Wednesday, November 21, 2012

No Excuses

Winter is coming. The day is getting shorter and the night is getting longer. That means that the prayer times are closer together.

To give you an idea, this is the prayer times today (November 20th, 2012):

Prayer times.

The conflict that might arise while studying here is that classes clash with prayer times.

I try my best to arrange my class schedule so that the conflict doesn't happen but sometimes I can't avoid it, especially when the timings have changed so much that the prayers are close together. Unlike Malaysia, the fluctuation in prayer timings is pretty huge here and I think it's because Canada has four seasons.

This semester, every Monday I have a 3-hour Psychology lecture from 2-5pm. Asr time is at 2:30pm and Maghrib is before 5pm. Usually the lecture ends early or I would leave the class early, and I would pray Asr in the prayer room.

On Monday yesterday, the lecture didn't end early nor could I leave early because there was a test during the last hour of the class. So, I had to find a suitable place to pray somewhere in the building, the North Building as it was called.

That building doesn't have a designated prayer room. Plus, the building is small. So small that I find it difficult to find a small space to pray.

But pray, I must.

Before the class started, I took a few minutes to scout around my class to find space. I scouted the place before but couldn't find any space. But yesterday, by chance I found a staircase under which there is space for me to pray in.

Halfway along my class, I walked out to pray under the stairs. Then I walked back in, continued the class, and sat for the test.

Alhamdulillah! I was happy.

Where I prayed Asr.

I never thought that I would be happy to find a space to pray in.

Being raised in Malaysia, I don't have to worry about prayer space. Wherever you go, you will find a Masjid or a prayer room. There is even a prayer room in the mall.

Now, when it's not that easy to find a prayer space, I appreciate the privilege I have back home.

How easily we take things for granted.

But in any case, to pray is my responsibility. Although finding a space to pray may be difficult but it's never impossible. The Earth has been made as a prayer mat for us. There are no excuses. Wherever I may be, I have appointments with my Lord 5 times a day.

And I intend to keep them.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Boy Who Silenced Me

I attended a mental health awareness event last Sunday and I displayed the video above at the event along with artworks from various people. Since this video has a healing aspect to it, I figured it was a suitable piece to display at the event.

A cute boy came to me, pulled my arm to get my attention, and said, "Could you please turn the video off? I don't like it."

I was stunned.

I smiled and wanted to know more about what this boy was thinking. I asked that we watched the video together and he can tell me what he thinks. So there he was, narrating every minute of my video. He didn't like the fact that I was punched by a guy in the video.

I asked him, "What do you think?"

He said, "I don't like it. You have to turn it off."

I was very careful with what I said to this boy because I was on the verge of sending the wrong message. I was very afraid. I smiled more than I talked. This boy has muted me. Thankfully, his father was there and he explained to his son. This is the abridged version of the conversation between the father and the boy:

Boy: I don't like it. The guy punched him.

Father: But look, he got back up. That's the point.

Boy: Well, I don't like it.

Father: Son, sometimes you have to accept the things you don't like (i.e. you can't have everything your way all the time).

His father smiled at me and I smiled at him. I was relieved that he was there. He knows his son best and how to speak to him. Alhamdulillah, I think he handled the situation beautifully. He and many others understood the video. I displayed the video without the background music and still, people got it.

That was what Umar Mita and I intended when we made this video together. We wanted people to add their own flavours to it. I prefer not to give people answers. I prefer to allow people to get to the answers themselves; allow them to think and to reflect. Things can have more than one answers and more than one answers can be correct. On top of that, how you interpret things shows a lot about who you are; you can learn more about yourself.

The reason why I'm writing this isn't to explain the video. The reason why I'm writing this is two-fold.

First, I am amazed at how active the children that I see here in the west. Their curiosity isn't suppressed. They ask questions and give opinions. The best part is this: their parents allow it and encourage it. They let kids be kids. Let them explore. Let them learn. The parents are there to guide and not to suppress.

Like the boy's father, he didn't tell his son to shut up or tell his son that he's just a kid and don't know any better. No. The father explained and guided him. He gave him a beautiful lesson: in life, you don't always like what you see and you don't always get what you want.

I watched a video on Youtube once where a man said, "Kids are little, but they're not stupid."

Second, I realized how huge of a responsibility being a parent is. I was terrified to say the wrong things. What if the boy was my own son? How should I respond to him? Would he understand?

I know that I can't isolate my children to the world. That wouldn't solve anything. Even if I lock my children in my house 24/7, my children will face the world eventually. They can't stay under my wings forever. So the best thing that I can do as a father is to equip them with the knowledge and understanding to face the world and to make the right decision when the situation calls for it. If I am to equip my children, I have to first equip myself and that process starts now.

My children will have to walk on their own two feet one way or the other. When they do, I hope they walk towards the right direction.

Posing by my display section. Nothing fancy.