Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bringing work home

Should we bring our work home?

Don't bring your work home! Even I used to say that as we do need family time and rest when we get home. The journey back was already stressful enough, especially if it had been raining. Sometimes the rain was so heavy that I was just driving with my eyes wide open but could see only waterfall on the windshield.

Driving on a prayer

Driving on a prayer - making a dua and tawakkal to Allah SWT. There are some things we have to keep doing - like pressing the accelerator pedal. Even if we cannot see the road ahead. This is the time to realise Allah is watching over us. We cannot just stop the engine, there is no place to pull to the side so the only way is to go forward! Sometimes life is just like that...

So who wants to do some more office work when she gets home? Not me, I used to think.

Singing a different song

These days I am changing my tune. Everyone wants to work from home. I actually like working at home as I can take care of my family and yet fulfil my responsibilities. Its really nice to have a nice hot cup of tea and snack and make money at the same time. MMMmmm...

Set a target and reward yourself

Tonight I have to do some paperwork and send something by email. Set myself a target. Must complete part 1 by 10pm. I'm dying to read a few publications I just bought the other day.

The shop was closed again... wanted to buy eggs to make some chocolate cakes. The problem with condominium living is we cannot make too much noise to disturb the neighbours. So no blasting away the machines at 12 midnight. No one hears anything in a normal landed property.

Been driving all over today and came back just in time to avoid the awful jam. Enjoying a hot mug of Rooibus tea, compliments of sis Rayhana. Its really tasty and so packed with nutrients.

Okay, to work, to work :) happily and with a smile. Insha Allah the output will be positive too!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The wind is blowing gently...

Alhamdulillah, thank you Allah

I see dark red and pink frangipannies, red hibiscus and purple bougainvillea. The lush green and the everchanging stream. When it rains it would rapidly swell up and rise to cover all the banks and almost to the edge of the golf course. Birds singing, flying, sitting quietly and suddenly catching a fish in their beaks. 2 days back I saw a pelican walking by itself in front of my ground floor low rise apartment. Biawak was there too - rather large, even from a distance. I am so grateful to Allah SWT to be given a chance to experience all his wonders, packed in a tiny little home in the middle of the city.

Peace and quiet in the morning

Sun is getting a little brighter, its chilly in the morning and I do not need to depend on the air conditioner. As I sit here facing the greens I forgot to switch on the fan and its still cool. Hah! a squirrel just ran across my open glass door just around 4 feet away from my table.

City folks - stop and smell the roses!

All you city folks, remember to stop and smell the roses! We are so busy rushing from assignment to assignment, place to place we have no time to experience and appreciate the goodness around us.

All good things must end someday...

I have decided to move away when my lease is over and will not take the option of another year. Its been great living here but this service apartment has not much service at all. There is a fairly good gym, beauty salon, dry cleaner, meeting room etc. They have all the facilities that I am not interested in and do not have what I require.

No jemaah

No cafe or restaurant, library or social and health activities that bring the residents together. No jemaah and no friends to do some amal around here. I do see some nice people around but we are so busy , just waving and saying hello before we disappear into our apartments and vehicles. Perhaps I shall make an effort before I leave. Everything I do seems to be on an individual basis. My son helps me to send food to the guards occasionally. They know us now. They too need love and care though we do not know them well.

Ramadhan is a time for even more sharing and caring

I did try to be a little neighbourly when I first moved in. During Ramadhan I distributed food and dates regularly to the guards and workers, even to the residents whom I happened to meet.

We focused on the guards as they could not join other Muslims for tarawih prayers nor could they break fast (iftar) with others in the masjid or at home with their families. Some may be foreigners. Ramadhan is a time when we should make more effort to make them feel appreciated.

Really efficient service and good security

Service is great and everything is good here except that the privacy became an obstacle towards knowing our neighbours. I love privacy but Muslims have some responsibilities towards their neighbours. I do not have much opportunities to help or assist people here. Everyone is self sufficient and busy busy busy.

Even walkers are in a hurry

Even the young and old who walk briskly round and round the whole compound seem like in a hurry. They walk with a glassy blur in their eyes. Guess I may end up like them one day if I'm not careful. They just needed to finish that exercise! Really sad to see this... I do understand brisk walking but even walkers are in a real hurry. Guess its not much fun to struggle round and round the block. They have to rush home to fulfil other responsibilities.

I just need some necessities

I need to buy some daily necessities like bread,butter, egg and milk often. A small mini market would be great so I do not need to dress up and drive all the way to the supermarket just to get a few small but necessary items. I need a place where I can order a cold mocktail or some hot English tea while I relax by the pool. There is a nice eating and working area there but the cafe had been closed for over half a year. What service?

Drizzling now... stream is rising again

Its drizzling now ... so softly the rain falls - I look forward to seeing the larger birds. They love to fly over during a light drizzle. I have to say goodbye to all these little luxuries that money cannot buy. Can hear the various sounds of the different birds.

Best things are free

Yes, all the good and best things in life are free of charge. Allah SWT provides the air that we breath, the trees, the flowers - the rich flora and fauna that is necessary for life.

How do we give thanks?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Last minute cooking - just use your senses

Maximise time - use your senses

No time to shop for food so I rummaged through the freezer and found a small tray of shoulder lamb. That would be nice for a change. My fridge is almost empty of veggies. Did a quick sweep and ended up with 1 tomato, 2 carrots, 1 green capsicum. Threw in 2 large onions and little garlic and I got enough to make a quick lamb stew.

