we declare Your Perfection above and beyond all: we have no knowledge whatsoever except what You have taught us. No doubt it is You, and You alone that is all Knowledgeable and all Wise. (al-Baqarah, 32)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A reminder for all Muslims

The following are taken from a lecture from Surah Baqarah of ayahs 76-80. I transcribed them and edited the text to make it flow better as a written text. They aren't my own commentaries as I am not yet qualified to make remarks of my own in this subject matter. You can listen to the complete audio recording here, something I can't recommend enough. Please, spare some time to listen to the rest of the ayah because we owe it to ourselves as Muslims to learn Book.

I chose this one ayah (ayah number 78) to share with you because it contains a profound lesson that we need to know of. It also indicates a very huge problem that the we, the Muslims of today are marching forward into. May this knowledge help us in becoming better Muslims and may we be able to remind others with this knowledge inshaAllah.

And even out of them (Bani Israel), there are people who are 'ummiyyun', who don't know their Book (the Torah) except for 'amaniy' and they do nothing but make assumptions.

Now, lets analyse this ayah in three parts:
1. And even out of them (Bani Israel), there are people who are 'ummiyyun'
2. who don't know their Book (the Torah) except for 'amaniy'
3. and they do nothing but make assumptions

1. And even out of them (Bani Israel), there are people who are 'ummiyyun'

'Ummiy' means two things - someone who is incapable of reading or writing. In modern times it is translated as 'unlettered'. It comes from the word 'um' which means mother. Meaning they are as illiterate as they were when they came out of their mother. But the Israelites do know how to read. So why are they being labelled as unlettered?

2. who don't know their Book (the Torah) except for 'amaniy'

'Amaniy' means wishful thoughts. In other words, instead of knowing what it is, you just think you know what it is. Allah is saying, they don't know their Book at all except what they think they know what it is. They can read their Book but they can't understand what they read, so they might as well be called as unlettered.

This is a very serious ayah about the crime of Bani Israel against their Book.

Now let's stop to think about this for a bit as far as our own selves and our own ummah is concerned. How many of us think we know what the Quran says as opposed to actually knowing what it says?

Next, Allah says:

3. and they do nothing but make assumptions.

This is yet another crime the Israelite committed against their Book as a result of their wishful thinking. What this is teaching us is that our ummah better not make assumptions about Allah's Book - You and I better not make assumptions about what Allah expects us to do and what He expects us not to do. We better not make make out own assumptions as Allah has already given the Book detailing what Allah Himself wants us to do.

The second thing that we should really be aware of is the interpretation of the Sahabah regarding this ayah which is very shocking and scary as far as we should be concerned.

Now, the central crime that the Isralites commited against their Book is with the word 'amaniy'.

According to an explanation by Ibn Abbas, 'amaniy' in this ayah means tilawah (recitation). They (Bani Israel) know their Book only by reciting it and memorising it without understanding it.

This means that they did have a relationship with their Book but their relationship with their Book is just two things; they recite it and memorised some parts of it, but the most crucial aspect of reading - comprehension - is absent.

This is a description of Bani Israel. Now think about this. Think about our own ummah. Think about ourselves. The vast majority of the Muslims today can be described as people who read the book, maybe even memorise some parts of the book, but has no idea what it says.

*personal note: in Malaysia especially, isn't it true that when we think 'mengaji Quran', what immediately pops in our head is recitation?*

Again, this is Allah describing Bani Israel but look who else the description fits! Isn't it a scary thought?

*So, there are at least 2 lessons that I gathered from this lecture:
  1. Do not make assumption on the contents of the Quran. Don't even say "I think this ayah means this that or the other", we're just putting ourselves in dangerous waters.
  2. The second lesson is the most crucial. For our own sake, we really need to start being 'students' of the Quran. It is a must for all of us - not just the scholars or the sheikhs or the ustadz - to really learn the Quran. We also need to realise that learning the Quran means 3 things - recitation, memorisation and understanding it.
I hope this piece of reminder has been useful and will inshaAllah lead us to take actions so that we will be able to avoid ourselves from being in the same category as the people described in this ayah. Do remind your family and friends of this lesson and lets pray that Allah not make us among those who are described in this ayah.

