Rays of Splendour


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Being positive is a blessing

I just completed a presentation this morning and I found myself giving a huge sigh of relief after that was done. As soon as I headed home, I did nothing but to literally just sleep.

It feels so good to be typing this with a clear and fresh mind. Those are something I have not felt in the past few days as I have been sleeping for about 2 hours nightly in my bid to clear some school-related stuff.

I was speaking to one of my classmates while walking home today who asked me what I intended to do now that my presentation was over. Her response to my answer when I told her that I wanted to catch up on sleep struck a chord in me. She said:

“Yes, you really need to catch up on sleep. Not good to be missing out on sleep you know. You will become very negative.”

To be specific, the last part of her response on how sleep deprivation can induce negative feelings and thoughts was the one that I could relate to very well.

Due to the lack of sleep in the past few days, it seemed like I’m living in an entirely different body. I am unsure of myself and my decisions in life. I see myself to be lacking in many aspects and am convinced that my presence does nothing to lift or be of benefit to the people in my life. I perceived things to be looking so bleak and have no chance of being completed or working out while at the same time, I had no desire to ensure things go right. I felt irritation or get unnecessarily worried over the slightest and minutest of things.

Suffice to say, never have I felt far removed from my normal self than I had been during the earlier part of the week and it’s all due to sleep. Of course it doesn’t help that not only was I sleep deprived but I was also having the time of the month in the past few days.

So, sleep deprived + monthly hormonal changes = magnified negativity

Honestly, it’s exhausting and saps a lot of your energy. It’s true when they say that negativity is connected to bad energy.

I’m comparing that with the present situation where I am feeling very well-rested and body’s back to the normal cycle. It’s a world of a difference. Being positive connects a person to good energy that enables them to embrace the world from a position of hope that things will be completed, it can work out, that you can do things and that your efforts to be a blessing to others will materialize into something.

If there is one thing that the conversation I had with the classmate as well as the experiences of the past few days had revealed to me, it’s that the state of being positive is one of the huge blessings in life that I tend to overlook.

See, we all pray for many things in life. Some of the things that we typically pray for is for God to grant us good health, to keep our loved ones safe, to be granted with infinite abundance in life and many more. But to ask God to grant us continued positivity in the way we embrace life? I had definitely overlooked that!

I end this entry with prayers that Allah grants goodness to me and my loved ones and that one of the goodness is the blessing of embracing life with a positive spirit. Amin.


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Disrupted sleep patterns

It’s 3.15am at the time that I’m blogging this. I had actually turned in slightly before 12am however by 1.30am, I found myself awaken from sleep for no specific reason other than the fact that my body just decided that it has gotten enough sleep for now.

Since the time that I had awaken from sleep at 1.30am, I had cooked and eaten a bowl of instant noodles, watched one episode of a drama and read the whole text of the 1993 Oslo Accords. I’m wondering what else I need to do (besides blogging) in order to get myself sleepy again for I seriously need to get some sleep before attending a 9.30am class later.

I figured the reason why my sleep pattern’s gone off the mark these few days is because of the worry I have over school.

I have a graded presentation to give this Thursday and three sets of mid-term exams to study for which will take place next week. I’m allright with having exams to study for however one of the papers that I have to sit for – the economics paper – is one that is causing me to have the jitters. Till now, I’m still having problems answering the practice questions assigned so how am I ever going to be able to answer the exam paper next week?

These worries have impacted not only my sleep patterns but also obviously, the reason for the huge breakouts on my skin. As I’m typing this, the entire left side of my upper body from my shoulder to my waist as well as my left hand are seeing bumps as a result of hives. Yes, I tend to break out into hives whenever I get too stressed out from worries.

I probably should get a grip on myself and cut off these worries, though. They’re not helping me in any way.

So I should probably focus on the things and thoughts that make me happy. Like how the mid-term exam is actually an indication that half of the 15 weeks school semester have been completed and that means I only have approximate 7.5 weeks left before I get to go home, insyaAllah.

