Monthly Archives: December 2011

Learn, Learn, Learn

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Life is a constant change. What may seem the perfect situation for you today can prove to be your biggest mistake in the future. And what you see as your biggest problem today may all the while be just the right opportunity you need to advance in life. So never be absolute about anything. Live it, try it, then learn something after it all ends. There is more to life than love and sadness, the world has bigger problems than your own.

Writer’s woes…

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I write books in my muslim name.  I write books for other people. I write books in my pen name.

Now that it has come to publish my first book carrying my true complete name, the worries are never ending…

I need to make this step, now or never.  I will defy the past and its demons.  Just moving on.

Allah Kareem.

 

detox it is!

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Has anyone tried those detox pads u see on TV? i just did… if I were to believe that how dark the pad turns out depend on how much toxins it rid off your body, then I surely am astonished finding it sssoooo dark! and foul smelling too! well, it’s my first time to detox for years so i guess that explains it 🙂

There’s a lot of ways to detoxify your body but there seems no way knowing if it really works.  So getting this dark stain on the pad somehow put my efforts in perspective.  I tried the fruit and vegetable diet few weeks back.  I didn’t only starved, I turned acidic for all the wrong fruits I picked and overly consumed.  Balance is the key.  Eat 3 small meals mostly fish and greens and avoid cooking in oil.  And sorry, but M & M’s is really a vice I can’t do without, so I nibble it once in a while.  The only evident result I can feel on this detox treatment is that I no longer feel shortness of breathing.  I get normal sleep too, no more nightmares and waking up to pee in the middle of the night.  I hope these are indications of a better me in the making.

So go guys, detox it is! 🙂

Only in Dubai

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Dubai is a beautiful place, and UAE is such a wonderful country.  There are a lot of things I can say about this part of the world, but let me just write in here my favorites, the things and experiences one can have ONLY IN DUBAI 🙂

(1) THE 24/7 GROCERY DELIVERIES – Whatever time of day and night that you need some stuff you can call the grocery store’s number and ask them to deliver whatever you need.  You will especially appreciate this if you worked late then come home hungry and decided to cook than have another fast food delivery, then realized you don’t have salt or onion or whatever.  Not a prob, you can call and have it delivered to you in minutes.  It is also such a relief when you’re just simply too tired or too lazy to go out shopping, just make your list call the grocery store and wham, all done.

(2) THE AIRCONDITIONED BUS STOPS – Though I have not yet used Dubai’s public buses and can’t share what it feels like, I definitely acknowledge that the Bus Stops in Dubai are truly awesome – it’s airconditioned, closed, well lighted and secured.  I pass by so many of them on the road and I feel great for those commuters who are having a good time reading their books or magazines while waiting for the bus.  All the bus stops has a schedule board so the commuter knows what time exactly his bus is coming.

(3) THE JUSTICE SYSTEM – In almost all countries, one can never have a fair trial without a lawyer.  But in Dubai, as they follow the Sharia Law, even a person who cannot afford a lawyer may defend himself, makes his pleadings and prove his case before the court.  And his fate is not decided by just one person but 3 judges, who strongly upholds the law but are also merciful to those who really repent.  The penal institution is also nothing like I’ve seen in any countries I’ve researched, especially the women’s jail.  The inmates are not required to work and they are fed well 3 times a day.  The library and recreation yard inside the jail compound also helped a lot of offenders to have their soul-searching and rehabilitation time.

(4) THE COSMOPOLITAN ENVIRONMENT –  From whatever part of the globe you came from you will never be a stranger in Dubai.  The foods available and the places to see cater to all races.  And by involuntary association you know exactly where to go or live to be with people from your country – the filipinos are in Satwa, the Indians are in Karama, the Pakistanis are in Deira, the Egyptians are in Qusais, the Europeans are in Jumeira, etc etc.  Whatever floats your boat and whoever you wanna be with, Dubai will give you that good feeling and belonging.

(5) THE PARKS – I guess only in Dubai, or UAE at large, can you see the biggest number of parks.  They are just absolutely everywhere and any kind – beach park, pond park, water park, diving park, creek park, golf park, racing park etc etc.. name it you have it here.  It is a great place for creative people as they can just sit and have the time of their life in the parks the whole day.  I’ve done that several times, and I finish a lot of my articles and books in those wonderful parks.

