The Path

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Umar radiyalaahu anhuma had mentioned, "Whoever wishes to follow the way of another, should follow the ways of those who have passed away. These were the companions of Muhammad sallalaahu alayhi wassalam, who were the best people of this Ummah. Their hearts were most pious, their knowledge was deepest and they were least pretentious. They were people whom Allah Ta'ala had chosen to be companions of His Nabi sallalaahu alayhi wassalam and for the transmission of His Deen. You people should emulate their character and mannerisms. By the Rabb of the Kaabah! The Sahabah radiyalaahu anhum of Rasulullah sallalaahu alayhi wassalam were correctly guided."

Friday, 31 December 2010

The Journey Towards Al-Khaliq - Part 7

We arrived in Makkah al-Mukarramah about 12 days before the day of wukuf at the Plains of Arafah. Thus, we opted for haji ifrad, choosing to be in ihram for whole duration of that period. My first three days in Makkah was what I could only describe as confusing and chaotic. Unlike in Madinah where separation between men and women in the Masjid Nabawi was strictly observed, I seemed could not find any place in the Haram Shariff that were separated from women for devotion. There were instances where I had to pray in a saff (row) surrounded by women and it had caused me great distress. 

It was not until the fourth day when, alhamdulillah, I finally found the gathering area of karkuns and the masyaikhs and elders of dakwah and tabligh where prayers and devotion could be carried out in calmness and peace. It was situated at the top floor near the corner of the single minerat of Haram Shariff. You might noticed that the other three corners of Haram Shariff have double minerats. Subhanallah! At the said single minerat top floor area, women seemed to assemble in harmony in the rear saffs and men converged in the front saffs, although there were no curtains or barriers between them. Only on a few occasions did I noticed some ignorant women tried to sit in front area to have a good look at the Kaabah. Someone would quickly asked them to go back to the rear area. The other places of the Haram Shariff seemed to be full of inseparable men and women, perhaps husbands and wives sitting next to each other fearing that they would get lost. I observed the situation twelve days before the day of wukuf at Arafah though as the people began to leave Makkah after performing the rituals of hajj, the other areas in the Haram Shariff slowly  adhered to the separation rules. 

Therefrom, every time my wife and I would go together to the Haram Shariff, walked across a sea of people, climbed up a couple of elevators and sit quietly at the peaceful corner - I, in the front row, and she, not far behind me. It was an added pleasure to have glimpses of our masyaikhs and elders in devotion at the same corner. Sometimes I would gather with the other Malaysian karkuns, sitting in small groups or halqahs, listening to a short targheeb given by a senior Malaysian tabligh worker or an aalim.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

The Journey Towards Al-Khaliq - Part 6

I first heard about Pok Soh when we were still in Madinah. People at my maktab were talking about an elderly man who got lost, not knowing to find his way back to the residential place after stirring out with the people to Masjid Nabawi. Only after two days, he was found in an ailing condition, broken down and severely dehydrated, submitted to the shivering weather of Madinah. Needless to say, he had to receive an emergency medical treatment. Like many other people, in the first instance, I was amazed as to how he got lost amongst the multitude of people, enduring the hardship and the weather, chill at daylight and cold at night, without any drink or food. Even at daytime, I wrapped myself up with a wool Pakistani blanket around my body. It was not until our arrival in Makkah that I had the opportunity to get to know Pok Soh.

He was a fragile man of about 75 years old from Kelantan. He was a very soft-spoken man who always put a smile on his face. He had never been out from his village in Nilam Puri, at the outskirt of Kota Bharu. He traveled for hajj with his sister, Mok Su, aged 63 years old without being accompanied by other able relatives or friends. The incident in Madinah had left him traumatized and impaired. He had turned out to be a sort of burden to his room-mates. They were complaining to the officials of Tabung Haji about his disability and inability to take care of himself...the filth and foul that he had caused them for not being able to care of his hygiene. It was during this time that I started to devote my attention to Pok Soh. Eventually, it was decided that he and his sister, Mok Su, would be placed in one room, specially for the two of them. From that moment, I had been taking care of Pok Soh, and Mok Su had been taken care by my wife.

