Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sacrifices big and small.

Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

Disclaimer: Please ignore my horrendous format last time around. Clearly, I wasn't thinking very much; I just wrote. I typed out half right before the midnight road trip to the Great Ocean Road (which was wonderful, thank you sisters), and finished the rest when I got back nearly 24 hours later. So yes. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, maybe it was my usual lack of common sense. InsyaAllah, I will not be so horrid to read anymore. And may I soon develop a self-restraining word limit. InsyaAllah...

It's a wonderfully cold morning. It's breezy and there are traces of mist outside my window. i just saw a flock of birds flying together, subhanAllah, and it reminded me of how they remember our Maker more often than I do (24:41). Alhamdulillah, as I sit down to write this, they helped give me the inspiration, wallahu'alam.

Recently, I have been thinking more and more about how hard it would be to go back to Malaysia. I mean, I miss it. But when I think of the people and the life I have here, my heart gets split in two.

First, there's the weather. It's nice and cold here, so covering up (i.e. menutup aurat) under all those layers is more of a necessity. I mean, here, we wear pants under skirts for insulation purposes, plus, there is less risk of exposing oneself. I can even wear multiple layers of tudung (i.e. headscarves) without feeling the least bit uncomfortable. What am I going to do with my lovely, long, warm winter coats once I'm in Malaysia?

Sigh #1.

Secondly, there's the whole issue of the Israeli apartheid boycott. I've only just become inspired to try and not purchase stuff from the parties that give money to help destroy my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters in Palestine, but it's hard, even here, with the multitude of local brands. LIke sister Aishah said just last night, "Yang mahal diorang, yang murah pun diorang." This was what she mentioned after I opened the pantry and realised that I had just gotten Kellogg's cereal (yes, people, it's a no-no). She sympathized with my plight. It's tough trying to be rid of Cadbury, Nestle (the yoghurt!), Carrefour and KFC. But let me toss you this little nugget: What will we answer when our Creator asks us, on the day of judgement, "What did you do to help your Muslim creed?"

Kantoi. Tak nak lah camtu...

Sigh #2.

Which brings us to the actual topic: Sacrifice. Above my oft-neglected books, stuck with scotch tape on the wall, is a leaflet called Sacrifice: The Makings of a Muslim, provided during the Malaysian Sisters' Nite in Frank Tate (the uni surau lah). Therefore, let me mulakan topic with a quote from it:

"We are perhaps living in a time when living for Islam is more difficult than dying for it."
-- Abdul Malik Mujahid --

Now that I'm out from the confusing Malaysian scene, I trust that I have been placed by Allah in good hands to help my pursuit of fixing my heart and my faith in the right path. Kiri dan kanan, I have people looking out for me. When I asked questions, they did their best to answer without confusing me. And now that bit by bit, the steps towards it becomes clearer, they're all trying their best to check up on me and help me understand better.

Thank you, ukhti. (I don't know the plural for it, but let's just say I mean the plural :))

Before I came here, I was so anxious to be rid of Malaysia's confundity. Islam is not really Islam, back home. It's mere interpretations of what they want seen in Islam. Maybe it isn't too far a stretch to say that we've become so used to being Muslim, we see nothing wrong in compromising Allah's words for our own interpretation of importance. For example, sometimes, adat diutamakan daripada what Allah asks of us, e.g. we don't cover up our aurat in front of our male cousins who are of age. Cousins are seen as family. I mean, they are, but the boundaries set by Islam are thrown to the wind, in the name of family ties.

Sometimes, we're made to choose family over religion. In both big and small ways. Like how people find it hard to revert to Islam. Well, that's a big example. A smaller one would be where you're asked to salam cium tangan your uncle by marriage. You know, not related by blood? According to the straight fiqh rulings, mana boleh. But then you see. Islam is not practised in its syumul (complete) sense. How can like this one?

Pening, pening...

And because of that pening-ness, when we come to a place where Islam IS practiced secara syumul, us Malaysians get confused, because it's not what we're used to.

Here's a basic example:

There's a term used for the issue of relationships between those of the opposite sex, called ikhtilat. In Islam, all the rules concerning ikhtilat are meant to prevent fitnah (hearsay) afflicting all parts. It is meant to protect the modesty of all parties. It's meant to protect the hearts from missing something/someone other than Allah, which will usually lead the person astray, make you restless, etc.

It's not like I've never had a crush before. So let's say that I do have authority on what fitnah of the heart can do to a person.

Islam promotes fast marriage aka kahwin awal, which may seem extreme to some, but women who are of good character are the ones you'd want to marry anyway, so being married early shows that you have good character.

