Being Selective of What We Consume

It’s probably common knowledge that what you surround yourself with or constantly take in influences your mind, which in turn shapes your thoughts, which direct your actions, that form your habits, and subsequently give shape to your character.

Therefore I find my decision to mostly avoid the news to be correct.

Dark theories aside, the fact remains that at least where I am, the news is mostly full of sad and petty things and sometimes infuriating information that we simply cannot do anything about.

Rarely have I had an enriching and positive discussion with someone about something we heard on the news. There’s almost always some level of frustration, complaining and helplessness involved. I don’t see a point in making that a part of my character.

Fortunately or not, there are enough people around me who keep abreast with such things as to filter the really important things and relate them to me. I have not yet found myself at a disadvantage or loss from making a decision whilst remaining oblivious to some ‘important’ goings-on.

Due research before making a big decision such as where to travel next is a given and with that, anyone can live happily and safely.

It’s maybe more than a coincidence that the bright, optimistic and forward thinking people I’ve met, talk more about ideas, books and experiences than current affairs. I suspect a strong link between mindsets, their corresponding success levels, and what those people pay attention to every day.

With that I conclude that fat people trying to get fit probably will remain fat as long as they continue hanging out with their fat friends. By spending time with the fit and slim people, you will accelerate your progress towards being one of them.



Teaching is more than just a job. It isn’t the only one like that, though, bear that in mind.

Some things in this life we must do even if we don’t get paid for it:

  • curing sicknesses in humans and animals
  • taking care of the world around us
  • building homes for ourselves and others
  • planting and breeding livestock (the person himself needs it and the society needs people to do that because not everyone is able to do it for themselves)
  • and many others

It seems teaching is no longer a duty and is now just a job/profession/whatever people call it. You go to school, do stuff, get out, and then get paid.

But that’s all wrong.

Even if you are a not a teacher by profession, it is still your job to teach your young and the young you come by in life. Remember that cool saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’? Every one of us plays a part.

So teachers, i implore you, do your work for the good intention of preparing our young ones to be responsible custodians of this world, and more importantly, of the life that’s been given them. KPIs and pressure from your department head and all that rubbish will definitely press in on you from every angle, and it will be hard. An uphill battle for some.

But if you do your work well, we will all be fine. If you teach your students to be better people then you have done us all a service, and you have my thanks.

This is a reminder to myself as the work piles up and the demands get all cray cray, but i’ve got excellent colleagues to look up to and the best teachers whose example i can take a lot from, so i have nothing to complain about.

Here’s to a bright future for all!

Keeping it Real

I’ve been reading the Art of Manliness for some time and occasionally they publish stuff form old army field manuals. The thing that really gets to me when reading them is just how real they are. You can tell that whoever wrote em really put thought and heart into the work, and they didn’t do it to just sound smart or to please people.

I didn’t see any citations or scientific studies (maybe there are, i’m not sure to be honest) but MAN they were a good read. I’ve heard a few of my teachers say this, and it’s that when someone writes from the heart, it goes straight to yours when you read it.

The army field manuals are just one example and i chose that because it’s the most secular example i can think of and it had very serious real-world applications. Just think how many lives could have been lost if those manuals were written poorly.

Which brings me to my next point: i really get the value and purpose of conducting scientific studies and such, but i think some parts of society are overly focused on them. Studies can take a long time, lots of resources and might require conditions very hard to fulfil, and even then we might not be able to draw strong conclusions later. Therefore why not we balance our need for studies with a truckload of common sense and actual thinking.

It frustrates me to hear people in authority talk from their throats and not heads + hearts. Even more infuriating is how they got there in the first place and the fact that they now influence a lot of lives.

Leaders, please, have your head in the stars as you gaze to the future but please keep your feet rooted to the earth. Go out and do things, seek the opinions of those on the ground and actively listen to them, and then please make decisions that are SOUND and GOOD, not those that SOUND GOOD.

Enough of doing things to appear politically correct. That farce gets us nowhere and we end up in a cycle of firefighting problems that arise from our ‘solutions’ to yesterday’s problems.

