Thursday, June 5, 2014

Fashionista's Review: Denial, Tafseer of Surah Ar-Rahman and Yasin

So here I am post-ILMFest enrolling myself at yet another of Al Maghrib's programs. I registered as a student and this is my first of their weekend seminars, Denial, Tafseer of Surah Ar-Rahman and Yassin taught by Dr Reda Bedeir

Okay, before you start reading, let me just warn you that this is a very, very long post. Oh okay, now that we've got that cleared, do continue.

So, how does Dr Reda teach? In a good way (which I find to be extremely beneficial) he teaches from the beginning. Now the thing is, where is the beginning? In teaching religion, there is no A B C to indicate the beginning. Even the first verse that was taught, "Iqra' bismirabbi kallazi halaqa" (which means "Read O'Muhammad in the name of your Lord, Who has created) is not the first verse in the Quran (it's actually in Surah no. 96, Al-'Alaq). So, the beginning could simply mean anywhere and everywhere. 

He started by explaining the first sentence that we would recite before we start reciting any Quranic verses, the ta'awwudh, "A'udhu billahi min ash-sharitani r-rajimi," meaning I seek refuge with Allah against Shaytan. So, he started by questioning us, why do we seek refuge with Allah against Shaytan? (Note in Surah Sad 38: 82-83 Shaytan said, "I will try to ambush and take them away from the straight path. Except those who are sincere.") As Muslims, we know that Shaytan have made an oath to bring us to Jahannam with him. We say it because Allah is the only resort and there is none more powerful than Allah. So we seek refuge with Allah against the whispers of Shaytan. 

Dr Reda then proceeded to explain the meaning of basmala, "b-ismi-llahi r-rahmani r-rahimi," meaning in the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. To elaborate, as we are servants of Allah, Allah gives us temporary control in the dunya (this life on earth) and Allah will take it away in the akhirah (hereafter). Thus this statement is indicative that we would do everything to please Allah. So this statement could be elaborated as in the name of The One who gave me all of these things that I could not live without, who gave me ears so I could hear, who gave me eyes so that I could see, who gave me my tongue and mouth so that I could speak.. He also differentiated between Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim (in the basmala that we recite). Ar-Rahman means the all merciful while Ar-Rahim is the act of being merciful or the nature that is merciful all the time.

Our student's kit by Al Maghrib consisted of a barcode (which is to be scanned before the morning lecture for attendance purposes), a student ID with lanyard and a workbook.

Dr Reda then followed by explaining that the Quran is divided into three parts where one-third consists of stories, one-third is on Allah and mono-theism and the remaining one-third on the rules that we should follow. (Note that in Surah Yusuf 12:111 Indeed there were lessons in the stories for those who want to learn and reflect). He also told us that there are actually two books where we can learn and reflect, the closed book (or physical book) which is the Quran and the open book (metaphorically) which is the universe. Indeed there are verses in the Quran that mentions the universe and signs of The Creator if only man would take heed.

The word Quran in itself stems from the word qara'a which means to recite. And the word Quran means recitation. Indeed the Quran was revealed through the Angel Gabriel to our Prophet Muhammad pbuh in oral form and was only compiled into the written form after the death of the Prophet pbuh during the time of the first Caliph, Abu Bakr. (Note: Abu Bakr was persuaded by Umar to compile the Quran into a book and he finally gave in after the Battle of Yamamah where a great number of the Quran memorisers had perished). It was compiled by Zayd ibn Thabit and verified against two companions who heard the verses directly from the Prophet pbuh. All the verses in the Quran were verified against two companions except for one verse in Surah no. 33 Al-Ahzab verse 23 which was only verified by one companion, Khuzaima ibn Thabit. This exception was allowed due to a transaction involving the Prophet pbuh and a Bedouin where Khuzaima had spoken up to bear witness of the transaction between the Prophet pbuh and the Bedouin. Due to this, the Prophet pbuh said, "if Khuzaima is your witness, you don't need a second witness."

So let's go to the first surah that we studied, Surah Yasin. Surah Yasin is the 36th surah in the Quran. It was revealed in Mecca, thus it is also known as a Meccan Surah. (Note that the revelation of the Quran covers a period of 23 years, 13 years in Mecca and 10 years in Medina. Thus surahs that were revealed in Mecca is known as a Meccan surah while surahs that were revealed in Medina is known as a Medina surah. Surahs that were revealed in Mecca are mainly on who is Allah and stories of the people before the people of Quraisy while Medina surahs are themed on rules and regulations to be applied by Muslims). It is among one of the most widely recited surahs in the Quran (it is usually recited to the dead thus during funerals you would normally observe the guests to a Muslim funeral reciting Surah Yasin to the deceased). However despite this, please do not think that other surahs are not as widely recited because in the Quran, there are 114 surahs, some are recited more frequently due to many reasons (like the first surah in the Quran, Surah Al-Fatihah is recited at least 17 times in a day by each individual Muslim as it is included in their daily prayers, and this surah is also frequently recited at the beginning of a du'a and also at the end of a du'a).

