Wednesday, August 26, 2015


aku pulang
merapatkan jarak fizikal
namun terbentuknya jurang baharu
di antara kita


like the floating particles
in the pouring sunlight
through dusty curtains
in a long-emptied room
but filled with an air
of loss
and lingering sense of regret
after your departure
-KL, 3.07 am, Aug 26, 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015



My love is the color of sunsets
Though worn from travel and toil,
"I'm home!" I'd call from the distance
Running into your embrace
and there I would stay through the night
My love is the morning dew
As the daylight comes, it is renewed
Lingering in timelessness
Again, I get lost in you
Your love is my refuge
My center of gravity
You, the one I come home to.
KL, 1.41pm, Aug 11, 2015.

Monday, August 10, 2015


kusangka sisa sampah sarap di jalanan
terburai butir-butir nasi dijamah dirona merah sambal
bungkusan dicarik rakus binatang buas kelaparan
 lalat turut menghurung berpesta

rupanya kuteliti
kulihat mata yang tertutup milik bangkai rupa manusia

I stopped cuz my command of Malay for literature purposes is still lacking and I couldn't express what I wanted to express the way I want to. So I guess this is a work in progress. 

First Poem of The Year


I am the empty seat.
The unoccupied side of the bed.
The clothes that don't see the light of day
In a dusty wardrobe.
That distance not traversed.
I am, oft, absent.
but I want to be that cup of coffee
That sits on your desk.
As you write your letters.
Once a while you will look at me.
And hold me.
I hope this warmth would suffice.
In absence of mine.
KL, 9.18 pm, Aug 10th, 2015.

Old Essay

 I will revisit this one day. Properly.

Implications of the Interpretations of Islam:
Comparative Gender Studies in
Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel
and Davar Ardalan’s My Name Is Iran.

