Sunday, 31 January 2010

Consideration and Courage

 The following are excerpts from the lecture entitled "The 6 C's of Good Character" by Sheikh Yassir Fazaga. This entry is third in the series following on from:

What is "being Considerate"?
It means that you deliberate. You think  before you act and before you speak: "how is my action and how are my words going to impact those who are around me?".

Is what you are going to say something that will lift them up or is it something that will crush their spirits?

Is what I am about to say something nice that I need to share with people and it will be pleasing for them to hear it or is it something that will crush their spirits and bring them down?

So being considerate is the ability to think before you act, the ability to deliberate about your words and about your actions.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) spoke about respecting people's feelings. When there are three people, two people should not whisper to one another. Why? Beause it will hurt the third person who is present. Respect the other person's feelings. Be considerate.

The Prophet  also said:
"When you lead people in the prayer, make it short, because there are among them some people who are weak, among them some people who are ill and and among them some people who are old and among them people who are busy."

 Sometimes we make people hate the Sunnah, hate the Deen through our actions. In the name of Islam, we can be so rude, in the name of Islam we yell at people, in the name of Islam we demoralise people, in the name of Islam we crush the spirits of people. 

A Muslim is supposed to be considerate - how you drive - it says a lot about you; where you park says a lot about you. We are constantly displaying our character,  so the point is - be considerate.

 The Prophet also said:
"If you eat garlic or onions, don't come to the masjid."

If you plan on coming to the masjid, avoid these things. Why? Because you are coming to the house of Allah, and the house of Allah has many believers, and eating garlic and eating onions is very inconsiderate of you."

So when you come make sure that you impact the people around you nicely. Make sure your presence brings joy and that the people around you will say that this person will neither do or say anything that will hurt their feelings.

The 4th C is Courage. Have Courage. What is courage about?

It is about us being able to stand up for our beliefs. It is about the ability to stand up for the values and principles that we hold. We say you are a person of courage when you are challenged yet you stand up for your beliefs and you stand up for your principles and you stand up for your values.

Courage is so needed nowadays.  The Prophet Musa, wherever he was mentioned in the Quran, he was always afraid. He was afraid of the staff that turned into a serpent, he was afraid of the Pharaoh who was a tyrant. But can we say that Musa was a coward? Absolutely not! Because courage is not the absence  of fear. Courage is doing what is right despite the existence of the fear.

Courage is needed specially when we have to challenge social status quo.It takes courage to speak truth to those in power. 
 The Prophet said:

"Do not let your fear of people stop from saying that which is right".
This saying empowers us and makes sure we have the courage, we have what it takes to bring about a change.

These are the 3rd and 4th C's of character - Consideration and Courage.
The next - Control - will be deliberated on in the coming instalment, Insya Allah.
You may  also follow the lecture here.


Friday, 29 January 2010


..."When Dr Karsch examined the gargled milk-white oil under a microscope with 600 magnification, he saw live organisms swimming in it. It's poisonous, so never swallow it, he warns. These poisons are bacteria-embryos, which, if not eliminated, cause diseases. Apparently, Dr Karsach cured his own chronic blood disease and 15-year-old arthritis.
The first sign of improvement is in the teeth-they become firm and white, he says. Other healing indications: fresh, relaxed feeling on waking up, disappearing dark pouches below the eyes, anew appetite and energy, better memory and deep sleep.
Dr Karsch swears by the mouth oil-wash for anything from organ-disorders, skin-diseases, menstrual problems, paralysis to every ache and it is in the human anatomy. You can gargle even when you have fever, he says, adding, it takes anything from two days to a year to cure a disease.
And if these claims sound exaggerated, he told a conference of Ukrainian cancer specialists, try out the process yourself...."

 And so there are many ways to clean our mouths - teeth-brushing is the most common, and many of us gargle with listerine or something similar. Some Arabs still use the miswak stick, and I remember half a decade or so ago at my grandfather's kampong house, people using ash from firewood to give their teeth a good shine. But it wasn't till about 18 months ago did I hear or read about washing with OIL.

Apparently it is an ayurvedic remedy for many, many ailments.  Basically what you do is to take a tablespoon of preferably unrefined sesame oil and swish and slosh it about in your mouth for about 15 to 20 minutes until the oil turns white, whereupon you have to throw it out and rinse your mouth thoroughly with water. The process is also known as oil-pulling possibly because it is supposed to pull out toxins and bacteria trapped in the mouth. I have not tried it myself but I was fascinated by the promise of it being a cure-all.

