Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The story of a Sri Lankan domestic worker


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                                                  Picture taken off the net

Sister 'R' was born into a Tamil speaking home. Some of her family members are staunch Buddhists whilst other family members practice Hinduism. As a teenager, this young Sri Lankan girl was unable to understand the faith of her ancestors. She opted to learn about different religions and eventually she decided to convert into the fold of Islam. She was a practising Muslim yet her family did not know initially that she denounced their religious practices. When they eventually found out they disowned her. They also tried killing her on a few occasions. She then decided to apply for a job as a domestic worker in the Kingdom. After receiving a confirmation letter that her application was successful she made her way to the land of shifting sands. She met her employer who resides in the blessed city of Medina tul munawwara. Her employer also happens to be a very close family friend of ours. He noticed that each month after sister 'R' received her salary she would visit the Prophets mosque and hand over her entire salary to the poor people. After a few months her employer confronted her with regards to her actions to which she replied, ' I do not need the money as I do not have any family. You provide me with all my needs." She then related her entire story in detail. Her employer was overwhelmed with emotion. He then decided to put away her monthly earnings into a savings account for her. Whenever she requested for money he would then hand it over to her. Within a short period of time the kids became attached to their Sri Lankan nanny. They would sleep with her and she would read them bed time stories. She was at their side during school concerts and functions. In fact she was given the status of being their second mother. After 38 years being with the same family she has become a part of the family. She is afforded the same rights as a family member. Over time the kids grew up into young adults. Sister 'R' bought them gifts and jewellery on the occasion of their weddings. She never ever returned to her country of birth and she refuses to travel outside of Medina. Her only goal in life is to die in the city of Medina and be buried in jannatul baqi. May Allah fulfill her wish and grant me the same level of conviction and steadfastness as she has within her heart. I was delighted to meet this kind soul during my recent trip to the Kingdom. Her story has proven to me that God Almighty guides those whom He wishes to. He protected her every strep of the way and it also proves that not all Arabs are bad human beings as portrayed by the media. We can not generalize and paint everyone with the same brush.Good and bad exists in all societies and as the Saudi saying goes, 'If you have beautiful eyes, you will see the good in others and you will attract good but if your eyes see negativity and bad then you will attract the same.' 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Travel diary - Umra Part 3

December 12, 2016

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So we started off the day after fajr prayers making our way to Jeddah. My Saudi family planned a fun filled educational trip for us enroute to Medina tul munawwara. Our first stop was the newly built King Abdullah Economic City. Located 100km from Jeddah the newly developed city boasts five star hotels along with offices and banks.In the future the main train station connecting the new airport to Makkah and medina will be located inside the economic city. We had snacks at the beach admiring the beauty of the Red Sea. Lunch was arranged at the beautiful Bay La Sun hotel. After enjoying a relaxing afternoon at the economic city we made our way to Badr where we paid our respects to the shuhadaa who passed away during the infamous battle of badr. The last time I visited Badr was almost 20 years ago. Once again we observed so many changes in this town. The town has grown from being a small rural community to a city with newly built homes and shops. As we drove closer towards Medina tul munawwara there was a sudden eagerness within our hearts to get to the city of our Beloved Prophet Muhammed (saw). My Saudi family belong to the Bani Quresh tribe. They are sayeds hailing from the lineage of Hasan. Hence as we drove to Medina our hosts refreshed our memory with regards to the history and life story of our Beloved Prophet Muhammed (pbuh). Alhamdulilla 3alas salaamah, we arrived in Medina tul munawwara safely. Dinner was arranged for us at a family members home. My Saudi family have went out of their way for my family and I. I do not know how to reciprocate what they have done for us. Subhanallah, in this day and age it is so hard to find people that have hearts of gold. May the love and care that we have for each other exist for eternity. Ameen.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Travel diary - Umra part 2 - Visiting Al Balad..

