Project 365

Welcome! This is my own 365 project of creating at least one post per day about the stuff that I learnt, achieved, and found, the stuff that made me happy, or the new thing I did every single day.

The project was started on 21 February 2010. It has stopped for few times but I am determined to continue!

This project is dedicated to myself. I want to feel grateful for every single thing I have. I want to be thankful for my own life. I just want to feel that I have enough.

Category: Favorite Posts

The Feeling of Losing A Loved One

Death. The word you won’t understand until you have a person you love breathing for the last time in front of your eyes.

I never witnessed death in my whole life. I never understood the feeling of losing loved ones. I had no idea how it felt. I never experienced it. Having to live abroad for most of my life, I don’t get the luxury of being close to my extended family and relatives. We seldom see each other, perhaps only once in 3 years. So when the news about the passing of a family member brought to my attention, I didn’t feel the effect of losing him/her. I was sad, but the feeling only lasted for a day or two.

It was only a month ago that I had a painful experience of having to lose someone I dearly loved.

On the 23rd of January, my grandma passed away.

She was my only grandma that I personally had known since I was a kid. The only grandma whom I always referred to as Ibu (mother). The grandma who used to take care of me when I came back home from the boarding school during my high school years. The grandma who used to be very active, full of energy, sociable, and friendly to anyone. The famous grandma that everyone loves, from our neighbor’s  security guards to tukang ojek; from her grandchildren, to her great-grandchildren; from the old to the young souls. The super-generous grandma who loved to help and give advice to others. The independent and tough grandma who was a natural businesswoman and who could earn money more than the average grandmothers in her age. The traditional grandma who were very fashionable and knew how to use a mobile phone. “I cannot use this MS!”, that’s what she always said, referring to SMS.

Losing her was no doubt one of the saddest moments in my life. Until this very day, I still cannot believe that she’s not around anymore. Her voice still freshly resonates in my mind. Having to wake up every morning in Jakarta without hearing her voice seems surreal. Am I dreaming? I have to remind myself that I am not. Even though she is no longer physically there, I can still feel that she is sitting in the terrace, walking around the house, talking or commenting about something, or giving some allowances for her small grandchildren. Her presence was strong that the house became so empty and dull without her. Her death was a huge loss for our family. It was no doubt a huge loss for our community.

Perhaps, the saddest thing for me was when I realized that I did not spend a lot of time with her. But despite all the regrets, there is one thing that I am extremely grateful about: the fact that she would wait for my mom and me to be by her side before her last breath. It did not matter that we could only see each other for 2 hours (that were very precious to me!). It did not matter that she could no longer speak anymore. But what mattered is: I saw my grandma before her soul parted from her body. I saw her beautiful and peaceful face before she was covered. These are the moments that I would never forget.

Ibu, I miss you. I hope you are in a better place now with the One you truly love. Al-Fatihah.

My Prayers

I’m going to be very frank here. I used to have problems with prayer, sholat, or shalah. It did not give me peace and serenity that it always promised. I could not concentrate. I could not reach the state of khushu’. My mind was always somewhere else, no matter how much I wanted to concentrate. It was more like a “mechanical” ritual, as most of the things were said or recited so frequently that I often forgot what I recited. I did feel like a robot: reciting things without even realizing what came out of my mouth. There was a lack of connection between Allah SWT and I in the sholat.

Yes, my prayers had not been a comfort to my eyes. It’s sad, isn’t it? Something was definitely missing. But I could not figure out why or what was missing! At one point, I blamed myself — maybe I was not devoted enough. Maybe I had to read more Islamic books so that I could improve my sholat. Maybe I had to work hard for it. Or maybe,… maybe, time would tell. Maybe one day it would change like magic.

A few years ago I encountered this video on Why and How to Learn Arabic by Nouman Ali Khan. The whole talk was a slap to my face. I never realized the importance of learning Arabic (except to read the Qur’an) until I watched the talk. Learning Arabic is indeed very important, not to converse, not to order shawerma in Mekkah, but to understand the Qur’an. He gave a lot of reasons why it’s such an important language. I won’t write them here (because you need to watch it), but the video was enough to convince me that I had to start learning Arabic for the sake of understanding Allah’s words — so that I could pay attention to the ayats that were being recited in the sholat.

