Someone else’s language

There is something energetic about sitting for class at 6 am in the morning, 2 days a week. A tutor with a crisp English accent,a lecturer who is so systematic and gentle and classmates who are ever-so-cheerful, regardless of what the time is wherever they are. Other than our Tafsir classes at Zawiyah Foundation, this new one is something I look forward to as well.

Learning another language is a challenge at this age – and this particular language that DH and I are learning at Sunnipath Academy has almost reverse rules to Malay and English. But we are determined, so we’ll see how far we can go. I have been very impressed with the quality of the teachers and how the academy is run. You should really check it out.

Talking about someone else’s language, have you ever thought that the voices talking to you in your head is a language that needs to be broken down and tamed? I recently came to this, thanks to trying to live a life of ‘spending the day in syukr (gratefulness) and spending your nights in dzikr (rememberence)‘. We were taught recently that God has made set out the purpose of life so simply and eloquently, but it is us who confuse it with our wants and our nafs (desires).

Which brings me to the point that our nafs is a language on its own. I have been trying to tame it – and my first stop is the pumping music in the car. It is hard to be in the state of syukr and gratefulness while you are driving, when there your heart is singing to the melody of the song instead of being still. I need to be still internally to reflect and consequently, be thankful.But when my heart is singing away….it is simply a noisy heart. My nafs want to listen to music almost in an instant when I get into the car, and when I do hear it – it literally feels good. That’s years of my nafs training ME that music soothes my soul. How on earth did my nafs rule over my own state of stillness, which is our best state? Freaking scary.

I am trying to reverse that, simply because I want to be still. It is uncanny that this blog was named Still Thinking even before I acquire this knowledge about the importance of having stillness in your heart. At that time, I wanted to play with the paradox of me still thinking about things around me and reflecting, and the state of not moving your thoughts beyond what is already there.

Back to training the nafs. So out of this little internal jihad, I had to psychoanalyse and break down HOW my nafs speak to me. You have to know the enemy, kan? Man, did I discover what a language it is! I had spent 30 over years of my life helping it to develop its own language. It does not speak to me, it SHOUTS. It sounds more familiar than my own mother tongue.

So now, to manage it (just like the new language I am learning at Sunnipath) I have to break down the language so I can manage it. I literally had to re-program the level of noise it creates, and that is a challenge.

I know I am talking metaphysics here…..but I think most of us have been giving our nafs too much room to develop :), to the point that it is its own language in our psyche. I just want to share what I discovered. Try sitting still and not have music, visual stimulus around you. Better still, face a wall and try to be quiet and be completely still inside. Then listen to what your heart is talking/thinking about – you’ll have an idea of how ‘noisy’ your heart is cause your nafs are too busy having a party, shouting and screaming away.

Food for thought, eh?


  1. assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahamtullah,

    May Allah give your tawfiq in your study of Arabic!

    If you need any help while in your course, please don’t hesitate to contact the Helpdesk at


  2. I like this post very much. I haven’t the time to go for classes as I have been busy with work & kids and myself, which brings me to reflect on my nafs. Myself, my needs, my wants – my nafs…. think I have an arduous journey taming them…

    Thanks my fren for making me reflect & to give syukr to God for what He’s provided for me so far.

  3. Saudah Mirza: Thank you for kind words. Jazakallah.

    Suzanne: Alhamdulillah..its a bad four letter word, those nafs.

    Insyirah: In! I am only in Module 1. Show off, cet !! Ok let me try to decipher what you said….

    I know ‘khaifa khaluki’, ana’, ‘la’ and errr….’muahahhahahaha’. LOL

  4. Uja,

    Thumbs up for excellent thinking on self-awareness. Simply beautiful and deep.

    Altho am not a Muslim, I can grasp what you expressed.

    How to quieten our hearts with so many distractions screaming for our attention.

    God has a purpose for everyone of us. Our nafsu seeks a good life. It’s a religion by itself.

    I came across a saying, “The purpose of life is to be fair and just.”

    We are social beings. If we assault reasons, there will be no peace.

  5. Uja,

    Many years ago I read abt Helen Keller. She was blind, deaf and mute but went on to take the world by storm.

    Words became her refuge. She took learning seriously. While we take sights for granted, she learnt by touching and feeling. One of the first words she learnt was water by feeling the water running in her hands.

    Then her tutor taught her ‘love’ by hugging her and pointing to her heart. Abstract words was heart learning.

    She became a social activist and writer.

  6. hi&amp:lo,

    Thank you for your kind compliments. You are too generous.

    I know of Helen Keller, but do not know much about her 'heart learning'. I shall find out more. But more importantly, it is so much in congruent with why we have to quieten our hearts, tame our nafs, so that our the heart can 'listen' to the lessons and signs around.

    You shld write. I would love to read your blog if you don't mind sharing your thoughts 🙂

  7. salam uja,
    amazing how in different parts of the world, our journey is alike. im with u about taming the nafs…it has overruled us so much, we forget how it is to be still. to appreciate life as it is. mashaallah, how beautiful things are as it is. i love you for the sake of ALLAH…may allah help us in our journey to Him. Ameen.

    anit takalimin arabi al an? jaid jiddan.. inshaallah, sana gaya takalimin ma”i.

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