Category Archives: Spiritual

Over a spilled latte

I had a fun night out. Nothing to do with fine dining or partying or great movies. Fun is purely subjective. Some people thinks golf is fun. Some people thinks reading Agatha Christie is fun. Some people thinks sex is fun (who doesn’t?). But I had my fair share of fun night.

The plan was to meet Serena and Javad who wanted to have beef noodles at Petaling Street. I arrived late. Since I don’t know the exact restaurant of the infamous (or rather pretty famous) beef noodles, Javad said wait in front of Hong Leong Bank at the intersection of Petaling Street. As I saw him walk towards me, I went to him and as usual, he hugged and lifted me off the ground. This is really literally sweeping me off my feet. He was carrying me for a few feet until we heard weird cheering from the hawkers around. Obviously weird to see a hooded boyish girl being lifted by a tall Iranian guy in the middle of Petaling Street. Some people are just jealous. ;P Well, I don’t blame them. Maybe if they had some experience of being lifted up like that, they’d understand the child-like joy I get from it. 😉

Although I didn’t eat the beef noodles, the soup tasted quite okay. I mean, my mom cook soups every week. So if it’s as close as my mom’s cooking, it should be okay. After that we went for some longan drinks and my chestnuts. Yes. MY chestnuts. Only a nut with a chest-rack can say that with pure conviction and confidence. 😉 Before that we were talking about public phones so we wanted to test the theory whether public phone still exists and works in this mobile era. We found one and what do you know, it works! I have used public phones a couple of times for the past one year. I have no doubt saying that life circumstances will lead you to go back to your roots, or even time-travel to a backdated necessities such as public phones, pens and papers, postcards and snailmails. Those are the practices I still preserve in my life though. I wouldn’t preach (not that I’m preaching right now) or believe in something I wouldn’t do. I still write and receive postcards. And I do mail my love letters, handwritten love letters in a handmade envelope with a self-licked stamp on it. YES.

After Petaling Street, we head to Bangsar for coffee. Javad was going on and on about this G3 place so we decided to go there. G3 Bangsar impressed me much, a very laidback place for coffee and cakes and a good company. The friendly waiters and the laidback ambiance is pretty comforting. Very nice for brunches or tea time with a good conversation (highly recommended on the conversation bit).

Then we got to talk about life and what goes around it. It’s nice. A very well traveled Chinese girl, a highly inquisitive Iranian guy and then ME. Neither well-traveled nor highly inquisitive (curiosity of a 12 year-old does not qualify to being inquisitive). We talk about pies, scones (or maybe not scones), big cookies, traveling, meditating, religion, languages, Farsi (I NEED TO LEARN THIS), and death.

I told Javad, that what I learn to believe about death, is how the passer-on (the dead) will finally get their peaceful rest, and how lucky they are compared to us, struggling in our everyday life, not knowing when we will die, how we will die. Then he asked me, “If I were to tell you, you’ll die tomorrow, what would you feel?”

Here’s my answer;

My only concerns are my debts. My PTPTN debts. My car loan. My Maxis debt. Monetary. Those are my responsibilities. I’ll be sad to know that I have left a burden on my parents to clear my debts for me. On the positive side, I’m quite satisfied with what I’ve done in life, what I’ve achieved (it being small and incomparable to many), the people I’ve met in my lifetime, and the love I gave. Another concern is the fact that I die before my parents bother me. Being raised as a Muslim, one thing I totally believe in is that our prayers for those who passed on will be something they would carry in their afterlife, wherever or whatever that is. And I can’t bear the thought of dying before being able to do that for my parents. If I die before my parents, who would pray for them? I mean, yes, my siblings, but who else. And I wanted to be that person. Who sends out those prayers for my parents.

Listening to myself, it dawns to me that I don’t have much worry for myself, except that my worries for others. Maybe that’s the hippie in me. I remember one thing from a sermon on TV during one of the Maal Hijrah show. Yes, oddly enough I actually listened and paid attention. The ustad was talking about the meaning of Khalifah. Pembimbing. Guider of mankind. We’re all guiders in life. We guide others. How we guide them is subjective. The fact that we’re sent down to living is to have an impact in the life of others is amazing. The scale of selfishness to selflessness is pretty wide, but with just one purpose. We’re either guiding by reminding, sharing, or holding their hands throughout our lives. We can do all that by either being their loved ones or even enemies. Seriously, Mitch Albom wrote a whole damn book about it. The Five People You Meet In Heaven. We never know how our actions have an impact in the lives of people we have never even met. But that’s the universe coinciding with this theory. I can go on and on with this psychoanalisis bullshit of mine. But why am I refering it to bullshit? Because I do, give a shit about it. 🙂