(6) ABSENCE OF SQUATTERS AND BEGGARS – Coming from a country where lots of underprivileged abound, Dubai is a breathe of fresh air.  You won’t see a single beggar in the streets of Dubai.  And you won’t see a single squatter too.  I am not saying there are no poor people in this country.  Maybe there are, but they live in dignity.  The worst living quarter is a bedspace in Satwa or Karama and the people you can closely associate with beggars are those knocking in your doors during the ramadan month.  For the most part, beggars and squatters are non-existent.

(7) THE POLICE FORCE –  Believe this, you will not see a patrol policeman in Dubai with bulging stomach.  They are all well-built, old and young alike.  And they are authoritative but friendly, you can reason out with them and they will listen.  If you transgress a law, they will not spare you but will not make you  feel like inhuman.  They go by their job humanely.  And yes, they are very helpful.  About 3 years back, out of haste I went out of my car without turning off the engine and aircon, grabbed my bag and closed the door manually.  Seconds later,  I realized the car’s engine is running and there’s no way I can open it up since I don’t have spare key too.  I called the police hotline, 2 policeman came and patiently opened the door of my car with a small wire slipped through the window.  I have lots of good experiences with the police forces in Dubai but that one really stands out in my memory, as I feel that if they were there for me for such a small problem then surely they will be there when I’m in big trouble.  And that came true.  But that’s another story 🙂

(8) THE FREE PRACTICE OF RELIGION – I think this is the only muslim country where you can freely practice your religion without fear.  There are christian churches and congregation houses everywhere.  Some christians wear their crucifix and hang it in their cars too.  And surprisingly, amidst this freedom, so many are still converting to Islam.  Just another proof that democracy has its many forms.

Think  this is all I got on top of my head right now.  So many great things and people can be experienced in Dubai.  And I just so00 love this country!

Happy National Day UAE!

A Muslima’s journey

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Retiring to bed last night, I remembered I should have written something in this blog as I promised to.  But I felt quite exhausted after finishing two chapters of the current book I am writing so I shrug the urge off.  Then today, I woke up earlier than I wanted for my morning prayer, so I grabbed to read “Why women are accepting Islam” and few pages after, I knew what I wanted to write.

My journey to Islam was not an easy one, though looking back at all of it now I believe I am destined to be where I am.  It was always a spiritual journey for me.  And all the experiences I had just add up to how much I appreciate my life now as a Muslim.  Being a spiritual person in my younger years – I was president of Legion of Mary in Grade School and president of the Pious Union for Evangelical Rogation in High School – I was always comfortable in church matters.  There was even a point in time after I finished High School that I asked my mom to allow me to enter the convent and be a nun.  She declined, reasoning that there are so many ways you can serve God.  So there I went, entered College and took Political Science and Law, the career path chosen for me by my grandfather.  The political awakening led to more questions.  Islam knocked in my door a few times.  First, when I was in college and questioned openly the rational of trinity as it just really didn’t make sense to me.  My search was halted by a sarcastic comment from my brother that I should deepen my catholic faith before I question any part of it.  I wanted to answer and let him know I studied that’s why the questions arose but I guess I was frightened that time to be alienated from my family. So I stopped talking about religion but hopped from one sect of christianity to another – I joined Jehovah’s Witness then Iglesia ni Kristo then Bread of Life (born again)  until I got worn out for not finding the answers and just stopped my religious activities altogether.  It was in Dubai that I regained my spiritual thirst.  My former immediate boss is a good muslim, praying 5 times daily and living a man’s life unfamiliar to me – no smoking, no drinking, quiet, modest and a true family man.  He intrigued and amazed me but when I came to know he attributes all of his approach in life to faith I got scared he was trying to brainwash me.  So I surrounded myself with christian friends and once again joined a congregation – the Singles for Christ.  The odd of it is, while we studied the bible and talked about a righteous life, we were there in discos getting drunk afterwards.  Then there was my time in Awir as I already blogged about here earlier.  It was during this time that I kept repeating to my friends that I will never sell my religion for freedom.  A lot of filipinas converted in Awir for convenience and easy way out.  Rebel as I am, I refused to take the same route.  I fought my case hard, and I fought for my christian faith harder.  Though there were moments of questioning my own beliefs, my ego prevailed, wanting to prove to those Arabs that a filipina christian like me can win them out in their own country.  I may have proven my point and won my cause, but my spiritual journey took a different turn.  As my earlier blog revealed, when I got out and reentered the mainstream of Dubai life, there was something inside me that radically changed, spiritually.