As one of the most frequently recited surahs, there are many da'if or weak hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh) on Surah Yasin and some of them are even untrue (false hadith). The thing about hadith is that the types of hadith is divided into which is sahih or authentic, hasan or good  and da'if or weak. The hadith in the photo above are weak hadiths related to Surah Yasin (except for the last one, which is in bold, that is a false hadith). 

So could da'if or weak hadith be used as a reference? Weak hadith can be accepted on three (3) conditions:
1. The hadith should be slightly weak
2. Use it when it comes to the virtues of deeds, to motivate something good or to stay away from something bad. However, it should not be used for matters relating to Aqidah.
3. If used, it must be mentioned that it is a weak hadith.

Surah Yasin starts with the story about Allah, then it continues forward with the message and ends with the messenger. It is divided into an introduction (verse 1 - 12) and three parts (1) the historic argument (verse 13 - 32), (2) the rational argument (verse 33 - 68) and (3) the moral argument (verse 69 - 83). The introduction describes the status of the believers and non-believers and the nature of Quranic revelation while the following three (3) parts provides a proof of the authenticity of the Quran.

Among the gems that I could share on Surah Yasin (there are so many but I won't be able to share them all so those who are interested to learn tafseer, do sign up for Al Maghrib's seminars or any other similar organisations of your choice):

1. The meaning of Ya Siin (the first verse in the surah, which incidentally is also the name for the surah). Do note that the meaning is unknown, thus these are simply opinions by various scholars. Some scholars say that ya siin is similar to the beginning of Surah no 2, Al-Baqarah or Surah no 20, Taha, letters of the Arabic alphabet. Some scholars are of the opinion that ya siin could be Arabic letters that refers to either a person or something, i.e. due to the third verse in the surah (Truly, you are one of the Messengers) it could be the name of a Prophet. Another scholar mentions that it could be a nickname for Prophet Muhammad pbuh meaning the Master of Humanity while another scholar says that it could refer to man, ya siin - ya insan (oh man!). 

2. Usually when the beginning of a surah starts with separate letters like ya siin in this surah (or other surah like alif lam mim in Surah Al-Baqarah) the following verse would be talking about the Quran. The letter waw in the beginning of this verse is used as an oath, "By the Quran."

3. In the third verse, Allah personified the Quran as if it is a man (note: messenger or in this case the Prophet pbuh) that will teach us the Quran.

4. In the fourth verse, the path refers to the sirat (the bridge over Jahannam) that is carrying us to Jannah (heaven).

5. In the fifth verse, it refers to the Quran which was sent down to us from Allah.

6. In the eleventh verse, the reward that is generous refers to the reward which will come to those who act as Muslims even though we cannot see Allah. (Note: as quoted from Ali who said, "How do you define sincerity? It means to act exactly the same whether you are among people or you are alone.")

7. The verses 13 - 32 tells a story about a city who was sent with two messengers whom they rejected. The messengers were reinforced with a third but was also rejected (not only were they rejected but they were also threatened with stoning and torture). The city itself is not important in the story, for what is important is the message it conveys. However, Dr Reda informed us that the city in this tale is the city of Antioch and if you'd like to read more on the tale you may want to click [here]. The story then follows with a man (Habib Al Najjar or Habib the carpenter) running towards to non-believers saying that the messengers are indeed true. Unfortunately, the people of the city stepped on  him and killed him. So he died a martyr and the verse continues with the man (Habib Al Najjar) entering Paradise.

8. The verses 33 - 40 starts with signs of the Creator for the disbelievers. Verse 37 talks about the day and the night. In Islam, we believe that the night starts first followed by the day. (Example: during Ramadhan, Tarawih prayers starts the night before, after Maghrib prayers, for the fasting that is to be conducted the next day). Thus in this verse, it indicates that the default is the night, Allah sends the light to cover the darkness, and the way the verse is written is to indicate the changing of the day to night as if Allah peels off the light and then everything goes to darkness. As you may see during sunset, the changing of the day to night is as if the light (the setting of the sun) is peeled off (similar to how the skin of an orange is peeled off from the fruit) from the sky as the day turns into night. Verse 39 refers to an analogy of the moon and the dates, where the dates starts growing until the branch withers and dies when the dates mature. This is similar to the situation of the moon which is also in stages. Verse 40 talks about the sign of the day and night, and the position of the moon and the sun against the earth's hemisphere. Thus it could be seen that the signs of the Creator that is mentioned in Surah Yasin does not only cover signs on earth but also signs in the sky (the universe).