Everything that is good comes from Allah, and any flaws is from my own weaknesses.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The three individuals that changed my life

Up until the last Ramadhan, I was probably your average Muslim of the 21th century. I pray 5 times a day, fast for a month every year, try my best not to lie, yet as I came to find out just recently, I was probably not even at the rank of average - I was a weak believer.

Alhamdulillah, Allah has guided on the path towards him once again. And here I would like to share with you my story.

Now, Allah's Mercy and Hidayah may manifest in different ways. For me, it was 3 individuals who have changed my life forever.

To be perfectly honest with you, I wasn't at all one to open up youtube in search of religious lectures. However during the last Ramadhan, I was somehow compelled to view this video on the sidebar entitled 'How the bible led me to Islam' by a brother Joshua Evans. The gist of it is, brother Joshua was a devout Methodist, a youth minister even, who, after a series of events found Islam at the age of 17. Not only did he just learn the basics of Islam, he even went as far as becoming a Da'ie (one who calls towards Islam).

Brother Joshua and said video

After I watched the video, I was absolutely ashamed of myself. There I was, a Muslim for 24 years - since birth! Yet I had nowhere near the level of conviction that brother Joshua had. This propelled me into doing a lot of study about Islam and I did a lot of comparative religion study by myself.

I also watched more videos from brother Joshua when I eventually stumbled onto a Da'wah show from the States - the Deen Show (now available on ch al-hijrah, at 11 every Saturday). The host of the show, brother Eddie is a very interesting person. He has never said much about his own past, but he himself wasn't a Muslim to begin with. This man of Romanian descent used to live a shady past until he became a Muslim and left it all behind. Brother Eddie has been described by a person (who I will later reveal) as a 'Da'wah machine'. Literally, he would approach just anybody on the street and inform them about Islam. Subhanallah, that is the extent of change in character Islam bring out of a person.

Brother Eddie, Da'wah machine and MMA instructor

Brother Eddie's show features a guest speaker every week giving talks about Islam. Through the show, I learnt not only much about Islam but also of great speakers. I came to know of Sheikh Kamal Al-Mekki, Professor Jerald Dirks, Abdur Rahim Green, Imam Suhaib Webb, just to name a few. But of all the speakers, one of them got me truly captivated. Nouman Ali Khan.

Brother Nouman's speeches are almost always about the Quran. MashaAllah (what Allah wills), the way he explains the Quran is like none other I have been exposed to and it really touched my heart at its core. I began searching more videos of brother Nouman and later found Bayyinah.com, the website of his own Institute for Quranic studies. I must have listened to his lectures on the Quran's contents for hundreds of hours - repeatedly! - and still I couldn't get enough of it! The Quran is truly magnificent. It is through his lectures that I came to the realization that I must memorize the Quran for myself.

Brother Nouman in another one of his amazing lectures

May Allah reward these brothers for all their effort in spreading and explaining to the world and especially to me about Islam. However, I acknowledge that it is only through the Mercy of Allah that I was given the opportunity to find these brothers. If not for Him, I would not have been where I stand today - more convinced of Islam as the ultimate truth than I ever was in all my 24 years of life combined. For that, I have no words to express my appreciation other than Alhamdulillah.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I have a confession to make. I have an addiction the like which I have never had before. The addiction to the book of revelation, the last testament, the Quran.

Over the last 4 months, I've dedicated a few hours daily just listening to it's recitation and studying it's exegesis (tafseer). Alhamdulillah, I have managed to memorise 1/30th of it's content and by Allah, how amazing is it that just that small portion has managed to completely change my life.

Alhamdulillah - all praises be to Allah for nurturing my love towards the Quran and may it only grow stronger as time goes.

1 juz in 4 months is nothing to be proud of really as there people out there memorising the whole book within the same time span, but I'd just like to share my method of memorising. Hopefully, someone out there will get some benefit out of it inshaAllah.

1. Have a good exegesis with you. Memorisation has little meaning unless you understood what you recite. As for myself, I prefer listening to reading and I found the tafseer sessions by a Brother Nouman to be extremely helpful. You can find his audio clips here :

2. Once you've got the gist of the surah, get started memorising. I do this simply listening to the surah repeatedly. For me personally, qari Misharee bin Rashid Al-Afaasee has the most beautiful recitation that isn't too hard to follow. You may download his recitations here:

3. After you've memorised a surah, get back to tafseer. I personally find that I learn more studying the surah once I've memorised it. You'll also be able to pick up vocabulary that will help you in the surah to come.