A leader is someone who can speak the truth without fear, who can admit his mistakes without shame, and who makes decisions for everyone’s good, and not just for measurable metrics like money and whatever else adults seem to focus on.

If the trains break down because of a combination of unexpectedly harsh weather and poor workmanship, then say it and apologize, then get to work fixing it. If you never taught in a classroom of 40 students before then don’t say hurtful things off the top of your head, and instead accept that you are leading in a field which you have zero experience in, then go and do some heavy legwork to truly understand what the people you are leading face on a daily basis. In fact, leaders should not be put in charge of something they have no experience in, because ‘leadership’ isn’t just about knowing how to tell people what to do and managing resources. It takes a deep appreciation of the workings of the little mechanisms that you might not notice on the grand scheme of things. It takes hard work and putting aside one’s ego and making decisions so that everyone benefits out of it, and not just your portfolio.

A good leader makes himself look good but a great leader makes everyone around him look good. Take a peek through history and you’ll see that the best leaders in our past made everyone feel empowered, confident in their shared vision, and inspired to put in the hard work. Their fame and recognition came as a product of that, not the goal of their actions.

Just the other week my friend reminded us of one of the warnings of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which is that in the end times we will face the trial of leadership. I don’t know the exact elaborations of that but i understand some part of it, which is that we will have people who shouldn’t lead, leading. And we will have leaders tempted to do all sorts of strange things for their own gain or other agendas, and not for the fulfilment of their duty to those whom they should be serving (not just reporting to).

May we be protected from that and may God bless our leaders with pure hearts, firm resolve, and the guidance to do their jobs well. And may He also bless us all, the people, with patience, good conduct, a cooperative and supportive mindset, as well as the strength and ability to be good citizens, followers, and human beings.

The Adab of our Teachers

Yesterday at the Maulid Nabi and Haul of Habib Noh al Habsyi i got to see how respectful our teachers are of their teachers, or even those more senior to them.

The two things i observed and learnt:

  1. When a teacher or elder instructed them to do something, they complied, despite their great shame e.g. to address the congregation on their behalf.
  2. When someone spoke they sat respectfully, faced them, and paid full attention.

That’s just like the TIP of some huge iceberg. The adab of our teachers is really something amazing and something to strive for.

We are not even worthy of carrying their slippers yet by the great Mercy of Allaah, He has allowed us to benefit from them, and it is also from His Mercy that is reflected in their hearts, that we feel at peace around these blessed people.

May Allaah preserve our teachers and envelope them and their families in His Mercy forever, and gather them with our Beloved Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him. And through His Mercy may we be with them, for we will be gathered with those whom we love.

More not less

If you want to know my spiritual state then look at how much salawat I make. When the number is low I can guarantee you I’m not in a good place.

And it’s not that I’m good that causes me to do more, but more salawat makes me good.

I am utterly helpless and powerless in all matters so why should I pretend to be otherwise.

More clarity

It’s been a depressing few weeks (months? year?) but i think i’ve finally stumbled upon some stuff that kinda helps me point myself in the right direction. I think i’m just gonna list them, maybe without much explanation, mostly because this is for myself. I need to write this out to help it sink in to my brain or something.

This post will contain elements of the spiritual, psychological, behavioural patterns and i don’t know what else. It might be off-putting for some and i don’t blame you if you skip reading it because it’s just not your cup of tea or if it seems like total hoopla. But if you do read, then i ask that you do so with an open mind and do it till the end. Then think and judge for yourself, and maybe you’ll agree with some of the things i’ll say.

  1. “Satisfaction with one’s achievements is from the shaytaan and nafs”- paraphrased from a quote by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus (2011)

    This seems to be something big which has been secretly plaguing me. For some time i’ve been asking myself ‘why do more when it doesn’t really matter?’ Why should i build my body when no one really cares if i’m fat, thin, strong or weak? Why do anything more than the basic requirement when in the end death will overcome me and everything here will be gone?

    I realize now that’s probably the trickery of shaytaan and the laziness of the nafs (ego). The nafs will always want to take the easy way out, seek pleasure, even if the means are wrong. Shaytaan will slowly and subtly egg a person to do less and less, wrong and more wrong, till they are on a path of damnation.