9. The verses 41 - 46 refers to the Prophet Noah who built a ship on top of the mountain (and he was ridiculed by his people for that) and the flood that killed everything except for the pairs that were carried on the ship.

10. The verses 47 - 54 starts with Allah telling us that he is The One that showers us with wealth. And Allah tests us by giving, He would expect us to share our wealth with the unfortunate and poor. (Note: when Allah gives, he is testing us with gratitude and when Allah takes, he is testing us with patience). The following verses then details with the Day of Judgment and how we will be resurrected from our graves with one blow of the trumpet. It is only on the Day of Judgment will the non-believers admit that the messengers were indeed telling the truth but by then it would be too late.

11. The verses 55 - 58 then describes the lives of the people in Jannah (paradise) and in verse 58, Allah swt shall greet us in Jannah.

12. In verse 60, the term worship Shaytan refers to the obedience to Shaytan (or in simple words, following the footsteps of Shaytan). Dr Reda then continued to explain this term by associating it with ibadah, referring to terms such as part-time Muslims, full-time Muslims or all-time Muslims. He then related this to the verse in Surah no. 2, Al Baqarah verse 85, "... would you believe some parts of the book and leave some parts of the book? ..." Definitely the best is an all-time Muslim (you are a Muslim when you are around other people and when you are alone). "... and Allah loves those who are in a constant state of purification," Surah Al Baqarah verse 222. If you notice, in verses 60 and 61 of Surah Yasin, I and Me (singular) is used to describe Allah swt, while in the verses 65 - 68, We and Our (plural) is used. Some might question, why is there a difference? You might want to note that when talking about worship, I or Me (singular) is used to refer to Allah, for example, "... worship Me" while when the Quran describes the attributes (act or creation) of Allah the royal We is used. (Note: an example is when the Queen of England speaks, she does not use I or me to refer to herself, she uses we or us, it refers to her, but since she's the majesty, a plural we is used).

13. In verse 70, it states that Yasin is a book to remind the living (quite dissimilar to certain customs who associates recitation of the Yasin for the dead). Here living refers to those with a living heart and the Quran is the message to bring life to the hearts of the living. Similarly in Surah no 8 Al-Anfal verse 24, "... and know that Allah has the power to change or to hinder anything between a man and his heart..." This verse talks about us answering the call of Allah swt and the call of the messenger.

14. In verse 75, the word they refers to the idols which the non-believers have taken besides Allah swt. The idols will be used as witnesses in the hereafter to testify to the deeds of the non-believers. In Surah no 66 At-Tahrim verse 6, "O believers! Guard yourselves and your families against the Fire (of Hell) whose fuel is human beings and stones..." here the stones refers to the idols which are worshipped by the non-believers, it will be used in the hereafter as fuel to Hellfire.

15. Verse 78 refers to a man who came to the Prophet pbuh with a bone and he crushed it in front of the Prophet pbuh and threw it to the Prophet pbuh. He then asked the Prophet pbuh, "Does your Lord can bring life back to this decayed body?" This is then answered in verse 79 where it shows that Allah swt created man (Adam) out of the earth, how easy it would be for Allah swt to bring life back to the crushed bones held by the man.

Surah Ar-Rahman is the 55th surah in the Quran. Ar-Rahman is one of Allah's names which means the unimaginably merciful. It refers to the nature of Allah swt to be exceedingly merciful. During the time of the Prophet pbuh, the people of Quraisy had a problem with the name Rahman, to the point they even questioned the basmala and denied the word Rahman. In the first four (4) verses of the surah, it goes like this:

Ar-Rahman. He has taught the Quran. He has created man. He has taught him articulate speech. (Al-Quran, 55: 1-4)

In this four verses, it shows the importance of the Quran over man's creation (thus the mention of Quran's creation comes first in the surah). This indicates that the purpose of our creation is more importance the our creation. And it also uses the word 'teach' indicating that Allah swt teaches. Man is the student. To whom did Allah swt teach the Quran? It is left open, indicating that Quran is not only for humans (either believers or non-believers), but also to Jinn. 

Among the gems that I could share on Surah Ar-Rahman are:

1. The second verse indicates that the Quran is created first before the creation of man. 

2. In this surah, similar to Surah Yasin, Allah swt talks about the Quran and this is followed by the universe.

3. The word mizan (balance) is repeated three times (in verses 7, 8 and 9). Mizan literally translated means scale, it is also a symbol of justice and also represents balance in the universe.