Healthy and tasty ingredients

Potatoes would be nice and I usually like a colourful mixture of yellow, green and red peppers. I also like pumpkin, parsnip, turnip and even green chillies for a little aroma. We should always have colour on our plates to get optimum benefit from the different foods Allah SWT has provided for us to maintain good health.

Have a colourful meal

This is sometimes neglected as its not cheap to buy a wide variety of colourful food. Carrots, green leafy vegetables, purple eggplant, tomatoes, oranges, lemons and beetroot and strawberries come to mind.

Zuhirah and international cuisine

This is not any particular Arab dish - just easy home cooking using readily available ingredients in the kitchen. My dear friend Zuhirah from Bermuda once served us a chicken dish similar to this - I think she also added coriander powder. And I still make her tasty bread pudding which is so delicious, hot and puffed, fresh from the oven.

That was over ten years ago but I remember good food experiences. If we are adventurous we can try to experiment to reproduce that special dish for our loved ones. We learn along the way and share with others who are interested. I am always impressed by the many people who generously share their ideas and recipes with strangers across the world. May Allah SWT bless you and keep you healthy and happy.

Really easy!

Its something one can do when we are short of time . So this was what I did :

Lamb Stew

Fry some finely chopped onions in olive oil in a heavy based pan. When it begins to brown and soften, add the 2 pieces of lamb and brown both sides. Add about half to one cup of water and throw in the veggies after 10 minutes of cooking. Cover tightly.

Spices and seasonings

Now add around 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp fennel, 1/2 tsp chili powder. Amounts vary according to our mood. Add some whole red chillies if you want it to be a little spicy. I also can also throw in 3 to 4 prunes or apricots, a slice of lemon and a large handful of blanched almonds. Add about 1 to 1 + 1/2 tsp rock or sea salt to taste. Simmer for another 20 minutes or until lamb is tender.

Just leave it to the vegetable to thicken naturally

I do not thicken it with flour as I want to keep it natural. Floury potatoes and extra onions will thicken the stew adequately. I like the soupy gravy as it good for dunking the garlic bread. Mmmmm....

Dinner tonight

This is just quick simple cooking. This is quite nice but not the real thing. Anyway I am looking forward to dinner tonight as I plan to serve the dish with ful medamas dip, crusty french loaf and some hot soup. Maybe pumpkin or mushroom.

Not always cheaper cooking at home

When I calculate the price, I do not save a lot when I cook it at home - cost of veggies have gone up tremendously. It is cheaper to eat out unless we opt for basic meals like stir fried veggies and a meat and soup at home. Eating at home is no longer cheap especially if we do not have time or mood to cook after a busy day at work - the deteriorated vegetables end up in the trash can instead of the cooking pot!

Switch off to destress

I prefer to switch off and do something relaxing to heal my tired mind and body. Right now I'm enjoying my beautiful morning, typing and looking at the beautiful green trees and open field in front of my patio. The sunlight is filtering through gently and birds singing. Its so calm and healing. I'm also feeling a little guilty because others are suffering physically and emotionally in far away lands. Say a silent prayer for them.

Let us pray for a safer world

The power of prayer and supplication

Do not underestimate the power of prayer and supplication! Allah SWT knows what is in our hearts. With so many calamities around us, we are going to pray a lot - for our own families and friends and for our neighbours . We have to not only pray hard but work hard to make this a better world.

Everyone and everything affected

A lot of work to be done, especially with the back to back disasters and loss of lives especially in Japan. Now the oceans, rivers and lakes, farms and parks are polluted badly. The fish, the seaweed, marine life and inhabitants are suffering. The seas are crying!

Be careful what you consume

Well, at least no more cruel and greedy hunting for the stubborn big time whalers. There will be no business for them for a long time. All food will have to go through radiation tests soon. Sushi anyone? Guess we have to use our discretion when it comes to certain food and products.

Power of Water

I feel sad to think of how people are suffering in the cold, some areas maybe be running out of supplies. It does not take an external enemy to disrupt a highly developed nation. Just power of water sent by the Almighty as a reminder and wake up call for us and the people of the world.

Help. Even in a small way

Life goes on and while we are busy living life and working as usual to fulfill our daily commitments. Let us get real and remember our fellowmen who are still reeling and suffering this tragedy. Let us find ways to help them, even if it is in a small way.

Food for thought

We may not have nuclear reactors but looks like the country may be heading that way. May Allah SWT protect us all. Even a developed and sophisticated nation like Japan cannot deal effectively in this situation. Are we absolutely sure we can do better? Decisions that affect life, health and safety are very tough. People who push for nuclear energy have to be absolutely honest with themselves and be sincere. Their decisions can literally kill - even their own families will be affected. Food for thought.

Make dawah to help others spiritually

Perhaps we can contact Muslim ngos which may have their own networks to reach out to those in need. It is a good time to let people know Muslims are kind and generous and are willing to share their wealth with people in difficulties. Make dawah by way of good deeds - that is sending spiritual help. May Allah SWT accept your good deeds and mine.

So very helpless, small and insignificant

I feel very helpless, small and insignificant in the face of these tests from Allah SWT. Some people will say natural disasters! Well, some disasters actually occurred as a result of our own doing. Did we learn anything?

Who holds up the mountains?

Let them think about it - who created the world and how are the mountains joined at the bottom of the sea? How are the clouds and sky held up like a canopy above us and how do birds fly? Allah SWT simply sent us a small sample of the day of reckoning but we do not know if people want to get the message.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Is it good to be humble?

