Monday, July 21, 2014

Public Shaming: Shame On Us

All the videos about people doing stupid things shouldn't be uploaded at all. In fact, they shouldn't even be recorded.

A person who does something stupid, especially during moments of anger, will almost always regret it afterwards. We all know how that feels because we've all been there.

All we want at that moment is to ask forgiveness and move on.

How on earth can a person move on if his/her stupidity is being recorded, uploaded, and shared all over the internet? To make matters worse, people are negatively commenting on the video.

Is this going to make things better? Honestly?

Instead of recording, how about helping instead?

Let us prevent things from escalating by putting an end to it right there and then, instead of whipping out our smartphone and recording it while giggling, thinking that it's going to be viral.

Yes, it will most probably be viral. Congrats, we got what we wanted.

On top of that, we became the culprit that initiated the public shaming on that poor individual, who in the heat of the moment, succumbed to his/her human weakness.

I'm not saying what the person did isn't wrong - most of the time, it is. But don't make his/her one second of wrong becomes his/her one lifetime of shame.

If we don't want our moment of stupidity to go viral, then we should wish the same for others; they don't want their moment of stupidity to go viral too.

We've done stupid things ourselves. We're just lucky that nobody with a smartphone was watching.

Shame on us.

Don't record. Don't upload. Don't share.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

How Do You Save 5 Million Lives?

5 million lives.

To put that number into perspective, imagine the largest stadium of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the Maracana stadium in Brazil. That’s a lot of people right? But that’s only 71,000 people, nowhere close to 5 million.

The largest concert in history is said to be Rod Stewart’s concert at Copacabana Beach in 1994. But that’s only 3.5 million people. That is a lot of people, but it is still not 5 million.

The largest mosque in the world, the Masjidil Haram, has the capacity to hold up to 4 million people. That is a mind-blowing number, but it is still short of a million people.

5 million lives is a very huge figure to wrap our heads around, and I don’t want to disrespect these 5 million lives by just mentioning them as a number. Each of these 5 million people has a face, a name, a background, a family, a story, and most important of all, each of these 5 million people has a life.

Just like us.

So if you think about it that way, we can actually relate to these 5 million people directly, since as members of humanity we have so much in common. But there is one thing that we most probably don’t share with them and that is the blessing of asking, “What should I eat today?”

They can’t ask that question. The question that they ask is, “Do I eat today?”

They don’t enjoy the luxury of choice, the luxury of options. We have so many food options sometimes we spend a lot of our time trying to figure out what to eat.

For some people, Allah tests with having little to no food at all. For others, Allah tests with having an abundance of food. Indeed, it is a blessing to have all this food around but it is also a test. Do we show gratitude? If we are grateful, do we show it?

The best way to show gratitude is to give what we have to those who don’t have it.

In Ramadan, we at least get a tiny bit of taste of what it’s like being in their shoes. Hopefully we will be more sympathetic with them because of that and we will try to do something to help them out.

Charity Right is doing a campaign called Save 5 Million Lives, where they’re trying to provide basic, regular food to people who need them, especially people with chronic malnourishment – which, by the way, 1 in 8 people are suffering from.

I am trying to do my small part in helping their initiative. What I am hoping to do is to raise at least RM900 within the remaining days of Ramadan. Why RM900? Because that is the estimated amount of money it takes to feed an entire family, not for the month of Ramadan, but for the entire year.

Imagine that. For some of us, RM900 is the price of our smartphone. But for others, it could mean providing food on the table for their family, for the entire year.

Our smartphone could feed an entire family for an entire year.

So I hope you can join me in raising this sum of money.

To donate, click here.

No amount is insignificant. In the eyes of God, the magnitude of the action doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are sincere.

A friend of mine once said to me, “You know Aiman, you have thousands of views in your videos, you have thousands of followers on Twitter, you have thousands of fans on Facebook. If you were to ask them to come out and help you out with a cause, how many of those thousands will actually join you? Are all these numbers on your social media worth anything? Or are they just empty numbers?”

I simply answered him, “I don’t know.”

Honestly, I still don’t know.

But now, I guess we’re about to find out.


Updated 22/07/2014: RM900 ($300) has been raised. We have reached our goal, Alhamdulillah!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Someone Ridiculed My Ambition

I am a Psychology student, who hopes to be a counselor (or the likes of it) someday.

Once, I told a friend of mine about this ambition. He simply said that I will go crazy, because I am putting myself in a position where I have to listen to all kinds of problems from all kinds of people.

