Do NOT travel on a plane unless you read this.

Wanderlust. Globe trotter. And all the other shitty names you come up with when you travel but you don’t know the first thing about getting on a plane. Let me tell you something. When you decide to take a plane – there is whole hell lot of things going on that you arent even aware about.

As much as this is a rant, it really is more of a public service announcement. You can thank me later.

1 . Show your boarding tickets without waiting for the crew to ask for it
Honestly for the love of humanity. Is this so hard to do? So you are carrying 20 bags. You know you will have to approach the gate at some point. Take it out. Put it somewhere accessible so you can reach out for it. Why is it so important you ask? How about you just take the bus to wherever you need to go to instead. If you have kids and baggage and all that then yes, of course the crew understands and they will help you but otherwise – please.

2.Place your bags in the overhead compartment yourself. TYVM.
You do know that cabin crew are not at all required to assist with your baggage right? You didnt? Great. Now you do.
First of all, know this. You paid for your seat on the flight. Not the space in the overhead compartments. So yes, sometimes on a full load and especially when you are late, there wont be space. But you don’t have to kick up a huge fuss like you own the airline. You don’t. Just tell the crew calmly that you cant find space and they will help you.
Second, on most flights, the carry-on baggage is limited to 7kg. Now, clever you decides to pack all your shit for a 2 day vacay and you expect the crew to carry it for you? Do you know how many people the crew has on a full flight? Let’s place an average of 250 people. If everyone of you starts asking them to help you with your baggage, they will leave the job in a month because their spines will give way and they will die. Yes they will assist the old, the frail, the pregnant, the weak but not you, you miserable-selfish-able-bodied prick. Do it yourself

3. Sit your ass down and buckle up.
You were the first to get on the plane, placed your bags and settled in your seat! Hurrah! Let’s give you a medal! Now shut up and stay in your seat. Yes, of course at this time, while 249 more passengers are boarding, you need to use the toilet and being seated right in the middle means you need to move in and out and stop traffic now and then because you will be going against the traffic flow and therefore delaying take off. Great. Oh what’s that? You want a glass of water? And some biscuits? Wow. I mean you really want to make full use of your $800 ticket dont you. Of course you know the crew is busy with boarding , attending to parents with infants, and passengers who requested assistance or have disabilities etc but nope, you want your biscuits and you want it now. Here’s your medal, jackass

4. IF YOU DONT WANT TO DIE, you have to put your window shades up, stow your footrest, stow your handset, stow your tray tables, stow your drink holder, stow your screens, place your bag under the seat IN FRONT of you, fasten your seat belts, remove your USB’s and put your seats upright.
This will probably be the most important part of this post. It will save your life. 
90% of aircraft accidents happens during taxi,take off and landing. Yes this is when the seat belt sign comes on as your plane is getting ready for take off or descent. Now, the NAA (National Aviation Authority) of all the countries in the world requires the cabin crew to evacuate the plane in 90 seconds. NINETY FREAKING SECONDS. I cant even finish peeing in that time. But hey, they have to evacuate 250 people out of a plane that’s about to go down.
If you still don’t get it, let me break it down for you. If you are seated on the aisle seat  and have things like your tray tables out, your footrest, your handset, your drink holder and your seat reclined – how the hell is the person next to you and the guy having the window seat supposed to get out without fumbling through all of that? He or she will take slightly more time thanks to your selfishness. Worse, he or she gets tangled up or stuck thanks to your stupid bag or something. Every mini second counts if a plane is on fire.
Next, there is a locking device attached to your seat when it is upright. If the plane hits hard during landing or crash lands, you wont be thrown around as bad as if it was reclined. Also when your seat is upright, you allow easier evacuation for the passengers behind you.
Why have the window shades up you ask? The cabin crew have to mend the emergency doors during take off and landing. They cant see shit if it is happening outside the plane ie : engine on fire etc. But you can and when you do, you can alert them. Of course, provided your window shades are up in the first place. So dont complain about the sun in your face. No one cares.

Now when the service starts…

5.SIT YO ASS DOWN. 
They are starting a meal service. You had 30 whole minutes to go to the toilet and shit your life away but NOOOOOOOO….you only want to do it when they bring their carts out. Why???? It is a policy on some airlines that they cannot let you squeeze through the aisle while the cart is on it. They have to move the whole cart (and mind you it is heavy) back to the galley or all the way to the front depending on where you are just so you can use the toilet. Oh and of course, when you finish your shit, they need to do the same thing all over again. How more selfish can you get? And imagine if it is one of those very short flights which still has a full service and it is a full load. The poor crew is struggling to get all the meals served and has to collect them all but she or he needs to move the heavy AF cart up and down and disrupt the service for all other passengers because selfish you did not use the toilet when you could have. Either go to the toilet before the service or do it after its over. Not in between. Some of you aren’t even sorry..it’s revolting!

6.How to use a toilet on a plane
Yeah would you believe it? This is actually a point in this blog. First of all OPEN YOUR EYES. Why? So you can READ. On the door there will be a part that says PUSH. Push the door. And it will open.
Before you sit your ass on the toilet, again, OPEN YOUR EYES. Look out for a sign or symbol that has the word flush or depicts a flush. Know that you have to press that after your business is done. And when you do, look at the toilet again, if you see parts of yourself(ie shit) flush it again.
Next, after using the toilet rolls and tissues – look around the sink area. There is a waste flap(usually) which requires you to push it so you can throw your rubbish. That’s where you dump it. Not just in any bloody hole you see in the toilet.
Also if you are going to vomit – DO IT IN THE FREAKING TOILET BOWL AND NOT IN THE SINK!!!!!!! What the heck is wrong with you?!

