Sunday, April 18, 2010


I am so mad right now!

Two days ago it was announced that Belgium will be the first European country to ban the burqa, a garment that covered women from head to toe except for the eyes. And they're doing it in the name of "European values". If they simply had say they're banning the burqa in the name of public safety, I would totally understand and support them because it is important to show your face in public to maintain peace and order in an increasing hostile world. But values? I know that Europeans cherish three things: food, secularism, and their nude beach. But is that really the values that they want to portray to the world? What values, actually? The value of showing one's calves? I thought the best values any nation, parents, and teachers should teach the younger generations are integrity, honesty, and respect. How then does wearing the burqa hinder those values? I can go into a whole post on how wearing modestly raises the value of a woman, but these people will not even consider listening even if we put an amplifier next to their ears. They refuse to learn. The thing that I find funny is, these countries have no basis for their claims. Britain, a highly successful nation, even has an official headscarf for their police force. Police, a figure of authority! And their tube was bombed! Because unlike crazy-Sarkozy, the Brits have common sense in that to maintain public safety, you have to integrate everyone in the society. Not further discriminate them! Okay let's make this simpler. Think back of all the violent cases reported in schools and universities. Now think of the destructive ones, those who killed their fellow classmates before committing suicide. In their suicide notes, don't they usually mention something about being bullied that led them to destructive behavior?

Now let's talk about the burqa. The burqa is not an Islamic garment. Women in Islam were only asked to cover themselves from the head to the toes, with the exception of the face and the palms. The Burqa was actually an Arabic garment. 1400 years ago, when there was no air-conditioner, cars, and sunglasses, the Arabs had to protect their eyes from sandstorm when they were traveling. Men wore them, Christian and Jewish Arabs wore them. It's just that some of my Muslims sisters choose to take what's asked of them further and protect their beauty from the lusting gaze of others except for their eyes. Now I want to straighten another thing out. In Islam, one of the many beautiful purposes we are asked to cover up is because Islam stresses equality. No one should feel proud and brag of one's beauty. It should not matter if you have blond hair, if I have red hair, and if she has black hair; we cover them so that our crown won't make us unconsciously proud. BUT if a Muslim sister wears the burqa for the opposite reason - because she wants to appear different and 'more pious' than the rest - she is condemned. The burqa then defeats its own purpose, and she should instead go back to the basic of head scarf, long sleeve, long pants, covered shoes.

The other interesting fact about burqa in Belgium: only 500 people wear the burqa. That's right. Out of 10 million people, 500 out of them wear the Burqa. And somehow, ridiculously, they decide to ban it. Is it worthwhile?

To my fellow Muslims, I have this message: If the actions of 500 out of 10 million citizens could cause such a commotion, this is enough proof that we are a force in this world. If we gather our might and our brains, we could actually do something in this world because fact is, they're listening. One person at a time.


p/s: Sorry if my posts have been conquered by my 'confused-what-to-do-with-a-PS-degree' persona. I guess since its near finals, I've been reading and writing way too much political stuff.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Letter to Him

In the name of Allah Most Beneficent Most Merciful

Dear God,

I am writing today in realization that I should have written this letter to You a very long time ago. I write to You today because I’m finally ready to let go. And I write today because I know You, of all, would best understand my pain and struggle for I have prayed for a better day since I learned to prostate in humility to You.

You being the Creator of all things perfect, You know that a person is judged based not on what he does but on his niat, his intention. One of my favorite hadiths growing up is about a prostitute who was walking home one night when she saw a sick dog by the road. She took off her shoes, poured water into it, and handed it to the dog. Based on this one compassionate deed, despite all the others, she was admitted into Heaven by You, Dear Lord. Thus I am praying today for you to forgive me, and also the others who contributed in making me the broken child that I was for their intention was never a bad one.

I’ve grown up feeling nothing in my heart but to please others. At the end of my journey as a teenager, I no longer have the capacity to feel guilt or care; I’ve worn out everything I had in me to please by the time I turned nine. Before then, nothing I did was good enough. I was criticized for everything. Even for the tiniest thing. I understand, Dear Lord for it was done to make me stronger. To make me smarter. But what is the use of being smart if the only reason I strive to do so is to prove myself. Even then, I’d eventually find out that what I did, my opinion, my reasoning, my thoughts, are never good enough for I was just a child.