Here is a reader feedback about oil-pulling at Earth Clinic, a site that has the most exhaustive list of natural remedies I have come across

06/12/2009: Sandy from Bangalore, India writes: "Dear Earthclinic,
Based on all feedback received for oil pulling so far (as seen on your oil pulling pages), I have created the following list of cures by oil-pulling using various oils:

1. Sesame Oil:
Cleared vaginal infections, got rid of tooth/gum/mouth/bad-breath problems, tightened loose teeth, heart felt better, depression replaced by happy thoughts, better vision (eg. Colors become vivid), no underarm odor, reduces cravings and helps de-addiction, alertness increased, pimples decreased, cured Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD, TMJ or TMD), moisturized skin, healed dry/cracked heels, hair grew back on bald spot on head, sinuses cleared, did not catch colds/flu, brought color to cheeks/complexion looks healthier, cured the keratosis pilaris on upper arms, more energetic, didn't get allergies, looked 10 years younger, open pores on face closed, wrinkles disappeared, swollen glands under neck became normal for HIV+ person, anaemia cured within 1 month, lipase enzyme levels brought back to normal within 1 month, bloating/edema gone, decreased fibromyalgia pain, got deep sleep/ insomnia cured, dark circle around eyes decreased, cured hangover after alcohol consumption, digestion improved, back pain decreased, neck pain decreased, joint pain decreased, hives cured in 2 weeks, periods was not painful, no cramping during periods, experienced colon cleansing, eczema disappeared, skin glowed, stopped a headache, faded age spots, healed canker sores, subsided PMS, eliminated asthama, lost weight, cured diarrhea.

2. Sunflower oil
Got rid of tooth/gum/mouth/bad-breath problems, teeth whiter and sensitive condition corrected, sinus cleared, cured toothache, blood cholesterol profile got balanced when oil-pulled first thing in the morning, postmenopausal hot flushes decreased, wake up refreshed, hair grew thicker, think clearly, swollen lymph nodes reduced, energy increased (many people said), reduced dependence on caffeine-oil pulling gave a huge energy rush-oil pulling twice a day eliminated 2 cups of coffee from that day, blood circulation improved, cold hands and feet became warmer, cravings decreased, skin looks great, eliminates dry eyes, clears out sugar from body faster, pulmonary fibrosis cured, cancer cured, stopped vaginal discharge, clearer breathing, better sleep, lungs not congested anymore, coughing eliminated, herpes simplex virus eliminated from body, cold sores and canker sores healed, cleared allergies, hangover (due to alcohol) eliminated, lost weight especially around lower abdomen, lost 4 pounds in 20 days by oil pulling twice a day, gave sound sleep, body aches and strains gone, fatigue gone, irregular periods became regular, ear itch gone, clearer eyes and clearer vision, indigestion problems and gases eliminated, cracked heels healed, dark circle under eyes eliminated.

3. Olive Oil
Better mouth health, jaw pain gone, sinus cleared, finger nails grew fast and had white tips, hair grew fast and is thick, better energy, better mental clarity, mood elevation (many people said this), cracked heels got healed, softer hair, softer skin, no wheezing or coughing, eyes stopped feeling itchy or dry, beard got thicker and softer, de-addicted from tobacco, alcohol, caffeine (many people talked of de-addiction), back pain reduced, cleared nasal and ear blockage, lost weight doing oil-pulling using extra virgin olive oil, pores on face became small, no undereye puffiness, better vision, lines around eyes smoothened out, brain fog cured.

4. Coconut oil
Appetite suppressed and lost weight (many people said this), relaxing, pain in nerve decreased, joint pain gone, breathing easier, snoring gone, bloating/oedema gone in just 6 days, blood pressure stabilized, got rid of tooth/gum/mouth/bad-breath problems, gap between teeth closed, sinus cleared, heightened sense of taste, cleared inner ear infection, got rid of rocking/imbalance sensation, skin glowed and moisterized, increased energy, increased mobility, agility and vigour.