Soon after, some of the other hujjazs thought that the two elderly brother and sister as our parents. All praise to Allah Most High, I and my wife still cherish the sweetness of hajj, particularly all the time spent with the two special elderly folks. I believe that Allah Most High sent us for hajj to also take care and give khidmat to the needy Pok Soh and Mok Su.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The Journey Towards Al-Khaliq - Part 5

The meeting place of karkuns in the Masjid Nabawi was at the area right behind the floor of Ashab-ul Suffah. My journey on ziarah and hajj coincide with the year when most of the elders and masyaikhs of dakwah and tabligh effort performing ziarah and hajj. Hence, there were a large number of karkuns from all over the world sitting quietly in devotion at the place inside the Masjid Nabawi. It was like a gathering between a jord and an ijtima'. As if I could still see Maulana Saad Kandahlewi damat barakatuhu prays nafl solaat just a few feet from me. And Maulana Zubayr damat barakatuhu was being pushed on a wheel-chair to his sitting place. I could only manage to have a glimpse of the two masyaikhs in awe among the many other luminaries of this ummah who had endured harship on their selves and wealth for the sake of upholding the deen. I dare not even go near them for du'a out of fear of causing agitation and distress to them by my presence. Moreover, earlier muzakarah at Masjid Jame' Sri Petaling markaz discouraged us to flock in towards the elders and masyaikhs for the same reason.

For eight days in Madinah al-Munawarrah, I had been in the company of the elders and masyaikhs in Masjid Nabawi trying hard to keep a distance from them even though many other people still converged meeting them. Except in one occasion when an African brother besides me suddenly asked me, "Who are those persons whom the people huddled to meet?", pointing at the masyaikhs. I briefly told him who was who. He then told me that he would like to join the people in meeting them. As a matter of playing host to him, I stood up and brought him to the masyaikh that was sitting nearest to us. He turned out to be Maulana Tariq Jamil of Raiwind, Pakistan. He gave us a broad smile as he extended his hands. I requested du'a from him. While my African brother went up to the other elders and masyaikhs, I quietly returned to my place of sitting.

One day, in Madinah, I was on my way down in a crowded elevator heading towards Masjid Nabawi when I overheard a rather loud conversation behind me. A person told another person that he could have joined the hajj envoys in expensive hajj travel package since he's used to be driven around by a driver in government-provided car, but he had chosen to be with the common folks for this journey of hajj. I looked behind my shoulder looking at the man in his early 50's. I thought that he must have been a member of a royal family since he used the word "rakyat jelata" for common folks. But upon inquiry, he turned out to be an Assistant Director of a religious body in Malaysia! It then crossed my mind that I need to bring a local Arab karkun to meet him for khususi mulaqat

The work of dakwah and tabligh in Madinah during hajj season, among other well-organised work, is that everyday after asar solaat,  the ever hard-working local Madinah Arab karkuns  would make themselves available at the place in Masjid Nabawi behind the floor of Ashab ul-Suffah for anyone karkun to guide them to meet anyone from his native country for khususi mulaqat. Alhamdulillah, on this occasion I managed to meet an English speaking local Madinah Arab brother and brought him to meet with the Asssistant Director at his room. Though they were conversing in Arabic, I shared the enthusiasm and diligence of the Arab brother. Masha'Allah! It turned up that the Assistant Director was a scholar of Darul Uloom Deoband when he was young.

After my hajj, I happened to bumped onto the Assistant Director on a few occasion, and even after his promotion he was so kind in acknowledging me, talking for awhile before we parted our own separate ways. We have a good relationship between us.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Journey Towards Al-Khaliq - Part 4

My first visit of the Holy Prophet SAW's masjid and resting place was none like I had expected. Despite my earlier effort in preparing to meet Rasulullah SAW with the best ethics that I could possibly do, I felt like a rough ill-mannered illiterate bedouin who came from the most remote part of the desert to the holy city of Madinah, unaware of the extent of greatness of his host. The narrative of the ignorant bedouin who had a pee in the Masjid Nabawi during the time of the Prophet SAW came to mind.

