Saturday, September 30, 2006

Exam Tumult and The After Relief,

Sitting for exams is definitely a grueling experience. And having to undergo them during the fasting month is phenomenal. One can chose to 'plow' through it positively or negatively. Armed with lots of sabr and taqwa to Allah swt and having done sufficient revision, taking exams in Ramadhan would mean more Barakah from Him . For this, we have the upper hand , insyallah.

Btw, (perhaps I have blogged this before. Excuse me for the repetition), I can still recall my post MCE (=SPM now) rendezvous in '79. After the last paper, my group of friends decided to let off steam by thronging the cinema at one of the busiest street in Penang. (my kids are not encouraged to do that now! :p). The movie was, brace yourself, "Star Wars" ! Yes I watched the first Star wars movie but I can't recall my 'feelings' for it back then. As for today, I'd sleep through any such Sci fi movie, though! Anyway, a rather vivid recollection of that 'momentous' day as I parted from my friends, Maznah, the cheeky one shouted, "May the force be with you!" Sadly, I have no contact whatsoever with Maznah, Mustainnah, Fauziah nor Fauzillah. The last I heard was Maznah took a great leap by going out of Penang Island for the very first time and flew to the US. Fauziah entered UM to do computer analysis whilst, Fauzillah did engineering in the UK. I managed to catch up with Mus who were doing her practical in RRI ages ago. Fauzilah and Mustainnah were my closest chums and we studied together for the exams. To them all: I hope you are all doing fine, forever in Allah's guidance, wherever you may possibly be!

To Aliah: All the very best and May you sail through each paper, Ameen!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Month To Reflect And Act

A Month To Reflect And Act

Alhamdulillah we have been given the nikmat to undergo another month of spiritual cleansing, character building and soul strengthening. Ramadhan is undoubtedly a virtual school where every muslims go for a month every year. For the whole month we train ourselves to guard our nafs from various vile habits that we may have picked up throught out the year. Eventhough the essential essence of Ramadhan is refraining ourselves from eating, drinking and copulating, it actually encompasses a more holistic exercise. Hunger softens the heart. It teaches us patience. Besides that we are not to indulge in ignoble activities like back-biting, slandering, arguing etc.
We are encouraged to escalate our supererogatory prayers/ ibadah and fill the hours with positive activities. Saying the zikrullah as much as we could. It is said that whatever good that is done in Ramadhan with sheer sincerity , rewards come in manifold. Thus by the end of Ramadhan we will graduate from the 'school', a stonger muslim and jemaah, insyallah!

In Ramadhan as hunger pangs plague us, we are being taught that this is the best moment to 'feel' for those who suffer due to poverty, those at war etc. Day in and out for the whole of Ramadhan it teaches you to empathise with the poor and needy. Thus in this sacred month we are being encouraged to give alms more than ever.

Do you notice how the atmosphere feels markedly different in Ramadhan? How it is more peaceful and balmy? It is usually hotter, no doubt as Ramadhan is known as a hot and dry month even back during prophet Muhammad's time.(saw). Ramadhan simply exudes goodnes in the air and this could be because all the doors of Jannah are opened throughout, whilst all the doors of Jahannam are closed and that satan and his accomplices are in shackles temporarily.

No words can really describe the pleasure we savor at the moment of iftar. Each morsel of food just brings sheer gratifying joy. As those glorious food touch your palate, you are reminded of how lucky you are to be able to taste food again after long hours of abstain. And to top up everything, it is said that it's mustajab to make dua duriang the time of breaking fast. Masyallah! Undoubtedly, Allah's blessings in Ramadhan are abundant!