5. Cod liver oil
Got rid of teeth problems, better skin

6. Avocado oil
Makes hair healthy and shiny, bags under eyes flattened, sinus cleared

7. Cedar nut oil
Whiter teeth

8. Canola oil
Better mouth health

9. Walnut oil
Got rid of gum problems

10. Castor oil
Induces sleep

11. Black cumin seed oil
Drained mucus

12. Safflower oil
Pulling sensation in arm gone, Got rid of tooth/gum/mouth/bad-breath problems, lost weight, energetic and active, Rheumatoid Arthritis cured, chocolate addiction gone, hair and skin looks good, scar gone, periods improved, PMS gone, voice improved, got good sleep, hair shedding decreased."


Seems to good to be true, doesn't it? But I could do with an improved cholesterol profile, as well as suppress my appetite, also there's this tooth that's a touch sensitive to the bite. 

Anyone know where I may buy UNREFINED sesame oil?


Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Colourful English

Small spelling mistakes

The whole nine yards???

Will surely be needing this

Not to be taken literally!!!

Verrrry Hot oven! Not in Umbai - maybe Mumbai

Have a colourful week ahead you all :D

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Empty Nest

Sometimes it's just nice to wallow in solitude whilst enjoying the sounds of children at PE from the school over the wall. There's nobody at home except me. And what better than to languish in this aloneness for some hours and let myself slip into luxurious lethargy...

Usually there would be Adeen watching the sports channel or sleeping in after the graveyard sessions on the 737 flight simulator at Subang Airport. But today he was out early, for today Adeen debuts as a co-pilot for our national airlines, just a few days after completing his line check, which is what they call doing take-offs and landings under the eagle eyes of an assessing Captain.  He's not out of the woods yet, still a cadet pilot,  but only 100 flight hours shy of the next rung. He drove himself to KLIA this morning, wanting to get there extra early and unwilling to risk the vagaries of KLIA's crew transportation. Adeen was obviously excited but don't we all remember the excitement of turning up at our first job?

Speaking of which, Muni recently received her long-awaited job offer as an associate at Astro.There was also another offer from a company involved in "green" development which incidentally, is a cause that she has taken to heart. However this Astro job is a natural career progression for her as a multimedia graphics designer and is quite in line with her specialisation in Film and Animation at university. Muni will be moving back home which is nearer to Bukit Jalil than my sister-in-law's where she is currently based. Hope Muni will get a very gainful experience at her new work-place just as much as she had had at her first real job at Voxel Studios.

And so what's up with everyone else in the new year? Amin in KK has just got his PADI diving certification. Well done Amin. You'd think a houseman's life would be too hectic for adventures but in the past 12 months he had climbed Kinabalu, toured Sabah either with his car or on his motor-bike, and then this diving thing and who knows what else he has in mind. No wonder he chose to be posted to Sabah; it seems he's really loving it.

Syirah is into her PLKN (National Service Training) stint and enjoying the activities while making new friends. They've started marching drills and also learnt the rudiments of kayaking. I think the camp has a bunch of very positive and motivated kids to work with - Syirah says the camp are never short of volunteers for any activity, unlike at school when you might get a single raised-hand  if you're lucky,  after having to raise your voice in exasperation by the "eagerness". Yes, she gets to come home for the Chinese New Year break.

And yes, someone asked about Azeim. The last time he called he was gallivanting in Venice. Venice? I thought only honeymooners go there. But you never can tell, perhaps he was scouting for a summer job as a gondolier - go learn to sing Santa Lucia or something first Azeim before you apply. Azeim's studying about ships and all things related. Quite difficult, I think with the many kinds of ships out there - there's the Cargo Ship, the Battle Ship, the PirateShip, the Ro-Ro Ship .... BUT to me the most complicated of them all is the RELATION Ship.  But I guess he's not in one yet, if his facebook is anything to go by. 

So here I am, pondering an empty nest and what else does a mama bird do but chirp about the nestlings? Oh yes, there is another young man busy about his projects with whom  I can look forward to having a romantic dinner-for-two the next couple of nights, since Adeen has 2 night-stops in his schedule. It's back to cooking rice manually in a small pot. Or should we just have fish and chips, and talk about a move to somewhere remote like Kazakhstan, or if that's too expensive perhaps someplace with a quaint name like Umbai, but that might be a wee bit too close to the school for naughty boys, perhaps another place just as quaint - Alai, where my late father was brought up? Hmmmm....

