Author: Zhafira Raiha (Page 1 of 16)

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In Which Bandung Is a Storm I Was Not Prepared For

I was very fond of goodbyes, growing up.

In a time where you always feel like you don’t belong, it’s difficult to stay in a happy place and feel at peace with where you are. This is perhaps why I barely shed a tear when prom or graduation comes knocking on my door. While others may stall for just a little bit longer, begging and yearning for forever,  I was always ready to open a new door with two arms to jump in head first into another self-searching journey.

Check-in, search, 404 not found, check-out, repeat.

17 years, and I can barely count with one hand how many times I felt like I belong at peace with where I am and my environment – until I invited Bandung into my life – and came it did,  bursting through my door in a huge, huge storm two months before I was to leave to Japan.

This is temporary, I tell myself as I shake hands and learn new names.

Come September I’ll be gone, I tell myself while I trade dirty whispers with 12 lovely ladies all night long.

You’re being selfish, I tell myself in the mids of texting back a guy I hardly plan to spend forever with.

The storm that is Bandung is a solid ground that I never thought I’ll ever need for my personal peace and I find myself wanting to run far, far away from the goodbye that was so, so near. Fate is a cruel mistress like that, I think. She made me stay years in time where I wish I can be moved and then takes me away the second after I have a thought, I belong here. 

Leaving everything and everyone else was never more painful than ripping a band-aid. Leaving the storm, however, I think I left 12 different pieces of my heart and a chunk of guilt somewhere in there.

(and lovely memories, but that is only for the cold wind of Bandung to remember.)

I was very fond of goodbyes, growing up, so I learned one, two, three new names and truly believed that there will be no damage left. Ripping off band-aid, I remind myself. Quick and easy, stinging pain that will heal come tomorrow.

Band-aid is not enough this time around, I think, because the open wound is more painful than I remember.

Does the mistress truly believe I deserve this?

(My fingers pause, ponders, counts on the tears I spilled, heart I broke.)

(My fingers continues.)

Yeah, she probably does.

It’s okay, I think. I do too.

 

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Homecoming on Eid

Eid Mubarak to all those who celebrate! In Indonesia, Eid is a moment where you pack up all your stuff and go back home to the places where you originally came from. Or, for children, back to their grandparents’ villages. This year, just like last year, I went back to Sidoarjo (somewhere in East Java) to my grandma’s house from my father’s side. On the second day of Eid, though, we went to a gathering with family from my mother’s side, and this is what a cousin and I did as we grew a bit too bored.

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2 Months in Seclusion

For those of you who follow me on Instagram knows that I just got back from months of seclusion with no general explanation as to what I’ve been doing or why I can’t be contacted, so let me tell you all about it in this blog post about where I’ve been.

Where?

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For two months, I’ve been staying in Lembang, Bandung, for a religious program held by Kampung Quran Learning Center, which is memorizing the Quran. For Muslim, memorizing the whole 30 chapter of Quran is essentially an honorable thing to do, with promise of huge reward from God. Because of its difficulty, this needs to be done in seclusion far away from social media because it takes a lot of focus and concentration without any distraction. Every participant of this program is required to collect their phone and we only get them back every two weeks for 4 hours.

Why?

The best among you is a person who learns the Holy Quran and teaches it.

-Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

In this super controversial era, people always have questions regarding to Islam and our way of life, and a lot of people who don’t know the truth in the book have tried many times to judge us based on what they hear. As a Muslim, it’s our duty to correct these perspective and start conversation with an actual base of knowledge. Which is why in this seclusion, we were all encouraged to not only memorize the Arabic, but also understand the meaning of each verse.

In a way, it’s also a spiritual moment where we truly take time for ourselves as we try to get closer to God and understand His rules, His rewards, His punishments, and His blessings.

The Program. 

Note:
Quran is consisted of 30 chapters (we call it Juz).
1 Juz is consisted of 20 pages.
1 page is consisted of 15 lines.
The verse and letters in every chapter varies.

One of the things that was hard getting used to was definitely the intensive hours of nothing but sitting and memorizing Quran. 5 times a day, for every 2-3 hours, we will sit, find our own comfortable space, and memorize. Everyone has different target, and some will memorize one chapter a day, or half chapter a day, or quarter chapter in a day. Understanding Arabic plays a great role of memorizing the Quran, and everyone has different levels of comprehension on Arabic grammars, so it took different pace and speed for each student.

