Rays of Splendour

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If you were to die today, how much belongings will you leave behind?

About two years ago, I made the resolve to declutter my life.

Over the course of these two years, I managed to progressively let go of a lot of non-material (won’t be discussing this in this entry) and material possessions – especially those of historical and sentimental value. Yet, I kept falling back to my old habits too. Each shelf or wardrobe space that becomes available will soon be occupied by new books or clothes – manifestations of the materialistic indulgence I tend to concede to without much fight.

I’m ashamed to admit this but the resolve to declutter remains an ongoing challenge even till today and it represents the ongoing tussle between success and failure in overcoming one of the vices in my life.

In recent times as I slowly made mental checklists of the items I would need to bring with me insyaAllah, I also found myself grappling with the following morbid (yet not entirely impossible) thought:

“If I were to pass away now, just how will the family clear all of my belongings in this room?”

(I’d also like to admit at this point in time that the thought of the people at work clearing my workstation if I were to die while I’m still employed in the workplace is one of the factors that drives me to keep my table clutter-free. Anything can happen in the world but I truly pray that this thing is not one of them, insyaAllah amin.)

This sparked off a series of introspection within me and one of them revolves around the fact that I’m spending on things I do not need.

Beyond the issues related to materialism and consumerism aside, I found it unsettling that I’m preoccupied with spending. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why I sometimes feel unfulfilled inside – it’s because I’m feeding my nafs as opposed to my soul. Despite the gratitude I feel towards the Lord for allowing me the means to purchase the items, I do acknowledge that the joy I experienced when I received a parcel for an item I bought online or offline is fleeting at best.

It seems like decluttering might not be the solution anymore and that perhaps after I’ve cleared a portion of my material possessions back then, it had ceased to be the issue even.

Rather, it is now the battle against the nafs and the answers to the following question:

“What are the things that are essential to my life whose importance I placed on it will concurrently nourish my soul and bring me closer to Him?”

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Confidence in His plans

I’ve been thinking about this question in recent weeks.

The question will pop up in my head at random times.

I’ll be having breakfast at work when out of the blue I’ll start thinking about it. Or perhaps, I’ll just be journeying from one point to another when it’ll enter my consciousness. Sometimes, I’ll be in the midst of a conversation with someone and for some unknown reason, I’ll find that my mind would momentarily be disengaged from the talk as the question flashed through me.

That question is:

“How confident am I in His plans?”

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His grand design

Recently, I read through some of the entries I had posted in this blog. One of the entries I made in March 2013 caused me to pause and reflect a bit.

In that entry, I had blogged about how I suddenly had the intention to perform the umrah. I hadn’t known it back then but more than a year later in December 2014, Allah swt had arranged for me to spend a small portion of my life towards performing the umrah.

As I recalled the events leading up to the umrah, the pilgrimage itself and its end (alhamdulillah), I find myself being floored by the precision in which He enabled all these. His arrangement had encapsulated many aspects – ensuring the provision to pay for the umrah, granting the good health, knowledge as well as time to complete the journey, assigning the parents who are the best companions I could have for the small pilgrimage, and according me with experienced people to guide me on my first umrah at every step of the way. These are just some examples that went into His grand design of things but truly if I were to enumerate it all, I’ll be unable to do so.

The thing is that, I didn’t realize the precision behind His planning till only recently. Though I often tout that Allah swt is the best of planners, it only occurred to me in recent times that I had never stopped to properly analyse and be awed by His artful manoeuvrings in Life.

But masyaAllah, once you start analysing that one significant event that occurred in your life, you will realize the mind-blowing complexities and detail that underlie His grand design. Importantly, I realize that Allah swt does not set your life in motion without first bestowing you with the necessary provisions to get through it.

However as the participant in His plans, most times we tend to overlook the instruments that He has equipped us with. In some cases we do not just overlook but in fact, fail to recognise their existence and end up fumbling through the journey quite unsure how to proceed or worse, the destination we’re headed.