First, I got mixed up on the proper entrance door to visit the Prophet SAW. Instead of entering through Bab-ul Jibreel, I tried to enter the masjid through Bab-ul Baqee. Rightly, I had been stopped from entering by the guards since Bab-ul Baqee was the point of exit of the the flow of people entering from the opposite Bab-ul Jibreel. Still wondering why the guards had stopped me the first time, I tried to enter again without success. Finally, after a few vain attempts, I just stood outside Bab-ul Baqee feeling very sad looking from afar at the resting place of Rasulullah SAW.

Later, when dawn was approaching, I lamely entered Bab-ul Nisaa' hoping to find a good spot for me behind the Rawdah. The number of people was far more than I had expected and I was really struggling to find even a tiny space to sit. Like a lost bedouin who has no idea where he was heading, I walked over the shoulders of devotees again and again, inviting uneasy stares from the people around me. It was then that I felt like a ruthless moronic barbarian standing alone among the civilised cultured people. 

Alas, alhamdulillah, indeed Allah Most High had extinguished the pride and self-sufficiency within me at that point of time in the most perplexing way. Truly, Allah is the One for Whom nothing is hidden from His Knowledge.

The Journey Towards Al-Khaliq - Part 3

We started the journey from Jeddah Airport to Madinah by a fleet of buses. We were in flight group KT82, the second last group of pilgrims from Malaysia that was destined for Madinah before Makkah. It was a long journey to Madinah. I slept for the most part of the journey. An hour before reaching Madinah, I began to look at the notes that I had prepared for the journey. I recalled a hadith of Rasulullah SAW, "Whosoever come to me as my guest, with no other purpose than to visit me, I will be his intercessor." I immediately renewed my niyyat to make the journey only for the sake of Allah.

I was concern as to what extent my journey could be as close as the journey of Rasulullah SAW. I mean, there we were travelling by bus, without being able to stop at any masjids or places that Rasulullah SAW and the sahabah r.anhum had stopped for a rest, or to drink water at the wells that Rasulullah SAW and the sahabah r.anhum had stopped for a drink. I would not have the opportunity to stop at Mu'arras near Bir Ali/Zhul-Hulaifah even for a two-rakaat solah or a short du'a. And it would not be possible for me to get off the bus at Bir Ali (about 10km from Madinah) and walk from thereon bare-footed towards Madinah as did Rasulullah SAW and the sahabah r.anhum. Nevertheless, alhamdulillah, I still could recite durood sharif as much as possible. And I began to build up my devotion and fervor to meet with Rasulullah SAW by exhorting my wife of the virtues of Madinah al-Munawarrah and its inhabitants, the resting place of Rasulullah SAW and about 10,000 sahabah r.anhum who had served as the vanguards of Islam.

It was about 2am. I felt the warmth of Madinah as I entered the city and glanced again at my notes as I recited the du'a “Allahumma haaza haromu nabiyyaka, faj’al huliyy wa qho yatam minnanar wa a maa nanm minal ‘azaabi wa suu ‘al hisaab.” (O' Allah! Verily this is the land of Your Prophet SAW. Do make it as a cause for my salvation from the hellfire, protection from the torments, and protection from calamities on the Judgement Day).

After the hustle and bustle of rooms allocation, I managed to get a short nap. I then took a shower, put on my best dress and immersed myself with the green coloured raihan attar which I had bought in India and kept it safe for special occasion. I then slowly walked to the Masjid of the Prophet SAW.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The Journey Towards Al-Khaliq - Part 2

Despite a little savings that we had, my wife remains optimistic that Allah Most High would make it easy for us to perform hajj in that year. We started going for Hajj courses conducted by Tabung Haji at the nearby masjid. Soon we went for injections, medical check-ups and before we know it, it was already time for us to make the special hajj passports. All these activities went on while we did not have any idea how to raise enough fund for the journey.