    To overcome those two i must do several things:

    – bring my dhikr back to its original pattern even if i don’t feel like it, even if i’m sluggish about it, even if there are other things i feel i want to do. I have to do this even if for months i have to sacrifice the things i like. Because this temporary pain or suffering or difficulty is what will, in shaa Allaah, cleanse my heart and push the shaytaan far away from me. I guess he’ll still be whispering but then instead of following it, i’ll be doing what i’m supposed to do and what is right. That way he will eventually lose more and more of his hold over me (yes i have to say, in much shame and disappointment, that he has increased his grip over me. I have let it happen that way due to both my own inaction and decisions).

    – do other things that i must even if they don’t seem so ‘fun’. That includes going back to the gym and a proper frequency. I stopped going for some time because of fatigue and no drive. I can’t say i’m totally cool with that because i’m still not happy with what i see in the mirror. And yes, before i was married, i must admit there was a certain vain glory in having members of the opposite sex be impressed or maybe even attracted to me because of my physique. I enjoyed walking through crowds and meeting people because i guess there was a thrill of the unknown, the excitement of possibilities. Who might i attract with this body? In a way i was also getting to terms with and pushing myself to accept my new self image. Prior to the university i was only teased for my looks and it hurt a lot. I know some of my friends did it in jest but i could see for myself that they were right. There was nothing at all attractive about my appearance and i discuss this a lot in one of my older posts. I really went to great details then so i won’t repeat myself.

    But all of a sudden in uni i was somehow ‘good looking’ and ‘popular’. I once bumped into an old senior and he honestly and in some shock remarked that i was really handsome now. Wow. In so many ways hahaha. So i had somehow gotten not-ugly, and my body was taking shape, so in my head i was like ‘i’ll go after the hottest of girls, especially the ones people say are ‘out of my league’ and prove that there’s no such thing really.’ Did i do that? Nope. For a few reasons. After talking to a few people i got really disappointed at the people i met. I know i didn’t actively go out and talk to more people but that’s cos of the second reason. I automatically hold back because in my heart in know it’s wrong and i’m not supposed to do it even though i have the desire to. Again this has to do with what Islam teaches and i had finally reached a point where i knew WHY my teachers told us not to date and i had fully accepted it, having understood deeply how something seemingly innocent or simple can, with time, turn into a thing that you could be ashamed of or land you in a spot of trouble. I’d seen it happen to many people and i didn’t want to be there myself.

    So i always held back. And the strange thing was, i never regretted it. In the end i got married to a girl whom i didn’t date, who was also not willing to date, and who was on a similar path as me. Now that i’m happily married, that desire to ‘use my body’ to attract people is gone. In fact i don’t want it, it feels kind of disgusting and problematic. It can’t be helped sometimes, even with long-sleeved shirts and whatnot, people can just tell that you’re fit and strong and i don’t know it might also be my loud and confident personality, but i really don’t want girls admiring my body anymore.

    Strangely though my wife doesn’t really mind me, muscles or not, tummy or not. That’s just how she is and i guess that’s how a lot of women are really, just look at the number of attractive women with men who look like they just crawled out of a train wreck, and you’ll see what i mean. ‘I like him for his personality’ is what they’ll probably say and well that makes them happy so all is good. In short i guess you could say women do find a nice body attractive, but they’re really going after character and personality.

    That leaves me. I need to go back to the gym because like having a nice body and i PERSONALLY want to see myself look a certain way. I want to be able to look myself in the mirror from all angles and be satisfied. I acknowledge, even if i don’t fully feel the reality of it, that if i let this slip, bit by bit i will lose everything and eventually find myself in a place i never thought i would be. It’ll be really bad. I can imagine me, weak, with a tummy and small arms, panting as i climb a flight of stairs. I shudder. I cannot be weak. I HATE IT. I HATE PURPOSEFUL WEAKNESS.


    I am not satisfied with the body i have now. I must put in the work.

  2. “A person is either in a state of blessing or tribulation, and the appropriate response is gratitude and patience respectively” – paraphrased from Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s lesson on Imam Ghazali

    In all honesty, i should not be complaining about anything. I have good health, my family is safe and alright, i have my own house, my wife and i make an awesome team, i have a good job that pays well and my students like me and i have colleagues who believe in me. How ungrateful and disgusting then if i were to complain about my situation. Embarrassing!

