Thoughts From The Blue City

January 22, 2015

Over the past weekend, I took a little break and headed over to Chefchouen, or what most people would endearingly remember as “The Blue City”. It was my first time travelling without K, so that in itself was something very exciting yet equally frightening for me. I welcomed the solitude but was dreading the cold and even as I packed my bags, I was hesitating to leave and questioning if I should go ahead as planned.

But I was glad I did, Alhamdulillah.

There were some big things (a.k.a “life lessons” but that’s just too self-help, don’t you think?) that I learned which surprised me pleasantly and as much as it is my intention to share, writing it down will not only force me to reflect on it but to absorb and grasp these truths.


Let’s Not Rely On Inspiration

January 13, 2015


… because what if it doesn’t come?

My writing is a little rusty after a few too many weeks being on a hiatus. The break was a welcoming change, although now it’s a real challenge to sit myself down to write. I find myself staring at the screen, and every time the cursor flickers and blinks, I swear it feels like it’s mocking me, as if to say “Pfft. You have nothing to say, Aida. Just give it up, already.” And I have to be honest, there have been more than one occassion where I just wanted to throw in the towel and use the ever-convenient “no inspiration” card as an excuse to just give up.

While trying to write this entry, I thought a lot about “inspiration” and “discipline” – the two principles that are seemingly poles apart: the former screams spontaneity and the latter just reeks of structure and rigidity. But the more I think about it, the more I believe that they are one and the same.


Loving For Allah’s Sake

November 5, 2014


Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Seven are (the persons) whom Allah will give Shade of His Throne on the Day when there would be no shade other than His Throne’s Shade: A just ruler; a youth who grew up worshipping Allah; a man whose heart is attached to mosques; two persons who love and meet each other and depart from each other for the sake of Allah; a man whom an extremely beautiful woman seduces (for illicit relation), but he (rejects this offer by saying): `I fear Allah'; a man who gives in charity and conceals it (to such an extent) that the left hand does not know what the right has given; and a person who remembers Allah in solitude and his eyes well up”. – Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

The above Hadith Qudsi is one of my favourites. I always pray that I will be under His Shade on Judgement Day for loving the people around me fisabilillah (for Allah’s sake) but I always leave out the part about “depart(ing) from each other for the sake of Allah” – simply because I have no idea what it means.

As I grew older, my group of friends have definitely shrunk. There are many whom I have lost touch with and a few whom I have just stopped talking altogether due to many, many reasons of which the one most common justification from both sides is being waved over by the “busy-ness” of life and some, well, simply because we have outgrown each other… I used to be very affected by this, about how people come and go in your life at such rapid speed, one moment we are the tightest of friends, and the next, we are strangers.


How do you take care of yourself?

September 29, 2014


My grandmother is 90 and she has forgotten a lot of things, including her own children’s names. Every day, she shrinks smaller and smaller, but never into oblivion as she still is quite charming and beautiful at her age, Ma Sha Allah. But you know what my grandmother never forgets? Her prayers and the Quran. During her younger days, she taught Quran to the children in the neighbourhood. I’ve always admired this about her. She taught my mother and in turn my mother has taught me – I can only pray that one day I will be half as good as them and to be able to teach my kids the Quran.

Recently, my mother told me a rather hilarious story about my grandmother that at the same time made my heart breaks. My mother told me that she went to visit my grandmother the past weekend, and as usual, she was not able to recognise my mom. Their conversation went like this:

Nenek to my mother (in malay): Oh, I have not seen you in such a long time! Where are you currently living?
My mother (who goes to visit her regularly): I live in Singapore now!
Nenek: Oh yeah? I heard you went to jail! You are out now?
My mother (extremely tickled, and a little confused, decided to go along with this notion): Yes, I am!
Nenek: Well, do you have a bed to sleep on? Weren’t you scared? If I were you, I would have run away!
My mother: But you can’t run away because the walls are high! And no, we slept on the floor! We had to do everything in a tiny room!
Nenek: Oh! But most importantly, can you pray in there? Did they let you perform your solat?

When my mother told me the story, we burst out laughing but after the euphoria has died down, I said, “I cannot imagine you not remembering me.” And my mother said, “yeah, I wonder how I would be when I get older…”, her voice trailing off.


Remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?