Monday, 18 January 2010

Tom, Dick and Harry

Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Weekend Interlude

Unless you learn her various switches

and understands her need for retail therapy,

you can't avoid the arguments which you'll lose anyway.

Get it?

OK now you can go build your own 1Clan

(Dedicated to our young-ish friend who's giving it another go)

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Women, Scientifically

Have you ever wondered how a woman's brain works?'s finally explained here in one, easy-to-understand illustration :


Every one of those little blue balls is a thought about something
that needs to be done, a decision or a problem that needs to be solved.

A man has only 2 balls and they take up all his thoughts. 


Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Viva La Vida!

My Dell Inspiron revived today. Yesterday I named it Dead Inspirations as the night before it had gone on the blink. The battery indicator blinked amber for a while and when it got to 3% charged, it blinked red. Blink, blink, blink and after some 30 minutes my Inspiron went into a coma. I was forced to have an early night - and I too went blink, blink, blink in the dark, thinking about the battery which I had placed in the freezer. I had gathered from a Dell forum that a dodgy battery could work again after a spell in the freezer. Hubby didn't think there was any science behind that. So did I, if anything it would be more dead than dead inside there, but no harm trying.

Next morning  (yesterday), put the battery back in, tried switching it on but to no avail. Inspiron was still comatosed. The battery indicator didn't even blink!. So I fiddled with the wires and noticed that the AC Adapter that converts the current to DC as well as charges the battery (I think) did not have its indicator on, although it was plugged in properly into the wall socket. So, culprit identified. Lodged in a complaint to Dell Malaysia on its 1-800 number, the guy Sean or Shawn, shone with his diagnosis and immediately issued a replacement order to their logistics set-up.

The AC-DC thing arrived this afternoon, hooked it up and .......... it didn't even blink, it just fired up and the indicator emitted green. Hurray! It had cost me nothing, just a few blinking minutes trying to sleep early.

We have a teeny notebook Dell Volstra for me to play with while waiting for the replacement, but there's nothing like a favourite toy to keep one inspired.

Talking about revival, I joined a Body-Vive class at my gym this morning. Been a while since I attended an aerobics class, with props at that - a squezee ball, and a stretch rope which they call a tube for some unknown reason. I must say it was a good overall workout for me, not too sure though about the "inspiring choreography" purported by the promo vid below. Well, anyway glad to report my laptop wasn't the only thing that got revived today.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Conscience and Compassion

 condensed from 6 C's of Good Character in Muslim

What is our character? They say that our character is the set of words, actions, and habits that we display. That is why they say, watch your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, watch your words, your words become your actions, watch your actions, your actions become your habits, watch your habits, your habits formulate your character, and your character becomes your destiny.

Working on improving your character is a process and because it is a process there is always room for improvement. You can always become a better person; it takes dedication to the process so that you are constantly working on your character.

So what are the essential components of having a good character? Six essential components and they all start with the letter C.

The first one is CONSCIENCE, or dhameer, as we would say in Arabic. What is conscience? Conscience is the inner moral compass that Allah subhaanahu wa ta`ala has given us, a moral compass inside by which we are able to feel the right from the wrong, by which we (sometimes) are able to tell the right from the wrong. And sometimes we speak about people and say, “have they no conscience?” How can they do this, don’t they have a heart, does their soul not speak to them? What happened to that conscience?

One time, this man works as an accountant in his company and as an accountant you have access to the finances of the company and sometimes if you play a little bit with the numbers, you may end up getting something and you can end up doing something to yourself. So this accountant was once approached by a man and he explained a process to him by which the accountant will make money but technically he will not be at fault. So he said, I will think about it, he went home and he is thinking technically I am not wrong, but I am feeling this way about it. And then his mother came and he said mother, I would like to consult you about this thing and he explained the process to her, he said mom, I do this and I do that and by the end I will make the money, and technically I am not at fault. The mother said, son, I really did not understand much of what you said, with all these numbers and all these complicated terms, she said, I just don’t understand. But I will be very troubled on the day when my son tries to go to sleep but he is unable to go to sleep because something is bothering his conscience.

