The unforgiving heat of summer took its toll on me. There were patches of dark purple here and there on my shirt, a slightly darker than tone the shirt colour due to the excessive sweating i was undergoing. Yes. I run high on metabolism and am proud of it. Maybe i should have been born in Alaska, but that would be too cold. Then i thought of the knitted blanket supplied in our rented house.

"Just in case it snows in the sacred city of Kangar since the weather is extreme," a soliloquy that was rather imaginary.

My body, soiled of stench, with a pinch of salt odour.

A visit to the wi-fied Kangar Hospital library cured the heat off my body and i wandered through the pages of New Straits Times. 2 weeks ago, this was and i came to an article of the death of Marwa El-Sherbini.

Stabbed 18 times in a court trial by a German of Russian descent who had verbally abused her a year ago. The drama was complicated when the police who entered the frame, mistook her husband,who was trying to save her, as the assailant and fired few shots at him.

It's like a scene from a Hollywood production. Something predictable, something stereotype. Arabs are always the culprits. Muslims maybe.

Islamophobia is a grave problem which needs addressing since it is misunderstood by non Muslims generally.

It's the same thing going on even in football. The chants of "Mido's got a bomb," were directed to the Egyptian footballer while he was playing in St. James' Park in Newcastle. Maybe these were meaningless shouts and screams, but the underlying problem may be much deeper than what we think it is.

As Chandra Muzaffar mentioned in his article in the NST, there is some level of biased-ness and onesided-ness of media reports which tend to dominate headlines. And they are not friendly enough towards Islam and Muslims. Muslims will always be portrayed as terrorists, suicide bombers and everything else.

While journalism is one thing, the readers' point of view is the conclusion to it all. The superficiality of people these days have made it much more difficult to explain everything. Most people take the newspaper reports as the final say, and fail to dig slightly deeper to find out the history of a conflict involving Muslims.

But we should not view the media as an enemy. The recent bombings of Palestine at the beginning of the year were wildly protested even by non Muslims because they are getting bored and tired of the mainstream media and have read, watched or listened with full blown attention to the real sources of news. Now, some have accepted that the Zionist Israel nation is at fault for the on going conflict.

Racial hatred and religious bigotry have become staple in the society. Even by Muslims. How most of us would label all Jews as being Zionists, and some would look down upon others who have different school of thoughts, telling others that "we are right, you are wrong". All these are stereotypes, the same mechanism that categorized all Arabs and Muslims as being terrorists. If even our minds are controlled by these stereotypical labels, then we should not be complaining of their bigotry as this would be called as hypocrisy.

There were even some unfriendly remarks made towards Germans, which were unfair since he was a German of Russian Descent.

Then should we also consider Russians as evil or half evil?

We need to break free from these stereotypes.

At the end of the day, we should take a long look into the mirror and change ourselves for the better. By saying "you belong to hell, Muslims go to heaven", won't help a bit. We have to understand that the Prophet had said those words after he had preached about Islam to the inhabitants of Arabia. Only after they had denied Islam, then only revelations were sent down, with a much sterner warning of the punishment in the hereafter.

In other words, to mention such things to people who have zero or very limited information about Islam is like rubbing salt to the wound. Da'wah should be done in a more holistic approach involving our daily conducts and behaviours.

May Allah bless her soul.
I am closer to hell than to heaven. I've done my reality checks and seems that is the current conclusion i could make. Maybe you are too.

You see. I'm pretty direct with myself. I'm my life's biggest critic. Except i don't respond that much to my self criticisms.

Narrated AbuHurayrah: The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: When Allah created Paradise, He said to Gabriel: Go and look at it. He went and looked at it, then came and said: O my Lord! By Thy might, no one who hears of it will fail to enter it. He then surrounded it with disagreeable things, and said: Go and look at it, Gabriel. He went and looked at it, then came and said: O my Lord! By Thy might, I am afraid that no one will enter it. When Allah created Hell, He said: Go and look at it, Gabriel. He went and looked at it, then came and said: O my Lord! By Thy might, no one who hears of it will enter it. He then surrounded it with desirable things and said: Go and look at it, Gabriel. He went, looked at it, then came and said: O my Lord! By Thy might and power, I am afraid that no one will remain who does not enter it.

I posed this question to my naqib when i was in an usrah.

"Could we use the motivation of heaven in order to become more pious?"

He answered "Yes", because it's hard to just worship Allah without a motivation.

I recalculated the question at intervals of my life, year after year. And i soon realized, "yeah, there might be truth in that."

But is heaven what we are really aiming for? Looking back through the pages of al-Quran, there are verses which describe to us of the environment of the heaven, example in al-Waqiah (The event, the inevitable).

Round about them shall go youths never altering in age, With goblets and ewers and a cup of pure drink; They shall not be affected with headache thereby, nor shall they get exhausted, And fruits such as they choose, And the flesh of fowl such as they desire. And pure, beautiful ones, The like of the hidden pearls: A reward for what they used to do. (verses 17-24)

Well, heaven, as some say, is unimaginable. But through these verses, we could partially imagine or conjure up an image.

But i asked myself, "am i worshipping Allah for heaven?". It's like i'm expecting something in return for a good deed.

Actually, i keep trying to find a pure heart. A heart that sees the world as Allah's creation. In the food i eat. The molecules of oxygen which i breath. For the great people around me.

That pure sincerity is hard to find. You could find tales of the Prophet, waking up in the early hours of morning to pray. For someone who was guaranteed heaven, what else woke him up, but the purity of humbleness towards The Creator.

But it works the other way around too, i guess. I am sure there was a reason on the description of paradise in the Quran. I asked a friend and he made a simple analogy. It's like when we were small and how our parents used to give us tokens if we are able to fast half a day or a full day. Later on in our lives, we do realize the importance and benefits of fasting.

So, probably we can't find that sincerity early on but for the motivation of heaven. But slowly, maybe our hearts will change for the better and worship Allah not because of his promises of paradise, but because of the life and the blessings He has given to us.

In other words, because there is No God but God. That's why we are worshipping Him.

14 : 34 And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them.....