Nurul Kamilah Mat Kamil
Period 3

Mr. S. Wise

May 5, 2011

           The status of Islam‘s relevance and compatibility to modern context such as individual women’s rights is a debatable issue. Presently, in Muslim communities, discrepancies in gender equality still occur despite the claim that Islam has already given women their rights. Muslim women are being discriminated against in education, are deemed unfit to lead in some countries and they don’t have rights to their own bodies and opinions. These discrepancies, examined in Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel and Davar Ardalan’s My Name Is Iran are caused by the different interpretations of Islam.
            A woman’s education opportunities are stripped as they get married because the society demands women to be homemakers and faithful wives to their husbands. Some of them don’t even get the chance to finish their education as they are married off to their family’s man of choice, “even though most of the girls were reluctant and some were petrified” (Ali 78).  Due to stringent perspectives of how a “marriage should be” (Ardalan 211), education no longer becomes the priority of married Muslim women. Although Ardalan was not completely restricted from pursuing education compared to Ali, her husband was still not being supportive of her financially and morally, “I realized that I wanted him to support me to better myself and my children’s lives through my own education” (Ardalan 210). The circumstances that both Ali and Ardalan faced are both contradictory of Imam Bukhari’s encouragement of the husband as the wife’s guardian to ensure that she improves her education (Sahih Bukhari, 3:46:723). Strict adherence to society-conceived gender roles causes this unfair implication onto Muslim women as men are regarded more deserving for an education as they can contribute more to a country in leadership. When in Saudi Arabia, Ali commented that “It wasn’t fair that we weren’t allowed to go out with him and do all the things Mahad could” (Ali 50). Gender segregation in schools also led to the differences in syllabus between girls and boys because some fields are considered inappropriate for a woman’s nature (Hamdan). However, Ardalan had a somewhat secular upbringing which allowed her more freedom in education. To her family, “gaining knowledge … was life itself” (Ardalan 71) and every family member should pursue knowledge regardless of gender. The Muslim community are also taught to oppose Western teachings, and this caused much discontent to Ali, “As much as I wanted to become a devout Muslim, I always found it uncomfortable to oppose the West” (Ali 109). In contrast, Ardalan’s childhood experiences had direct exposure to the West as she went to an American high school as her grandparents agreed “that it was best to raise the children in America” (Ardalan 49), while Ali only had her Western exposure in her childhood through harlequin novels. Islam does not completely oppose Western teachings and does encourage pursuing it, as it is complementary in acquiring knowledge (Gbadamosi). Therefore, it is evident that different communal interpretations of a woman’s rights to education in Islamic teachings are a cause of gender inequality in Muslim societies.
            Man rules over woman; even Muslim communities are not spared from this traditional norm that is detrimental to women’s rights. In many patriarchal Muslim societies, men are perceived as the leaders and breadwinners of the family and women were attributed the role of the homemaker. The women then end up confined to their homes and are not allowed to work as the “money earned by a woman has never made anyone rich” (Ali 121) and a “pious woman should not work outside the home” (Ali 67). The fact that the society puts more value “on male experiences and perspectives [makes man more deserving of] the privileges given to them, and resulting [in the] devaluation of women’s status, no matter what contributions they make” (Wadud 100). The confinement of women in a patriarchal society is psychological as one would feel conflicted with the majority if one does not conform to the mainstream (Leung). However, it is stated in the Quran, men and women can both have a share of what they earn, meaning that both men and women can work (Quran 4:32). Another issue is women’s position in religious rituals. Why is it that for most rituals which involve men and women, the men is appointed to lead prayers and such, and not the women? “Why does Allah will it? He made me too, but he always prefers Mahad” (Ali 44). Wadud shares the same view with Ali and adds, “Gender separation in the mosque also reflects gender disparity through space and the opportunities that limit women’s access to or participation in the mosque activities and especially in decision-making” (Wadud 175). With only the exception of religious practices, women have equal opportunities to men because the ruling concerning acts of worship is that anything not prescribed in Shari`ah in explicit texts is prohibited, so that people may not innovate matters in religion not ordained by Allah (“Yusuf”). There is no denial that women are created different from man, therefore, both genders play different roles in religious rituals, but their piety is equally valued. The different roles that they play do not necessarily mean that one is better than the other. In Iran, women were forbidden from political involvement and “decisions were made at the highest level within the patriarchal clerical establishment” (Ardalan 250). Wadud expounds the argument, “If women only demonstrate and exemplify their ability to be “like men”, or to be victims of patriarchy, then nothing is learned from them over and above men in the pulpits, at the head of the line, as well as in the parliament” (Wadud 182). Since the only difference of gender roles for women is only in religious matters, it does not limit women’s opportunities in other aspects of life, or their opportunities to be better Muslims because a woman's role on earth is not limited only to childbirth. As a Muslim, she is required to do as many good deeds as any other man is required to do (Azeem).  So, it is permissible for a woman to make contributions in politics, especially if it is for the betterment of the nation. Even Aisyah, the wife of Prophet Muhammad, led an army in the Battle of the Camel and became a source of reference for many people at that time (Geissinger). In short, contributions from both genders are essential in the development of nations, especially in leadership. Although some practices in Islam veered to be patriarchal due to social norms, it should not limit women’s opportunities to contribute to leadership in other aspects outside religious rituals. It is only due to the different interpretations of Islam that Muslim women face limitations in leadership positions.
            A key issue of women’s rights is the fight against the objectification of women and to prove that women have rights to their own bodies and opinions. In Ali’s clan, the women could not object to the groom the clan has chosen for them, otherwise they were considered a disgrace to the clan. “Love marriages were a stupid mistake…You sank into a hideous destiny of impurity, godlessness and disease” (Ali 79). Ali even married a man named Mahmud just to have sex (Ali 140), because a Muslim could not engage in pre-marital sex. Marriage is not just for the pleasures of sex, but it is also an institution that a man and a woman find companionship and a refuge from the trials and tribulations of life (Patel 37, Quran 30:21). A woman is not a plaything in the hand of man but a spiritual and moral being who is entrusted to him as a sacred pledge to which Allah is made a witness. The wife is, therefore, not meant to provide sensuous pleasure only to the male, but to fully co-operate with him in making the life of the family and ultimately of the whole humanity significantly meaningful (Sahih Muslim). In certain cultures, arranged marriages are common, but Islam actually gives the liberty to choose one’s partner based on certain guidelines (Sahih Muslim 8:35:3457). A woman has a right to deny her father’s choice if she does not will the marriage because a woman who has been previously married is more entitled to her person than her guardian, and a virgin must be asked for her consent for herself (Muwatta’ 28:2:4). Although some Muslim communities make it a practice for arranged marriages, forced marriages have proven to be more detrimental than beneficial. Islam emphasizes compatibility in a marriage, and considers mutual affection in choosing a spouse. A woman’s sexuality is also suppressed with the justification that “a man’s erotic thoughts were always the fault of the women who incited them” (Ali 110). “Girls in Somali were excised and the practice is always justified in the name of Islam…Imams never discourage the practice: it keeps girls pure” (Ali 31). This tradition is pervasive because of the insistence of imposing righteousness on the society by certain groups of people and justifying their violent acts by “endlessly quoting the famous verse from the Qur’an” (Sardar).  This practice of controlling women is not a teaching of Islam, rather, it has its roots in foreign customs, like the Byzantine and Persian cultures of female seclusion and the female circumcision from North African traditions, and is practiced today only among the Muslims of that region, along with many non-Muslims (Aykol).  Islam does not view sexuality as a taboo subject, rather it is regarded sacred, and promotes marriage as an institution that will maintain societal order and as a channel for sexual pleasure among the spouses. Lastly, the patriarchal society also deems women fickle and unable to make decisions for themselves, so the decisions are made by the men. “Certain decisions, he informed me, were better made by the men of the family” (Ali 127). Ardalan and the Iranian women at the time of the Revolution had the awareness to “assume the right they had to rule over themselves instead of imitating the West or the East” (Ardalan 136) after reading Ali Shariati’s work. In Islam, the concept of shura, literally meaning counsel in Arabic, encourages participation from all members of the discussion regardless of gender. Therefore, women can and should offer their opinions to make their own decisions as well as decisions for an organization as a positive change is only balanced if it is made and agreed by all the individuals involved (Farooq). Conclusively, the suppression of women’s rights to her opinions and her body due to different interpretations of Islam causes gender inequality in Muslim communities.
            In summary, Islam is interpreted differently due to differences in cultural context as well as other political reasons. Some may be stricter than the other and even detrimental to both women and society in aspects of education, leadership and the woman’s individual rights itself. Therefore, it is best to consider the interpretations that best comply with the modern understanding of human rights which also stays true to Islam’s vision of an egalitarian society.

