Thursday, 31 December 2015

Reflections...

Alhamdhulilah...

In a snapshot...my 2015 probably has been like this coloured picture.

As cliche` it sounds, well yes, time really seems to fly. We are at the start of 2016 in a few hours, In-Shaa-Allah.

Several moments that sprung up in December have proved to be very few reflective for me in the last few weeks of December.

Thinking about this post, I thought this page from a colouring book for adults that I purchased last month, would nicely sum up my year.

I say so because of these reasons - may be trivia but so meaningful in its entirety to me.

~ I bought this book that is supposed to help serve as a form of therapy, during one of my lunchtime strolls along the malls. Probably answering an internal call to find some 'me-time' to relax, and unwind.

~ Got onto this 'a book a month' momentum. I readily liked the idea of buying books online, instead of bringing home books from the library and hogging them for months. Buying the book means I can make notes in them, share them, and most of all, read and re-read at my own time and pace.

~ Learning to let go. And leaving it all to HIM. I started on Tahajjud just on two nights in the year and stopped! I pray for strength to re-start this and make this a part of me, In-Shaa-Allah. Because there is going to be no point of time in my life that I am not going to have to ask Allah for anything. I want to keep asking, and so if I want it badly, then I better make this part of my lifestyle. Never too late, In-Shaa-Allah.

~ Treasuring Family. And the simple joys in life. And Family. The pages from the colouring book above are the first two. It makes me smile everytime I recall that so many hands and hearts from my family have some together to colour these pages, sitting alongside with me on our living room's sofa. My Brother, AZ... and even Mum. She has said she will bring out her specs (not used in a long time) to colour within the drawings the next time we sit down together to colour as my parents catch up on news and as AZ makes time for his aviation books. The colouring book is just one lil example. I am glad I have made time to make time for them increasingly by the day. Alhamdhulilah.

~ Journals. My Gratitude Journal. My Islamic Learning Journals. My Mothers' Recipe Journals. Masha-Allah, so happy that I got into documenting things that mean a lot to me in pen and paper.

I had set some goals for myself (as always!) and have actually started working on them (doesn't happen all the time) this year.

Of coz, I haven't achieved them all, have not been very steadfast in my duas on them too, I am very sure.

This brings me to a coaching session that I sat in at work. The trainer was very competent and set me on a deep reflection mode actually.

One of the many exercises she introduced was on this - Journalling down these.
-- What do I want to STOP. START. and CONTINUE - in my life?

For me, this paced the momentum for 2016.

I have penned down on these three aspects. I have more than one thing on this list. Ambitious much, but a good starting point nevertheless.

I hope we all get started somewhere, or find inspiration to restart from where we are. In-Shaa-Allah.

Monday, 16 November 2015

The Little Things That Matter...

There are so many things happening around us... around me.... that has kept me fidgety these days.

I pray for all humanity around us - every life is precious. Be it a life from Syria, Palestine, Lebanon or Paris.

Amidst all these hatred going around the world. And some hurt that we may experience in our lives, I so believe it is important to find gratitude within our own lives. Among things that Allah (S.W.T) has given us. Everybody has a different battle, and everybody's battle has its own challenges.

Among the things that I love doing to take a breather from the hectic routine from life, I look towards two things - reading and cooking or/and baking for the family. These days, I have 'looted' these books from the library as usual.  A good friend also recommended an online store that delivers books purchased right to our doorsteps. Sounds like a great monthly investment to make, In-Shaa-allah. You can check out their website here at this link. If you find this useful, do make duas for the sister who shared this with me, and keep me in your duas too, In-Shaa-Allah.

One of the earlier books that I completed. Struggles of a British Muslim who has roots in Pakistan. Was worth the read.


I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book titled "Gotong Royong", written by a local author. It brought on vivid images of the fondly-remembered kampong days that Mum and Dad so often reminisce about. Their togetherness, the warmth among people of all races, their waking up at very early hours to queue for the common shower areas, their outings with neighbourly aunties to gather herbs from very thick vegetation (amidst battling fear of snakes). Although the author didn't mention these experiences, her own narration of her childhood within the decade she wrote about made me recount my own parents' memories.

I had also picked up two books in Tamil - on our beloved Mothers in Islam, Kadhijah (Radhiallahu Anha) and Fatimah (Radiallahu Anha). These are steps to making conscious efforts to keep reading in my Mother Tongue, In-Shaa-Allah.



Along these days, I also have tried a few dishes, some for the first time. The above is the result of one of those bakes that came upon on my impulse baking moods. It felt like a bake day, but there wasn't any butter at home, so had to google a few sites and combined a few recipes to get this - based on the availability of ingredients in my baking basket and refrigerator at home.

Rich and moist vanilla cake, without butter.
Alhamdhulilah, the cake turned out great. Soft, moist and tasty.