4. In verse 13, "Which of the blessings of your Lord will you both deny?" You both refers to both man and Jinn. The blessings refers to all that Allah swt has given us, our health, our family, our wealth, our partner, our offsprings etc. This verse is repeated 31 times in the surah. And each time it is repeated after a verse that talks about the gifts and blessings that Allah swt has bestowed upon us. The Prophet pbuh recited this verse to the Jinn and every time he comes upon this verse, the Jinn would reply, "None of the blessing o' Lord that we deny."

5. In verse 17, it talks about the two easts and two wests. This refers to the daily rising and setting of the sun. The point of the rising of the sun is different every day (due to the earth moving in its own orbit and the sun moving also in its own orbit) and the sun asks for permission from Allah swt everyday whether it should rise. Allah swt would give permission until the day of judgment, where the sun would then be commanded to rise from the west.

6. In verses 19 and 20, Allah swt creates the seas where the seas meet but they do not mix. This refers to the meeting of fresh water seas (and even rivers) and salt water seas and indeed you can see from the video below how the two seas meet but there is a noticeable barrier between them. And in verse 22, from both seas come out pearls (indeed we do have freshwater and saltwater pearls).

Unfortunately we were running out of time, there were too many to share that I guess Dr Reda felt compelled to share as much as he can (and we couldn't fit all in the two days seminar that we had) and I also had to leave the auditorium at 6.45pm to catch my 9.15pm flight back to Kuching. Thus I only learnt up until verse 25 of Surah Ar-Rahman. So I am still waiting for the team from Qabeelat Ihsaan for the notes that they promised to comply and share with us. So in the same spirit, I am sharing my notes (up until verse 25 of Surah Ar-Rahman unfortunately) with everyone. Hope my notes will benefit you as much as the seminar with Dr Reda have benefited me. Subhanallah.

To those who are interested to learn and join seminars organized by Al Maghrib, do visit their website and register as a student [here].

To love of our Allah and our religion, Islam.

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Ps: In the midst of writing this post, I stumbled upon an interesting page related to the verses in the Quran on the hereafter. If you're interested, you can visit the page [here].

Fashionista's Book Review: Biografi Syed Mokhtar Albukhary

I seem to be reading a lot of non fiction books lately (well actually, I don't remember when was the last time I read a fiction book) and I've been eyeing this book for quite a while. Finding myself to be traveling for quite often for the past few months and getting the book was simply an excuse for me to read while I wait for my flight at the airport.

Not much is known about this guy Syed Mokhtar Albukhary. He is most known for his wealth, he's listed among the top 20 wealthiest Malaysians and his charity (he has his own charitable foundation). Other than that, you barely see him in the news or anywhere (maybe except the business section, sometimes). Thus, that enticed me to buy the book. To know the man behind the name Syed Mokhtar Albukhary.

Needless to say, the book is definitely interesting and indeed motivating. I found a lot of inspiring stories of how he built his business, the strong discipline and business ethics that made him a success that he is today. What I liked about the book is his attachment on his family (and it could also be the backbone of his success).There were a lot of familial tales in the book, stories of him lending a hand in his father's business, he went to Johor to work with his uncle and even his wife is also a distant family relative. This shows how important family is to him. And indeed you can see from the story on how much his mother means to him, and how his family have influenced his nature in giving to others.

I would definitely recommend this book, to aspiring business people or those who are seeking for motivation. In this book you'll learn how determination, perseverance and never giving up (and even picking up the pieces after you've fallen) are the keys to his success. There are plenty of lessons to be learnt from this book. Absolutely inspiring!

To reading and learning.

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Thursday, May 22, 2014

IlmFest Malaysia 2014: The Festival of Knowledge

This year has certainly been an adventure, barely six months in the year of 2014, I feel as if there's so many exciting things happening this year and it's as if the best part is yet to come! Anyway, this year we have definitely been very lucky to be able to participate in the ILMFest Malaysia 2014, happening right here in Putrajaya, Malaysia.
The conference is organized by Al Maghrib Institute and iMuslim and is supported by Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia. Held over a period of two days, 17th to the 18th of May 2014, we managed to grab early bird tickets (woot! woot!) for the conference and the best part is, it's baby friendly so Alexa gets to come and join us for her first ever Islamic festival and conference.

Lovely view from Prescott Hotel.
We stayed at Prescott Hotel for obvious reasons. It's located about 10 minutes walk from KL Sentral and since we'll be attending the festival for two days and traveling via KLIA Transit to Putrajaya, this seems to be the best option for us. There's also easy access to food (plenty of eateries nearby) and the nearby shopping complex (Nu Sentral) provided us with a bit of retail theraphy. Although truth be told, we never did get to explore Nu Sentral as we spent the whole weekend at Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC), the venue of the conference.