Every year, we reach a new age, or landmark of our physical age through our birthdays. Some whine saying birthday sucks, a reminder that they’re getting old and probably dying. I tend to reflect on every single of my birthdays and think about the little achievements I’ve made. Maybe just to fool myself that I’ve done good for myself. But why am I so positive about life? It boggles myself even. There are times when I whine, rant and complaint, yes. But why not. A true Libran who justifies her own thoughts and behaviour, I’m fully utilising my emotional medium as a human being. Who live life with constant negativity and pessimism? Who live life with constant positivity and optimism? There’s a balance to it. Some uses the word moderation. Some goes back to humility.

We do as much as we can in this life. We don’t know about a next life, or an afterlife. Nobody knows. We believe. We have faith. As how we believe in God, in divine powers, in Mother Nature. As how we have faith in trust, in love, in nothingness.

As I let you ponder with all these nonsensical thoughts of mine, I go take Mother Nature’s call.

Time. You’re as funny as God.

I used to plan my life. When I was 18, if anyone were to ask me what I’ll be in 10 years, I can give them a whole scenario of what I’ll be doing at that exact moment, in 10 years time. Maybe that’s the writer in me. The ability to fictionise and visualise a scenario.

When I quit my job in 2009 and just decided to do whatever I wanted to do, without stability or back-up, I finally let go. Alone, still haven’t gotten over a previous heart break, I tried to sail through life without an anchor. The only stability I have, was myself. Again and again, I stumbled upon disappointment and obstacles. Trust me, I’ve had it all. From my car being towed, to going around town avoiding tollgates because I don’t have any cash with me. Declining dinner offers and shying away from gatherings. But there’s a blessing in everything. Every single thing that happened made me believe in myself, despite feeling suicidal. My faith constantly tells me, Rezeki itu ditangan Tuhan. I met interesting individuals, every single week. I drifted from one phase to another. Voluntarily. Waiting for the next thing life throws at me.

Two years of drifting will end soon. It’s Ramadhan now. A month, as beautiful as its name, that comes with changes for the better. I am telling myself, there’s something better awaits in the corner. God won’t throw me something I can’t handle. I grew up as an insecure girl. That girl who was ridiculed by the boys in her high school. The girl who had to carry the burden of responsibilities when all she wanted to do was silly mistakes.

After Ramadhan, September will come and I’ll be 29.

Dear Lord, I have faith in You. Have faith in me. I’ll make it through. And even if I don’t, the only way out is to come back to you.


The Curious Swan (Short Story by Abby Latif)

A swan who got so used to the lake, one day, thought to herself.

“Am I destined to just be here. To swin across this lake to and fro, and just walk around the bank, and sometimes, fly here and there?”

Suddenly, the lake spoke to her.

“It’s not your destiny, nor am I trying to keep you here to stay. It’s your own choice. You chose not to explore the possibilities in life.”

The swan, who was in quite a shock, started responding defensively, “I wasn’t given the option. And nobody told me that I even had one. I should blame mother nature. She didn’t tell me I had other options!”

All of a sudden, the lake water started heating up, and it started boiling. the swan, furious of the sudden temperature rise, flew away and found another lake to settle down.

—– # —– # —–

Lakes doesn’t usually heats up and starts boiling, it’s not their nature. But when their reason being were being questioned, they can do perhaps anything.

at stake: muslim female genitals

A couple of weeks ago, a friend invited me to the Freedom Film Fest premiere at The Annexe, Central Market and the only reason I decided to go was Nia Dinata. Tentatively, she was the guest of honour for the opening ceremony, but little did I know, her latest project “Pertaruhan” (At Stake) were scheduled to be screened as the opening film for the festival.

“Pertaruhan” is a compilation, or anthology of 4 documentaries revolving around women issues, i.e. migrant workers, pap smear treatments, prostitution and one, which caught my full attention, female muslim circumcision.

During the Q&A, I asked Nia, since the director for that particular documentary was absent, how wide is the awareness of this issue among muslim women in Indonesia, and how many people did question the validity of this practice. She told me there’s many inquiries on the issue, but when I told her that we, in Malaysia, goes through this process like a compulsory practice among Muslim practitioners, some of the audience were astounded. Moreover, the representative from JAG mentioned, no statistic were available on this particular issue in Malaysia, nor it was a huge concern of the community.