Pause and breathe if I'm confusing you. [For those with questions, I can be contacted here]

BUT, we grow up in Malaysia with the Western ideals of femininity (this coming from someone who used to go: Womyn Power! as a child all the time), and the ability of mixing freely with members of the opposite sex is seen as something empowering. I know I used to find it empowering. I mean, I know that we shouldn't be so close to each other. But then we dismiss these rules. After all, guys are interesting people. Hilarious and crude.

So when we first came here, and we see the brothers not looking us in the eye, and giving space to us all the time, and not talking to us unless necessary, we didn't see it as a mark of respect for us, but rather, as something strange. I'm not used to being shy around guys. But now I am. Mostly because they respect me so much, it makes me embarrased if I don't try to make the same effort and show respect towards them.

Stop if you don't get me.

But what I'm trying to say is this: We (and I'm using the general reference to all my Muslim friends here) know the rules, and the limits set by our Maker. Surely they're what's best for us. But do we stop to think and try to comprehend why it is made to be so? Because this religion of ours is made for people who think, and not for those who follow blindly (sila buka al-Quran dan cari dalil yang begitu banyaknya tentang keperluan berfikir bagi umat Islam).

But do we really follow it, the best we can? Do we try and understand the boundaries set for us? Or do we just neglect it and say, "It's not relevant anymore?"

As for me, well... I'm trying my best. I'm trying to fix my intention (niat) all the time. All the small things I might have to leave behind -- all the transgressions that I am so used to -- will take time and effort. But they are sacrifices on my part. It's only part of my responsibility as a Muslim. It's between what I deem is best, as I move closer towards the ultimate Love -- the love my Lord has for me.

The love our Lord has for every single one of us.

Sister Aishah says that it takes time. It takes effort, and a tremendous amount of will. But insyaAllah, if you do it for Allah, what is a tub of yoghurt, anyway (reference to my 'sacrifice' of Nestle's Finding Nemo banana yoghurt tubs)?

One step at a time. And may Allah help us all with our greater jihad with our nafs.


P.S:- I once told a friend not too long ago, that 'those fighting in the way of Allah should not sigh!'. Well, friend, I stand corrected, as always. And you should consider seeing the situation here as it is, and not rely on your interpretation of the news you get. No one quite gets the picture unless they're in it, I've learnt. The method we talked about works here, but it might not work at home. Here, they try to fix the heart above all else first. Which is where it should begin, right? Sunnah is the best way, after all...
P.P.S:- If anyone within the vicinity of Melbourne city knows where I can get banana yoghurt that is not from New Zealand Naturals or Nestle or Cadbury, please let me know ASAP. I like me banana yoghurt...

this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 10:40 am


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Keterangan peribadi.

Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

Terlebih dahulu...

Disclaimer: This post bukannya bermaksud untuk menghina atau mencaci sesiapa. Bukan untuk budget terror. If I budget terror, you think I want to write about my zaman jahiliyah is it? Hoho... No lah. Cuma sekadar explanation diri saya sendiri about... diri saya sendiri. Kalau terasa, saya mintak sorry bebanyak; semuanya unintentional. Kalau tak terasa, alhamdulillah, moga saya tak buat dosa kat korang.

And kalau pening, sorry lah. Menulis dalam bahasa ibunda saya ini (Mangled English = Manglish) bukanlah suatu kebiasaan bagiku. Au contraire. It's a struggle. *sheepish grin* A long and painful struggle. InsyaAllah, may I either improve, or never attempt at it again.

This post has been a long time coming. Sebenarnya, dah lama saya nak menerangkan keadaan diri ini, kerana saya sedar, saya dah berubah dan saya belum memberikan penjelasan tentang perubahan itu.

It’s going to be weird, I know, finally seeing a post written in Malay. I know I feel weird writing in it. But this has to be on more of a global scale, and I suppose Manglish would be the ideal form of communication. This is more to explain myself to my friends and family about the changes that I have, and most likely will, go through.

Secara jujurnya, saya dulu bukanlah seorang Muslim yang baik. Yelah, solat lima waktu, pergi sekolah agama, tapi mentality saya dulu ialah bahawa Islam ini sesuatu yang kolot; backwards, dan tidak dapat membawa kepada kemajuan. Kalau korang rasa sedih membaca, diri ini lebih sedih mengingati.