We took KLIA Transit to Putrajaya. The whole trip to Putrajaya was only about 15 minutes and the tickets were about RM9 each. However, the waiting time (for the train) was almost 30 minutes =(. We then took a cab to PICC which costs us somewhere around RM20.

At the conference. They had Instagram and Twitter captions for moments like these =).

The best part about this conference is that it's baby and wheelchair friendly. There were about 3,000 attendees of this conference and there were so many parents bringing their children of various ages that it made me feel as if I wasn't the only one with a baby (which was good). Of course there are the occasional baby cries here and there but that did not stop us from listening attentively to the course.

This is Dr Reda Bedeir, one of the speakers of the program. All in all there were 14 speakers and let me tell you, they are absolutely amazing! Their lectures were filled with gems and insights on the life of our beloved Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and not only that, they also managed to convey their lectures with such passion that it certainly is not the same as reading it from a book, you must be there to experience it.

I bought Alexa this pretty little hijab from Pretty Princess Zara for RM30. There were several booths outside the auditorium where we get to buy pretty little things like these =). If you're interested, you can visit/ follow their Instagram account [here].
For mummies with little kids (like me), I know that it must be rather daunting bring a child/ children to a religious conference and let me be truthful, I wasn't sure whether I would be able to handle Alexa during the conference. For this conference, there is a separate Mother's room available for mothers to listen to the conference (there's a live feed of the conference set up in the room) and at the same time your child/ children can run/ hop/ crawl/ walk safely (with your supervision of course) in the room. You can feed/ sleep/ diaper change/ play with your baby all you like in the privacy of the room.
Luckily for me hubs was kind enough to offer his help in minding Alexa that we both had the opportunity to enjoy the conference from the main hall. Syukur Alhamdulillah.

In the afternoon session we'd have an entertainment session after Asr prayers and this is one of them where Shaykh Saad Tasleem teaches Shaykh AbdulBary Yahya how to use a skateboard. This is definitely my first time seeing someone in a robe use the skateboard =P.
This is the first female instructor at Al Maghrib Institute, Yasmin Mogahed. Here she recites a moving poem written by herself, I Prayed for Peace Today. It almost moved me into tears.

Among the things that I remember from the conference:

In terms of the physical appearance of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., he has 17 strands of white hair and all of them are located at the beard, near his lower lips.

In terms of the character of the the Prophet s.a.w., he never yawns. He is also very fond of children. At one point, he was leading a congregation of prayer and he took a long time in prostration and when asked why, he said it was due to his grandchild who was sitting at his back. He did not want to rise from prostration to avoid from injuring his grandchild. He would also excuse himself so that he could go home and make time for his family. There were times he would excuse himself and say that he has promised to spend time with his wife. When facing difficult times (like during da'wah where the Prophet s.a.w. was facing difficulties and rejection from the people of Taif), the Prophet s.a.w. would pray to Allah and ask whether he has displeased Allah. Subhanallah!

There were many other things that were shared during the conference like how the Prophet s.a.w. has also been known to give gifts to his wife and on the challenges of Muslim youths like zina etc and I can't possibly share all of them here.

So, as a first timer, what can I say about ILMFest? I would have to say that it totally exceeded my expectations. I came to listed to these speakers talk about our beloved Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and I learnt so much more that I could have expected. The speakers were not only able to educate and convey their knowledge, but they were also able to inspire, they inspired me to do better, be better and to emulate the best, which is our Prophet s.a.w. So for those of you who are thinking about joining the program, well, what are you waiting for? Al Maghrib Institute offers various programs, talks, seminars and courses and of course they also organize conferences like the ILMFest. I would have to say an investment in education and knowledge is one of the best investments you could ever make for yourself.
To future attendees of ILMFest, let it be known that bringing an 11-month old baby (like me) or being in a wheelchair should not stop you from attending events like these. It's definitely a not-to-be-missed event, you'll be glad that you attended (I definitely was!) and you'll gain so much from the wisdom, knowledge and experience shared by these wonderful and amazing speakers.

For those who'd like to attend programs like these, you can visit Al Maghrib Institute's website [here] or iMuslim's website [here].

To learning, life, religion and becoming a better believer, inshaa Allah.

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Fashionista's Book Review: The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

This is one of those books that have always intrigued me and to tell you the truth, I've been thinking of reading this book for many years now (well, there's plenty of books in my reading list so, it's kind of difficult for me to prioritize which book to read first). A couple of months ago I finally made the move in getting the book.

