us through the Quran. Like this one time I was feeling quite dengki at some people, and I came upon this verse;

And those who came after them say: "Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethren who have preceded us in Faith, and put not in our hearts any hatred against those who have believed. Our Lord! You are indeed full of kindness, Most Merciful. (Al Hashr: 10)

(Dan orang-orang (Islam) yang datang kemudian daripada mereka (berdoa dengan) berkata: “Wahai Tuhan Kami! Ampunkanlah dosa kami dan dosa saudara-saudara kami yang mendahului kami dalam iman, dan janganlah Engkau jadikan dalam hati perasaan hasad dengki dan dendam terhadap orang-orang yang beriman. Wahai Tuhan kami! Sesungguhnya Engkau Amat Melimpah Belas kasihan dan RahmatMu”)

True story.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

100th post.

my 100th post. Weee.

I'm posting a post just to say I've reached a 100 posts.

Which is pretty pointless, because usually people commemorate something when they reach the tens or the hundreds or the hundred-tens.

'the 160th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' voyage'

'210th anniversary of kicking out the British with the help of the French and 211th anniversary of kicking out the French'

'10th anniversary of my Digimon going down the toilet bowl and baba using kitchen tongs to take it out' :')

Pointless? Yes, much like the things we do everyday. Purposeless, more like it. That's what society does nowadays, ramble and do random things and commemorate things they don't even know the significance of just to have an excuse to celebrate and get entertained.

It's like a train. Everybody's on it having a great time, singing and dancing and giving good cheer. But nobody knows where the train is going, oh dear oh dear.

Where is your train going?

Hopefully not down the toilet bowl.