Word count: 1829

Works Cited

Ardalan, Davar. My Name Is Iran. United States of America: Henry Holt and        Company. 2007. Print.

Aykol, Mustafa. "Islam, Women and Sex: Debunking a Few Myths - Hurriyet Daily          News and Economic Review." Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review.
            6 Apr. 2010. Web.  16 Apr. 2011.

Azeem, Dr. Sherif Abdel. Women in Islam Versus Women in Judaeo-Christian       Tradition: The Myth and Reality. Kingston: Queen's University. n.d. Web.
            15 Apr. 2011.

Chapin Metz, Helen. “Saudi Arabia: A Country Study.” Washington: GPO for the             Library of Congress. 1992. Web. 15 April 2011.

"Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi Comments on Females Leading Co-gender Friday Prayers           and on             Women Leading Other Women." Islamopedia Online. n.d. Web.
            16 Apr. 2011. 

Ertürk, Yakin. "Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political,     Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Including The Right To Development." Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
            14 Apr. 2009. Web. 12 Apr. 2011.

Farooq, Dr. Mohammad Omar. "Women Scholars of Islam: They Must Bloom        Again." Social Science Research Network. 20 Jan. 2011. Web. 13 Apr. 2011.

Gbadamosi, Saliu. "Islam Is Not against Acquiring Western Education -chief         Imam." Nigerian Tribune. 22 Oct. 2010. Web. 16 Apr. 2011.