7.Things to bring on a plane

1.  A pen.
Please dont travel without this. Help the crew to help yourself. Really. Bring a bloody pen will you.

8.Call buttons/bell
This might be the nicest thing I say on this post. Some people are actually nice. They actually come to galley/kitchen(whatever you call it) and ask the crew for things ie: drinks/food/pen/tissue/whatever. And I get that for others it may not be as easy because they are seated further away or stuck in the window seat,mum or dad with kids etc.. yeap, totally understandable. Let’s excuse those people.
As for the rest of you –  the crew provides a service on board. They are not your slaves. They are the people who have to risk their lives when the plane goes down. They will be the last people to disembark. They are doctors and nurses on board when you fall ill or become sick. They are mothers to your children and infants when you need to use the toilet and have someone keep an eye on them. They are a lot of things when your plane is 50,000 ft in a pressurized space and you only have them to depend on. 
So be a decent human for once in your life – and if you are going to press the call bell, do it wisely. Also, do them a favour and ask the people around you if they want the same thing. Yes you know it. Those people who see you having something and they want it too. But they only ask for it AFTER the crew has served you – so now they have to do two trips. Sometimes 3 because the 3rd mofo just got up and wants one of whatever you’re having too. This is a Boeing 777 for Christ’s sake not a 7-11.

9.Goodbye
So you had a good flight and the plane is about to land… compliment your crew. Thank them. Tell them you had a good flight. Better yet, ask for a feedback form. Take their names down. This encourages them. Plus doing something nice for someone might make you human again. Remember what that felt like?

Author’s note : Of course not everyone are assholes when they choose to fly. Im pretty sure some people are a joy to travel with and serve. So if this hit you hard then you are part of the problem so stop being an a-hole flyer! Also, I tried. I swear i tried really hard not to get emotional writing this. But oh well. Anyway, now you know what to do the next time you get on a plane and this world and our skies is now a better place! 
You’re welcome! 

WHY OUR WORLD CELEBRATED THE HOLOCAUST AND WILL ELECT TRUMP AS PRESIDENT (1/2)

Growing up, i have always wondered how the world stood by and watched mass genocides like the Holocaust, Bosnia or the Armenians. How can there still be countries living under apartheid in the 21st century? How can people who are blatantly racist with crazy ideologies garner so many supporters? What is it that allows ordinary people to be coaxed into thinking that getting rid of an entire group of people is alright?

Last week in Hong Kong, i bought a book – The Sociopath Next Door. Written by clinical psychologist, Martha Stout Ph.d, who reveals a startling fact that 1 in 25 people are sociopaths. That’s 4% of our population who are utterly void of conscience and can literally do anything to anyone at all without shame, fear, guilt or remorse.

The book discusses a wide range of things not just specific to sociopathy itself but the entire psychology behind why people like you and me do the things we do and the role of conscience in our world. One particular excerpt of the book however felt like i was reading the holy book on humans – the revelation of how someone is able to do something so unbelievably cruel, have the masses of people endorsing him and worse, having those who support him, convinced that they are absolutely right. And i was compelled to share it with as many people as possible.

Moral Exclusion

“Each year on the 4th of July, the little seaside of New England town where i live lights a three-story celebratory bonfire on the beach. Pallets of dry wood are nailed together and artfully stacked on top of one another in a towerlike shape that dominates our quaint landscape for several days before the 4th. The tower is constructed just so, with enough planks of wood and enough airspace for airflow in between that in can be counted on to flame up quickly. It is ignited as darkness falls, with the volunteer fire department standing by, hoses ready, just in case. The atmosphere is festive. The band plays patriotic songs. There are hot dogs and Slurpees and a fireworks display. When the bonfire has burned out completely, the children return to the beach, where the  firemen obligingly drench them with their hoses.

All of this has been a town tradition for 60 years, but not being a big fan of massive fires, i have attended it only once, in 2002, when i was encouraged by my friends. I was amazed by the numbers of people who has somehow pressed themselves into our tiny corner of the Atlantic coastline, some of them from fifty or more miles away, and I jostled with the crowd to find a spot close enough to see the fire, but far enough away not to get my eyebrows singed, or so i thought. I had been warned that once the fire got going, there would be more heat than i could imagine, and it was already a ninety degree day. As the sun began to set, there were hoots and shouts and calls for the tower to be torched, and when flame was finally put to wood, there was a collective gasp. The fire immediately began to engulf the wooden structure like the unstoppable force it was, from the sand upward to the night sky that suddenly blazed. And then came the heat. With the feel of a near-solid object, a wall of unbearable, even frightening superheated air rolled outward from the fire in waves of increasing intensity, taking the crowd by surprise and pushing us away en masse. Each time I thought I was far enough, i had to move back another fifty yards, and then another fifty yards, and then another. My face hurt. I would never have dreamed that a bonfire could make that much heat, not even one that was three stories high.

Once people had retreated to a sufficient distance, a sense of happy fascination returned, and when the ornamental top of the tower was consumed by the fire, the crowd applauded. The ornament at the summit had been built to resemble a little house, and now the house contained a miniature inferno. This and the vague sense of danger and the heat all disturbed me somehow, and i could not seem to share the feeling of the festive occasion. Instead, perversely, I began to think about the reality of the witch burnings in the 16th & 17th centuries, events i have always thought of as incomprehensible, and as hot as i was, i shivered a little. It is one thing to read about a fire large enough to execute a human being. It is another to stand in front of such a fire, along with an excited, hooting crowd. The sinister historical associations would not leave me, and stubbornly kept me from taking any delight in the moment.

I wondered: How had the witch burnings happened? How could such nightmares have been real? Ever the psychologist, i looked around at the people. Clearly, these were not bewildered Basque refugees in 1610, frantically searching for diabolists to burn. Here we were, a crowd of new-millennium, peace-loving, non-hysterical citizens, unscarred by hardship or menacing superstition. There was no blood lust here, or subjugation of conscience. There was laughter and neighbourly feeling. We were eating hot dogs and drinking Slurpees and celebrating Independence Day. We were not a heartless, amoral mob, and we would by no means have rallied around a murder, let alone the staging of torture. If by some bizarre reality warp there had suddenly been a human figure writhing in those colossal flames, only the anonymous handful of sociopaths among us would have been unaffected and or perhaps entertained. Of the rest, a few good people would have stayed in paralysed disbelief, a number of especially courageous people would have tried o intervene, and most of the crowd would have fled in understandable terror. And the once-cheerful bonfire would have become a traumatic image seared into all of our brains for the rest of our lives.

