Monday, March 29, 2010

Danial's Engagement

Another nephew got engaged over the weekends.I drove back to Raub with my Mom and her bibik.Nik got work.Z pun got work (cheh..I seemed to be the only one fit to be a driver this weekend).

Anyway, I wanted to give my mom a breather.This will be her first trip back to her home since December last year.Nasib the house was kept clean by Shahrul (the garden just got mowned.The toilets were clean).We also missed melepak2 tengah rumah (very windy cos' my mom's house is up a hill, facing the Banjaran Gunung Tahan.Very nice view indeed).

My mom's mengaji friends heard of her being home so even late in the evening, her friends were still flooding in (of cos' lotsa tears and drama as they kissed and hugged).My mom was in her element.Nampak ceria sangat.I text-ed my siblings asking if I could just leave her here and go home alone.Wakaka.My 2nd sis text-ed back saying I sounded like Malim Kundang, anak derhaka. :))

The following day was Danial's Bertunang Day.It's been a long time since I witnessed a merisik session.I tell ya, you need a pre-nup lawyer to handle the merisik session! It sounded very much was right..what happened if any of the two betrayed the engagement agreement...what happened kalau tak bayar penuh..etc etc...I thought the whole thing was so offensive..I would not want to start my life together with my loved one on this basis.Should not all the details be decided before the event?The event should be kept simple and sweet.But apparently the jurucakap on both sides enjoyed the has to have a degree in PR to do this sort of thing.I wonder if you've ever heard of the rombongan walking out of the negotiation?

Luckily ours went OK.In April the first niece (in many years) pulak will have her engagement ceremony.Unfortunately, we won't be able to attend cos' Z has her SPM award-giving ceremony (at her former school). I just sent a feedback over IIUM's criteria (they do not recognise A-s but would rather award someone with min. 7A+s and I guess it's OK if with that result, to have the next few subjects Bs and Cs) JPA punya minimum requirement for s/ship is 9A-s.TNB 8A-s.Can we respect all the As, pls? :))

Friday, March 26, 2010

Salam from KL Convention Centre


I'm writing from a cafe at KL Convention Centre where internet is free.I love this whole place (KL CC).It is so well managed.Staff are polite, speak excellent English; toilets are clean (with bidets), suraus are well-respected (by that I mean they are clean, telekong bergantung on hangers, clean dan tidak berkulat).Hati kecil ku tertanya2 siapa punya management ini.It is really world class (I have been to Boston Convention Centre OK?) It's better than that! Sana takda surau or bidet.Wakaka.

Anyway, I did my little investigation.Alangkah hampanya.It's managed by an Australian-led management (the company has bumiputra status).Anyway, I am just happy to have this world-class facility and wish that the culture spreads to other Malaysian organisations.Even at our 5-star hotel it ain't this good.Gelas pinggan mangkuk depa pun very da Italian look.

My conference is exciting (on marketing, fund-raising, branding uni etc).Raja Nazrin officiated.I purposely pilih seat tepi red carpet agar bila dia lalu, he sees me.Wakaka...he did! He nodded.I nodded back.He smiled.I smiled back.Fuyoooooooooo....I love this Regent.Dia dah tak hensem but his charm is his intelligence.Philosophy, OK? From Oxford yah? And a string of degrees from Harvard OK?And his speech..was quoted everywhere by mat salleh and yang tak mat salleh.

I also met the VC of Brunei Uni.Another brilliant chap (and Islamic) He was trained as an ENT specialist at Liverpool Uni.So I went up to speak to him as a fellow alumna and alerted him of our gala dinner in KL in July.He showed interest in joining us.Humble orangnya.Dan kelakar.

Met VC UM for the first time.Dia pun kelakar.Nice people here.Dr Rohani and Dr Lin and I got into a woman-to-woman talk while waiting for dinner.Stripping the soul naked.Good session.Very humbling too.We are all old women who have gone through so much (at least I am going through quite a bit at the mo. with my mom.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Al Fatihah to Sister Aminah Assilmi

I received this in my morning mail:


For those of you who don’t know our dear sister, Aminah Assilmi, who passed away this morning in a fatal car accident, she was recently chosen as one of the top 500 most influential current Muslims in the world. She can be credited with getting us the Eid Stamp in the United States. And she has spoken often at mosques and Islamic conferences across North America; she has also been a champion of da’wah efforts,bringing many people into Islam by God’s will. May Allah have mercy upon her soul and make her grave a meadow of Paradise.

Her detailed life story is below.

Renowned female Scholar: Aminah Assilmi

Aminah Assilmi is a renowned female scholar of Islam she travels around the United States to give lectures , her personal story has admired hundreds of individuals ,she is also President of International Union of Muslim Women , the organization that has many achievements under its belt.

