FLIP IT AROUND Q16:90

I used to write in my diary journal, or listen to music to quell my anger in my late teenage years. After a while, I moved to nasheed (Muslim songs) to return to my happy self; no time to indulge in writing. Soon, I did not have the luxury of easily removing myself from the object of my fury as I got older. I learned to contain my anger and ruminate on it after I left the environment. I would stew in resentment and consider all the witty retorts I should have given – retorts I would have regretted anyway. This would upset me further and I would look for someone unfortunate to dump my emotions on.

anger insideout

I know listening to the Qur’an and making adhkaar is laudable but they do not appeal to me when I am well and truly pissed incensed. Now I have learnt to channel my emotions.

After removing myself from the scene, I have to find somewhere or someone to vent to. Secondly, after ruminating on the offense,  I consider whether or not to confront the person; oftentimes, I decide against it. Thirdly, I channel my grievances to Allah. I am fuelled by the anger to read more Qur’an, pray with better zeal, make extra nawafil etc so that Allah can answer my prayers to overcome the oppression I feel.

So, the source of my ire becomes my inspiration and motivation to be better 🙂

Side effect: It takes longer for me to forget even if I have forgiven. Hmm…still working on the right formula for me.

Any suggestions?

PS: I know I have an early post on anger but then, it’s easier said than done 😉

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THROUGH THEIR EYES Q49:11-12

A young couple moved into a new neighbourhood. The next morning while eating breakfast, the young woman saw her neighbour through the window hanging the wash outside.

“That laundry is not clean,” she said. “She doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap”.

Her husband looked on, but remained silent.

Every time the neighbour would hang laundry to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.

About one month later, the woman was surprised to see nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband,
“Look, she has learnt how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this!”

The husband replied, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.” – from message.snopes.com


And so it is with life.

What we see when watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look. We see people as we are.

It is pretty easy to discuss other people, their lives and things that don’t really concern us – yet we tend to forget that our window isn’t that clean after all.

I got a call from a close friend who mentioned that she ran into a young man who knew me when we were at the University. He asked after me and shared something which had intrigued him. He said when we had worked together on the departmental student body association, I had gotten upset when he complimented me on my looks.

Now, I cannot even remember who he is, neither can I remember the incident; but I do find my reaction a tad weird. While I sincerely loathe when men cannot look beyond a pretty face but what happened to graciousness; witty wisecrack; skilful change of topic or even pretending I did not hear him? Anyway, maybe he was annoying when he said it but now, I know I would have done things differently.

Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, I had a couple of clashes with people (who didn’t?) because I was pretty headstrong and
opinionated; saw things in only black and white. May be I still am but I’ve begun to learn how important manners, tact and speech (or silence) can be. I also understand that there are a good many shades of grey and find myself making excuses for people and trying to understand their points of view. Alhamdulillah, I have a better relationship with many people I did not get on well with in the near past by realising my opinions are not always right and people correcting me are not necessarily ‘beefing’ me.

Of course, not everyone has valid criticisms but if we listen well enough, we should be able to discern constructive criticism from judgmental statements with malicious intent. On the other hand, we should not shy away from asking perceptive and intelligent people for advice and for their insight while prepared for the sting of feedback. We need to stop viewing all criticisms with suspicion. It takes guts to do that but we often become better for it.

So, you see? We really ought to get up and clean our windows more frequently and be open to accepting that the problem is not always them; sometimes, it is us.

CUT SOME SLACK Q35:45

I do not think I will ever feel qualified enough to give marital advice but sometimes, like today, the advice wants to give itself!

Alhamdulillah for those of us who are married; single and searching and even happily single (ain’t anything wrong with that). May Allah restore happiness to the widow(er)ed and the divorced as well.

Human interaction is not always easy. One thing I have always observed in marriages that last is the ability to pick one’s battles.

I had known my husband for quite some time before we eventually tied the knot so I thought I knew him pretty well. Then we got married and we both started to unpack our emotional luggage and sparks began to fly! No, not the good type of sparks.