But what if the burning human had been Abu Bakr al Baghdadi – the leader of ISIS? How would this crowd have reacted if suddenly confronted with the public execution of the person identified as the world’s most despicable villain? Would these normally conscience-bound, churchgoing, nonviolent people have stood by and allowed it? Might there have been enthusiasm, or at least acquiescence, rather than nausea and horror at the spectacle of a human being dying in agony?

Standing there among all those good people, I suddenly realised that the reaction might have been something less than horror, simply because Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is not a human being in our view. He is Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, and as such, to borrow an expression from Ervin Staub in The Roots of Evil, has been completely “excluded from our moral universe.” The interventions of conscience no longer apply to him. He is not human. He is an it. And unfortunately, this transformation of a man into an it makes him scarier as well.

Sometimes people appear to deserve our moral exclusion of them, as terrorists appear to do. Other examples of its are war criminals, child abductors and serial killers, and in each of these cases, a considered argument can be (and has been) made, rightly or wrongly, that certain right to compassionate treatment have been forfeited. But in most cases, our tendency to reduce people to non-beings is neither considered nor conscious, and throughout history our proclivity to dehumanize has too often been turned against the essentially innocent. The list of out groups that some portion of humankind has at one time or another demoted to the status of hardly even human is extremely long and, ironically, includes categories for nearly every one of us: blacks, gays, Muslims, Israelis, Palestinians, Native Americans, Shias, capitalists, Serbs, Hutus, the Irish, the Tamils, the poor, the rich – to name but a few.

And once the other group has been populated by its, anything goes, especially if someone in authority gives the order. Conscience is no longer necessary, because conscience binds us to other beings and not to its. Conscience still exists, may even be very exacting, but it applies only to my countrymen, my friends, and my children, not yours. You are excluded from my moral universe, and with impunity- maybe even praise from others in my group- i can now drive you from your home, or shoot your family or burn you alive.”

This was written in 2 parts simply to make reading easier. In the original excerpt, Osama bin Laden was used as an example instead of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. The change was to make it more current and relatable for everyone. Part 2 of this excerpt basically answers the questions posed below.

PART II (Preview)- There are leaders who can bring members of a frightened society to see the its as the sole impediment to the good life, for themselves and maybe even humanity as a whole and the conflict as an epic battle between good and evil. Once this beliefs have been disseminated, crushing the its without pity or conscience can, with chilling ease, become an incontrovertible mandate. The recurrence throughout history of this type of leader raises a long list of dumbfounding questions. Why does the human race tolerate this sorrowful story over and over, like a mindless broken record? Why do we continue to allow leaders who are motivated by self-interest, or by their own psychological issues in the past, to fan bitterness and political crisis into armed confrontation and war? In the worst instances, why do we let such leaders run the show and play games of dominance with other people’s lives? What becomes of our individual consciences?

Why do we not stand up for what we feel? 

Excerpt from ‘The Sociopath Next Door’ – Martha Stout

Marriage + Piety < #Reality

We belong to the 21st century. Fast paced. Love can blossom anywhere,everywhere. Online, offline. We are injected with novels and romantic movies from Hollywood to Bollywood. We are in love with the idea of love. We want to love and be loved. And what seals this love? Marriage of course! Here comes the proposal, the wedding, the bride! We try to outdo the other in the best proposal – the best wedding, the dress, the cakes – basically, the multi-billion dollar industry. Then the honeymoon! Oh the selfies and instaposts! Quotes from Rumi and poets we never heard of before. Googling ‘love quotes’ & selecting the perfect fit to go along with a perfectly filtered picture. #LailandMajnun #forever #truelove

Then life begins. And reality hits. Time allows both of you to get comfortable. So comfortable, the truth starts to seep out. Not that either of you were lying before – but BEING MARRIED changes the game. Like a sly fox, his old habits creep in. Habits you never knew he had. Characters or personalities he never showed before. Temper. Expectations. The bar rises each time. The henna on your hands hasnt even come off and already you’re wondering if this was a mistake. But the posts continue. Oh yes! #1stAnniversary #hubbsandme #imsolucky

Why do we get married? Besides the obvious reason – the most overused being ‘it’s sunnah’. So is Tahajjud love, get over it. When female friends gush over how their husband-to-be are Imam’s of Masjids or a hafidz who has ijazah for all 10 recitations or the-next-celebrity-shaykh, I try not to flinch. In 25 years, i’ve seen my share of imams-turn-domestic-abuser, hafidz who emotionally abuse their wives exploiting versus from the Quran for their own benefit, wannabe shaykhs who claim to do so much ‘community’ work he has no time for his wife and family.

We wonder why our sisters subject themselves to this. Why pray for someone to bring you to Jannah? Arent you capable yourself? Do you think yourself deficient? God has proclaimed we are equals in His Book. What further supporting evidence do you need?

It’s also funny how people always pray for a ‘pious’ husband/wife without ever knowing what that actually means.

The greatest misconception here is YOU CANNOT SEE PIETY. NEVER. EVER. Unless you’re God.

Thankfully, our merciful Lord left clues for us mortals to have a rough idea. Piety can only come from righteousness.

And righteousness is good character. – Muslim (Hadith) 

You cannot claim he is pious because he prays all his 5 prayers in the Mosque. Or goes for Zikr every Thursday night. Or hangs out with ‘holy’ people. Perhaps, they may be indications to a certain extent but honey, dont fool yourself.

Neither am i talking about him opening doors for you, showering you with expensive gifts and giving you an elaborate Facebook post about how lucky he is or stuff that makes your friends  go ‘Awwwhh he is so sweet- how romantic!’

 Know the difference. I’m talking about how he treats the waiters when you’re having dinner. How he sincerely lights up when you talk about something that means a lot to you. How he listens intently when you speak and looks into your eyes giving you due attention because that is just common courtesy. Im talking about how he forgives easily and how he is genuinely impressed when you know more than him. How he respects you because you inspire him. Im talking about how he is not afraid to stand up for justice when faced with injustice. How willing he is to face your parents when the time comes no matter how nervous he is. How he is constantly afraid of crossing the lines with you because he fears God. How he treats his parents and siblings at home. His adab towards the elderly and the young. His humility and nature. His honesty and morality.

