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Monthly Archives: July 2013

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I ♥ LEGO

I ♥ LEGO

It’s pretty much like getting our grownup dreams. We don’t get all the pieces we want all at once. Often, we just make the best of what we have at the moment…making adjustments once we get better blocks. Piece by piece, block by block…unknowingly making us more creative, more appreciative, more patient.
Whatever dream it is we’re building, may we always ‘LEGO’—Live & Entrust to God our Opus.
In shaa ALLAH.

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Posted by on July 31, 2013 in wOrK = pLaY

 

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intention check

dontflirt

what you may consider as just being ‘friendly’
can in actuality be interpreted differently.
perhaps it’s the other’s fault to assume;
but how sure are you you didn’t give the devil some room?
you may think you’re speaking from the heart,
but you could be tearing a person, a couple, or a family, apart.
when the damage is done, “i didn’t mean to” is so easy to say,
but it shouldn’t have happened had you not let pride get in the way.
Check your intentions. Check your actions. Yes, it may not be easy,
but sincerity will always be a reflection of GOD-centered sensitivity.

Keep right and battle against yourself with all your might.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2013 in I + You = WE

 

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if you had to be ‘stubborn’,

may it be the kind that makes you smile

even when they say life isn’t worthwhile.

May it be that which makes tears from the heart flow

when you plead to HIM that Jannah’s where you wish to go.

If you had to be ‘stubborn’,

may you be of those who choose to see the possibility

of a change of heart in one who considers you an enemy.

May you not allow a deed to define the other’s entirety

so you may deal with him with all sincerity.

If you had to be ‘stubborn’,

may it be the kind that makes you persist

in doing what is right which others resist.

May you never ever give up on those you love

yet not forget that guidance comes only from the One for Whose Sake you love.

If you had to be ‘stubborn’,

may it be the type that makes you bow down with humility,

to apologize and grow consistently.

May you recognize pride as the devil’s company

so you may avoid what is evil no matter how tempting it can be.

If you had to be ‘stubborn’,

if you truly had to be stubborn,

then may it be that which makes you run away

from anything–or anyone–that kills your faith each day.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in I + You = WE, reach UP

 

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iConnect

16 July 2013.  It was one of those days when the heat was starting to get to me.  I just finished giving a seminar-workshop on study habits to 4th graders and while I did have a great time, this backpacker’s blood pressure wasn’t cooperating much.  My initial plan of heading to the university where I used to teach changed.  That would take another 20-30 minutes with the traffic and when I get there, I might not be able to get some rest with the expected catching up after my decision to take a leave this term, I thought to myself.

I reached the local mall past 12 noon.  After performing my ablution with some of the mall customers in the ladies’ room probably wondering what I was doing, I headed to the second floor—saying Assalaamu Alaikum (peace be with you) to the familiar-looking salesladies I passed by until I finally reached one of the stalls selling mobile phones.  Just a smile and I didn’t have to explain further.  The assigned saleslady motioned to the young man beside her to move a bit so I can easily get inside.  There was roughly around 2x4ft. of free space to move about but I managed to go straight to the back where a curtain served as a division between their stall and the room I entered.

Other sisters were there and since some have already started their dhuhur prayer, I quietly put my bag down and prepared myself as well.  A young girl took her place beside me, smiled back, and started to pray.  Alhamdulillah, it was indeed a blessing to have found this room where 60-70 ladies could pray.  After managing to practice reading Arabic for a few minutes, with the young girl kindly volunteering to help me out before leaving for her afternoon class, my body finally told me it was time for me to seriously get some rest.  I was quite apprehensive at first—after all, this was a prayer room, NOT my bedroom—but it could not be helped since trying to remain awake to read more would mean my body ‘automatically shutting down’ after a few minutes.  Hence, I decided to lie down on my prayer mat with my feet placed on top of my backpack to at least help keep the blood flowing to my head.  Alhamdulillah the sisters near me did not mind and just silently continued with their own Qur’an readings.

Forty minutes before the next prayer, Alhamdulillah, I told myself when I finally woke up feeling a lot better.  Alhamdulillah, I checked my phone and was relieved that the Psychology students who will be meeting with me for their proposed team building workshop texted that they were in a bit of a delay, hence, would be arriving past 3pm.  Some sisters in the room have not left after dhuhur prayer and were still reading the Qur’an, mashaAllah. I decided to listen to some Qur’an mp3s on my phone to familiarize myself with the correct pronunciation.

“Balik Islam (Muslim revert) ka?”

 I heard one ask.  That started a heart-warming conversation with sisters.  I guess I was looking pale awhile back that some really thought it was my first Ramadan and reassured me I’ll get to adjust to this routine, in shaa ALLAH.  Another one, who noticed I was trying to learn Arabic, told me it’s difficult in the beginning but as long as I constantly practice, I’ll be able to read faster and faster, in shaa ALLAH.  Ameen.  (Let’s consider that a prayer, shall we?)

