fatima al-zahra – the leader of the women in jannah (course review)

once in a while, i come across learning materials that change my life.

aida azlin’s course on sayyida fatima az-zahra: leader of the women in jannah is one of them. it’s a 20-lesson online course conducted with her friend, fadhilah wahid.

i signed up out of curiosity because i realised that while we hear stories of nabi muhammad saw’s wives such as khadijah ra and aisha ra, i can’t seem to recall many stories of his daughter fatimah az-zahra. according to a hadith narrated by aisha ra, the Messenger saw had whispered in fatimah ra’s ear that she will be the leader of the women in jannah. masyaAllah.

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what’s going on

feels like I haven’t had much to blog about, short of updating about the mundane stuff like what I feed Watermelon for dinner (not much), how many teeth she has (zero) and if she can walk (no, not yet).

the most exciting update is probably our plans to perform umrah soon-ish, InsyaAllah. the plan is for three of us plus my MIL and FIL to go in mid-January. we chose an off-peak period since none of us are tied to school holidays. omigosh please help to pray that Allah swt will ease our affairs! my biggest worry is how Watermelon will behave when I’m joining the congregational prayers. as cute and pouty as she is, she can be clingy/insecure when she doesn’t have her hand on any part of my body so … good luck to us girrrl. other things I’m worried about are whether we can keep her sufficiently warm in the cool temperature, and how she is going to behave on the plane and on the long bus rides 😔

if anybody has tips on performing umrah with a 1 yo baby, please share! 😘

we went to KL late last month, for a super short 2d 2n trip with friends. 9mo Watermelon on a plane ride is much different from her 4mo self when we went to Krabi. this time she didn’t want to sleep and instead was very interested in the various flyers in the seat pocket, including the bak kut teh ad at the back of the magazine. astaghfirullah sis, mengucap! anyway, luckily it was just a 45 min flight but I already dread our next flight…

because we had limited time in KL, we planned a super packed programme on our full day there. it was so long that Watermelon got maaaad cranky at the end of it. even all that babywearing couldn’t save her. I learnt that babies will always need a safe and quiet place to retreat to. there’s a limit to how long you can bring them out for, even if you keep them close to you in a carrier.

what else… ooh, Aunt Flo appeared in my life again! at about 10 months post partum, not bad huh. what this means is baby number two, here we come!!! ok, ok, I kid. hold on, let me scoop NG’s heart from the floor and put it back inside him. I mean, I would really love a number two (and three! and four! cue major 7.0 on the Richter scale eye roll from my husband) but I don’t think we’re ready, if we can help it. of course if Allah swt should decide that it is our rezeki soon, then I would say Alhamdulillah, now let me shop for a newborn woven wrap… #buyallthewraps

lastly, I figured some time back that since I don’t have enough themes to group my thoughts into blog posts, I could turn to … microblogging. hee. I’ve been tweeting at @krakentweets. so that’s where all the mundane stuff have been hiding, actually. hope to see you there?

32 weeks / 8 months! 

32 weeks and my bump is growing faster than I can say “Watermelon”! her movements are getting stronger and more intriguing. the other night I told NG that it felt like I was sleeping on a hand phone although I wasn’t. like there was something angular poking into my body. haha. I guess I’ll miss this when I’ve safely delivered? insyaAllah. I think I never stop being anxious while pregnant. trying very hard to think and stay positive that everything will go well. amiin, amiin, amiin.

two colleagues have commented that my bump is “very big”. to which my half-snarky answer is that “I’m going to grow even bigger, you know!” at 7+ months you say I’m very big, what are you going to call me when I’m at 9 months?! 😭

but yes, dressing up is starting to be a chore. my list of pre-natal exercises should include “trying to squeeze into my maternity jeans”. *wipes away droplets of sweat* don’t know how many clothes I’ll be reduced to for the next 8 weeks.