The mark of a man is in his character. If his root is good, then you can throw wealth, status and women at him – and he remains good.
If his root is evil – even religion can’t help him.

This is why you hear of religious figures abusing their students. How that oh-so-pious-priest turned pedophile. How the ‘pious’ brother  gets jailed for physically abusing his wife and kids.

Mere beards, thobes, turbans and knowledge of Islam does not guarantee good character. An atheist can have better morals and character.

But ultimately, dear sisters, stop trying to short change yourself by thinking you can marry a ticket to heaven. Be like  Khadijah, blessings be upon her. A strong, intelligent, formidable, independent and righteous woman even before the advent of a Prophet.  Yep, you got it. Even BEFORE the advent of a Prophet. Their alliance then brought both of them to greater heights – together.

So start with yourself. Build your character, your soul. And who knows, you might meet a Muhammad…or John- who probably is looking for a job and only recently practicing & might be struggling to read the Quran, but rooted in him, are admirable morals and values. Ones that will manifest itself in your sons and daughters.

Singapore Muslims taking Eid to the next level!

With all the hustle and bustle of Eid or commonly known as Hari Raya in Singapore– buying kuihs(cookies), new furniture, Eid clothes & prepping for the joyous occasion, it can be easy to forget that not everyone has family members or close friends to celebrate Eid with.

Fortunately, Elegance – a Muslim e-magazine focused on empowering women by Juzaila, Hanisah & Indah together with Noor Mastura, founder of Interfaith Youth Circle – is running a pilot project: SG Muslims for Eid. SG Muslims for Eid is a spin-off from HONY for the Holidays. The goal is to ensure as few Muslims as possible are alone this Eid. Or better yet – none.
“My Eid last year switched from being lonely to being the best example of sisterly love just by experiencing the welcome at my friend’s home with her family’ wrote Meryem Chin, a newly converted sister. “It really means a lot to us- especially new converts celebrating their first Eid without having anyone to celebrate it with.”

Indeed, all that one has to do to participate is to click on this link  www.bit.ly/SGMuslimsForEid. You will then fill up a short form indicating your interest to participate as a HOST or a GUEST. Hosts can also indicate the number of guests they can accommodate. Both parties will need to write a little about themselves (age,interests etc). The team then screens the forms carefully and matches the guests and hosts with each other. “Our job is to screen the forms thoroughly and make sure that everyone is well acquainted before they meet so there will be no surprises on the actual day,”says Hanisah from Elegance.

Since the call to participate, SG Muslims for Eid has already received a steady flow of participants. The team is confident it will kick off and snowball in size each year. According to Noor Mastura, “We are definitely looking at this long term. This year, we are particularly focused on converts who spend Eid alone, but there are many other Muslims who live in Singapore who are not necessarily converts but are either working or studying here and end up spending Eid alone and away from their loved ones. We definitely want to include them as well. As this is also an interfaith effort, I am also looking forward to having guests from other faiths and beliefs signing up to share this blessed day together.”

As beautifully summed up by Juzaila from Elegance, “Every Eid, my parents invite Muslim foreign workers at our place for breakfast. I am really excited to host an additional convert or 2 this year. Most Muslims are so used to our routine and culture forgetting the actual meaning of celebrating Eid in Islam. I feel this project is a brilliant start to the right direction. Opening our hearts and spreading good cheer and happiness to people is the foundation of Islam-  what more for the most joyous day of the year?”

This effort is a reminder that although Eid can be a lonely one for many Singaporean Muslims, it certainly doesn’t have to be.

So please, if you can spare an extra spot(or more) where you are celebrating Eid or if you are looking for a place to go this Eid – click on the link already!!! Besides, as Juzaila said, opening our homes and hearts sure seems like the epitome of Eid’Al Fitri.
A THRILLING

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Here’s to being 25. Cheers.

TOP 25 lessons. Bite-sized.

1) No matter how famous, rich, beautiful or happy – EVERYONE has their struggles.

2) Mother, Mother, Mother – The Most important person in your life. Her happiness is your blessings. Take care of her heart and you will lead a life of wonderment.

3) Your friends are few – Yeah so Facebook says you have 2000 over friends but you’d be surprise to know how many people outwardly cant stand the sight of you, secretly hate you, don’t really care, can’t unfriend you because ‘it will be so awkward’, keep tabs on your achievements and if they are lucky, your failures. Sounds harsh but welcome to 25 years of life. (Oh and i know who you are) As for the ones who have been there all along, treasure these people and love them hard.

4) Siblings = REAL-est friends you will ever have. No one else will tell it straight to your face like them. Also the ones who will go out of their way for you when you need it most. (Key word :Most) Also, the people who let you experience the feeling of wanting to yank someone’s hair out of their head.

5) Marriage is not THE happy ending. You need to work hard for happy endings. This includes but not entirely limited to spending a huge chunk of your time, sacrifices, sharing, arguments, fights, situations that will test your ego on levels you have never experienced, apologizing even when you are right, changing your entire environment etc. (No i am not married, I am just wise like that)

6) Faith is not a constant feeling of highs and perfection. The struggle is real. You have highs AND lows. If there are days you doubt God and His existence and you are crying out for Him – you are still on the right track.

7) Never assume the extent/level/intensity of a person’s faith based on their outward appearances or outward piety AND Never underestimate a person’s faith based on their outward appearances or lack of outward piety (This needs to be on repeat)

8) Laughter really is the best medicine. Learn to see funny and laugh. Earn extra credits by making people laugh. (But not at the expense of others because that is just plain mean)

9) It really isn’t what you say but HOW you say it. (Don’t believe me? Try saying something horrible and give them a hug at the same time)

10) No kind deed or word is ever too small. EVER. I cannot emphasize on this enough.

11) Waiting for death is significantly easier than the approval of the masses.

12) A single drop of sincerity can wipe out all the fires of hell.