The point is be your own policeman, many times we can be technically right but ethically wrong, we can be technically right but it does not look good. So the Prophet (saws) said, you define sin from now on. If you have a living conscience, you are good enough to define what sin is. Because sin from now on is that which pricks into your heart and you do not want it exposed to people. Usually we try to hide things that we are ashamed of, so the Prophet (saws) said, the minute you feel this way that you have something pricking in your heart and you are ashamed of having it exposed, he said pay attention, what you are doing is not right. That is the first C. That is conscience.

The second component of having a good character is COMPASSION. Our ability to feel for others, our ability to feel with others, our ability to feel for the pain of those who are around us. And subhanAllah, sometimes you look into the world and you say that these people have no conscience and we say these people have no Rahma (compassion) in their hearts, how can they allow things like this to go on. And many times by the way, the problems we see in the world, the poverty that is going on in the world, the starvation that happens in the world, it is not because of lack of resources. There is so much resources in the world. Throughout history of mankind, no time was food production ever as much as we have it nowadays. It is not that earth cannot cater to our need but the earth cannot cater to our greed. There is a lot of resources, but there is not enough compassion. Let me give you an example. The three richest people in the world have more money than the 48 poorest countries in the world (combined). What happened to the rahma, what happened to the compassion, where has it gone? And that is why the Prophet (saws) would speak about the idea of rahma. As a believer, you must be a rahma for those around you. In fact the Prophet (saws) said, those who are compassionate in this world, Allah will be compassionate towards them in the hereafter.

It is easy to be compassionate to those who deserve it. It is easy to have your heart moved by somebody who is sick, by somebody who is poor, by somebody who is in need, its easy to have your heart moved by this. And remember, being kind to those who are kind to you does not make you kind and being good to those who are good to you does not make you good either. Real compassion is when it is least expected.
One example. Ibn Umar (ra) goes to the market after the death of the Prophet (saws) and as he is in the market, he chooses the things he wanted to buy some vegetables, some fruits, and he puts it in his bag and he puts his hands in his pocket and he is about to take the money out to give it to the guy and it turns out that somebody has stolen the money of ibn Umar (ra). So he looked to the guy selling the vegetables and said I’m sorry my money has been stolen. So the man calls upon the people in the market, “o people of the market, he said ibn Umar has been robbed, So call upon Allah to destroy the person who took ibn Umar’s money. So everyone raises his hand and makes a du`aa, O Allah curse the person who took ibn Umar’s wealth, etc. And then Ibn Umar raises his hands and what does he say and everyone is listening, what is Ibn Umar going to pray for. So he raises his hands and says, “Oh Allah, if the person took it and he was in need, then bless this money for him. Oh Allah, if he is a true thief, then make this one the last of his sins.


Saturday, 9 January 2010

Let's Be Facebook Buddies

Hey there kiddoes, wasn't our clan picnic at Taman Tun Park simply fantastic? What a way to start the year! All that food, and the games...  Recorded on Uncle Jam's video too, only thing Aunty Z's not able to ngap  that video in that format. But I like this picture of you guys doing this whatchamacallit? Giant leaps for mankind? And especially Ina for Uncle Jam's mankindhood, ooopsy. This pic I ngap'd from Widz, thanks beetsy.

That morning before we had our nasi lemak Aunty Z jogged 2 rounds woh, well walked a bit, jogged a bit lah. Now Aunty Z got semangat to exercise seriously. Checkout Aunty Z's new FaceBook account specially for my exercising.  Hey, maybe we can be buddies? So you all kiddoes can cheer me on my little leaps towards a healthier lifestyle? Or better still we cheer one another - how about it?

But first let me finish my nasi lemak Jalan 223...

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Five Great Tips For 2010 ..........In Retirement

(Sharing an e-mail) 

1. Stay out of trouble.

2. Exercise to maintain good health.

3. Rely on your trusted partner to watch your back.

4. Rest and relax.


5. Realize that nothing is impossible.

And remember this:
"You don't stop laughing because you grow old,
you grow old because you stop laughing!!!"

Plus Another Five Tips For EVERDAY In 2010

1. Let go.
.....of old baggage. A fresh start demands a clean slate. Let everything from the past go. Clear your plate and your palate.

2. Decide what matters most today.
Forget about your goals for all of this year. Instead, decide: what do you want to do today?