Dari segi ini, saya tak boleh nak menyalahkan ibu bapa saya. Mereka bukannya tidak memberi pendidikan agama, malah kami (saya dan adik lelaki saya) dipaksa mengikut mereka ke usrah, ceramah dan dihantar ke seminar. Rasanya salah adalah pada diri ini sendiri. Mainly pasal environmentlah. Yelah, kat sekolah aliran kebangsaan, kita belajar fiqh, sirah, tajwid, tauhid. Tetapi berapa jam sahaja lah kita diberikan didikan agama? Hukum dan larangan sahaja yang diterima. Nak menghayati Islam memang sukar sekali.

Ehem. Berbalik kepada cerita tadi…

Okaylah, so parents dah memang menyuapkan ilmu kepada kami. Tapi environment kami (iaitu Subang Jaya, yang dahulunya dibawah naungan Petaling Jaya, tetapi kini tidak lagi) dah lama menyemaikan persepsi bahawa agama – tak kisahlah agama mana pun – adalah benda kolot. Tak relevant dengan dunia moden. Yelah, agama ni turun di padang pasir, dah beratus tahun dah, mana boleh nak senang-senang insert dalam dunia MTV, Channel V dan URTV ni?

Heheh. Kalau terasa tu, sendiri makan pedas lah.

Bila dah besar sikit tu, mak saya pun pujuklah, “Awin, pakailah tudung. Tengok, lawanya kalau pakai tudung. Tengoklah Wardina. Kan sopan, pakai tudung macam dia?” Maka saya pun tengoklah. Memang orangnya lawa. Tapi lawa lagi peribadinya setelah memakai tudung. Almaklumlah, berjubah sopan, bersopan santun tetiba. Semua transgression dia pun URTV boleh lupa. Kiranya hijrah habislah.

Maka saya pun, tergeraklah hati nak pakai tudung. Cousin saya yang lebih kurang sebaya pun memang berniat nak bertudung. So kira ada geng, takdelah rasa pelik sangat. Lagipun (detik hati kecil lagi hina ini), orang yang pakai tudung ni pun, bukannya extreme sangat. Macam orang yang tak pakai tudung pun. Cuma lengan baju tu, panjang le sikit. Ala, pakai baju ketat-ketat pun takpe. Asalkan kepala dah bercover.

[Note: *memukul kepala dengan buku lima* Jahilnya diri ni, astaghfirullah…]

Saya pun bertudunglah. Rugged maa. Pakai le baju ketat, macam orang lain. Cuma pakai alas kepala lah. Sempang tepi sikit, supaya tak kacau pergerakan (konon). Lantaklah, ayah dan adik saya tak suka saya pakai baju singkat dan ketat (siap dapat ceramah lagi: “Kak Long, tak malu ke pakai baju ketat-ketat camtu? Amir tengok pun dah malu. Baik tak yah pakai baju!” Alhamdulillah, iman budak sorang tu…), janji, bergaya. Ala, mati ni, lama lagi kot. Tak rasa pun macam nak nangis, cium tangan mak dan mintak ampun ‘bagaikan kali yang terakhir’. Belum ajal lagi lah tu.

[Note: *sekali lagi, ketuk kepala dan beristighfar* Ah, zaman jahiliyahku….!]

Bila dah bertudung, budget iman ni mantap lah, berbanding orang ‘free-hair’ (istilahnya cam tak politically correct je…). Dulu, orang yang bertudung ni saya tengok cam kolot lah. Sekarang, orang yang tak bertudung pulak yang saya pandang slack. “Tak takut Tuhan apa…” Heh. Fikir balik, cam bagus je…

Tetiba, diri ini telah dicampakkan ke International Education Centre (INTEC). Sebenarnya saya nak mengelat dari matriculation Law kat Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia [Note: ruginya…. Tapi bukan rezekiku di situ, wallahu’alam…]. Saya rasa cam peraturan kat situ strict sangat. Bertudung kena labuh. Baju kena labuh. Curfew memang hebat dan mantap. Mana boleh, nak belajar kat situ! Ha, MARA nak hantar pegi Australia/ New Zealand, buat biotechnology. Okaylah tu. Dekat ngan rumah. Cantek….