13) Not everyone with a qualification is knowledgeable so be very very very selective with who you take advice and guidance from.

14) Keep going even when you’re tired for that is when your real training begins. (Quote i saw at the gym but i feel it for other aspects too)

15) Humans are NOT infallible. Yes, your Shaykh, Priests, Rabbis, Politicians, Guruji, Monks, Parents, Media, Teachers etc CAN make mistakes too! (and they will)

16) No matter what your belief is – your soul needs feeding and nourishing too. Spend time with nature.

17) Money is NOT the root of all evil.

18) Spending time ALONE with yourself is CRUCIAL and absolutely precious. Do it more often.

19) When your environment is clean and organized, so is your mind. Tested and proven.

20) TRAVEL. The best thing you can gift to yourself in the short time you have in this world.

21) Never stop reading. (and i mean a proper book) Not Kindle. Add as much non-fiction as you can to the list. The more you read, the more you’ll realise just how little we actually know.

22) You can respectfully disagree with someone and still love them and maintain kindness and compassion. (Half the world hasn’t realised this yet!)

23) Life is a battlefield and you ALWAYS have a choice. So choose your battles and fights wisely.

24) In this crazy world, thank God for animals. Treat them with kindness and love.

25) Food. Unites. People.

To March babies and all 25 year olds this year – here’s to the next quarter of a century!

To Churches of Singapore. <3

I write this letter as a Singaporean Muslim.

I address this letter to the believers of this church, the priest and pastors, our interfaith workers, and all people who commemorate the birth of Jesus, Peace and Blessings be upon him, & Lady Mary, the purest woman of this world and most eminent in the next world.

Recent events such as the evil ISIS torturing our Christian brethren in Mosul and the very recent shootings and unfortunate incident of innocents being held hostage in Sydney – all of which claiming to be done under the name of Islam has caused great upset, anger and hate for the rest of the world.

This outrages us as much as it outrages you and hurts us as much as it hurts you and angers us as much as it angers you, perhaps it angers us even more so because these evil perpetrators have hijacked our religion and misused it to fulfill their hidden motives and agendas.

Although these incidences and acts of terror are happening outside of Singapore, the ripples of their actions are starting to hit our shores.

One of our greatest blessings which we share in common, amongst many others, is to call Singapore home.  We were born and raised here. Our closest friends are Hindus, Christians, Catholics, Buddhists and Muslims and believers of many other faiths. And we really wouldnt have it any other way. Neither will we tolerate anyone, regardless of who they are, to threaten this peace and love that we share amongst us.

The majority of Muslims, 99.999% of us, are lovers of our Prophets and Messengers. All of them. They are one and we prefer none of God’s messengers over the others and unto Him do we submit.
In fact, it is part of the faith of a Muslim to believe in the Holy Bible and Jesus, upon him be peace as with the Torah – the scriptures of the Jews and Moses, upon him be peace.

Believing in them is a testimony of our Faith.

In 628 AD, a delegation from St. Catherine’s Monastery came to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and requested his protection. He responded by granting them the following charter of rights.

St. Catherine’s Monastery is located at the foot of Mt. Sinai in modern-day Egypt and is one of the world’s oldest monastery. It possesses a huge collection of Christian manuscripts, second only to the Vatican, and is a world heritage site. It also boasts the oldest collection of Christian icons. It is a treasure house of Christian history that has remained safe for 1,400 years under Muslim protection.

The following was penned in the Charter of Rights.

“This is a message from Muhammad son of Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by God, I hold out against anything that displeases them. 
No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. 
No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His prophet.

Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight.

The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. 
She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. 
Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation of Muslims is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”

This promise is eternal and universal. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) ordered Muslims to follow it until the Day of Judgment just as we follow his last sermon before his passing.

The charter imposes no conditions on Christians for enjoying its privileges. It is enough that they are Christians. They are not required to alter their beliefs, they do not have to make any payments and they do not have any obligations. This is a charter of rights without any duties.

I know i do not speak for myself alone but the majority of Muslims, not just in Singapore but all over the world. We stand with you in solidarity. We pray with you and for you. Our peace is yours and your peace is ours. Every word in the Charter stands true as it was in the time of the Prophet as it does today.

Previously, perhaps it was enough that we knew in our hearts that good people on both sides exists, but with the negative media only showing discord and injustice, doubt arises and we start to wonder.

The intention of this letter is to reinstate and assure our fellow brethren that we are ONE.

Muslims celebrate the Prophet Muhammad on varying occasions.
In the coming month of December, i would like to join you in your gatherings to celebrate Jesus. His birth, life, message, teachings, the second coming, the Messiah, the Spirit of God & the Virgin Mary, our Holy Mother.

Let us, together, stand united against attacks on any religious communities.

With love and prayers,
on behalf of my Muslim friends all over.

PS: I do apologise however, as i understand there are different sectors within the Christian community itself and perhaps you may or may not identify with this letter, but my message of peace and solidarity stands nonetheless.


I sent this letter over 200 churches in Singapore, but i dont think that is all of them. I have tried looking for various sources for the email address and in my process could have spammed a couple of churches. (Im really sorry.)

I hope that this reaches out to people of goodness on both sides to send a message that we need to do a lot more to reach out to one another and bridge our communities.

If not now, then when? If not you, then who?

Peace be upon you always.

An Open Letter to the Ministers of Singapore – Why are we silent on Gaza?

Dear Leaders of Singapore,

I was born in Singapore in 1990 – the year of great beginnings and start ups in Singapore.

A country that prides in its diversity where race and religion is concerned. A country that has upheld and strove for racial harmony and multiculturalism in every sense of the word. A country that rose from the ground since it gained complete independence in 1965 to a world class nation that is comparable to super powers. A country where people use to joke about not being able to see on the map but holds one of the highest GDPs in the world.

For the past 24 years I’ve lived in this country, I have felt grateful, blessed & safe. Except, right at this point, as a patriotic citizen of Singapore, I feel dispirited.

