It may be a dream afraid of waking up, or it may be a dream coming to realization in the next morning.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Eid Mubarak!!!

The fasting month is almost at the end, what do you feel? I certainly feel there are so many things to fix and improve, and I certainly feel I did not succeed much in this fasting month in fighting against my desires and small sins. So, it's definitely sadness. But as we all say again and again, all good things indeed come to an end.

But for all the reasons why Eid is the way it is, I feel happy for its arrival too. It is the place where family comes together, where far-away friends meet, and we visit the relatives who we are not close to in the first place. My heartfelt prayers would be to see my family comes together again, and I could meet with my far-away friends, and I could visit my relatives whom I'm not close with. But especially, the first one, especially the first one.

In this occasion, I'd like to take the opportunity to ask for forgiveness. I have made some enemies and I have made some friends. But nonetheless, I have made some kind of mistakes to both, and from the bottom of my heart, I apologize. My friends back in IIUM, back in school, in my current universities, if you happen to read this, please know that I am truly sorry for anything I did that might hurt you. Please make halal of what I have consumed from your part.

And my family, especially my parents who are in Makkah now, please forgive me and please make halal of anything that I consume or anything that you give. I hope you benefit as much as you can in your journey at the Holy Land.

Eid Mubarak!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What's Your Struggle.... In Ramadan?

In one of my past entries, What's Your Struggle?, I talked about how everyone has a struggle, or a fight in which that becomes a theme issue in that person's life. Now, let's talk a bit religiously and specifically, about a similar struggle that might have to face, that somehow magnifies in this blessed month. This entry is for my Muslim fellows out there, but I hope it could give an insight to everyone.

I had a conversation with one of my friends, who reported that his aim and goal to benefit as much from this month is sinking really low now. He was really pumped up to observe his obligations and the non-obligatory deeds, so he'd get something out of this month. But came the third week, he started feeling very down, and his energy was not as much as fiery as it was before.

The same thing happened to me, exactly. I promised myself to always go to the mosque every night (or if I didn't, I would complete the night prayers at home), and I would try my hardest not to do any obvious sins (I mean, the sins that I'm aware are sins upon doing them). The first two weeks were somehow fruitful and satisfying, and came the third week, suddenly the challenge became even harder and more difficult.

We have always heard how Islamic obligations like prayers and fasting can prevent someone from doing unIslamic things, but why some struggling individuals like me, my friend, and I'm sure thousands and thousand of Muslims out there are having a breakdown in our consistency? Why at one minute we are pumped up to do our best, but in another, we suddenly feel like we can't win anymore? This, again is not scientific, but my theory is this: Imaan (or Islamic faith), is a lot similar like motivation. Motivation is a very much popular in Psychological literature and a lot of research has been conducted to see the nature of it, such as what makes it stay, what makes it go low, or what makes it strong, or weak, etc. If you observe your Imaan, you will see the similar pattern, sometimes it is high, sometimes it is low, sometimes it is strong, and sometimes it is seriously weak. So, my question is, can we, scientifically and safely, assume that whatever applies to motivation can also be applied to Imaan? I mean, what seems to refill our motivation when it's down, can it refill our Imaan too?

I hope there are Muslim psychologists out there who would conduct such research and use the findings to benefit the other folks out here so we can benefit from it. As I conclude my entry, I would like to quote a nice phrase that I found somewhere in this virtual world that sums this topic up pretty well...

"Some people say that motivation doesn't last - well, like bathing, we recommend it daily!"

It's true...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Letter to His Father

When conducting an activity with my client who is a young offender, involving him writing a letter originally done to provide a platform for healthy expressions of emotions, he seemed a little bit hesitant at first. But once he delved into the writing phase, he started to get deeper into it and write a lot longer than my friend and I initially thought. The letter is roughly translated...

"This is for you Abah. I write this letter to tell you what I felt throughout being under the same roof with you. I can't begin to tell you how much disappointed I am with you. I know my juvenile behaviors were inexcusable, but to be honest, I did them because all what I really wished and wanted was to be like any other kids who got what they wanted whenever they wanted them. I just want to be like them. Not rich, but with enough money where I could live like other kids. Instead of working, you hung out with your friends at the coffee shop with your friends and you jumped from one job to another. When at home, all you did was finding something to blame on me, if it's not about returning home late, it'd be about me not taking care of my little brother. But do you know why I'd return home late, and not take care of my little brother? It's because I'd be out finding a job to gain a little bit money so I could buy what I want. Then, I felt like the money was slow to get, then I resorted to stealing. I was nervous at first, but it got easier everytime I did it. From stealing money at a shop, I turned to picking pockets and stealing money from my own relatives. I felt happy, because for the first time in my life, I have my own money and I could buy something for my little brother, I could buy something to eat that he liked, and then I could buy something that I liked, that I wanted. I'm sorry Abah for disappointing you. Because of my juvenile behaviors, I was never a good son. I am not sure if you hate me or love me, but I hope one day you could find forgiveness as I did to you. Take care, Abah."

What I wanted to point out is that, each of youth who has made some criminal mistakes at some point in their life, there is a story to it. I do not condone what they did, but when you are working at a place where it "stores" kids who have made some illegal mistakes, the least you could do is to spend some time to understand where they come from and how they get here. That's how much you owe it to them when you are paid every month for your "job" and call yourself a "social worker."

This is what I would advice to everyone who'd step to be a staff at a welfare institution: Please make sure you have passion in your heart in regards to what you are doing. Please make sure you have what it takes to ensure that you go to the necessary lengths to understand the residents and try your hardest to avoid assigning labels like "evil" or "bad." Each time you like to think they are evil, ask yourself, haven't you made some mistakes you wish you could take back?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What's Your Struggle?

My principle about life's challenges is this: No one is struggling more than the other one. Everyone has his or her own struggle that makes up the person's adventure in his or her life. You might have the struggle of poverty, and has to find the food to eat for the day for you or yourself, but it doesn't mean you have a worse challenge than a rich guy who has variety of foods to eat everyday; the latter might have the struggle of faith in which he needs to ensure that the wealth he possesses does not possess him (or it already does). You might feel like being a married person is really challenging and everytime people "complain" about being single, you'd answer with a laconic, "you don't want to get married," but single people might battle with the own depression out of being lonely, which is dangerous in the first place.

Therefore, my point is, each of us has our own struggle. The key point is to empathize and never compare problems. I believe when you are a friend who is listening to another friend's problem, the golden rule of thumb is to never say, "that is not a big deal, my situation is worse." You are just undermining his or her problem and worse yet, you might make your friend feel even more depressed. But this golden rule of thumb is not my point. My point is, what is your struggle and how do you perceive it?

Some people place the destination of finally triumphing over the struggle as the priority, and some people view the journey to the destination as the purpose of life. It all boils down to how you perceive your struggle. I also have mine, so I know how desperate you might feel sometimes to just get the hell out of the "theme" problem you have in your life, but we ought to remember in mind that there is no shortcut to happiness. Shortcuts will always backfire. The key to arriving at the destination is perseverance, persistence, and effort. But at the same time, the journey shall be perceived as a learning process, with its own ups and downs.

As usual, when I write about something that sounds preach-y, it's because I'd like to remind myself of it, more than to you. And if you are a Muslim, then make sure to always remember, God is always by your side.