What went in...
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of self-raising flour
2 eggs
1 tsp of vanilla essence
1 tsp of baking powder
a pinch of salt
3/4 cup of cooking oil
1/2 cup of milk

Mix the eggs and sugar together first and put everything else in. Preparation time took less than 10 minutes and cake was baked by half an hour. Do give it a try, In-Shaa-Allah.

 A neat dish, I always thought so.
I also gave this dish - spicy mutton chukka - that I have tried from this website , another go this weekend. It turned well too, Alhamdhulilah, as with other times I have tried it. I have started varying the ingredients' portions to suit our family's tastebuds.

Mum had made mutton dhalcha that day too, and I made ghee rice to accompany that. And everyone in the family enjoyed it.

Alhmadhulilah.

Thank you, Ya Rabb...

So much to be thankful for, and yet do I realise it all the times?

A family to bicker with, to love and be loved,

a job that keeps us comfortable, and gives me flexibility to take some days off for myself (like at this moment!),

Good friends who add warmth to our lives,

and a faith that keeps me grounded of this life and has me thinking constantly of the Hereafter.

SubhanAllah.

And all the senses that enable me to appreciate the raindrops falling right now.

Allahuma Soyyiban Nafi'an.

Have I thanked HIM enough?

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

New Beginnings...1437H

Salaam Maal Hijrah, to my Ummah.

Muslims have just embarked on our new Islamic Year - the year 1437H in the Islamic calendar.

The time of the year we take some time to renew our intentions and make new ones. This is how I have been looking forward to this day.

I pray and I hope that Allah (S.W.T) gives me the strength to do things increasingly - To Forgive and To Give.

Forgiving does not only mean that I have to forgive others. I think I have not forgiven myself for all the wrongdoings that I may have caused others - some purely unintentionally, some intentionally (in moments of anger, disappointment,etc).

There are some family relationship that can be mended, some can be made sweeter, and there can be more peace within our hearts, if only we make the intention and take the first step.
In-Shaa-Allah.

I make duas that my Rabb forgives me for these . Astaghfirullah. I want to consciously make lots of dzikir. 

I want to be able to give - to make others lives easier (or at least that's what we think). In actual fact, there is a hadith that says when we give others and make their lives a lil better in this life, the Dunya, they are actually helping us to fix our Akhirah. SubhanAllah.

And yes, I can do so much better in learning to be more grateful. Why is my race always more challenging? Why do I feel like I am tested more? All I have to do is to look at all the other things that HE has given me because of these harder races and tests - a closer family, thicker friends, a stronger me. SubhanAllah.

Have you made your New Year resolutions yet?

Source: Internet

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Another Day Of Spices...

I made this dish here, and have been wanting to make it again for a long time - just so I get the quality right or at least better.

Alhamdhulilah, it was a special treat for Dad and he gave me some credits for this! 

AZ, Mum and Brother, all of them being the food critics they are, enjoyed the chicken briyani thoroughly.

The only ingredients that I deliberately omitted  the food colouring.

Mum has now got into making raita with more ingredients  - carrots, corriander and peppermint leaves.

The taste was of course, more refreshing. Alhamdhulilah.



Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Eid Ul-Adha and Us

I  hope all my brothers and sisters celebrated this year's Eid Ul-Adha with lots of barakah and happiness.

May Allah (S.W.T) accept all our prayers, duas, fasts and sacrifices. Ameen.

Just a week or so before the first Dhul-Hijjah, I came down with a viral fever and took a week to recover, Alhamdhulilah.

The dry coughs stayed a little longer and therefore, I was not able to fast on the 10 days.

In-Shaa-Allah, I pray that HE gives me an opportunity to fast next year, and grant us all an opportunity to visit HIS sacred home.

The pilgrims performing their Hajj this year were tested in many ways, with some of them taking their final breaths in Allah (S.W.T)'s home.

Non-Muslims may not understand this, but for us, pre-destined with death during Hajj is one of our prayers.

May Allah (S.W.T) grant these fortunate souls with the highest place in Jannah. Ameen.

Source: Internet

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Moments From Our Jubilee Weekend...

It has been almost a month since we, Singaporeans, celebrated our 50th National Day on 9 August. So, this is a really late post.

But I think this is a good time to share these photos - a lil portrait of how far we've come, and how much Allah (S.W.T) has blessed this tiny little red dot.

I am aptly reflecting on this - as the country is at its half-time campaign period - for General Elections.

We had an extended Jubilee weekend, and AZ and I decided to spend the National Day at some of the places where special activities were lined up for celebrations.

They bring thoughts of peace, progress and prosperity - so cliché you may think - yet that's the truth.

Every new day, we thank our Rabb for the Singaporean identity.

Here are some of our moments in photos.