Namun alhamdulillah, bila saya bertapak di suasana yang hampir keseluruhannya Melayu (berbanding Subang Jaya, di mana Melayu adalah minority, dan orang yang tak reti English boleh pegi blah~!), kesedaran tentang jahilnya ilmu agama saya ni mula tersemai dalam hati. Sirah nabi dan rasul, saya dah lama lupa. Al-Quran, saya dah jarang sentuh. Surah pendek sahaja yang terhafal. Kalau di Subang, itu dah cukup bagus, namun tidak bagi bebudak sekolah berasrama penuh. Diorang ada usrah, ceramah, bahasa sendiri (‘sekodeng’… nak terpecah perut bila mengingatkan). Not the same lah wey…

Pada masa yang sama, ibuku makin rajin ke masjid, mengikuti kelas agama. Nasib baik kitorang dah besar. Makan nasi berlauk satu pun dah tak kisah. Bolehlah Mama pegi kelas pagi dan petang, dan hantar kitorang ke tuition sambil lalu. Memang Mamaku wanita yang hebat, alhamdulillah.

Mama juga rajin mengheret kami sekeluarga ke kelas agama sekali. Bila time cuti je, sayup kedengaran suara: “Awin….! Ikut….!” Maka ikutlah. You don’t mess around with my mother, oh no! Nak cari nahas ke?

Dari situ, hati ini terasa tempias ukhuwah dan ilmu yang kudapati di kelas-kelas dan usrah, biarpun dikelilingi aunty-aunty yang sama standard (umur lah) ngan Mama, saya rasa syok pulak dah. Bestlah, ada geng camtu. So saya pun lebih rajin ke kelas agama bila cuti.

And then, in the second semester, I sat next to Maryam Madihah in class. Now, this is a wonderful example of a Muslimah. She was the one who bucked my perception of the Muslim woman with the long tudung. I mean, dia siap baca Harry Potter, fasih berdebat dalam English, pandai pulak tu, dan dalam saku begnya sentiasa tersimpan al-Quran. Not kolot at all. She never forced her beliefs on me. When I asked her about her many differences from the typical Malay Muslim girl, such as her decision to wear the long hijab, she didn’t give me the expected ‘because God told us to’ answer. Jauh sekali. Dia kasi explanation yang logica grammatica. Dia kata, “Lagi sejuk tau, bertudung labuh ni. Angin masuk. Pastu, takdelah bebudak lelaki kat sekolah agama kita boleh ejek lagi, sebab kita pakai tudung yang jarang.”

Tetiba terasa diri ni kekurangan pulak. Tudung bawal [Note: To those not in the know (ehem, guys?), it’s the normal tudung all us girls wear] ni jarang sebenarnya. Dan bukankah pakaian muslimah itu tidak seharusnya jarang? Hijab ini bertujuan untuk menimbulkan respect dalam hati lelaki ini terhadap wanita. Yelah, kalau semua pun dah tertutup, sah-sah semuanya bagaikan harta, kan? Mana boleh sedap-sedap hati mau sentuh-sentuh? Even pandang pun tak sanggup wo... By defeating the purpose of wearing the hijab, what had I done to the reputation of Islam, actually?

And as I started asking more questions, more things became clear. Islam and its many prohibitions began to make sense to me. Bukannya berniat melarang, tetapi sekadar nak mengikut fitrah manusia. Islam ingin mencegah, bukannya menyekat. Bestnye logic tu. Bestnye Islam ni. Saya pun mula seronok belajar benda baru. Dan alhamdulillah, sebab ilmu itulah datangnya kesedaran. Dari akal sampai ke hati. Wallahu'alam.

The turning point nye tiba bila saya dah mula bertudung menutup dada (sebab mak suruh, dan lama kelamaan, sebab timbul rasa malu bila nak menyempangkan tudung ke atas bahu). Time tu, hoo, riaknya. Takburnya hati hina ini. Saya mula membandingkan diri dengan orang yang tak bertudung ke depan. Sekali lagi, budget iman hebat. Padahal jauh sekali.

Suatu hari, di sebuah kedai buku, saya tergerak nak baca sebuah buku. Kata cover belakang, penulis seorang yang pakar Islam. Bila dibaca je, dia mula menyoalkan tentang pentingnya menunaikan ibadat, biarpun yang wajib, sekiranya amalan itupun tidak dapat mengguaranteekan kemasukan seseorang itu ke syurga. Si ‘ustaz’ ni pun mengaku, dia tak berpuasa di bulan Ramadhan (na’uzubillahi min zalik, ya Allah).

Dan hati ini tahu yang ustaz ini salah, tetapi saya teringat kembali, apakah hujah yang dapat saya beri sekiranya berdepan dengan ustaz ini face-to-face? Apakah dalil aqli dan naqli (akal dan yang termaktub dalam al-Quran serta hadith) yang dapat saya lontarkan untuk menempis ‘dakwah’ si 'ustaz' sorang ni? Adakah ilmu yang tersimpan dalam kepala otak ini mencukupi?