7th December 2016

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Picture courtesy Mustapha Najdi

Yesterday afternoon after the asr prayers 'my family' from Jeddah picked us up for a night of exploration. We spent most of the night at Al Balad- 'the city'. Balad is basically the old Jeddah and has now been declared a unesco heritage site. A trip inside Balad takes you back to another era where carved solid wooden doors adorn the entrance of shops coupled with intimately carved windows reflecting the affluent lifestyle of the Jeddawis at that time who were mostly traders and merchants.The windows are in actual fact balconies thereby extensions of the room. The balconies were usually adorned with cushions where guests could sit and enjoy the cool evening air. Al Balad was surrounded by a high wall to prevent invasion by the Portuguese who wanted control of the Red Sea. In 1947 the wall was destroyed with only a few remnants of the wall still remaining today. The house of Nasif located in the middle of the souq is undoubtedly the most well known historical site within Al Balad. The mansion was constructed in 1872 and once again highlights the opulence and grandiosity of Jeddawis at that time. When king Abdul Aziz entered Jeddah after the siege, he resided at Bayt Naseef. The narrow alleyways surrounding the house are graced with all kinds of small shops selling anything and everything. The air is plagued with different odours....sweet smelling itr, 3oud and a variety of perfumes. If you looking for souvenirs then al Balad is the place to visit..Jeddawis are in general very friendly people and whilst walking through the souq you will encounter many curious people enquiring about your nationality and country of origin. In fact we encountered such friendly people who gifted us with expensive perfume. After 3 hours of walking through Al Balad we headed to the famous Tahlia street in Jeddah where you will find expensive branded shops along with beautiful homes and apartments for the rich and famous. My Saudi family resides on this street as well and hence we made our way to their home around 10pm for dinner. We were welcomed in grand style. The majlis area of the home was layed out with all kinds of sweet delicacies that we thoroughly enjoyed with the qahwa (Arabic coffee). After all the formalities we were ushered into the dining room where we enjoyed a spread of Arabic cuisine. Dinner was followed by freshly baked cheese kanafa and caramel creme brulee..... After a night of socializing, we returned to Makkah in the early hours of the morning in time for the morning prayers.....


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Travel diary- Umra 2016


December 6, 2016

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Alhamdulilla it is only through the grace and the mercy of the Almighty that we completed our umra with ease. Taqabbal Allah minna wa minkum sali7al 3amaal. May Allah accept all our efforts. We received excellent service from Saudi airlines at O R Tambo international airport. On boarding the flight we were allocated with seats that had more leg space than expected. The seats were also located adjacent to the lavatories for convenience. I must admit though that as a Muslim woman I am quite disgusted and embarrassed at how fellow Muslims utilize the toilets without giving a damn about the next person. The poor stewards and air hostesses spent half their time trying to fix up blocked toilets and clean up wet floors. What the hell does a person do in a plane toilet for more than twenty minutes. We need to address these kind of issues within our communities. We need to educate people about basic hygiene and cleanliness when travelling.I sat next to an elderly lady from Bangladesh. She was returning to her country of birth after spending three months with her son and nephew. Her son is an engineer working for a well known corporate company and her nephew is a specialist doctor residing in Pretoria.In general our South African Muslims are very judgemental. Anyone who does not conform to a particular standard dress code is automatically looked down upon and ignored. Hundreds of people walked right pass this elderly lady but no one bothered to make salaam or greet her. She was dressed in a sari with the one end of the elegant attire adorning her head. Her English was not fluent and hence we conversed in Hindi for the duration of the trip. She told me colourful stories of her childhood that lit up her face. Her bright smile quickly turned into tears as she spoke about her husbands death more than 20 years ago. She became emotional as she spoke about how she always wanted to visit the holy cities of Makkah and Medina. She stated how unfortunate she was for being in transit in Jeddah but not being able to perform umra. She is so close yet so far. She made lots of dua for my family and I and with sincerity and humility she asked us to make a special prayer for her asking God Almighty to invite her to His home before her soul leaves this world. With regards to South Africa she mentioned that whilst the infrastructure is beautiful the country in general is not safe at all. She found people to be class and status oriented. This irritated her immensely. She stated that in her country people are poor. They have very little yet they are ready to give you all they have. On arriving at King Abdulaziz international airport we bid each other farewell after exchanging contact details. 