Sentosa's Siloso Beach had sand sculptures on display that depicted our history. There was also audio references playing in conjuction to that episodic era.

But all the chatty, curious visitors - locals and tourists included - around the sculptors kinda really hampered the sensory experience.

But then again, I am not complaining, as there have been sufficient sources to listen to these conversations on national radio and TV.

At 9 am that morning, we also heard, for the first time, the country's Proclamation of Independence read by our late former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. You can read more here.

The late Mr and Mrs Lee amidst the Singapore landscape and landmarks.

Merchants selling spices and all the trades we read in our textbooks that our pioneers carried out along the shores of the Singapore River.

A scene of Mr Lee announcing Singapore's separation from Malaysia, and him tearing on the uncertainties ahead screened on TV; people watching this at a coffeeshop exhibiting similar emotions.

AZ and I also made a trip down to the old Tanjong Pagar Railway station. Now a national monument of sorts, the place came alive with a carnival. Here are some photos too. There were more of course, that we posed with people dressed as 'Samsui Women' and 'Coolies' of yesteryears. Unable to share these hear though, as I realised we didn't take separate shots of them on their own.

Me in a posed shot. Items used in the early years... some of which Mum still safekeeps at home! The round flowered tray. Masha-Allah.

AZ and I in a photo moment. Of course, we were also decked in red wear themed with Singapore's national colour.  AZ wore a red jersery and I wore a maroon hijab. I, in full display of national pride and AZ was just soaking in the atmosphere with me!

In the morning, our first stop was actually to watch the air show put up by the Black Knights of the Republic of the Singapore Air Force. We had planned to be at Marina Barrage's South Pier by 12 that day. Allah (S.W.T) had better plans for us, as always. Traffic was expectedly heavy and we got down at this spot, alongside with others heading there too, and caught the show from where we stood.

Two planes that have just turned back after their aerial performance. Stunning in every moment.

AZ and I had some Eid guests later in the day and decided to head back from Sentosa when I thought it would be nice to hop into a Cable Car. It's AZ first time on that ride too, and we had a tranquil scenic half-hour to ourselves high up in the skies.

The view from the cable car.









AZ and I decided to spend the day with the activities for the Jubilee weekend, not because it was an extended weekend, but we just felt it was special and we thought I should take pride in these celebrations. I, for one, am really thankful for our leaders in this country. 

These are just my personal reflections. Singaporeans are going to the polls on 11 September. It is my wish that all voters make wise and sound decisions. In-Shaa-Allah.





















Friday, 7 August 2015

Ramadan Journal - Entry 5

21) Smile
24) Happy
 Receiving gifts are always reasons to smile. And it's with a lot of happiness when the gifts are from parents. This lovely green prayer garb is a surprise gift from Father while he was on a short shopping spree across the Causeway.
Pretty, isn't it? Alhamdhulilah.



22) Colour
Eid, or Hari Raya, as we say it here, is never complete without these lovelies.
We all have personal favourites. Mine are the pineapple tarts.
It is our family practice to pack these colourful Eid cookies for our guests and neighbours.
One thing I have to change next year is to really pack these at least two days before Eid!
In-Shaa-Allah.




26) No 
We made a trip to Johor Bahru, as we do every year to make some purchases for Eid with our cousin sisters in tow.
This time, with a different hired driver. The experiences were not as pleasant. And so, next year, In-Shaa-Allah, when we decide to make the trip, that driver will be a no-no.


27) Listen
I had the blessed opportunity of listening to the Imam's recitation of the Quran during the last Friday's Ju'maah (congregational) prayers while near a Masjid in the east. As I listened to the recitation of the Imam in tears, standing there, watching my Ummah in unity, I teared too. For me, it was one of the most beautiful moments I was blessed with this Ramadan.



28) Reflect
In my later years of growing up,  I always was tested on controlling thirst while fasting, more than on hunger pangs.
One of the days, when the weather was really sultry, as I was waiting for the bus that neevr came for almost 45 minutes, under the burning sun, I reflected deeply - on how fortunate I was to only feel that test for so little of the whole day. What about my brothers and sisters who fast in far worst conditions throughout a whole month, with taqwa? SubhanAllah.

Our purified water dispenser - a reminder to keep thanking HIM for all that we get and others don't. Gratitude - for everything.

29) Eid Prep
The sister I bought the pretty, colourful Eid paper plates wasn't selling them anymore. So, AZ thought of serving food on banana leaves. I felt it was a refeshing change too.
 AZ is hard at work at cutting the leaves to fit the plates on the eve of Eid.