They were quite curious how I found out about their place since there wasn’t a single signage within the mall that would tell others a Muslim prayer room existed.  I smiled and explained that a Muslim student once told me that if ever I find a group of Muslims—particularly the Maranao (or Meranao, if you wish), one of the 13 ethnolinguistic Moro groups from Mindanao—holding business in any mall or area, it would be quite impossible not to find a place for prayer.  And, quite true, I simply asked one of the salesladies at the second floor a few months back, and voila! I found it, Alhamdulillah.  I added that it’s actually my third time to pray at their place, which got one of the sisters’ eyes lighting up before remarking that I was one of those who worked at the university.  It turned out she has seen me before but was not so sure.  I smiled and nodded to confirm.

I couldn’t help but ask why there wasn’t any signage.  It was then that I found out that the prayer room was not part of the agreement with the mall administration and was actually part of the space rented by three stall owners.  Remember the stall where I entered?  MashaALLAH.  They decided that, since they don’t really need to display much items and their stock won’t occupy as much space, why not just convert the larger portion of their rented space into a prayer room for all the Muslim sisters and their networks in the area.  Same thing was done by some brothers for the men’s prayer area, Alhamdulillah.

“At least hindi na mahirap mag-salah ngayon, di ba? (At least it now isn’t hard to pray),” one of the stall owners quipped.

Alhamdulillah, indeed.  It was really inspiring to hear how the secret prayer room came to being.  And, their warm treatment truly made me feel at home, Alhamdulillah.  I guess they felt at home, too, that the older sisters couldn’t resist the urge to ask if I was married! LOL! I guess matchmaking was, is, and will always be part of the culture?  So caught up with their own ideas of a good match, they went back to reality when I finally excused myself to renew my ablution for asr prayer.  And, yes, I was escaping. 😛

Perfectly timed according to HIS Perfect Plans, I received a message from the students I was to meet when I finally got back to the prayer room—just enough time for them to settle down and rest at our meeting place and for me to pray, Alhamdulillah.

As I bid the sisters goodbye and extended Ramadan and salaam greetings, we ended up laughing when one of the sisters insisted I sleep at her place—thinking I had no place to stay.  She finally relented when I told her I had to meet some students before heading back to the province where my mom was waiting.  She did not, however, allow me to leave without bringing some food for iftar.  A mommy moment right there, Alhamdulillah.  I learned as well that she was the one who cooked and sold halal meals to the group since there wasn’t any halal-certified restaurant in the area.  MashaALLAH.

I know we will never be able to count the blessings HE lovingly bestows upon us each moment of our lives.  And, this day reminded me of that so much.  Alhamdulillah for opportunities to connect and to reflect on such soulful connections.  Alhamdulillahi Rabbi’l Alamin how we are all different yet the same—differently created yet the same servants of The Most Merciful One.  Keeping that in mind, it would indeed be impossible to not find it in us to feel blessed and be a blessing to those we meet, in shaa Allah—through HIM, for HIM.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2013 in I + You = WE, reach UP

 

Heart Meds

Supplicating reminds us so much how powerless we are and how we are ever in need of The Most Merciful’s assistance.  Supplicating to HIM, when done with firm conviction and faith, indeed calms our hearts and wipes all worries away, Alhamdulillah.  Sharing some of my favorite supplications:

Ya Muqallib Al Quloob, thabbit qalbi ‘ala deenik.

O Turner of hearts, make my heart firm upon your religion.

Rabbana atina min ladunka rahmatan-wa hayyi lana min amrina rashada

Our Lord, bestow upon us Your mercy and facilitate for us our affairs in the right way.

Allahummaj’al fee qalbee nooran wa fee lisaanee nooran wa fee sam’iee nooran, wa fee basaree nooran wa min fawqee nooran wa min tahtee nooran wa’an yameenee nooran wa’an shimalee nooran wa min ‘amamee nooran wa min khalfee nooran waj’al fee nafsee nooran wa ‘adhim lee nooran wa ‘adhdhim lee nooran wafal lee nooran waj’alnee nooran.  Allahumma ‘atinee nooran waj’al fee ‘asabee nooran wa fee lahmee nooran wa fee damee nooran wa fee sha’ree nooran, wa fee basharee nooran. [Allaahummaj’al lee nooran fee qabree wa nooran fee ‘idhaamee.] [Wa zidnee nooran, wa zidnee nooran, wa zidnee nooran.][Wa hab lee nooran ‘alaa noor.]