I am touched by OrangKilang's (OK) Ramadhan Contemplation on how he hopes that this Ramadhan will see a change for the better in him. He said : I also pray that Allah gives me the strength to change for the better and become a better person. If there is any time in our lives that we have a chance to change, Ramadhan is the best chance. During this time we are free from the whispers of Syaitan who will be locked up during the entire month. Our motivations will be our own, our sins will be our own, our darkness will be our own. So if we need to cleanse and purify ourselves, this is the time. As always, OK has an interesting knack of quoting famous quotes especially lines from films. This time he had quoted: As Picard says in First Contact, "The line must be drawn heeyah (here)!

also has an interesting Ramadhan entry highlighting the perplexing situation of fasting in a foreign country with unpredictable weather. Here is a witty extract of her entry :

The jihad against an-nafs should not be taken lightly. They’re well-prepared, armed with strong dosage of immunity courtesy of their bosses before the latter went on hiatus. And chances are, you won’t even notice that it really is your nafs acting by proxy when you reach for those extra chicken drumsticks during iftar which you suspect will make you bloat like Shrek and monkey with your concentration all through tarawih later but you do it anyway.

Yes, no matter how much you drill into your brain during the day, telling yourself to cut on your gastronomical desires, somehow, on breaking fast, you'll find your hands making a pact with your mouth, helping you to gorge yourself and alas, bloat like a puffer fish! And of course, the impact of having drank gallons of water and glut on your food , you are left with a staggering gait and droopy eyes during tarawikh!

Two of our dearest kins, my son, Luqman and Salina, Boogey's wife, had to celebrate their birthdays whilst fasting this year. Happy birthday and may Allah swt bless both of them. What is most flabbergasting is Boogey's latest entry! Read it and you'll know what I mean! (to Boogey: you need a permanent sort of reminder engraved or framed somewhere within your daily view!!)

has a beautiful checklist of obligatory and sunnat things to do for the whole of Ramadhan whilst Tawel had lined out the proper way to sleep, the Muslim way. Hope we can assimilate them into our daily lives.

As we already know, Ramadhan is a month filled with endless blessings from Allah swt., so much so that fasting is an ibadah that is exclusively being rewarded by Allah swt. Himself. Let us not let this opportunity slip away abysmally! May this Ramadhan see the better of us, in our ibadah especially! Take care!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Ramadhan Wish and Short Snippets

I agree with you, I agree not

I was reading a malay newspaper today. It wasn't yours, Azahar but I do read HM everyday though! Anyway, I came across this article which condemned Pope Benedict's controversial speech. The more I read it the more I agree with the writer and I found that each of his sentence echoed my thoughts regarding the issue. That the Pope must have had some hidden agenda to focus on an ancient dialogue between a christian ruler and an imam. That the speech only biasedly focussed on the negative statements of the ruler and not mention any rebuke from the imam. That the Pope can't expect Muslims to forgive him simply by saying that he was only quoting a previous dialogue and not his. But if the Pope himself disagree with the vilifying statements then why mention at all?? So as i read along the article and nodding with sheer agreement, I was saying to myself, "This writer is good. Our thoughts are so alike. Wonder who the writer is" So my eyes shifted up again to focus on the writer's name. Lo and behold! I couldnt believe my eyes! The writer was an ex-finance minister that had created much havoc to our economy and I have since habour great distrust in him. Here I was, feeling so good that someone had written my exact sentiment regarding the issue but only to find out that the writer was someone that I can't trust anymore! Ironic isn't it?

Roger Federer the F1 driver?

Sports has never been my cup of tea. Now don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't advocate exercise or being active in sports. I do believe that one needs to at least be physically active everyday. But I am not the one to stay up for any live sports events on TV. I would't want to waste my beauty sleep over a football match, world cup or not. I wouldn't be interested to know who won the Wimbledon or Grand Slam.I don't care if Schumacer wins the next F1 or not. I can't give a hoot what tryes are allowed for the race, Michellin or Bridgestone. In Mama Sarah's latest entry she showed a clip of Emyr tackling a football with finesse and I commented that Emyr's mum must be proud of him and that he could be the next "Ranoldino" which should have been spelt as Ronaldinho, hehe. Well, with near-sounding names like Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Rivaldo, you'll never know, 'Ranolldino' might just be the next sought after football player! This was not my first sports slip-up. I remember making a comment at Has's blog regarding Roger Federer. It was the F1 season then and when Has mentioned Roger, I mistakenly said that I was not an F1 fan. There you go. When you let a non-sports person into the wild, she'll create a new football figure and turn a fantastic tennis ace into an F1 driver!! Ta da!

Our very own Turks!!