For those who might be unfamiliar with the author, Robin Sharma is an international speaker and motivator and the reason why I know this is because I've seen him on Oprah for a couple of times. Anyway, the title of the book have always intrigued me and at first I initially thought this book is about monks selling Ferraris (shameful, I know).
WhenI finally read the book last February, I was unable to put it down. The book tells a story about a hot-shot lawyer in the U.S. who had a heart attack that almost killed him and that made him realize the important things in life (which is not the legal profession unfortunately). He went off to India in search of himself and came back a few years later as a monk teaching what's important in our lives.

My Review:
I love the way how the book is written, it has a story-telling style that makes it interesting and easy to follow. And the best part of the book is the analogy that it portrays, the sumo wrestler coming out of a lighthouse, falling in the garden and finally walking up a pathway filled with diamonds. That is simply an ingenious analogy (in my humble opinion) and seriously, you need to find out what it means.
However, being someone who've had my share of books (and I read A LOT of books), some parts of this book is quite predictable which I feel the author could have improved upon. All in all, for those who are seeking to find their true purpose and direction in life, I really, really recommend this book. It will motivate you, it will teach you, it will guide you, and I promise you, if you practice some of the things taught by the book, it will truly change your life for the better.

Happy reading peeps!

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Friday, April 11, 2014

Al-Fatihah Ayah

In loving memory of:
Raden Alwie bin Raden Yusop
10 May 1944 - 10 April 2014. 
10 Jamadilakhir 1435H.

Having planned our trip to Tokyo (the trip was planned to coincide with hubs birthday on the 12th of April) for many months,  we've decided to pack Alexa's bag first, considering she'll need more stuff than we do and also to ensure that if we've forgotten anything, packing the bag would definitely help us to remember what else we need for her. So, we've packed her bag on Tuesday night and set Wednesday night for us to get some of the stuff that she needs (i.e. socks, toiletries set, extra wet wipes etc). 

We decided it would be easier for Alexa's stuff to be in one bag so that if we need anything for her, we'd can look for it here.

A friend of ours, Nur Syarfeeza mentioned that Tokyo would be slightly chilly (according to the weather app in my iPhone the temperature in Tokyo is somewhere between 8 - 14 degrees celcius) and reminded us to pack warm clothes, so we prepared her travelling outfit with the weather in mind. Having been to London during spring a few years ago reminded us not to underestimate the cool weather so we prepared an extra jacket for her. 

On Thursday morning, 10th of April, at almost 6 am, we received a phone call from hub's sister, and the sound of her voice is one that I will never forget. The painful anguish of a daughter calling to inform her elder brother that their father have passed away. Indeed the whole world came crashing down on us at this one single moment, we cannot believe that someone who is as active as he is, had suddenly left us, leaving us to go back into the arms of our creator.

Shaken with shock, we quickly got into action and went to hub's family residence to help out with the funeral arrangements.

We are definitely thankful for the help from the committee of Surau Kampung Surabaya Hilir, getting ready to clean and cloth the deceased's body for the last time.

Yassin recitation for the deceased. 

Solat jenazah. 

His final resting place at Tanah Perkuburan Islam, Samariang.

In Islam, we believe that everything we have are borrowed from Allah. We do not own anything, we borrow them from Allah and Allah is the rightful owner, our body, our life, our family, our wealth, our health, all are given by Allah and should Allah wills it, all can be taken away in the blink of an eye. That is why we are accountable to all that have been given to us, we are accountable as to how we behave to others, we are accountable to our body (ensuring our health), we are accountable for our wealth and how it has been spent, we are accountable to the relationships that we have with others, in short, we are accountable for every single thing that we say or do. 

In the same manner, as we are living on borrowed time, Ayah's (this is what we call him) time with us is up. No matter how sad I am at his passing, knowing that we have lost him, knowing that Alexa will never get to know her Atok (as he calls himself), knowing that the future now will be different, how he has left such a huge gap in our lives... In a way I am glad and thankful. I am thankful to Allah for giving me the opportunity to get to know this amazing man, this person who has taken me into his life as his daughter-in-law, this quiet person who has been such an amazing father to my husband, who has taught him the values and principles that has made him what he is today, this simple man who adores that simple things in life and is eternally grateful for the little blessings that he has been granted with. I am eternally grateful to Allah for the time that has been granted to us in having him in our lives.  

Hubs and his parents and siblings during Eid 2012.

The grandfather, Raden Alwie bin Raden Yusop and his granddaughter, Raden Alexa Iqlima binti Raden Chekra Muda in January 2014, a few months after his operation, removing tumor from his brain.

Al Fatihah to my father-in-law Raden Alwie bin Raden Yusop. May Allah grant you Jannah and when the time comes, we will join you in the afterlife.