I went swimming the other night. each time I choose to go to a public pool to do laps should be considered a significant life event. (the last time I did this was many years ago) mostly because I’m not a strong nor confident swimmer. going into the water makes my head freak out, espesh when I’m passing over the deepest part of the pool. lagi-lagi when I’m forced to use lanes 4-5 because swimming classes are occupying the side lanes 😔

but I think swimming’s good for me. not just for the cardio exercise, but as a practice for me to calm down my thoughts and persuade myself to relaaaaax.

also swimming with hijab is already a logistics nightmare. at least for me, rejecter of muslimah swim suits (sorry!) swimming with a baby bump makes it more complicated. I almost bought a new long sleeve swim top for myself until I realised I could still squeeze into my usual one, for now. it was only underwater that I realised my top likes to ride up, hee. luckily I wear a onesie inside, so nobody was traumatised from any exposed, swollen belly. from a “muslimah swimmer”, no less.

for sake of documentation, other early third trimester symptoms include aching legs (usually after I alight from the car); pressure on my bladder which is very unsettling; wider feet which I think is giving me a blister from the straps of my usual slippers; sweating more easily, etc. I can still clip my toenails myself, for now. my back is looking more and more like the diagram below — I recently complained to NG about GV’s movie seats because it was poking into my back. he laughed and said it’s because you’re pregnant …


oh yah I also conceded that a balanced diet needs to include chocolates. I trieddd to stay away from them but I can’t. I’ve also been snacking on some desserts and junk food 🙊 I know a little bit won’t kill my baby but omg it really is not easy to uphold a gold standard kind of healthy diet.

also I just finished drafting my birth plan. my favourite resource (after going for classes and relying on the Internetz) is SassyMama. in particular, the language and style of the first one resonates most with me, even though I’m not doing a water birth. well, that’s not the plan … yet. unless NG doesn’t mind spending more to get me the water birth suite heh heh heh. 

we’re doing the 32 weeks growth scan later this week, insyaAllah. excited! will also be running the above birth plan with my gynae. hopefully she’s willing to be on the same page as me. 


I miss blogging! But there hasn’t been any substantial developments to blog about. I’m almost embarrassed to share that our newly-ish married life with no kids and staying with parents has been pretty idyllic. In the recent weekends, NG and I would look at each other and wonder how we should spend our time. It almost feels like we have too much free time?! Lulz.

So yes alhamdulillah life has been really good, and I’m grateful :’)

Our next milestone will be renovating our “matrimonial home”, insyaAllah kalau panjang umur and murah rezeki. Our BTO is due to be completed in 2Q 2016, which means that we are 6 months away. Right now there are still some scaffoldings on the buildings within our project, and some of the blocks have not been fully painted.

2-3 years ago, people said BTO projects had a tendency to be completed 6 months earlier. Looking at the projects in my neighbourhood, including mine, I’m convinced that trend is fading.

I dream of moving into our own home on our persuading anniversary. [It’s a reference to the Chicken Nut Bread YouTube video – please watch if you haven’t! Love it.] Thought the timing would be chun to launch ourselves properly into alam rumahtangga. Think chores, groceries, cooking, utilities bills… woo! We, especially me, have been so sheltered staying with my parents. Tee hee. I mean ya of course we contribute to household expenses but I’m so removed from full fledged household chores and grocery shopping and having to settle bills and fix problems with electrical appliances and buy new ones etc etc. Sounds like one year from now life is going to be preeetty different, huh.

We have a super modest reno budget, and consequently minimal plans. If I’m rajin, I’ll document my journey here k so that fellow couples with similar budgets have some reference.