My previous entry on Orhan Pamuk's book has created an interesting thread of dialogue between Nnydd and Kucuk Mehmet a.k.a. Boogey. It seems that this 2 guys are so well versed in the history of Turkey, specifically of the Ottoman Empire. It is truly fascinating to hear about the old legendary figures of Turkey, the tariqats and their intriguing epic.

Here are some exerpts of the discussion between the 2:

Nnydd Said:
I agree that OP might only be trying to illustrate the decaying days of the Khalifah. But one also got to know his background, his history and his intent to the potrayal that the cause, the root cause of this, is the 'alim of Turkey. I do not contend that maybe he is good writer, likewise his interpretor is a good interpretor, but I contend the message he wanted to convey. I certainly do not find him a representative of Turkey's Ottomania, unless if I am a secularimania.

Boogey said:
Orhan Pamuk is not an ottomania. He`s as many other turkish writers of the republican era are Ataturkcu. However one must also accept the possibility of some truth in things we do not agree with in his writing. The last years of the ottoman was not the same as in the 16th century. For more details you create an entry for discussion.

Nydd said:
I agree that degradations happened at the end of the Caliphate. Katib Chelebi wrote in Dusturu-l-amel, as early as 1650s, "The natural life of man is reckoned in three parts: the age of growth, the age of attainment and maturity, the age of decline...History shows that some states have decined soon after the age of growth; some have been cut off in tehir prime by a disaster of fate; and some lik ethis illustrious Ottoman state, have enjoyed a long period of maturity because they are built on firm foundations and good principles. However in both individuals and in societies the signs of the third age are discernible." But to put this solely at the foot of the scholars and at the system of Caliphate? And to ignore the intent, purpose and effect of the secularists? In this I find imbalance. There were hopes for the Ottoman even as it breathed the last breath - it had some of the finest thinkers, some of the best scholars, some of the best Sultans and governors in the whole of Islamic world, but whatever hoope was extinguished by other playful hands.

Boogey said:
Yes, you are right about the Suleymanci wearing robes. The same is actually true with the Nurcus. Syed Nursi wore robes and carry a cane and some sects within the Nurcus still wear robes. Once they came out in the local news when a group of them wore robes and carry canes in public.

I said:
Didnt know wearing robes or not is so significant among the turks?

Boogey said:
During the ottoman era, wearing robes is common. In fact you can identify they belong to which school from the color of their robes or headwear. Nowadays wearing such robes and headwear is strongly discouraged but you can still differentiate the tarikatcis from the beads and how they hold the beads during zikir. The tarikatcis usually have a place they get together for sohbet which means dialougue just like the Nurcus and suleymancis. In Malaysia we call this sohbet event usrah. Sohbet centres are called tekke or medrese. It is also a refuge. You can eat, sleep there for as long as you want. For tarikatcis you don`t need a particular topic for sohbet. No dialogue is a waste of time as long as within the islamic boundries because for them diague is a communication between souls/heart and not minds.

Withold the food, dear!

As Ramadhan is approaching, someone requested that we cool down on food entries, :p. Point taken, Azahar. So Mama Sarah, please stop asking Sarah to make those yummy pudds and QOTH, no more Curry Laksa till Ramadhan is over!:p

Selamat Menyambut Ramadhan!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fettucini Al- fredo on a Sunday-o

This is Luqman's version of Fettucini Al fredo. Remember I told you he ordered the dish at LemonTree ? Well, he prefered this homecook version and said this: "hmm yang ni better. Yang kat LemonTree tasteless"

Cook the fettucini pasta till ala dante.

Al Fredo sauce ala Maman

Chopped garlic
Chopped Tomatoes
Sliced button mushrooms
Chicken fillet sliced
Evaporated milk
6 slices of sliced cheese
Corn flour for thickening

Add in: all available dried herbs. In todays case are:

Dried rosemary
Powdered Oregano
Powdered Pepper

I would have added in Bay leaf and nutmeg powder but
have ran out of them.

The very easy method:

Saute the garlic in sunflower oil (konon nak reduce
bad fat but what about the cheese and the milk??)
Browned, add in the chicken, then the milk, then the mushroom,
tomatoes,cheese and cornflour mixture.

