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I’m still talking to Allah

I’m still talking to Allah

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Dear Sabriye,

You have no idea how happy I felt when you gave me that reply two nights ago when I asked why you’re still up though in bed when it was already way past your bedtime. I had to control the urge to break down and cry and hug you right then and there–after all, you were having the most important conversation anyone could have.

I’m sorry I couldn’t help but eavesdrop when I laid down beside you. You were mentioning the names of those you wanted to be with you in Jannah, in shaa Allah. Thank you for including me and your baba, too. But, you know what made my heart smile even more? You included your occasional playmates though I know you feel sad that they keep hurting you. I know it’s hard, and even when you say you’re ok, I know it affects you. I can’t help but remember that was the first thing you blurted out to Lola and Tita Naida when we videocalled. But, thank you for praying for them, for including them. Thank you most for reminding me that a person of Paradise is one who never goes to sleep with any ill will in his heart towards anyone. You’re my three-year-old teacher and classmate, you know. Alhamdulillah.

Life has been predictably unpredictable, I know. But, thank you for bearing with me when I’m overwhelmed, and for being protective of me especially when I’m sick and your baba’s not around. You guys are doing a great job, mashaAllah. 

One day, when you can read already, in shaa Allah, i’ll share this log with you. In shaa Allah, we can read it together, the way you make me read my logs of your baby adventures. But, more than reading, I pray that you will remember the lessons you imparted to me and continue to actualize it, in shaa Allah. I know the world’s tough, and it seems easier to just be like the rest, right? I remember your Why’s when we remind ourselves we’ll keep doing good even when others are and do not. But, thank you for listening and for allowing me to guide you, too, mashaAllah Alhamdulillah.

May Allah continue to give you the steadfastness to hold on to what’s right in this journey. May you be a wonderful and blessed reflection of your name. And, whatever happens, may you always find your heart comforted when you converse with The All-Loving, Most Merciful One. Ameen.

Love you much, always for His Sake,

Anne

 

 

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Posted by on December 9, 2018 in I + You = WE

 

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It’s all very temporary

This statement from Vibha Arora, one of the inspiring speakers at this year’s Happily Family Online Conference, struck me. She was actually referring to the tough parenting times, but my mind registered it as parenting as a whole. It may sound funny to parents of teens or young adults because my child is just three years old yet upon hearing this statement, I couldn’t help but tell myself “time’s flying so fast!” There was this sense of urgency to know more and apply what I learn as much as I can—then of course, I reminded myself to calm down and pause.

Positive parent-child connection has been highlighted much in most of the talks, and I couldn’t agree more. And, I love how the talks, the studies mentioned, complement what I’m learning in Islamic Parenting. It’s actually inspiring me to write an integrated version of them, in shaa Allah—one of the reasons I’m logging this here, too (to commit myself to writing it, in shaa Allah).

It’s all very temporary. I truly believe that while most, if not all, of the parents probably joined the conference because we have parenting challenges to address, the underlying reason is because we want to connect in the best way possible to our children, those fellow works-in-progress who have been given to us both as a gift and as a responsibility…with the limited time we have. Our treasures in this transient world.

May The Most Loving Guide protect our homes by protecting and enriching our faith so that compassionate servants of His can grow and develop through us, in shaa Allah. And when times are tough, may He allow us to see opportunities instead of obstacles to connect lovingly with one another, to see setbacks as successes waiting to happen, and to see that things fall apart so that life can beautifully fall into place—according to His Perfect Plans, for His Perfect Reasons, in His Perfect Time. Ameen.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2018 in I + You = WE

 

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Passenger Seat (Ride Four)

(Looking back, 2012 was one crazy adventure for this ‘nene’ that helped me find inner peace even more. And, oh, here in Turkey now, I still look like one to everyone though i’m in my late 30s.)