I’m not writing today a hate letter. I don’t want those who made me who I am be punished. What I do want today is to break the cycle. When a person is hurt, he or she would more often than not cause the same hurt to the next person (isn’t that true, my fellow psychology majors?). And I did it. I hurt my husband. It is hard for me to say this – and I am not airing my dirty laundry – but I have to say it in order to make it real so that I could stop. I’ve been hurting my husband real bad. Nothing he does is good enough. There’s always room to improve. I know that’s not on its own a really bad thing to say, but for a person who was in his shoes couple of years ago, I should be more aware of the pain I was causing. Of the confusion I was causing. Sayang, I’m sorry. Dear God, please forgive me for being unforgivably insensitive.

Some say I am not good at accepting criticism gracefully. And I agree. How could I when for as long as I’ve lived, everything that I did was to disprove those critics. All I wanted was to disprove those critics. Lord, You know best when I said I’ve been telling lies to my husband. I told him those criticisms are meant to make him better. That is not possible when he is better than me. Oh God, I’m embarrassed to admit this but sometimes I feel like failing on purpose just to prove that all the negative vibes thrown my way are actually pulling me down the deepest end. But it is seldom that people see that because I am always pulling them up.

I want to break the cycle. That’s my only prayer today. I want to break the cycle. I don’t want to hurt my husband anymore. And when I have my own kids, I definitely don’t wish for them to experience what I did. Whenever I feel like criticizing them, I’ll think of this post and start with, “That’s great honey! You make me so proud as a mother! But you know this can still be worked on…”



Saturday, April 10, 2010

High School Stories

In my free time, I like to look at the collection of “Photos of You” on Facebook, even though I’ve quite memorized every pose and every caption. Because I know, one of the things old acquaintances would do before deciding to add me, would be to check out my pictures. Thus, I want those pictures to not be deceiving of who I am, and was.
And if anyone ever went through all my pictures, clicking next after next of my Party-In-The-USA pictures, they would surely stop at pictures of me in a blue uniform and compare that to who I am today. That was me in school. That is the me I want to be every day. Yet I could not, because to be that Syaza, I need the right place, time, and most importantly, the right people with me.

Sometimes I think of those kids who go to school just to go to school and wonder what they think of those years now. Of course it’d be wrong of me to judge them because I bet if I asked them now, they’ll definitely have lists and lists of things they did in school that are memorable to them. Even the nerdiest of them all surely did something. Every school is a drama in the making, and no student is left out from the storyline. But even in those high school dramas we watch, there will always be those teacher’s pets that want to be on the good side of authority. Nothing wrong with that, of course! Except…it’s just five years, loosen up a bit!

Five years. That’s all we have as students in Malaysia to be in secondary school. Five years is sure not that long. Five years is just a blink in time. I’m glad I realized that early on. Well, not really. I was actually the boring kid that sat at the back of class the first two years of high school. But after I’ve lost a decade and a half to past memories, I purposely decided to make the next three years a time to remember.

My favorite act in school? Bringing a broken frame of a three-seater to class. I remember the day clearly in my mind. I was doing my thing – taking advantage of my power as a prefect and dragging my best friend around the school compound even after the bell had rang – when I found a rattan frame at the back of the ‘Kemahiran Hidup’ lab. I said to Shila we could use this in class. Oh she wasn’t up to it at first. I said listen, even if you don’t approve, you know I’ll just get the guys to help me. So finally she agreed and we laughed all the way as I called the guys to help me bring the frame from the back of school all the way to the other end of the third floor - to our class. When my mum came for the parent-teacher meeting, she was shocked to find my dad’s blanket at the back of my class. Well I have to take care of it, don’t I? Shila on the other hand, I remember, begged a teacher to give us one of the school’s HUGE plants for our class. It was massive! But then, the two of us always got what we wanted back then and thus, the back of our class – with the plant and the ‘couch’ – became one of the reasons we won ‘Best Class Decoration’ for months in a row. We did something different. As a class, we came together.