7.5 weeks. That’s slightly less than 2 months!

Think happy, positive thoughts. That’s what I should do then probably, all these hives will go away. And, I’ll be able to regain my normal sleep patterns too.


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Getting colder in Seoul

Temperatures suddenly took a dip downwards last week.

For almost two weeks now, all my summer clothes have been sitting nicely in the wardrobe. Yesterday as I stared at all my summer clothes in the wardrobe (yes, one of the odd things I do in life is to open my wardrobe from time-to-time and just admire look at my clothes), I had the thought that I should probably pack them in a box and send them back to Singapore. If I intend to fly back home for the winter vacation, then it would be good to slowly start sending things back home from now.

My mom was sceptical when I kept mentioning about the cold whenever she texts or calls me for updates. This is because according to her, the information on the internet stated that the temperatures here are about 20 – 21Β°C whenever she googled for it so in her words “Aku tengok tak sejuk pun tapi kau sibuk cakap sejuk (I read that it’s not cold at all but you kept complaining that it is)”.

Everytime she does that, I will respond with a dramatic “Noooooo maaaaaa! Tidakkk… Sejukkkkk” before explaining to her how those temperatures stated online are just the average values for the whole of Seoul and does not reflect the exact temperature of localized areas. Since my campus and house are located in the mountains, the temperatures here are a few degree celsius lower than the one published online.

I was having a conversation with a friend while on the way home just now and we happened to be talking about the cold. The discussion centred around how it seemed like the lower temperatures came a bit earlier this year and based on the weather patterns the country is facing thus far (for example, the summer of 2016 was the warmest recorded in Seoul), there have been a lot of hearsay among the people here that the winter this time is going to be a lot colder than last year’s. Last year, Seoul experienced it coldest winter with temperatures dipping to a low of -18ΒΊC (the Han River was reported to be frozen at some point!) so I’m thinking that if it’s going to be way colder this year, I need to think of an escape route back to warm, sunny Singapore as soon as I’m done with school.

Although I fret about the cold, I’m also quite happy to embrace it. This is because with the cold, that part of nature which thrives in this environment is now able to reveal its beauty. Just for a span of those few weeks, all of us get to witness that glory.

Also, I’m reminded of what one of my ustaz mentioned regarding the weather. The weather is God’s. He’s the owner and its determiner so no matter how cold it is, it’s His creation too. So yep, this is a reminder to myself foremost than others that despite being uncomfortable with the cold at times, I have not right to constantly be complaining about something which I did not even create in the first place.

Further, He has not created this cold for naught. There is a bigger reason for the creation of cold temperatures during specific times of the year beyond the comprehension of my small little mind.


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Not guaranteed a tomorrow

It’s been a pretty packed past few days. I liked the fact that my days have been filled with engagements as that make time passes by quickly and also, make me feel that I have not wasted all the time God has given me. Just yesterday I was reading an article online where the author stated the following: “All of us are not guaranteed a tomorrow.” That made me strengthen my resolve to use the present to the best that I can and in a way that is pleasing to Him. I always believe that the time we have is a responsibility given to us by God in order that we use it in His way and to be the best that we can be. It is this belief that drives me to seek knowledge and explore new experiences in order to push the boundaries of the self and to be opened to the ways that God is using the self to help His creations.

Going back to the article I mentioned earlier, the author had actually written the article in the context of appreciating all the time you have with your loved ones and to be precise, her exact line was “All of us are not guaranteed a tomorrow with someone we love.” That line struck a chord in me.

As I lay on my bed in the dark before turning in last night, I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I felt lonely staying alone in the apartment which is vastly different from the people-filled and bustling-with-activities family apartment back home. In those few moments before sleep engulfed me, I found that I missed the people back home tremendously and the words I had read – how not all of us are guaranteed a tomorrow with someone we love – weighed on my mind.