O Allah, place light in my heart, and on my tongue light, and in my ears light and in my sight light, and above me light, and below me light, and to my right light, and to my left light, and before me light and behind me light. Place in my soul light. Magnify for me light, and amplify for me light. Make for me light and make me a light. O Allah, grant me light, and place light in my nerves, and in my body light and in my blood light and in my hair light and in my skin light. [O Allah, make for me a light in my grave… and a light in my bones.] [Increase me in light, increase me in light, increase me in light.] [Grant me light upon light.]

Allahumma anta rabbee la ilaha illa Anta, khalaqtanee wa-ana ‘abduka, wa-ana ‘alaa ‘ahdika wawa’dika mas-tata’tu, a’oothu bika min sharri ma sana’tu, aboo-o laka bini’matika ‘alaya, wa-aboo-o bizambee, faghfir lee fa-innahu la yaghfiruz-zunooba illa ant.

O Allah, You are my Lord, none has the right to be worshipped except You, You created me and I am Your servant and I abide to Your covenant and promise [to honor it] as best I can, I take refuge in You from the evil of which I committed, I acknowledge Your favor upon me and I acknowledge my sin, so forgive me for verily none can forgive sins except You.

Ameen.

Don’t you just love conversing with HIM?

So if ever you’re feeling tired, pause if you must but never ever lose hope. Supplicate and keep the faith. 😉

heart_pause

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2013 in reach UP

 

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Sabr :)

Day Four of this Blessed Month, and I’m re-learning so much.

Goal Tweaking.  I’ve tweaked my Ramadan goals after realizing some are not actually doable for someone like me who’s just beginning to have a more regular relationship with Arabic (i.e, daily reading practice on my own). Reading is one thing–and I’d have to say I still get some letters mixed up and I am not even sure if I am pronouncing them correctly; understanding is another.  Understanding.  It’s this part that makes me frustrated with my situation at times. It’s a blessing to find translations for most but then there are some which I can’t find, and it honestly feels kind of pointless to utter a prayer I don’t even understand. It makes me appreciate the existence of someones-like-me-in-the-world who help me understand things better.  Still, I’m happy I can find it in me to continue on my own, Alhamdulillah…and continue throughout this month and beyond, I will, in shaa Allah.

Hibernating.  Deactivating my Facebook account and going online on Viber only when necessary has helped me work on some of my goals.  It’s funny how the first few days before Ramadan turned out to be tougher than expected–going offline yet suddenly getting a surge of calls and SMS from them. Brotherly? It makes me realize that this hijab does not exactly prevent sisters much from getting attention when the people involved do not fully understand and respect the meaning of hijab. I keep forgetting I’m in a predominantly non-Muslim community. It also reminds me that it probably isn’t always true that men have a tougher time avoiding fitna because seriously, men naturally do the courting (or hunting, if you will) and women are often left with having to deal with what these men do.  A training on assertiveness for me as well.  And just to be safe, I’m sticking to the same goal I had last year: to not just protect my intentions but also help others keep the right intentions through lesser interactions. In shaa ALLAH.

Fasting.  Aside from fasting from online presence and food & water this Ramadan, I am trying my best to fast from negativity.  A month of great training for the soul, mashaAllah. Considering Satan and all his allies are chained this month, any negativity could only come from our own selves–from our evil-commanding souls. And, I know it may take some time for me to train myself to respond–not react–to people who constantly test me, but with HIM, I will make it. In shaa ALLAH.

Feasting.  It’s a month of not just fasting, really.  It’s a month to feast on performing prayers, supplicating, remembering ALLAH, Qur’an reading, increasing knowledge, giving back to the community–especially to the less fortunate, and renewing ties with family and friends.  It’s a month to give and ask forgiveness, increase and protect our sincerity, and do all things with excellence–all for The Most Merciful’s sake.  It’s indeed a month to feast on all the blessings HE has made available around and within us…and for us to become better servants, in shaa ALLAH.

When I think of it, this year’s main theme for me is all about patience–patience to pursue my goals, patience to deal with others the best way I can, patience to perform my religious duties the best way possible, and patience to see life and everything & everyone in it always as a blessing. Difficult, you think? Maybe…but with ALLAH, nothing is indeed impossible.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2013 in I + You = WE, reach UP

 

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opposites

ImageThere was so much beauty around–the ocean and the waves that met the sand, the cool breeze and leaves ruffling, kids’ laughter and water splashing, couples walking hand in hand, and old friends catching up.  I was walking barefoot and loving it.  Yet of all that there was, it was this tree that caught my attention most.  I couldn’t help but pity it at first.  There was so much life around yet it was lifeless–or almost.  I couldn’t help but consider it like a kid who was excluded or bullied by others around him.  But as I stood there and stared at it some more, I found me correcting myself as I pondered on its existence, its life.

It wasn’t excluded from the beauty around me.  In fact, it perfectly fit. Perhaps even, it was that beautiful missing piece that made everything around it more meaningful, Alhamdulillah.

To ALLAH we belong and to HIM we shall return.

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2013 in reach UP

 

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