Hati ini, bak kata bebudak MRSM, mula merasa gaban jidan (i.e. gabra tahap maxima)…

Apa jenis Muslimkah saya ini jika agama saya sendiri tidak dapat saya pertahankan?

Maka pada malam itu, saya lama bermuhasabah seorang diri. Saya teringat diri semasa kecil, bila konsep Allah dan kekuasaanNya masih saya tak dapat fahami. Saya cuba mengingati semula segala ilmu yang telah saya pelajari, tapi… To no avail.

And it was at that point that I felt that my faith – my iman – was truly at Allah’s mercy.

Finally, saya terasa yang diri saya ini hina dina. Saya ini tidaklah sehebat mana. Saya cuma hamba Allah yang telah lalai selama bertahun lamanya. Saya telah mengcompromisekan agama pemberian Allah kepada saya dengan hal duniawi yang semakin jelas, tidak akan kekal sama sekali. I asked myself, “What have I done all my life?”

And for months, I begged and cried for Allah’s mercy.

It’s hard to say sama ada itulah time saya menerima hidayah Allah (masyaAllah), tetapi bagi saya, kehadiran iman dan kesedaran itu dapat saya rasakan apabila:

  1. Solat yang wajib dirasakan terlalu pendek untuk menghadap Allah – terasa terlalu singkat berbanding dengan nikmat pemberian Allah kepada saya setiap hari, setiap saat.
  2. Baju yang selama ini acceptable, tetiba dirasakan terlalu ketat dan merimaskan. Tudung terlalu singkat lah, terlalu jarang lah, baju terlalu pendek lah. My wardrobe no longer fit my needs.
  3. Bulan Ramadhan itu terlalu nikmat, dan terlalu sebentar.
  4. Saya mula rindu menangis kepada Allah. My soul feels at ease after I have laid all my troubles and my sorrows to my Lord.
  5. Lagu-lagu tentang cinta sesame manusia ni dah kurang relevant dah… Dan element yang melalaikan semakin jelas kelihatan. And yeah, MTV holds less appeal to me.
  6. Bila parents saya ke Makkah untuk menunaikan haji, saya tak rindukan mereka (sangat), tetapi lebih rindukan Tanah Suci. Nak ikut….!
  7. Segan nak keluar berdua dengan member lelaki. Biarpun member biasa. Biarpun my BangLong or BangNgah. No standing dekat-dekat, okay?
  8. My faith suddenly feels like everything to me. The world is merely my playground. It’s my battlefield. I know there is something greater out there, and nothing fazes me for long any more. I have Allah on my side.
  9. I feel like I have been born anew. I feel like someone who has just reverted. Islam is too precious to me. I feel like I have been neglecting it, and my heart, for far too long. I hope I will never neglect them again.

And etc. Very hard to list them all down lah. So many maa.

The thing is, the rebuilding of my iman is an on-going process, insyaAllah. If before, I was too lazy to learn more than what was deemed necessary, sekarang saya dah mula rajin bertanya dan berdiskusi. Because Islam ni sebenarnya teramat mudah, teramat senang. Yang susahnya kalau hati ini masih belum dapat melihat (see Surah al-Hajj: 46).

So alhamdulillah, I finally see the hikmah behind the path my life has taken thus far. Biarpun saya masuk Australian Matriculation untuk mengelat daripada hukum agama (i.e. penutupan aurat tahap maxima), saya akhirnya tersangkut pada Islam secara mutlaknya, alhamdulillah. Biarpun saya sebenarnya taklah sepintar atau serajin para sahabat saya, berkat pembetulan niat saya at the last minute, dapat jugak markah yang dikira acceptable lah. And then mintak dengan Allah, nak masuk uni yang ramai senior yang prihatin dari bab agama, di mana perjuangan da’ie masih jitu dan active. Pun alhamdulillah, dapat.

So maybe the abundance of Malays here in Melbourne makes life feel more like home. It’s still the same struggle no matter where you are. We have been thrown out of our comfort zone, and out into this alien and alienating environment, di mana kami lah minority. Islam di Australia tiada sangkut-paut dengan adat, so mengamalnya menjadi semakin mudah. Iman ini turun dan naik, lebih hebat daripada air yang mendidih, masyaAllah, tetapi ini semua rahmat ujian (lagu nyanyian Mestica berkumandang di dalam kepala…). I know that with the right people rooting me on, and the right intention (niat) fixed in my heart, Allah will see me through.