Nene. That’s the Filipino term for small girl. And sometimes, it is even shortened to ‘ne.  Personally, it is a term I have learned to live with as a commuter, because often, it is what jeepney, bus or cab drivers (and conductors) would use to refer to me—imagine, a 31-year-old nene! :-s

Admittedly, on some days (when my faith is low and life’s challenges are getting to me), it can be quite annoying—don’t they know how much time it took me to dress up like a “Miss”?!, my evil-commanding soul would tell me, harhar!  But thankfully, I never really found the need to actually correct them.  Interestingly and more often, being a nene in their eyes has also led me to great reflections on this on-going journey, Alhamdulillah…

Rainy ride home
When I lost all my valuables at a peace event in Manila last summer, I was so emotionally vulnerable and penniless that my brother and sis-in-law agreed that I should just get a cab to take me all the way to their place in Cavite.  Of all the cab drivers I would meet, however, it just had to be one past 60 years old who’s had passengers who actually took off without paying him once they got to their respective destinations.  And, it didn’t help that he also had bad impressions of Muslim communities.

I thought he’d stop asking questions when I told him he could just drop me off at Waltermart (so no worries on his part of being ‘in danger’ in a Muslim community).  But, it got to a point when I just had to tell him my unfortunate experience to make him understand why it would be my brother who’d pay when we arrive in Cavite. Then, of all the most unexpected things that could happen, he went into his ‘father’ mode and started to reprimand me! “O ayan, leksyon ‘yan sa’yo. Magtatanda ka na n’yan. Naku, ‘ne, masyado ka kasing magtiwala sa tao. Delikado ang mundong ‘to, hindi ka dapat nagtitiwala.” (That’s a lesson for you. You trust people too much. The world is a dangerous place, you shouldn’t trust people.)

It makes me laugh now when I recall how I started to cry like a kid when he did that and how I started to explain things to him so he’d understand.  The frustrating way I lost my valuables, the fact that he just gave me a glimpse of how my protective parents could probably react, my mind stubbornly telling myself it’s still okay to trust, and the rain—perfect combination indeed to get me sobbing…which finally got manong Roger to empathize.  “Ne, wag ka ng umiyak. May mga tao lang talagang ganun siguro…” (Stop crying. Maybe some people are just really like that.)

It got really better.  He started sharing his happy experiences with other passengers and his happy encounters with Muslims in Mindanao when he was still in the military service.  I smiled when he finally said people can really vary—some good, some bad.  So I guess it’s his way of telling me the world isn’t really that bad, right?

Manong Roger even volunteered that I use his mobile phone so I can tell my brother we were still on the road and we’d be arriving past 7pm given the heavy rain.  I even ended up reading some of his messages for him, which were from his son.  Oh, yeah, it turned out he has a daughter, too, and when he finally learned how old I was, he apologetically told me he thought I was just around her age.  So now we know why he got into his ‘father’ mode back there!

Thankfully, we finally got to Waltermart where my brother waited for us.  Mang Roger drove us to my brother’s place and kuya did pay the fare. It wasn’t raining that hard anymore when we finally arrived. Alhamdulillah. 🙂

Hindi Estudyante
A  nene is also often viewed as a student.  So it sounds a bit funny for some passengers to hear me at times say, “Bayad po, hindi estudyante.”   But one fun ride home with two soul sisters, we realized there wasn’t really any rule that bus conductors could only ask one question (their “saan?” or where?).  After one of us said “estudyante”, this particular conductor automatically computed fare for three students.  Hence, I had to tell him I wasn’t a student.

“Bakit hindi ka estudyante?” (why are you not a student?)

All three of us were caught off guard.  Here was someone who broke the routine!  Philosophically, maybe I should have said “I am a student but not a student”—but maybe that would’ve confused him.  After all, I think he wasn’t really thinking of a student of life, but a student in our society’s educational system.

It took me a few seconds before I ended up saying I stopped already.  Maybe it wasn’t the best answer for I believe he misunderstood it and probably pitied me.  After giving my friends their student discount, he also decided to give me at least a Php5.00 discount, which I said was not needed but he insisted while moving away.  Hence, I couldn’t help but just joke, “Ano ‘to? Pang-senior citizen?” before thanking him. :-))

Interesting, don’t you think?  An act of charity right there…when I least expected it…when it was not even required.  It was a priceless five-peso surprise that reminded me how we can break free from our mechanical lives and do more than what is typically expected of us in a society of faceless people.  InshaALLAH.

Patience, little one
This one was a nene passenger experience I will not forget…perhaps, due to the timing back then.