Well done to the management at King Abdulaziz International airport. There has been so many positive changes at the airport that left me speechless. We were received at the entrance with smiles and ushered to the customs and immigration counters with much haste. The staff were friendly and the entire process took half an hour including baggage collection. Of course there were more surprises to follow. As we exited the airport our Saudi friends from Jeddah and Medina were both eagerly awaiting our arrival. In fact they were arguing as to who will play dinner host and treat us to a sumptuous meal before driving to the holy city of Makkah. Naturally we chose the restaurant and our wish was their command. Saudi hospitality is the best in the world. We were totally overwhelmed by all the love and care we received. Apart from dinner we were handed over 2 big goody bags containing imported sweets,snacks and chocolates for us to munch on at the hotel room. We headed for Makkah just before midnight and checked into the palatial Hyatt regency hotel. The hotel is one of the finest in Makkah and boasts a number of amenities apart from being a stones throw away from the haram. The culinary experience at this hotel truly surpasses most other five star hotels. After settling down we then freshened up and proceeded to perform umra. We completed the entire process before the morning prayers. Gazing at the ka3ba after 3 years was an absolutely surreal experience, an experience I simply cannot explain.......

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Affluent family name. Pathetic character

This is how you spoil the reputation of a good family name... I'm not a person who will bring down another human being on a public platform and it's only after much deliberation and thought that I've decided to bring this issue to the fore so that it doesn't happen to anyone else.
Mr Inder oberoi is the CEO of the Oberoi group of companies. We have been facebook friends for many years and we have mutual friends in real life as well. Recently a good friend of mine from South Africa met Mr Oberoi during his trip to India at the Oberoi hotel in Mumbai. My friend couldn't get over Mr. Oberoi's warmth and hospitality. Thus it came as no surprise then that when he text me asking me to send him an ice maker from South Africa for his farm house that I agreed. I sent the machine to India with my brothers friend so that Mr Oberoi did not have to incur DHL fees. He asked me for my banking details to transfer the money for the machine into my account. I gave him banking details of my brothers friend as he manages a school and an orphanage for many kids in Bihar. I wanted the money to be used for a good course. Anyway, five months have elapsed and the money was never transferred. I was given all kinds of excuses ranging from 'I do not have internet banking'... ' The money has been demonetized and I'm not going to wait in the queue' .....' Somya pls send me his details again, as I have been in hospital for about 28 days. I should be out within a few days. I am sorry for the delay. Even Ice maker is not been opened as yet.'....' I will courier the ice maker back to u at my cost.You are a frustrated n Fanatic Muslim Persona'
One lie after the other in addition to being called a fanatic Muslim persona for simply enquiring about what is rightfully mine
Any way yesterday I text Mr Oberoi again as the money rightfully belongs to the orphanage. I was shocked when he text me stating that he will transfer the money but he wants hot pictures of me in return... I have a gut feeling that this man has been doing this to many women out there and it needs to stop. I am disgusted at the fact that a well known businessman feels that its perfectly alright to be dishonest and extort money from women through the Internet..It makes me angry as we have mutual friends here in SA and in India..To my friends residing in India please be very careful of this man. He is dishonest and can not be trusted. His telephone number is +919999845336. Please call him and make his life miserable. He needs to be taught a lesson...When I mentioned that I screen saved the conversation he deleted me from facebook and now refuses to take my calls. I must be honest, he can keep the money for karma is a real bitch. However, in life there are principles and he needs to be brought to book for doing people down in addition to taking away the rights of those kids.If you do call him, please tell him that I will not bring down this post until he pays back the money.
I guess all good people can be famous, but not all famous people are good

                       
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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Say NO to BULLYING