Those who wish to memorize all 30 Juz have joined the program since March to complete the 4 months program (since we finish on June), and those who are in this program are required to first memorize the first 5 chapter extensively. They will be tested on this 5 chapters in one seating before they are allowed to continue memorize the rest of the 25 chapters.

There are two terms that you need to know,

1. Mutqin. This is when you have extensively memorized the Quran and can be tested for what you have memorized (be it one, five, ten, or thirty chapters) in one seating. This means you are fluent in what you have memorized and can easily use it in prayers like many children (and I) use chapter 30 of the Quran for prayers.

2. Ziyadah. This is when you memorize a whole page, recite the page to the teacher, and then goes on to the next page. Chances are, you’ll forget the page you’ve recited as you go on to the next page, which is why it’s a great responsibility for the student to memorize again once we’re gone back home.

So for those who take the 4 months or 3 months program, they are required to be Mutqin for the first 5 Juz before they can continue with their Ziyadah for the rest of the 25 pages.

Out of 20 girls, only 2 finished the whole 30 Juz, some finished 20, some finished 15, 10, 5, 4, or 3,5 (me).

Other than that, there are also weekly class.

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The People.

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There are around 20 girls in this program and each has different start. Some are in the 4 months program, some for 3, and some for 2 (Or six weeks, in my case, because I couldn’t leave Prom and Graduation).

It’s astonishing how a lot of these girls came from different places. There are girls from Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi (these are the islands in Indonesia). There are girls who just graduated college, girls who are taking time off from their career, girls who decided to resign from their school, it was safe to say that I was one of the youngest girl.

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And since Islam is very strict about opposite gender interaction, I have no idea about the gentlemen other than there are around 13 of them, and they too, came from different places with various range of age. I also know that they are very respectful of the girls. I am used to catcalls and compliments, it happens in school, and girls generally like them, so imagine my surprise when every time the girls and boys accidentally had to walk pass one another, they look away without even one urge to glance. Imagine that!

The people here, goodness, I will never find any other group of people who are so dedicated and passionate about their love for God, and it’s so beautiful and refreshing to the soul. Everyone here has different background, mine being the most liberal of them all, and while it’s so damn difficult for me to wear tunic and long headscarf in my environment, the people there were so welcoming that it’s impossible to not still feel beautiful no matter how much you’re covering yourself. It’s impossible to not feel like you belong, like you have the same chance of going to Heaven as they do. It’s so calming to the soul to be in an environment where they are very careful with one another, where they don’t talk about people, where their priorities definitely do not lie here in this world.

It took some time of understanding, and being tolerant is highly important, because not everyone prioritize education the way that I do, but you can never look at them and tell them that they’re wrong with their life choices. It’s amazing how little they care about wealth or power, and even if some of their beliefs contradict with mine, it’s impossible not to respect them.

These girls will always have a special place in my heart.

On Love.

Those of you who follow my blog or social media must have an idea of my views on marriage, and some of you may think it’s the craziest idea ever, but let me tell you something.

The ladies and gents of the house view love and marriage the same way.

Love and crushes, as a 17 year old teenager, I’m absolutely familiar to it all. I understand the texting, the liking on Instagram, the flirting attempt in class, the surprises on birthdays and anniversary, I’m no stranger to any of it, and I have been the giving end and the receiving end to this ridiculousness in my three years of high school career.

Except that was never what I wanted.

I was very open to the girls about my views, and two out of twenty girls over there were ready to marry once the program was finished, so they understood. So imagine my delight when it’s not about physical beauty and wealth anymore.

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You see, prayers in Islam (or Salat) are led by men when men are present, and to avoid contact, a huge cloth (or hijab) will be drawn between us. This is so we can all protect ourselves from unnecessary attraction that might lead to heartbreak if things don’t work out.

Because of this, our contact to the gents are limited to only listening to their voice as they perform Adzan (Islamic call to worship) and lead the prayer, and us girls will try to guess;

“Is this him?”

“No, his is voice is different, this is Mr. X.”

“I’d like to listen to his voice again,”

Or;

“Would you marry him?”

“Who wouldn’t, with good sense of moral like that.”

How I wish the rest of the world is just like that. It’s never about the face or style with these girls as it has always been with my friends back home, and their big heart is a force to be reckoned with. It’s nice to know that we all share the same top priority when it come to men, and that is, ‘as long as he is religious,’.

