Saturday, January 28, 2012


I'm one of those people who worry too much. I worry about work, about my finances, the future, etc.

At the beginning of the year, when I got to know that I have to be in-charge of hockey, I worried myself sick.

In my school, the boys who enter hockey are the most problematic hard-to-manage kids.

I shouldn't say kids though because the majority of the boys are big and burly (they look more like rugby than hockey players). Any female teacher would be dwarfed in their presence.

Anyway, I was imagining all sorts of horrible situations. The boys would do as they please; skipping classes in order to "train", disregarding my commands, creating a ruckus at the district-level tournament, etc.

I pitied myself and asked why? why me?

To further compound my misery, the district-level tournament (MSSD) was held in the 3rd week of January.

Somehow or other, I had to build a team and get them ready for MSSD in a week's time.

And what a week it was!

Despite being incredibly tired running around attending the training sessions, getting all the darn forms ready, procuring the jerseys, 1st aid kit, drinking water, etc, I was pleasantly surprised by the boys' cooperation.

They were not so hard to manage after all. In fact, I was impressed by their commitment. They came on time for practice, did everything their captain told them to and lo and behold, they actually LISTENED to my instructions!

Admittedly, the notorious boys from last year had left school and I was spared from much grief.

But still, the ones in the team are what you would call "challenging" if they were in your classrooms.

Somehow, they are different on the field. They exhibit traits like dedication, commitment, respect for authority, etc that you didn't know they had it in them.

What I'm getting at is this: We should learn to be more positive and worry less. I bet most of the things we worry about don't even come to pass.

But even if they do, "worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles; it empties today of its strength".

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Love in a Headscarf

"At the age of thirteen, I knew that I was destined to marry John Travolta. One day he would arrive on my North London doorstep, fall madly in love with me and ask me to marry him. Then he would convert to Islam and become a devoted Muslim."

When I read the hilarious excerpt above, I knew that I had to buy the book. After a long search, I finally bought it at Kinokuniya KLCC on New Year's Day. It was my first purchase for 2012!

Though the book's main narration is about the author's journey to finding Mr. Right, there are also vignettes on what it means and how it feels to be a modern Muslim woman.

For example, Muslims are told to look beyond physical attributes and 'chemistry' when assessing potential life partners. We are told to give more emphasis on that person's religious commitment.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said in a famous hadeeth: Women may be married for four things: their wealth, their lineage, their beauty and their faith (religious commitment). Choose the one who is religiously-committed, may your hands be rubbed with dust (i.e. may you prosper).

But of course, knowing something doesn't necessarily mean we practise it. Thus we find people nowadays over-emphasising beauty and wealth while neglecting the most important component of all.

The author also shares her experiences after the September 11 and July 7 tragedies. Her headscarf singled her out from the crowd and inadvertently labeled her a terrorist. She recounted how that date marked "the very first time that [she] felt subhuman in Britain, and the first day [she] felt scared to live in [her] own country".

The headscarf plays a major role in the book. Not only is it featured in the title, it has a whole chapter dedicated to it. The author answers frequently-asked questions about her headscarf (the most popular being: "What's it like under there?") with a healthy dose of humour. Her eloquent answers also reject claims that the headscarf is oppressing Muslim women.

I also love stories about Khadijah, Safura, Aasiya, Maryam and Hagar inserted in intervals throughout the book. We should draw inspiration from their remarkable life-stories on how to be strong, brave and independent.

The book ends with the author finally finding 'the one'. After many misadventures and disappointments, the right guy finally shows up. And he was worth the wait, she professes. She counsels those still looking to be patient and to find Allah first, to love Allah and to trust Him.

"Perhaps he wasn't ready for us yet and still needed life to polish him up. Or maybe it was us that life needed to polish before we were ready for the one".