In the beginning, I did. I tried to learn Arabic language by myself through online resources. I could confidently say that I was not a beginner in Arabic language. I could still understand bits and pieces (i.e. some words) in the Qur’an. So it was not hard for me to learn it, alhamdulillah. I was certain that I could do this by myself. After all, Allah SWT promised us that He would make it easy for us to learn Arabic if we do it for the sake of remembrance to Him :).

Unfortunately, other commitments kept me busy and I started to abandon it completely. I stopped studying Arabic language. Years passed by and I came across a whole complete tafseer of Juz Amma and Tabarak by Nouman Ali Khan and Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda. I listened to the tafseer of Surah Al-Ikhlas and I was amazed by its depth! For the first time of my life, I was able to appreciate the Qur’an not only by its meaning and lessons, but also its linguistic aspect. Every time I recited Surah Al-Ikhlas in my prayer, I felt like Allah SWT told me to say HuwaAllahu ahad. He is Allah, One. It felt like He’s talking to me. Understanding and contemplating His words made so much difference. Subhanallah.

After that amazing experience, I tried to read the translation of the Qur’an, especially the short surahs that I usually recited in my sholat. I had been trying to listen to the tafseer of other surahs but I had not had the time for it yet (I think this is an excuse hahaha). Because I really had to sit down and listen carefully to the recording. I tried downloading it and putting it in my iPod so that I could listen to it on my way to campus, but I could not remember it somehow. So for now, I only read the translations of some surahs so that at least I could understand what I recited in my sholat.

Besides reading the translation, I also listened to this khutbah about Surah Al-Fatiha (again, by Nouman Ali Khan). The khutbah is more about the lessons and reminders from the surah, rather than the in-depth tafseer itself. Surah Al-Fatiha is an important surah as we’re told to recite it every single time we stand in prayers. Since it’s recited so frequently, it’s easy for us to lose our concentration when we recite this surah. The next thing we know, it’s already amin. But upon listening to the khutbah, my sholat greatly improved. Alhamdulillah.

I also discovered not long time ago that Allah SWT is actually conversing with us every time we recite Surah Al-Fatiha. For example, when we say alhamdulillahi rabbil alamin (All praise and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds), Allah SWT responds with “my servant has praised Me”, and so on (read the full hadith).  I did not know that! It’s amazing, isn’t it?! This makes Surah Al-Fatiha the core and primary experience of the prayer. When I read this hadith, I vowed to never miss that chance of speaking with Allah SWT again. I had to make my sholat right this time.

The next video I encountered was The Meaning of the Tashahhud by Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda. Tashahhud is the sitting portion of the sholat. Although I understood most parts of the tashahhud, I failed to pay attention to its meaning whenever I said it. Again, I did it mechanically: saying things without realizing what I said. Once I watched the video and understood word by word and the stories behind some words, I could pay attention! It just felt so different and amazing. No words could describe it. After that, I tried to learn and memorize other phrases recited/said in sholat.

By the way, Bayyinah Institute, which was founded by Nouman Ali Khan, offered a weekend seminar called Meaningful Prayer which explains both the linguistic meanings behind each word in the prayer and the literary beauty in them. If I were in the States, I would have definitely taken part in this seminar!! I wish I could find such seminar in my country. Anyway…

Alhamdulillah, by doing my own self-study, my sholat nowadays becomes an amazing experience that I greatly enjoy. I do it not only because Allah SWT told me to, but it’s also because I love it and I find peace and serenity every time I do it. I find that the later reason is much stronger than the former. I find that sholat is a blessing that keeps me connected to Allah SWT and constantly asking for His guidance. I would never say that my sholat is near perfect — in fact, it’s imperfect, but I really hope that… insya Allah… my effort to improve my sholat is counted and my sholat (and yours) will be accepted by Him. Amin.

