Saturday, February 25, 2012

Carpe diem. NOT!! ;-)

We went to Empire for a short breakfast while waiting for Emily to finish her ensemble practise. I am still wheezing and coughing and not breathing properly. In dire need of a good pick me up. So I had my coffee. And a great book. A gift from a beautiful soul. God bless u.
Then it got better. When Medina said "I want to play NEAR the fountain". And I asked Hajar and Luqman to keep an eye on her.
As she started running, she got more excited trying to beat the fountain.
I can hear her squealing and laughing hysterically. I love her spontaneity. So random. She got no spare clothes. But nothing can stop her from enjoying the moment. Seize the day yoooo!! ;-)
And she ended up soaking wet. Her laugh was so infectious. She was ecstatic. Even the La Bodega waitors were amused with her antics. And Hajar and Luqman tried their best to contain her.
But not everybody found it funny. Somebody was not amused at all.....hahahaha. Chill abah....loosen up!! ;-)
Soaking wet and she told me...."I got grounded ummi. But we are just having fuuuunnn" ;(
Luckily we were in a shopping complex. Luckily ummi is pretty good in shopping in a jiffy...wakakaka. So somebody got a new shirt and a new pant. And ironically the first shirt ummi found is "The coolest kid in the world" So fitting righhhhttt?? ;-)
All dry, cozy and warm now. Back to her old self.
 Drawing PPG characters while humming one of her favourite songs......which she's getting really good at both.
"If I die young, bury me in satin.....Lay me down on a, bed of roses......Sink me in the river, at dawn.....Send me away with the words of a love song...." is short. Enjoy your weekend people. Carpe diem ;-)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Field trip to sewerage treatment plant.

After the art class in National Art Centre, we scoot off to Putrajaya to visit the Indah Water sewerage treatment plant. After a few SOS calls to Mr O, I finally found the place. For some reasons, I always get lost in Putrajaya. Despite using a GPS ;-P

It started with a lecture by the IWK's staff, Mr. Rahman. I didn't get his full name...sorry Mr ;-) We were told this was the first time ever IWK let kids into their treatment plant. Yeaaaayyyy, we made history!! ;-) It's mainly due to the safety issues. But they relented with our group due to the presence of parents. With the condition that all the kids are 10yo and above.
The notes
The tour began. No smells yet so far ;-)
 The starting point. Where it all started.
Mr Rahman explaining the process. From the septic tank to the sewerage plant. Kids kept looking for gross stuffs and gross smells. Nothing yet so far.
Sifting out all the rubbish before processing the waste. Kids were told throwing rubbish in the toilet clog up the system.
Aeration. Oxygen being pumped into the waste to allow the aerobic bacteria to break down the waste.
The tanks are quite deep. 5m. Doesn't look like it when they are full with water. But it's deep. More obvious when they are empty.
That's why it's dangerous to have smaller kids around the treatment plant. 
 Height phobic adult like me felt quite wobbly too. Holding to the railing tightly ;-)
One of the end products. The biosolid.
 Great natural fertilizer. Available FOC.
Group picture.
End of trip. Still no smell?? We were told if all the processes were completed properly, there shouldn't be any smell. I found the trip very educational. I think the parents were more intrigued than the kids ;-) I learnt a lot. Emily drifted from time to time. Need some prodding here and there to bring her back. Nevertheless, it was a good day. ;-)

Art class in National Art Centre.

Today, Emily started her art class with Uncle Fathul in National Art Centre. It's going to be a forthnightly class. She's the eldest among all the kids. But I thought it would be nice for her to have a regular class and to learn painting techniques from the resident artist. We'll see what comes out by the end of the 12 sessions.

To warm up, Uncle Fathul brought the kids to visit one of the ongoing exhibition, Japan; Kingdom of Characters.
 The evolution of Japanese character culture.
 I love this place. The art works are inspiring.Not to imply I am so artsy fartsy. But it's nice to be surrounded by the art works and let your mind drift away.
Today's session was held outdoor. Paint whatever u like. Mess up all u want. No rule. No limitation. Don't worry. Just paint. It's Uncle Fathul's way to get to know the character of the students. And the parents made some interesting observation too.