As I’m writing this, I hope that it serves as a reminder to myself that as a participant in His design, I might not be able to see the macro picture. I acknowledge that there are countless instances in which I even failed to recognise the tools He has provided me. However if I were to exercise patience as Life unfolds and let myself be guided by the course that He has set out for me, then perhaps I’ll be more cognizant of things and hopefully once a particular scheme is completed will I then get to see a better picture as opposed to the constant “why-s” and “how-s” that dogged the journey as it unravels.

And currently as questions of “How do I support myself for two years if I’m not working” and “Where do I get the money if I don’t work for two years” increasingly becomes a loud chatter and as doubt starts to creep into my mind regarding the rationality of my decision every time I think about starting school yet again, I think it is high time I give myself these two reminders as well:

  1. He does not create without first giving His creations all the provisions they need in order to survive
  2. He is the best of planners

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Not a walk through the park

Walking in a park has never been an activity I considered whenever I make plans for recreation. I perceive it to be one of the most disengaging activity ever. In Singapore, parks are a common feature in almost every residential area however I always deemed that there is really not much for one to see save for trees, more trees, trees and even more trees which I felt look almost the same. Further unless there is an intended destination for which a walk through the park is required, I find the act of strolling through one rather meaningless.

Hence for the longest time ever, the only reason why anyone would ever see me ambling through one would be if I were:

  1. To gather data for research back when I was in school
  2. To dispense a work responsibility should the activity be held in a park
  3. To accompany a friend/friends. In this instance, it would really take a lot out of me to socialise in an environment and an activity I find to be right up the list of the least comfortable things to do in life

And yet when I was in Osaka some time back, I did the exact opposite of what I’ve never liked doing –  to take a walk through the park outside Osaka Castle. And what surprised me was that I actually enjoyed the jaunt I had at Osaka Castle Park.

Perhaps it’s the beauty of the place; perhaps it’s also the weather – temperatures were cool and nice at that time (basically, it’s heaven to my body). Regardless, for the first time ever in my life, I enjoyed it and actually derived a sense of calmness from it.

So tonight as I sit here trying to fight off the exhaustion from work and thoughts of flying back to Japan entered my mind, I suddenly recalled the time when I was at Osaka Castle Park and started missing it terribly. If only the place was accessible within a short bus or train ride away!

IMAG0400View of the Osaka Castle

IMAG0398From one of the bridges that separates the Osaka Castle and the Osaka Castle Park


IMAG0392Along one of the park trails

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His uncountable mercies

And so, I didn’t manage to keep up to the Ramadan resolution to blog about the reflections on certain verses from the Quran nor about sharing the verses that struck me. While indeed I have done some reflections and came across many verses that hit me right there in the heart, I found that I was more comfortable doing so at the confines of my prayer mat. That, and the fact that this past Ramadan was an extremely busy time for my family and I, it left little room in between to properly sit down and blog about it.

It’s now Syawal (in fact, Syawal is almost over as I’m writing this) however I felt that I needed to document this down somewhere. This Ramadan was a special one for me. It’s one where people who matters were with me in performing acts of worship and devotion to Him. Thereafter when it ended and on the 1st of Syawal, it culminated into one where every single member of my family went to the mosque together to perform our Eid prayers.

It’s like the Lord has especially created all these experiences so that I could keep it somewhere within myself to be accessed and savored during the times when I needed them in future. And for this, I feel such immense gratitude to the Lord for His uncountable mercies in surrounding me with people whom I truly care, love and cherish.

Just a few days ago I was talking to a colleague about how much I’ll miss her when I’m away next year. It surprised me to find that my voice got caught in my throat mid-sentence as I said that and I felt tears in my eyes. I had to quickly look away and not continue with the rest of the things I wanted to say because I knew if I were to go on, those tears will fall.

That incident showed me one thing: that when the time comes for me to fly off, I may potentially find myself leaving a massive, massive, massssssssive portion of my heart here in Singapore.

How do I face that situation when it happens?