"I am so very glad that I am a Muslim. Islam is my life. Islam is thebeat of my heart. Islam is the blood that courses through my veins.Islam is my strength. Islam is my life so wonderful and beautiful.Without Islam I am nothing, and should Allah ever turn His magnificent face from me, I could not survive." Aminah Assilmi

It all started with a computer glitch.She was a Southern Baptist girl, a radical feminist, and a broadcast journalist. She was a girl with an unusual caliber, who excelled in school, received scholarships, ran her own business, and were competing with professionals and getting awards – all these while she was goingto college. Then one day a computer error happened that made her take up a mission as a devout Christian. Eventually, however, it resulted into something opposite and changed her life completely around.

It was 1975 when for the first time computer was used to pre-registerfor a class in her college. She was working on her degree on Recreation.She pre-registered for a class and then went to Oklahoma City to take care of a business. Her return was delayed and she came back to college two weeks into the class. Making up the missed work was no problem forher, but she was surprised to find that the computer mistakenly registered her for a Theatre class, a class where students would be required to perform in front of others. She was a very reticent girl and she was horrified to think about performing in front of others. She could not drop the class for it was too late.Failing the class was also not a choice, for she was receiving ascholarship that was paying for her tuition and receiving an ‘F’would have jeopardized it.

Advised by her husband, she went to her teacher to work out some other alternative to performing, such as preparing costumes, etc. Assured bythe teacher that he would try to help her, she went to the next classand was shocked by what she saw. The class was full of Arabs and “camel jockeys”. That was enough for her. She came back home and decided not to go back to the class anymore. It was not possible for herto be in the middle of Arabs. “There was no way I was going to sit ina room full of dirty heathens!”

Her husband was calm as usual. He pointed out to her that God has areason for everything and that she should think about more beforequitting. Besides, there was the scholarship that was paying her tuition. She went behind locked doors for 2 days to think about. When she came out, she decided to continue the class. She felt that God gave her a task to convert the Arabs into Christianity.

Thus she found herself with a mission to accomplish. Throughout the class, she would be discussing Christianity with her Arab classmates.“I proceeded to explain to them how they would burn in the fires of hell for all eternity, if they did not accept Jesus as their personal savior. They were very polite, but did not convert. Then, I explained how Jesus loved them and had died on the cross to save them from their sins. All they had to do was accept him into their hearts.” They still did not convert, and so she decided to do something else: “I decided to read their own book to show to them that Islam was a false religion and Mohammed was a false Prophet”.

At her request, one student gave her a copy of the Qur’an and another book on Islam. With these two books she started on her research, which she was to continue for the next one and half years. She read the Qur’an fully and another fifteen books on Islam. Then she came back to the Qur’an and re-read it. During her research, she started taking notes that she found objectionable and which she would be able to use toprove that Islam was a false religion.

Unconsciously, however, she was changing from within which did not escape the attention of her husband. “I was changing, just in little ways but enough to bother him. We used to go to the bar every Friday and Saturday, or to a party, and I no longer wanted to go. I was quieter and more distant.” She stopped drinking and eating pork. Her husband suspected her of having an affair with another man, for “it was only for a man that a woman changes”. Ultimately, she was asked to leave,and she soon found herself living in a separate apartment

"When I first started to study Islam, I did not expect to find anything that I needed or wanted in my personal life. Little did I know that Islam would change my life. No human could have ever convinced me that Iwould finally be at peace and overflowing with love and joy because of Islam."

Throughout these times, she continued studying Islam and although she was changing subtly from within, she remained a devout Christian. Then one day, there was a knock on her door. It was a man in traditional Muslim robe, who appeared to her as a “man in a long white night gown with a red and white checkered table cloth on his head”. His name was Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheik and he was accompanied by three other men in similar dress. She was very offended by Muslim men coming to her in nightgowns and pajamas. She was further shocked when Abdul-Aziz told her that he understood that she waited to be a Muslim. She replied that she was a Christian and she did not have any plan to become a Muslim. However, she had some questions to ask if they had the time.

At her invitation, they came inside. She now brought up the questions and objections that she noted down while she was researching. “I will never forget his name”, she said of Abdul-Aziz who proved to be a very patient and soft-mannered person. “He was very patient and discussed every question with me. He never made me feel silly or that a questionwas stupid.” Abdul-Aziz listened to every question and objection and explained it within the proper context. “He explained that Allah had told us to seek knowledge and questions were one of the ways to accomplish that. When he explained something, it was like watching arose open – petal by petal, until it reached its full glory. When Itold him that I did not agree with something and why, he always said I was correct up to a point. Then he would show me how to look deeper and from different directions to reach a fullerunderstanding.”

