So 2011 is coming to an end. 2011 had changed me a lot. Things happened, people grew, new insights gained, personality changed, friendships gained and ended, hope survived, stepped out of comfort zone, made movies, read books and life lessons learned - some in a hard way. What an eventful year it has been, masyaAllah!
So here are some of the things Allah had permitted me to learn throughout this year:
- Be careful in advising people. No matter how pure your intention or how close you are to the person, some people may not take your words kindly and might lash back at you in a hurtful way. Don't be daunted. If your action is for the sake Allah SWT and because you truly care for the person, then take note that there are ways and techniques on how to advice people so that your points will come across to them successfully, insyaAllah (you can read about it after the break @ 'read more').
- Give advice in private.
"Support me with your advice in private, and avoid advising me in public. Surely giving advice among the people is a kind of reproach, which I would rather not listen to. If you disobey and ignore my wish, don’t be saddened if you are not obeyed." - Imam Ash-Shaafi'ee
- Do not be upset if your da'wa (e.g advice given) is not heeded. Remember that guidance is from Allah SWT. He gives it to those He wants. It is not your call. Allah won't ask how many people had turned a new leaf because of your da'wa, He will ask if you had done your responsibility as a Muslim in forbidding what is wrong and enjoining what is good.
- When you see someone who is not as religious, remember that you were once on the edge of the fire, and it was Allah (swt)’s favor upon you to guide you. Arrogance will wipe away any goodness from the transformation. - Nouman Ali Khan
- Take risks. Don't be afraid to try new things - it could be a very rewarding experience. Try that weirdly-named food your friend dare you to eat, talk to the girl you always bump into but never talk with, read a book/watch a movie from a genre you usually stay away from, break out from your routine.
- Expand your horizon. Take a long drive to places you have never been before. Embrace being lost, in a couple of months you'll remember it as funny. Go on a trip with your friends to someplace different -- note the difference in scenery from your own place, take pictures, learn their culture and eat their food.
- Embrace the difference in you and the people around you. Always be asking yourself, "what can I learn from this person?" You will be able to significantly improve yourself as a person and as a Muslim just by asking and reflecting on this question.
- I learn to give my family and friends a gift from time to time. Not just my daily du'a for them but a physical, special gift. Who says you need a reason or special day to give someone a present? Give it with a sincere niat and for the sake ukhuwah and insyaAllah, Allah SWT will reward you and improve your relationship with others. Plus, it's Sunnah! :)
- The gift doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate to make. For example, I give my friends a small brown paper bag come exam season containing a couple packets of instant coffee, a snack like energy bar or unhealthy ones like Skittles, new pens, and a small card written with encouragement words. Or perhaps you see that your sister have been busy with work/assignment so buy her a packet of refreshing face mask to help her relax during downtime (you can find varieties of face mask at any drugstore that are relatively cheap). Anything, really.
- Be inspired. Find things that will make you look forward to tomorrow.
- It is better to be on your own than to be with people who always try to make you feel bad with negative words thinly-veiled as 'advice' or 'opinions'. They are not trying to advice you, they simply just want to put you down. This was a particularly huge blow to me as I felt deeply betrayed by the very person I trusted. I was taken aback when I finally realize that someone who I saw as my 'best friend' was actually not a friend at all. Just a jealous, pathetic person.
- Sometimes it's better to just keep calm and selawat than to argue. Remember: The Prophet (SAW) said, "I guarantee you a house in the surrounding of Paradise for a man who avoids quarreling, even if he was right..." However, there are times when you need to speak up firmly and defend your opinion/action. Otherwise some people will try 'step' on you because they think you are weak and easy to take advantage of. I learned this the hard way. The key, is balance.
- Most importantly, I learned that it's not a matter of where you are in this world, but it's a matter of where your heart is with Allah.. And it's not a matter of where or when you die.. but it's a matter of what's the state of your heart when you die.
~Welcoming 2012 with open arms :) ~