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Vendeur Festival (read: huge muslimah fashion flea market) is coming to JB (Persada Convention Centre, really near the checkpoint!) on 26-27 Dec!!! I went to last year’s in KL Matrade. overall I had a gooood shopping experience, minus us being stranded without transport out. haha.

if you love jalan padi emas and jalan plumbum seksyen 7, then girrrl (or rather, sisterrr) you should definitely go! it’s left right centre shawls, jubahs, maxi dresses, long sleeve tops etc. just hope this year got good vendors… but anyways, insyaAllah I’m still going! 😹

an update on embracing the tudung

I previously blogged about me embracing the tudung, and heyyy what do you know, it’s been one year since I started 🙂 a very good one year, alhamdulilah.

I still remember how tough the first 2-3 weeks were. it was like nothing I’ve ever been through before. but then I also remember this one moment when I was walking down Arab St and I suddenly caught myself feeling … happy. for no external reason I knew of. I guess that was the turning point, when the struggling stopped, and I knew I had made the right decision.

I think it was a little hard for ninja groom in the beginning, too. I guess it must have been shocking when your girlfriend suddenly wears the tudung (i gave him very short notice, whoops) and your relationship dynamics have to change. not long after, he got used to it and would start helpfully alerting me “hair.” “hair.” “hair.” and I be like furiously tucking them in while whining “but there’s nothing I can dooo” “these are my anak rambuuut” or whenever I feel can’t be bothered I confirm his sightings with “yes, hair”. alhamdulilah now that he’s my husband (cheyyy), he’s even more supportive of my tudung. maybe too supportive, sometimes. I kid, I kid. you know how like there are situations where you have to draw your line e.g. when you meet the delivery man — we differed a little in the super beginning but so far he’s deferred to me on this hee :p

so. since the difficult beginning of my “hijrah” left an impression on me, I thought it would be good to share the two biggest areas I struggled with: exercise and travel. these are just the practical aspects of tudung life. hopefully it comes useful for girls whose hearts have decided but heads are still thinking “macam mana eh…”

tudung x exercise

I worried a lot about how I was going to exercise in tudung because back then I used to join exercise classes on Sat mornings. (I haven’t been in a while — eeps!) my favourite outfit combo consisted 3/4 nike tights and a yoga tunic, which obviously needed to be discontinued. I also didn’t have any long sleeve exercise tops, only dri-fit tshirts. thankfully I had a pair of baggy track pants, so that was one less thing to stress over.

so I went to Qoo10 to buy compression tops — it was the closest to LS tops which are otherwise sooo hard to find in Singapore (k at least the decent dri fit material kind lah). I kinda overdid it, buying four tops and two sleeves. I’ve still not worn the sleeves since buying them — eeps again. one of the compression tops is a liiittle more loose than others, and it’s patterned too, so I wear that alone (but surreptitiously pinned to my track pants cos they tend to ride up when I move). the rest I layer under tshirts. so far it’s worked for me, at least I can still wear my favourite nike top or this macaron-printed tshirt whenever I feel a little playful lulz.

then I explored sports tudungs. there’s a shop in Arab St that stocks two international brands: Capsters from Botswana and can’t remember what from Malaysia. verdict: don’t bother. (no offence to the stockist!) I think it’s sufficient to wear an instant tudung, or square tudung, or even the regular shawl if you can bear with the layers. I know I can’t. my favourite instant tudungs for exercising are from Shawl by VSnow. I also wear a tight lace headband (which my mum bought from Geylang) to prevent my hair from creeping out. love it cos I don’t have to wear an inner … rimas oi!

the capster

the capster – made for sports cos of the materials they use

shawlbyvsnow instant tudung

Shawl by VSnow’s instant tudung. not made for sports but it works!

oh ya I must say though that I’ve not gone swimming since. sigh. need to buy a new swim suit … and figure out how to cover my head :/

tudung x travel

for me the other challenge was travelling with tudung. I don’t mean the safety in the streets aspect, but just, what do you wear what do you pack etc. let’s face it: I’m not the fashion forward sort, and comfort and convenience are on the top of my mind when deciding what to wear for trips.