3. Clear away distractions and focus.
Clear away email and Facebook and Twitter and your favorite blogs and news websites and social forums, clear away the iPhone or Blackberry or Android or cell phone, clear away all the little nagging work and chores and errands that pull at your attention, clear away the clutter that surrounds you.

4. Find happiness now.

Happiness is possible right now. Always remember that. When you push it back until later, it’ll never come. When you learn to be happy now, it’ll always be here.

5. Reinvent yourself, every day.
Every day, you are reborn. Reinvent yourself and your life, every day. Do what matters most to you, that day. Be passionate, be happy, right now.

You’ll have a fresh start every single day!

Read the full article here

Am Off to Declutter

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Off She Went

to learn to shoot but not before she learnt to cook.

My youngest, Syirah, received the call-up for National Service. She is now stationed at Kem Sentosa in Chenderiang, Perak. Too bad that she didn't have enough time after the SPM for driving lessons. But she did have ample opportunity for picking up some culinary skills.

Beginning with peeling and slicing onions of course, then chopping or slicing  meat as required by the recipe, also cutting and washing vegetables, then sauteing and frying, and finally making  the actual dishes themselves.

So now she's able to confidently whip up scrambled eggs and daging masak taucho on her own, as well as making pancakes and brownies.... from Pilsbury ready-mixes hahaha. Other dishes still require supervision.

Last dish learnt before she left was Cream of Mushroom Soup, of which some of the action was caught on camera:

First roughly chop up some mushrooms, and slice some shallots and garlic.

Saute the shallots and garlic in butter until fragrant.
Add in the mushrooms, saute till mushrooms are soft.

Add in some chicken or prawn stock, and bring to the boil.
Place in a blender, add in some skimmed milk.

Place the puree back into the saucepan.
Heat and stir; just when it begins to boil, add in the cream.
Add salt to your liking. Thicken with a little corn-flour dissolved in water. Simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Another way of thickening the soup which I feel makes it much tastier but is definitely more fattening, is by making a roux. Completely melt some butter in a pan and gradually add wheat-flour while stirring the mixture to prevent clumping and burn. The consistency of the finished roux should be like goreng pisang dough i.e slightly runny but not wet, and the colour a light golden brown.

We transferred it to a vacuum pot to take with us to pot-luck night.

So it's back to mess chow for Syirah for the next two months.

Bye-bye, stay sharp, stay focused, stay safe and enjoy yourself at camp.


Sunday, 3 January 2010

Backtracking 24/12/2009

 (Updated with pics of hubby's drool, as per the endorsement in his comment)

 On this day,  we left Cherating to continue our trip North. 

To recap, we had arrived from KL at about 4.30 pm the previous day spending time in the evening and the next morning walking on the desolate beach. There was not much else that we could do anyway. Red flags were up all along the beach indicating danger.

My sarong non-kebaya flapping in the wind

We wanted to play some ping-pong to help digest a sinful dinner. We were quite willing to pay the RM5.00 per hour, unfortunately the Suria Resort where we were putting up, had only 2 battered bats and they couldn't find any ping-pong balls anywhere!!! I mean... had someone mistaken them for turtle eggs? Or worse, did someone replace the eggs the turtle laid with the missing ping-pong balls?

The only saving grace for the resort was the free kejap-ada-kejap-takda wi-fi that was available only at the lobby. Which was better than the RM10 per hour and RM35 for 24 hours usage, that the Grand Continental in Kuala Terengganu offered . We did not take it up due to my hunch that it might have connectivity issues; which turned out to be correct because we heard another guest complain about not being able to get his Firefox to run.

Oh yes, the sinful dinner - hubby fully focused. Me, right-hand saying yes,yes and the other clenched saying don't! Right always wins:

The place - hasn't changed in 20 years:

Anyways the drive up was a sentimental journey of sorts for hubby. A quarter of a decade ago he was with an  Oil & Gas company and had been assigned to a project in Kerteh for about a year. I was working in KL and he used to commute at the weekends to see the children, ahemm. Kerteh has really changed and we saw how run-down the officers' quarters where he used to live, are now. Actually they have left the houses unoccupied as they were only temporary housing at that time. Paka is also very built-up now when in those days the road passing through the town was not even lit.