Arrogance is a major sin

To be humble does not mean to lower ourselves. To me it means we should not show off or think we are better than others. Being arrogant is actually a major sin in Islam. We know our own abilities and achievements. When we are humble we also know there are many others who are better than us. We have to keep on learning and improving ourselves. And we have to share our knowledge to help others.

What does humility mean to me

When I was first introduced to Islam I did not understand what it means to be humble. "Oh if we are behave humbly, wouldn't others look down on us and think Muslims are inferior to them? Would people think we do not mind if people try to trample on us or do not give us due respect?".

Strength and discipline needed to be humble

Now I realise it takes a strong and disciplined person to be humble. Allah SWT wants us to be humble sevants so that we will not be selfish or proud. It doesn't mean we think others are better but we are always thankful for His favours and be willing to help others who are less privileged.

Be confident

Being humble means having confidence in oneself and not needing to make great effort to impress others. Just be ourselves and be well mannered. Learn to be respectful and considerate and you will find others reciprocating them. Similar things attract each other. Be good and you will find others being good to us too.

Be humble and sincere

Be humble and sincere. You will find you have many friends of all seasons. Not friends who love you only when you are doing well and look down on you when times are a little difficult. Everyone goes through the cycle of life and like they say, every dog has its day. That is the will of Allah SWT.

With every hardship comes relief

These cycles teach us to be patient and humble but with every hardship comes relief. Allah SWT is always close by, watching us, guiding us if we ask for His help.

We learn something important when we are tested

We learn a lot when Allah humbles us. We may then fully appreciate His Kindness and Generosity and Compassion. When we have something all our lives we take that for granted. When we lose that for a while then we realise we did not fully appreciate His Blessings. Insha Allah it will make us more compassionate and caring people.

Difficulties bring us closer to Allah SWT

Even the hardship He gives us is but a test. We need to make every effort to overcome that hurdle in life. Ask for His help through constant prayers and supplications. Prostrate and supplicate earnestly during solat. That is the best position - man at his most humble position, having a heart to heart conversation with his Lord.

Insha Allah you will find Him opening many doors for you in dunia (this worldly life) and akhirat (the Hereafter).

Monday, March 14, 2011

Let us Stop for a Minute!

Let us slow down a litle and reflect upon our own deeds. How can we make this world a better place? How to make it safer for our children and future generations?

Who takes care of the environment? Do we just leave it to the authorities to clean the roads, rivers, streams and gardens? Have we planted any trees lately?

How to minimise side effects?

With the possible nuclear fallout, toxins and diseases may be spread across the continents. What precautions can we take to minimise the side effects? Will acid rain pollute our water, our earth and our bodies?

Stay away from the rain

Try not to get caught in the rain these few days especially - it may be highly toxic. Wear some protective clothing and cover adequately. (I suddenly thought of another benefit when Muslima cover themselves - it is good protection indeed ).

Cleanse yourselves

It is good to take a full shower, wash our hair and our clothes should the air reaches toxic levels. Acid rain may burn our skin or even cause cancer later on. Guess we should make that a habit since we do not know when the poisons will reach our part of the world.

Life cannot go on as usual

Life cannot go on as usual. How do we become proactive?What can we do as citizens of the world, to share ways to protect ourselves and our environment?

Try to get more knowledge before
making a plan

On my part I shall spend some time trying to do some research to learn more. Will every one of us do something positive? Are we willing to make the effort?

Work together to make a difference!

When we do it individually it is good. But when we do it together insha Allah we can make a big difference. Muslims especially have a great responsibility take care of our environment and the flora and fauna.

Why Japan?

My heart goes out to the people of Japan

My heart goes out to the people of Japan. The earthquake and tsunami that hit so many regions of the country is a very catastrophic disaster. My deepest condolences to the families and people who were directly and indirectly affected by this very sad and terrifying event. May this event help them discover the power and supremacy of our Creator.

Words cannot express how many of us felt when we witnessed the onslaught of the tidal waves that engulfed so many buildings and land . Something we vaguely know may happen but did not really think it could sweep inwards with such unrelenting ferocity and power.

Where is the source of this unseen power?

Where is the source of this unseen power? What is that all about? Some unbelievers and even people who are termed as Muslims may attribute it to mother nature.

Who is this so called 'mother nature'? Does she exist?

Why was such a term coined when there is no evidence whatsoever about this so called force? Can anyone come up with some real hard evidence?I think not.

Deliberate Attempt to Influence Others by Choice of Words

Is it an attempt hundreds of years ago, when the English vocabulary was evolved to introduce certain words to influence people? Who influenced the language and for what purpose? Who decided what to feed the minds of the masses? Who were these people?

Term coined by people who did not believe
in the existence of the Supreme Creator

Obviously people who did not believe in the existence of the Supreme Creator. Allah SWT's name was indeed known to people since the time of our earliest prophets. If they did not believe in Allah SWT, who or what did they worship?

Planned Influence and Distortion

This very common term of mother nature was created and carefully nutured to influence all later generations until today. People were told interesting stories about fairies, elves and goblins. This was pagan worship. When believing Muslims use it, perhaps they too could not see that everything is from Allah and cannot be separated. Or they did not understand the severity of their words.

We can lose our aqidah

We can lose our aqidah when we do not acknowledge the power of creation to Allah. If man evolved from the apes, who created the apes? Allah SWT created millions of different species and there are probably millions more that modern man has not even discovered yet. We actually know so little. We cannot even cure the common cold.