It would not be long before she would externally submit to what she had already been submitting to internally during the last one and half years. Later in that same day, this Southern Baptist girl would declare in front of Abdul-Aziz and his companions: “I bear witness that there is no god but God and Mohammed is His Messenger.” It was May 21, 1977.

Conversion to Islam, or to any other religion for that matter, is not always a simple thing to do. Except for a few fortunate ones, a new Muslim usually face consequences. The convert may face isolation from family and friends, if not pressure to go back to the family faith.Sometimes, a convert may even face sever economic hardship, as in the case of those who are asked to leave the house because of converting to Islam. Some converts are fortunate to continue to be well respected by family and friends, but most of them face minor to severe hardship especially during the first few years after the conversion.

But the difficulty that Aminah Assilimi had to go through and the sacrifice that she had to make for the sake of her conviction and faith is almost unheard of. There are few who could rely so much on Allah as she did, standing firm and meeting the challenges, making sacrifices,and yet maintaining a positive posture and influencing people around with the beauty of what she found and believed in.

She lost most of her friends, for she was “no fun anymore”. Her mother did not accept her becoming a Muslim and hoped that it was a temporary zeal and that she would soon grow out of it. Her “mental health expert” sister thought that she lost her mind. She attempted to put her in a mental health institution.

Her father was a calm and wise man. People would come to him for advice and he could comfort anyone in distress. But when he heard that his daughter became a Muslim, he loaded his double-barrel shotgun and started on his way to kill her. “It is better that she be dead ratherthan suffering in the deepest of Hell”, he said.

She was now without friends and without family.She soon started wearing hijab. The day she put it on, she was deniedher job. She was now without family, friends, and job. But her greatest sacrifice was yet to come.

She and her husband both loved each other very much. But while she was studying Islam, her husband misunderstood her for her apparent changes.She became quieter and stopped going to the bar. Her changes were visible to him and he suspected her of having affair with another man,for whom she must have been changing. She could not explain to him what was happening. “There was no way to make him understand what was changing me because I did not know.” Eventually he asked her to leaveand she started living separately.

After she openly accepted Islam, it went worse. A divorce was nowinevitable. This was a time when Islam was little known, much less understood for what it is. She had two little children whom she loved dearly and whose custody should have rightfully be given to her. But in a grave violation of justice, she was denied their custody just because she became a Muslim. Before giving the formal verdict, the judge offered her a harsh choice: either renounce Islam and get custody of the children, or keep Islam and leave the children. She was given 20 minutes to make a decision.

She loved her children very dearly. It is perhaps the worst nightmare that a mother can have: asked to willfully leave her child - not for one day, month, or year, but forever. On the other hand, how could she keep the Truth away from her children and live as a hypocrite? “It was the most painful 20 minutes in my life”, she said in an interview. Those of us who are mothers and fathers, especially of young children, little imagination is needed to feel the pain and torment that she must have passed every second in those 20 minutes. What added further to her pain was that according to doctors, she could never bear another child because of certain complications. “I prayed like I had never donebefore … I knew that there was no safer place for my children to be than in the hands of Allah. If I denied Him, there would be no way in the future to show my children the wonders of being with Allah.”

She decided to retain Islam. Her two dear children – one little boy and one little girl – were taken away from her and given to her ex-husband.

For a mother, is there a sacrifice greater than this – a sacrifice that is done for no material reason but only for faith and conviction?

“I left the court knowing that life without my babies would be very difficult. My heart bled, even though I knew, inside, I had done the right thing” . She found comfort in the following verse of the Qur'an:

There is no god but He,-the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He willeth. His Throne doth extend over the heavens and theearth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for Heis the Most High, the Supreme (in glory). (Quran 2: 255)

Perhaps the air of Colorado was too thin for justice. Or perhaps there was a plan in Allah’s greater scheme of affairs. Aminah Assilimi later fought back and took her case to the media. Although she did not get custody of her children again, a change was made in the Colorado law that one cannot be denied child custody on the basis of his or her religion.

Indeed Allah’s love and mercy engulfed her so much that, as if, she has been granted the touchstone of Islam. Wherever she goes, people are touched by her beautiful words and Islamic manners and become Muslim.

By accepting Islam, she became a changed person, and a much better person. So much so that her family, relatives, and people around her started appreciating her mannerism and the faith that brought about such changes in her. Despite her family’s initial reaction, she remained in touch with them and addressed them with respect and humility, just as the Qur’an enjoins the Muslims to do. She would send cards to her parents on different occasions, but she would always write down a verse from the Qur’an or the Hadith without mentioning the source of such beautiful words of wisdom. It was not long before she started making a positive influence among her family members.