I recently figured out that a semi-instant tudung is a must have for plane rides, especially on long haul ones. cos your hair will get super messed up. and it’s going to be soooo leceh if you want to unpin everything, remove tudung, remove inner, retie hair and do everything again … a few times over. also the trick is to tie a low side bun/ponytail so you can lean back and sleep. with a semi-instant tudung, you just have to go to the toilet once in a while to redo your hair and tudung. I think naelofar hijab’s babes and basic or similar styled tudungs are best for this.

naelofar hijab babes and basic

naelofar hijab’s babes and basic. a semi instant shawl that’s easy to wear and match with. i also have one from their prints collection, but i find the material not as great as the plain ones

Naelofar Hijab Forever Young

naelofar hijab’s forever young. a little more stylish!

on packing for trips, the way I do it is to plan/draw my outfits on paper first. it helps me visualise the mixing and matching, which is tricky now that we must level up and add a tudung to match the top/bottom. then just remember to pack inners. for my honeymoon, the colours i ended up bringing were black, navy blue, light blue, moss green and bubblegum pink. i loved the black and blues cos they went well with jeans — i’m so safe and boring like that. two of them were satin, for the slightly more atas look. the moss green is the life saving semi-instant shawl which i wore on our inter-city journeys.

oh yeah, and I keep a palm-sized Tupperware container of brooches and pins for easy grabbing each time I travel or have to pack a change of clothes to go wherever. i have found my favourite combi of brooches that work for my tudung style, and i use them regardless the colours of my shawl. don’t care!

okay that’s all the #tudunghacks and #hijabhacks from me. though actually I can go on and on about tudung brands and their new collections and whether it’s worth buying and if yes, which colours/prints. and recently it’s been juicy talking about the Tiffany of tudungs, dUCk scarves. haha. but anyhoos please share if you have other tips cos I’m still new to this journey! 🙂

majlis khatam al-Quran

(source: thrivalroom.com)

i stumbled upon a lovely picture of a pre-nikah khatam Quran ceremony on IG recently. it looked very regal. the bride sat in the middle of the stage in her glittery baju, flanked by a row of bridesmaids in their matching outfits on each side. i was very moved by the photo. not just by the bride taking the time to read the Quran before her nikah ceremony, but also the fact that she had this circle of ladies/friends/sisters whom she could love the Quran with.

the photo made me realise that i’ve been so caught up chasing after my wedding bucket list that i’ve forgotten about my ancient, unfulfilled resolution to khatam the Quran. i’ve been obsessed with worldly goals like getting better skin, achieving straight teeth, saving up enough so that we can put together a decent wedding reception that i’d forgotten about how once upon a time when i was in my early teens, when i attended ngaji weekly, i’d tell myself “ok i must khatam the Quran this year” at the start of the year for two years. then when i stopped attending ngaji under the guise of CCAs and O level preps, i forgot about it altogether. whoops. or rather, astaghfirullah.

soooo i asked mama kraken about having my own majlis khatam Quran.

me: kat khatam Quran, orang nanti baca jus ‘amma aje eh?
mama k: yes. tapi dorang bukan suka-suka datang baca juz ‘amma aje tau. you kene baca juz 1-30 dulu.
me: haaa
mama k: and you tak boleh baca sorang-sorang. you mesti baca berguru
me: haaaaaaaaa

verily, it is not as easy as i thought. pardon my ignorance! i’ve never been to any majlis khatam Quran nor have i had the chance to discuss with ex-BTBs who held one.

so anyways mama kraken helped me approach her two good friends who happen to be our neighbours, who have agreed to coach me. yay syukur alhamdulilah. i’ll need to work out a schedule though. seems like Saturday mornings can’t be sleep in mornings anymore 😦 i’m sure it might be tiring, challenging, maybe even frustrating… but i pray that i will have the patience + perseverance to see this thru. wish me luck!