If you want to improve your daily prayers like I do, it’s never too late to do it. Here are some of the videos/audios that I find very useful:

  • Literary Gems of Prayer by Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda — watching this video made me feel SOOOOOO regret that I had been doing sholat without understanding anything I recited.
  • The Meaning of the Tashahhud by Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda — the beauty and the meaning of each words of the Tashahhud are explained in great detail
  • Lessons & Reminders from Surah Al Fatiha by Nouman Ali Khan — this one helps you to understand the surah in detail
  • Tafseer of surahs in Juz Amma and Juz Tabarak by Nouman Ali Khan & Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda — in-depth tafseer by Bayyinah Institute. You can download the audios as mp3 or as a podcast (for iTunes).
  • The Salah Series from — everything you want to know about sholat is explained here, including the meaning of phrases recited in sholat
  • Khusu’ in Sholat by Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda — this lecture covers the importance and virtues of khushu’ as well as steps to implement it (which are covered in the links or videos above)
  • Extra: Why and How to Learn Arabic for Comprehension of the Qur’an by Nouman Ali Khan — amazing talk which successfully made me regret all my life that I never took Arabic language seriously.

UPDATE: some more links

  • PrayAnywhere — all the supplications in the sholat are explained here! I love them!
  • RamadanPrep — there’s a talk called Your Salah 2.0 by Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda explaining about the meaning of takbir, sujud, and one of the concluding supplications.

The Years of Being Covered

Just like any Muslims around the world, Ramadan is an important month for me. Not only does the month of Ramadan mark the time in which the Qur’an was first revealed, but it was also the month when I decided, for the first time ever, to don a headscarf or a hijab. It was a stepping stone that changed my life forever. It was an oath I made to Allah SWT and for the next 11 years, it has given me an amazing journey that I never regretted.

I gave a detailed account on my other blog on how and why I finally decided to wear a hijab. To put it simply, a hijab for me is an act of obedient to Allah SWT. That is the only primary reason why I wear it until this very day. All other reasons, e.g. protection and identity, are secondary.

But I cannot deny the fact that the hijab is my identity. It defines me about who I am. A Muslim. There is no god but Allah SWT and Muhammad SAW is the Messenger of God. This is the very identity that has led to questions, judgments, abandons, sympathies, curiosities, or even stares. But this is also the identity that has changed perceptions and broken stereotypes. This is the identity that forced me to defend what I believe in, more than my nationality. More than anything else.

Hijab is also about modesty. Or Haya in Arabic. It is about being modest outwardly and inwardly. It is not only about the covering of the hair or your whole body. It is about how you act and present yourself. This is by far the hardest thing to achieve. I do not think I am modest inside out. There are many aspects I have to sort out. There are many things I have to fix. I do not even think that I can represent any respected hijabi sisters out there. I am far below that.

Indeed, I am not a perfect Muslim. I am not and never claimed to be religious. I do not and will never preach you why you do not pray. Or why you do not fast. Because there are still flaws inside me that I need to fix. Before I can correct somebody else, I have to make sure that I am free of those flaws. I have to be judgmental and critical about myself. That is what hijab has taught me all this time.

Hijab is my choice. It is my freedom. No one and nothing in this world can ever change that. Not even Islamophobia. Taking away my freedom to wear a hijab is a clear and definite sign of oppression. Period.

Relationship 101: Love Language

“Love language” is the concept developed by Gary Chapman, which defines a primary way of expressing and interpreting love. Everyone has different ways to make others feel loved and appreciated.  Some people prefer to use their own love language when expressing love to others and some would prefer to use other love language(s) than their own to do that.