Clear skies in our beautiful country- Singapore

As of July 16th 2014, the time I wrote this, 214 Palestinians have died with over 2000 wounded. These are unarmed civilians, most of whom, targeted by Israel at their own homes, places of worship, schools, hospitals etc. It has been 8 days of intense firings and bombings which has murdered so many innocent women and children – the youngest being a 9 month old baby. The city goes dark even at night- except when the missiles strike- as the technicians in charge of vital infrastructures such as water and electricity are afraid to move to repair damages caused by the bombs. This obviously has consequences on hospitals which heavily depend on electricity especially right now. Unlike Israel, which holds its position as the world’s best military and most advance in defence technology with iron domes over their famed iron walls – Gaza is a tiny, over populated third world STRIP with every entrance and exit blocked with nowhere to run for cover. Israel has occupied Palestine for the longest time, rejected the United Nation’s partition plans, erased over 400 Palestinian villages and counting & forced the people of Palestine to live as second class citizens in their own country under military rule.

The everyday skies in Gaza.  (And we thought the haze was bad)

The everyday skies in Gaza.
(And we thought the haze was bad)

What does this have to do with Singapore?

48 years before I was born, – the Japanese military occupied Singapore. What destroyed me was reading the ‘Sook Ching Massacre’ that took place on our land. ‘Sook Ching’ in traditional Mandarin means ‘to purge through cleansing’ – it was a systematic hostile extermination by the Japanese of our Chinese people in Singapore. This massacre was not the conduct of a few evil people but rather the entire Japanese defence army was consistent with the line of horrific actions applied. Over 400 Singaporean Chinese were shot by the firing squad at Punggol Beach. 300 more bullet ridden corpse washed up at the shores of Sentosa. But that’s not all.

According to Mr Lee Kwan Yew, our then Prime Minister and current Minister Mentor, in an interview with National Geographic, “I was a Chinese male, tall and the Japanese were going for people like me because Singapore had been the centre for the collection of ethnic Chinese donations to Chongqing to fight the Japanese. So they were out to punish us. They slaughtered 70,000 – perhaps as high as 90,000 but verifiable numbers would be about 70,000. But for a stroke of fortune, I would have been one of them.”

90,000 innocent Singaporean civilians who were ruthlessly killed on their own shores by the army of a country that occupied us and forced us to live under their military rule & we had nowhere to run.

Innocent lives taken by the Japanese Army. -Sook Ching Massacre

Innocent lives taken by the Japanese Army.
-Sook Ching Massacre 1942

 

Innocent lives taken by the Israeli Defence Army. -Gaza Massacre 2014

Innocent lives taken by the Israeli Defence Army.
-Gaza Massacre 2014

All that said, how exactly am I affected as a Singaporean under your leadership?

As a proud citizen of this country, I have always valued how our country remains unaffected by international issues which plaques other countries and affect the relationships of their citizens with each other, such as islamophobia in USA & Europe & ethnic cleansing in Africa, Burma & Bosnia. Of course there are hints of racism in our usually racially harmonious society but since the 1964 racial riots, we have made tremendous progress in strengthening trust between our ethnic groups. It is our National Pledge. Our laws charge those who dare incite hate speech or make disparaging remarks against any race or religion under the Sedition Act. My best friends since Secondary 1 is a Chinese Buddhist and an Indian Christian. This is normal for most Singaporean youths. We cant imagine it otherwise.

Our values to and for humanity has been instilled in us since primary school across the nation. Since young, we were taught to stand up for what is right, for justice, for equality especially against bullies and…to say no to drugs. We were also pushed to strive for the best, to be number 1 in everything we do, to achieve as many A’s as we can, as many gold medals as we can. To be top in academics, sports, arts – you name it. Why not, when our country top the ranks in every possible index you can think of – best airport, highest gdp, most busiest port, best city to live in Asia, safest city, cleanest city, least corrupted, best education.. etc and even one of the top few countries with the best military.

The people and leaders of our country are looked up upon and respected everywhere in the world. So please tell us dear Ministers, how can we be so great in almost every aspect a country should be but keep silent where a huge humanitarian crisis is ongoing? In the times where other countries have faced natural disasters and needed aid, Singapore has sent their civil defence, medics, monetary aid and made passionate pledges out loud and clear for the world to hear. That’s the Singapore we know. Why the silence now? Do we keep quiet out of fear? From who? Does the fear and insecurity of weakening bilateral relations win over innocent lives and blood spilled in vain? If there were Singaporeans in Palestine stuck in the crossfire will our leaders step up to bring them home? Does it have to go that far, for our own to be hurt for us to speak up against injustice? As your countrymen, we cannot facilitate a peaceful protest or campaign because your laws don’t allow us to and we respect that because we convince ourselves that our leaders will be the voice of our people. Except there is no voice. Just silence. Where are the strong statements that should come from our cabinet ministers the same way they stand up when Singapore was oppressed?

There are comparable similarities between us and Gaza but the HUGE difference is this. We became free from the horror of our lands. We became free of the Military occupation. Our people no longer had to fear deaths when they walk the streets. Our leaders were free to decide the path we will take for our future, for the people of Singapore.

UK’s Deputy PM Nick Clegg said Thursday that “…I really do think now the Israeli response appears to be deliberately disproportionate. It is amounting now to a disproportionate form of collective punishment. It is leading to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which is unacceptable.”

Claiming the bodies of their loved ones.

Claiming the bodies of their loved ones.

Since this massacre began, 214 Singaporeans have died. Most of the Singaporeans were nursery kids and primary school children. The rest were mostly Singaporean civilians on their way home or taking cover in the mosque, church and hospitals.

Did it hurt to read those 2 lines??? Did it mean anything to you?? Does it make more of a difference if it is one of us? We don’t want to remain silent anymore and pretend we don’t know what is going on. Let other countries remain silent out of fear or ignorance. But I urge my leaders whom we have elected with faith to act according to the Spirit of Singapore. To stand up,speak up & speak out against this atrocity. Let us create awareness, boycott, divest & send aid to the people when they need us. We may be small but there is nothing any country can do that Singapore cannot overcome better. Let us shine and be an example to the rest of the countries who are undecided in their stand.