4. Recite often. In any free time you have, just try reciting all that you've memorised. It helps if you have a digital version of the Quran so you can always have it with you and check yourself whenever you aren't feeling sure of an ayah.

5. The last step, is actually what I did before I even commited myself to memorising the Quran. I intentionally put it last because, well... let's just say that I understand not everybody is willing to do this...

Let go of music. Completely. It's harder to memorise Quran if you spend more time letting things that are against the teachings of the Quran in your ears more than Allah's Words themselves. Rather, replace the times you might spend with music with the beautiful recitations of the Quran instead. I'm not going to talk much about music here, rather, I'll let Mr. Kamal Al-Mekki who convinced me to stop listening to music do all the convincing you might need.

Obviously, there are alternative views to this issue but the points Sheikh Kamal makes rings with me and I haven't missed music at all since its absence from my life. If anything, more room for Quran is always a better option.

And that's my unqualified method of memorising the Quran. However, I personally think you can adopt any method you want and successfully memorise the Quran if your intentions are pure, for Allah helps those who wants to get closer to Him =)


Saturday, January 15, 2011

iPhone Gaming

As I've recently started to use my iPhone more in terms of playing games, I figure I should write my impressions on some of games that are keeping me quite entertained to the surprisingly viable gaming platform. As a plus, most of these games are relatively cheap, ranging from $2 - $10 a pop.

First off, Puzzle Agent. I have Ryan Davis of GiantBomb to thank for this purchase. Puzzle Agent is quite of a mix bag. It has great presentation, a unique sense of humor and some really mind bending puzzles. Unfortunately, not all the puzzles are great. However, the story was intriguing enough to keep going to the end of the 4-5 hour game. Despite the aforementioned intriguing story though, the payoff was rather disappointing. But for $6, it is not a bad deal since it's a nice change of pace from the typical games out there and it's the kind of game that fits perfectly on the iPhone.

Solve crime by solving puzzle

The next game is Puzzle Quest 2. I really enjoyed Puzzle Quest back when it came out on XBLA 4 years back and I still played it on the PSP well until last year. It was certainly more suited as a portable game. I think Puzzle Quest 2 itself is a great game but the iPhone version suffers from the fact that the game was clearly not optimized for the iPhone. This is apparent in the menus where every button is so close to one another that going through the menu is an exercise in patience as I find myself clicking on something other than the one I wanted way more often than I would have like. I've ran into a lot of loading issues where I have to relaunch the game to load an area. The game has a lot of issues for sure, but even those aren't enough to deter me from playing the game. If you're interested in this game though, I recommend you getting the PC or probably iPad version instead.

Slim fingers recommended for best experience with this product

The last game in the list is Dungeon Hunter 2. This is an isometric loot based RPG similar to Diablo. In fact, one might even say it is a blatant copy of Diablo. That's not necessarily a bad thing since you can't play Diablo on an iPhone. The best thing about Dungeon Hunter 2 is that it is supports up to 4 players via wi-fi or even locally using bluetooth. The controls however leaves a bit to be desired, but it's more from the limitation of the iPhone's lack of a physical thumbstick. It's not going to replace Diablo or Torchlight, but if you need to sate your loot lust on the go, then this is your only viable choice.

Totally Diabolical

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Words to ponder

When it comes to words of wisdom, no words are more worthy to ponder upon than the words of the Most Wise Himself. So here I invite all of you to ponder on these few words from surah ar-Rahman, courtesy of this video by Br. Nouman, of whom his work I am very much in love with.

If you're the type of person who is more inclined to reading rather than watching a video. Please read the notes from the lecture which I have posted under the video. Please note that I didn't write them myself. I just copied it from the work of an anonymous. May Allah bless them for their work and may this lecture benefit you as it has benefitted me.

Surah ar-Rahman[55]
Ayah 1:



The Abundantly Merciful

Allah made the Qur'an in aayaat/signs. Each ayah might be commonly translated as a 'verse'.

But in surah ar-Rahman, Allah mentioned 'ar-Rahman' in ayah 1 alone. This is in of itself a source of reflection.