Like how the boys were so prim and proper. All seated quietly waiting for Uncle Fathul's cue to start the class.
 And the girls were so loud and excited and can't stop chatting. So hilarious ;-)
Getting the pallette and paint to start work.
 Mixing the colours. Stuffs I was deprived of when I was a kid. I was green with envy watching the kids having so much fun. It looked so fun. And it was really fun!!
It's interesting to observe the stuffs kids can come out when you let them free. The free spirited and fearless souls. They got into action right away. Painting straight from the heart.
I think this boy is a genius. Don't u?? ;-) 
And I observed the difference between schoolers and homeschoolers. Emily was so hesitant. About the right and wrong. The rules and regulation. Is this the right way? How do you mix the colour to get brown? Do u think my octopus looks like an octopus? Lots of doubts. And she told Uncle Fathul her brother and sisters are good at drawing. It will take time for her to change her mindset. To be comfortable to be bolder. Let's hope all those free spirited girls' boldness will eventually rub off on her.
Finally she finished her work. With her friend's help.
All the artworks by the kids. Lined up nicely. And it's really interesting to listen to the kids explaining the story behind their artwork. Awesome imagination ;-)
 Kids queuing up to tell Uncle Fathul about their drawing.
Okay. That was great. And of course it was also great for me to get to know more homeschooling parents. Am so looking forward to the next class!! ;-)

Batik Painting at Jadi Batek Gallery.

I kinda signed up for too many homeschooling trips this month. Noob ;-) Learnt my lesson. No more than 2 field trips per week. Anyway, we started the week with a trip to Jadi Batek in Jalan Inai.
It's very commercialized. So u will not really learn much about the batik painting process although they did explain very briefly.

Look, look who skipped school to join the homeschoolers?? :-) She discovered the technique of batik painting is very different from water colour painting. Trying her best not to put too much colour on the fabric. And she learned she can only draw with the wax.
 Busy busy busssyyyy.
 Emily at work.
The final product. Medina's. She's in a very yellow mood. So all the cats were yellow.
Some of the homeschooling kids' artwork. Nice ;-)
It's nothing new to me as I know batik painting from my short Piala Seri Endon's stint. But it was nice to get to meet more homeschooling parents. And the kids have fun painting. Maybe I should start digging in all the batik equipments that has been collecting dusts in the bag and set up the long long overdue art corner in the balcony. Yes, I think I should. Shall we Mr O?? ;-)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wasathiyyah; The concept of moderation in Islam

Last weekend, Mr O & me went to Konvensyen Fiqh Ummah 2012 in PWTC.
Alhamdulillah. Praise to Allah for the opportunity given. My youngest brother helped me babysit the kiddos throughout the weekend. Babysitting and driving kids to classes. Thanks a zillion dude!! ;-) Kiddos ain't complaining. Infact, they were having the time of their life. No parents...wooohoooo!! Adoilahhh ;-)

Anyway, the conference was good. To be honest, it was quite heavy for me. The noob. It was quite technical. Lots of theories. Peppered with lots of Arabic. Very deep. Mr O was feverish by end of day 1. Information overloaded...ha3. But I am still very grateful he persevered and decided to come for Day 2. To have him with me, in an event like this....doing our best to seek knowledge to be a better Muslim, few days shy of our 16th wedding anniversary, is a blessing to me. Couldn't ask for more ;-)

The speakers. Scholars from diverse background. Kudos to them. The event wasn't perfect. Nothing is perfect. Nothing will. But I personally feel they deserve lots of credit for initiating the conference.
May Allah bless them and their efforts. May Allah make it easier for them to continue the great work. For the benefit of everybody. Muslims & non-Muslims.
 Picture is from here.
The conference was the brainchild of the scholars who are concerned about the current friction between Muslims. All in the name of religion. The other issue the conference is trying to address is the avalanche of religious information available to the public. Unfiltered, unedited information from unreliable sources.

The main objective of the conference is to present a blueprint to help the public from different background to understand some of the aspects of Islam. From the perspective of wasathiyyah.
The blueprint. In a book. Awesomeness ;-)

Wasathiyyah means moderation. Fair minded. Balanced thinking. Middle. The middle is always the most secure. Think of u being attacked. Those who are in the middle is in the most secure position compared to those at the side. Middle can also be the strongest. Think of the mid-noon sun. Islam is wassat. It's in the middle. It will not be eroded by everything on the side.

For 2 days, the respected scholars tried their very best to discuss and elaborate the concept of wasathiyyah in akidah, dakwah, politics, economy & finance, turath (treasure of Islamic knowledge), tazkiyah an-nafs (cleansing of the soul), ibadah, zakat, Quran & Hadith and lifestyle. So I will try my best to share the knowledge. As far as I can understand. More of my personal key take aways than the details of the actual lectures. So pardon me for any inaccuracies.

Aqidah is our  belief. What's in the heart. And it goes hand in hand with faith. Faith has 3 essential components. Truth acknowledged by the heart. Verbalized by the tongue. And translated through the actions. So when we say we believe in something, it's not sufficient just to acknowledge it and say it, we must translate it to action. If we don't, we have not attain faith.