Then it was time for the hajj jord or assembly in the dakwah and tabligh markaz. It was only for menfolks. We were requested to assemble from morning till zuhur for a muzakarah or discussion briefing on the effort of dakwah and tabligh during hajj at the Hijjaz. By then I had already knew my flight group - KT82 - among the later batches, and the second last group scheduled to perform ziarah first at Madinah al-Munawarrah, before going to Makkah. The muzakarah was very comprehensive and clear. I've not heard anyone talk about the real meaning of hajj as the khudama' that had been tasked to conduct the muzakarah. Unlike the courses conducted by Tabung Haji that only talked about the manasik of hajj, the muzakarah focused on the meaning  and spirituality of hajj and the hajj of the Prophet sallalaahu alayhi wassalam

And then it was time for us to settle all the RM9,500 each for the hajj cost imposed by Tabung haji for everyone going for hajj by mu'asasah or general hajj package. It was also the cheapest among the hajj packages. Truly, we managed to pay for the cost only by the grace of Allah Most High. It was inexplainable. Suffice for me to say that when Allah Most High wills, then nothing could stop His will.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Journey Towards Al-Khaliq - Part 1

In the year 1423 Hijri (beginning 2003), I had been blessed with the opportunity to travel the Hijjaz with my wife for hajj, alhamdulillah. It all started during a weekly mesywarah (consultation) for the Kuala Lumpur region at the dakwah and tabligh centre, Masjid Jame' Sri Petaling, Kuala Lumpur. Towards the end of the mesywarah, a senior person of Tabung Haji (Malaysia's Pilgrims Management and Fund Board) stood up to give a short announcement. He announced that Tabung Haji had been given a substantial extra quota for pilgrims for the forthcoming hajj season. Those who wish to perform hajj were required to write to Tabung Haji expressing their interest including those who had not even register or not in the waiting list.. He said we could open an account for registration with Tabung Haji with minimum amount of RM10.00 and top-up the account to the required amount later. I was very excited with the news.

I told the good news to my wife and she was overjoyed with it despite she was heavily pregnant with our fourth child, Muhammad Talhah. I felt her joy since a few days earlier she had told me that she wanted to perform hajj. All these happened despite the fact that we both had no accounts in Tabung Haji and we did not have much in our savings. The next thing I knew we were queuing at Tabung Haji counter and paid RM10.00 minimum payment each to open up an account. On our payment slips, it was written the year 2012 as an auto-run queue that notified us the year that we were supposed to perform the hajj. It was indeed a long queue!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Remembering Arwah Adnan

The first time that I saw him was in a masjid in Hulu Langat, Selangor in 2002. He had joined us for khuruuj in the path of Allah for three days upon tasykil by Azizi, one of the karkuns in our mohalla (locality). That was the first time for him to join a mission of dakwah and tabligh. He was in his 50's, did not talk much but mixed well with us quickly and easily. On the second day, however, he told us that he had to leave for some personal matters. We urged him to complete the three days period as it would benefit him the best. I always remember an advice from our 'elders' that in the work of dakwah and tabligh, completion of the duration in developing our imaan is very important. It is just like a cake that needs to be baked in the oven for a specified time to get the best result. Even if all the ingredients are mixed correctly, it still needs to be baked in the oven for a specified time. Otherwise, the cake would be spoiled. Similarly, imaan is only acquired through patience and perseverance (mujahadah). However fully equipped a person with ilm or knowledge, he must combines his ilm with mujahadah in order to derive any benefit. All the time, to get the most precious thing that a man could wish for as imaan requires sacrifices. Sometimes one had to forego one's own comfort at home, sometimes it requires us to surrender our leisure time...the price of imaan is not cheap. Really, it depends on each individual in each different circumstances. Anyway, after much persuasion and exhortation, he finally agreed to complete the 3-days period required for the short khuruuj.