This morning, a friend of mine forwarded an article from MalaysiaKini, malaysia’s online newspaper which is only available upon subscription. The article titled Female genital mutilation: ‘Don’t touch the children’ by Colin Boyd Shafer. Allow me to borrow some excerpts by no intentions of plagiarising.

The writer quoted:-

“Excision doesn’t remove your desire or ability to enjoy sexual pleasure. The excision of women is cruel on many levels. It is physically cruel and painful; it sets girls up for a lifetime of suffering. And it is not even effective in its intent to remove their desire.” – Ayaan Hirshi Ali

The writer wrote,

Until recently, I assumed that FGM was not found in Southeast Asia. However, I had a conversation recently with an ethnic Malay here in Malaysia, and to my surprise found out that female genital mutilation/circumcision is not unusual in the Muslim community.

It is most certainly not unusual. As a 27yr old Malay Muslim woman in Malaysia, I can verify that I have not yet heard any of my female Muslim friends or relatives who has not gone through circumcision. We have never even question why we should, it’s just stated that it’s better that we were circumcised when we were born, or while we were a baby, to avoid memorable trauma of the ordeal.

The writer continues on explaining in the article,

Isa, Shuib & Othman sampled 262 pregnant woman admitted to the labour ward, and found that all of the women had undergone the surgery which they described as “nicking of the tip of the clitoris or prepuce with a penknife or similar instrument, which only drew a drop of blood and caused brief pain.”

In the documentary produced by Nia Dinata, some female activist went around trying to find justification of the practice, consulting with a few Ustadz. Most of them explained that it was to avoid, or reduce, sexual desire. Apparently cutting the tip of the clitoris, will control a woman’s wild sexual desire. Of course, this is not true. I, myself, wouldn’t know for sure, I wouldn’t have the ability to compare if I would be more easily aroused or sexually wild if I haven’t been circumcised. As a person in her late 20s, of course I have sexual desires putting aside whether I am single or not, OR, whether I am sexually active or not.

True to the research in the article, if someone were going to be sexually active or get impregnated or lose her virginity before marriage as clearly forbidden in the said religion, is not justified by her genitals being circumcised or not. Then what about worldly and material desires which is equally destructive to someone’s ethics?

The writer then thought,

But if God is great and infallible, than surely his natural genital design is acceptable? We need to stop tip toeing around religious practices and start analysing FGM for what it is.

Let your child decide what they want to do with that area of their body. If you raise them well, they will be clean, happy and careful about whom they have sex with.

Recently, I asked my sister, did she circumcised her baby girl, Aisyah Nur, who was born on October 25th last month, and she look a bit panic saying, no she haven’t. I explained to her, it’s not “wajib” and I told her about the documentary and the issues raised regarding the issue.

My heart already broke seeing Aisyah Nur crying because she is suffering from constipation, how can I survive knowing someone took a razer and cut the tip of her genitals? It’s crazy!

Do go through a few discussion websites via Google for this issue and decide for yourself. We are individuals and I respect people’s belief and stands. But as for me, as much as I want to believe what I have been raised to believe, the common sense and emotional part in me, does not believe this to be a necessary practice in Islam.

Let our faith guide us to whether we are able to control our desires and let mistakes guide is to the path of truth. But don’t do or practice things which to prevent what we never know will happen in life.

i don’t know when ..

i love my mother. seriously i do. with all my heart and soul. would die for her if i have to. like say we’re in an accident, i’d rather be the one stuck in the engines or get hold by a jammed seatbelt as long as it’s not her.

maybe that’s why it breaks my heart when she shows how she doesn’t trust me or have no faith in me.

she has this thing where she will think everyone is of to make her feel bad or she will feel victimised in most situation. then she thinks that everyone will lie and cheat her off.

i am not a perfect daughter, the perfect person she’d want as her daughter. not the perfect muslim she’d have in mind. i think i failed her in that department. that devoted prim and proper daughter who would marry a decent guy and give her grandchildren and live happily ever after.