Debunking the theory of evolution

These people talked about the theory of evolution, where there is no mention of the Supreme Creator but that people, animals, fish and even mountains changed and evolved through time to become different species. To understand this further, just look up The Theory of Evolution by brother Harun Yahya. He wrote in detail to debunk such deliberate fallacies.

Ring of Fire

Coming back to Japan, we were all so shocked by what happened. Yet we all know that Japan is an earthquake prone area. Ring of Fire - sounds so ominous.

Why not Japan?

Why not Japan? It can be any place, any time. Allah SWT tells us he will test us with loss of wealth, property and loved ones. All that is in existence from the sky and the sea and all that is in between belongs to Allah SWT - the universes, the galaxies, the sun, the moon and the stars.

What did we learn?

So what do we learn from this very devastating event? Mother nature did this? Does she even exist? Where does she fit in? No Where! We all come from Allah SWT and to Him we all must return. He created everything and yet ungrateful human beings attribute even creation of lifeforms to other entities.

Brainwashed when we were young

It took me a while when I first learnt about Islam to adjust my thinking. We were taught in schools and in story books and even in history that mother nature makes things happen. Now we know the truth - Allah SWT is Creator. To Allah we must all return.

When Acheh and lesser known areas were hit by tsunami, how did people react? Oh, these places were affected because they are islands and exposed to the waves and sea.

Many of us just could not believe our eyes! We did not want to believe it was happening.

But what about Japan? People kept looking at videos of the surging water again and again. It was an unbelieving scene - perhaps we did not want to believe it was really happening. Some of us watched the advancing force repeatedly. It was as if we needed to make the whole picture sink and etch into our minds, to remind ourselves that Allah can do anything.

I had to see the whole scene to let it sink in

I needed to do that - I want to see for myself the Power and Force of the Almighty. He told us many times in Al Quran about His attributes but some of us just could not visualise that Power.
He only sent us a bit of water and that really threw us off. The world economy is already affected. What we saw was just a small bit of the bigger picture.

Many people worship other that Allah

People these days worship science and technology. They worship physical beauty and youth. They worship power. They worship wealth. They have the technology to even build nuclear reactors in the belief that that could harness energy and save their country.Its done the opposite now. Is Allah warning us about something? Are we not seeing or listening?

What Lessons ?

What lessons did we learn from the damaged nuclear reactors in Japan? Doesn't that make us think? What did we learn from this massive destruction? Perhaps its a small reminder from Allah - that many people are becoming arrogant and unheedful. We place people, techonology and worldly gains above worship of Allah SWT.

Allah only has to say 'Be!" and it is!

What can people do at all, when Allah says 'Be!' and it is!. By a single command, Allah can make things happen - that does not take millions of years to do it. Perhaps it is to tell us even the highest technology and stringent standards cannot prevent what is destined to occur.

No one can run or hide from Allah. Where do we think we can run to? Ends of the earth? Well the world is round so we will end up in exactly the same place. He is the Irresistable, the Conqueror.

Mountains will fall like cards

The mountains will fall like cards and everything will be broken up. When they collapse, the continents will be affected as everything is connected at its very base. Japan is just a very small example of what to expect when the world ends, and the souls of all His servants will have to return to Him, whether we go willingly or fight and resist. Even the mightest rulers will have to submit in the end. Allahu Akbar!

Even the highest technology cannot save us

Perhaps Japan is chosen to tell us we cannot run from His decisions and our fate and destiny. Though it is so advanced, high tech and disciplined, the whole country and its people cannot even save themselves when the earth quakes. Nothing is in our hands and every second of our lives depend on Allah. How small we are and yet man walks arrogantly on this earth.

Be Humble and Grateful

Even in calamity and hardship we have to acknowledge and thank Allah with a humble and grateful heart. We need to know what has happened to other people and countries can and may happen to us anytime.

How can we show our gratitude?

Let us take heed and be appreciate of all the goodness and benefits that Allah had given us all these years. How do we show our gratitude? What can we do?

Be a responsible citizen of the world and the universe

Sincerely seek true knowledge of Al Quran and the sunnah of the Prophet saw. Try to obey as much as possible and share beneficial knowledge with people around you. Be good, do good and help others to do good. Take care of our environment and do not tamper with the good and clean earth. Be a caring and responsible citizen of the world and the universe.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

'The Beauty of Covering Up' page 11

Be Proud To Cover Properly - Not Half Heartedly

Many of us are already covered modestly in long loose garments with long sleeves. All we need to do now is to ensure that we cover our heads, neck, ears and bosom properly with a headscarf, tudung or veil, all meaning the same thing.

The Power of Covering

Yet this tiny piece of fabric is so very powerful and significant that it seems to bring so many mixed reactions from many Muslims and non Muslims alike, in many countries of the world!

Powerful Statement

Alllah SWT is Most Wise - He gives us the Beauty of Covering as a very Powerful Statement - with pride do we wear our Islamic identity as a symbol of love for our Creator. Subhan Allah!

Covering is an Honour and Shield
Not a Burden

Be Proud to Be Muslim! Be proud to declare that 'There is none worthy of worship except Allah SWT and Muhammad saw is His Messenger'.

'The Beauty of Covering Up' - page 11

One Simple Way to Become Closer to Allah SWT

One simple way to help us get closer to Allah SWT is by dressing and behaving modestly. People see us every day and everywhere.

How do we represent Islam? Half covered? Or half naked?

(Are we considered part naked if we do not cover according to Al Quran and the sunnah (traditions and practices) of the Prophet saw ? Are we deliberately exposing parts of our bodies that should be covered?)