30) Thank You
This year, AZ and I have both been very busy with our careers. And we had mentioned on our Al-Barakah Abayas' Facebook page that we will not be bringing in new designs. We welcomed orders on existing stock though. We admit we haven't spent much time on Facebook marketing like last time too. Yet, we were so humbled that we had sisters contacting us for abayas for Eid. We would like to thank them all for their support. This support has definitely inspired us to do better. In-Shaa-Allah.

Source: Internet

Ramadan Journal 2015 - Entry 4

16) Capture 
20) Me
I thought that I don't always capture photos about my Eid clothese. So, I made a mental note to snap a picture of a simple band very comfortable-on-the-skin maxi dress that AZ bought for me at the Eid fair before I wore it. I wore this on the first day of Eid. I  really liked how I could easily run around the house as we were attending to guests. I matched it with a maroonish scarf and had compliments from AZ and Mum.


17) Wish
I always wish to get some henna done on the last few days of Ramadan. These recent years, that has not been anywhere close to possible. This year, too.A few days after Eid, I found a tube of henna that's been untouched for a few months. I grabbed some lazy moments and had AZ applying some simple designs on my finger nails and palms. The outcome was pretty enough.

18) Make
My Mother makes beautiful murukkus... savoury Indian snacks.
You would think every child says this - that her Mother makes the best food.
My Mum does too, and this is EXCEPTIONALLY true with her Murukkus.

It takes a lot of time and effort to make these snacks. From measuring up the ingredients, to kneading the dough, to pressing the dough out through the traditional 'murukku ural' (I seriously don't know what it's called in English; you can google the images though), and then frying them in the correct temperatures.

I can never manage any of these. One of the biggest things I regret not learning to do. The scale of the process just scares me, really.

But my Mum makes them  single-handedly, with so much love. There were times we decided to give her a break, and ordered from home-based businesses. Not a single one of them came anywhere close to Mum's.

And so she goes - 'I told you. Let me make them like I always do.'



19) Read
23) Three
 One of the things about my job I loved this Ramadan was that I could get to work with Masjids on some projects. Over Ramadan, I had a chance to work with three Masjids in different vicinities.  After every project meeting, I made use of the lunch hour (while other colleagues involved in the projects headed to lunch) to spend time reading the Quran after my prayers.


Ramadan Journal 2015 - Entry 3

6) Sahur
15) Iftar
A cup of milk at Sahur and Iftar was my must-have in Ramadan this year. Something I needed to make sure I didn't end up with gastric for consumption of spicy food. As of course, spicy treats that were too good to resist for an appetite that came after fasting.


7) Mood
AZ and I like to take a walk along the Eid Bazaar (Fair) here just to soak in the atmosphere every year. This year, we headed out on the second day of Ramadan, after Dhuhr prayers. It was one of those days that we weren't in the 'mood' for shopping. We went again though, this time towards the last few days in Ramadan when we had a mini-shopping list in hand for Eid preparations. And these two items below were among the purchases that we both really liked.




8) Grateful For
For being born as a Singaporean Muslim. I have thanked Allah (S.W.T) many times this Ramadan for being able to fast 'freely' this Ramadan. Reading about our brothers and sisters in China who were forced to eat during work hours to prevent them for keeping their fast in this holy month was painful.
May Allah bless all our efforts amongst the struggles, with a place in Jannah. Ameen.

12) 4pm - At work
Relates back to my sentiments above. 4pm for me on weekdays were at work. - that was the time I wlooked forward to perform Azhar prayers, and then wrap up my work for the day. I had requested to leave work an hour earlier and my bosses were cooperative.

As I write this now, we are in our SG 50 Jubilee Weekends here. Singapore celebrates 50 years of independance this year. A heartwarming part of our National Day celebrations here is these funpacks for every citizen's home. We collected ours a few days back. There are 50 designs that the bags come in and every design paints the Singapore story. Masha-Allah.

These were some of the pretty, keep-sakes in the bag. Every neighbourhood gets a variety of items that bring back childhood memories and stamp the success of Singapore. My personla favourite is the 'Old Maid' card game. There are four in this card-games' gang. There're are the 'Snap', 'Happy Family' and the 'Donkey'. Games we all loved as children.

I am going to take some time this Jubilee weekends and introduce this game to AZ. My Brother and neighbours included. In-Shaa-Allah.


9) Inspired By
This whole Ramadan, I felt I had not done my best, and at times, I felt I fared better last year.
At one of these low moments, I came across this article here. And it sure was an inspiration to pick myself up and make the most of the remaining precious time I had.

10) Light
On a couple of days, after setting the table for Iftar, we had moments - AZ and I - sitting down, making duas, with the light of twilight coming through our curtains. It was serene.




11) To Do/To Ask
My Duas List.  I came up with a tangible list only after Day 11 or so in Ramadan.

25) Write 
I actually didn't get to writing on my personal dairy. At all.