it’s sad when she comes in my room this morning saying that sh haven’t seen me praying and it seems that i have lost faith in god somehow rather, in her eyes. she said i used to pray a lot, and repeated ‘used to’ but not recently or now. she said all these ‘amal jariah’ that i kept on insisting my life to be focusing on is not what will build my house in the heavens. i tried to tell her, i do remember god, i try to find time and pray. doesn’t mean that i don’t do that ‘puasa enam’ during syawal, that she doesn’t see me pray on the praying mat, that i am religionless, that i have lost my faith and principles, that i have drifted in the land of the non-believers and are doomed for eternal sentence in the hell-fire. that is of course for god to decide.

i cry when i think of god. because i know i’m a sinner. i think about the divinity, being grateful for what i have all the time. rumi mentioned, there are a lot of ways to remembering god, not just by prayers. and there are also a lot of ways you can pray to god, outside the 5 obligated times. praying mat has become a very sensitive and sacred place. not a time spent on it that i wouldn’t weep when i raised my hands asking for strength, and most of the strength i ask for from god, is not for me, most of them is for my loved ones. because i think, maybe i have enough strength, but does my loved ones have enough? so i pray that they are always calm and composed when they face difficulties in life and have the strength to carry on.

of course we don’t tell our loved ones, ‘i prayed for you today, you better be thankful to me.” never. we just don’t. we pray for good health and constant food in our rice pots. but most of all, we observe our loved ones from afar. we know their weaknesses. so we pray for strengths. we ask god to give strengths to them.

frankly, i have nothing in my life to live for. i don’t know anymore. the only thing that keeps me living this life, is the thought that i’m here for others. the more i carry myself alone in this life, the more life is in-debt to those around me. my thoughts are always about others, how can i cope and help them. it kills me when i feel helpless. even though i seem to isolate myself from the crowd, i have other people in my mind.

mom will say, help yourself first. help other people later.

but …

who do you help, when you’re selfless?

A Beautiful Hadith

Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: ‘When a man dies and his relatives are busy in funeral, there stands an extremely handsome man by his head. When the dead body is shrouded, that man gets in between the shroud and the chest of the deceased.

Thereafter he turns to his dead companion and says, ‘I am the Qur’an, which you used to read, sometimes in a loud voice and sometimes in a low voice. Do not worry. After the interrogation of Munkar and Naker, you will have no grief.’

When the interrogation is over, the handsome man arranges for him from Al-Mala’ul A’laa (the angels in Heaven) silk bedding filled with musk.

Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: ‘On the Day of Judgement, before Allah, no other Intercessor will have a greater status than the Qur’an, neither a Prophet nor an angel.’

Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said:
‘Pass on knowledge from me even if it is only one verse’.

May Allah bestow this favour on all of us.

Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) bersabda : ‘Bila seseorang lelaki itu mati dan saudaranya sibuk dengan pengebumiannya, berdiri lelaki yang betul-betul kacak di bahagian kepalanya. Bila mayatnya dikapan, lelaki itu berada di antara kain kapan dan si mati.

Selepas pengebumian, semua orang pulang ke rumah, 2 malaikat Mungkar dan Nakir, datang dalam kubur dan cuba memisahkan lelaki kacak ini supaya mereka boleh menyoal lelaki yang telah meninggal itu seorang diri mengenai ketaatannya kepada Allah. Tapi lelaki kacak itu berkata, “Dia adalah temanku, dia adalah kawan ku. Aku takkan meninggalkannya seorang diri walau apa pun. Jika kamu ditetapkan untuk menyoal, lakukanlah tugasmu. Aku tidak boleh meninggalkannya sehingga aku dapati dia dimasukkan ke dalam Syurga.’

Selepas itu dia berpaling pada temannya yang meninggal dan berkata,’Aku adalah Al-Quran, yang mana kamu membacanya, kadang-kadang dengan suara yang nyaring dan kadang-kadang dengan suara yang perlahan. Jangan bimbang. Selepas soal siasat dari Mungkar dan Nakir, kamu tidak akan bersedih.’

Selepas soal siasat selesai, lelaki kacak mengatur untuknya daripada Al-Mala’ul A’laa (malaikat dalam Syurga) tempat tidur dari sutera yang dipenuhi bauan kesturi

Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) bersabda :’Di hari pengadilan, di hadapan Allah, tiada syafaat yang lebih baik darjatnya daripada Quran, mahupun dari nabi atau malaikat.’

Do not grieve over that which has passed you by in life, for indeed you have been blessed with much. Contemplate the many favors and gifts that Allah has bestowed upon you and be thankful to Him for them. Remind yourself of Allah’s many blessings, for Him, the Almighty, said: And if you would count the graces of Allah, never could you be able to count them. (Qur’an 16: 18)