Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Life After Haj

Is there life after Haj?  Definitely a big big Yes!  But not during jet lag I'm afraid. Mentally and spiritually fortified but physically just recovering.  For the elderly, less healthy and for those living far away from the Masjid, it is a great physical and mental exercise daily. How I admire the 70 year olds who head for the Masjid daily step by step, some with walking sticks and some in wheelchairs.  Subhanallaah!

What time to go to the Masjid?

 When to get up, what time to get to the Masjid, what time is fajr, dzuhr, asar... All the times are different and we need to get familiar with the changes.  Felt strange initially to have to try to sleep around 9 or 10pm.  sometimes we stay up until midnight.   There is so much to do and see but if we do not rest well., we will be too tired to meet all the prayer times etc. We did not want to miss anything while we were there.

Still feeling slow and lagging behind at times.  Some mornings I wake up full of energy and other days , after reading just a little after solat my eyes feel so tired that I have to take a nap in the morning.  Not in the swing of things at the moment.

Work is never done

And whether I like it or not, there is much work to attend to.  And spring cleaning and tidying up the house, changing the sheets, washing the linens, sorting out the clothes and stuff from the suitcases.

Missing Malaysian food

All mundane but necessary.  And also trying to have more home cooked meals after eating away from home for 6 weeks.  No complaints about the food, we were hungry all the time and ate well.  Sometimes we ate at the mall, yearning for some authentic Arab food.  And murtabak and good hot teh tarik.

Murtabak never tasted so good!

Murtabak was SR10 each but there is meat and some egg so its a substantial meal.  The Arab rice and lamb or chicken is around SR20 to SR25 each but sufficient for 2 small eaters.  A hungry man would finish off the whole packet by himself.  Rice with fried fish is sometimes SR30 and dhal is another SR7.  Fish was fresh and food was alright.  Its not restaurant food, just mall fast food so do not expect the same quality, but the rice was long , fragrant  and delicious.

Hunting for Seats during mealtimes at the food court

I would prefer to have a meal at Hydramaut in Ampang  if I want more side dishes and a proper table to enjoy it.  At meal times there may be 300 people but only 200 seats. They serve great coffee from proper coffee machines and that is around SR7 a cup.  Milk tea is SR 2 to 3, depending on location.  Fruit juices are SR10 but though tasty, they are very sweet, I suspect condensed milk is added.

Malaysian Food is Best

Anyway, I managed  to prepare some simple pleasant meals at home but could not resist a few Chinese Muslim restaurant meals on my return. This morning we had lontong and nasi lemak from Restoran Ria in Melawati.

 Pumpkin soup  and maybe garlic bread , sambal terung and potato cutlet (bergedil from Restoran Ria ) for dinner tonight.  Cooking some beef in the slow cooker for tomorrow.   Alhamdulillah.   

Monday, December 10, 2012

Missing - out of sight but not out of mind

Assalamu alaikum my dear friends!

I had been a bit busy lately and somehow forgot to update my blogs.  Resorted to Facebook as its the fastest way to share or catch up with new information.  Or some valuable lessons and tips from our beloved speakers and scholars.

Not all scholars speak eloquently.  Some know so much but they are sometimes too serious for people who are not interested to learn.  You have to catch their attention by talking at their level.  Then there is some connection, some understanding.

Some people may not be scholars but they have a gift of connecting with people.  They share from their hearts, not scholarly or academic matters but just everyday life and its ups and downs.

Everyone has something good to share

Everyone has something to share.  Sometimes we are too busy and miss out on valuable insight. Sometimes we get the message straight away - the truth sometimes  hits us, upsets us and sometimes uplifts us.

If we have something worthy to share, let us not keep it within us.  It will only find its way to the grave with us when tis time to bury us.

Sharing is indeed caring

Make the effort and share, for the sake of Allah, to benefit others, to delight others, to help and motivate others and most of all to benefit ourselves,

Win Win Situation

How do we benefit ourselves? Just the simple act of doing something of benefit makes us feel good..  Just think how wonderful it is when someone benefits from what we shared and then goes on to share with others.  It can be passed on and on and whatever good came as a result of sharing that information, we may be rewarded continuously for it.