2nd October 2016

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Last week my niece came home from school quite upset and almost in tears. Upon further investigation,
it was discovered that a child in her school has a bullying attitude towards other kids simply because
her mom is a teacher in the same school. She addresses the other kids in her class as baboons. She
also threatens other kids by saying that her mom is a teacher and she will make sure that they do not
do well when they reach her moms class next year. My niece is a very soft child. She is very sensitive at 
heart. She is brought up in a way where she is taught to do her best without worrying about other kids or
without being competitive. She is taught to share ideas and learn from others. I am disgusted that kids
as young as 7 and 8 can grow up to be so catty. Is this kind of behaviour inculcated in their homes? When
the teacher of the Islamic institute was contacted, we were told that this is supposedly normal behavior
and that the child will outgrow it. NO! This is not normal behaviour. The child needs to be reprimanded so
that in the future the child is aware that bullying is not acceptable at school especially in the light of the
suicide cases that have recently emerged due to bullying. Another big issue I have been witness to in my
own life is favouritism by teachers within our schools. I was a victim of this during my own schooling career
whereby my marks were swopped and given to another child who supposedly hailed from a well known
family. This was in primary school. In high school I was subjected to bullying as well whereby books and
assignments were stolen from my bag on due date. I knew who the culprit was and guess what, the same
idiot turned out to be a pathetic loser in life with absolutely no direction whatsoever. My upbringing
encompassed working extremely hard, being focused, reading a lot and of course achieving my goals
without minding the next persons business. So the bullying didn't bring me down. It actually motivated me
to do better. Some countries are looking into implementing a law whereby the parents of bullies get fined
a hefty amount amount money as compensation. I think this law needs to be implemented in this country
as well. A child is born innocent. Children adopt the behaviour of their superiors in most instances......

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Be the reason someone smiles today

8 September 2016

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So this afternoon I walked into Pick n pay to buy some fresh rolls. I noticed a pensioner wanting to buy
croissants but she opted not to take it as it was out of her budget. My heart sank. For a minute my eyes
welled up with tears. I told myself how grateful I need to be to my Lord for being able to eat anything my
heart desires. I went to the bakery counter, bought the croissants and left it at the cashier so that when
she finally made her way to the till, the cashier would give it to her. I'm not sure if she took the croissants
but my intention was to make her day. Over the past few days I have come to realize how short and
precious life really is. A person close to me has been diagnosed with cancer. Whilst he is always the one
encouraging everyone around him to be positive and vibrant, he has not taken his diagnosis very well.
I can't imagine not having him in my life. He has been a tremendous pillar of strength and support in my
life. He has always encouraged me and guided me in life. I can't forget his words to me as we chatted on
his balcony overlooking the highway, "You need to grow big wings to fly high in life. Think big.. live large.
follow your dreams.If you need advise I'm here for you anytime." When Medix opened almost 3 years ago,
he stood with me through thick and thin. There were days when I seemed despondent but he use to say
life is not a straight line. You must be able to ride the waves like a surfer. Watching a person close to you
suffer is not an easy task. May Allah grant total shifa and cure to everyone out there who is ill. We
sometimes tend to take life and people for granted. Only when they gone do we appreciate their worth.
I have taken it upon myself to try doing one good deed everyday for someone else. Helping others is a
form of sadaqa (charity). Sadaqa wards of calamity. I request my Facebook family to wake up in the
morning and live your day as it were your last. Try alleviating someone else's troubles.
When you do good to others, God Almighty will bestow his blessings upon you.The intention of this post
is not to make me look good on a public platform (trust me I have many many flaws and weaknesses)
but rather to encourage all of you to spread good within our communities so that together we can build
a better country for our youth. Don't take the beggar on the street for granted either. Go up to him.
Talk to him. He too has a heart and a life story to share. The day he is not there on his spot you will miss
his presence too. There is far too much emphasis on acquiring materialistic wealth yet the wealth we
should be aiming for is undoubtedly a heart of gold to serve humanity....