So yeah, that’s my story so far. Ni sekadar nak menginformkan my family and friends that I might change. Janganlah terkejut kalau tudung semakin panjang (insyaAllah, dalam planning; we'll see how it goes -- bidang-45 kot...), or if I won’t shake hands with my guy friends (heh. Sorry ah, Chew?) when I see you. It’s all part of my belief and trust me, saya memang berfikir panjang tentang semua ni. So don’t worry about me, because I am, and will only do what I feel is right.

All with Allah’s grace.

Alhamdulillah, I have followed my gut instinct to explain myself, in preparation of the torrent of questions I will face upon my arrival home in Malaysia, insyaAllah. I have found that explanation is necessary to prevent fitnah daripada berlaku. People will talk and ask, and I can’t help that. But I can help make things clearer for them. I can start defending myself. I can start making my own choices, and start standing up for what I believe in.

And insyaAllah, I will.

God is the Light
By Yusuf Islam.

How great the wonder of the heavens
And the timeless beauty of the night
How great, then how great the Creator?
And its star like priceless jewels
Far beyond the reach of kings
Bow down for the shepherd guiding him home
But how many eyes are closed
To the wonder of this night?
Like pearls hidden deep, beneath a dark stream of desires
But like dreams vanish with the call to prayer
And the dawn extinguishes night - here too are signs
God is the Light, God is the Light

How great the beauty of the earth and the creatures
Who dwell on her
How great, then how great the Creator?
As its mountains pierce the clouds
High above the lives of men
Weeping rivers for thousands of years
But how many hearts are closed
To the wonders of this sight?
Like birds in a cage, asleep with closed wings
But as work stops with the call to prayer
And the birds recite - here too are signs
God is the Light, God is the Light

How great the works of man and the things he makes
How great, then how great the Creator?
Though he strives to reach the heavens
He can barely survive
The wars of the world he lives in
Yet how many times he’s tried, himself to immortalise?
Like his parents before him in the garden of Eden
But like the sun sets with the call to prayer
And surrenders to the night here too are signs
God is the Light everlasting, God is the Light everlasting
God is the Light everlasting, God is the Light everlasting


this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 11:46 pm


Monday, April 17, 2006

Rebel with(out?) a Cause

Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

The subject matter of this post is going to be self-centred. It’s mostly self-reflection, and since this blog doesn’t have an existent readership anyway, I guess I’m safe to say what I want about myself.

This has been an interesting week. Here are some of the things that have been said to me recently:

“My mom said you cannot be a rebel all the time… By wanting to react to something, that is the definition of a rebel I think… By wanting to rebel.”

“We have to work from the individual first, before we start building the community. That’s more important.”

“Take care of yourself first. Don’t do anything stupid that would put you at risk. You’re beginning to sound politically-inclined, and that’s dangerous there, right now… Take care of your faith, and don’t mind so much about others’. Remember why you’re there.”

The first comment was from a very thoughtful friend, who I feel has seen me for who I am, really. Thank you for the wake-up call. My roommate thinks I need more of those (she is sick of kicking me awake for fajr – it hurts her leg).

The second comment was paraphrased from many, many people, and all uttered the words quite randomly, as an almost afterthought. Funnily enough, on that very day, they seemed to approach the same conclusion – the re-building of the ummah requires the re-building of the individual first and foremost. Which no matter how you slice it, cannot be more true.

The third comment was from my mother, after I told her about how the socialists keep trying to drag us Muslims into the thick of things. She worries about me, I suppose, and even more so now that I’m 6000 kilometres away from where she can see me. And with due reason, might I add. As she said (I am paraphrasing here, Ma), she can’t lecture me as often anymore. Somehow, I suspect she misses it. My dad prefers to concentrate on how my non-science elective can path my way in business, instead of my leading the frontiers of science. He’s adorable that way. He finds my interest in commerce promising. I just like the fact that I’ve managed to get through tutes without having read the actual text yet (which I know, is wrong, but try reading a chapter every other day, and see how you like it).

The first comment made me stop and question my intentions (in a reflective, zen-like method, only without the ridiculous rock gardens). I think it’s Allah’s way of telling me to stop. Telling me that I need to reflect; muhasabah, and think. Stop and ask myself, “What did I do today?”

What did I do today?

Had I tried to fix a flaw of mine? Did I even attempt to subdue it and not let it show?

Had I tried to live the example of a proper muslimah?

Had I remembered Allah today – in prostration, had I remembered His mercy, and His wrath?

Had I fought through for Him – and only Him – or was there something else motivating me to ‘rebel’?

And the most likely answer to all of the above: “Most probably.”

What are my intentions? How do I want the road to lead me?