With a couple of years under our belt, I make bold to say like Kenny Rogers said in the Gambler,

‘You’ve got to know when to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run…’

The Prophet (S.A.W.) said:
‘Whoever gives for the sake of Allah, withholds for the sake of Allah, loves for the sake of Allah, hates for the sake of Allah, and marries for the sake of Allah, he has indeed perfected his faith.’- Jami` at-Tirmidhi Book 11, Hadith 252

Everyone has a deal-breaker or two or ten… There are some things I may endure that someone else would absolutely not tolerate. I personally cannot tolerate domestic violence but some women feel it spices up their marriage. Many older generation wives seem to turn a blind eye to their husband’s extramarital affairs while younger wives have little tolerance for such. Accept your spouse for who (s)he is and decide whether of not you can live with them. Know your deal breakers and take a stand.

If you hate something about your spouse, analyse it and see that it is not for selfish reasons. If we’ve married our spouses for the right reasons (for their iman and piety), we should be able to continue loving them for the sake of Allah. Likewise, we should dislike a bad habit of theirs for His Sake and continue to pray that Allah rectifies this trait. Of course, we may also need to have a discussion with our spouse to communicate our feelings.

Every marriage is customised to suit the couple in it so what works for ‘A’ may not work for ‘B’ hence the need to know what is important to you. Don’t sweat the small stuff like he forgot your birthday unless it is ABSOLUTELY important to you. Focus on the things your spouse does right and appreciate him/her for those.I’ve seen mothers fighting while their children are neglected. I’ve heard of wives complain incessantly about their husbands until they succeed in pushing a good man away.

Conserve your energy for important matters and you will be able to create a more nurturing home for your husband and children with less tension from the reins you hold so tightly in your grasp.

This also extends to other areas of life and to our interaction with other people. Look at the big picture and decide if someone’s behaviour is something you can overlook or not. Allow people to make mistakes and be themselves. Be tolerant. None of us is perfect. It’s not every time you bark. No one takes a dog that’s always barking seriously.

CLUTTER II

continued from Clutter I

Advantages of regulating internet time

• Better money management: money will be put to better use instead of procuring more expensive phone, the latest gadgets, internet time, or spending money on gaming and pornography sites

• More productive and liberating lifestyle: you will be able to read the Qur’an more, pray more, sleep better, enjoy relationships, exercise and be more confident.

• Healthier life style with possible weight loss: you will be more active instead of sitting on your rear all day. Bad postures from sitting behind a desk all day will also reduce, saving yourself from low back pain later in life

• Promotes imagination and creative thinking: being online all day moulds your thinking and stunts fresh ideas making your ideas cookie-cutter images of all you read online. If you read what everyone reads, you know only what they know, right?

• De-clutters your mind: weeding out all that unnecessary information overload allows your brain ‘purge’ itself and retains information better

Solutions:
• Have a buddy check on you at various times of the day. Be accountable and honest with this person

• Weed out your bookmarks or speed dial sites (on Opera mini). Limit them to six

• When opening tabs, try to keep them to a maximum of 10. Once you are done, close that tab.

• Unfollow some perpetual but non-beneficial tweeters who clutter up your TL. Same goes for Instagram, FB, and other social media sites

• Add a couple of people who add more knowledge and value to your TL or feeds to make it richer. Also have live friends who you can talk to about daily events instead of tweeting about them.

• If you are use the BlackBerry Messenger or WhatsApp, talk to contacts who are prone to doing so, to stop sending you broadcast messages (BCs)

• Having a 1000 contacts on your cell phone, 80% who you haven’t contacted in 12 months beggars common sense. You really should delete them!