Are we proud to look like a Muslim?

How do people view us? do we look and behave like people of Al Quran?

What kind of responsibilities do we have as Muslims?

Why Do We Cover Modestly?

We do not do it just because it is a job requirement and not because all our friends are already covered up. We want to do it because Allah SWT says so in Al Quran.

Be Happy

Do it only for Allah SWT's sake and be happy to have to the power to make positive changes.

'The Beauty of Covering Up' - page 10

We Have So Many Needs and Wants

We make supplications (duaa) all the time and ask for His help. We have so many needs and know that only Allah can help us. We sometimes end up expecting Allah SWT to give us everything we desire but we may be careless about our relationship with Him.

Do We Sincerely Obey, Love and Fear Allah?

Do we actually sincerely try our best to obey , love and fear Him in the way He rightly deserves? We can always start with ourselves and our own families. Peer pressure, even fear of losing approval from others may stop us from doing what we know is right, deep within our hearts.

'The Beauty of Covering Up' - page 10

Do We Remember to Always Thank Allah SWT?

Do we remember to always thank Allah SWT fo the air that we breathe, and the rain to water our crops, to cleanse the land and quench our thirst? How grateful are we for the gifts of sight, of hearing, speech and mobility? Allah SWT gives immeasurable blessings and He has also sent us some laws. Everything from Allah SWT is for our benefit. Do we have the right to pick and choose what we like and discard the rest? Are we wiser and more knowledgeable than our Almighty Creator?

Sincerely Acknowledge His Wisdom

Since we are not even anywhere near perfect, it is important to sincerely acknowledge His Wisdom and Majesty. We may not be observing all the rules properly due to our individual weaknesses or lack of knowledge. However, we can always try to keep on striving to improve, one day at a time until we reach the next level.

Is it Right to Treat Allah SWT's Command as Trivial?
What Does Allah SWT Want From Us?

Is it right to treat Allah SWT's command as trivial? How about asking ourselves what does Allah want from us?

'The Beauty of Covering Up' - page 10

Beauty From Within

Wonderful and beautiful creations of Allah SWT are often concealed and protected naturally. In some cases, they are camouflaged by a thick skin or plain looking shell. Just like oysters and their lustrous pearls - how very beautiful they are when their treasures are revealed! Allah protects His creations in different ways.

The only difference is these creations are already blessed with their natural cover. However, Allah
SWT created man with free will to chart our own destiny. He helps us by sending our holy book Al Quran, the Prophets and Messengers to guide us towards the path to Jannah (Paradise). It is our duty to seek beneficial knowledge, act upon it as well as to share it with others. Surely we do not wish to just benefit ourselves?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Responsibility and Pride as a Designer

Being rich and successful does not mean true success

Being a rich or successful garment designer does not mean achieving true success. Sure, that's the common indicator of one's success in his or her work. It means much more. Being famous does not mean a Muslim is producing work that pleases Allah.

Beautiful ways to cover revealing clothes

Did we design some beautiful coveralls and capes, scarves to help our clients dress modestly? Do we care only for their money and not help them be beautiful modest women?

Responsibility and Influence

If we do something haram (forbidden) to please the people and in the end help them to displease Allah, where do we stand? Will our profits be blessed or will money become our god? Designers have great responsibility and they can influence people in a good or bad way.

Some Muslim designers do not relate religion to their work

Some Muslim designers separate religion from their work. They forget religion means a complete way of life. It cannot be separated. Some of them add lots of dazzling embellishment, shape the body, plunge the neckline and raise the opening at the back of the skirt. Life is not a fashion show.

Use your wisdom

Many designers think their clothes have to be attractive and trend setting. They sometimes forget to ask themselves whether such trends are Islamic or not.

Their guidelines are from Milan, Paris, New York not from Al Quran and sunnah of the Prophet saw. Nothing wrong with following trends but be wise and be knowledgeable - help our clients dress well according to our religion and not someone else's.

Be proud to be Muslim

Be proud to be Muslim. Be proud to create your own identity and help our clients and friends become ambassadors of Islam. Do not give the impression that we do not respect or love our own religion. Unity is strength and we need to work together to create a new platform to promote proper Islamic dressing.

Encourage and support each other

Let us encourage each other to be sincere and courageous to be the ones to initiate change in our society. Many people just follow, be careful where we lead them.

Do we have our own values?

We have to ask ourselves - do we have our own values or do we design and create clothes that imitate others? What are our own values? Are we afraid that we cannot compete with the rest of the world if we design real Islamic wear? Do we agree that majority of Muslim designers have little interest to design or sell clothes that observe Islamic guidelines faithfully?

Do not be apologetic - take pride in your work

So where are we going ? Muslim designerss have to change their mindset and be confident to maintain their Muslim identity. We can design beautiful clothes and if they are revealing, we need to advise our clients how to dress to cover appropriately in public. Instill pride and do not be apologetic.

Let us work together and make a community

Let us work together and pool our resources. Help each other, the young and the old, the new and the experienced. Work together with everyone , whether Muslim or not. Follow true Islamic spirit of sharing and helping. Together we can inject new ideas and new life into the industry.

Do not be jealous or envious
Allah SWT decides our portion of rezeki

There is no need to be jealous or envious when others are more successful. It is a motivation to try to do better work, to strive harder and to challenge ourselves. Allah decides our portion of rezeki so there is no need to be unhappy when others are more successful and wealthy. Be proud and happy for them and carry on to do your best.