The first to become Muslim was her grand mother. She was over 100 years old. Soon after accepting Islam, she died. “The day she pronounced Shahada, all her misdeeds had been erased, while her good deeds were preserved. She died so soon after accepting Islam that I knew her“book” was bound to be heavy on the good side. It fills me with such a joy!”

Next to become Muslim was her father, the one who wanted to kill her after she became Muslim. Thus he brought alive the story of Umar ibn Khattab. Umar was a companion of the Prophet who persecuted the early Muslims before he converted to Islam. When he heard one day that his sister became a Muslim, he went out with an open sword to kill her. But upon hearing some of the verses from the Qur’an that his sister was reciting, he recognized the truth and went straight to the Prophet and accepted Islam.

Two years after she (Assilmi) accepted Islam, her mother called and said that she appreciated her faith and hoped that she would keep it. Couple of years later, she called again and asked her about what one would need to do to become a Muslim. Assilmi replied that one had to believe that there is only One God and Muhammad was his Messenger. “Any fool knows that. But what do you have to do?”, she asked again. She replied that if that is what she believed, then she was already a Muslim! At this, her mother said, “Well … OK. But let’s not tell your father just yet”.

She was not aware that her husband (Assilmi’s step father) had the same conversation with her a few weeks earlier. Thus the two lived together as Muslims for years in secret without knowing that the other was also a Muslim. Her sister who wanted to put her in mental institution accepted Islam as well. She must have realized that becoming Muslim is indeed the most healthy and sound thing to do.

Her son, upon becoming adult, accepted Islam. When he turned 21, he called her and said that he wanted to become a Muslim.

Sixteen years after the divorce, her ex-husband also accepted Islam. He said that he had been watching her for sixteen years and wanted his daughter to have the same religion that she had. He came to her and apologized for what he had done. He was a very nice gentlemen and Assilimi had forgiven him long ago.

Perhaps the greatest reward for her was yet to come. Assilmi later married another person, and despite the doctors’ verdict that shecould never conceive another child, Allah blessed her with a beautiful boy. If Allah (swt) makes a gift to someone, who can prevent Him? It was truly a wonderful blessing from Allah (swt), and so she named him“Barakah

The sacrifice that Assilmi made for the sake of Allah (swt) was tremendous. And so Allah (swt) turned in mercy to her and rewarded her with enormous blessings. Her family discarded her after she accepted Islam, and now by Allah’s mercy, most of them are Muslim. She lost her friends because of Islam, and now she is being loved by so many.“Friends who loved came out of nowhere”, she said. Allah’s blessings came upon her so much that wherever she goes people are ouched by the beauty of Islam and accept the Truth. Both Muslims and non-Muslims now come to her for advice and counseling.

She lost her job because of wearing hijab, and now she is the President of the International Union of Muslim Women. She delivers lectures nationwide and is on high demand. It was her organization that successfully lobbied for the “Eid Stamp” and had it approved by the United States Postal Service, but it took many years of work. She is now working on making the Eid Day as a national holiday.

She has tremendous trust on Allah’s love and mercy and she never loses faith in Him. She was once diagnosed with cancer some years ago.Doctors said that it was in an advanced stage and that she would live for another year. But her faith in Allah (swt) remained strong. “We must all die. I was confident that the pain I was experiencing contained blessings.” As a brilliant example of how much one can love Allah, she mentions about a friend of her named Kareem Al-Misawi who died of cancer when he was in his 20’s:

"Shortly before he died, he told me that Allah was truly Merciful. This man was in unbelievable anguish and was radiating with Allah’s love.He said: “Allah intends that I should enter heaven with a cleanbook.” His death experience gave me something to think about. He taught me of Allah’s love and mercy."

All praise is due to Allah, she continues to live in good health. She now thinks that having cancer was the greatest blessing that she ever had.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

To all caregivers in the world

I read Juneita Johari's article for the first time about a week ago.She wrote about her experience taking care of her dad.Very moving piece but it helped me see things in better perspective.It tamed my sometimes wild soul.

Last Sunday she had her column on the subject, I, Caregiver.This time on her mom.Again, very moving.I simply had to write to her to thank her for her enlightening and informative pieces.She replied right away and after a few exchanges, we are like saying this to one another: we need more people like you.Hahaha..I love her fiery spirit.Nothing like mine.Dia lagi berapi-api.She has been an activist for a long time.