There are five different love languages that Chapman mentioned:

  • Words of Affirmation
    This can be in the form of verbal appreciation, unsolicited compliments, and encouragement. Things like “I love you” or “You look handsome today” mean the world to people of this love language. Hearing the reasons behind that love sends their spirits skyward. Insults can leave them shattered and are not easily forgotten.
  • Quality Time
    Spending time and being there with the significant other –with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby– is what quality time all about. Quality conversation is very important for these people, whether it is about sharing experiences, thoughts, feeling, or desires. Quality activities, like doing activities that they love to do with their loved ones, are also a very important part of quality time. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
  • Receiving Gifts
    Some people respond well to visual symbols of love. Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous–so would the absence of everyday gestures.
  • Acts of Service
    People of this love language view anything that can be done to ease the burden of others as an expression of love and devotion. This can be demonstrated by doing simple chores around the house or doing something without being asked. It is very important to understand what acts of service these people most appreciate. Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
  • Physical Touch
    This love language is marked by the desire to be touched. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face–these are some ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

So I hope by now you can identify the love language of the people around you — your family members (including your kids), friends, partner, or boy/girlfriend. Everyone has one primary love language that they speak and it’s not rare to speak one primary language and one secondary language.

One important thing that we must understand about love language is that: all of us need to express our love based on the love language of our  significant other. We need to know their love language in order for us to speak the same language. We need to fill their “love tank” with the right love language so that they would feel loved. If not, “miscommunication” can occur and they would complain that we don’t understand them because they don’t feel that their needs are fulfilled. So, from now on, let’s fill their love tank with the love language they prefer, before it’s being filled by other people! 🙂

My love language is quality time and I tend to speak the same language when expressing my love to others. I just love spending time with friends. Sitting in a café, having dinner together, or traveling together are the things I love to do the most. This is probably the reason why my brother and I can get along really well. The presence of each other means so much to both of us. I love spending time in his room (and he always forced me to be in his room). You might find us singing or dancing like there’s no tomorrow, talking like grown-ups do, or just doing something on our own — it doesn’t matter. We just love to be in each other’s company. That’s probably why I love to have roommates!! 😉

I do get irritated when people postpone or cancel our meet-ups or dates (not all the time, but depending on circumstances and reasons, of course). I also feel awful when people ignore me or pretend to listen to me when they actually don’t. If you’re busy, tell me that you are and I’d definitely understand.

My only grandma, interestingly, loves to receive gifts. I observe that she would appreciate more if others notice what she wants and suddenly buy her the gift. I remember at one time she complained about forgetting to buy meses (chocolate sprinkles or hagelslag). So when I went out with friends, I decided to buy her a pack of meses (I didn’t plan to, but I suddenly remembered when I passed a supermarket). She was soooo happy when I gave it to her! She overly praised me in front of others, although it’s only meses!!! Hehehe. I never understood why she loved receiving things from others, but after finding the five love languages, I understood why she felt that way :).

So, what’s your love language? If you don’t know, you can take the quiz to find it out 🙂

P.S. I haven’t read Chapman’s book and I don’t think I will haha!

P.S.S. If you think I have so much time available to post this stuff on my blog, think again! This has been saved as a draft for almost a month! (in case you’re wondering hihihi)


When You Greet… in Arabic

The Arabs have a weird way of greeting their friends. They would ask the following questions:

  • How are you?
  • How’s everything?
  • How’s your health?
  • How’s your family?
  • How’s your son/daughter?
  • and the list is expanding… (but usually those first four questions are asked)

And what’s the answer to all those questions?

Alhamdulillah. All praise is due to Allah SWT.

In Saudi Arabia, when you greet a person, you’d kiss him/her on the cheek. So if you ask him/her four questions above, then you’d kiss him/her for four times. So it all depends on the number of questions that you ask. And all of them must be answered with alhamdulillah.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I suggest you watch this funny and short video made by MTV Arabia about Saudi kiss:


My brother and I used to make fun of the way Arabs greet. It’s funny, when you think about it. I mean, you ask so many questions and no matter what you ask, the answer will always be alhamdulillah! It’s soooo “basa-basi”.

Anyway, it turns out that this way of greeting has existed for so long — it was once the habit of salafus shalih (the ‘pious predecessors’ from the first three generations of Muslims) which has been passed down until now! The reason why they did it was so that they can say the word alhamdulillah for so many times. In other words, they deliberately did it so that we can praise Allah SWT more often — i.e. so that we can be grateful to Allah SWT more often.

Subhanallah, I didn’t know that!!! I’m such a loser for thinking about it in another way. Oh God, please forgive me.