So we have to reflect for ourselves,
How is Allah 'ar-Rahman' to me?

1 - We should count the different ways Allah is ar-Rahman to us.

2 - Allah is ar-Rahman, not just RahEEm (CONSTANTLY Merciful).

Rahman is a Mubalaghah/maximized form/hyperbole form

[it is Ism Faa'il = someone doing something right now.]

Rahman =Allah being Abundantly -Most- Merciful right now presently.

In this surah, Allah will explain alot of His Mercies through Him being ar-Rahman = Abundantly Merciful right now to all of us.

Of all the Mercies that Allah tells us in this surah, He tells us the priorities of His Mercy.

What was the first thing He is Abundantly Merciful to us for? What did He do?

Ayah 2:

عَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ

'Al-lama al Qur'an -

He taught the Qur'an.

Allah mentioned this first - showing that Him teaching the Qur'an is even more of a Mercy than Him creating the human being. (since the human is just a misguided animal without the guidance of the Qur'an).

So Allah teaching the Qur'an is a bigger mercy for us than our own lives.

'Al-lama - Taught

Allah did not mention who He taught the Qur'an to. This is a Mercy, because it isn't limited to Allah teaching the Messenger, or a certain group of people.
No - Allah left it open to show humans that He is teaching it to anyone who is willing to learn it. This is an extreme Mercy too.

وَلَقَدْ يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْآنَ لِلذِّكْرِ فَهَلْ مِن مُّدَّكِرٍ
- and we have certainly made the Qur'an easy for remembrance, so is there any who will remember? (Qamar 54:17)

People pay extra money to go to the high education schools because their teachers are of a higher standard.
In this surah, Allah is telling us that He is teaching us the Qur'an. The best teacher - He is our teacher - the Most Merciful (ar-Rahman).

Allah taught it to angel Jibreel who taught it to Prophet Muhammad (sal Allah alayhi wasalam), who taught it to companions, who taught it to later generations, and it was preserved in the books.

If you appreciate Allah's book - you will be a student of it.

'Al-lama al Qur'an - Taught the Qur'an.

Allah teaches the Qur'an to continuous generations - so long as they are sincere and with good intent - seeking for His Mercy.

He guides them through the teachings of the Qur'an at a practical level. This is the mercy of ar-Rahman.

Qur'an - maQru' [mubalaghah/maximum/hyperbole]- something which is Read/Recited alot.
When someone Recites the Qur'an alot, that is a proof that they love it. It has to be Read/Recited and applied alot.
This is even done in Salaah, you recite Qur'an.

Allah tells us the Qur'an is a cure and a Mercy;

وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ مَا هُوَ شِفَاءٌوَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۙ وَلَا يَزِيدُ الظَّالِمِينَ إِلَّا خَسَارًا
And We send down of the Qur'an that which is healing and
Mercy (Rahmah) for the believers, but it does not increase the wrongdoers except in loss.
[al Isra' 17:82]
For the rest of the notes, please go to
There you can even download it in .pdf or .doc file.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Games to play with other people

I bought a slew of games on discount from Xbox Live during the year end sale. Some of them are games that I've always wanted to buy and some of them are practically on a whim because, hey, they were on discount!! Pretty valid excuse to me :p

Of those games, I was really taken by two of them. The first of which is ...

Risk: Factions!

Now, the sole reason I bought this game was because Risk (the board game) has a special place in my heart because of 'a certain unforgettable event' during my days in IPBA.

Risk: Factions, however, is more than just a board game made virtually. They actually added a new mode entirely with new rule sets and factions that adds personality to the otherwise stoic board game. The standard game of Risk is also available but the new mode is so much cooler.

Any game with a fat talking cat is automatically a good game

I had fun playing the game even against AI, but I figure it would be much more fun playing against other people. There's online multiplayer, but my crap island internet connection couldn't possibly meet the demands for live multiplayer. And besides, I always enjoy couch multiplayer (ie. local play) better. This is definitely the game I'll get my friends to play whenever we get together again.

I bought Risk: Factions for around RM18 and it's certainly a bargain for such a fun game. Heck, that's even cheaper than buying the actual board game!

The other game is...

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light!

This game stars the character Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider series but plays nothing like it. The game is played from an isometric perspective (ala Diablo) and aiming is done by means of the right stick. The emphasis on this game is co-op and I can't stress enough how great this aspect of the game is.

