Friday, August 27, 2010

Help in the Holy Month

I know that I thought it won't be a smooth journey coming back to the US, but I was delightfully mistaken. There weren't as many glitches as presumed. I should be forgiven for thinking so as before we left, I called Korean Air to find out that Rassyid and I won't be sitting together for our THIRTEEN hour flight from Seoul to Washington. Next, I wasn't able to check us in for our flight to Pittsburgh. And when we arrived at KLIA, they couldn't print out Rassyid's boarding pass to DC supposedly because, and I quote, "Because his name has Bin and Abdul. They will want to do a checkup at Seoul."

But I tried to be optimistic. There will be ways around all these. Because at the end of the day, we HAVE to find ways around it.

After arriving at Incheon, the first thing we did was getting Rassyid his boarding pass to DC. Alhamdulillah, they didn't ask to do any checks on his background and above that, we GOT to sit together! We were ecstatic. We then went to find the prayer room and prayed, and thanked God for all his help. Unfortunately, our problems began again when I still couldn't check us in using the online check in feature at US Airways's website for our flight to Pittsburgh.

Once touched down in DC, I was thinking, this is it, immigration. But again, everything went smoothly than expected! The immigration officer was super nice. There was no "Is Malaysia on 'the list'?" thing that we went through last year. It was super quick.

After re-checking our bags bound for Pittsburgh, we went to get our boarding passes. On my e-ticket, it says we will be taking US Airways, but at the airport everyone (yes, all of FOUR people I asked), pointed me toward United Airlines. I thought, maybe that's why I couldn't check in through US Airways's website. But at United's self check-in kiosk, I faced the same problem. I don't want for us to repeat the same thing that happened while checking in for Delta from Pittsburgh to NY, where they couldn't find our name, or a seat for us, or anything for the matter. But no, we were very lucky as it didn't take long for them to help print out our boarding passes.

After that, we went to find the 'prayer room', which was actually an open space in Dulles where Muslims pray. We got to join in the Zuhur jamaah just in time. That was a nice experience.

On our way to security check, I foresaw 'the cubicle', and minutes wasted for them to tap my head only to find nothing. Yet, again, everything went not as expected and they simply let me through! Even though it was flashing orange on the security level - indicating High Risk. How trusting they are of me now.

The only major problem, after 26 hours of travel, was that our luggage didn't arrive with us at Pittsburgh. Apparently they were left behind at Dulles. However, it was not just us, four others on the same flight had our problem too. We left with our report, and took a Super Shuttle home.

Lailee was there, fatter than ever, and the three of us waited for our luggage which arrived at 11 pm. Not bad.

All I can say is, thank God for surah al-Inshirah. Words of God I wet my lips with the whole 28 hours. If there're still doubt over the power of this surah to lessen any worries, I have proofs that it works (even though I've always believed so).


Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Ramadhan Wish

In our never-ending attempt at soul-searching, no one answer of life’s many questions will be as clearly apparent as we wish for it to be. Sometimes, we unexpectedly contradict ourselves of what is right from what we believe in. During this month-long journey to remain true to who I am – a person firmly against blind faith – I'd like for others to stay true to what Islam is truly about too.

I realize that when I say things like that – to think and not to follow – people get scared and assumed I’d be swinging from one side to another every few seconds. But I believe these people need to ask themselves, why are they so scared to use the best gift awarded by God to them – their mind? I do understand that certain things we can’t comprehend do need a helping hand to guide us through. But for things much closer to our heart, why not do a thorough operation? Don’t be scared. If there is an unshakable belief that Islam is the truth, should we not believe that the more time one spends thinking, the more one will see and feel how real Islam is?

Last month my best friend gave me a simple book written by a very interesting man. The interesting part was not who he is, but of his views on things that matter. Finally I found someone who can put what I’ve been thinking and feeling in plain words.

Islam is not a religion of empty practices. Islam is a combination of the heart, mind, and physical self. None should be left behind if one is to be considered a Muslim.

When looking at statistics, the number that usually comes up is that of a very small amount of Muslim extremists. Is that a true estimate? What kinds of extremism were they talking about? Maybe most of us do not have the slightest idea of how to differentiate among lethal chemicals, but what about ideas of self-supremacy? Isn’t that more hazardous to mankind? I'm not trying to make a bad name for my fellow brothers and sisters, but it's time for them to realize the effects of their actions.

The Prophet was a man of kindness and grace. He taught us to follow his path when passing through life. But how many of us when ticked off by the smallest of provocations do we talk about boycotts? About generalizing a certain race or religion as ‘evil’. Did we not remember what the Bush administration used to call us?

In the book previously mentioned, the author brilliantly made an analogy of the Prophet’s deeds and sayings as the used and broken memorabilia in our homes: we do not wish for them to be taken yet we do not make full use them either. When New Yorkers object to the building of a mosque and community center near ground zero, we shout and we scream. But how many of us actually spend our days during Ramadhan trying to seek as many blessings from God as humanly possible? Which is more important? What is our priority?

Stop making huge deals out of small worldly problems; start practicing the little things in life that the Prophet taught over a thousand years ago. Its accumulation would mean more to us later than making another country suffer the same way we did. Revenge is never good on a personal basis, what makes us think it’s permissible on a bigger level – or any level?

The memorabilia, if you use it, then nobody would have the guts to make fun of it, much less snatch it away from you, no? Think.

Don’t look far, search within yourself. What have you done to make them understand and respect our beautiful religion?