 Allah SWT rewards those who like to do good purely for His sake.  Be generous in sharing  your knowledge and Allah is more Generous than everyone in the universe put together. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Post Ramadan

Thankful after Ramadan

Ramadan came and went.  All the juggling to meet our ibadah schedules finally over. Some of us are still struggling with the balance of the fasting replacement and some of us just doing the 6 days of fasting in Shawal.some of us could fast right through Ramadan.  Alhamdulillah it was indeed a great benefit and really made it much easier, with the stress of thinking of having to replace countless days.

Fasting the 6 Days in Shawal

Actually we should not fuss too much.  Allah SWT decides how many days we can fast and we have to make sure we make up the lost days..  The chance to do the 6 days in Shawal comes once a year.  We need to replace all missed days before we can attempt to do the 6 days of fasting.

No Pain No Gain

If it is that easy, just fast 6 days in Shawal , do you think it is deserving of such great reward?  The pure and sincere intention to attempt to do it, the intention of trying to replace all missed fast and yet fulfil the 6 days is indeed challenging.  With all the feasting and visits for so many days, it is indeed quite a challenge for some of us.  This is where we have to persevere and thus earn the rewards that are promised.  Insha Allah.

Using our own nafs to form an opinion

Some people argue that since we are supposed to do the fasting in Shawal, it makes sense to give this priority and replace lost fasting through the year.  It can sound very attractive to people who need to repalce over 10 days or more of fasting.  Its too difficult,  It doesn't make sense.  We have to do the 5 days first.

Let's be honest to ourselves

So thay say.  Well, everyone can say what they like.  And they can also do what they wish.  If their intention is to get Allah's pleasure and subsequently His reward, let us be honest to ourselves.

Is Wajib less important?

One friend recently put it very simply. "Replacing missed fasting in Ramadan is something that is wajib, obligatory.  If we did not do it then it becomes a great sin.  What if we died before we replaced our fasting?  Some people I know actually procrastinated until a few days before the next Ramadan.  Time does fly and illness or other calamities may prevent us from fulfilling this obligation early..\

We will not be penalised if we miss the 6 days. Of course we will feel sad and feel we missed out on a great reward. Only Allah knows best.

 We may or may not miss a great reward but we will not displease Allah by making any wrong assumption.. In Islam we should opt to do what we are certain and avoid what we are uncertain.

Why are we fasting anyway?

Now that makes sense.  Whatever we do is for the pleasure of Allah anyway.  Why are we fasting,  waking up early, missing our meals, our favourite cup of coffee and missing out of lunches with our colleagues and friends? Whu do we have to put up with difficult people and yet be as patient as possible.  We have to control our desires and discipline our tongues, our eyes and our limbs from commiting any vain talk and actions. . All for the sake of Allah.

Everything is as Allah Plans

If we ran out of time in Shawal it is with Allah's knowledge.  Wouldn't He know if we had a hard time trying to purify ourselves, again and again, just to be able to fast?  Perhaps all such efforts are already counted as our good intentionto perform as many sunnah acts as possible.

He know our intentions/niyyah

Our intentions are known to Him and if we are sincere, and we redha, accepting our situation  in  itself is a good action,.  Even I used to feel that women tend to miss and lose out on a lot of ibadah that men take for granted.  Who knows what rewards Allah will give to those who are patient and accept His decisions?

Bending the rules to suit our nafs?

Do we really want to bend the rules to achieve 6 days which may or may not be accepted by Allah?  It is perhaps better to do what we are certain than to venture into grey areas, hoping we are pleasing Him.

Is pleasing Allah more important that gathering 'expected rewards'?

Its not easy to be patient and feel we have missed out.  To be patient and to be grateful that we had the chance to  live through another Ramadan is already something we should be really really thankful for.

Greedy Greedy Most of Us

Man and women are indeed greedy and never satisfied.  We are always trying to get more out of everything.  There are times when we should just say "Alhamdulillah" and accept His decisions.  I try to remind myself to try to be grateful for even the smallest niamah/blessings.

Do we not feel blessed already?

What if we could not open our eyes or lost our hearing when we wake up in the morning?  Our souls were taken out of our bodies and returned if it is not yet our turn to return to Allah. Just to be able to see our loved ones again the next morning, to hear our child's laughter.  Is that not a great blessing?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Trying to do everything simultaneously

Firstly, I'm  trying to post something hastily before I go on to other must dos tonight.  Enjoying my semi sweet cocoa butter Belgian chocolate at the same time.  I ate a few packages already and this is the last one.  Its anti oxidant and really very creamy and tasty.  After all, they are Belgian chocolates, not the ones you see everyone trying to make in fancy shapes and colours, some being sold on line.