if you had a majlis khatam Quran or you’ve attended one, please share your experience cos I’d love to know! 🙂

embracing the tudung

alhamdulilah, today is almost my one month anniversary of wearing the tudung full-time (ish)! i’d been thinking about it for some time (5 months?) since i started attending religious classes again. as i learnt more about the Islamic narrative involving Allah swt, His Quran and His Messenger, and also Allah swt’s command to follow our Prophet, i felt like i was learning the Truth. more importantly, i began to feel that “making the hijrah” was inevitable. (side note: when i first heard this phrase, i was like, ah hijrah?? go where?)

so one night in class i decided that you know what, i’ll just start this weekend. there’s never going to be a time when i would feel completely ready. i’d been meaning to discuss the topic with ninja groom but I kept delaying it out of fear, until it was kinda late so all i could afford was a quick and rushed discussion over whatsapp. oops. something that i would have done differently if given the chance.

but i’ll be honest with my personal experience in covering up: it’s one of the hardest things i have ever done. i didn’t expect to feel the way i did but i felt…scared.

the first week was a bit of an identity crisis, as i changed outwardly from being a Malay woman to a Malay-Muslim woman. it’s a subtle shift, and not a super super big deal, but there was a psychological discomfort within me which i couldn’t quite put my finger on. and i definitely did not feel ready to “announce” my tudung on Instagram or FB. i put on a brave front with my tudung, i answered weird questions and also accepted compliments from other people, but inside i crumbled.

by the second week, i became all too familiar with the struggle with my tudung. i feel like sometimes we are victims of our own progression i.e. the new shawling trend. i would sweat in front of the mirror from just trying to fashion my shawl properly. on days when i struggle to keep my shawl properly pinned and in a nice (and neat) shape, i think about how there was a time when everyone wore square tudungs and probably nobody had to worry about these things. as a newbie i see it as a double edged sword: on one hand it does make hijabis look nicer and more fashion forward, but on the other hand it’s a steep learning curve and very daunting for those of us who have just taken the leap.

in the third week, i got frustrated trying to adapt to my new routine, like having to rush more in the morning as i try to put together a passable outfit (once my mum sent me back to my room in protest of my sheer top that was also not long enough to cover my “hips” – euphemism for you-know-which-part). on a few days, this set me off to a bad start to the day. also, some layered clothes combi are just *asking* for trouble, especially in humid Singapore.

and generally, there’s also the lifestyle changes. no more going to indie cafes lest people be judging me (heh), no more playing daidee in cafes (but i love that game!), and even more more more halal distance all of the time (a more permanent pantang?).

it’s not all bad and negative, of course. there are okay days. there are calm days. there are new connections made. although there are times i can’t wait to be home so i can remove (rip off) my messy tudung, i don’t regret my hijrah at all. i know that these are just my worldly struggles, and a large part of it is due to my own selenge-ness and shortcomings, and that with time, patience, and kindness towards myself, i will ease into this until it becomes second nature.

to comfort myself, i think of the quote about how nothing worth doing is gonna be easy. like how i expect marriage and motherhood to be, wearing the hijab full time has its ups and downs, but insyaAllah it will be rewarding.

i write this entry for the girls (sisters) out there who are thinking of making the leap, or similarly struggling with having just done so. if you are feeling fear, i hope you know that you’re not alone. for some of us, it is a huge life decision to make. be gentle with yourself.

everyone has their own journey in finding Allah swt in their hearts. i’m super thankful that i’m surrounded by friends who are pious, gentle, and not preachy or imposing. had it not been for them, it would have been harder for me to take that initial baby step in signing up for classes and connecting with Islam again.

alhamdulilah, i’ve also benefitted from the gracious support from fellow hijabi sisters. i’ve been given an emergency pins set, sleeves to wear with tshirts during exercise, a cute brooch, and inner ninjas to try ❤ and once when another friend said she was happy for me and that she thought i looked nice, i almost cried because her kind words came during a very difficult time.

and with that, salam ramadhan everyone! may we make the most out of this holy month, insyaAllah 🙂