In light of that, I found myself putting things into perspective.

Sometimes we let our egos or worries get in the way and that make us hesitate to tell someone we love that we love them, or to show them that we do. But truly when we do that, and to do it despite the distance that separates, we’re essentially placing our lower selves at a pedestal over this harsh reality in life – that is, we are not guaranteed a tomorrow with anyone.

Also, life is really too short to bear grudges and to hold on to any anger, resentment or negative feelings you have for another. Perhaps in some situation, those feelings are warranted and one has every right to have those feelings. However looking at life from a macro perspective, one realizes that those incidents which ignited the negative feelings towards another could probably make up just a small portion of your entire lifetime. Unfortunately, we tend to focus on them to the detriment of the self and your relationship with others. If today is going to be the last day you have with someone, would you then prefer to spend quality time with those who matter or to invest your attention on matters and feelings that distract you from the former?

I say this as a reminder to myself foremost than to others: Be in the present and appreciate fully the present for that is the only time we’re all guaranteed with.

And also, to tell those whom I love that I love them dearly.


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Thanking Him for the health

I’ve been puzzled over how I’ve not been feeling my best physically over the past few weeks. I’ve always been one of those people who are up and about as soon as I wake up in the morning and only giving in to rest after I have ended the day.

However these few weeks, I just feel physically different inside. For someone who usually wakes up from sleep before fajr and have been doing so for years, I find that it’s a bit challenging for me to wake up so early these days. It’s like the sleep – which coincidentally would be filled with lots of dreaming and this again is unlike my usual sleep where I hardly ever dream – did nothing to recharge my body.

When I’m finally up, it’s like there is a spark that seemed to be missing inside me that usually gets me all excited and brimming with unbridled energy to face the day ahead. Instead, I feel a relative sense of physical weakness at the prospect of getting through the day.

Like, what gives? Is it because of the lack of exercise? Is it due to something lacking in my diet (for now, the only thing missing from my diet is meat and I’ve been sustaining only on veggies and seafood)? Must I start taking some vitamins now? Is it some change in hormones? Or could it just be due to the change in seasons that had affected even the change in the body?

Anyway tonight while surfing, I came across the following which I felt resonates with what I’ve been thinking about. It’s true isn’t it? Only when you don’t have it – and in my case, not feeling in the best condition as before – that one starts realizing how blessed we’ve been health-wise all this while.

“The best that you have to thank Allah (swt) day and night for, and we are not thinking about it, and we are not thanking, and those who did not get it, still have to thank Allah (swt), but for us who are the majority, we have to thank Him every moment, shukr, shukr, thank Him for the health that He gave to us!

If you cut your finger you feel pain, and you cannot take that pain so you take so many medicines to stop it. And Allah (swt) gave human beings health, there are so many that don’t have it. Go to hospital and look, see the difference between what Allah (swt) gave you and what He gave to them. O Muslims thank Allah!”
Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

That said, I still feel utter gratitude for my current state of health. For at least, I’m able to do numerous things and to do them very comfortably. Alhamdulillah. Those are huge blessings already.


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End of the Islamic year, 1437

I thought that it would be apt to spend a few moments doing a personal reflection of the past one year before the new Islamic year dawns upon us. As I did my reflections during the post-Asar prayers just now, I found that it took me to moments that I’m thankful for. I also asked myself whether I had achieved goodness or improvements in the self in the past one year (afterall, isn’t the progress into a new hijri year a symbolic reflection of a move towards change and betterment as well?).

I’m not too sure if I did regardless, here are my reflections on areas I felt I’d made a hijrah in during the past year, for the record.

Survived the year leading the Year 1 Geography teaching team

That was a new portfolio for me last year and honestly, I went into it basically clueless. I’ve never been the one planning the direction the teaching team should take in terms of implementing the syllabus, organizing team meetings to standardize marking or share teaching strategies and settle matters that arose, organizing results processing, or communicating with the entire student level about matters related to the subject and many more.