• Get a timer (not your phone and start to cut down on your internet time. Reduce an hour every day for a week, shave off 2 the next week until you reach a comfortable compromise. Keep it short and you will utilise your time online more purposefully

• Often times, our FB has been cluttered with all our family members, all our classmates since the last century, all our colleagues from several places of work, then all the FB pages we think might be interesting. It is often near-impossible to sieve the good from the bad so I would suggest opening another FB page (after all, it’s free!) and restricting friends to the bare minimum while you continue to ignore the other account as you’ve always done since you are always afraid to share your thoughts due to fear of your family or boss.

• Cut down on the number of gizmos you have: the more internet-connected devices you have, the more likely you will be online so maybe you will consider not renewing your phone internet subscription? Or leave your tablet device at home sometimes. Maybe.

• Upgrade and update your library to include books or magazines you love to read, toss out the old newsletters, magazines, and outdated books.

• Get a hobby and key into this, if you can, at those times you are most prone to go online

• Set a time for lights out. Once the time hits, go to bed. If you can’t sleep, make extra naflah, adhkar or read a book with your bedside lamp.

• Have off-days when you will not be online. At least once a week. Reward yourself on these days for fulfilling your promise. Penalise yourself if you have not been able to meet up.

• Bored? Play the your favourite recitation of the Qur’an, nasheeds, read the Quran, pray extra prayers, go on a nature or power walk, exercise, visit family or a friend, call a friend, read a book…the list is endless. Whatever you do, don’t spend all your free time in the sticky web.

• Last but not the least, deactivate notifications on your phone for all except calls and texts. The emails and instant messages can be read whenever you pick up your phone without the pressure the notification sounds bring.

Feel free to add more suggestions in the comment section and let me know how this works for you. I’m working on me too!

PS:

It’s been about a year I started blogging. I just saw the notification when I returned to my blog. It is unbelievable how time flies! 24 hours is beginning to seem insufficient.

A big thank you to the wonderful people who still follow and read my writings despite my inconsistent posts. I am truly honoured and grateful :D. Especially my dear mum who always reminds me to put up a post. ❤

It's a year already! Make hay while the sun shines, people!

CLUTTER I Q31.33, Q102.1-8

Those of us who have watched Oprah, or the satellite TV channel TLC will be familiar with people who have so much clutter in their homes, they can no longer live comfortably. They have a need to amass possessions and keep on doing so even when there appears to be no need for it. Their homes become unsafe and uninhabitable but they keep hoarding. They seem unable to click their ‘stop’ button.

We watch them and go ‘These oyinbo people sef!’ We wonder why these Americans have all sorts of strange problems. What we fail to see is how like these people we are.

Just as people clutter their homes, so do we clutter our minds with unnecessary information and data. We are addicted to the internet and waste several hours of our day trapped in the sticky Worldwide Web.

We loathe deleting non-useful contacts from our mobile phones; itch when we have not been online with the fear of having missed something; our eyes keep darting to the blinking notification light of our phones on the prayer rug as we pray; we look forward to our online friends more than our real-life friends…

We are essentially obsessed with being online. Let’s get real; what is the point in having all the info if we cannot utilise it? Why should we stack up on recipes if we can never make out the time to cook anyway?

Some of the causes and risk factors of Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) are:
Boredom: from unemployment, Stay-at-home moms, ASUU strike, etc
Depression: from loss of a dear one, loss of job, break-ups, poor school performance, etc
Anxiety: from agoraphobia, low self-esteem, anxiety attacks, paranoia
Loneliness: from death of a loved one, divorce, break-ups, relocation, SAHM, etc
Availability of gizmos: smartphones, Ipads, laptops, PCs etc
Insomnia: funnily enough, 24 hr internet is one of the greatest distractions from sleep hence it worsens sleeplessness instead of improving it

Effects of IAD include:

• Inability to complete tasks both at home and at work
• Mediocre work from rushing to complete tasks to hurry to the internet
• Poor social skills as one would rather be with online friends than real life friends
• Distance from family and live friends and missing out on living real time
• Phone is slow, battery dies quickly and one is left incommunicado at inconvenient times
• Money is wasted purchasing extra batteries, more internet time, Wifi, gadgets, etc
• Difficulty in making simple decisions: eg. a patient comes in an you ALWAYS have to google to make a diagnosis. You cannot answer questions without a need to google first
• Accidents in the car, at home on the stairs, or involving the children due to poor monitoring

to be continued tomorrow in sha Allah…

ISTIKHARAH

At certain points in our lives, we arrive at a crossroads. It could be deciding to leave a job or choosing between two; whether or not to travel somewhere, buy something, choosing who to marry…it could be major, it could be minor.

