A Muslim's Everyday Struggle in a Muslim World

Growing up I was often told to be grateful that I am born Muslim, and that I am living in a country that is predominantly Muslim. While this is true, the concept of “being grateful” sometimes blinds our eyes to the flip side of the scenario: i.e. the issues we faced as a result of being born and bred in a predominantly Muslim country.

Some would even say to question is to be ungrateful of this blessing. “Other people have it worse,” they would say. But that’s not the point. In any situation there is good and bad. Likewise, being a Muslim in a country where the official religion is Islam, can be a blessing or a test. To acknowledge this is not to be ungrateful, it is to be realistic.

Having two kids of my own now, I find myself constantly wondering the kind of thoughts, ideas, and influences that will shape their behavior and how best could I play my role as a parent to navigate them through this thing we all call life.

I pen down my thoughts here to Musa and Umar, even if its unpopular to do so. Because these are real issues facing our society, myself, and potentially my kids as they grow up - and I want them to have the opportunity to read and evaluate this, when they grow older and come to grasp with their own identity as a Muslim.

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Musa Goes to (Play) School!

Last week was a memorable one for me - sending my first born to his first day of school.

Musa is 2 years old, a bit young to send to school, some would argue - but I noticed his eagerness to learn for quite some time already, and I know my working hours limit my ability to give him the kind of exposure he deserves. Besides, he was getting a tad too clingy and I thought some time away with others kids would help build his confidence and social skills.

When Z and I agreed to send Musa to a play school, I was very particular to make sure it is truly a play-based school. Not that there's anything wrong with learning ABC, but he has his lifetime to learn so I really want him to just spend more time building his social skills and confidence through play. And Musa really loves the outdoor life (daddy's boy for sure!), so that became a priority in my search for a playschool too.

He was really excited for his first day, all dressed up with socks, cap and a school bag. I remember thinking, aww looking like a real grown up this one. Until we reached the class and bammmmm, all hell broke loose.

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Musa's 1st Time at the Mosque!

Musa went to the Mosque for the 1st time last Sunday ❤️

He had this huge smile plastered on his face the whole time. Probably enjoyed the company of newfound friends at the Mosque's Kids Playroom. At some point, he tried to stand next to me and mimicked my prayers (yes, of course I noticed it 😅). Had his first taste of bubur lambuk too - the smile never left his face.

Someday Musa, as you grow older, you will be exposed to perceptions and ideas - ideas such as the mosque is only a place for the mundane.

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Date Night

So, I realised I've been married for more than four years and with two kids, date night ritual between Z and I is almost...non existent.

Perhaps we got into the complacent zone, or maybe we were so busy juggling family, work and everything in between that date night becomes the least of our concern. 

There's always a good excuse though - the kids need us because we work all the time, our parents want to spend time together, AVA session way overdue, somebody is married, somebody is about to pop a baby, somebody's sick and we need to visit, somebody's gonna be king and rule this universe...well you get the gist.

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My Umar

Umar just turned 4 months last week, and he is growing so fast. And no, I'm not being melancholic here guys, he is LITERALLY growing so fast (almost 8kg at his 3 months check up!)

As a baby, I realised being the second child isnt easy. You have to watch your elder sibling (i.e Musa) do most of the things you cant do yet - talk, walk, eat adult food, and the hardest of all - watch him (i.e Musa) cry or act all cute to steal mommy's attention away from you while you stare at him (i.e Musa), unable to do anything in return. Being Umar sure is tough! To make it worse, you barely have new clothes and live in the world of hand-me-downs 😂

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Back to Work...in a Month's time!

I looked at the calendar - 4th November 2017. In exactly a month's time, my maternity leave will come to an end and it's back to work. 

I wondered about going back to work this time around and to be honest, each time I think about it, my heart feels a little heavier.

Last year, going back to work after giving birth to Musa was a lot easier. He can't talk or understand anything at that point. He would even laugh and giggle when I told him I'm going to work so I thought, oh well, we'd be alright!

I was also at ease because I had a helper who loved my son like her own and I was moving to a new department with no expectation of what the future holds and let's face it. I was pretty excited about frequenting KLCC again. #helloZARA

This time around, things are a little different.

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Give Me a Pause Button Please

Musa is 21 months old today and it’s surreal to think that just last year, Musa was a baby just like Umar. I mean, this time last year he was wearing onesies like Umar and today he is in jeans and shirt, and soon, seeing him in school uniform is gonna rip my heart apart 💔

I was trying to put Musa to sleep today, and usually he would fall asleep by himself as I pretend to sleep next to him.

But not today. Boy oh boyy, today was a whole different ballgame altogether.

Musa, let’s go to sleep!” I said, and laid him on the bed next to me. As I closed my eyes and pretended to sleep, he sat upright and hid under the comforter.

Cak Aaa ibu!” he said as he lifted the comforter over his face, revealing himself to his supposedly-sleeping-mom.

Okkkayyyy, that was cute and almostttt made me smile, I thought. I could already imagine his hugeee grin as he did that but I'm pretending to sleep here so I kept a cool front and chose not to respond.

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Biscuit Monster

Confinement.

In Malaysia, this usually means a certain period of time where post-maternity moms are advised to stay mostly at home, eat healthy diet and take time to heal with traditional massage, hot stones treatment and herbal bath.

Sounds soothing and enjoyable right? Well, that's just half the story.

In came my mother.

At 59 years of age, she is slimmer than me, not a single stretch mark on her body and a face that reflects the timeless beauty that she is, mashAllah. I really pray for her growing-old-gracefully genes but based on my previous blogpost, I need to make some serious extra prayers and tahajjud for this 😂

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Black Caley

You know how they say kids say the darnest thing? Well I got the taste of my own medicine last night with Musa.

Musa loves going through alphabets and numbers and he identifies basic items like bus, apple, flowers and body parts. Since he is turning 20 months soon, I thought it's time to teach him something new.

So we started counting 11 - 20 and identifying colors around us. He has this thick baby accent that is just so cute to hear and always makes me smile and laugh...except for yesterday. Oh, yesterday.....

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