This he clearly remembered because of an incident that might make an old pirate snigger. It was a hot sunny day sometime in May and late in the afternoon hubby thought it would be nice to cool off by swimming in the sea off Paka. Hubby loved swimming and still does, and as always he swam a short distance away from the beach. When he was ready to swim to shore, he found the current very uncooperative and he was in fact just swimming in place, not getting anywhere. Exhausted, he decided that all he could do was to just lie back on the water spread-eagled as a starfish and let the current deposit him on shore where-ever - it turned out to be at a nearby bay. "Nearby" was a few kilometres away from where he had parked his car - it was already failing light and so he had to make his way back on to the road and walk all along it in darkness in his sexy swimming trunks to the car. He felt cold and passing cars were few and far between but none stopped nor did he hail any - the drivers probably thought he was a crazy person anyway. He felt tired and hungry, but happy to be able to walk even though bare-foot and half-naked. So yes, the current off the east coast waters are treacherous even in the non-monsoon season and the sea is calm, and you really need to keep your head when you are caught in a current like my hubby had.

Those days too, the river near where hubby worked was also very clean and calm. One day it looked so inviting he decided to go for a swim. It was a deliciously refreshing swim which he enjoyed thoroughly. Some boys were watching him from a bridge on the river. He beckoned them but they kept on watching him. When he got back to his car that he had parked near the bridge, he told the boys about the nice time he had and asked why they did not jump in with him. They calmly said "Ada buaya".

And they were waiting for some kind of action in the river! I think it was hubby's luck that the crocodile was not hungry that day.

All these tales made us hungry as crocodiles by the time we got to Dungun. And there I had my first taste of Nasi Kukus - steamed rice served with freshly-fried spicy chicken, acar, popadoms and a curry sauce, all of which is set on a piece of banana leaf and served wrapped up in brown paper. It was delicious and I loved it.

We had it here:

Continuing on, we soon arrived in Kuala Terengganu. Checked in at the hotel and then went to check out the famed Crystal Mosque. We followed our GPS Garmin's navigation and you'd think that the gadget would take us to the right place, but we ended up traversing the narrow lanes of Pulau Duyong instead. Here's the Pokcik who told us where we actually were and that he has an anok ka' Bangi.

These pictures were taken at the newly-built  jetty area on Pulau Duyong.

That night we set Garmin's destination to Taman Tamadun Islam on Pulau Wan Man where the Crystal Mosque is actually located, and where we had so-so Arabian food for dinner. The Crystal Mosque at night is a splendid display of lighting in changing colours.

We rounded off the night at the home of a friend who served us superb curry-puffs just off the kuali and hot tasty black local coffee. Complete satisfaction...

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Backtracking 25/12/09

Christmas Morning. We were at the Grand Continental Hotel in Kuala Terengganu - the only hotel in town with vacancies for 2 nights. We had adjacent rooms - men in one, girls the other. As both were "triple" rooms, we got two extra breakfast vouchers since there were only 4 in our party.

Ahead of us at the restaurant, a family of four adults and two kids were registering their vouchers. Turned out they had only 4, and will have to pay some preposterous amount for the little children to eat. What the heck - we gave them our extra vouchers. They were ever so grateful but anyone would have done the same. And it was the season of joy and good cheer; the waiters were wearing santa headgear too.

You'd expect Nasi Dagang at the buffet table in Terengganu but I was disappointed. Is it that humble a meal unworthy of a four-star hotel? There was chinese-style fried rice and fish porridge though, plus the other usuals. But they tasted OK so we ate our fill and went on our way.

Honey, they shrunk the mosques! What? Where? At this place they call the Taman Tamaddun Islam (Islamic Civilisation Park). Seriously. Here are some pictures.

Sitting at one of the doors of the "Herat Mosque" of Afghanistan

"Masjid Negara"

Inside the "Dome of the Rock" of Jerusalem

Other scaled replicas of historic Islamic monuments include
Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Al-Masjid al-Nabawi, Medina, Saudi Arabia
Masjidil Haram, Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Qolsharif Mosque, Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia
Mesjid Kuddus Mina, Kudus, Indonesia
Xian Mosque, Xian, PR China
Pattani Mosque, Pattani, Thailand
Al-Hambra Mosque, Córdoba, Spain
Aleppo Citadel, Syria
Badshahi Mosque, Pakistan
Masjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

The monuments are set in splendid gardens overlooking the Terengganu River estuary

Of course, the Crystal Mosque is located on the park grounds as well, at the other end.

