Letter to a Brother
This letter is addressed to one Mohamed Sadiq, who has happily & successfully graduated from Singapore Polytechnic as of 23rd May 2011. Seeing as to how the Editor of this awesome magazine is his sister, she has cleverly exploited her editorial privileges to include this personal letter onto the site on the grounds that it is a piece of really good writing and advice (lack of humility acknowledged and will be improved upon. Du’as please.).
A’uzubillahi min ash-shaytaani rajeem
Bismillahi Rahmaani Raheem
As Mum & Dad left to the Convention Center, I made my way to the Auditorium to watch the event being screened live since you only got 2 tickets. I chose a very auspicious spot, somewhere quite impossible for any social interaction to take place yet good enough to hear the droning speeches and see every flyaway hair on the screen.
I watched as they presented a video of all these gold medallists, high achievers and eerily chirpy kids talk about their wonderful experience in SP, effectively taking up more time and delaying the moment I get to see my only brother receive his scroll. This was followed by a really, excruciatingly long speech from quite an important man. I went from Attempt at Patience by sending salutations upon the Prophet SAW – “Allahumma solli ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa ala aali Sayyidina Muhammad, allahumma solli ala…” – to Seeking Forgiveness for Impatience – “Astaghfirullah, astaghfirullah, astaghfirullah…” – to eventually Defeat – “Oh goodness! Someone grab the mic from him NOW please!”.
After I had gone to the bathroom twice, drained my phone’s battery by whatsapp-ing three-quarters of my contacts, he was finally ushered back to his seat. (Mankind, rejoice!) And then began the painful countdown from A to M. I tapped my fingers melodiously as the offspring of Angs, Foos, Hos, Lees and Lims marched up and down the stage. Finally, Mohamed! The Ms have arrived! Ignoring the beeping from three-quarters of my contacts, I sat at the edge of my seat, eyes suddenly enthralled by the screen.
“Mohamed Sadiq bin Mohamed Aslam”, the emcee called your name. And there you were, all smartly dressed in your white shirt, blue & gold robe, walking across the stage as if you were floating. You had never looked better. You shook another important man’s hand confidently, smiled to the camera and the camera whizzed back to the next graduant. I teared. My baby brother has graduated.[pullquote_left]You had never looked better. My baby brother has graduated.[/pullquote_left]
It must have been, at most, 10 seconds of fame for you on the screen, but I smiled so widely I knew I had chosen a good spot because no one asked why I was grinning to myself. Or perhaps, everyone present that day just understood. They all had children, sisters or brothers who were graduating that day too. For at least one day, we all had something in common – we were proud beyond belief.
I may not have tutored you or helped you in the very least (apart from constantly commenting on your grammar or spelling errors. I am an Editor after all). I mean, you had numbers in your modules, and other strange-looking symbols and signs! If you had taken Mass Communications or something, I could have assisted but you’re an Engineering kid (WHY?!). Anyhow, you have now completed 13 years of education and have come out with your diploma and seeing as to how I am your wise, elder sister, I figured it is my place to give you some worthy advice for your future. (Ehem.)
Yes, this is my first advice. Crazy people have no fear. Be Muslim-crazy. Have no fear of anything except Allah, our scary parents, Hellfire and maybe a few jinns. But nothing else. You’re a smart kid. Don’t let Mum scare you into thinking that your dreams or passions will not result in “a good job”. Yes, you need to put food on the table but rizq has already been decided by Allah. Don’t not do anything because you fear your rizq being constricted. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah in his book ‘Al Jawab Al Kafi’ have said:
“Just as righteousness brings about sustenance, the abandonment of righteousness causes poverty. There is nothing which can bring about sustenance like the abandonment of sins.”
Working hard, doing what you love while striving to keep away from sinning will ensure that Allah’s Blessings are upon you. “A good job” does not have to only mean earning big money. It means you are able to worship Him completely and in ease, that the rizq you bring home is halal and blessed, that your work results in you attaining His Pleasure, not His Wrath. I want you to be happy doing what you do. It’s not going to be easy to balance your dreams with expectations placed upon you but ultimately, whatever our parents say and whatever you decide, we are happy only if you are happy.[pullquote_right]”A good job” does not have to only mean earning big money. It means you are able to worship Him completely and in ease.[/pullquote_right]
Yea yea, I know I behave like a jealous cow each time you head off to a different destination. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not jealous.
Wait, who am I kidding. Of course I’m jealous you nomad! But only because I know that travelling enriches someone. You cannot ever learn certain things and experiences without actually leaving your comfort zones and just being out there, in a foreign land, talking to someone of a different colour, soaking in their culture and seeing just how huge the world really is. Each time you come back from a different location, I have to muster all my courage to fight my nafs of wanting to just strangle you and actually sit there and hang on to every word you say while you give me a blow by blow account of your trips.
So please, go travel some more before you finally spend 2 years in Tekong. Go and talk to people, listen to them, take pictures, write a diary (I’ll proofread it). Go to all the places you can that I can’t.
And count your blessings that you were born a male!
Be grateful & gracious.
Gratitude will bring you far in life. Well, if not very far, at least it’ll make you a fairly contented person insyaAllah. I know you read the Qur’an so I know you know this line but I’ll just place it here for reference:
“If you give thanks, I will give you more” Surah Ibrahim 14:7
So simple. Just say thanks, man. Or Alhamdulillah. Or if you’re particularly inspired, spell it out. Tell Him exactly what you’re grateful for. For having imaan (and ask that it never be taken away), for being from the ummah of Sayyidina Muhammad SAW, for being given perfect limbs and eyesight and hearing, for the companions who inspire you, the parents that love you and the sister who’s beautiful.
I mean, that was just an example. You can write your own Thank You supplication in whatever way you wish, but say thanks. And not just to Allah, but to those who served as conduits for His Blessings to reach you.
In a hadith, Prophet SAW said, “He who does not thank the people, does not thank Allah.”
While you work hard to maintain your relationship with Allah, never neglect your relationship with the creation. I know you are very popular with your peers, and for good reason. You’re always cheerful, you make others laugh, you make things easy for people, you inspire your non-praying friends to pray without having to say anything, the list goes on. But never take these for granted. Be attentive, don’t break hearts, and please, for goodness sake, pick up your calls and reply our sms-es!
Well, I have more pearls of wisdom to share with you but I shall save them for when you get your degree, in which case insyaAllah this magazine will then have its own printed version and you might be on the cover. No promises.
I love you. We all love you. Congratulations on this milestone and may Allah bless you and grant you ease in all that you choose to do. May He place in your heart love for Him, His Messenger, the Prophet’s blessed family and all awliya’. May He beautify your akhlaq, raise your ranks and make you a shining beacon of inspiration to all you come across.
Have fun on your n-th graduation trip!
With love & prayers,
Ameera is the Editor of Muzlimbuzz.sg, a chronic reader and a news junkie. Inspiration also catches her at the most quotidian of moments alhamdulillah.