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fashionista's Travels: Bandung and Jakarta, Indonesia

[This post have been edited since I last posted it on the 2nd of April 2014]

Two months ago me and some of my fellow colleagues decided to go for a short trip to Jakarta and Bandung as a way for us to take time off from work and also spend time knowing each other's families.

This trip consisted mainly of Bandung (except on the last day which we spent the morning in Jakarta, we had driven from Bandung to Jakarta right after breakfast). I have been to Bandung a couple of times before, my last one being about three years ago (you can read the entry [here]) with another colleague and I have always loved the place. It's a great place to shop (there's plenty of factory outlets for bargain hunters), there's also plenty of fabrics to choose from for those fashionistas who's keen on designing and making their own clothes (like my friend Sherry from Sherry Says is among one of those talented creative people who can design and sew her own clothes), or even those who are passionate about food (like yours truly).

Despite some concerns over the eruption of Mount Kelud which could hamper our trip and also have adverse health implications but we decided to wing it anyway (the volcano is about 600km away from Jakarta so we decided that the mountain might be quite a distance away).

So here are some of the photos that we took while in Bandung and Jakarta:

Tangkuban Parahu, a dormant volcano (it last erupted in 1983) about an hour's drive from Bandung.

Tangkuban Parahu is considered as one of the tourist attractions in Bandung, thus you can find many vendors selling their wares near the parking lot next to the volcano.

Tourists at Tangkuban Parahu.

Wooden idols, anyone?

The row of stalls were set up strategically right next to the volcano's crater. I guess that unless the volcano display signs of volcanic activity, it would be quite safe doing business next to the crater.

Me and Alexa. As usual, she prefers the Ergo baby carrier compared to her stroller. I guess she just loves to snuggle next to me or hubs .

A lady selling grilled corn on the cob. There's actually plenty of stalls selling these around Tangkuban Parahu.

So this is basically how Tangkuban Parahu looks like.

Alexa, having woken up from her nap.

Hubs and Alexa. Weighing around 7 kgs, she's quite heavy to carry now.

For Muslims, there's a musolla for those who'd like to perform their prayers.

Post Tangkuban Parahu, we stopped by at a tea plantation for some tea.

Burnt grilled corn on cob. A word of caution though, most sellers use kerosene to light up their grill, therefore I do not recommend the corn. We took a bite and immediately we can smell the kerosene from the corn. Yuck!

Hubs and Alexa.

Next we stopped by at Sari Ater for a short dip in the hotspring

You can sit at the benches and enjoy a short dip in the hotspring. The water is almost boiling hot, so enter at your own risk!

You can see the steam rising out of the water. I must say, the water from the hotspring is definitely very, very hot.


There's also a mosque within the area.

We also stopped by Paris van Java for a lil' bit of shopping.

Those who are looking for exotic food could try sate biawak (monitor lizard sate), rica-rica sate (spicy sate), or sate kelinci (rabbit sate). And in case you're wondering, nope, I did not try any sate when we were in Bandung. I am a foodie, but exotic food are definitely not my thing.

Nasi Uduk anyone? For those who are interested to know what is nasi uduk, you can click [here].

We ended our trip with a short stop to Hard Rock Café Jakarta for Alexa's first Hard Rock t-shirt. Hopefully she's be able to wear them for our next holiday trip which will be to Tokyo, Japan, next week.

It's a tad unfortunate that I'm pressed for time, there's still a few more photos that I'd like to add to this post. Will try to edit this post later so that I can add some photos of Jakarta. Am looking forward to our next trip which will be to Tokyo, Japan, next week.

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Praying for MH370

The past couple of weeks have been harrowing to Malaysians. We not only lost a plane; on that plane, someone lost a parent, a child, a sister, a brother, a grandparent, a grandchild, a loved one, a friend, an associate, a colleague, a crew and the list goes on. As days trickle on to weeks, the situation became more and more difficult as Malaysia came under siege by criticisms from various individuals and media.

Despite this unfortunate event surrounding our country and our national carrier, given the opportunity, I would still travel with Malaysia Airlines. 

I initially did not want to write on this issue, there's been numerous blogs, write-ups, tweets, even spoofs on the matter. My blog is just one out of the millions out there who are writing on MH370. I guess this is how people vent out and try to make themselves heard, by putting thoughts and feelings on the net.

Last night, our Prime Minister announced that there is much certainty that the plane deviated to the southern corridor and the last indication given by Inmarsat is that the flight's last location is at the southern Indian Ocean, west of Perth. Could it be true that the debris from the satellite photos be of MH370? Until it is found, we could not be sure. In fact, until any evidence is found, we can never be sure of what happened to MH370.