When these situations arise, we often seek the counsel of those we know or experts in the field. However, after this, we should seek guidance from He Who matters the most. What we request is that Allah should have our backs, whatever decision we make.

This is not advocating indecisiveness; it is saying that after weighing our options, discussing with those with experience in that field or those dear to us, we should make our decision then trust Him to embark on the journey with you by making istikharah.

image credit: facetofaceafrica.com

image credit: facetofaceafrica.com


There is nothing spectacular about it. You do not need anyone to make it on your behalf. You do not need a special rug. Simply make your ablution and follow it with 2 rakats of prayer after which you recite the du’a. Afterwards? Well, you shouldn’t expect to see flying unicorns, that’s for sure. Allah will not (or is highly unlikely to) take our hands and lead us to ‘the chosen option.’ We will just have to proceed on our journey knowing He has endorsed our decision and is close by in case things go wrong.

Aisha (R.A.) said it can be repeated as necessary.

Allahumma innee astakhiruka bi ‘ilmik; wa astaqdiruka bi qudratik, wa as’aluka min fadhlika-l-adheem. Fa innaka taqdiru walaa aqdir, wa ta’alamu wa laa a’alam, wa anta ‘alaamul ghuyuub. Allahumma, in kunta ta’alamu anna haadhal amr, khayrun liy, fiy deeni wa ma’aashiy wa aqeebata amriy…


For the full Arabic text and translation, click HERE.
May Allah guide all our decisions.

HABITS Q3:139, Q39:53

‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act but a habit.’ -Aristotle

As a high-school student, if I was late to school on Monday, I believed I was going to be late everyday of that week because my mum had said so. Some of you may be familiar with that saying: What you begin your week with, you will end it with.

So in High School, I was such a believer of that saying and would jump through hoops to ensure I wasn’t late. It did not take me long to figure out it was a superstition, but in it still lies a thread of truth.

Some say it takes at least 21 days to develop a habit, so if we persist with a simple pattern of behaviour, it could become automatic in 3 weeks. However, in life we know this could take even longer if not forever. Once a habit is established, it takes Allah’s Grace to break it. Take a look at the drug, alcohol, cigarette, sex addicts.

Little drops of water make an ocean.

Instead of succumbing to bad habits, we should subscribe to healthy habits and good deeds. Allah loves a small deed done consistently. We shouldn’t limit giving alms to only Eid days but we should regularly give some change to that beggar sitting outside the fast-food restaurant we often have lunch; we should strive to pray sunnah rakats before or after salaah; praying in the masjid daily (for men) etc.

Whatever is good that we perform consistently will weigh heavily on our scale while the negative habits we consistently avoid will cause, in sha Allah, a precipitous drop in our bad deeds’ scale.


Let’s kick it up some notches:
1. Define our goals: our goals should be SMARTER. Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable, Relevant/Realistic, Time-bound, Evaluated, Reviewed.

2. Punish yourself and reward yourself accordingly. If you resolve to perform a certain good deed, or avoid a certain behaviour but shirk your duty, instead of despairing of your weak nafs, turn it around for better. Rent to Allah then punish yourself by getting closer to Allah. Here’s an instance, if you decided to pray 2 nafl before Fajr and you defaulted, pay a fine of a certain significant amount as sadaqah. If you made a decision to stop lying but failed today, make a pact to fast tomorrow. And if you do achieve your goals, rewards yourself appropriately. This way, you win both ways.

May Allah strengthen our resolve.

#remindertoself