If you meet those girls and ask how many people they’ve dated in the past, I guarantee you that most will answer 0. I can count with one hand of people who’ve dated in the past, and those are the millennials who are around my age.

You see, we view marriage as a way of protecting ourselves. Lust can be a great enemy, and respected men and women won’t have it in themselves to try around from people to people. These people here are very true to their religion, and they will never try to mess around with people’s heart if there is no certainty as the end game. Once the program is finished, I know a few gentlemen who have reached out to the girls with sole purpose of asking their hand in marriage, and it might be old-fashioned, you may not agree to this, but let’s just respect our way of life the way that it is.

If nothing else, you gotta admire their faith in God.

These people, between us and the boys, we know very little about each other and have only seen one another a handful of times. I don’t know who’s talking to who right now, but I know that if anyone is talking, it’s not about favorite food or favorite color. It’s about are you ready for marriage, or would you want to work, or are you willing to leave your island to live with your prospective husband, or the bunch.

Technicality, because that’s what matters. If the mechanics work, then they’ll discuss it with their respective families, ask for guidance to God, and then the male will propose to the female. All these process are done very carefully, sometimes with a mediator to avoid heartache if at the end of the day the mechanics don’t work out.

The world was so ideal and true to Islam that it stung when our time was over, but I suppose all good things, do, must come to an end. I only hope that I will always remember the friendship I formed, and I’ll always wish for the highest level of Jannah for all of them as they deserve.

If any of you are reading right now, thank you for your time and patience with me, and thank you for the life lesson that you taught me well. I’ll remember each and every smile on your faces, just like how I sang it that night.

Here’s to Ahlul Quran,
Here’s to you

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Graduation Speech SMA Labschool Cibubur 2017

Hello my loves!

This is where I bow down and deeply apologize for my long absence from this blog. What do you know, first I’m gone, the next I graduated high school! Here’s a cookie for you all, I was given the honor by my school to deliver a speech on our graduation day, enjoy!

7 Notes: In Case You Forget

Dear Me,

You’ll come of age tomorrow at 5:17 in the morning (the day is exactly on Wednesday, too, what a coincidence), and since 17 is predicted to be a life-changing age for you, I’d like to tell you who you are and who you’ve always striven to become in case cosmos decides to turn your life upside-down this year.

1. You’re proud of who you are. You’re a Muslim lady, you’re tiny, you’re unapologetic, you’re driven, you wear heels, you’re in hijab, you’re in skirt, you’re passionate, you’re interested, you love the spotlight, you’re confident, it’s okay. Japan will be scary, university might be a cruel beauty, you might want to take off your hijab and blend with everyone else every once in a while, that’s okay. You’ve been through this and you came out stronger. Laugh it off, they don’t understand. Make them, that’s your job.

2. You want to get married at this age. This is 16 year old you speaking, and I’ve spent my whole year hoping to turn 17 soon so I can turn into a legal adult and get hitched to a wonderful man who He has chosen for me. Please don’t forget why you want this. Please don’t give in to worldly pleasure and abandon your faith. You’ll find love, so please do it the right way. He is worth it, and the man will be worth the wait. Keep praying, keep asking, keep introspecting yourself. Pick up the pieces of the heart that you’ve let people break and keep it intact. Your chosen one deserves to have it whole.

3. Have fun. Education is important, you know that, I know that. But deary, please remember that you will be far away from your home, you’ll need people to support you and keep you sane. Go out, have fun, gain new experience, join clubs, and mingle all you can. Don’t do the same mistake I did by focusing on friendship far too late. Create memories and gain special people.

4. Remember your loved ones. Remember, tomorrow’s not promised. You left high school leaving tons of memories with your loved ones. Your uni-life is not worth forgetting the people who made you into who you are today. Reach out to your Mama, teachers, friends, loves, everyone. You owe them.

5. No regrets. Do what you want to do and don’t let people steer you into direction you don’t want to go. Time can’t be traded, it’s gone once  its pass. Make decision for yourself and don’t regret your life. Don’t entertain yourself with thoughts of what ifs. Just do it.

6. Run. In literal sense. You value health, you know it’s important to stay in shape. Fast twice a week, run every weekend, kiss the breeze. You’ve built this system in your body and you’ve endured 17 kilos three times in your life. Take an hour every week to just run, sweat, do some push-ups, sit-ups, plank, and keep that tummy flat.