For a moment, he managed to make me feel bad and feel afraid of becoming a counselor.

But then, upon reflection, my fear turned into gratitude because instead of thinking that I will be burdening myself with the problems of many different people, I think differently.

It is not a burden. It is an honour.

It is an honour to be put in a position where people come to you to vent and to express their deepest worries, to share their most personal issues, and to give permission to you to see a side of them that they don't show to other people, not even the people closest to them.

Alhamdulillah, people have shared things with me that they don't even share with their parents. For parents, I believe they wanted to be as involved in their children's lives as possible but sometimes they don't get that opportunity, or they passed the opportunities that came their way. So I know they will give anything to be the go-to people when their children are facing problems.

But sadly, sometimes they don't get to be in that position. Maybe it's their fault. Maybe it's not. I'm not one to judge.

It is an honour to be put in that position; a position of service. Serving other people is an honour. Serving other people for the sake of God is a bigger honour.

When a peer comes to me to share his problems with me, even if I don't give any type of solution to him, he feels better because there is somebody out there who is willing to listen.

We don't realize the value of simply listening to someone. In a world full of noise, sometimes all we want is for other people to listen to us. To listen to our pain and to share a little bit of it.

So yeah, I am not going to let some guy squashes my ambition with his negative attitude.

Friday, July 04, 2014

It's All Good

Photo credit: Rachel Kramer

"O God, why did You do this to me?"

If anyone has a right to ask that question, it would be Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) - but he never did.

Even during the lowest point of his life i.e. the incident at Taif, what he said to God was simply, "If there is no anger from You on me, then I will forever be content."

And you were not at the side of the mount when We called [Moses] but [you were sent] as a mercy from your Lord to warn a people to whom no warner had come before you that they might be reminded.

And if (We had) not (sent you to the people of Makkah) in case a calamity should seize them for (the deeds) that their hands have sent forth, they would say: "Our Lord! Why did You not send us a Messenger? We should then have followed Your Ayat (Verses of the Quran) and should have been among the believers."

[Quran, Surah Al-Qasas, Verses 46 & 47]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) came to us to get rid of the excuses that we may have. His whole life was a testimony against any excuse that we can come up with, in any area of our lives.

In any good or bad situation that we may face, the minute we find an excuse, we should remember the Prophet (peace be upon him) and think about how he would react if he was in the same situation as us.

Amazing man he was. He provided an example for every situation mankind was facing, are facing, and will face. The examples are there, embedded in the stories of his life.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

“How amazing is the affair of the believer. There is good for him in everything and that is for no one but the believer. If good times come his way, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him, and if hardship comes his way, he endures it patiently and that is better for him.” 

[Recorded by Imam Muslim]

Knowing this is therapeutic, because it shows us that there is good in any and every situation - good or bad, whether we see it or not. Whatever good we gain, he gained better, but he was more grateful. Whatever bad we suffer, he suffered worse, but he was more patient.

He is our ultimate example. An example we can follow, despite our shortcomings.

Wipe your tears, come what may,
You will be the one to say,
I'll be alright, I'll be okay,
Keeping all my worries at bay,
Finding the white within the grey.

We're not here to stay anyway,
It's a journey. Remember that everyday,
And that we'll arrive safely home one day,
And we work, we hope, and we pray,
That we'll be among those who obey.

You'll be alright, you'll be okay,
Allah is with you, you won't go astray.

In the end, it's all good.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Giving Da'wah to Our Family Members


Assalamualaikum brother Aiman.

I am not sure if you will be the one reading this e-mail but I will give it a go anyway.

Hello. My name is ... and I am an 18 year old girl from Malaysia. I was born in a family where my father comes from Australia and my mom is from Malaysia.

Growing up, it was very difficult because I was there to witness and go through many different family problems. Besides that, my parents are not religious. I never understood why my mother would always send me to mengaji (Quran) classes and told me to pray while she never did any of those. Nor did my father.

When I became older, I went through a lot of trials myself in school and through my personal relationship with God. Yes, I was sent to mengaji classes and told to pray, but never was I taught the real meaning of Islam or any other religions. I believe that it was my responsibility to learn more about Islam but I was lost. I didn't know how to start and who could help me. My two brothers are not religious either.