Some designers who are not yet Muslim are already very successful in designing true Islamic wear. Isn't it a shame? To be left behind? If they can make the effort to come up with beautiful and quality creations, they deserve the success and recognition.

Be a leader, not a follower

Be trend setters, not followers. Do not wait for ideas to come from Indonesia or Milan. All designers, insha Allah can produce great work with the correct intention (niyyah) and attitude.

Rewards by Intention and Deeds

Every deed starts with an intention.

Everything we do starts with an intention. That intention can develop into an action. That intention can be good or evil. Allah is so Generous and Merciful. He rewards us by our intention.

Our iman goes up and down

If we had a bad intention but did not do it, He gives us a reward for abstaining from that bad action or deed. How Generous and Kind is our Heavenly Creator - He knows we are weak and sometimes have evil thoughts.

Most Kind and Compassionate

If we made an intention (niat/niyyah) to do good solely for His sake and carried out that deed, He gives us 2 rewards. How easy it is to earn our rewards.

Earn our rewards daily

Every day Allah gives us opportunities to earn rewards. Every moment of our lives. Sometimes these reward points offset our daily sins. Insha Allah. We pray earnestly for His Mercy. No one will enter Jannah (Paradise) based solely on our good deeds, it is too insignificant compared to Allah's Bounties and Mercy.

Race with one another to do good deeds

However it is in our own interests to strive hard and race with one another to do good deeds to earn the pleasure of Allah. We have to put our intentions into actions and serve and worship Him with true humility and sincerity.

Do not think we are better than others

We do according to our abilities and circumstances. What is most important is our sincerity of intention. Not for showing off or impressing certain people. There are always people who are working harder in their ibadah and achieving more than us anytime.

Teach our children

Parents need to share this understanding with their children. We need to ask ourselves whether we have worthy intentions and deeds. Do are actions please Allah? Are we doing something solely to earn His good pleasure? Will our actions displease Him? We all know bad actions are sins and sins can lead us astray and to a very evil destination.

Little children do not know that. They need their parents to guide and nuture them. We must not just focus on getting the child through pre school, school, college and off to university. Muslims balance their lives and not live like robots and do what others do.

Muslims have the miracle of Al Quran and the sunnah of the Prophet saw

Muslims are given the best guidance and the divine manual to make the best of their worldly lives. We are so priviledged but many of us take it for granted.

Our Destination, our choice

Allah SWT has shown us the way and its is available to everyone. It is up to them to take it or leave it. Man is given to the choice where they want to be in the Hereafter. Heaven or Hell - their own choice.

They are shown the way to Jannah but not all are interested in the final destination. Some people want to go here, there and everywhere except where they all have to finally return to.

One way journey - ticket paid for

Its a one way journey, we all have to leave this worldly life one day. No body wants to get off. Most of us do not really want to think about that. Its not too far away and may be just round the corner for some of us.

Focus on Jannah!

Let us do as much good as possible to earn Allah SWT's good pleasure. Leave behind our vain desires and focus on Jannah!

No One is Ever Completely Happy

No one is ever completely happy

You are making a big mistake if you think that life must always be one hundred percent in your favour. This is something that will only happen in PARADISE. In this world, happiness is relative.

You will not get everything you want; there will always be some problems, sickness, adversity and trials. Do not be too idealistic and expect good health with no sickness, richness with no poverty, happiness with nothing to spoil your joy, a husband with no negative aspects, a friend with no faults
that will never happen. Learn how to overlook the negative aspects and mistakes, and look at the positive aspects and good things. Think well of others and make excuses for them, but put your trust in Allah only, because people are not fit to be relied upon or to have your affairs delegated to them.

'You Can Be The Happiest Woman In The World'

A treasure chest of reminders - by Dr. 'A'id al-Qarni
International Islamic Publishing House

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Simple Salmon Dinner

No Time to Cook

Started dinner late as I had already lost the momentum of cooking meals at home for the past few weeks. Working late and travelling according to the traffic congestion and flow really throws us off our routine of proper meals at proper times.

How many of you really cook?

How many of you actually go home and cook dinner every night? Or do you take the easy way out and eat on the way back or go out for a late dinner after night prayers?

Quality may be compromised

Eating out isn't half as bad as Malaysia is a food haven. We can choose to eat any of our favourite foods at any given time - even midnight! But we know we are not getting quality food as quality and freshness may probably be compromised most times.

What do we expect for RM7.90 or even RM12.00? People have to make some profit too. And of course I love the no marketing and preparation and washing up parts. We cannot have everything but our health suffers. Badly.

What to cook within an hour?

Its was 6.00pm and I realised that I had left a large slice of salmon in the fridge since yesterday. And there was a lump of chicken - unrecognisable since it was frozen hard. Could not remember what it was actually. Great- all meaty parts with some bones. I have carrots, shallots, greens and tomatoes. Those are part of my staples in the kitchen. I also like onions, garlic, potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower.

So the chicken was made into a light chicken vegetable soup and the salmon poached.

Dinner's Ready!

Alhamdulillah! Soup was really nourishing and fragrant. The salmon was poached lightly in about half inch of water, covered tightly and water absorbed. Made a light garlic, shallot and butter sauce and a large bowl of crisp salad with lemon juice, olive oil and honey. Dinner turned out to be really great and I am thankful for my food.

Sharing Food and Cooking Ideas

I like to write about food as we all have to cook and we all have to eat. Sharing how to do things quickly and easily may help someone out there have a more productive and happy day.