            Geissinger, Aisha. “‘A’isha bint Abi Bakr and her Contributions to the                                           Formation of the Islamic Tradition” Religion Compass. Volume 5, Issue 1:                         pages 37–49, January 2011. Wiley Online Library. Web. 24 Apr. 2011.

Hamdan, Amani. "Women and Education in Saudi Arabia: Challenges and             Achievements."International Education Journal. Shannon Research Press, 2005. Web. 22 Apr. 2011.

Hirsi Ali, Ayaan. Infidel. United Kingdom: Simon & Schuster Ltd.  2008. Print.

Leung, Rebecca. "Women Speak Out In Saudi Arabia." CBS News. 24 Mar. 2005.             Web. 14 Apr. 2011.

Muwatta’. Compendium of Muslim Texts. Berkeley: University of Southern           California Press. University of Southern California Centre for Muslim-Jewish Engagement. 2009. Web. 14 April 2011.

Patel, Ismail Adam. Islam the Choice of Thinking Women. United Kingdom: Ta-Ha           Publishers Ltd. 1997. Print.

Sahih Bukhari. Compendium of Muslim Texts. Berkeley: University of Southern   California Press. University of Southern California Centre for Muslim-Jewish Engagement. 2009. Web. 14 April 2011.

Sahih Muslim. Compendium of Muslim Texts. Berkeley: University of Southern    California Press. University of Southern California Centre for Muslim-Jewish Engagement. 2009. Web. 24 April 2011.

The Holy Quran. Sahih International. n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2011.

Sardar, Ziauddin. “The Struggle for Islam’s Soul.” New Statesman. 18 Jul. 2005. Web.      15 Apr. 2011.

Wadud, Amina. Inside the Gender Jihad: Women’s Reform in Islam. United           Kingdom: Oneworld Publications. 2006. Print

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Away Writeup

My blurb was featured here
But I actually did a full writeup for all the questions. So I suppose, this was the full thing that I came up with if it suits your fancy. 

Nurul Kamilah Mat Kamil, McMaster University, Canada, Electrical and Biomedical Engineering, B.Eng

1.      How much did you change as a person as the result of your overseas education?

I am definitely not the same person as I was when I left the country. Although there was little to no physical changes (I have not grown any taller nor gained any weight as my friends can testify), there is a big change in my outlook of the world. Being in contact with people of different cultures and different backgrounds abroad has widened my perspectives. It has given me an opportunity to be exposed to different sides of the same story. For example, having known people who have actually emigrated from war-torn countries or refugees in Canada. You get a first-hand account of the goings-on and it makes you question what the media has been dishing out to the people all these years. Secondly, I also gained exposure to many different issues that has never crossed my mind. I can see that in different countries, different issues plague their social and political sphere. For example, mental illness has never been in the spotlight in Malaysia whereas they take it very seriously abroad, well, at least in Canada. Being abroad as well allows me to see the far-reaching consequences of global happenings, or if our country ever made it to international news, the perspectives of foreign countries on the situation. When MH 370 was in the news, my professor approached me and asked if I lost any loved ones on the plane. I was very much touched by his kindness. Ironically, I found out about MH 17 when I was shopping for a bag at the mall and the shopkeeper asked about how another Malaysian plane was lost because I didn’t check the news before I left the house. Lastly, on a personal level, being abroad has forced me to re-evaluate and re-learn several things about religion and spirituality. I learned that there is no set way to go about practicing religion as I observed the people in the West and the people from different backgrounds. Ultimately, what is most important is to do good unto others and to yourself.