After declaring my faith or shahadah to that Imam brother in Saudi Arabia in 2009, there’s no more stopping my thirst of knowledge.  I started reading all the books and articles about Islam that I can get hold of,  hoping that one day I am equipped and knowledgeable enough to spread the good news to my loved ones in Philippines.  And to my amazement, the Glorious Quran answers all the questions I could ever have.

I have lost friends along the way.  Some just can’t accept the changed me – the one who can’t go with them to discos and nightclubs anymore – and how easy it had been for them to label me as a stranger who lost her mind.  I understand it though.  The life I shared with those so called friends was a superficial existence. I never really cared whether I was doing right, I just went with the flow for their acceptance and happiness.  So when they saw me changed, no amount of explanation would suffice to make them understand that I found a better life, that I am a better me and I want them to experience the same.  The hard part is they just didn’t change their attitude towards me, they even became partners of my enemies.  They wanted me to crush and beg my way back to my old life with them.  Alhamdullillah, I grew stronger each day I was apart from them.  And I found new friends who not only understood me and my past but also helped me become a better Muslimah.  These new friends beam with positivity and modesty.  They live their life in peace and the strong bond of friendship I share with them now is something I never experienced prior to my conversion.  Indeed, Alhamdulillah, these new friendships bring me greater joy and spiritual growth.

I lost some of my comrades too.  The very people who fought with me on the streets during my college life and counted on me for many years to continue the struggle for world liberation has stopped believing in me.  They simply regarded my conversion to Islam as a step backward.  They have all these misconceptions about the women in Islam – that we are oppressed, pessimists and broken.  What they don’t know is that this religion is at the very core of feminist and social justice struggles all over the world throughout mankind’s history.  Not the terrorist ones, but the muslim people who believe everybody has equal rights to justice and economic growth and peacefully fight for that cause, the likes of Malcolm X, and many others. Though my comrades cannot tell it to my face, rather because they care or they don’t want me hurt, I was altogether dropped off the wagon of an activist’s life.  I’m no longer part of any plan nor would they want to interact with me in matters of political importance.  It was hurting but I didn’t let it sip into my soul.  In my own way, through the person that I still am, I live my life according to my faith and principles which in truth never contradicts each other.  The teachings of Islam is practically the same things I stood for as an activist.  The things and traits my former comrades attributed to Muslims are cultural, not the tenets of Islam declared in the Holy Quran.  So if I am to insure that Islam is understood by all peoples, that include liberating my former comrades from their cultural misconceptions. One step at a time, Inshallah,  I will be able to make them understand.

Alhamdulillah I never lost my family with this conversion.  I was afraid back then knowing that my mom is a devout catholic and all my family are servers of the catholic church in my place.  Out of respect or love for me, I never heard anything negative from them though not any positive or encouraging words were offered either.   That was enough for me as I am aware that so many sisters and brothers who converted to Islam had family struggles, some were even disowned by their parents and thrown out of the house.  My family accepted and respected my decision to embrace Islam and wear my hijab.  My mother and siblings may have thought it was just a phase for me, but seeing my dedication to study and practice this religion convinced them otherwise.  My dad who is a hardcore liberal surprised me that he still believed in God because he openly discusses Islam and its great contribution to history with my son.  He said he never doubted my intention as he knew I was stubborn but never a coward.  I am now in a phase where not only am I able to practice my faith openly, but also my family is giving me all the opportunity to teach and instill Islamic belief to my children.  Inshallah, someday, we will all be a part of this great Ummah.

I am still young in this faith.  I know there is still so much struggle ahead but I will not bend.  This journey is always complemented by joy of knowing that I am on the right path.  I still sometimes get emotional in prayer for all the mistakes I made in the past but Allah always comfort me with his love and forgiveness.  All that happened has happened for a reason, only Allah knows my fate.  I am fortunate enough to have a career in writing now because it is through my books that I share what good Islam can bring to one’s life.  I am happy and my heart had seen the contentment and peace it yearned for so many years.  Inshallah, when I finally reach my final destination, I hope I am able to do what I was meant to do in this world.

To Allah be the greater glory, forever.