* Taken from a book titled “Kaya & Bahagia dengan Syukur” by Ahmad Hadi Yasin.

Relationship 101: Women & Love

In the previous post, I wrote about the most important thing that men need, which is respect. For them, respect means love. If they’re angry or they walk away from the conversation out of the sudden, most probably that’s because they don’t feel respected by the wives.

Now… Moving on to the women’s issues… What’s the most important thing that women need…? *drumroll* EXACTLY, yes. Thank you! 😛

The answer is of course love. To feel loved and cared for. And let me tell you guys, women do need this all the time. They need assurance. They want emotional security. They don’t want to be ignored. It doesn’t matter if you’re married for 2, 5, 10, or 40 years. Women always need to feel loved and they need to be assured by it. Never get bored of saying ‘I love you’ every day or give her rose every week (every women is different in terms of what they want), because THAT makes a lot of difference.

A lot of men say: “I show my love to my wife through my attitude or approach. I don’t need to say that in words!” Seriously, that doesn’t help at all. You need to express your love according to her dictionary, not yours. It may not have any meaning to you, but it does for many women. Affection and expression of love is what they need. That’s how most of them measure the relationship. It makes them happy. So be realistic.

A woman may complain to her husband, “You don’t love your family!” or “You don’t care about us!” while the husband has worked so hard to make sure the financial needs of her and the children are met. Well, the thing is for women, emotional closeness is more important than materials and money (I don’t speak for materialistic women because I’m not one. But I do think at some point in time they actually need more love rather than money). Emotional closeness can be in the form of having dinner just the two of you, without the children. Or basically just spending time together (while I also think the men and women need to have their “boys time” or “girls time” respectively with their own friends… but that’s another issue).

One important thing that ALL men are blind about is how to deal with women who want to “curhat” or vent out, either because they have problems or they just want to complain LOL. Most men just jump straight away into “how to solve it” (like in the company: you have problems, solve it right away). But this is not a company! This is a relationship with a complicated creature called woman! In order to deal with women, you have to listen to them and make them feel good and okay. They actually don’t need any solutions (unless they ask!). They just want you to listen to them and be there when they feel down. Hug them and that will make them feel so much better.

So for us, the formula is:

sharing = listening = love

As simple as that! Hahaha. And this is actually true. I’ve experienced it before. When my boyfriend knew how to deal with me when I had problems, that’s when I felt he understood and loved me. Even if he’s not romantic, when that’s fulfilled, I was happy. Compared that to a guy who’s all about romance and sweet words but when it comes to sharing, he doesn’t know what to do and gets panic. I guarantee you that the woman will complain and ask why you don’t understand her and so on… hehehe. I’ve been in both situations hahaha.

Source: @alissawahid‘s tweets, which were actually based on a book titled For Men Only by Shaunti Feldhahn and Jeff Feldhahn. Her tweets were very long (it’s called kultweet = kuliah tweet = tweet lecture?), so I put them together into a single post that can be easily understood (and add my own interpretation or opinion of course hehe).

Relationship 101: Men & Respect

I’ve been reading the tweets of mbak Alissa Wahid (yes, she’s the daughter of our former president Gus Dur). Many of her tweets are so interesting — ranging from parenting to relationship. I have to admit that I regret I didn’t “record” or put most of them here. I totally forgot what they were all about now haha…

Anyway, about a month ago (or even more, because this post has been in my pending list), she tweeted about marriage: what husbands and wives (should) expect of each other. Her tweets were based on two books: For Women Only and For Men Only — authored by Shaunti Feldhahn and Jeff Feldhahn. The two books were the result of a nationwide survey in the US and more than 1,000 personal interviews. I think it’s quite interesting and I’m sure most of the information were not that new. But sometimes reminders are what we need! So let’s just refresh our mind again…

In this post, I will focus on For Women Only. Again, this piece is taken from mbak Alissa’s tweets 🙂

Love is all you need. Really?