    Then, in my situation, i must respond with gratitude. Perhaps the fact that the heart doesn’t always automatically incline to what it should do, is the wisdom of the test. The struggle is to realize what you have and then act appropriately.

    Further, as mentioned in the lesson as well, the people of tribulation will be sent to those in blessing and it is their duty to help them out. That is what i must accept and do and it isn’t some real lofty ideal or unrealistic goal actually. Every little thing, like lending a listening ear, smiling at someone, a little bit of charity, counts. And sometimes, i just realized, these people might appear in a way that we don’t understand or recognize immediately. Maybe a friend calls me up to complain that this and that is happening at home or at work and they’re bothered. Sometimes these complaints might seem a nuisance especially if you know both sides of the story and can tell that neither are doing what they’re supposed to, but i guess that’s why it’s a test. You have the advantage or blessing of knowing what to do and then doing it, and perhaps even the others in your life reciprocate. But they might not have either.

    So i guess then in such situation it falls upon the one in a more blessed situation to be of some aid or at least provide some comfort to the one who is seeking it.

  3. “It’s all God, He’s doing everything. If you’re not pleased with your circumstances then you’re really not pleased with God” – same source as above.

    This is something i must constantly hammer into my head. It’s easy for me to say it on an intellectual level but i can tell i’m not doing so well in letting it sink in to my being.

    For example, yeah i’ve got a good job but yeah i also have to do things that i find to be meaningless, extraneous, even downright stupid. Policies don’t make sense, as teachers we’re doing less of helping students grow into their best selves and more of covering our own backsides whilst taking orders from overprotective and overstepping parents who really haven’t got a clue of what they’re doing.

    The frustration is real and the disparity between what i believe in and what i’m doing is glaring. I find no meaning in my job and it seems like my time is forcefully wasted on things i can’t easily say no to.

    But that’s the circumstance. I’ve been purposefully and intentionally put into this circumstance. What will i make of it? What is my response? Before i can live it, i can start by writing it out:

    – whilst some decisions on the part of the ministry or management may seem stupid, they might have pressing reasons for having arrived there. Maybe more and more people feel so insecure about things that they become very afraid to take certain ‘risks’. If that is the problem then what is the solution? How do we restore trust or calmness or peace to those hearts?

    – if the situation is uncomfortable then it must means i’m heading in the direction of growth. That translates to increasing my patience, learning to do new things, and doing those things efficiently and well so that it doesn’t seem a chore anymore. This i can tag to my job as a certain coordinator, and having a hand in organizing some things. I don’t like doing all that but i have to be honest, i need to learn to. It’s the same reason i opted to study physics in upper secondary even though i wasn’t good at it: i just felt a man had to know some of it. Maybe i always liked it deep in my heart or maybe the experience itself made me like it but i do like physics now. I’m probably not very good at it (rusty, very rusty) but because i like it i can do well at it if i want to. That’s probably the same with the work i have to do now. It’s good to know and learn so that when i really really have to do it one day for something that i believe in, i will be able to.

  4. I still haven’t fully wrapped my mind around the fact that our perception of reality is all like a chemical cocktail. Based on your hormone profile and whatnot, your brain responds to situations and stimuli in different ways.

    I can imagine a different me, looking forward to it all, waking up with a smile and breezing through my work.

    There are many ways to make that happen, many might have to be done concurrently, but i can tell with some confidence that my first step is to get back to the gym and get my food on track.

    I need to be a bigger and healthier person and i think that the exercise and proper nutrition will have a good effect on my brain, and then the benefits will continue in a cycle.


That’s a lot of typing for a day. Things are starting to look a little brighter and i’m happy. I was worried that i was depressed, don’t know if i was right, but Alhamdulillaah ‘alaa kulli haal.

Through his Grace and Blessing i’ve been shown my flaws and bad decisions, and i have a path in front of me that i must now walk through with purpose. This is up to me now.

I wish you all peace, and the best in all you endeavour.