13) Craving
King of fruits, that's what they are known as. Durians. I had cravings for these towards the last ten days of Ramadan. My Father promised then he would get me some after Eid as th tastier ones were not so easily available near our place. He delivered his promise some two weeks back, and I was one happy kid. Alhamdhulilah for parents.



14) Mess
This is what our kitchen table looked like at one of its to-get-messier moments on the eve of Eid. With Mum's jellies, my cake-making props, and other items I usually bring down from cabinets once a year for Eid. 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Ramadan Journal 2015 - Entry 2

Source: Internet

3) Love
Mothers - From the Mother who deliberately wakes me up half hour later than she's up preparing for Suhoor, the Mother who gets warm Iftar meals all ready by the time I step into the house on some days, twenty minutes before the Adhaan for Maghrib. And from the Mother who sends her duas, love, and duas from many miles away every minute of her life. May Allah give them a place in the highest Jannah in the hereafter and the most happiness in this world. Ameen.

4) Eyes
In Surah Al-Furqan:

“ …and those who say:  O, our Master, grant us from our spouses and our children ‘the coolness of eyes’ and make us leaders over those who are righteous, pious, and fearful”.

 Here, Allah (S.W.T) refers to children as 'coolness of our eyes'. Though AZ and I do not have children yet, our parents are now "coolness of our eyes". Seriously, I remember reading somewhere that as people mature, they tend to become more child-like. Our parents will make great testimonies. It's especially sweet when they have little cravings and traditions that show up only in Ramadan. Dad's briyani musings at Iftar and Mum's love for haleem from the masjids. SubhanAllah. Makes me smile everytime I think about these.

5) Throwback
Mum's and my creations for Iftar last year. Our mango pudding was a hit last year.



This year, I barely made anything for Iftar. Mum was extra adventurous though, she made a variety of new things this year - beef balls, 'ulunthu vadai' and cutely-shaped curry puffs. All of which of course, were delicious. Alhamdhulilah.

Ramadan Journal 2015 - Entry 1

Finally, I am getting down to pen down my Ramadan Journal. Actually, AZ was neatening up my mobile phone and its contents just a few days back.

In the process, I realised that some photos I had snapped throughout Ramadan are now missing. Knowing that I would want to document these very much, AZ spent quite a bit of time trying to recover them from softwares. Given a bit of time, he would have recovered all of them, but I really felt bad about it as he had exams to prepare for, alongside work commitments to attend to.

And most of all, these days, I have learnt to accept, or to be truthful, learning very hard to say Alhamdhulilah for all things - to my favour and otherwise.

And so, Alhamthulilah, I retook some shots in the same order that I could and will write about other images that I captured after Ramadan that also deserve space for memories in my Ramadan Journal for this year.

So here goes, my photo journal (of sorts) for this Ramadan.

1) Prepare
As I had hoped for, about 80 per cent of our Eid shopping was completed before Ramadan. And of these, the essentials that 1 particularly shop for new bedsheets for the house.


2) BnW
Battling within myself to spend as much time as I could with my Quran. I could have done much, much better...
What I was happy with myself was that I read different Surahs, unlike in all other years where I had read from the first Surah and followed through.

My Quran - which is a gift from my Father during one of the Ramadans in earlier years.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Eid Mubarak!

Salaam everyone!

Let me take this opportunity to wish our Muslim brothers and sisters, Eid Mubarak!

May our Rabb accept all our duas, fasts, charity and good deeds.

Our celebrations with the family, and other relatives have been very meaningful, Alhamdhulilah.

I really miss writing, and I hope to start penning down my entries for my Ramadan Journal this year on this space.

Will get to it in the next few days, In-Shaa-Allah.

Our Eid cookies which made our guests happy, which in turn, made us happy. Alhamdhulilah.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Ramadan And Us...

Today is the first day of Ramadan. And I must admit, that I am not in the best form that I had yearned to be in yet.

We are entering Day 2's Sahur in a few hours here, Alhamdhulilah.

I need to get into the form that I had hoped for, very soon, In-Shaa-Allah.

After much thought, I have decided that it would do me some good to step aside from this space this month.

Yes, and that does not translate that I will not be documenting my Ramadan days and moments that await me, In-Shaa-Allah. I would like to share Sister Neelu's Ramadan Journal prompts at this point. You can read more about it here.

In previous years, even before I starting writing a blog on my own, I kept a private journal, inspired from her prompts. Masha-Allah.

This year shall be the same for me too.

Therefore, while the journalling will continue, I will save them for post-Ramadan posts here again, In-Shaa-Allah.

Take care of heart, everyone, and I pray that Allah  (S.W.T) gives us all the imaan to make the most of this precious, precious month.

Ameen Ya Rabb.
Our Day 1. With AZ's favourite drink, some journalling and duas for lots of barakah with the family, for the family and the whole of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W)'s Ummah. Looking forward to more days of duas and precious family moments.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Our Most Special Guest Is Here...