Go for the real thing

Not criticising others but commercial chocolate for making fancy chocolates at home are not the same as fine chocolates that you see over the speciality counters.  Of course the prices are also very special. Too costly,. That's why people resort to making their own, even though it does not taste like the real thing.

Satisfying Dinner

 Today we had a fairly interesting dinner.  Made the beef stew at midnight.  Today made chicken soup with lots of vegetables.  Just great for a cool rainy night.  Actually it was not raining when I prepared my fruit starter. Its mango season so I had been using a lot of mangoes.   It had been rather warm in the day and I made more of the mango and red seedless grape dessert with ice cubes Drizzle some honey if you wish for a fruity honey drink when the ice melts.  Actually I also like it with watermelon, kiwi, pineapple, grapefruit, orange, apple and banana.  Any combination.

Simple Beef Stew with tomatoes 

I browned the beef which was coated with some flour to seal the juices.  Then added water, onions and cooked it for a while to soften the beef.  Did not take long , depending on the cut of meat.  I then added some cloves, cinnamon, a star anise, lots of carrots.some potatoes and tomatoes.  Made lots of gravy for soaking the bread.  Garlic bread would be lovely.

Did not want to use tomato puree from the can as I was feeling guilty.  I just read again that its not too safe to use canned ones. Went to the shop to buy a large glass bottle of tomato puree which I can also use to make my chicken pilau.  Added button mushrooms but forgot to add a little celery which  would be tasty and extra nutritious. Anyway it turned out well and we enjoyed it with bread. Thick canned tomato paste would make the dish seem  more tastier.

I just realised that I only paid RM9 for the piece of chick beef but today I paid RM14 for beef of almost the same weight.  Mmmm RM5 more  for the same dish.  Plus vegetables etc my stew costed around RM20.  The good news is it can serve 4 persons whereas  a beef pie that is so very tiny cannot even satisfy a child and it costs around RM5.50 without any salad. That means I would have to order 2 tiny pies and an extra salad .  So we still save and have better food at home.  But who wants to cook all the time?  Not me.

Simple Nutritious Chicken soup

Chicken soup was the usual style. with lots of onions. some tomato, potato, carrots and Tientsin cabbage (the long light green leafy Chinese  cabbage)  Its  extra sweet when cooked in soup. Just throw in a few chicken pieces , simmer for at least 2 hours on very  low flame and its done. You can also use this as a stock base for cooking noodles, other soups or place some in the crock pot to make some all day broth.  It can be so concentrated and delicious and ready anytime.  Will post more later.

We love fried rice

We all love fried rice.   For lunch I made very quick fried rice with lots of garlic, onion, crispy prawn sambal,  chicken and frozen mixed veggies. I only had half a bowl of rice while my son finished 2 whole plates. Just  serve with lettuce.

I normally love basic Yang Chow fried rice with scrambled egg but the prawn sambal was calling me today so we had spicy rice instead.  Can't have too much of that as its really fiery and spicy. 

I do not mind cooking a quick meal as its better than eating out all the time.  It gets boring sometimes as we do not have the time nor mood to go hunting for a nice place to eat, its warm outside, hard to find parking and the worst is its really costly.  A simple fried rice dish with no nutrients would cost at least RM5.50 to RM12.  And often its oily and  they may also use inferior quality oils and hastily washed vegetables etc. We may get a really nice plate with fried crackers and salad if we pay more.  Well, I would not want to pay more when its a quick half hour lunch.   

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Human relationship with animals and compassion

Writing at midnight

I feel like writing when my mind is free. But at that stage I am ready to fall asleep any moment. Right now I'm squinting my eyes as I try to write very quickly, trying to beat the submission of sleep ordained by Allah SWT.

We all have to submit to Allah

No matter how strong or powerful a person is, he has to submit to Allah's rule throughout his life. He may not realise it. Man falls sick, he becomes tired, sleep overcomes him. It is a sign of involuntary submission but sometimes his arrogance does not allow him to realise it.