And I wonder now… Am I going overboard with the whole self-righteous act of the revolution of the minds? Am I over-thinking things? Am I being overzealous and wanting too much?

The fact that my friend had concluded – from a few chats online – that I was trying my best to rebel, startled me. For one thing, it showed just how well the person understood my words, some of which I still can’t quite comprehend. And for another, well… it reminded me that the road to da’wah is not one taken by a rebel. Rather, it is taken by someone who lives to serve Allah. And thus if my actions could be construed as ‘rebellious’, then something was wrong.

As always, I decided to check with my heart first.

Was my intention all right? Was I positively sure that I wasn’t just taken up with the quiet piety of my seniors (who I have noticed, are probably the most rational, calm people I have ever met in my entire life, and who for the life of them, would not condone the fervour which has been my new ‘fight’ to correct the prejudices surrounding Islam)? Was I positively sure that I wasn’t in it to impress others? Or maybe, impress myself?

Astaghfirullahal ‘Azim.

Which leads to the second comment.

I recently read in this interesting blog, KeretaMayat (link given by ukhti Didie), about how we would only achieve anger and frustration if we tried to da’wah for the sake of correcting others’ mistakes. The author, who goes by the moniker Hamka, said that the right nawaitu (intention) should be for Allah’s sake: Because Allah asks it of us as His servants, that we aim to better ourselves, and help each other.

Which brings me to the third comment.

Mothers are uncanny beings, you know. They say the right thing, at the best possible time, when you least want to hear it. MasyaAllah. Her concerns were well-put. My focus has drifted away from the point. Others’ problems should not be mine – I should not adopt them as my own and mull them over in my head. The world is unfair and I should deal. I should concentrate on me sometimes – I should concentrate on my needs, such as my studies, as well as the ever-continuing issue of my incoherent time management.

And yeah, so this isn’t just all about what goes in my brain: The maulud celebration at the Malaysian Hall in Windsor was interesting, to say the least. There was nasyid by the brothers, and the self-deprecating sock-puppet show. But the most notable one of all was the news of the latest wave of Islamophobia that has recently hit South Australia, with Australian intelligence ‘surveying’ the homes of several Malaysian students. We were given due warning to watch it. We get the message, man.

And yeah. The Malaysian food. And that sole Malaysian baby. I seem to be missing home all the more these days. And it’s only been two months.

The fight goes on. But maybe I’ll stop referring to it, so self-vindictively, as a fight. Because it’s more of a struggle, and you and I both know that this world was made to be one long, uphill-climb. As always, it’s how you get there that matters.

Maybe, before I continue of the next stretch of the trail, I’ll take a step back; take a breather. Take deep breaths of fresh air, and insyaAllah, find a less painful way of getting there. And gain worthy experience in the process.

I don’t really expect you to understand all that I have just said. Nice try, though.


this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 11:08 pm


Thursday, April 13, 2006

My voice apart.

*This was a comment I made on Doro @ Sheera's blog. It's rare that I blot out my feelings on others' blogs. Or maybe it's not so rare. I miss you, Dodoness! When will I see you again?*

**To my dearest seniors, I nak badges tu jugak!**


I miss you too.

I miss you more.



Finally, a break.

And I'm going to miss my 'mat salleh' friends.

They might not get you at first.... And you most likely won't get them most of the time. But sooner or later, when, as you said, you feel like you belong in wherEVER in Australia you are, you start becoming more confident of your place in the heirarchy. And it shows. You speak up and voice out more. You hang out with the 'puteh's and realize that "humans are all essentially the same"(2006).They like poking you about Malaysia and they are amazed that you have never had an Easter bunny, like, ever ("REALLY?").

I may be 'Noor' (you lucky thing with no prefix names, you), but most people call me Syaz. My newfound sisters call me Awin.

I FEEL the lurve.

But now home feels even nearer. The fact that it's not makes me sad.

I don't wallow. I just miss. I wouldn't trade anything for what I have here.

Except maybe a hug from my mom and dad and Syamir.

Memories of the farewell from home blow my mind...
And I've taken up more space than I should.

Oh, Doro. Come down soon, you hear?


this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 11:29 pm


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

This is what's up.

Assalamu'alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

This post may be a bit more incoherent that usual. There may be no proper sentence structure. Hey. I'm in Melbourne Uni. The lack of structure was bound to rub off soon.

I discovered many things today.

All of them I wish to share.

I hope you will listen, even though they centre around me, and quite honestly from what I can see, can't really benefit you.


this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 9:38 pm


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Summary of my week.