Season with salt plus minus sugar.

Dash all the available herbs.

Lepas ni kena buat exercise to get rid all the fat!!! Yucks!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The End Of Syaaban and The Beginning Of Ramadhan

(I saved this witty pic from Skye's Ramadhan entry last year!)

Ramadhan is just round the corner but we still have a few more days left of Syaaban. I don't know you, but I haven't been doing much of supererogotary worships to Allah swt this time round. I hope to do more before Syaaban ends. Ya Allah swt please give me strength!

My previous entry depicting arrays of glorious food was probably a subconscious act of reminding myself of the coming Ramadhan. That fasting is such a meaningful ibadah which teaches us patience and compassion. That we should be grateful that food is so abundant at our doosteps. And that we should aslo exercise frugality when breaking our fasts and not glut on our foods like that's our last meal!

My Dear Daughters

Meanwhile, Sarah and Sofi insyallah have settled well and began classes immediately the week they reached Volgograd. Sarah started off with her Obs and Gynae posting. This year is supposed to be rather gruelling for her as she needs to travel a fair distance from one department to another each day as the different departments are located miles apart. Her options for mode of transport would be the public bus (cheapest), mashrud (mini-buses) and cabs. To avoid crowd jostling, foul odors and headaches she prefers either mashrud or cabs but that would mean more expenditure on transport. On her first day at the Obs ward, her lecturer asked her group whether there's anyone interested in specializing in O&G and only Sarah raised her hand. Since then, whatever hands-on activity conducted, Sarah would be called first since she had shown initial interest. Alhamdulillah that sort of boosted her morale a bit, :p.

Sofi has a new entry about the celebration of Volgograd's birthday. As usual she has loads of eye-feasting pics to share. Despite having problems due to carelessnesswith her camera, thus forcing her to use Sarah's, she still managed to capture colorful and eye-catching compositions. It's a joy to see that my two girls are well and despite having to adhere to a tight academic schedule, they're still able to savor part of the local tradition.

It will be the 4th consecutive Ramadhan for Sarah this year, away from us and the second for Sofi. May Allah swt ease them both in performing all the ibadah in Ramadhan as much as He would to us over here!

Not a book review

On Monday and Tuesday a collegue and I were assigned to do medical check-ups for 150 factory personnel somewhere in Gebeng, an industrial port town. However due to several factors, Tuesday proved to be a very slow day and I managed to sit back, relax and get myself 'lost' in a few books , a novel by Orhan Pamuk titled The Black Book, Faith vs Materialism (The Message of Surah al-Kahfi) by Syed Abul Hassan Ali Nadwi and Mutual Reminding and Good Manners by Imam Abdullah ibn Alawi al- Haddad (a gift from KKL). I am also thankful to the kind tea-lady who made me a cup of hot coffee to sip through the slow hours. Ahh...what bliss!

Orhan Pamuk is a Turkish writer who has written several books and 4 of them have been translated to English. I likened his writing to Kazuo Ishiguro's, long and tedious. But what I like about Orhan's stories is that it's related to the Turkish way of life and in it are many explicit descriptions pertaining to its people, places, scenarios and buildings. (I am sure Boogey's antennas would have perked up by now!hehe) Like all Ishiguro's books, I know I will take weeks to finish Orhan's Black Book. And each time I pick the book to continue, I will need time to immerse myself back amongst its characters. It's simply mesmerizing.

Faith vs Materialism defines the fallacy of materialism succinctly. Based on Surah al Kahfi, many of its anecdotes are derived from the 4 main stories found in the surah, namely the Companions of the cave, Tale of the 2 gardens, Moses and al Khidir and Dhul Qarnayn. To quote the author,
"The materialist civilization, so prone to over-emphasize it perspective with extreme measures, has been aptly described in the verse Surah al Kahfi: "We have made heedless of Our remembrance, who follows his own lust and whose case has been abandoned" (18:28)

The 3rd book is so full of beautiful phrases that reminds us of the correct path. Here are some meaningful advices. I quote: Know that the path begins when a powerful urge is cast into the heart of the servant which troubles and unnerves him, and drives him towards God and the last abode......The urge is one of the hidden warriors of God, it is a gift of solicitude and a sign of right guidance.