It was a steep learning curve for me and came at a time just before I was to go on the planned two years of leave from work (which was good as I had the mentality that I just needed to get through that time and it’s done). Alhamdulillah, I did it and despite the mistakes which made me learn even more along the way, I came through it more confident in doing the job.

So when I thought of areas in which I grew in and went beyond my comfort zone over the past year, this was one of the things that came to mind.

Officially went on a sabbatical from work

I consider this a hijrah as truly, it is not easy to make the decision to stop working momentarily. For to do that, I’m basically making the move towards making do with not having money come into my bank account every month (not easy to get used to after years of being comfortable to the knowledge that I would have cash coming in every 12th of the month), breaking years of routine and also, being away from colleagues whom I had became friends with over the years.

I found the first few weeks to be very unsettling. It felt like I was suddenly thrown into a situation whereby I had no direction nor place to go during the times when my family and friends went about their daily task of going to work.

Yet, I treasured the time. During those two months before I started my studies, I had all the time in the world to pursue whatever I wanted and alhamdulillah, I spent most of my days doing things that I would not have otherwise been able to do if I had been working.

Pushing the boundaries on ways to earn money

I figured now would be a good time for me to explore alternative options of earning money besides through being an employee. While I love my job tremendously, I’ve also always asked myself these questions:

  • Is being employed the only way I can earn a living?
  • Is my capacity to earn money only at the level of being employee?
  • What else is available in God’s world that is for the taking?

Hence, being unpaid for now meant that I had all the time to brainstorm and figure out other means to earn money. Whether I eventually stick to the path or go back the employment route in inconsequential. The point is that I have the free reins to explore new frontiers.

Most noteworthy for me was that during the past few months and especially during my free time in Korea, I was able to read up on ways to achieve that. I realized that some of the things I wanted to experiment would require certain skills like photo editing or designing using Photoshop, or other software platforms.

That drove me to learn Photoshop during my spare time. So typically, my Saturdays are days where I stay in and spend it learning how to use Photoshop and practicing on them on my laptop. Time passes by very, very, very fast though when I’m learning and working on this programme.

Therein lies a version of my hijrah: to be brave to explore new territories and pick up new skills!

Made the move to Korea for my studies

This, in my opinion, reflects in a huge manner the elements of a hijrah. I had literally uprooted myself, went to a different locality, set up and organized a life there and insyaAllah, will be doing so until the completion of the studies.

It’s not easy setting up a life away from your loved ones and the confines of the familiar as the past entries on my blog could attest.

Taking the leap of faith

Taking that leap of faith to explore new ties with a person represents one of the big things on the hijrah list of this past one year.

Mr Winter Sonata came at a time that I never ever expected. I had no plans to get to know a guy nor explore any further relationship with a guy. Truly, I was contented with where I was in life, with moving to Korea being the next big thing on my agenda and the one that occupied my mind.

But God had different plans for me – and for both of us – and I concede that His plans are always the best. Though I have not known him for long, he’s become someone I’m truly grateful for.

Reasons why I consider this move to choose to get to know him and continue being with him as a form of a hijrah are these:

  • It’s never been easy for me to open up my heart to anyone so doing this marks a big shift that is uncharacteristic of me. 
  • To choose this path means choosing the things that come attached to it: the person and his entirety, both the good and the bad times, experiences that could be challenging involving people in our lives to those that are happy, being opened to the prospect that there could be moments where both of us might unintentionally do things to hurt each other and to embrace the hurt, and basically, to accept every moment of growth we may encounter as we traverse down this journey together and still choose each other despite any ease or dis-ease.

So okay, those are the big moves that made my 1437. Maghrib just dawned on us here in Korea as I’m about to end this entry. Just nice.

I pray that Allah continues granting my loved ones and myself forgiveness, guides us to closeness to Him, grants us Light and Mercy as well as infinite goodness in the year ahead. Amin.