On the third day of that khuruuj, to our pleasant surprise, he agreed to my casual invitation for him to join me for 40 days khuruuj in the path of Allah in the following month. We had never expected him to easily agreed to such a long tasykil since through our experience, people (including me) would always give excuses for not spending a chillah or 40 days in the path of Allah or require more time before being able to do so.  For the sake of doing justice to this article, I have to disregard my shame and embarrassment by revealing that it had taken me three long years before I managed to ease myself from the burden that had been delaying me from going for long tasykil. In those days, my brother used to say to me that the Sahabah radiyalaahu anhum had endured 13 years of hardship in Makkah for the sake of imaan but it looked like I was going for the record of spending 3 days a month in the path of Allah for 13 years before going for my first chillah. Alhamdulillah, his 'sarcastic' tasykil had made me realised how unworthy I was for wasting my self, health and wealth for things that could not guarantee me salvation from Allah Most High in this world and the aakhirah. The only comforting thing is that, alhamdulillah, after 3 years of spending 3 days in the path of Allah every month, I had straightaway gone for 4 months khuruuj without having to spend 40 days first, as usually is the case.

A week after that 3 enlightening days in Hulu Langat, he called me saying that he had informed his family about his intention to go out in the path of Allah for 40 days the next weekend and guess what...? His family was fully supportive about his intention and even encourage him to do it. Another thing that I found very unique and peculiar about his case. Most of the time people encounter all sort of hindrances and unnecessary troubles from their own family members when they spoke of going out in the path of Allah in dakwah and tabligh mission. Husbands were being hassled by their wives, sons were being chided by their parents, fathers were being stopped by their children...all for reasons that would never surfaced if the journey is for worldly gains. Husbands would not be hassled by their wives even if they have to leave home for days or months for work or businesses. Sons would not be admonished by their parents to spend days for camping in unknown locations or years of studies in the countries that their parents call kuffar countries. Thus, I felt it was unique and believe it was a great blessing from Allah Most High for him to easily realize his intention without any hindrance from his family.

I remember meeting him again at Masjid Jame' Seri Petaling, the centre or markaz for dakwah and tabligh effort in Malaysia, where people with the same mind-set and the same heart-felt from all over the country gather to be organised in groups or jamaat to go out in the path of Allah for 40 days or 4 months or even for 1 year accordingly. We were gathered in the same jamaat together with 10 other persons of various age groups and backgrounds, destined for Sungai Petani in Kedah. While staying for a couple of days at the markaz, he happily told me that his wife and his two sons had accompanied him earlier to the markaz. He took them for a short tour of the adjoining Madrasah Miftahul Ulum that hosts hundreds of students learning to become huffaz and 'aalims. His face brightened up when he told me of his intention for both of his sons to become huffaz and aalims as well.

The first few days when we arrived in Sg. Petani, he was still wearing jeans and t-shirts. Most of the time he remained quiet, attentively observing the aamal and discourses of others. In those first few days he was even reluctant to give any suggestion or syor in daily mesyuarah (consultation). From time to time, I sat with him in private, sometimes responding to his questions on various matters and sometimes just engaging in casual chat with him. He was always in deep thought.

After about ten days, he appeared jovial, sometimes cracking jokes with the others. He developed a close friendship with an Indian mu'alaf from Klang in our jamaat. The two of them waked each other up for tahajjud (late night worshipping) every night. On the third week of our chillah, he again returned to the state of engrossing in deep thoughts as if he was overburdened with something. Then he started telling us bizzare things that he encountered. One night after tahajjud he saw our amir together with someone else from our jamaat wearing all white kurta and amamah guarding the main door of the masjid all night long when both of them were actually fast asleep. Another night after tahajjud he saw hundreds of people in all white jubah and amamah sitting in the masjid behind him. Though amazed and astonished with what he encountered , we cracked jokes about them. I remember telling him that perhaps the end of time for him in this world is near. He and the others were laughing about it.

On the nineteenth day of our chillah, he first acted as mutakallim (one who deliver a message of deen) during umumi ghast (house to house visitation). He was sweating profusely in those 45 minutes of visitation. The elders of dakwah and tabligh effort say that we could actually put into practical about 500 aayat of the Holy Quran during umumi ghast if it is done properly in accordance with its required manners. Dakwah is the backbone of deen whilst ghast is the backbone of dakwah. 