Source: Internet

Alhamdhulilah. Thanking Allah (S.W.T) for giving my family and me another opportunity to meet Ramadan.

There is just something special in the air, as always.... SubhanAllah.

So, am I ready to taste the sweetness of this month? Please keep my family in your duas.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

My Thoughts On A Book - 'The Dressmaker of Khair Khanna'

The second book I mentioned in my previous post - 'The Dressmaker of Khair Khana'.

SubhanAllah, it was a beautiful read. Simply put, this is a story written by yet another journalist who lived with. and witnessed what women with grit can achieve.

I was expecting some heavy emotions - the kind of sentiments that one will imagine when five young women are driven to make a living - both to feed them and their community - when the Taliban seized control of Kabul.

But I found myself rejoicing with smiles and cheering them on throughout the book.  With dreams of a good education dashed, Kamila Sidiqi led her sisters to take up dress-making. With the men in her family away from them, she is left without a choice but to bring food to the table. Her faith in her Creator, her will and tact brought so much more to the livelihoods of other women's families too.

Every time the sisters' made the perfect stitches, received a new order, managed to deliver a last minute bulk-deal, I was 'clapping hands' at their success and strength to hold together. At the marketplace, within the Sidiqi household which had become a make-do garment production line, at their business ideas (pretty bold ones), etc.

What was so attractive about this book was the reality - of how women are natural fighters. Not sounding cliche, but the book brought this out so beautifully. They - the sisters and other young Afghani women who came to join their business, had no self-pity. They all wanted to survive, were all professional-minded and really got down to business. I must say this again, such a beautiful display of strength.

I was finishing up the book while I was at the hairdresser's. Towards the last few pages, the authour, while meeting up with one of Kamila's brothers after some time later and hearing him recollect what his sisters have achieved - admits tearing - her first time on a reporting project.

At that point, as a reader, I reflected at what the girls had gone through too - and my eyes welled up, right where I was. Women fighting hard, to keep their families together, not giving up, and believing that Allah will make everything okay ... is just so amazing. Something so very close to my heart...

Definitely worth a read... for lots of inspiration.

My Thoughts On A Book - 'Thayyal Machine' (Sewing Machine)

There are two books that I read some weeks back and have been wanting to write about. Have only found time now though. There is a regional library at two bus-stops away from the place I board to head home. On days when I stay late enough to complete Maghrib prayers at the office, and AZ also has to work late, I venture into this library.
 

It has been ages... oh my... even years since I last read a Tamil book. In fact, the last I read were a couple of fiction novels when I was doing Tamil Literature for 'A' Levels.

Not that I avoided reading them. Well, there's really no excuse for only reading English now.

Therefore, picking up the first book - 'Thayyal Machine', translated as 'Sewing Machine' felt somewhat like a good start. The fact that it was written by an Indian Muslim female author made my decision pretty easy. Mrs Noorjahan Sulaiman - the authour - her photo on the back cover quickly resonated with me too. The kind of personality and profile from the community whom my Mother can most probably relate to as a 'friend I know' when she attends a wedding - kinda type.

So, by now, it is obvious was really looking forward to read the compilation of stories. They were bundled to tell the stories of the kampong yesteryears. Pretty much something that my parents always boast about - the struggles, simplicity and friendships they still cherish.

Her stories were of simple people, and their domestic challenges in that time frame. All were of family bonds, and had inter-generational content. She had dedicated these to the people of the 'kampung days'. It wasn't a very thick book, and I completed reading in less than five bus rides back home (I don't usually read on the way to work, cos half of the time, I just gaze at what's going on around me and am already planning which project to tackle first - and oh yes, of course, strategically thinking of how best to stride quickly to office - as I am always not on time.)

I actually expected a little more from the book - about the daily nuances of life of that era, something stronger about the inter-racial bonds then, of community bonding, sharing, caring and things like that. 


But then again, she probably had a different purpose with the book. And by the way, they were all stories of real people that she has met and interacted with.

Apparently, her first published book is of an Islamic poetry genre. Will look that one up the next time, In-Shaa-Allah.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Some Fish For A Puttu-ish Dish

These days, as I had mentioned in my earlier post, I have been cooking proper meals every day. For AZ and my lunch packs. When I mean 'proper meals', I do my best to include a meat and a vegetable dish.

While on weekdays, I prepare our lunches after Isyak, on Sundays, I try and get everything done before Zuhur, so that I get to do other things with the rest of the precious remaining weekend.

And so, yesterday, I decided to try a healthier dish. I have been thinking of fish puttu for a while whenever I crack my brains on what to make - so that AZ doesn't get the same lunch variety week after week, and also eats healthily, In-Shaa-Allah.