Besides that, I remember a cat giving birth in our teacher’s desk. Oh yes, a cat and her babies. As a class we agreed to keep them a secret…until a teacher found out and we had to throw them out. If there’s a cat in class, my name would be written in bold green above it. What else…oh, the list of name I wrote on the wall! I don’t even remember doing it, but with my unmistakable handwriting as proof in Adilah’s camera, what else can I say? I actually wrote down the name of all my classmates, based on the seating arrangement, on a wall, hidden from plain sight. Something that no prefect would be caught doing. That was of course a huge risk, but guess what, now after four years even our deputy head prefect laughed over it. Isn’t that amazing? Seriously, I bet if many more were a bit laid-back back then – though the school may turn into a huge canvas – there would be less drama, and everyone would enjoy school more.

Syafiqa and I also once took the time to sit down with a group of juniors attempting to skip school, and talked to them while they smoked behind the surau. I know it sounds very irresponsible of us as prefects to let them smoke on school ground, but they would still do so when no one’s around. After we talked, and asked them why they wanted to skip, we actually convinced them to stay. I think we did the right thing by not passing their names to a teacher but instead to understand these kids. Troubled kids are troubled for a reason. Since then, every time they saw me they would smile and actually show some respect, compared to how they treated other prefects. Ain’t that something to think about?

My partner in crime, Iqa. This picture was taken when we 'crashed' our tuition class the year after SPM. When our History teacher realized who those two kids at the back were, he was so excited and introduced us to the class.

I understand why there are rules at school. The reasons are the same as why a country needs a set of law and why God has His own law that we must abide by on Earth. And teachers, they are just doing their jobs. But high school in Malaysia is just five years, and unless we continue on to STPM, that's all the years we have in making lasting memories with our friends. Just think about that.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Civil War on Rights

Paradoxically, as more resources are put into the study of politics as a science, more wars – both conventional and unconventional – are waged upon the many entities in the international system. Ain’t it just funny how people refuse to listen to something they deem as "so simple"?

Fine, politics won't have that much input in the struggle to find the cure to cancer, or even be able to join the race to build more modern structures in other inhospitable regions, but it is just as important as the basis of state governance. So now I have two questions to ask: 1) why are there still a lot of political crisis in this world when countless research has been done and recorded in books and journals? 2) Why do people still raise an eyebrow when they found out there are students interested in studying politics, as if it is a waste of time to find the cure to the wound deeply embedded in a specific country?

The first question is the most interesting to me. Not unlike the science of chemistry, we do have our own sets of formulas and chemicals to be added to create a strong working state. But then, why aren’t there many listening? Yes political science is not part of pure science. It is made complicated by the presence of human beings in the compound of a state. Different individuals, different ethnic groups, different religious sects, different historical backgrounds, and different government composition. A solution in one country may not hold in another. Thus, I do believe that is where the role of a genius and charismatic leader comes in. It is true that in order to be a politician one does not need to hold a degree in the humanities or the social science; one simply needs to be a presence to be reckoned with during times of bad weather by listening to the advices from one’s team of advisers.

I was reading my textbook today and was flabbergasted by how simple and straightforward the answers to many questions are. A + B both cause C, and to eradicate C a government needs to tackle the root of A, which is Z, and for Z to come through X has to be present. Simple, agree?

For me, the beauty of studying political science is that there is definitely no wrong answer. There are better answers, but no bad ones. Unless you’re God, nobody knows exactly the best way to govern a group of people, and yet a leader should not stop trying his best. And in this attempt of figuring out the best mode of action, it should not depend on a person’s gut feeling, but that of many. Please don’t read that as me saying the voice of the people in a democracy should always be the main indicator of a leader’s next move on the chessboard. I, myself, still don’t buy that democracy is the best form of government, but it is not wrong to imitate those who are successful, yes?

Basically, I don’t know why I wrote this post. I guess I’m just frustrated. Life is so simple, why complicate matters?

Oh I know why, because greed for wealth and power is part of politics and that makes it worse, indefinitely.