How small we are and yet how great we feel sometimes. All of us are guilty of this kind o f feeling once a while, more often than we want to admit.

Losing a loved one

It may be our family, a friend and even a much beloved pet. We may grieve in different ways but we hurt. And there is a deep sense of regret sometimes, wishing we did more. Or had more knowledge how to deal with emotional and physical stress.

Taqdir Allah

It is taqdir Allah and yet it was hard to lose someone or something we love and appreciate Everything belongs to Allah and He is the Owner of all living and inanimate.

Loving Unconditionally

I have lost many pets through the years. They may not have the same status of human beings but many pet lovers would agree that they understand us and love us unconditionally. Actually they sometimes treat us better than some human beings who only know how to take and talk.

Animals are sensitive and know and see things we do not and cannot. They have feelings just like us. They grieve too and can exhibit happiness, excitement, fear, suspicion , even anxiety and irritation. We can learn so much from them. :)

Lessons in Life

Perhaps it is through these creatures that Allah teach us how to live our lives. How to cope with responsibilities, with disappointment, with commitments and caring for the needy. The loss of pets and animals teach us how to face death and loss of loved ones. There is a cut and a scar whenever a beloved pet dies and my heart cried for this new friend, full of innocence.

Are we grateful?

Do we appreciate the time given to us by Allah? Do we appreciate our friends and families while they are here with us? Do we take them for granted and feel grief and regret only when they finally leave us? Do not expect them to be around all the time. we do not know when the Angel of Death will give us a final visit. Do we desire to make peace with our friends and our family?

People who forget others have feelings too

I know of people who have nothing good to say about their friends and siblings. They say everyone treats them badly and do not appreciate what was given or done for them. Perhaps they have to think why everyone dislike them. Do not think about what good we did to them Did we do them any harm or did we hurt them in the past? Will they ever forgive us or would they curse us further at our grave?

Make Peace

Make peace with people. Do our part if they continue to be upset for whatever reason, at least we have tried to resolve the matter sincerely. To please Allah and to be humble as a Muslim.

I will talk about the rabbit next. I have to rest now or else I will be too tired to make chicken porridge tomorrow. A morning class to attend and a committee meeting in the afternoon. Hopefully time to do infra red sauna in the evening. A good way to relax and detox at the same time.
Assalamu Alaikum my dear friends,

Alhamdulillah! Just like all of you, I had been a little busy with some extra commitments. Besides trying to fulfil some responsibilities in Biro Agama of Amaed, I have to fulfil some commitments in my other dawah and revert ngos. Everyone should join an ngo to serve the community and the nation. We may not be doing big projects but everything starts from grassroots.

Let the big guys with big ambitions and dreams tackle the challenges at the top. I do not desire for lofty positions because with position comes great responsibility and accountability. I think I will do better at a slower pace and concentrate what I feel I can cope with. Something that I am interested in and enjoy . There are challenges at every level so we too have different kinds of obstacles and hurdles. We cannot evade that, it will come after us.

We keep communications open to people under our scope of care. Even if they do not join our activities, they will keep in touch with us when they need advice, counseling, help or financial help. We cannot help them in everything but even a sympathetic ear is vital when people are heading towards a nervous breakdown or suffering from deep depression. They may notice the signs but just cannot pull themselves out of it. that is when mutual support is important.

Never be a loner as man cannot exist alone. Have your own jemaah or congregation, your gathering of friends and choose them well. Be with people who are pious and knowledgeable. We can learn much from them and they are an inspiration to us. Be kind to the needy and ignorant and guide them if you can. Know your own limits and do not be overwhelmed by people who want a piece of us all the time. We cannot serve Allah SWT well if we ourselves are not focused.

I am sharing this because sometimes we are so involved in our work and projects that we do not know when to say No. We have to take care of ourselves too. When we breakdown, who will look after the ones who depend on us? Our body has rights over us and we need to rest and consume food that is good and permisable to nourish body and mind. Halal and tayyibah.

I'm thinking of this as I was on the line with a revert who was on the verge of a breakdown. She was speaking faster and faster, louder and at a higher pitch. If she did not calm down, she could just give up and sink into another depression. People with mental, emotional and financial problems are so overwhelmed that they sometimes cannot think straight.