One thing that mbak Alissa emphasized was the fact that showering men with love and care is not actually enough. A man needs to feel that he is respected and trusted by his wife. That’s what he needs the MOST. His worst nightmare is to be humiliated. Once he feels humiliated and embarrassed, he will feel unloved by his wife and can easily lose his temper.  For us, the women, crying tends to be our response to feeling unloved. But for men, anger tends to be their response to feeling disrespected.

So, while we need unconditional love, men need unconditional respect. Don’t tease him or make “bad” comments about him in front of his friends: “Oh but my husband can’t even fix the tire!”. Don’t question his decision: “Oh come on!! Did YOU really think it’s a good idea?!” or abilities: “Why are you so slow?! Can’t you be a lot faster?”.

The bottom line is, don’t make him feel that he’s not good enough for you. Don’t lower his self-esteem. Don’t make him “less”. Believe him and trust in him and appreciate his efforts (and let him know that!). Give him full support rather than demands. Encourage him.

Criticism is important, but how you say it does make a difference.

Based on research, 74% men would rather be ignored, be alone, or feel unloved than to be humiliated. So, from this point on we can conclude that for men:

respect = love

That’s the formula, people! hihihi. If you wanna feel loved, you have to respect your man first!

This post is actually a note to self (hmm most of my posts serve this purpose actually hehehe). It doesn’t only apply for relationships and marriages. But also friendships. I have to admit though, I do pass out bad comments to guys whom I don’t like. I use that as a weapon to turn them away hahaha. Oh I’m bad!!!

But I do remember, one of my ex asked me at one time, why I would always hesitate to ask him for help. The thing was, I used to do that to all people because I felt “gak enakan”… I just felt that I’d cause them trouble and inconvenience. But for him, apparently, that’s how he showed his love. Protecting and helping me. That’s what made him feels good about himself. And this is only a minor example. It can extend to the fact that a husband provides financial needs to the family. When he provides, he feels powerful as he feels the family depends on him :). He wants to feel depended on because that shows the family actually trusts him (in supporting them).

Being an independent woman also proves to be hard because often time I give a wrong impression that I don’t need him or any guys in general, but that is actually wrong. I don’t think I’m overly independent. There are certain things that I and all other independent women (and all women basically) need. That’s of course will be discussed in the next post, which will focus on For Men Only! Be patient, guys 😛

Parenting 101: Praising

* I decided to post the series of Parenting 101 that I found through the stuff I read (especially on Twitter), so that I can refer to it again when the time comes 🙂

Research study shows that praising children for their brain and intelligence can have adverse effects on them, especially with regards to their academic achievement. These so-called fixed-mindset children tend to:

  • Consider failure as a result of intrinsic factor, i.e. their intelligence. Therefore they tend to think that failure is beyond their control.
  • Put an extra emphasis on being smart and “looking” smart rather than trying as hard as they can (and learn from their success or failure)
  • Be more reluctant to make efforts and attempts, and to learn from their past mistakes or failure.

So what’s the solution?

Rather than praising children for being smart, parents should have praised them for working hard. On the successful completion of a test, parents should not have said, “I’m so proud of you. You’re so smart.” They should have said, “I’m so proud of you. You must have really studied hard.” Big difference. This appeals to your child’s controllable effort rather than to mysterious, unchangeable talent. It’s called “growth mindset” praise.

More than 30 years of study show that children raised in growth-mindset homes consistently outscore their fixed-mindset peers in academic achievement. For example, kids regularly praised for effort solve 50 to 60 percent more hard math problems than kids praised for intelligence. Because these growth-mindset kids believe mistakes occur from of lack of effort, not from a lack of ability, the kids know exactly how to remedy mistakes: simply apply more effort.

With regards to praising, I also have to agree with Nouman Ali Khan that praising someone (anyone, not only kids) boosts their ego. It does more harm than good, although I admit I praise people without me realizing hahaha… I have to be more careful next time!


Strengthening My Faith

Faith, like shoes, need to be polished each time. For someone like me, who easily gets bored and forgetful, polishing my faith is a must. I do that by attending Islamic study at the mosque or via Skype. Honestly I don’t attend it regularly, but when I do attend, it means that I really want to.

