Saturday, 27 August 2011

Up My Nose

Like most mammals, I think I possess a rather sensitive olfactory functionality, in other words I pick up smells quite easily.

And if you watch "Animal Planet" you'll learn that mammals use this capability to hunt or to hide.

As for me my instinct is for flight rather than fight.

Hence I am one of those breed of humans, probably rare, who is not an animal lover - not cat nor dog or chicken or duck or horse or worse... cow.

I am not one to mess with other mammalian species.  I do not aggravate them or pet them, neither do I hate them - I just leave them well alone.

Chiefly because of their distinctive odours. Cows especially.

I'm not saying I do not drink their milk or eat their meat. In fact I enjoy creamy and beefy foods.

But many decades ago while living temporarily on an English farm during my practical year, I woke up every morning to the wondrous aroma of fresh countryside air - laced with more than the occasional whiffs of Mabel's or Clarabelles's or Daisibelles's farmyard offerrings (yes they had names and I cannot recall the other 20 or so).   You can say I was a tad overdosed.

Twenty years on the memories returned when we checked in our pilot son at the sekolah asrama penuh in Kuala Pilah. The narrow road leading to the school was scattered with green splatter whose odour hung stubbornly in the air that I wondered about the degree of bovineness the kids will smell of after five years there. Well I shouldn't have worried, when mingled with teen sweat they had probably cancelled one another out.

Anyway it's just odours of animal origin that I'm sensitive to. And also aerosol-based pesticides.

I'm OK with strong-smelling foods though like durian, cheeses, petai, korean kimchi, goat meat, tempeh, belacan. I do consume them as well, not with extreme gusto like hubby but I partake of them a little at a time.

Yes hubby has quite an affinity for such foods (except for tempoyak, due to a bad experience which is not fit for publishing).

And this Ramadhan he had cravings for beef tripe! Not for him to buy the pre-processed, white and cleaned ones which he says is tasteless. He has on three occasions so far brought home the original straight-from-the-cow tripe. Needless to say, that triggered long-forgotten memories of Mabel, Daisibelle and Clarabelle.

Fortunately hubby took on the task of brushing those sheets of stomach whatchamacallems with lime bleach before I turned them into masak lemak perut.

You have to boil the darned things first before cooking and throw away the water. I tell you the house smells like a barn each time and once I caught the neighbour's maid looking our way disapprovingly or could it be nostalgically, she's Javanese anyway and where she comes from cow tripe is a relish I was told.

Yikes!!! It says here you have to boil it and replace the water at least 6 times before the odour goes away. I did it only once but for an hour or more, thinking that might really kill any bacteria.

Nonetheless, on those occasions hubby wolfed down the finished product, surviving without any untoward after-effects.

Sheesh... now that I know, I'd have to process those sheets at least 6 times next time he brings home tripe.

And even how many times for that matter, I'm sure my olfactories will still not be desensitised.

But I have been conditioned not to take flight though.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

We May Or May Not Learn

Actually why do we Muslims observe the fast of Ramadhan?

Many might say that they are simply observing one of the tenets of Islam. It is a mandatory requirement which if neglected lands one in the fires of hell.

We teach our young children this as well albeit with promises of rewards such as cash and new clothes for those who make the effort to fast.

As for us adults we too are motivated by promises of rewards that get credited to our spiritual account for the day of reckoning, and in this month according to hadeeth, rewards for good deeds performed sincerely in the name of Allah are MULTIPLIED by 70 times.

In the last ten days of Ramadhan when the going tends to get somewhat tougher (for me at least), we are also motivated by the promise of blessings of the Night of Power/Destiny which are better than 1000 months ie 83 years. In these final days we try to up the ante in anticipation and hope of being bestowed this night.

So this is the month in every year of the Islamic calendar when we strive to earn all these rewards by doing all that is good and avoiding all that is forbidden during the fasting hours and even after.

In fact this is the one month in every year where we undergo a refresher training not only in spiritual matters but also in our worldly affairs.

In the preceding months while still unfailingly offering our prayers, we probably had slipped into behaviours unbecoming of good Muslims, and tainted our hearts with arrogant thoughts, perhaps of vanity and pride at the very least.

Allah says in the Quran that fasting is prescribed upon us believers so that we MAY learn Taqwa.

And of course, this Taqwa is the ultimate reward of Ramadan, the supreme triumph.

It is not guaranteed like the extra credits are guaranteed.  Like  the elusiveness of the Night of Power, Taqwa is a virtue that we MAY or MAY NOT learn.

And how to know that we have learnt Taqwa?

It's by our behaviour on the first of Syawal and beyond! Do we still practise Allah-consciousness and self-restraint on the first of Syawal and beyond till 29th Syaaban?

Or not?

I for one hope that Allah grants me another Ramadhan, not just for the rewards but also the opportunity to develop/redevelop Taqwa.

For Allah says:

" The best of you are those who have learnt Taqwa" (49 : 13). 

~inspired by Ustaz Shihabuddin from last night's usrah 

~also this article:
The Greatness of Ramadaan
by Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, Head Mufti (1998) of Cape Town, South Africa