I have eaten  fish puttu only once at my dear friend D's house some years back. Her Mum made this for lunch with other vegetarian mains. We don't make this in our house. But after trying this, Mum would be game enough to make, In-Shaa-Allah.

It came out really nice, Alhamdhulilah. And it's fairly a simple dish to make.


Here's sharing a modified recipe of various versions I found online (and eventually tried in our kitchen)...
I am not going to state portions, because I never follow them in any recipe. I believe they should be according to yours and your family's needs and taste buds.

Ingredients
Fish (any type!)
Onions and green chillies (diced)
Mustard seeds
Pepper corns
Tumeric powder
Chilli powder
Pepper powder

Getting It Done
1. Wash fish thoroughly. Mum reminds me time and again that fish must be washed with ginger and garlic paste and some tumeric. 

2. Boil for five to six minutes with salt (this is a must!).

3. Drain the water and mesh them up with a spoon.

4. Add some oil and saute the mustard seeds, pepper corns, followed by the onions, chillies, and the other masalas and fish.

5. Serve up with rice or chappathi.

I made ladies fingers' masala to accompany this in our lunch boxes.

Alhamdhulilah.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Food With Dzikir, And Duas

I am writing this post to share on the barakah that food cooked in the home - peppered with our dzikir and niyaah - brings to us. What I am sharing may be trivia to some; but this 'discovery' is something that I made all over again .

I have written about this (the blessings of having food from cooking at home) before here, but nevertheless, would like to share this again.

AZ told me some two months back that he's been saving his sandwiches that I sometimes pack for his breakfast, for lunch. The nearest halal food place is about 15 minutes walk from his fairly new workplace and he's been forgoing the walk so that he has enough time for his zuhur prayers, lunch and some much-needed rest.

Having thought about it, I decided to put in some extra effort and time to prepare his lunch and keep the night before and store it in the fridge. Alhamdhulilah, this means Mum's lunch was fixed too. After a month of getting into this, I thought it made more sense that I increase the portions and pack lunch for me too!

It's been a month or so, that I have been bringing my packed lunch to work, and the outcome on my immune system has been amazing. Alhamdhulilah. Before that month, I was having a 'non-stop' dry cough that had lasted for months. It used to frustrate me and my colleagues (am sure, although they never said it). Given that I had to hop into cabs at least twice a week to get to meetings, events, with the nature of my job, I used to get nasal irritation very easily. And have ended up finishing up a whole box of tissues on a single work day on many instances.

Alhamdhulilah, ever since I started bringing food from home to work, and all other factors remaining constant, my immune system has improved by leaps and bounds. Masha-Allah, I have not been coughing incessantly, and cab rides have been sneeze-free. I was awed by this change and was sharing with my colleague, Sister A, who is now expecting and brings food from her home too. She was quick to pinpoint that the food that I have been eating (with all the duas and dzikir) made all that difference. There was once I had to eat out as I didn't bring food from home - probably because a lunch meeting got cancelled - and a cough did start showing up. I resumed with food from home the next day and it was fixed, Alhamdhulilah.

So much barakah for cooking with the remembrance of Allah. SubhanAllah.

My lunch box with 'sotong sambal' and eggs. (yes, I know I need to work on reducing oil in my cooking...trying my best, In-Shaa-Allah.)

Sunday, 29 March 2015

My Gratitude Notes To Mr Lee Kuan Yew


I have been wanting to write this piece since Tuesday, the second day of passing of my country's founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

But I just haven't been able to. I wrote this, this morning...



Within another two hours, my countrymen and I will bid our final farewell to our founding Prime Minister. The days since his passing has brought out the best in Singapore and Singaporeans. I could never have been prouder to be a Singaporean.

 As one of these fortunate citizens, I needed to pen these now to put down my thoughts of gratitude to this exemplary human being, and of course, an outstanding nation-builder.

I am a Muslim, and in Islam, we are taught to thank people, for if we don’t, we do not thank Allah, our Creator.
For our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "He who does not thank people, does not thank Allah." (Ahmad, Tirmidhi)

Thank you, Mr Lee, for all the opportunities your leadership has showered on my family and I. Both my parents are second-generation Singaporeans. My father is a despatch clerk, and my Mum is an office attendant. They both raised two children – my brother and I who graduated and are now in good jobs.

Our family’s income or social status did not define our future. We were given a choice to dream of one, and live that dream. So, all that mattered and still matters, is if we were willing to invest – with hard work, real hard work. And we did. And we made it.

We started out with a one-room rental flat and lived there till my teenage years. My parents weren’t cash-rich and weren’t able to save much then.
Thank you, Mr Lee, for envisioning the CPF system and the home ownership future for Singaporeans. Solely with my parents’ CPF savings, we moved to a 5-room flat.