Cook Healthily for Healthier Hearts

We have to try to cook more - me especially. Heart patients and elderly folks cannot eat oily and commercial food all the time. We do not need any msg or extra oil in our cooking. Use non stick pans carefully so as not to scratch the surface. I love my green pan - its really superb and practical. Not expensive when you use it twice a day , 365 days a year for a couple of years.

Good Cooking Equipment makes it easy

I also use an atmosphera - a portable stove that is electronically controlled. It can be set at no. 1 for cooking soup or porridge overnight or at 8 or 9 for a real instant heating. It is energy efficient and hardwearing. Also self regulates the heat - never regretted in buying it. Am thinking of getting one more. Great for holiday cooking and travel.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Giving Up Preloved Clothes and Belongings

Give More, Get More

Sometimes we can be so very sentimental! I do try to clear my belongings occasionally whenever I have some new additions to my wardrobe. One of my teachers once told us if we had not worn certain clothings for 2 whole years, it means we did not really miss or need them. As such, it is better to give them away to our friends. Surely that is better than hoarding them for years!

I do believe we will always get more rezeki from The Almighty if we are willing to give more. Give with an open heart and give frequently.

Nice to see our belongings
are of benefit to others

Its nice to see others enjoying clothes that we used to love. We have to give clothes that still look new and in good condition - not too tatty and grubby. Sometimes we are reluctant to give our really beloved clothes and belongings to people who obviously need a helping hand.

Not everyone wants hand outs

We presume they would really like to have some nice stuff in their wardrobe but lets face reality. Some of them they do not care very much for our beloved clothes and they use them as rags! Or they are so sick of people giving them their used clothes. That's a bit sad - that's why sometimes we just bundle them up, close our eyes and tip the whole lot into a charity box. Less painful. Or am I being unrealistic as it already belongs to them now

Retro Aunt

My aunt had a great wardrobe of beautiful clothes and she had so much lovely costume jewellery to match her outfits. She never put on weight and could still wear all her clothes and they looked fresh and new - but outdated! Now its retro!

Losing both my uncle and aunt within a few months

When she passed away suddenly, I do not know what happened to all her belongings. Relatives on her side simply took over and I did felt left out. Maybe they did not want to trouble me and maybe its because we seldom met through the years. I did feel a bit sad as they took everything that belonged to my family.

Many things belonged to my uncle but he had passed away a few months earlier, both having succumbed to cancer. I do not want to be too attached to worldly belongings. But I still remember their really great wooden retro curved sofa set, her antique furniture and lots of clothes and belonging that my aunt 'borrowed' from my grandparents's family home. Just things I grew up with - sentmental me.

I overheard one of her nephews mention that they would send the unwanted stuff to the Salvation Army. I was sad, we were not offered a single momento and that was the last time I saw them.

All the beautiful things that my aunt carefully and lovingly kept spick and span, decorated lovingly - everything disappeared overnight!

Worldly things mean nothing when we go

Just a strong and stark reminder that everything means nothing when we leave this worldly life. All we can bring with us would be our amal (good deeds) and our amal jariah (continuous good deeds that remain).

Nothing matters anymore when we go.

What matters is where we would end up. May Allah SWT have mercy on us all.

Our Rights and Responsibilities

Alhamdulillah! I am thankful I do not have that much crises, responsibilities and trouble shooting back to back like some people I met. Their lives are stretched and stressed - while trying to solve the world's problems, they are indeed frayed and fragile.

We are only human

We are only human, though we have so much love for the less fortunate we can only do so much. Sometimes we try to oblige every request (genuinely urgent) but it should not be on a regular basis where we end up neglecting our own family responsibilities.

What have we been missing?

While trying to help others, we miss our children's parent day, report day, sports day, Annual PTA meeting and also our religious activities and classes. We of course never really fulfil all these obligations in toto but we need to give some attention to activities that are important to our children and also our own spiritual development.

Difficult to let go

Sometimes we get so committed that every day is full of activities and meetings, trouble shooting and more meetings. In fact once we get involved, it is difficult to let go. People seem to depend on those who give results and those who fulfil promises. Well and good. But not when its at a crazy pace. Not when they use emotional blackmail to make us feel bad when we say no. Our hearts may want to drop everything else and rush over to help but we must know our own responsibilities.

There are many ways to serve Allah SWT

So we end up saying no to our own children, our parents, our spouse. We even say no to ourselves. There are many ways to serve Allah SWT. Family responsibilities must come first and then we make some time to help society. Organize and learn to delegate. Learn to trust that others too can do our job. No one is indispensible.

The world will still go round without us

If we were to drop dead tomorrow, the world will still go round. Live goes on, death goes on. Everything will go at its own pace in the universes, as predetermined by our Mighty Creator. If we are no longer here, there will be someone else. That someone is not apparent because we are so busy trying to do everybody's job by ourselves. Life goes on.

Our bodies have rights over us

Our bodies have rights over us. We have individual responsibility to take care of our body. If we neglect ourselves, we will be emotionally, spiritually and physically deprived. When the body deteriorates, where will we house our soul? Our bodies will be broken due to self neglect and we end up being of no use to anybody. We need to take care of ourselves in order to take care of others.

Our families have rights over us

Our families have rights over us and we need to nurture our souls by seeking spiritual guidance and motivation. We do not want to be a high achiever in our outside projects and activities and end up being a miserable failure at home.

No matter what we do, it is Allah SWT who helps us and it is He who decides our destiny. Have faith that He has His own plan and He knows best.