But sad to note that it's unable to hold Friday prayers due to lack of quorum.

Friday afternoon and nowhere to have lunch. Kuala Terengganu was on near-total shutdown mode. We drove around and found a place in Kuala Ibai opposite the Taman Awam Lagun Ibai.

Masjid Terapung - another Terengganu icon at Kuala Ibai

 It was to be a day for sightseeing only - no shopping, as  the Craft Complex was closed and Pasar Payang looked deserted.

Stadium in ruins from an ancient civilization - not in Terengganu

Stadium in ruins from modern times - in Terengganu

But by evening things came back to normal especially at Pantai Batu Burok when the area was jammed with holiday-makers. We came back there later in the night to enjoy a very tasty seafood dinner at Restoran Nil.

Nothing nil about it - not even the cost!

And so ended our christmas outing...

Friday, 1 January 2010

Reputation, Personality and Character

 This is an excerpt of a lecture given by Sheikh Yassir Fazaga* entitled "The 6 C's of Good Character". - taken from Muslim Matters.

For each and everyone one of us, there are three components  -   our reputation,  our personality, and our character.

Our reputation is what people think of us, and what happens is that most of us invest most of our effort in perfecting our reputation.  Why?  Because the effort is very little and the reward is immediate.  All you have to do is just watch a politician, around election time, what do they do?  They want to seem to people that they are kind so they hold an orphan baby and take a picture and if it makes it to the headlines in the first page, they made it.  They are selling an image about themselves.  Watch politicians around the time of elections, you will see them pouring so much money in improving and selling their reputation.  So our reputation is what people think of us.

And then there is our personality and our personality is how we present ourselves to people.  And also we do spend effort and we invest money and time on improving our personality simply because the reward is also immediate and the effort is not much.  So for example, we have personality enhancement classes, we have enhancement of your smile, let us whiten your teeth for you, etc. Nothing wrong with that, but the point is that you are about to sell an image of yourself as well.  You are telling people what you seem to be, not really who you are, but what you seem to be.

And then, there is our character, and our character is who we really are.  

So reputation is what people think of us, personality is what we seem to be, and character is who we really are.

And most do not invest enough in character, we like to invest more in reputation and personality, and not in character and sadly, it is the character that really defines us.  And subhanAllah (glory be to Allah), if you have good character, the other two may come, so having good character the reward may not be immediate.  In fact many times, people with good character may go unnoticed.  In fact, many times, your good character may be a problem for you in this life.  Because you like to deal with people with clarity, you like to deal with honesty, and everyone around you is a cheater and so your goodness, your honesty becomes a problem for you.  So people say what the heck with the character, who cares, all people around me cheat, so we stop investing in our character because investing in our character becomes very problematic.  But subhanAllah, please listen to this carefully.

“Our reputation, people can ruin.  Our character, we only can ruin.” 

People can ruin your reputation if they want to and you have absolutely no control over this, but when it comes to your character, you are in full control of your character, nobody can ruin your character.  Your character is of your own making.  Your character is of your own choice.  As you live life, you are the author of your own life.

So character is our choice, reputation, people may or may not harm it, but character we only can harm.   Reputation is the camouflage, character is the real thing.  Reputation is what everybody thinks.  Character is who we really are.  So the investment must go into character and the rest may or may not come.  If they come, alhamdulilah, if they don’t come, I have good character at any case.
But the question is, two questions.  What is character? And how do you get good character?

You may wish to watch the youtube series here.

*Yassir Fazaga is an inspiring, multi-lingual speaker sought-after from USA through Canada to the Middle and Far East. He was born in Northeast Africa and moved to the United States at the age of 15; has a Bachelors Degree in Islamic Studies from the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in Virginia; has completed all coursework for his Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling from the California State University of Long Beach; is currently undertaking his Masters in Theology at Loyola Marymount University.
He is involved as a therapist at FACES, where he helps families with different challenges in life which include: domestic violence issues, communication problems, marital matters, generational gap, difficult teens, some mental and personality disorders, divorce, grief, and single parenting, among others.
Yassir Fazaga has taught the Arabic language and Islamic Sciences for the past 8 years and has taught Islamic courses on Scriptural Exegesis, and Islamic financial contracts for American Open University