2.      What is the most memorable experience that you had?

It is really difficult to choose a single one experience, as the many experiences I’ve had has affected me in different ways, be it in a bittersweet manner or otherwise. Some of it was simply memorable vacation trips, whereas some were experiences that made me think. If I had to choose one it was probably my trip to Vancouver when I met my relatives for the first time. They immigrated to Canada the earliest in the 1960’s and they were from my Chinese grandmother’s side. It is a little weird to meet them for the first time in such a foreign place. They’ve lived different lives from my Malaysian relatives even though they came from the same background. Yet, being with them was still home away from home. Sometimes people dread going to see relatives perhaps for different reasons, but my visit to Vancouver gave me a chance to reconnect with a different side of my family. Their warmth and hospitality is probably the highlight of my trip despite my going places in Vancouver, which is a beautiful city in itself. It is not easy for me to see them because I need to take a four-hour flight from Toronto and Canada itself is at least a day’s worth of air travel from Malaysia. It was an opportunity that I simply could not pass up and it definitely is one of the things I will miss Canada for.

3.      Is it easy to get along with the locals? How well did you assimilate with local culture?

It was easy for me to get along with the locals. Canadians are notorious for being really polite, aren’t they? To be honest, when I first reached Canada, I felt like the country fits me like a glove. It is multicultural as is Malaysia, as a majority of them are immigrants or of immigrant descent, and everybody is free to practice their own culture. The fact that there is no one major race in the Greater Toronto Area and there were a lot of Asians and South East Asians made me feel at home. Even when I speak to some of them, it is most likely that we would have very similar experiences growing up in an Asian culture. For example, it was nice to know that some of them have their own localized Maggie and they find Maggie to be their childhood comfort food. Or of seeing similarities in the traditional food we eat. Or of our parents being equally typical Asian parents. So, it is very easy to get along with them. In terms of assimilation with local culture, it’s pretty much in the small courteous things like holding the door open for people, cleaning up after yourself when you eat out, greeting people which I wish should be more common in our own country. I had to get used to other people not doing all those things that was expected of you in Canada when I got home to Malaysia.

4.      Did you get homesick? and how did you cope with it?

I wasn’t really homesick, until after about two years. I was having too much fun in Canada. The only reason I ever got homesick was because I missed my family. There are even Malaysian restaurants available if I do ever miss home. Sometimes when I walk around and I talk to people some of them do claim that they do have some Malaysian parentage or have been to Malaysia. So, being around these people actually reminds me of home once in a while. Even my landlady is Malaysian and pretty much I live in a house with some Malaysians and Canadians. There’s not that many of us. There’s only 4 of us Malaysian girls in my house and we pretty much take care of each other. There’s also Malaysian and Singaporean aunties and the Malaysian student associations have regular gatherings so I get to meet Malaysians and eat Malaysian food, there’s really not that much to miss other than your family. The Malaysian student community at McMaster University is also relatively small and we’re very close-knit like a family. Of course, even if there were no Malaysians, I could probably find myself a second family among my Canadian friends. Nowadays with Facebook, Skype and Whatsapp it’s really easy to get connected you can even contact people from home on a daily basis. It is that easy. What you probably miss is just the sensation of hugging in the flesh. Oh, and I do miss being taken care of when I get sick.

5.      If you were given the choice of living abroad or going back to Malaysia, which would you choose and why!?

This is a very difficult question to answer, but I will be very honest. Personally, I would live abroad. The overseas experience has significantly changed me, for the better, I hope. My preferences has changed over the years. Even now that I have returned to Malaysia I need to get myself re-accustomed to the weather, the food and the people, and the fact that I’m living with my parents again when I have been living by myself for a few years abroad. Even when I was younger I have always yearned for a life abroad, and when that wish was fulfilled during my four years abroad I feel that I somehow returned to some place I’ve wanted to belong. Growing up I was pretty much an oddball for speaking in English and I had trouble relating to the people around me because of my unconventional way of thinking. I was able to express myself freely living abroad and I discovered many things about myself when I was away from home. Although living abroad does entail that I have to live away from my family because it is very difficult for them to follow me abroad and I cannot go home that often, but coming home after a while does give you a different perspective to your experiences abroad. It gives you the chance to reflect on how your experiences abroad has changed you as a person and how you now relate to the people around you that you’ve left behind and what ultimately is the goal you studied abroad in the first place. You also realize how differently things are being done in your own country be it for the good or the bad and you have a choice in what you make of it.  