September 10, 2014


I remembered when I was fifteen, I was flipping through a magazine and it had a small column on boys and their preferred hairstyle for girls. I remembered touching my short hair and feeling a little unworthy when every single one of them answered “definitely long hair”. I remembered being asked, “are you really applying for art school for University?” and remembered excitedly answering “yes” and the response I got was “but you have no artistic talent whatsoever”. I remembered a few concerned friends who told me that it is not wise to marry a man who is younger, and that really, I should find someone at least three years older. I remembered a bunch of overzealously concerned relatives as they fire questions after questions about my financial stability when I told them that I run my own business – and how my confidence plummeted after all these seemingly innocent incidents.

But the most significant one, and the one that I finally put my foot down and firmly said, “enough is enough” is when people start stereotyping me just because I wear the Hijab. They either think ladies who wear the veil are rigid, weak, traditional and uncool or deeply religious, stoic and an extremist.

I refuse to say anything in retaliation.

Enough is for me that Allah knows what is in my heart. And it is better for me to ovecrcome and break these assumptions through my actions and my doings than to be defensive through words and proses.

Now, I have never been as comfortable as I am with my own skin than I was ever before. And yes, I do remember who I am now, thank you very much. I am Aida Azlin, a Muslimah, a Wife, a Daughter, a Sister and a Friend above all else. And I will carry out these roles, with honour, compassion and with a fierceness and fearlessness that nobody in this world can diminish and question through their nonchalant and careless preconceived assumptions.

I urge all of you to remember who you are and to leave behind every other redundant labels that the world has slapped on you. Because then, no one can break you and no one can dim the brightness that is your light. Shine on, ladies.

Steady: Everything You Go Through, Grows You

June 6, 2014


“If my life is a mountain, what will be my peak?” 
“Jannah” – I knew my answer. And in the rare occassion that my soul and my mind agreed with one another, I said it more firmly this time, “Jannah”.

There is a principle that we all have to learn, especially if we are on the path of self-betterment and that is the principle of gradualism. To understand that things, or we, for that matter, cannot change in an instance. Steady. Unhurried. Consistent. With time.

I remember, always having to rush. For something, for someone. Datelines. Plans. Demands. So much chaos, mistaken for being productive. It was embedded in my head that “fast” is the way to go. Until I decided to find Allah.

For a long while, I knew something was missing. No matter how bright the lights were flashing, and no matter how many people I was surrounded with, there was a big, gaping hole in my heart that I just cannot fill. Something was not right. And that feeling was nagging at me, louder during the night, as I toss and turn in bed, screaming to me, “What is your purpose in this life, Aida?”


Let’s Be Our Own Heroes & Lovers

May 14, 2014


For the longest time, I’ve always thought that “love” has to be strong, passionate, and fierce – you either love fully, or you do not love at all. So I wanted to love everybody and I give and I give and I loved relentlessly. For a while, it felt really good. I thought I was being selfless, magananimous. But I began to tire, and people started to leave, and thus it began, the whirlwind of emotions: self-doubt, unworthiness, hopelessness. Feelings I pray that nobody will ever have to experience; emotions that I wish never exist.

And then I started to carve out more time for silence, for reflection, for myself. And I actually enjoyed my own company. With the solitude, I could hear Allah. There was no more noise, no more distractions. I had clarity. I started getting to know more about myself. I breathed easy. I learned to be patient, and the best thing was, I forgot how it felt like to be disappointed. Nobody had the opportunity to let me down anymore, simply because I relied solely on Allah, and I depended on myself.

The day I started falling in love with myself, I started to fall in love with Islam. I felt the peacefulness that the Deen brings to my heart, I saw how my body was comforted by prayers, I tasted the sweetness of being in constant remembrance of Allah. For the first time in my life, I knew why my heart is beating, and I knew who my heart is for.

The day I started falling in love with myself, I gave myself a chance. I saved myself, and for that I am my own hero. Never wait for someone else to rescue you, to give you love, to give you purpose, because Allah has blessed us with that special capability ourselves. So find it in you, and use it.

And only after your heart has been immersed with the beauty of Allah’s love, illuminated by His light, and guarded by His Mercy, will you know what love is. And only after you have built a solid foundation in your own little heart to love yourself first, you will then realise how much more love you have that you can give to the people around you.

But start with being your own hero, and being your own lover. For the day we start falling in love with ourselves will be the very day that beautiful, magnificent things will start rolling in into our lives. The day you start falling in love with yourself will be the day you realised that you are worthy and if you know you are worthy, ain’t nobody can do anything to take that away from you.

And with Allah in your heart always, you will be invincible. In Sha Allah.

©Aida Azlin | 2015 | 1436 HIJRIAH