7. Start writing again. I stopped this year. My excuse is senior year, of course, but what guarantees your life is going to be easier in Uni? But hey, give yourself a favor and write again. It’s therapeutic and relaxing, we loved it. Write again, write more.

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Wanted: Chosen One

Last March on the 20th, for some of you who kept up-to-date with this half-abandoned website (do forgive me for that, Senior year had been c-r-a-z-y), I wrote out a list on the perfect husband that I wish to marry someday in the near future. Come 2017, with heart even more dead set on getting married, I realized the ridiculousness of the list that I’ve written before and decided to give it a retouch. Please understand that this list is written simply to humor my cravings and this doesn’t determine anything. At all.

Also, shout out to the newly wed Natta and Wardah Maulina, a couple goals that made me pray day and night to meet the one man that has been written in my destiny.

Without further adieu, the list:

 

  1. Religious Beliefs: A practicing, critical, curious, tolerant, and passionate Muslim.
  2. In four words: Leader, responsible, honest, adventurous.
  3. Relationship type: Believe in monogamy 100%
  4. Sunday nights are for: Trying new couple activities (Scrapbook, cooking, rock climbing, yoga, ticking out bucket lists)
  5. Foreign or domestic: Foreign is very much preferable for their open-mind, though a domestic is also acceptable. Open-mind being the key.
  6. Ideal age: No older than 25.
  7. Perfect date: Adventure to new places and learn new experiences.
  8. Body type: Anything, as long as healthy. Disability and scars also don’t scare me, I’m willing to learn.
  9. Expert or Generalist: Expert in what he does.
  10. Beach house or country house: I wrote country house last year. Now that I’ve gotten more appreciative of the sunlight, whichever’s fine.
  11. Mommy issues: No, absolutely not. He must love his mother.
  12. Dietary restriction: Doesn’t eat anything that’s forbidden in Islam.
  13. Wants kids? Yes, and I hope to marry someone who’s willing to adopt. I’ve come to learn that there are far too many children who deserve a home. I also wish for my first child to be the adopted child so he can feel more included into the family (This topic is up for discussion).
  14. Does he cook? He has to be willing to try and cook with me on weekends.
  15. Drinking habits? No alcohol.
  16. Cats or Dogs? Cats, though only because religious reasons. If he wants to appreciate pugs or huskies or golden retrievers, that is completely acceptable.
  17. Inked? As long as he’s asked for His forgiveness, I’ll bat a blind eye on past mistakes and regrets.
  18. Sarcastic? The funnier the better, as long as it’s humorous and positive
  19. Who’s prettier? He can be prettier.
  20. He shouldn’t be: A pessimist cynic.
  21. Confidence from 1-10? 11
  22. Chivalry is…? A must!
  23. Man? Woman? Either? Man. Still man.
  24. Likes your job? Yes, he must support my job and dream to the fullest.
  25. Has he ever cheated? As long as he’s a changed man, it’s tolerable.
  26. His turns on: Confidence and big heart.
  27. Takes charge or takes orders? I’d love for him to take charge, though I wish for him to treat me on the basis of mutual respect and equity.
  28. Furry or smooth? Facial hair, yes. Chest hair, no. Legs or arms, sure.
  29. Times for work? As long as he’s free on weekends and makes time for me.
  30. No shorter than: Me
  31. Selfies: Not so much on his own, but taking lots are nice if with family or friends.
  32. Hair style: Either short or long, messy mid-length hair is a meh. If he can rock a man bun, yes.
  33. Multi-lingual: Yes, especially English. Definitely English.
  34. Views: Open-minded.
  35. Credits? Good, he must crave knowledge and be well educated. It shows that he is serious and understands about wanting to make a good life for his own by working hard to achieve good things
  36. Night owl or early bird? Doesn’t matter as long as he wakes me up for Fajr and sleeps after Isha.
  37. What’s his style? Clean, acceptable for social events, and wear clothes that is actually his size.
  38. Hobbies? Anything is fine, but writing, reading, or outdoor activity is much more preferable (running, hiking, et cetera). If he likes playing with trinkets or a handy man, that’s a bonus for me.
  39. First weekend away? Outbond, definitely.
  40. Degree? Let’s work together towards PhD before 30.
  41. Clean or Messy? Clean and organized.
  42. Politics? Gets the hang of it.
  43. He should…? Be open-minded. This is the n-th time I’ve written this. He should be open-minded without straying his views on the rules that’s written in Islam.
  44. Sport? He sweats regularly and is willing to go for a run on holidays or weekends.
  45. Art? Can appreciate art, creativity, and musical theater.
  46. Job? Anything that he loves doing instead of being forced into doing. Also, anything that pay the bills.
  47. Family matters? I’d love to marry someone who has a large family that I can get to know, but I’m not very picky on the matter.
  48. No-no #1? Not religious.
  49. No-no #2? Restricting me from my education, job, and right.
  50. No-no #3? A pessimist who doesn’t have a dream. Dreaming big is attractive, and him working to make his dream come true is even more attractive.