Recently, I have been caught up with a lot of things that I put this as my secondary activity. It’s bad, I can tell you, because I constantly need a fuel and it’s running out. I suddenly remember, "hey, why not start watching YouTube videos?!" I hadn’t watched them for a little while, so I guess it’s the best time to do it again.

So I’ve been watching a lot of videos related to Islam by many people like Hamza Yusuf, Nouman Ali Khan, and Yusha Evans. I can’t be thankful enough, I’ve been learning so many things from them. To be honest, I find it more effective to listen/watch these videos because when I lost my concentration, I could replay again the parts that I missed. Somehow, it’s hard for me to focus when it comes to religious studies, including those that I attend at the mosque. Watching them on YouTube is a much better approach for me. I can listen to them over and over again, take some notes and make some summaries. I can’t be happier :). I should make this a once- or twice-a-week thing for me.

During my self-study (which was not limited to only YouTube videos, but also blogs, for example the one owned by Suhaib Webb), I found this article about English translations of the Qur’an. I was really surprised to learn that there are two variations of the English translations: the Saudi-endorsed & —financed and the non-Saudi-endorsed. It turned out, there were quite a bit of differences in both translations. The former has some political sentiments inserted (anti-Jews and anti-Christians), as can be seen in the following example.

The last two ayats from Surah Al-Fatihah is supposedly translated as:

Guide us to the straight path. The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.

But in the Saudi-endorsed translation, it is translated as:

Guide us to the Straight Way. The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace , not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians).

There’s NO mention of "such as the Jews" or "such as the Christians" in the original Arabic version!!! So this is misleading!

I wasn’t very happy upon learning it, to be honest. How can the Saudi government do this to the noble Qur’an?! They’re doing it for the sake of their own political agenda!!! I still have to go to the Haram Mosque and see the translation myself and prove that they added something that they shouldn’t have added. But still, I was upset. So I did my own research, exploring different translations, and decided to purchase myself the English translation of the Qur’an by Muhammad Asad, titled The Message of the Qur’an. I just need to make sure I wouldn’t bring this to Saudi Arabia, because this book was banned there hahaha. Yet another reason to put an end to my Saudi residence permit *sigh*.



Yep, that is a greeting that only me and my Japanese friend understand. We lived in the same dorm during our first year in Brisbane. We had a weird friendship, I have to say. We barely talked (in depth) and I have little memories of us except this unique greeting.

One conversation we had that I fondly remember was about my headscarf. He asked me why I wore it and I answered it as short as I could as I wasn’t so sure if he’d be interested in the longer version of the story. And then he asked me: "When will I be able to see YOUR hair then?!" I jokingly answered, "when you marry me!" And that became his frequent question directed towards me 😛

One day, he asked me the word ‘paper’ in Indonesian. And I told him, it’s ‘kertas’. Since that very day, every time we bumped into each other, he’d mention that word. It became our greeting and we highly took pride of it. Everyone around us would probably be wondering, what in the world are these two strange people are talking about?!

Years passed by and we barely bumped into each other anymore. Now that we’re so further apart, we’re only connected through Facebook. When the earthquake and tsunami occurred in Japan, I wrote to all of my friends residing in Japan and my Japanese friends living outside of Japan, asking them if they or their families and friends are affected in any way. I wrote to all of them, including him.

I was so glad to hear that he and his family are fine. But one thing that touched me was when he wrote CARTUSSSS (he didn’t know how to spell the word, hence cartusss). I felt nothing but touched when I read his message. Wow! He still remembers that!!! 🙂 I believe it was at least 4 years ago since I last saw him!

One thing I feel so grateful about when it comes to these events: Queensland floods, Egyptian revolution, and Japan earthquake/tsunami is that: my friends and I are reconnected again. It doesn’t matter if we were only a hi-bye friend, bumped into each other for only few times, had little memories to remember, or never wrote to each other before. The thing that matters to me the most is that we are able to connect again and knowing that they are fine. Even if it’s only in the form of very short messages. Sometimes it helps just to show that this insignificant friend of them still remembers them. I hope they would realize that the world still cares for them and they’re all in our thoughts and prayers 🙂