Be Moderate

We need to be moderate on a daily basis. Once a while we can go full steam when there is a genuine need to do so. Some jobs can be handled by others, train them and give them opportunities to grow and blossom into individuals who can contribute and serve with confidence and sincerity.

Have a Succession Plan

Have a succession plan. Train and guide others so that projects and plans can continue smoothly in case we fall ill or drop dead. That is more practical as we can plan for continuity and success.
Everything needs a plan and strategy.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Is Poetry writing a waste of time?

Poetry, Anyone?

Sometimes we get the impression that poetry writing is not so encouraged in Islam. Time is precious so we must manage it wisely. Maybe its to discourage people from spending hours trying to create the perfect poem - is it to express our thoughts and feelings, to share something beneficial, to praise Allah or is it just to impress others? Do not be influenced by our ego.

Time is Precious
No Rhyming Necessary

These days, we do not have to waste precious hours trying to make our words rhyme. Unless we are so very talented in rhyming , it is actually alright to tell it as it is. Know what I mean?

Be Yourself

I do not know too much about all this literary stuff but I will know whether I like what I hear or what I read. Its the message, the idea, the sharing that is important. Forget about trying to be someone else - it doesn't work.

Speed Writing for Practice
and to Jolt Memory

I have begun to write more often these days - once a week, though I should give more thought to the subject or topic. Been so busy lately that I did not even have time to type even a few lines. Just too busy - trying to balance work and ibadah. Alhamdulillah!

Write Like Crazy

I am starting to time myself when I write. Just choose a topic and write like crazy for 10 minutes. You will be surprised to find how much you can produce in just 10 minutes. I force myself to focus and tell myself to go with the flow. Of course by the time 10 minutes are up you will feel like writing more as your story has only just begun! If we organise our thoughts or have discipline, we can end the piece in a gentle manner, giving it an opportunity to grow into a lengthy story if we so wish.

Do Not Just Read!
Be a Productive Muslim!

All the ardent book lovers out there! Do not only just read! We may love reading but do you know all you people have gone through much in life, learned many things and are very qualified to write and share? We must balance what we do.

Read Read Read and Enjoy it all Then perhaps write a little to give back. Share your ideas and knowledge; entertain us even, by putting your knowledge and ideas into words.

Support Women Writers!

Like I had always said, we need more women writers who write about other women. Positive writing and also documentation. How are our brothers and sisters, our children going to learn if we keep it all to ourselves. Literally burying the skill, knowledge and information with us , taking it to the graves.

Amal Jariah

Do we have some sort of responsibility to share? And this process is two way - when people benefit or take positive action, we may also be rewarded for these actions. Insha Allah these good deeds are continuously rewarded (amal jariah) by Allah SWT.

If we have no time, start small

We do not need to write a thick book, even a few pages, even a pamphlet containing good information is good. There are also some companies that may sponsor the publication so the writer does not have to worry about finances but concentrate on writing.

Do not be shy - go for it!

Beginners do not have to feel shy. Find a writing buddy and co write a book - a story that encourages family values, short fiction that has a message, nasyid for children, a baby's first story book or even a book on how to plant vegetables in our backyard! The possibilities are endless so let us all start writing our first book or pamphlet!

Where to Start?

Those who do not know where to start can volunteer at ngos where help is much needed to write their newsletters, brochures, reports and magazine articles. That way your work gets published without incurring any cost. Of course your paymaster will be Allah SWT so do not expect a worldly fee for your effort. Amal jariah and continuous rewards insha Allah. The satisfaction you get is priceless!

Write with the Right Intention

One last thing, do not write only just to make money or enjoy instant fame. Our effort may become unnatural and calculating. Just be sincere and write good stuff. Write about what you enjoy or what you want to share with others. Write with responsibility and always ask yourself if what you write pleases Allah or not.

Support Muslim Writers

Muslim writers have limited market right now. Why? Probably because most of us have forgotten about them! Many actually do not know we have many good Muslim fiction and non fiction writers. We do not find fiction books easily even in large bookstores and even so the choice is limited. Locally we only get love stories favoured by young girls and religious books by Muslim writers.

There is not much choice and we often forget we can order books via the internet. Buying their books will help and encourage our Muslim brothers and sisters to improve themselves. We can help them achieve the financial independence to focus on good writing that not only entertain but perhaps educate us. Better that reading trashy novels that are of no benefit to us except fleeting entertainment.

Rezeki (Blessings and Bounties) is determined by Allah

Rezeki is from Allah SWT so do what we can and leave the rest to Him. Even without great monetary rewards initially, insha Allah your rewards and wealth will come in many ways that you least expect.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Interesting Stuff on Radio - Business Station

I heard this over the radio today as I was driving, I like the business station.The rest I added on my own. Other suggestions welcome.

SomeTips to Motivate Others

1. Listen to Understand, not listen to answer even before the person has finished speaking.
2. Emphatise with the person, try to see it from his perspective, not just our own.
3. Be cheerful and smile. Do not fake it. People will know the difference.
4. Acknowledge and validate achievements.
5. Be cheerful and compliment sincerely - do not be stingy or shy with compliments.
Compliments are free of charge. The returns are enormous when people realise you are sincere .
6. Some people may not be working for more financial rewards, they want self autonomy.
They may perform better if they are allowed to clock in at flexible hours, or work from home.
7. Try not to bring your personal problems to work and vice versa.
8. Be nice to people all the time, not only when you need them to do something for you.
9. Up grade yourself constantly and be willing to share ideas and skills.
10.Respect your staff, colleagues and junior staff - you will only get what you give.