Some JAM Bus Liner drivers and conductors knew that for a time, I took the bus to go to DLSU.  One night, I was so sleepy after an event that instead of waiting for another bus at the terminal, I decided to just sit on the aisle near the driver (they had cushions for those situations, so don’t worry).  I didn’t know he remembered me until he just suddenly asked,

“Nene, tapos ka na ba?” (Have you finished [studying]?)

I grinned and admitted, “hindi pa po eh.”

“Aba, tapusin mo na ‘yan!  Sayang mga araw mo.” (Finish it! Your days are getting wasted.)

I smiled—was it a broken one?  I honestly can’t remember.  Did he mistake me for an undergrad?  I honestly don’t know.  All I know was that ride was during a particularly challenging year for me.  I ended up saying, “Ang hirap pong pagsabayin eh…pagod na rin sa trabaho.” (It’s difficult to do things simultaneously…also tired from work.”)

He gave me a second look before pausing for awhile.  Then he said, “makakaraos din…tiyaga lang yan, ‘ne.”  (You’ll make it…it just takes patience.)

I didn’t answer, but we did smile at each other and that was one of the most peaceful rides home I’ve ever had.  Was he a working student once?  I don’t really know.  But, he did remind me that we don’t really have to know another person’s name or be friends with a person for a long time to be able to offer kind words.  Alhamdulillah for everything.

“Verily, along with every hardship is relief.” (Holy Qur’an 94:6)

The passenger seat.  Alhamdulillah for getting to be in one often for such opportunities have always provided great learning and re-learning experiences.  Being in one also reminds us that we actually do have the capacity to trust—trust like a small girl or boy…trust that life’s a great ride…trust that the driver will get us to where we need to be.  Wait, let me correct that…I should not have used often:

The passenger seat.  Alhamdulillah for getting to be in one every day, every hour, every moment of our lives, with HIM as The Driver.  May we be able to trust The Driver and allow HIM to take us to where there is eternal happiness, love, and peace. Ameen.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2018 in I + You = WE, reach UP

 

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Passenger Seat (Ride Three)

March 2012: Jeepney rides that reminded me of that journeys are better when we’re with those we love…

 

Life is a journey.  And, spiritually, it’s what what we do during the journey that would determine whether we’d be getting to the right destination in the end.

Journeys can be rough at times. Unpredictable often. And there are ‘burdens’ which, no matter how heavy, are meant to be carried throughout the journey.

Today, a fellow passenger had an epileptic attack and had to be brought out of the jeepney.  His wife calmly held his head and waited for his seizure to end as they sat on the sidewalk–with some spectators starting to panic.  It’s honestly sad to see someone go through that.  He’ll most probably be disoriented for a few minutes once he regains consciousness.  I couldn’t help but wonder what’s on his mind whenever he leaves home knowing that he has this condition–will I have an attack today? Am I actually going to survive the next one? Will I cause others distress?

Then again, isn’t it inspiring to see someone continue life as normal as possible?  To not allow his condition or fear of what could happen get in the way?  How many of us can actually say we’re able to conquer our fears?

I couldn’t help but admire his wife, too, mashaAllah. It is tough to see someone you love go through pain…to not be able to do anything to take away the illness. There are moments she probably wants to give up…but she’s still there, Alhamdulillah.  And suddenly we’re reminded of the “in sickness and in health” part of vows, right?

Let me add that perhaps she was also like one of the spectators in the beginning (say, first few seizures of her husband)–in a state of panic, not knowing what to do. She probably cried and felt scared that she might not be able to handle the situation. But today, she was calm. Amazing how HE never gives us something we can’t handle, don’t you think?

………….

Last jeepney ride home also got me admiring a working mom who had a bag, an umbrella, a big plastic bag full of groceries, and a sleeping daughter in her arms. Waaah! The challenges of commuting with a kid, indeed. She could’ve decided to wake her kid up. But no, not this mom. She carried her and asked for some patience with the typical, “Sandali lang po ha, may bata.” (Wait a second, there’s a child.)