Our race, religion or language never came in the way of our happiness. Some of my closest friends are non-Muslims, and I remember vividly the day my Chinese colleagues welcomed me with warm hugs and cheers as I donned the hijab for the first time to my office. We practise our religion with peace. There are suraus (small prayer rooms) and bidets in office buildings, malls and schools. Colleagues, friends and neighbours respect our prayer times, diets, are keen to join us for Iftar (the time of breaking fast during the Ramadan, the fasting month) and celebrate our festivities with us.

I couldn’t have appreciated the national papers and social media more during this time of national mourning than at any other time. Everytime I read a story retold, an experience relived, a quote re-written, I tear. Like all my other fellow Singaporeans, and even foreigners whose lives you have touched.

I teared, one of many times, when I learnt the Mosque-Building Fund that working Singapore Muslims have a chance to contribute to, is once again, your brainchild.

I teared again when I saw Indian nationals who have worked here in our home, and have from their earnings, build up their families back home for three generations, sobbing uncontrollably as they paid tribute to your legacy on an Indian channel.

Thank you, Mr Lee, for rooting for bilingualism. For my brother and I were not forced to learn Malay or Mandarin in school, but could learn to appreciate our tradition through studying Tamil.

I needed some space throughout this week to reflect on my life and all the blessings that I have granted as a Singaporean. I was at NTUC’s Tribute Centre on my first visit. But I felt that wasn’t just enough. My husband, a non-Singaporean and I decided to be there at a community tribute centre at the library. We both teared again. If only we had a leader like him, he always says. 

People from all walks of life, ages, abled and not-so abled queued for up to 10 hours along Padang, throughout 24 hours over four days at the Lying-In-State at Parliament House, with the full Singaporean spirit.
 This morning, Singaporeans must have woken up with heavier hearts than the six days passed. Getting ready to bid you farewell, I needed to complete one more chore. Before I headed out to join my family and residents in lining the streets along Bukit Merah as we say our final goodbye along the state funeral procession – to water our plants in the corridor. And when I did, I thanked you once again for appreciating and advocating that flora and fauna co-exist with Singaporeans through your tree-planting chapters.

Thank you, Mr Lee, for these and everything. For clean water from our taps anywhere on the island. For safe hospitals and clinics that will not rob me of my entire salary or organs. For air-conditioned buses and trains, and metered cab rides. Oh yes, and for my parents’ to be able to sleep peacefully even when they know I will head back home late after work assignments.

Just like the day before and early morning hours of your passing, the skies on our island darkened and it poured and poured. Today too, as we are wearing the Singapore pledge on our hearts and take to the neighbourhoods, to give you a final, united send-off, our skies are in tears too. Just like we are.

Thank you, Mr Lee.

From a Fortunate Singaporean.

 http://www.rememberingleekuanyew.sg/

Friday, 20 February 2015

My Quran And Me

Sometime in January, my fairly new colleague, Sister A, and I decided to embark, or should I say re-embark on our Quran reading journey. Both us were just talking about our journey with the Quran and we both were sharing that we needed to buck up with our recitation.

That was when Sister A thought we could come up with a buddy plan. That we come with a plan of reading schedules and stick to it to the best we can, and at the same time, motivaer each other along the way.

We both jumped at this opportunity and drew up plans and a neat schedule to complete one cycle of recitation by Ramadan. Sister A is expecting her first child, Alhamdhulilah, and wishes to benefit her little one too, with her recitations, In-Shaa-Allah.

It feels really good that there is now a plan that I can follow up with. Sister A and I do random checks with each other on our progress, and nudge the one who has fallen behind.

The days of renovation in our place did see me falling behind, but I am determined to catch up. We are having long holidays with the Lunar New Year festive for the Chinese folks here. So, it has given me some pockets of catch-up time. Alhamdhulilah.

Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu' alyahi wa sallam) said: "The one who is proficient in the recitation of the Quran will be with the honourable and obedient scribes (angles) and he who recites the Quran and finds it difficult to recite, doing his best to recite it in the best way possible, will have a double reward."

(Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

SubhanAllah, such is Islam...

Together, Sister A and I are also reviewing Asma-Al-Husna (the 99 names of Allah) by Ramadan, In-Shaa-Allah.

My recitation schedule and my Quran.


As I was reviewing my tajweed, this site was very useful for a good recap on the rules. I spent some quality time going through all the sessions before I started reading from Juz 1. Alhamdhulilah, it sure was helpful.

Every now and then, when I am not too mentally drained on the commute back home from work, I usually turn on the recitations for the Surah that I am reciting at the moment on my MP3 player - this has been helpful too, Alhamdhulilah. 

"The most beloved of deeds to Allah are the most consistent of them, even if they are few." (Al-Bukhari)