Saturday, May 11, 2013

Request for Help

Dear all,

So many things have happened since my last post on this blog. I have recently gotten an opportunity to complete my dissertation at Newcastle University and work with many wonderful second language acquisition and bilingualism researchers (and students). If you know me, then you would know my fascination with languages and with how people learn to read and write in more than one language. Through my research, I hope to help English teachers in a classroom filled with bilingual/multilingual students understand how their students' language background can influence the kinds of errors they make when learning English. This is a wonderful opportunity for me and I hope to be able to get your support to achieve my dream! In turn, I hope to be able to inspire others, especially Muslim girls, to keep learning and to seek higher education, for education is a strong empowering tool.

If you would like to show your support by contributing to my education fund, please visit my funding page here or click on the widget on the top right hand corner of my blog. If you have PayPal, my ID is siti.syuhada@gmail.com (so the website won't get a cut). The money will go towards part of my living expenses in the UK, so any amount that you give, even $1, will help a lot. 

Everyone's generosity, kindness, as well as words of encouragement and support thus far have motivated me to work even harder so that I can pay all of it forward. I thank all of you in advance from the bottom of my heart and I pray that you will be rewarded with much more than what you have given me. 

Love,
Siti.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Alhamdulillah :)

As I sit here waiting for fajr, I thought that I could share something that happened to me yesterday. See, I was walking to school and while crossing a parking lot, I somehow managed to trip (not slip on ice ironically) and fall, with my face hitting the gravel, leaving me with scrapes all over the right half of my face. My face still looks like I got into a terrible fight, but alhamdulillah that all of my teeth are still intact and that I did not sprain anything!

I managed to get a friend (may Allah SWT bless her for all her help!) who said that she would come  and pick me up. So I waited for her but it was so cold (-8 deg C/18 F) that I decided to try my luck and see if anyone would let me in and wait where it would be much warmer. It just so happened that I fell in the parking lot of a church, and as I pressed the doorbell, I prayed that they would be kind and let me in. A minute passed and an old lady greeted me.

Trying to smile, I asked, "Hi. I just tripped and fell. Do you mind if I come in and wait for my friend to pick me up, since it's so cold outside?"

I must have looked quite a sight, especially with grit and blood on half of my face. I could sense her hesitance and a couple of seconds passed before she finally nodded and let me in, pointing to a bench where I could sit while waiting for my friend.

As I finally entered the church and into the warmth, in my heart I uttered, "Alhamdulillah for small favours."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wife of a Convert


I wrote this article about my parents for The Muslim Reader three years ago, which means  they have been married for 31 years now, alhamdulillah. This is the unedited version, but one day I will upload a scan of the published article, insya-Allah. I have been blessed with such wonderful parents, alhamdulillah, and I pray that Allah SWT blesses their marriage with happiness, keeping them together both in this life and the hereafter, ameen.

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Marrying a convert is certainly not easy, as Madam Hajjah Aisyah Abdul Kadir would attest to. Married for 28 years now with four children, her husband has been a convert since 1977. Nonetheless, despite the tribulations, there were many benefits as well as lessons to be learnt from the marriage. Here is her story as interviewed by Siti Syuhada Faizal.

How did you meet your husband?

I still remember that day clearly. It was 29 November 1975 and I was staying in a hostel at the nursing school. On that day, my friend introduced her male friend to me. As I was about to be engaged, I did not think much about that introduction. Never did I expect that he had fallen in love with me at first sight. Since that first encounter, he kept asking me out but I did not agree to it since he was a Catholic, and I, a Muslim. I told him that we were like the two poles – North and South – and that we could never be together. However, he was quite persistent and told me that whatever was impossible could be made possible.

How did he come to convert to Islam?

After that heart-to-heart talk with me, he took the initiative to learn about Islam at Jamiyah. Furthermore, his younger sister, who was married to a Malay/Muslim, was a convert as well. From there, he was able to find out more about Islam and conversion. At Jamiyah, he merely took up basic lessons regarding fardhu matters on which he was tested and he received a certificate of completion. After studying for quite some time, he invited me to study with him at Jamiyah and henceforth we attended classes together to learn more about Islam.