That day on the twentieth day of our chillah, at about 3.00 am I was awoke by a loud cry. Immediately the lights in the masjid were switched on and everybody in our jamaat gathered around him. He laid reclining against a person. Apparently after tahajjud, he began to lie down on the bedding again when suddenly he held his head with both of his hand and cried aloud "Allah! Allah! Allah!". Before I knew it, I was already in the backseat of a car with his head on my lap speeding off towards Sg. Petani Hospital. It was quite a long journey as we were at a surau in a remote large rubber plantation settlements.

Arwah Adnan was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. 'Inna lillahi wa'inna ilayhi roji'un ("Surely we belong to Allah and to Him we shall return")

Upon request by his family, he was buried at Damansara. His funeral prayers were done both at Sg. Petani Hospital and at his house in Bangsar accompanied by a large gathering of people. We then continued our mission of dakwah and tabligh in Seremban area until completion of our chillah

May Allah Most High be pleased with him and have mercy on him. May Allah Most High be pleased with and have mercy on us and the entire ummah as well. Aamin.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

A Letter from a Journey

Masjid Daerah Kuala Penyu. 28.08.08 (27 Sya'ban 1429)


My darling wife. It's been ten days since I left home to go in the path of Allah. My jamaah consists of 9 brothers including myself. Our amir is Hj. Muhammad Zain of Sg. Kantan. I am writing this letter as a sunnah of our beloved Prophet SAW. We took of from KLIA on 21 August 2008 by MAS flight to KK. Earlier at Sri Petaling markaz, I met my senior at RMC, Ustaz Yahya, who was also on his way to K.Kinabalu to join a Pakistan jamaat there as mutarjim (translator). He got a RM400+ Air Asia return ticket to Labuan, and from there taking a RM20 ferry ride to KK. We could have saved some money on flight tickets if we take the same route as him. Bu, insha'Allah, whatever way we spent our money will have countless rewards from Allah SWT. Anyway, we reached KK at around 6.35am. We prayed solat subuh with difficulties on board the flight. Sadly on our jamaah managed to pray amongst the many more Muslims on board. Two brothers from Beaufort were waiting for us at KK Airport ready with a 10-seater van to bring us to Beaufort markaz. Masjid Kg. Bingkul is a large two-storey masjid that could cater for approximately 2000-3000 persons. This Beaufort markaz is built on a wakaf land from a large Pakistani family. Many of them are actively doing the work of dakwah and tabligh. This family is also related to Musa Aman's family.

We stayed at Beaufort markaz overnight before we were tasykiled to halqah Kuala Penyu. We were driven to Kuala Penyu by Ustaz Saiful and Ustaz Haswadi's cars and by a local karkun's van. Both of the Ustazs are teaching in a local school in Beaufort. Our first route is Surau Kg. Kepayan. Masha'Allah, only one active karkun who is a mu'allaf is doing the nusrah here. All his own family had reverted to Islam but his father, mother and siblings are still non-Muslim. This mu'allaf karkun family is very poor but he had been to IPB for 4 months. He drives a car which makes our 1993 Proton Wira looks like a Rolls Royce. They lived in a shed which makes our house looks like Taj Mahal.Truly, only in Bangladesh I've seen such a place for a family to live. But this poor family, even as I'm writing this letter, is making so much nusrah to our jamaat. He drove us around tirelessly in his 1978 run-downed car to meet the local people.

We are now at the second route, Masid Nurul Hayat, a district masjid of Pekan Kuala Penyu. We had much difficulties in convincing the chairman of the masjid to let us in. Only after giving several conditions that he let us stay in. One of the condition is that our jamaat cannot cook our meals. Sobri, the mu'allaf karkun, insisted that his wife would cook for our jamaat. My dear wife, she even washed our clothes and I'm sure that they do not own any washing machine. Alhamdulillah, I believe Allah SWT makes it easy for our jamaah to eat and keep our clothes clean using the asbab of this poor family because of your nusrah of cooking and washing clothes for the several jamaat that had come to our masjid. And I remember you a lot for this khuruuj (journey)...

Ah! I'm glad that I bring along my mosquito net tent. Subhanallah! This is a drastic change from the comfort of air-conditioned room at home.