One of the issues I found interesting was the discussion on usul and furu' in aqidah. We spent waaaayyyy too much times arguing on petty issues. Usul is the core issues. Furu' is the branch. The non core issues. Muslim should focus on the core issues. Consensus must be reached in core issues. Not the furu'. There will always be differences in opinions among the scholars in furu' issues. It's very important to know the difference between usul & furu'. From my understanding, furu' are issues like;

Can men and woman shake hands?
Can we celebrate Maulidurrasul?
Can we do tahlil?
The issues of Imam Mahdi and the details of his come back.

We should acknowledge there are differences in opinion regarding the matter. So stop arguing who's right and who's wrong. And the opinion of the respective scholars on these issues will not discredit themselves and jeopardize their credibility.  When u encounter 2 groups with different opinions, the best approach is to think good. Give them benefit of doubts. It's always better to over-forgive than to over-punish.

The speaker also discussed about concept of wasathiyyah in the unseen. The supernaturals. The current trend of people seeking help from the jinn need to stop.

And that: "Some people from among the men used to seek refuge with some people from among the jinn, so they caused the jinn to become even more arrogant." 
Al-Jinn; 6-7

This is strictly prohibited in Islam. For whatever reasons. Only Allah knows the unseen. Nobody except Allah. Not the human. Not the jinn. Our media is not helping either. The excessive exposure on mysticism, supernaturals, black magic  etc etc through media has conditioned us that it's purely harmless entertainment. It's NOT. It affects your aqidah. So be careful.

Ustaz Mohd Zamri spoke about wasathiyyah in dakwah. Dakwah is a process of bringing people to the right path. It's continuous. Changing for the better. Striving for better. And better than best. So on. and on.

Ustaz Syed Mohd Nurhisyam elaborated on how to do dakwah.
Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom (hikmah) and good instruction (hasanah), and argue with them in a way that is best (al-mujaadalah bil husna). Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.    
An-Nahl; 125

Dig in the Quran & hadiths to learn how Rasulullah (pbuh) and the previous prophets preached with the 3 attributes. Think of Prophet Musa a.s and Firaun. Prophet Ibrahim a.s and his father. Definitely no scaring tactics. Or shunning the sinners. Avoid argument. Avoid humiliating people. No bashing. Focus on important matters. Not the petty stuffs.

It's our responsibility to improve the way we communicate with people. Coz EVERYBODY is a da'ee. Not only the scholars.

All of us have a responsibility to be good, make others good. It's aligned with the reason we were created. Our tasks in this world. To worship Allah and to be His vicegerent. Rasulullah (pbuh) said..."Deliver, even one sentence..." One of the scholars reminded the audience, everytime u update your FB status, and post something on your FB wall, think of the 2 angels on your right and left. It might be your wall. U can say whatever u want. Bitch all u want. But u r also accountable of every single words that u wrote. And every single bashing that u provoked. THINK. So there u go ;-)

Xifu Abdul Naser Abdul Rahman, spoke about the stereotyping of Islam in our country. Islam=Malay. Malay=Islam. The confusion of culture and religion. Racism. Issues faced by reverted Muslim. And how media is responsible in screwing up the image of Muslims. Think about the themes of all the local Malay films. What are the common themes? Rape, incest, disunity, broken marriage, corruption, sex, violence, drug. Is there anything to be proud of?? Most of the actors and actress are Malay. Malay=Islam. So this is how we represent Islam to the general public. So wonder no more why Muslims are struggling with their image. Hmmm...Ombak Rindu anyone??? :-)

Another important key take aways for me is how to practise moderation in the studies of Al-Quran. One of the aspects of wassathiy explained by Ustaz Dr Zahazan was about Quran as syifa'. Understanding of the meaning of syifa' and Quran from the real context.

O mankind, there has to come to you instruction from your Lord and healing for what is in the breasts and guidance and mercy for the believers. 
Surah Yunus: 57

The scholars interepreted syifa' or healing for what's in the breasts means the Quran is an antidote for spiritual diseases. Syirik, munafiq, disbelievers. And this can be achieved through understanding and integrating Quran in our daily life. For physical diseases, refer to the experts. Like doctors. This argument is based on the following verse from the Quran & hadith.