When we feel everything is just too much, we need to talk to a trusted person. At least release the tension and let someone share his view on how to deal with the matter. Today there was also news about a new revert who had to return to India to see his parents. He got into some problem with the customs because the agent tore out a few pages from his passport. He is quite illiterate and found himself in trouble.

Today is his court case and they fined him RM2000 or one year's jail. I feel so sorry for him. All he wanted was to look for a job, earning halal income to support his family. I cannot find that kind of money to solve his problem. There are so many others over here asking for help weekly, as if on a rotating wheel, turning and turning endlessly.

He cannot even write though I had spoken to him over the phone. His parents must think he is quite hopeless as he had to use all the money he sent home to sort out some of his legal problems. The illiterate are often exploited and literally thrown to the dogs .

Let us count our blessings. I may not have much and I too seek Allah's rezk to survive and support my family. They have to do even much more. May Allah SWT have Mercy on all of us and guide us. Ameen.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Some food photos

Chilled symphony of dragonffruit and mangoes frozen, partly thawed and then whizzed in the food processor. I added some softened dates for extra taste and nutrition. Cold Appetiser.

Defrosted some thick vegetarian dhall which I made the other day. I packed them into small plastic bags and thawed them in the morning.

Beef stew, kidney bean salad, just olive oil, lemon, onion, capsicum, salt and pepper. Anything you like and have in your fridge.

Mapo Tofu, one of our favourite dishes. We always ordered medium size Mapo whenever we ate at Muhibbah's. By far the best is found there. Other restaurants do not do it exactly the way we like it. I take the short cut these days by buying the mapo sauce paste from Lee Kum Kee or some other halal brand.

Just brown lots of garlic, add finely chopped or sliced beef or lamb. Stir well and add about 4 teaspoons or more of the hot sauce. Now add in a box of soft tofu, cut up. You can also add some chopped spring onions, some sliced ginger or a little cornflour or tapioca starch flour dissolved in some water for the gravy.The amount is up to us though it can be a little salty if we add too much.

Mealtime can be very quick and simple. We have toast when we have no time to cook rice. Really fast meal.

Shepard or Cottage pie, served separately but in same dish. I put long beans in the rice before cooking it. Trying to have a more nutritional meal. :)
Pine nuts blended roughly with fresh Italian basil leaves and olive oil, cheese. Very filling snack. Toast the pine nuts before using. If we do not have them, try walnuts or almonds with spinach.
A little feta cheese crumbled on top would be tasty.

Tasty Pumpkin Soup - we had to hide the large pot of soup. Sometimes it goes on the table to keep it really hot. The curry was from the shop as I had lunch there

Apple Crumble

Unfortunately we did not get to taste the apple crumble. Made it in a hurry for Doctor M whose son was preparing for his medical exam and was craving for apple crumble. See the greatness of a mother's love? She had to spend time tutoring him so she asked me to cook so that he could have both tution and pie. Masha Allah. No wonder her children are top scorers and pious kids.

Some random food photos from my kitchen

Just a small selection of food photos. What Malaysians like to have for their dinner :) or at least in my humble home, where cooking does not have to be a chore but an interesting and inviting prelude to a nice relaxing meal at the end of the day.

Eat early and stop eating before you are full

Been advised to have dinner before 7 pm so that the food can digest with our activities and not go to bed with a heavy load. Eat only 1/3 full, fill the other 1/3 with water and leave the other 1/3 of our stomach empty. Sounds like very great advice, after all it is the sunnah, the tradition of our beloved Prophet saw. (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him)

Soup saves the day

I try to make soup at least once or twice a week. Normally sufficient for 2 days so that I can just add some vegetables or meat to stretch the meal. I prefer to spend less time in the kitchen. We can be productive without being a slave to the kitchen. Just plan our meals and be adaptable. Use up the favourite leftovers and be creative.

Enjoy Family time at mealtimes

Try not to eat alone. We seldom enjoy our food even if we ate at the finest restaurant. There is so much barakah or blessings when we share our meals. Good to ask someone to our home to share our food. The problem is of course we need to have enough time to cook enough and also give people time to plan their schedule. Not everyone can drop their work and say yes to us.

Be thankful for our nourishment

Let mealtimes be a pleasure, a time to be with family and to get nourishment with thanks to our Creator. Be thankful for our food as our friends and neighbours in other parts of the world are starving and suffering. May Allah SWT protect us and forgive our weaknesses.