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Showing posts from April, 2014

Am I Marrying the Right Way, or Right Away?

Someone asked, "In your wedding documentary video, you mentioned about marrying the right way as opposed to marrying right away. How do we know if we're marrying the right way and not right away?"

I'm afraid, like so many things in life, the answer is not black and white.

Life is not like math.

In the video, I gave a general description of what "the right way" means i.e. to get married when one is mature enough to take the relationship to where it is supposed to go - to Paradise.

Maturity is not one thing, rather it is a harmonious blend of many things such as physical maturity (puberty), mental maturity (how you view the world), emotional maturity (how you control your emotions), spiritual maturity (how you are with God), material maturity (having survival skills, like cooking), intrapersonal maturity (how you are with yourself), interpersonal maturity (how you are with people), etc.

At the same time, I am not suggesting that we all become angels before we…

A 20-Minute Brainvomit

Yesterday, I conducted a creative writing workshop for students at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu. As a form of exercise for the students, I asked them to write without pause for 20 minutes straight about whatever it is that goes on in their minds - a "brainvomit" as I like to call it.

This exercise serves to show oneself that one can write, one has ideas, and one can overcome writer's block (if there is such a thing). I, as the instructor of the workshop, participated in the exercise as well. What follows is the 20-minute brainvomit I wrote - in its raw form.

<brainvomit>
I don't think I've prepared myself well enough for the presentation. I think I missed a lot of things and I know that I can do more. But, my hopes are that people are motivated to write and that they can publish their first post from today. Even though some might hesitate to post that post, I think others will and that'll make me happy.
I don't think I can change everyone but I ho…

Don’t Believe Everything I Say

The thing about being famous is that people start to take anything and everything you say as the truth, even if what you say is obviously wrong. But because it came from you, people start to justify it as being true. I mean, you can’t be wrong right? After all, you have half a million likes on your Facebook page.

Suddenly, the message becomes secondary to the messenger. The person becomes more important than the content. You can say that your cat ride a unicorn on the rainbow, and someone will believe you. You can just tweet what you had for lunch and thousands of people will retweet you.

This is the difficulty of having fans. Though I am not against having fans or being a fan, but I fear the mindset that fans might hold about the person they admire. Fans are infatuated with the individual they admire, so much so that they can’t seem to see anything wrong with the person.

Anything the person does is seen as worthy of attention and admiration. The person could be doing drugs and you’l…

How to Make 70 Excuses for Other People

More Judges Than We Have Courts For

Have you noticed that we have a lot of “judges” in our society nowadays? And they don’t work in courts! As soon as they see something they don’t like:

“Brother, where is your beard?! Astaghfirullah brother, it’s a Sunna. A Sunna! You’re a bad Muslim, a bad Muslim.”

“Sister, where is your hijab?! Astaghfirullah, you’re a bad Muslim.”

“Brother, what are you doing? Why are you holding that girl’s hand? Astaghfirullah, you’re a bad Muslim.”

“Oi, why are you swearing? Cussing is haram! Astaghfirullah, you’re a bad Muslim.”

*70 Excuses

You know what I think? I think we should make more excuses, and I don’t mean excuses for ourselves but excuses for our brothers and sisters. We're experts at making excuses for ourselves (no doubt about that), but can we make excuses for other people?

Making excuses for our fellow brothers and sisters is very simple. Although it might not be easy, but it is simple.

Here’s what we need to do:

1. Suspend our judgment

Whe…

Mental Health: The Elephant in the Room

Unfortunately, we have a lot of stigma about mental health and about people with mental health issues.

When I talk about mental health, a lot of people might think that I am talking about crazy people. That is not true. Mental health wide range of life challenges like everyday stress, exam anxiety, clinical depression, psychosis, violence, etc.

Mental health is not about crazy people. Mental health is about people.

Generally, people are uncomfortable with the things that they don’t know or understand, which is why efforts to raise public awareness is important. Above all else, we should take it upon ourselves to make ourselves aware through self-education so that we become well-informed people.

When we don’t understand, we don’t know how to properly respond. For example, if you know someone with clinical depression, don’t tell that person to suck it up and move on like it’s no big deal. Clinical depression is a real illness, as real as physical illness. You wouldn’t say to someone …

When You Say "I Do"

I have talked to a few older and more experienced people about marriage because the extent of my knowledge - no matter how elaborate it may be - is theoretical at best.

There are those who have mastered the art before I can even utter my first word, so to think that I know everything about marriage, just because I attended a few classes here and there, would be a huge mistake.