To mark the coming of Ramadhan and not forgetting the remaining Syaaban I end with this beautiful Hadith: "My servant ceases not to draw nearer to Me with supererogatory devotions until I love him, when I love him I become his eyesight with which he sees, his hearing with which he hears, his hand with which he strikes, and his foot on which he walks. When he asks of Me, I grant him, and when he seeks My protection, I protect him"

Sunday, September 10, 2006


This is iKelah's and iFos's idea of a good meal. Typical lunch of lauk kampung. Gulai telur ikan. Keli bersambal. Sambal belacan/tempoyak. Pari bakar cicah air asam. All by the Kuantan River. But don't ever be fooled by the 'cheap' look. It's not!!

This is iKelah's idea of a good dish for any celebration :birthday, anniversary or farewell. Lamb shank stew.

My dad's fave ado when all his kids and grand kids are around, eat out together!

Mee Mamak di gerai Pak Mat. Not bad! But the gerai is old and dilapidated. Shhh...terasa Pak Mat.

Pak Mat's speciality: iKelah's fave Mee Calong. He seems to never get enough of it!!

My first taste of California Rolls

Kopitiam. Nasi lemak and roti bakar.

This is iKelah's ingenious ratings of the above eateries:

Guide to eating at DITH's eating place

1. gambar yang paling atas, rating food dia:

lazat: 5
suasana: 4
tiada ganguan:4 (kucing n peminta sedekah)

specialty: telur ikan masak lemak, sambal ikan bilis petai, rebung masak lemak, udang galah goreng (RM15/piece), keli goreng berlada, ikan bakar(pari, kembong, kerisi), all sorts of sambal dan lain-lain.

boleh di order: teh tarek, ABC, lin ci kang, air buah, perahan langit.

2. lamb shank: ada 2 tempat; secret recipe dan pokok limau. i prefer pokok limau.

lazat: 3 (lambshank 5)
suasana: 5
tiada ganguan:5

3. mee mamak

ada 2 places yang sedap: 1. Alif(kedai mamak)dan 2. Pak Mat
Suprisingly at both places yang goreng melayu. at times ada chef india di aliff but yang melayu better.

lazat: 4 (mee mamak 5)
suasana: 2
tiada ganguan:3

ada nasi beryani and kambing kari dia lazat. all sorts of roti dan sedap.

pak mat:

lazat: 4
suasana: 3
tiada ganguan:1(lalats)

this place tepi pantai. its a nodle shop. mee mamak, mee calong, mee jawa sedap belako!

DITH kata tepi sungai not cheap. if one compare dengan restaurant with the same food, its far cheaper. just compare dengan pak sofian masakan padang. the food sedap but one will have to cough out more. Tepi sungai, makan puas dengan apa yang saya sebut tadi, averagenya RM10-RM12 sekepala dan perut memang kembung lepas tu.... isnt it cheap?

kopitiam: ada banyaknyee...
kemaman, 1940, kopistreet, uncles wong, entah macam macam.

lazat: 4
suasana: 4
tiada ganguan:3

lazat: 4
suasana: 4
tiada ganguan:4

restoren zaman: ini dith fav nasi lemak spot:

lazat: 4
suasana: 2
tiada ganguan:1 (manusia)

most of us hate this place. why? kena rebut cari meja, kena rebut beratur nak ambil nasi lemak kat belakang dapur, berebut nak get attention order air dan clear table, berebut nak cari sudu garpu, berebut nak get attention untuk bayar dan uneasiness bila dah nak habis makan kerana eager eyes (read: preying hawks) eyeing to grab the place once you leave your backside.