I try to broaden my views on the matter of husband. Allah will not meet me a husband if He deems I’m not ready, and I’m trying at the moment. I know the chances of a 17 year old nobody who just came out of highschool with no clear knowledge on her future meeting her soulmate is very slim, but I really do wish to form a Halal relationship with someone He’s chosen for me.

At the end of the day, only Istikharah prayer will help me decided who’s right and who’s not, so the list won’t matter much. Right now I’m just hoping to get through the National Exam, Prom, Graduation Day, and then get accepted to university with a decent scholarship so I can be financially independent in case I do get married.

I’ll tell you how it turns out later on.

Here’s to he who’s name’s been written in my fate

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An Open Mind in Japan

Japan that I know today is different with Japan that I grew up in 12 years ago. The reason why I’m saying this is because Japan, along with the rest of the world, has come to learn that the world is bigger than it looks and is starting to become more open to all cultures, religion, and race.

Japanese has always been generally respectful, but something that happened recently was my first encounter with a Japanese that was right down excited to wear a hijab.

You see, we were in the farewell party of Hosei University’s short scholarship program. We were all chatting and mingling until the end of the event came, where we were all trading gifts and souvenirs to our Japanese friends, professors, and staff. There were three Cambodians who participated in the program who gave the Japanese a traditional scarf called Krama. 

And then this one lovely girl called Yuuko-san came up to me.

She was really enthusiastic as she spread the cloth wide and asked if I could teach her to wear the hijab. I remember feeling warm all over as I said yes just as excitedly. I asked if she could get on her knees as I wrap the Krama around her head, and I remember having a moment to myself where I was really awestruck with her genuine curiosity and excitement once I was done.

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It was a lovely experience, one I won’t ever let myself forget. Yuuko-san did expressed her concern of offending Muslim by wearing hijab despite being a non-Muslim, and I think, in my limited knowledge, I’d like to assure all non-Muslim girls that it is completely fine, appreciated, even, if you want to wear hijab in the name of solidarity for all girls who do wear them,

Thank you for these lovely Japanese girls, Yuuko-san and Hitomi-san.

Here’s to them

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World Hijab Day 2017

In the spirit of my second year celebrating World Hijab Day, I asked a bunch of my Hijabi friends in school to share the love by snapping photos left and right. Here’s to us as we embrace the crown!

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A Love Message to All Muslim Ladies

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Shampoo and Hair Mist | Azalea Beauty Hijab

If you’re the kind of hijabi who forgets when the last time you washed your hair because you don’t have anyone to show them off to and realize only at the last minute at how greasy your scalp and hair has become (like me), I might have the solution to that little problem.

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Azalea Inspired by Natur hair product comes in two types, a Hair Hijab Mist and Hijab Shampoo with zaitun oil and aloe vera extract.


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In the first day, I washed my hair with Hijab Shampoo and it does wonders! I have never felt my hair so clean before in my entire life. It’s like when you spray a greasy glass and wipes it off and it leaves a squeaky clean sound, that is what your hair will feel like, with all the cooling sensation that comes from the menthol. After drying, the shampoo leaves a subtle hint of smell, which might be your thing if you prefer to not be overwhelmed with a strong flowery smell.

FullSizeRender (7)For the next three days, I laid off washing my hair and instead tried to spray it with Hair Hijab Mist before and after school. While it does leaves an amazing smell, the mist will eventually oil up and shine your hair with grease, so I recommend against either wearing it too much or not washing your hair too long. You can also spray the mist to your hijab after Physical Education class or just to get through a sweaty day.

Over all, I’m happy with the products, especially the shampoo. Even though it leaves my hair dry, the squeaky clean result is something that I encourage all of you to try out!

Unfortunately, this product only sells in Indonesia, but I will leave a link to all of you who wish to check them out.

Facebook: Azalea Beauty Hijab | Instagram: @azaleabeautyhijab

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