As much as the elders need the zeal of the youth, the youth needs the wisdom of the elders.

Among my many conversations about marriage, one that plants itself deep into my psyche is the meaning of "I do" - the phrase that I will say to accept a woman as my wife. What does that phrase means to me and to her?

On a surface level, it means pretty much the same thing for the man as it is for the woman. It means that I am now her husband and she is now my wife. We are lawfully and officially wedded. It is the beginning of a new chapter in both of our lives, one with countless and unpredictable challenges.

It…

Lowering the Water Line

I did my undergrad at University of Toronto Mississauga as an international student – I graduated in November 2013.

In my final year of university, I spent a lot of my time with the Muslim Chaplaincy at the University of Toronto. I attended as many of its programs as I could, up to the point of my graduation and my return back to my country.

What is most attractive to me about the chaplaincy program is the atmosphere that it created – an atmosphere of support, of compassion, and of genuine brotherhood and sisterhood. It honestly feels like a family, like a community.

Among my many experiences being in Muslim gatherings, I think the Muslim Chaplaincy is exceptional because of the diversity of people who join the chaplain programs. Usually I will be in Muslim gatherings where the people are mostly on the same page and roughly in the same phase in their Islam. For instance, I would see the sisters all with their hijabs and the brothers all with their kufis and beards.

I’m not saying t…

Why Do Students Cheat on Exams?

I don't know.

But if I may, I would like to venture a guess.

Unfortunately, today we are neck-deep into a system where a student's worth is defined by the grades he gets and not by how much he learns. This is dangerous, but what is even more dangerous is that the system succeeds in convincing the students that their worth is in fact defined by their grades.

Our worth means everything to us. It sits at the very core of our identity. The last thing that we want to be is worthless. What happens when something is worthless? It becomes dispensable; you can throw it in a garbage can and no one will look twice.

Hence, we can understand why we see students resorting to unhealthy pill-popping, hair-pulling, pillow-screaming, midnight-oil-burning habits in order to get the grades that they want.

Correction: in order to get the grades that the system wants them to want.

If we push a student hard enough, long enough, and consistent enough, pretty soon we'll see that he will entertain…

The Battle Within: En Garde!

En garde (French): on guard.

When our self becomes our enemy, doing what’s right becomes a never-ending fight. There is a constant battle inside. There are two choices: the good and the bad - pick one. Those who choose to do the right thing have succeeded and those who do otherwise have failed.

So how do we fight this battle?

First of all, be aware that it’s happening. We come back to the initial point of self-reflection. To self-reflect is to be aware of what’s going on inside.

In our effort to always be aware, we have to be honest, first and foremost, to ourselves. It's hard to change when you are constantly lying to yourself. Knowing that you have a problem is the first step to solving that problem.

Second of all, build our shield – Taqwa. Protect ourselves from anything and everything that will cause Allah to be displeased with us.

How to build this shield?

1. Follow the Sunna. The Messenger is our link to Allah; he paved the way for us.

To follow the Sunna, we first have to k…

The Battle Within: Know Thy Enemy

The foundation of civilizations or ethical societies depends on the individuals. “Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Surah ar-Ra’d: 11)

When we want to talk about change in the society or in the world, we have to look first and foremost within our own selves. We should not point fingers here and there telling people that they should do this and they should change that. Like the famous saying goes, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” If we think that the society needs to change something, then we must be that change first - lead by example.

Of course, I am not suggesting that we keep our mouths shut when we see corruption. Sometimes we do need to speak out what is right, with wisdom. The point here is that we need to be more self-reflecting. We need to train ourselves to be more self-reflecting so that when we see something, we immediately check within ourselves.

If we see something bad, then we ask ourselves, …

Why Getting Married Right Away Isn't The Way To Go

I think I was 18 years old, when I first approached my parents about me wanting to get married. At that time, they might be thinking that I was kidding. Maybe I was. Nonetheless, the thought of getting married did enter my mind and once that seed is sown, it’s only a matter of time when the shoot grows.

From that point on, it took me 5 years to actually tie the knot.

Human beings have the tendency to rush things and I think young people have that tendency the most. I wanted to get married as soon as possible, but without a clear and refined purpose or intention. Although it’s hard for me to admit it at the time, I had a feeling that I wanted to get married early because I wanted to be among those who got married early – as if it’s an elite club or something. The urge to be accepted into “the club” was very strong in my younger self, and that led me to make some stupid mistakes.

But I guess that’s a part of being young and a part of growing up – you make mistakes, you learn, and yo…