And We sent not before you except men to whom We revealed [Our message]. So ask the people of the message if you do not know. 
An-Nahl; 43

Sahih Bukhari. Volume 7, Book 71, Number 587:
Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah:
I heard the Prophet saying, "If there is any healing in your medicines, then it is in cupping, a gulp of honey or branding with fire (cauterization) that suits the ailment, but I don't like to be (cauterized) branded with fire."
BUT, the use of Quran for physical disease is not ruled out completely based on the fact that the Quran itself is a  mukjizat. A sign from Allah. So it can be, probably 10% of the time. But most of the time we should refer to the credible experts in the respective field for physical disease.
Being in medical line, I have always believe a patient should go for medical treatment first. Then proceed to alternative treatment if they wish to. Purely because the former has more scientific data to support it. It's not 100% fool-proof but it's a calculated risk. We must be very careful not to take Quran as syifa' out of context. Be very wary. More so when the alternative medicine has become a booming business lately. Any practise that is not from the Quran & hadith is wrong. Done wrongly, it can destroy our aqidah.

Ustaz Zahazan quoted a story of an 80yo granny who apparently cured cancer by practising a certain verse from the Quran. But the granny has also completed reading Quran 30 times in her life. Which probably implies that she has been constantly reading the Quran. In health and in sickness. Which is most likely why Allah grants her prayer and it works for her. And the fact that it works for her, doesn't mean it works for us. Who only started reading the respective verse when we are in trouble. If u never hold an M16 before, and u suddenly have it in your hand right now, can u shoot and kill the enemy infront of u? Maybe not.

The highlight of the conference was definitely Iman Menk's lecture. Mufti Ismail Musa Menk from Zimbabwe.
He spoke about wasathiyyah in general. In our life.

He talked about pop star. And how they popped.  The higher they go up the ladder, the more they deteriorate. If we practise the concept of wasathiyyah, it should be the opposite. Pray Allah will grant us the best in jannah, the best that we haven't seen yet. To achieve this we need to find the balance. We should enjoy life. Allah said enjoy the world. BUT with limit. And bear in our mind, what's coming later is better. Then u will be more successful. And when Rasulullah (pbuh) met a man who dressed in patches despite his wealth, Rasulullah (pbuh) said;  Let the gift of Allah be apparent on you. Presentation is important. So present yourself well. Coz it reflects your religion. Islam is never extreme. Take the middle path.

He discussed some other issues of wasathiyyah. Of striking the balance. Or lack of it.
Some  people only worry about others. Never speaks about themselves.
Some people worry so much about their physical appearance. And neglect their spiritual health.
Some people are so engrossed with their religion and don't bother others. They forget religion includes their other duties. He narrated the story of how Salman Al-Farisi helped Abu Darda striked the balance between his God, his body need (heath) and his family.

Imam Menk  also spoke about dakwah. Calling people to the right path. When u see others do wrong, u should rectify it. In a POSITIVE manner. Either by hand (action), tongue (verbal) orthe lowest point of iman, by heart. After being abused and rejected by the people in Taif, Rasulullah (pbuh) pray to Allah;
O Allah, guide my people. They don't know what they are doing.
That was a perfect example of thinking good of people. Of giving benefit of doubts. Deep down in their heart, even sinners know they need to improve. Especially once they have been tested. One day, they can change. SO we can never be judgmental.

And don't understimate yourself. That's the work of the devil. The devils give u doubts. Remember Allah keeps reminding us in the Quran..."Never lose hope in my mercy".

Build on our good habits.Sometimes, all it needs is a tweak. A minor tweak that eventually help us strike the balance.


PS. Credit to my dearest friend, Ms Fifi for some of the pictures ;-)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Field trip to Vitagen Factory.

It was our first homeschooling field trip. I was so looking forward to meet the HS parents. Kids were excited too. Medina joined Emily for the trip. Happily skipping half day of school ;-)
Welcome to Vitagen. Can't believe I was the first to arrive. The first time EVER in my whole life.....hahahaha ;)
The programme started with a brief lecture on the gut bacteria and process of making the cultured drink.

The good and bad bacteria. And of course Vitagen contains loads of good bacteria ;-)
After the lecture finished, the kids went for a brief tour in the factory. Little Missy all ready to go.
It was pretty interesting. And pretty warm too!! I was thinking it will be very cool inside the factory since Vitagen has to be kept in the fridge. Maybe the crowd made it warmer ;-)

After the tour, refreshment was served.
 What is your favourite flavour? According to the lady, grape is the all time bestseller.
  Kids drank Vitagen like they had never tasted a Vitagen before. Hmmmppphhhh!! Freebies always taste better, don't they??
Before we left, freebies were handed out. More Vitagens. And some other stuffs. Overall, we enjoyed the trip. The higlight for me was meeting the HS parents. Highlight for the kids was probably the free Vitagen. Medina told me..."It's my best day ever!!!" OK...maybe they genuinely enjoyed the trip ;-) More trips to come next week....yeeeehhaaaaa!!