So, why write? I would have to say that I feel compelled to thank those out there who are involved in helping the search for MH370. You deserve better recognition and thanks by us, the people who are reading the news, the people who are waiting anxiously in front of the telly for the current press conference, the people who are hungrily scrounging the net for any piece of news that we can find of on the missing plane. And yet, there you are, under siege by the media, irresponsible individuals and parties who are keen to find fault at every single thing that was done and announced. 

So here's me saying thank you for all that you've done on this mission to find the missing plane. I know it must've have been difficult, finding clues, identifying and searching every single piece of evidence that you could get your hands on (yes, that includes all the various police reports that eyewitnesses say they have seen, including those that seems incredibly ludicrous), checking and rechecking your data to make sure you have not missed anything, making sure with all means possible that the information that you are about to announce is certain to be true, facing ruthless reporters and journalists who seem to be hungry to pinpoint the blame on anyone or everyone, answering various questions and allegations on the missing plane. To the search and rescue team whether you're behind closed doors analysing and reanalysing data till your eyes blur and your head swim at the various charts, raw data and information that you have to process, and to those who are out there braving the skies, oceans and seas just so that we can get a single glimpse at any evidence that we could get our hands on; those who are working tirelessly day and night from day one, I salute you. I could and never would be able to do what you have been and will be doing until this missing plane is found. 

I find it sad that there are many out there (Malaysians included) are bashing our beloved country due to the way how the investigations are being done. As someone who is not involved in the investigations (I am after all part of those who are glued to the telly waiting rather impatiently on the next update or press conference) I will not act as if I know more that those who are involved in the matter. Despite the name-calling and country-bashing exercises by unscrupulous individuals or organisations (it's definitely a pity how some are taking advantage of this situation so that they can get some 5-minutes of fame), I would have to say that I am definitely proud by how we Malaysians have stuck together despite our different race and religion to pray for the missing plane.

To the families of those who were onboard of the missing plane, I will not pretend to know how painful this must be for you, to be ripped off the ones that you love in a manner that is completely incomprehensible such as this, I will offer the only thing that I am capable of at this time of need, words of prayer and support. And to be honest, until that plane is found (or any evidence indicating that it indeed did crash into the Indian ocean) I and many others who are like me would still be hoping and praying that those who were onboard are returned to their family safe and sound.

To quote a verse from the Quran (6:59):
"And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there with the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record."

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fashionista's Hotel Review: Hotel 1915 Kuala Lumpur

I had another overnight trip to Kuala Lumpur last weekend and this time I booked a room at Hotel 1915, not far from Masjid Jamek LRT station. This time I chose a hotel right smack in the middle of town (since my past few selections involved me traveling quite a bit to where I wanted to go). Initially I was not keen to stay at a hotel in the middle of the hustle and bustle of KL simply because I was unsure of the amount of noise that I'd be subjected to (especially at night when sleep is critical) and of course I was afraid that the environment of the hotel wouldn't be conducive for me to complete my tasks when I'm in KL.
Hotel 1915 is located about 1 minute walk away from the Masjid Jamek LRT station which is definitely very, very convenient.

It markets itself as a boutique hotel, and as boutique hotels go, I definitely love the cool design of the interior.


Corridor leading up to my room.

I opted for the deluxe queen room. Compared to all the hotels I've ever stayed in, this is among the smallest room I've ever seen. Luckily I'm not claustrophobic. If it wasn't for the room (and the lack of space) I would definitely repeat my stay at Hotel 1915.

TV console at the foot of the bed. You can actually see how small the room is from here. There's probably only about one feet of available space between the bed and the wall. There's a couple of sachets of tea and coffee and they've actually provided drinking water stations (for hot and cold water) at every level near the elevator. Jar and glass are provided in the room underneath the TV console.

The toilet/ shower.


And shower.

My review of Hotel 1915 (terribly sorry for the grainy photos in this review, this trip was rather packed so I didn't have the luxury of time to take proper photos):

To be frank, I absolutely love the location of the hotel. It's conveniently located next to a subway station which is definitely a plus point. There's plenty of stalls next to the station for you to do some shopping if you like and food is definitely easy to find when you're in this part of the city. I also liked the fact that despite the hotel's high occupancy rate, the hotel itself is very quiet, there's hardly any noise that I can hear from my room (even though we're so near to the station) and this is definitely another plus point. I like hotels for their location, cleanliness and privacy which I find this hotel fits all the criteria that I look for in a hotel. Unfortunately, the room is super small. It's okay for one person, but for two, it would be terribly cramped. So, if there's more of you, I suggest looking for a bigger room at another hotel. Other than the size issue, this hotel is absolutely perfect!

If you'd like to know more on the hotel, click [here] to visit their website.

xoxo Mrs Fashionista