Having studied about Islam and understood more about it, he decided to convert. He had already noted the similarities between Catholicism and Islam. Yet, he came to believe that Islam was the true religion and the notion that there is no other God but Allah s.w.t and Muhammad p.b.u.h was his Prophet. Catholicism, on the other hand, was based on the Trinity and he was not able to come to terms with that. On 29 February 1977, he converted with his sister and his brother-in-law as his witnesses.

Being a Muslim, he then stopped eating Chinese food and even his mum’s cooking. He tried his best to fast during Ramadhan and was thankful that he had the support of his neighbour, a fellow convert, who cooked for him for sahur. As his father opposed the idea of conversion, he did not tell his parents that he had converted. He did his prayers in his room and locked the door so that his parents would not find out. Nevertheless, it did not take them long to guess and only his mother was understanding about it.

Did your parents accept you and your husband?

My parents were absolutely against our marriage and it took them 5 years after my wedding to accept us. The year after the conversion of my then husband-to-be proved to be testing. I had decided to break off my prior engagement to another man on 30 November 1978. However, my parents rejected my then husband-to-be’s proposal twice. Once, he was even chased out of the house with a broom!

Since my parents did not want to give their consent, my then husband-to-be went to Syariah Court to get help on marrying me. The officers there called my father and me up and helped to settle matters from there. They came to my house with a proposal which my parents finally accepted. After our wedding, there were still some qualms about accepting my husband and me in my family. In spite of that, I was not disheartened and I prayed to Allah s.w.t every day for my mother to find it in her heart to accept us. It also helped that my husband was a good man who was respectful to his elders and that made it easier for my parents to accept us.

What were some of the difficulties that you faced in the beginning?

At first, food was a problem for us. It took time for my in-laws to understand that the term “halal” was not just about “no pork, no lard”. Alhamdulillah, they made the effort to accommodate my husband and my dietary requirements whenever there was a family gathering at the in-laws. My mother-in-law made sure she bought chicken from the halal butchery or that the food she bought was from a Muslim stall.

When I stayed over at my in-laws place, having two religions in one house was difficult and required a lot of compromise between the two parties. It took them time before they got used to us praying five times a day.

Finally, being a convert, my husband was hesitant to be an ‘imam’ whenever it was time for prayers. It was also difficult for him to recite the Quran since he was not able to read Arabic. To further exacerbate matters, my religious knowledge was not much at that point of time. That made it difficult for us to build a strong marriage based on an Islamic foundation. We then made it a point to go for religious classes to deepen our religious knowledge.

Any words of advice for spouses of converts?

I would advise those who are marrying converts to have a solid religious foundation beforehand so as to be a positive influence on the spouse as well as their future children. After all, with the practice of Islam within the family, the couple will be able to sustain a blissful marriage while building a strong Muslim family concurrently, Insya-Allah.

If the convert is male, he should learn the practices of Islam in depth so that he can be the imam and khalifah of the household and be a role model for the children in the future. At the same time, the wife also needs to have sound religious knowledge so that she can bring up the children and run the household the Islamic way.

For those with in-laws who have yet to convert to Islam, it is advisable not to go into lengthy discussions about religion or attempt to convert them. Instead, treat them as one would another human being and respect their religion and customs. For example, we would bring our children to visit my Catholic in-laws during Christmas as a show of respect and also to strengthen ties between us.

At the end of the day, being the spouse of a convert, we need to remember to give our full support in everything they do as well as seek guidance together in times of uncertainty. Have patience with your spouse for being a good Muslim is a continual process of learning and understand that it will take time before he or she gets used to being a Muslim. Only with compromise and understanding can we then have a long-lasting marriage that is blessed by Allah s.w.t.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Lover's Plea


Let me be
The one whose heart
Is filled with love
For You and You alone

Let me be
The one whose mind
Is filled with thoughts
Of You and You alone

Let me be
The one whose body
Is filled with need
For You and You alone

Let me be
The one whose soul
Is filled with peace
By You and You alone

O Allah,
Grant this plea of mine,
A plea that seeks to twine
A lover with her Beloved

- Faizal, S. S., 2010 -