Supermom right there. Perhaps there wasn’t a nanny or a family member at home to look after her little girl that day. Looking at them, it was tough I bet for her to be in that physically challenging situation…but it’s where her heart would feel at peace the most. Alhamdulillah for moms, for dear parents.

Life can indeed be a tough journey. But, those ‘burdens’ we end up carrying can actually be blessings in disguise–opportunities to get to the right destination, inshaAllah. Yes, life is a journey, and it’s usually those who are travelling with us, who bring us closer to HIM, who make it all worthwhile. Alhamdulillahi Rabbi’l Alamin.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2018 in I + You = WE

 

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Stepping forward

To be at peace is to be able to look at chaos calmly, seeing beyond the ‘what is’ the beautiful ‘what can be’ when we synergize to make things better through The Almighty.

To be great is to be able to forgive others, keeping in mind our own countless moments of weakness that The Most Merciful forgives repeatedly.

To be faithful is to walk with courage in the dark, knowing The Guide will lead us to where we’ve always wanted to be, right where we’re meant to be.

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Posted by on May 21, 2017 in I + You = WE, reach UP, wOrK = pLaY

 

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Step One

Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim
(In the Name of ALLAH, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful)
How do I begin?
As I pondered on how to start this new entry, I realized my question was something that has actually been posed several times in dialogues I’ve been blessed enough to have.
How do I begin?
Perhaps, it sounds absurd for some—even a ‘no-brainer’, so they say. However, admit it or not, there indeed comes a point in our lives when we feel paralyzed by unexpected situations or overwhelming expectations. It could be that sudden loss of something or someone so valuable that we are left wondering how we can possibly take another step, let alone another breath. Or, it could be the realization that we’ve committed a major mistake that has now caused significant people in our lives so much pain—thus, hurting ourselves as well. Or, it could be finding ourselves being given that opportunity to get our biggest dreams yet it also feels like the whole world’s breathing down our necks, telling us we cannot afford to make a mistake. SubhanALLAH (Glory be to Allah), three scenarios that are different yet are also quite the same. Why don’t we ponder on them a bit?
Loss. It never is easy to lose hold of those we’ve come to consider as life essentials. Yes, maybe we all know that sooner or later losing them was bound to happen (after all, nothing in this world is permanent). But, let’s admit this: as we get attached even more to this world, we unconsciously forget that loss is inevitable and it is something that we can and will experience. We forget this basic truth that when it finally does happen, we often feel devastated—how can something so wonderful end just like that? And, how can others expect us to begin anew? Speak to an old lady whose better half for almost 50 years passed away and you’ll realize how difficult beginning could be: first morning without him…first breakfast, first step out of the house, first trip to that familiar supermart to do the groceries, first chat with old friends…first of everything once again—without him. And we suddenly grasp why lines like “you can do it” or “you’ll be ok” can sound so meaningless for the bereaved. How do we begin, so they wonder…but…inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon, remember? To ALLAH we belong and to HIM is our return.
Mistake. It’s easy to demand or expect our loved ones to make amends immediately when they hurt us. Yet, when it’s the other way around, especially when we realize the gravity of our mistakes, the acts we know we should do to make things right become difficult. How do we begin to say sorry? How do we take away the pain they feel? How can we expect them to forgive us after the things we’ve done? The simple is suddenly blurred by the complex and exaggerated thoughts of what would happen next. And, before we know it, selective amnesia sets in—we remember so well what we’ve done wrong but we’ve forgotten the timeless essentials that would help make things better. We’ll expound on this some more in a separate article. For now, suffice it to say that the i-am-beyond-redemption mindset makes us forget that it is actually possible to tread on the path towards a brand new start. La taqnatoo min rahmati Allah, remember? “…despair not of the mercy of ALLAH.” (see Holy Qur’an 39:53 for complete verse)
Risk. It’s quite ironic how we pray so hard that The Most Gracious gives us our hearts’ desire yet when an opportunity to turn those dreams into reality is presented, we freeze. What are we going to do next? What step must we take? What if things go wrong? What if we fail our loved ones? What if we fail ourselves? Imagine that. We’ve been brought this close to our dreams by The All-Powerful One yet we now forget to trust that HE will continue to guide us in our next steps. Hasbiyallaahu laa ‘ilaaha ‘illaa Huwa ‘alayhi tawakkaltu wa Huwa Rabbul-’Arshil-’Adheem, remember? Allah is sufficient for me. There is none worthy of worship but Him. I have placed my trust in Him, He is Lord of the Majestic Throne.
