There was this Interview Meme going on around LJ and I decided to take part. Nabila Hanim has kindly given me the following 5 questions to answer.
When I read that this was going on in LJ, I kind of got this strange feeling in my tummy. You see, my whole journey that brought me here started with the exact same meme. And the last question started me questioning, investigating and demanding answers from myself. That was I think, more than 2 years ago. MasyaAllah, how time flies. Although thinking about the 5 questions 2 years ago gives me the chills, I can’t help but be grateful for them. Alhamdulillah thumma alhamdulillah. :)
1) When did you start wearing the tudung and why? What propelled you to it and how was the first day like?
I got the desire to wear the tudung one night in the car during Syawal when I was 15. I think it was because Ramadhan always makes one closer to their fitrah. That was when shaytaan is kept at bay and you are able to see things through the lens of iman & taqwa. After having spent Ramadhan at mosques and covering up, it seemed absurd that during Eid, I was back to showing my hair off.
I decided to wear the tudung properly on my 16th birthday. My birthday is in August but I started wearing the tudung in May. It was more of a transitional period for me. For 2 reasons: 1) I didn’t have enough long-sleeved tops. Haha. 2) I needed time to get used to it. It was for very practical reasons.
So I guess I had 2 first-days. The first first-day was in May. I remembered I went to celebrate my friend’s birthday at East Coast haha. It was not too bad. It wasn’t as hot & stuffy as I thought it would be. But I remembered distinctly that I was more aware of my speech & actions because I felt like I had to uphold the behaviour expected of one donning the tudung. (Of course, after that I completely abused the hijab and did many stupid things that I shouldn’t have done but I can safely say, I’ve come full circle and now donning the hijab is done with deep contemplation for its meaning and significance and not just “another piece of cloth”.)
2) How has sufi practices improved your life today? Can you tell me what it’s like to berzikir and cry to Him?
I guess I’ve been very lucky in my journey towards Allah. I spent much of my youth being heedless and giving in to worldly desires, getting engaged in activites that had little or no benefit to my spiritual state and that definitely would be of no help to me in Akhirah.
When my journey started, I was very intent on learning as much as I can. It started off with me feeling really lacking in ilm and that I thought, If I really want to be a better Muslim, I need to know HOW to do so. I went for many classes and picked up a lot of things along the way. The basics of course were Fiqh or Syariah. This was my first priority.
My encounter with Sufism was random, to say the least. I had learnt syariah and yet I felt empty inside. I was praying & fasting but did not feel like I was even close to knowing who my Lord was. I read that the first duty of a servant is to know his Lord, and I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere.
When I delved into Sufism, it wasn’t a dive. It took a long while. There were many hesitations and doubts that seemed to only ever increase. Over time, I read more, asked more, consulted many asatizahs and finally felt comfortable with this path.
It has definitely improved my life. Like what Imam Malik said, someone who knows fiqh without tasawwuf is a fasiq and someone who knows tasawwuf without fiqh is a kafir zindik. We need both dimensions(actually there’s 3, the 3rd one being Tauhid) to be complete. I don’t view acts of worship as obligations anymore but acts that I WANT to do because it makes my Lord happy. Previously, doing them was almost a chore because I didn’t want Him to be angry at me. But thats pointless. You need to want to please Him and not to do something just to avoid His Wrath. Wallahu ‘alam.
Hmm, to the second part of your question. What it feels like to dhikr & cry to Him. Firstly, I need to clarify that these acts are just acts. The tears come because of entirely different reasons. For eg, when doing dhikr, it depends on what you’re focussing on. If its the names of Allah, I get either awed like His Name Al-Jabbar, or I feel really tiny & useless & ungrateful & indebted when I reflect on His Name Al-Halim. I try to put myself in a position so lowly and ‘hina’ before doing dhikr because its only then that my heart is involved and I feel the effects or impact of dhikr. You can do 1000 times of SubhanAllah and not feel His Glory. And I pray that when I do dhikr that does not come with reflection and the attention of my heart, that He forgives me for making it mere lip service. Its something to be worked on. Its not easy to get into the state I must say. There are days when its easy and days when its not. When its not easy, I know then that I must have been sinning wee too much and its time to muhasabah & make lots of taubah.
3) Has your view towards marriage and finding the right person changed?
Hahaha. Mannnn everywhere I go, its marriage la.
Okay seriously now, of course it has! I used to be convinced that I only wanted to marry a guy that I’ve known for 10 years. No joke. I told myself, if he can still love me after 10 years, then I know he can love me forever. Haha. I worried about him getting bored of me (I still have this silly fear or people getting sick of me) and then wanting to find someone else.
But thats because I was ignorant of the aim of marriage. It is not just mere companionship, its a bond that would help each other in this life & in the next life. Its responsibilities and not just love. Its respect and selflessness and compassion and sacrifice and many other things rolled into one.
With regards to finding the right person, I’m not an expert on the issue but I can say that you need both Sunnatullah & Syariatullah. One can be your best friend with regards to worldly matters but if he’s not going to be beneficial or helpful in Akhira then for what right? Don’t waste time. Haha.
And one can be a good Muslim but if you can’t talk to him and you guys have nothing in common except being Muslims then…. I dunno. Haha. I’m not married so when I do get married insyaAllah, I will update this question ok! :)
4) What would be your advice to someone who is really new to knowing and getting close to Allah?
Don’t ta’sub to one teacher. Read widely, ask more than one asatizah about one question, and don’t give up! Shaytaan will be at his most active when someone is JUST changing or seeking. Its going to take a lot of willpower & determination to want to continue seeking so have faith, focus on your main goal which is nearness to Allah, and then all obstacles will insyaAllah be easier to overcome.
5) How do you find time to read books and gain the knowledge that you have? Reading your blog always rejuvenates me and I pray that Allah blesses you infinitely for your efforts :) Ameen…
Haha the easiest answer to this is: I don’t watch tv. Haha. I can go for months without switching the tv on. When I was changing, I was doing a lot of this 40days thing. At that time, I was a crazy soccer fan (ARSENAAAAL! Haha) and my mood for the week depended on our result over the weekend. Haha, yes it was that bad. And of course many other things like music and going out and weekly movies and stuff. So I told myself, Okay cannot, I’ve been so lalai (heedless), I need to do something about myself! And so I went 40days without music, 40days without soccer (This was so darn tough seriously), 40days without tv etc etc. The 40days are tough la, especially because its become so habitual and natural, sometimes it will break off at day 15 or something and then I’ll make myself start all over again.
But when you don’t allow yourself music or the tv for 40days, you find yourself with a lot of time. And I used this time to read.
And at that time too, I was in this mindset that ‘since I’ve wasted sooo much time doing useless things, I need to make up for that lost time’. So I made sure I had classes all the time, I would drag myself even if I was tired, I told myself that i had been too lenient on my soul and this was time to work! So work I did.
I feel like perhaps I’m lazier now. =/ I don’t know, I think its because at the beginning of everything, the passion & the enthusiasm is at its maximum and it might dwindle after a while. I pray that I will never, ever lose this drive even when I’m confined in a 80year-old body insyaAllah!
But I recommend the 40days treatment to anyone! You should seriously try it. It could be to let go of a bad habit or to istiqoma in something. After the 40days, it really gets easier. :) InsyaAllah.