According to Mr Lee, in an interview with the Discovery Channel Programme, on the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, “It was the catastrophic consequences of the war that changed the mindset, that my generation decided that, ‘No…this doesn’t make sense. We should be able to run this island as well as the British did, if not better. The Asians had looked to them for leadership, and they(the British) had failed them.”

His son, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, the current Prime Minister of Singapore said in his 2014 New Year speech, “The Singapore spirit burns bright in our people – in the concern of volunteers who distributed masks to vulnerable groups during the haze, in the determination of a SEA Games cyclist who fought back from a serious car accident to win gold, and in the courage of Home Team officers who formed human shields to protect colleagues during the riot in Little India. We must nurture this spirit, and keep faith with our nation and our people. By trusting and helping one another, we will create a brighter future for ourselves and our children.”

We, the people of Singapore are now looking at you, our leaders whom we have elected with full confidence, we are looking at you for your leadership and stance to step up, unlike other countries who simply get their foreign affairs minister to make a diplomatic statement and then go into oblivion.

Keep our faith upon you and let’s continue to nurture our Singapore spirit that burns bright. You have never failed us.

You know how you kept asking for ideas for Singapore’s 50th Birthday? This will be the greatest gift for her and all of us. That we acted with dignity and stood up for humanity.

I end this letter with my favourite quote from the man who our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hailed “as an inspiration to himself and millions for his lifelong fight for humanity, courage and freedom”-

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. – Nelson Mandela

With hope,
A proud citizen of Singapore


 

From the time this blog has been published,17/07, 230 Palestinians and 1 Israeli have died. That’s 231 people who died in vain. This includes 4 young boys who were playing soccer on the beach.

This letter was sent to the following Ministers of Singapore :

1) President of Singapore : Tony Tan Keng Yam –  (tony_tan@istana.gov.sg)
2) Prime Minister : Lee Hsien Loong –  (lee_hsien_loong@pmo.gov.sg)
3) Deputy Prime Minister for National Security & Home Affairs : Teo Chee Hean –  (teo_chee_hean@mha.gov.sg)
4) Minister for Foreign Affairs : K Shanmugam  – (k_shanmugam@mfa.gov.sg )
5) Embassy of the Republic of Singapore : Israel – Lt Gen Winston Choo Wee Leong – (winstonwlchoo@gmail.com)

This letter was sent on 17/07/2014 – the writer awaits the response from her respected Ministers.
PS: Please feel free to copy the letter and add your name and  opinion & send it to our Ministers.

For those of you who want the EASIEST way to understand the WHOLE issue, watch THIS VIDEO done by a National Jewish Organisation – Jewish Voice for Peace

I also urge every reader to watch this 3 minute video to fully understand what happens to the plight of people who are oppressed and helpless. A Singapore team has created ASRIT to aid these people in Syria. Find out how you can help and make a difference by watching THIS VIDEO.


Updated 19/12

A few days after this post, Singapore pledged monetary aid to Gaza and Mr K Shanmugam made an amazing statement on how the acts of terror are to be condemned and how they will vote to punish those guilty of genocide and war crimes. Thank you Ministers. That wasnt so hard was it? 🙂

As to those of you, who assumed i wanted my island to send armies and forces to destroy Israel and Hamas………. I dont even know what to say. Seriously? Smh.

10 Things I BET You Did Not Know About ISLAM.

1. We can eat pork…… 
depending on the circumstances. By default, the meat of pigs is haram(unlawful) in Islam. However, there are exceptions where it can be consumed ie dire circumstances. A clear example would be a “do or die” situation. Literally.

2. We can pray in Hebrew

or in Cantonese. Or in Russian. Or in sign language or just about ANY language in the world! Yes, as Muslims, you are encouraged to learn Arabic as the Quraan(Sacred Book) is written in Arabic (here’s why).

BUT the word is encouraaggeeeee. If you have a language disability or you are just really comfortable in your native language -relax. God gets it. Baby steps.

3. WE DECLARE JIHAD!!!! (On ourselves)

Pay attention to the simplest breakdown of this word that you will remember for the rest of your life.

Jihad = Struggle

Struggle = to strive to achieve or attain something in the face of difficulty or resistance

The Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him – says “The greatest Jihad is the Jihad against yourself.”

A highly respected scholar defines this best –

” Declare your Jihad against 13 enemies you cannot see. Egoism, Arrogance, Conceit, Selfishness, Greed. Lust, Intolerance, Anger, Lying. Cheating, Gossiping, Slandering. If you can master & destroy them, THEN you will be ready to fight the enemy you can see. ” – Imam Al Ghazali

 

4. We dont follow the Shariah ALL the time

The Shariah is the law by which Muslims abide by. BUT, as much as it is law – it is also a guideline. To be misUSED as and when in accordance to the situation and the context and background of the people. I suppose this is why we were created with brains?

Muslims are strongly encouraged to use their intellect, wisdom coupled with knowledge of the sacred texts and books to ascertain the right from wrong using the Shariah as guidelines.

 

5. Arabs are NOT Muslims.

Ok so maybe some are. But get this. Arab is an ethnic group. Not a religion.

There are different types of Arabs depending on where they are from – White arabs, Black Arabs, Lebanese, Moroccan, Sudanese – the works. And then, there are Christian Arabs, Jewish Arabs, Buddhist Arabs.

And wait, im not finished yet. There are Chinese Muslims, Indian Muslims, Scottish Muslims, African Muslims, White Muslims, Black Muslims, Brown Muslims, North Pole Muslims and did i mention Arab Muslims??

Islam does NOT belong to a particular ethnic group or language or country or race or type of people & it NEVER will.

ANYONE can enter its sphere.

 

6. We have 290786 different sects.

Relax. Keep Calm and Read on. Thing to remember before continuing from this point is –

NEVER confuse Islam(The Religion) with Muslims(the followers).

Moving on – Muslims are everrryyywherrreee. It is impossible to have 1 ring to rule them all.

Last night, over dinner – my friend gave a really wise analogy for this. Coffee!