One night when I was 15, I had a dream and it consisted of a man reciting the Quran and telling me to cover my aurat (nakedness) and pray more. When I woke up that morning, I was shivering and afraid for many, many days. Slowly, I began feeling awkward and uncomfortable whenever I wore dresses or short sleeved shirts. It all started with that dream. I started praying more and learning about Islam. Reading the Quran brought me to tears. Alhamdulillah (All praise is to Allah) I am now wearing the hijab and praying daily.

I hate to admit that growing up makes me realise a lot of things I wish I never would realise. Most nights, I cry myself to sleep. Most days, I cry because my family doesn't practice Islam. I cry because I have never been for Raya (Eid) prayers or terawih with the family. I cry because my family has dinner during Maghreb and ignores the athan (the call to prayer). I cry because I do not ever want my family not to go to Jannah (Paradise).

Most times I get upset and annoyed at my family because they don't understand how much I am worried for them, worried for myself as well. I don't have a group of religious friends either. I didn't grow up in a religious environment at all. Alhamdulillah I am thankful for the existence of Youtube and countless videos by Nouman Ali Khan as well as you, Aiman. I love your book masha Allah.

That's just it. I hope you can advice me on how I should handle the position that my family is currently in and how I should react to it. It's been awhile and I will never give up in making du'a (supplication) for them but nothing's changed and it scares me, ya Allah. I am afraid of the Hereafter and I want my family in Jannah. I want all my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters in Jannah.

Thank you for taking the time to even read this, brother. May Allah SWT reward you on earth and in the Hereafter inshaaAllah, aamiin.


Waalaikumussalam warahmatullah.

Thank you for your email and thank you for sharing with me your story.

It is wonderful how much you care for your family. May Allah reward you for every sincere tear you shed out of love for your family. Ameen.

Whenever we want to send a message to our family members, it is always a difficult thing to do because usually (but not always) our family members don't want to listen to us, especially our parents.

Our parents tend to see us as their child and that is normal. We can't blame them for that. But it gets frustrating when whatever you say goes into deaf ears just because you are "a child and doesn't know any better".

In hindsight, yes we are younger than them and we do know less than them, but that doesn't invalidate the truth that we say with our tongues. However, in the minds of our family members, it is hard to take us seriously and to really reflect upon what we say.

Another thing to keep in mind is that it might not be their fault after all - it might be ours. In our zeal for the religion, we might be overzealous and we might let that burning passion burn everyone in our sight. We shove the religion down their throats, when in fact we should share the religion with them in a beautiful manner.

Zeal without wisdom is like a wildfire; it will burn everything in its path. To embody wisdom is to know what to say, how to say it, when to say it, and who should say it.

Easier said than done, I know. Hence the reason why genuinely wise people are so hard to come by.

Having said that, hope is not lost. You can still say something to your family members, but not with your tongue. Rather, you say it with your actions.

When you get more religious, your actions should speak better. Meaning, you should embody beautiful characters in how you are as a daughter or as a sister. You should treat your family members better now than ever before. You should talk more beautifully, smile more often, help around the house more, laugh with your siblings more, buy them gifts when they least expect it, etc.

Show them that Islam made you a better person. Show them that it is because of Islam that you embody all those beautiful characters. Show them that it is Islam who taught you to be better with your own family and to treat them in the most beautiful of manners possible.

Actions are more eloquent than the tongue. With actions, people have no choice but to listen to you and they will voluntarily listen to you. When they found out that your beautiful transformation is because of Islam, then Insha Allah (God willing) they will see the beauty of Islam through that.

True beauty is inherently magnetic; it pulls people in. Islam is indeed beautiful and we don't need to "advertise" it that much in order to get people interested. People are naturally interested in beautiful things. Our job is to show them the real beauty of Islam and Insha Allah, they will come closer and closer.

With that effort, you continuously make du'a that Allah opens up their hearts. It is Allah who controls the hearts of the people, and that includes our own heart as well. So make du'a to Him and rely on Him alone. Know that you are doing this because you love your family and most importantly, because you love Allah.

But that is not the end of the story. As much as your family needs your positive influence, you also need positive influence yourself and nobody influences us more than our friends.

So try your best to find good, positive friends to be around - the kind of friends who take you closer to Allah, the kind of friends who make you into a better person, and the kind of friends who give you energy and motivation especially when you need it the most.

Those friends are out there. They are like gold; you have to dig deep to find them. Find good places and Insha Allah, you will find good people there.

I hope this helps.

Allah knows best.

May Allah grant you strength in these difficult times. Ameen.

*Email message posted with permission from the sender.