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Irma Hasmie, The Epiphany

Face of Salam Syahirah Mokhtazar

The experience of performing umrah for the very first time will forever be etched in the mind of this Malaysian celebrity, Irma Hasmie. It was overwhelming to say the least, but it also marked the beginning of a beautiful new chapter in her life.

Irma embarked on her journey to umrah engulfed by a wave of emotions mostly because she wasn’t at all prepared to step foot on the Holy land of Mecca. This, she wasn’t afraid to admit.

Prior to her trip, Irma was all about being footloose and fancy free, not feeling the need to wear faith on her sleeve.

Then one day, two close friends of hers urged her to perform umrah after sharing with her their own experiences.

Perhaps it was the calling of Allah to visit the sacred land, but instantly her gut feeling told her it was time to go for it.

Together with her best friend and mother as her companions, Irma made her way to Mecca.

“I remember not feeling at all prepared. Typically for those performing the umrah, they need to attend a course on how to perform the umrah, but I didn’t.

“The best part was that I only read about how to perform umrah and what umrah is all about during the flight to Mecca itself.

“Luckily the three of us were seated next to a kind-hearted uncle who has performed umrah twice, so throughout the flight he spared us his knowledge on the do’s and don’ts.

“I actually pitied him because every now and then my friend and I turned to him for questions. He couldn’t rest throughout the flight! Poor man,” said Irma with a laugh.

The moment the plane had landed, she felt another wave of emotions coming.

“I was excited but scared too. In the flight, I learned that we are encouraged to perform salat tawbah (prayer of repentance) and settle our debts before leaving for umrah but I didn’t do any of that.

“So naturally it was a bit nerve-wracking for me having just registered all that information just before landing in Mecca.

“But I stayed positive and went for it. Alhamdulillah, Allah SWT eased our journey and we were able to complete our umrah that same night we arrived,” she said.

For Irma, that first night in Mecca, that first time she completed her umrah, was the turning point in her life.

It was then that she had an epiphany, this moment of great realisation on the extent of Allah’s mercy, His compassion and the love he has for His servants.

“I was ashamed of myself. There I was, so blessed and lucky to be welcomed to Mecca, He allowed me to perform umrah with such ease.

“As bad as I was (I frequently missed prayers and all that) Allah SWT still loves me. I was so ashamed.

“I was shrouded with regret for how I lived my life all this while. I never cared to repent. That was a big moment of realisation for me and from that point on, I never looked back,” she said.

With her newfound spirit, she was determined to strengthen her relationship with the Almighty.

“I felt like I breathed a new life. I remember praying at the Masjid Al-Haram and just crying non-stop,” she said.

For the next 7 days she was there in Mecca, Irma never missed the opportunity to perform umrah everyday.

“There’s this magical feeling being there. I remember wishing that the area surrounding the Kaabah wouldn’t be too overcrowded so that I could kiss the hajarul aswad.

“Instantly, the area cleared up, and I was able to do what I wanted to! Allah is the Greatest, MasyaAllah,” she said.

 

FINDING LOVE IN MECCA

After her first visit to Mecca, Irma went again a couple of months after. But in 2012, her third time in Mecca proved to be yet another meaningful one because this time, she was to meet her future husband.

Ironically, she told her mother countlessly before flying that while in Mecca, she wanted to pray to God to ease her journey in finding a soulmate.

“I was reaching 30 already, so I was really serious on finding the one,” she said.

Indeed, Allah is the best of planner. While performing her ‘tawaf’ alone, she met with a woman and her family also from Malaysia, who were also doing their tawaf.

“She asked me if I was alone to which I said yes. Then she asked me to join her family but because I was already finishing up, I politely declined and proceeded to perform saie.

There, the woman and her family caught up with her again and asked Irma to join them. Little did Irma know that the woman would soon be her mother-in-law.

They chit-chatted and Irma was invited to join their family yet again, this time for dinner. Feeling a little shy, Irma brought along her friend who was her companion for her umrah trip.

It was then at dinner that Irma was introduced to the woman’s son named Redza Syah Azmeer Radzuan. A beautiful friendship and may we say romance started to blossom between the two but Irma was due to leave back home in the following days, just before the family were to fly back.

But before Irma left, the woman expressed her intentions of meeting with Irma’s family.

It’s a tradition in the Malay culture that when a man wants to marry a woman, family members from the groom’s side would meet with the bride’s family to formally seek her hand in marriage.

When the aunty express her intentions to Irma, she clearly knew that marriage was on the cards.

Not long after their return, Irma became engaged to the man she would spend the rest of her life with and then six months since their first meet in Mecca, the two officially became husband and wife.

“The only time I experience the ‘dating’ phase was within that six months,” said Irma.

Now, the couple are happily married with a son and a daughter.

 

THE CHALLENGE

Life is good for Irma. Happily married with kids, juggling life as a TV host for an Islamic daily talk show and managing a clothing business, she feels incredibly blessed.

But of course, she’s human too. And being human, life is not short of challenges. One of the challenges Irma faces to this day after her transition to becoming a better Muslim is to remain steadfast.

“As a working mother, I have many responsibilities and obligations. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to allocate time for myself to attend religious classes.

“I used to have the luxury of time to go for classes to increase my knowledge on Islam but it’s hard to do that when you have your hands full with raising your children.

“My teachers always tell me that it’s okay because raising my children is already considered an ibadah too. What’s important is that my intentions are purely for Allah SWT.

“In between attending to my kids and my job, there are times I rush through my prayers and that’s not ideal.

“It can be quite hard to balance worldly and hereafter affairs. There are ups and downs, but that’s what life is all about. When my kids are big enough, I’ll have time to attend my classes again,” she said.

 

SHIFTING GEARS

Irma is a well-known in Malaysia who started out as an actress but has since toned down on her acting after tying the knot and becoming a mother.

Now, she is currently busy hosting an Islamic morning talk show called Assalamualaikum on TV Al-Hijrah.

Asked on whether she misses acting, Irma responded: “Well, I have to be realistic. Now with my commitment as a wife and a mother, it’s not really ideal for me to act as you know filming requires long hours. I can’t leave my family for very long.

“But it’s alright, I’m happy with where I am now, Allah has given me the opportunity to find rezeki in other areas like hosting as well as my clothing business,” she said.

Her clothing business called Hasmie often collaborates with other small local brands to sell headscarves, prayer outfits and more.

You can find out more about her brand at irmahasmie.com and follow her Instagram, @irmahasmie .

 

Behind the Face of Salam

  • Face of Salam : Irma Hasmie
  • Project Manager & Co-ordinator : Shah Shamshiri
  • Text: Syahirah Mokhtazar
  • Editor : Ili Farhana
    Photographer: Bustamam Mokhtar, White Studio
  • Graphic Designer: Asyraf Tamam
    Stylist & Art Director : Helmi Anuar
    Make-up Artiste : Saidatulnisa Aminuddin
  • Wardrobe: Khatreena
  • Hijab: Stylist’s Own