6. If you could turn back time, what would you do differently during your studies abroad?

If I could turn back time I would probably honestly study less :p Not to say that I regret all my hard work studying and earning a distinction, but I wish I participated in a lot more extra-curricular activities. In the final term of my final year I discovered that I actually enjoyed participating in Hackathons, which is a competition in which you are given 24 hours to come up with a hardware or software hack. I wish I got myself a job during my summers so that I had some experience working abroad, be it for menial work like a library assistant. Even though I do currently have Canadian friends that I am close with, I wish I had branched out a little more and hung out more with people. The hang outs only ever happened at the very end because everyone was busy and after school was over finally did we hang out with each other and got to know the different sides of ourselves outside our school sphere. Of course, don’t we always want it all, grades, a job, and a social life? Even so, I did not regret my 4 years’ experience in Canada. It has made me who I am today and has shown me the beauty of her place and her people. I am thankful to God and to the people who helped made it happen.

Thursday, July 02, 2015


Apa perasaan balik for good? Well, I didn't sleep the night before huha huha main game. Naik kereta gi airport huha huha nyanyi nyanyi lagi. Sampai airport too sleepy to feel anything and unimpressed with pearson. Masa nak masuk security check I felt a weight in the pit of my stomach, my knees grew weak and my steps were heavy but the rest of me felt too light that I could fall apart with a single poke. It finally dawned on me I was leaving. Half of me was scared of being late while half of me wanted to stay a little longer but was wary about shedding tears too soon. I couldn't cry then and I wanted to go away as soon as possible to avoid the crying and attachment but as I made the straight march to the door I kept looking back regretting rushing to go and not lingering a little longer. I was also hoping that I'd see those familiar faces, hoping that I could turn around and run back to them, go back home and continue playing games but I had to look forward at what's next which is the business of taking out my laptops for the security check. After I'd have settled in the airplane I started feeling short of breath. This was it. This was my last chance to send a text message but words were jumbled. I can't express what I really wanted to say. When the plane started the slow taxi seeing the outline of Missisauga pass by the tears finally came. Memories of recent and past of my escapades in Canada played in my mind. Faces of both Canadian and Malaysian friends and relatives flashed by. The tears were welling up in my eyes ready to flow and when the plane finally took off, they were not held back anymore. They poured and poured for an extended time. I cried into the tiny pillow they provided hoping to muffle my sobs. I had to tell myself to not regret anything, that I had to let go. I wanted people to miss me the way I was missing them at that moment. I continued drifting in between states of consciousness as I tried to sleep, but even as I closed my eyes the tears were still streaming with no end until I cried myself dry for 6 hours. It hurts because I didn't want it to end, I didn't have enough of it and I wanted more and I am struggling to come to terms with it. I thought of the people I were leaving behind and it hurt a lot more. It hurts too much that I had to try to calm down so that I don't tire myself as I had 9 more hours of flight to go to Hong Kong followed by a long layover. I stopped eventually, but thoughts still linger. I probably will need some time to recover. When I was on my last leg in the flight back from Hong Kong to Malaysia, I got teary again as the plane finally landed on the Motherland. That was it that was the end of my journey. When I embraced my parents it felt as if I had emerged from a long trial and isolation on a deserted island, kind of like how the kids in Lord of the Flies started crying when they were rescued. Half of me was happy I haven't seen them for so long. Half of me wanted them to understand how sad I felt that the journey ended. As we went on I also felt sad that I missed out a lot on my siblings growing up when I left them behind. Though I was anxious in trying to re-accustom myself to this now strange land when I saw my siblings I slipped into that comforting sense of familiarity. That this was where I belonged even though I was yearning to be some place else. Over these past hours since I've landed I was trying to come to terms with the fact that I have to be here a while, indefinitely. That I do not have a set time to remain here before I leave again. That I have to try to accept Malaysia for what she is now and try to live with it. It's hard wanting to belong to both places at once. When I was in Canada it was hard on me because my family was away now that I am here I feel attached to the people and life I left behind in Canada. Well, I guess for now it is enough for me to be with my family. I haven't been home in a long long time. We shall see what comes next.