There…three different life events that make us ask how to begin. Events that reveal our fears—fear of getting attached too much only to lose, fear of never being forgiven, and fear of failing to reach much-wanted goals. And, if we ponder on them some more, fears tell us how afraid we are of experiencing pain. After all, it is painful to lose something or someone we’ve considered an extension of ourselves. It is painful to realize it is our own selves who’ve caused the very ones we love pain. And, it is painful to not get those much-wanted dreams in life. Fear and pain. Indeed, different scenarios yet the same—always a test of faith. Fear reveals how strong our faith is in The Best Planner, The All-Wise. And, pain can actually be a blessing in disguise; a way to remind us of the purpose of our existence.
How do I begin?
Others quite often say, you just do it…just begin. It may sound absurd, but then again, think of it. Each moment of our lives is a beginning. I mean, who would’ve thought we’d make it to the next moment? Had HE willed, this could be our last breath, subhanALLAH. But, we’re still here, Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah). In fact, wherever you are right now, if you’re still reading this, then that’s more than enough to say, “Alhamdulillah.” (And we’re not yet even reflecting deeply on the air, the sun, the electricity, the computer you’re using, the sense of sight, and all the what-have-you’s that we often take for granted) Some of us may not have wanted to still be breathing right now because of how tragic life seems to them, but hey, we’re still here. Alhamdulillah. And, whether we like it or not, life goes on as long as HE wills it.
Hence, if each moment is a beginning which HE lovingly gives, then we are left with only two options: to either begin by giving it the best we have or to begin by letting our fears and all the negativities get in the way. Reflect. If you wake up and you tell yourself “It’s too difficult” or “It’s no use” or “I won’t make it”, then that’s already how you chose to begin your life at that very moment—and seriously, it’s going to affect the next moments you may be given unless you decide to change. So, which option is it going to be?
Still finding it hard? Perhaps, it’ll help if we modify the question:
How do I want to begin this moment of my life?
There. We’re not even talking about the rest of our lives; just this very important moment given to us—the here and now; the (gift of the) present. One moment at a time. One step at a time. Step one. And what matters is the kind of step one we make out of the moment HE lovingly gives, in shaa ALLAH (God willing).
Difficult? Perhaps—when faith wanes…but may we remember that with HIM, it always is possible. And, truthfully, may we pray that each of us decide to begin each moment with our lips, our minds, and our hearts saying,
Bismillah. In the Name of Allah.
In the Name of Allah. In the Name of The One Who’s lovingly created you and me. In the Name of The One Who never tires. In the Name of The One Who Hears even our hearts’ unspoken prayers. In the Name of The One Who gives peace and light. In The Name of The One Who bestows more than what we can ever imagine.
Bismillah. In the Name of Allah.
Don’t you just love how that sounds? I honestly hope we find our hearts smiling much, in shaa ALLAH.
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“Bismillah is the start of all things good.” – Bediuzzaman Said Nursi
 
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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in reach UP

 

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Pencil

This is not an original. I often hear this way back college during our recollections and retreats. I just summarized and added some. Read on…

Be a PENCIL:

1. Allow ALLAH The Most Loving Teacher to guide you as you write your story.

2. Your capacity to leave a mark comes from within.

3. Sharpening may be painful, but it brings out the best in you.

4. Mistakes are a part of life. Be humble enough to use your eraser.

5. Your eraser’s quite small and it will one day run out. Remember that there are things you won’t be able to erase, and you’d have to live with them forever.

6. There will always be someone who seems to be better than you…but why make comparisons or concern yourself too much with what they write? Focus on YOUR story. Focus on making YOUR mark. No one can do that for you except yourself.

7. Your lead one day will all be consumed. Make the most of it & remember that though you’ll never run out of opportunities to leave a mark while you’re still here, you do have limited time & opportunities to touch the same exact sheets of paper and make your mark there.

Be a blessed PENCIL! 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2017 in I + You = WE, reach UP

 

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