Why did I gave such high praise to the co-op? Well, to put it simply, you and a friend will play one of two characters with different abilities and you will have to rely on each other to get around. I especially love how some of the puzzles really force players to work together.

Also of note, I can play this game with my wife and she's even enjoying it! If you're into co-op games, you should definitely play this game as this is easily the best co-op experience you're going to get right now, bar none.

Pure co-op fun

Tomb Raider and the Guardian of Light was available for RM28, though I believe both games have since been bumped back to it's regular (double) price now that the sale's over.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My personal top 10 games of 2010

10. Heavy Rain
Heavy is the only game that makes it to this list not because of how it plays, but because of how unique of a game it is. Honestly, I find the the tank-like character controls tedious and context sensitive QTEs (Quick Time Events - ie. push buttons presented on screen) doesn't make for a very compelling game. What the game excels is making the players feel fully in control of the decisions the characters have to make throughout the game and this is done even better than what has been done by any other games available today, bar none.

9.God of War 3
God of War 3 may to some people feel completely derivative of the previous 2 games in the series. And while I have to agree with that to a certain extent, the game more than makes up for it with a graphical fidelity that is simply unmatched in any other console games to date. And while the gameplay may not have evolved much since the series' debut, it is still the gold standard for games of its ilk.

8.Alan Wake
At first, I have mixed feelings about Alan Wake. It is a game that I like much more before I got to the rather lackluster ending of the game. But looking back at it, no other game has got me feeling so dying to find out what event is going to unfold next, thanks to the game's masterfully crafted story-telling .

Blur secures a spot on my list simply because of the awesome multiplayer experience. Not that the single-player mode is any slouch, but the game is best enjoyed playing with 10 other real people trying to make a pass while you having to avoid homing missiles from behind you and thundershocks in front of you all at the same time. It is the most frantic yet fun multiplayer game of the year for me.

In my book, no other third person feels more exhilarating than Vanquish. The experience of rocket sliding around a corner while shooting and following up with a dropkick to you enemy's face and then continue shooting at him while jumping back from said dropkicks' momentum is something no other game provides. Vanquish is poetry in motion. If whatever I wrote made no sense, the just watch the first 15 seconds of this video

Some rabid fanboys out there were quick to sum this game as a Zelda rip-off with a darker tone. But isn't that what Zelda fans have been asking for all this time. Face the fact people, Nintendo will never make a '18PL' Zelda game. Darksiders is that game.

4.Halo: Reach
I didn't think I would care this much for another Halo game but Bungie did their final Halo product justice by making it their most polished game yet, making the fight alongside the rest of the memorable members of Noble Team against increasingly impossible odds of the invading Covenant army over the planet Reach, a fight worth fighting for any fans of the Halo games. Also, the multiplayer is a lot fun as well.

3.Assassin's Creed Brotherhood
It's almost inconceivable that a game that wasn't even in development for a year would make such a good sequel to last year's amazing Assassin's Creed 2. But the folks at Ubisoft had done good in keeping what made the last game so great and adding in a load of more interesting stuff to do in the game world, enough to make this game feel more than just an expansion. Brotherhood also features the most fresh multiplayer component in any game. I mean, who would think that the single player focus game such as this would have a multiplayer that is not only functioning, but plays pretty good as well. They really done did it with this title and I can only be more excited of what's to come in the future of the series.

If you noticed, the list really gave away my love for the character action game genre. Games like God of War 3 and Darksiders have great gameplay, but none of the even blows a candle at Bayonetta. This game takes my number 2 spot simply for having a super amazing gameplay that rewards skill, timing , and an appreciation of some good old Japanese zaniness.

1. Mass Effect 2
I'm Commander Shephard, and this is my favourite game on the Citadel.

For a game that was released in January, Mass Effect 2 managed to remain an impact to me is speaking volumes about the quality of the game. And that is partly because I practically played the game throughout the year. I would replay the game every few months, trying out different classes, and making different choices. It is a game that manages to keep me thoroughly entertained throughout its 40 hour campaign, leading to the best and last mission of the game. the fact that its so much fun even on the third time play through makes me confident enough to name Mass Effect 2 as the best game I've played in 2010.

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