Assalamu'alaikum w.b.t.

It's been a refreshing week thus far. In terms of my new life in Melbourne, I've learnt many, many things.

And this is other than the blistering cold weather of autumn that has hit the city suddenly and painfully. Lips crack and bleed during solat, and you can't begin to imagine how hard it is to sleep when your feet are impossibly cold. Typing becomes a problem, as Jamie learnt last night. You keep missing the keys, and it takes you twice as long to finish writing a decent email. Winter coats are less fashionable than functional (although they make dressing to class an easier task -- coordination is not an issue. It's COLD.). Studying and concentrating is harder to do when your digits are numb. I feel less hungry, somehow. I feel like I can eat less and not be the worse for it.

Not that I do.

Hmph. I sound ungrateful. But alhamdulillah, all that I'm experiencing here will have (and prolly already has) taught me a lot about life. These are all small tests, after all. I'm much better off than most people, like, say, the people of Liberia in 2003. Or the people of Palestine. Na'uzubillah.

"Waslami fii kullihiin..." (from this patriotic song for the warriors of al-Quds, by, I have been told, an Indonesian group)

Due to the slight inconvenience that has befallen my fingers, maybe it's best if I just summarize my week in point form. It's been such an interesting week, that it would be a shame to not record it for posterity (which is the only excuse I have for not perusing on organs of the plant (I am almost done with the chapter, okay?)).

And so that was my week. And now, I have to solat zohor before studying for my double-doozie test day come Monday. Pray for me.

Wassalam. JazakAllahu khayran.

this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 11:56 am


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Taking a look at all sides.


I found this on today. It was a pleasant coincidence. In my ever-going search for opinions and answers, it's great to know that Allah is assisting me with more knowledge everyday. Which reminds me, there is another blog on this topic (ignore what I said about blogging about 'choices'; it's far too complex for me to decipher just yet), the subject being knowledge. But another blog, insyaAllah.

Who Are You Calling On?
(On the reverence and worship of Sufi saints by some Muslims)
By Aiman S. Ahmed
Apr. 03, 2006

I have a lot of dreams ahead
I don’t know when I’ll be dead
But I don’t want to sit under saint
The philosophy is too lame
You know what they say about Allah
That He is present everywhere
Not my Allah, not my God
Lo, He sits on His throne in Heaven!
My answers are in the Qur’an
And the tradition of Muhammad
The poets say you can see the Face of Allah
In flowers and things of beauty
Not my Allah, not my God
He indeed created this world, this tongue
But He is not a part of it
My God is not subject to the musings
Of a poet, philosopher or saint
Every rhyme or Sufi is not true
I am a Muslim, I don’t care
Whether you live on a hill or a castle
Asceticism doesn’t make you a saint
In fact, I don’t think they are divine
If they are, then you and I are, too
The light of Wisdom shines upon all
Irrespective of gender, age or race
I walk out on this custom
This ignorance of spiritual intermediary
Didn’t Allah give me mind?
Didn’t Allah give me heart?
Didn’t Allah give me spiritual touch?
Why should I be afraid of praying to Allah
Alone without calling on saint?
Rise and fall before Allah
From cradle to grave, you are His slave!
Don’t falter, don’t turn away
Allah will hear you if you pray

Which reminds me -- I don't know just how big or what sort of an audience I have, but please, just take a look at the link below. If I don't help spread the word, I don't think my conscience can rest in peace.

Giving them a fighting chance (please read the latest post)

JazakAllahu khayran, and wassalam.

this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 5:11 pm


Monday, April 03, 2006

"We seek to understand..."

Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

Ah. I have yet to master the art of remaining in total focus as I complete my business (insert panicked scream) assignment , due in approximately... 3.5 hours.

I know. I am way too smart for my own good.

But I digress.

Lately, I have been interested by all the talk about sufism. This was mainly piqued by the poems I read by Rumi (thanks to nadiaries for the interesting anecdote on Rumi), and the fact that I found it to be almost... blasphemous in nature. A few searches later, I found that I wasn't alone in my opinion.

I am still dissatisfied with the answers I have got. And so as I was (still am, actually) putting the final touches on my report (why, Andre, WHY?), I looked up this interesting forum on sufism and what it really means.

To my parents: There is no need for worry; I am not about to join some gypsy troupe. You may have to worry about my phone bills, however. If you want to. ONLY, and ONLY IF you want to.


Sufism - The Great Mystical Masterpiece

And now, back to bilateralism in Australia.

It sound impressive, but it most certainly is not fun.


this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 11:48 am