Read Juneita here
on her dad:

on her mom:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tahniah to all SPM achievers

My heartiest congrats to all kids whose hard work paid off in yesterday's SPM results.I was away attending to my mom at HUKM but was home when Nik rang me up to inform me the good news (he was teary!) Z got all As in her 10 subjects (Tasawur Islam she belajar sendiri sebab no teacher and alhamdulilah, dapat A walaupun tak A plus). She got 4A+, 4A and 2 A-.I ingat dia akan dapat 6 atau 7 A je sebab saat2 akhir dia masih sibuk dgn kerja2 majalah sekolah (as Chief Editor) sampai I naik risau.Yang paling impressive what I could not do better at my SPM, she scored: Add Maths, Chemistry and Physics tapi disuruh jadi Scientist/Doctor, tak nak pulak dia.

We went out to celebrate at Alexis in Bangsar.Cod dia sedap but not the nasi istimewa..ikan bakar was cencaru (I didn't know..kalau tak I would not order) After a CAP report on cencaru, I had stopped eating it for years.Cencaru makan taik manusia (in Msian polluted sea)

Monday, March 08, 2010

Happy Women's Day

Gals, we still have a longgggggggg way to go.Guys, you better start your own movement and help educate your species (teach them to be gentlemen, respectful and kind to women)

I celebrated it by attending a lunch hosted by H.E. Penny Williams, the out-going Australian High Commissioner to Msia.Sitting at my table were Datin Frieda of Cempaka Schools (it has grown so big now with so many branches and producing world class students who win international competitions esp, in Maths).Ivy Josiah was at my table too.We touched base a little and discussed child sex industry in Msia.I told them my social worker contact told me Msia is a hub ...child prostitutes can be as young as 8 years old (in Spore I was told they fetched SD20K per nite.Kurang ajar punya jantan! Binatang!)

It is a different reality once you know Chow Kit, Jalan Alor where everything happens: drugs, prostitution, segala macam haramjadah organised crimes you can think of! Janganlah tidur lena makan sedap sangat.We are rotting!

My 6 million ringgit question is: mengapa government tak bulldoze je area ni?
Jawaban: sebab they need to sweep the dirt under a carpet somewhere.Ketidak binatang2 ini akan merayap ke KLCC, Bangsar...habis la image "bersih" satu Malaysia kita!

Happy Women's Day? Think of those on sale!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Just another juggler

As I move in and out hospitals in looking after my mom (taking turns, that is) I bump into so many other children in my position...late night emergencies..long travels to the hospital back and forth.It really warms my heart.There is hope yet in this world as kindness and love continue to be weaved by loved ones for the beloved. It is not easy as they lose sleep, skip on working hours etc.

I had my first night at the hospital a couple of days ago.Eversince my mom got to be unwell, I would do anything but sleep at the hospital.But I decided to.If my teenage daughter could do it (and she's so spoilt), I could too.It was not easy as I packed my stuffs.First I packed the travel mat.It's too huge to carry/bring over.The Pak Guard would not allow me in.Then I packed in the comforter..tak jadi juga.Finally I brought the sleeping bag. The floor was hard and cold.That nite, my mom's room had a male intruder (kita tak tau nak tutup the sliding door so it was left open).Luckily my mom was still awake and one of the nurses raised the alarm (by chasing after this guy and asking loudly sapa ni?)

But generally, HUKM Hospital is so unfriendly (except for the doktor pakar.They are very professional and kind). But can't say much about the nurses and young doctors. Ward nurses chat loudly during patients' sleeping hours.I think patients with heart problem might mati terkejut! They are also a bit lazy.At one point, my sister yang kena cuci my mom until another kind nurse said don't do that..get the person in charge to do it (and she waited to make sure the junior nurse did her work).

But nursing is tough.I kesian juga nengok their nature of work.But they work for 7 hours only then get the shift.Not bad what? But they don't seem to put patients' needs first.

Yang paling sedih was the evening my mom was discharged.I was alone (my siblings takda since depa kerap tidur kat hospital) with the new Bibik. I asked for a wheel chair from the ward.Nurse tu kata kena tinggal IC and I have to bring it up again.Helllloooo..I'm handling a sick old lady, a new Bibik yang tak tau apa2, nak tinggal my car and go up 6 floors to return the wheel chair? Where is compassion? If not ethical behaviour that befits the nursing profession?) I went down to get the wheel chair (a long way OK?).Pak Guard kata tak boleh sebab it's after office hours.Haiyoo....but lucky for me I found one tak bertuan.So I took it up and it's easier to return it back cos' my maid boleh pulang depan entrance door.

A longgggggggggg way to go , baby, when it comes to healthcare in this country.