*1 - very the very bad!
2- very bad also but ok sikit la
3 - slightly better but still not that good
4- good but got room for improvement
5- Very the very good one!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Temporary Shut Down Of At Taqwa

An anonymous blogger pointed out an urgent matter pertaining to the transliteration I used in my blog At Taqwa. I've been using Shakir's translation as I find his words simple and easy to understand compared to Pickthall's and Yusoff Ali. I didn't realize that Shakir's translation was based on Qadiyani's translation. I am sorry and apologize to all of you who have followed At Taqwa till now. May Allah swt forgive me. Thus I have temporarily closed At Taqwa from public viewing whilst I make the neccessary redemptions. To al Anon, thank you for pointing it out and may Allah swt guide us always!.

Btw, 22 years ago, September the 9th, iKelah and I got married! So tonight, we brought the kids out for a small family do. What did I get for iKelah, you asked? Hmm, I think his Nikon D50 sort of covers for several years of anniversary and burthday presents! So no Wacom board, no Sony Ericson and no Bangkok trip! Just a warm family dinner at "Pokok Limau" a.k.a. LemonTree, :p

Luqman's choice

But I am treating Mynn this time! On his request, I am putting an old pic of iKelah on our memorable day during the akad. So Mynn, feast your eyes! Sorry I am not putting MY own pic on that day, (mahal sangat! Nanti menangis Siti! hehe) . Unfortuantely we don't have many good photos of our wedding. Apparently the cameraman, a relative of mine, who captured the pics, developed the pics in JB and kept them. (yes Mynn, the days before digital photography can be so cumbersome!) So now, our mission is to retrieve them ASAP.

9.9.84, The Akad

p.s. KKL, were you there during our wedding? I saw a pic of your mum amongst the entourage but none of you.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The adage, you’ll never appreciate something until it’s gone has slapped me right across my face! For more than a week, my area has virtually lost all broadband connection. Streamyx has gone bonkers! And dial-up is so frustratingly slow and by the time you are able to load a page and make comments, the person has made a new entry and your poor comments go unnoticed!!! Masyallah!

For more than a week I have gone sans internet and by that I mean that I haven’t been making entries , reading people’s entries or making intelligent comments. After a while I kind of accepted the idea of not being virtually connected with others. My mind has sort of resigned and quietly able to come to terms with the situation and the feeling of having missed something gradually eases off. I am beginning to look at the PC without feeling remorse. Initially, my small heart kept on wondering what my virtual friends are up to. Mynn and Nisak must be on one of their weekend trips. Pycno should be splitting the beans about his Bangkok trip. Has must have an entry about her last chemo. QOTH must have several entries by now!

Minus Two and Feeling Blue

We sent Sarah and Sofi off last 29th August. The house was temporarily shrouded with a melancholic atmosphere especially in the girls' room which is now in order and less cluttered. The feeling was similar to when we sent Sofi off last year for the first time.
All so quiet. I miss Sarah's cooking and how she loves to playfully hang around in Luqman's room. I miss their joyful presence around my bedroom and how Sofi would try to shock me with her 'scary' "boo" sounds from behind me.

It's now back to sending the young ones to school and back and doing our own errands. We sure miss you girls! Take care and may the academic year ahead be filled with good marks, kind lecturers, beautiful weather and understanding friends.

Minus Three and Still feeling blue!

And last Sunday we made a day trip down to KL, then to Lembah Beringin and back to Kuantan via genting, to send Muhammad back to his college. Muhammad suggested we use the old road behind his college that leads to Kerling. It’s an old road that cuts through a palm-oil estate. He failed to inform us of a left turn to be taken and I used my ‘usually unfailing bearing intuitions’ and told iKelah to turn right. After half hour of arduous journey, we realized we had made a wrong turn when we ended at an orang-asli village!!
No wonder the estate dwellers along the road stared curiously at our car when we passed them! At one point, we had to stop the car as we saw some of them trying to capture and kill a huge and long green snake with sticks!! I tell you! It was an eerie feeling. The snake was writhing and gliding away on the road trying to outdo the capturers. And as dusk was approaching, it was getting unpleasantly dark. And Kerling was no where in sight! By the time we reached the dead end, I felt doomed and the background sound of twilight zone was playing in my ears!!

After retracing our track and finally having found the small Kerling town, I was sighing with great relief!!

Moral of the story: never try unfamiliar road when you’re in a hurry and dusk is approaching!!

Bukit Tinggi 2008

Great Wall 2009

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