Sunday, August 28, 2011

Waiting for Eidul Fitri

when i was little, eidul fitri meant abundant food (usually nasi dagang), fireworks and duit raya. oh, and of course, new baju raya and shoes to show off.  eidul fitri is a time of joy for everyone, and i knew for one my late mother had this content and happy smile when she saw all her children and grandchildren coming back for raya. there would be queues to the bathroom, foods bought at pasar ramadhan would fill the dining table and everybody would sit to "chup" their eating place at any space available in the house.

now that i'm almost reaching 40, my perspective in life has changed, and because of this, eidul fitri also has a different meaning for me. in the past it was all about childish glee over meeting family members and eating wonderful food, but now eidul fitri doesn't mean that much to me.

no, i'm not depressed. i'm not disillusioned.

to me, there's a shift in order of importance in life. in my opinion, the one that we should celebrate and look forward to isn't the celebration of eidul fitri (although it is a day of celebration for our triumph against nafs) but instead we should celebrate ramadhan. in my previous blog entry i wrote that ramadhan is about repentance and the chance to increase our ibadahs. i feel at peace and tranquil. because of this, to me, ramadhan is beautiful.  actually i feel sad that ramadhan is ending.

it does not mean that i don't want to celebrate eidul fitri. i do have new baju raya and new shoes, and i can't wait till i meet with my family members again. it's okay to celebrate eidul fitri, but celebrate it sensibly and not to overdo it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Be Thankful of What You Have

that was what my brother Abang Halim used to tell me when i needed his help in the past. back then, being the youngest, i was self-centred and oblivious to other people's suffering.

in this month of Ramadhan, the Panel of Islamic Studies in my school has launched a Ramadhan donation fund for the unfortunate students. teachers are welcome to contribute their zakat or fidyah to the fund. and some teachers, on their own effort, chipped in to buy groceries to some deserving unfortunate students. i wasn't informed of this until i saw the groceries all in boxes, and when i heard this story i was moved so deeply that i felt i had missed an opportunity to do some good. 

when i taught in Sultan Sulaiman, i didn't see all this scenario. my former students were all children of Tengkus, Datuks, business tycoons and who's who in Terengganu. because of that activities could be done more extravagantly and even my LCDS members were willing to fork out RM250 to pay for their summer camp at an island.

some of my Padang Tembak students are children of policemen or army officers, but most of  the students live in PPR or only have single parents to look after them. and so, the plight of my students in Padang Tembak taught me humility and the importance of charity and paying zakat. 

Fasting does not only teach us to discipline ourselves and guard our nafs, it also teaches us compassion and syukur which lead to stronger ukhuwah among muslims.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Joys of Ramadhan

Most people will associate Ramadhan with Ramadhan bazaars that suddenly crop up like mushrooms during this 1 month. most will think of their favourite foods. most shopping complexes begin selling kuih raya before Ramadhan. most hotels proudly advertise their Ramadhan buffet offers. raya songs are played everywhere. most people are busy buying raya clothes and raya furniture. but most people forget that this month is a month of ibadah and place it second to all the things (food, mostly) they like about Ramadhan.

Ramadhan is about ibadah and that's it. it is to show our devotion to Allah, to remind us that we're not invincible and that we've a lot to thank for. what is there not to thank? we have a roof to shelter us, we have food to fill our tummy, we still have air to breathe, we have freedom and we still have time to reflect, repent and become better muslims and muslimahs by performing ibadahs.some may find praying sunnah prayers tedious, but those who have experienced sakinah or tranquility will gladly do them for the chance of acquiring that inner peace and contentment.

last year i wanted to do everything properly, as i was preparing myself to go for hajj. after the life changing experience, i began to see life in a different way, as if in a different hue, or to be hyped about it, you can say i see things in HD. i began to learn more about Islam as i know there are so many things that i don't know. so i enrolled in Fiqh Ibadah class with my friend Zana. the class was an eye opener. i learned the proper way to perform solat, fast and pay zakat. and i thank Allah for giving me hidayah, as He gives hidayah to whoever he chooses. i began to appreciate the ilm that is given, and the more i feel calm and tranquil.

it is through Ramadhan that we learn humility. we understand the unfortunates' hunger and learn to be compassionate about other people. hence, the giving of zakat (not only zakat fitrah, but also zakat on gold and salary, which is wajib) and sadaqah. through tadarus and jemaah terawih prayers we instil brotherhood and sisterhood of Islam, and through tazkirah and any form of teachings of Islam we receive ilm (which is compulsory).

if you ask me now, i don't feel the excitement for raya. i'm only thinking of Ramadhan, and i will miss it when takbir raya is recited.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fasting Month

Despite my "fasting practice" during Syaaban last month, i was almost like a train wreck on the first day of Ramadhan. the naughty students joined me and couldn't even shout or do their usual mischief (which would make me scream afterwards) and were lying on the cool floor of English Resource Centre instead. the heat was almost unbearable. i had to tell myself to be patient and thought that it's even hotter in Makkah now.  

that, coupled with a few other tasks that the teachers had to complete this month, was really a test.

i still haven't moved into the new house, because the bank is really slow in processing documents and now i'm afraid that i've to pay the late charges to the house seller. truth be told, i already lost the excitement in moving into the new house, after the endless calls to the bank and the lawyer. why can't property purchases be simpler? i'll probably get the key next month. i hope the excitement will revive itself then.

for this fasting month, i only went once to pasar Ramadhan and even that was on a weekend, as the traffic congestion is really bad in Ampang on weekdays. i had a craving for karipap but didn't want to go through the tedious task of rolling and cutting the dough and the other tasks that entail it so i thought, well, may be i could just buy some. i remember buying a roti john (without the overly sweet chilli sauce and the too-much-mayo), karipap and some cara manis (even though making it is simpler). the only thing that was satisfactory was the kuih cara. the karipap tasted of overpowering curry powder and the roti john was a bit burned. after that i vowed never to buy at Param again, cooking my own instead, with some occasional trips to the golden arches.

in terms of ibadah, alhamdulillah, i perform terawih at home. my pengajian islam amali ustaz has told us lots of times that we should follow the Prophet's sunnah, so i perform only 8 rakaat, as the 20 rakaat  was done by the sahabahs. 

i remember what Ustaz Hj Ahmad Rosli (the Rayhar ustaz) told us when we were about to return from hajj last year. he said that once we go back, the challenges are even greater in trying to retain the mabrur. this is also true of Ramadhan. yes, terawih is done only in Ramadhan but the other ibadahs should also be done continuously even after Ramadhan - qiyamulail, tilawah, paying zakat and zikir, as they are not exclusive ibadahs for Ramadhan. 

let's hope that we have a good Ramadhan as what it should be - filled with ibadahs and repentance.