It comes from..uhh.. the Coffee Plant. Cultivated in over 70 different countries. It is then processed and the seeds are roasted to varying degrees depending on the desired flavour. People drink it in a million different ways resulting in a million different taste that suits the individual. You may hate the coffee i drink and i may not fancy yours. But, its the same source! So. Compare this with the Muslims. You have people following Islam from all over the universe. 7 continents. 196 (recognized) countries. A million different races, cultures, background, history. It’s impossible to expect everyone to conform to being 1 type of Muslim.

So there are what we call Madhab(School of Thought) which has 4 different ..thoughts. Some Muslims (Not Islam) also have different sects. Shia and Sunni being the famous two.

What is amazing about this is the very fact that it is mentioned in the Quran. Diversity is to be celebrated and it is a Mercy from God 🙂

Ok wait, so how do you decide what or where to belong to?

In the last sermon of the Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him – he says

I am leaving you with the the QURAN and my SUNNAH, if you follow them you will never go astray

As long as the Quran and Sunnah(practices/teachings of Prophet Muhammad) are heavily relied upon as examples and the way of life, i reckon you’re in safe hands.

And please, BRING YOUR BRAINS WITH YOU. If some guy tells you to bomb yourself & kill others so you will earn yourself 50 women fanning you while you sip on halal wine in paradise -then…. USE. YOUR. BRAINS.

 

7. Women Rights & Islam is a SYNONYM.

Surprise!! Here’s a rhetorical trivia! Guess the FIRST University in the world? The University of Al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco. Founded by Fatima al-Fihri in 859. SHE founded it. SHE founded the FIRST UNIVERSITY.

It was lawful. It was encouraged and heck yeah it was celebrated! Women(Muslims or Non) Rights existed over 1400 years ago. Our Lady Khadijah, peace upon her – was a successful entrepreneur. SHE HIRED the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to work for her.

The best scholar of hadith(traditions) was our Lady Aisha, peace upon her. The men had to go to her and study FROM her. When all of civilizations demeaned women with ideas of them carrying original sin, burying of female infants, treated as sex slaves,not allowed to pursue education, Islam removed ALL of that and was the FIRST to introduce fair distribution of wealth and property to women. The Sacred Book itself declares numerous versus of how women are integrating, equal halves of the human race.

Guess how Islam decides who is BEST in character??

The best of you are those who treat your wife best.

 

All ma ladies in the halal club put your hands up!

 

8.Prophet Muhammad LOVES you & he loves Jesus too!!!

When people tell me “But..Jesus loves you!”  Im like..yeah, i know. I love him too. We ALL love Jesus, peace be upon him.

Thing is, do you know that Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him loves you too!? Unconditionally. Whether or not you hate him. or love him.  or dont even know him. Don’t ask me how. That’s just how it is and you can’t run away from this. He was the epitome of humanity just like his brothers- the prophets, peace be upon them, before him. He loved ALL of creation. About the animals of the earth, he said,

Fear God of your treatment of these animals who cannot speak

My favourite example of his mercy is the following story.

After praying at the Kaabah(Sacred House) (Also quite possibly THE most sacred symbol in Islam) –the prophet and his companions sat nearby to rest. A bedouin passing by the village,went right up to the Kaabah and started urinating. The companions who were with the Prophet, started to draw out their weapons but the Prophet stopped them and said “No, let him finish” After the bedouin released himself, the Prophet walked up to him and introduced himself. They then got into a conversation of where he was from etc…small talk basically. At the end, the Prophet then explained to him the significance of the Sacred House to the Muslims.

Mercy. Mercy. Mercy. Lovveee. There are infinite more examples where this came from. 🙂

 

9.We want world peace as much as you do

All of our people have died in wars and evil agendas of sick minded humans. Our sisters have been raped and abused and killed. Our men have died in wars and have their throats slit alive and beheaded.

Hold up. If you read the above – ‘our sisters’ and ‘our brothers’ as our muslim sister/brother, you’re wrong.

I meant our Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim brothers and sisters. All of humankind. Every one from every religion and even those without a religion. Too many people have died in vain. Too many children have become orphans.

The media is doing a fantastic job at dividing us. And it does not help when a stupid do stupid things in the name of a certain religion or group thereby portraying all of the group as such.

I dont know who you are and i dont care where you are from. If you’re up to fight for world peace and destroying oppression and establishing justice and peace for all in the world- then I  am with you. And i assure you, the lovers of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, are with you too.

10. WE ARE A HAPPY BUNCH!

Despite the crazy shiz going on in the world – one must persevere.

Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, said

Which actions are most excellent? To gladden the heart of human beings, feed the hungry, help the afflicted, lighten the sorrows of the sorrowful & to remove the sufferings of the injured.

So because i want you to get the right information, i’m going to leave you with some seriously amazing stuff and work from Muslims all over the world so you KNOW the REAL Islam. Here is a list of people, places, websites etc that you should follow, watch, visit, get information from and slowly learn that.. we are…pretty amazing. Heh.

People : Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Ahmed Saad, Karen Armstrong, Shaykh Nazim, Habib Umar al-Hafidz Habib Ali al-Jifri, Ingrid Mattson,  Habib Kadhim As-Segaf, Timothy J.Winter, Yasmin MogahedUsama Canon, Imam Faraz Rabbani, Sherman Jackson, Mustafa Davis, Hosai Mojaddidi, Sami Yusuf

Places : Zaytuna College, Ta’leef Collective, Seekers Circle, SimplyIslam,

Follow/ Websites : Radical Middle Way, The Honesty Policy, CelebrateMercy, SeekersGuidance

There is a LOT more where that came from.. but since this is off my head, im going to need a few more days to work on this. Oh and you should check out this video.

Stay tuned for the Singapore version!!


 

The writer thanks you for reading and for thinking really carefully before you comment. She also wishes to clarify that this post is more for those with a truckload of horrible stereotypes on Islam. And the points given are based on her shock in her interactions with non muslims and how little they know or assume about Islam.

And (this goes ESP for my beloved Muslims) – if you have a thousand different opinions about how this should have been written or fatwas or anything really, i welcome you.

I also have a reply in advance. POINT 6. Over and Over again.

All my love, Noor.

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