My darling wife, I'm leaving behind you to take care of our kids. Please encourage them and keep encourage them to make amal. I know sometimes it is quite frustrating but it will be easier when you show them by example. I trust that you could handle this. May Allah SWT makes it easy for you and may the kids listen and obey as obedience to you is obedience to Allah and His Rasul provided you keep encouraging them for amal. Do not discard dakwah iman yakin at the time of ta'lim.

I wish you and the kids SELAMAT BERPUASA. May this Ramadhan and all the coming Ramadhan will be the source of much blessing to all of us. Hugs and kisses to Ayesha, Imaan, Zubayr, Talhah & Abudzar.


Abu Az-Zubayr

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Walk of Faith

In July 2009, I began a journey in a jamaat to Sandakan, Sabah. Our jamaat is called "paidal jamaat" or walking jamaat since we practically walked along a given route stopping for two days in every masjid/surau along the route. This is a story of our walk of faith from Masjid Al-Jihad, Bukit Garam, Kinabatangan to Masjid BDC, Sandakan, stretching along an approximately 120km route.

We left Masjid Jame' Sri Petaling for the LCCT Airport after zohor. Two weeks prior, we had been pooled together in one jamaat to make effort on dakwah & tabligh beginning with a short tasykil at Sg. Buloh & Merbau Sempah areas. My good friend Hj Ramli was made the amir of the jamaat that include me, Pak Him, Pak Teh, Dr Firdaus, Nuruddin, Faisal and Hj Roslan. Together we then embarked onto the enlightening walk of faith to Sandakan, Sabah in the Borneo Island.

We arrived in Sandakan on 28th July 2009. Upon mutual consultation with the local responsible brothers, it had been decided that we would walk along the main route from Kinabatangan towards Sandakan Town. At 10am, we travelled by two chartered cars and reached our first "route", Masjid al-Jihad, Pekan Bukit Garam, Kinabatangan, about 100km from Sandakan . Pekan Bukit Garam is the furthest populated area accesible by road, situated right at the bank of Kinabatangan River. It is also called Pengkalan Bukit Garam.

About 100 families live in the area of Bukit Garam. 95% of them are Muslims, mostly from the tribe of Sungai. The Sungai people reminded me of the poor villagers of Bagerhat, Southern Bangladesh, where I had been to in 2000. They live a very simple life. They were very polite and ever ready to listen to words of dakwah. Their youths were exceptionally receptive. They flocked the masjid in large number.

I vividly remember geography lesson ages ago at school about  the importance of Kinabatangan River to the Sabahans. It used to be the only mean of transporting out quality logs. Now, although it serves as an important source of water to the inhabitants of Sandakan, ironically the muddy river could not provide the people living along its bank with drinking water. The people have to resort to rainwater, and so did we.

The scarcity of drinking water had caused some children to come to the masjid with water containers to bring water back home as there were plenty of rainwater in the tanks there. As it is a sunnah to bathe on Fridays, we jumped into Kinabatangan River though we were advised to be watchful of crocs.

Our first walk in Sabah began late at 11am when the sun was stinging hot. As I and Pak Ibrahim were earlier assigned with cooking task, our amir sent us ahead by pick-up together with our luggages and beddings whilst they travelled on foot. Pak Him and I reached Masjid Baitul Mukmin, Kg Kasih Sayang, Kinabatangan, at 11.30am and we wasted no time in preparing food for other members of our jamaat 3.5km behind us walking. By the time they reached the masjid 45 mins later, the food was almost ready. Kg. Kasih Sayang has about 30 families, all of them are muslims. By nightfall, the chairman of the masjid, the contractor who was doing some renovation of the masjid, and a villager, all gave intention to go out in the path of Allah for 3 days. The chairman's son intended to spent 40 days in the path of Allah after SPM higher secondary school examination.

The single stove cooker and the kettle were among the basic necessities for us. Cooking was really a challenge in this remote and exotic area of Sabah. We had plenty of cash but not much food to buy. We had to be contented with whatever stuff that we could manage to find. Most of the time meals consisted of plain rice, salted fishes, and veggies. Here Almighty Allah had really taught us how useless and worthless money could be.

We walked for 25 minutes for a distant of 1.6km to the next route, Masjid at-Taqwa, Kg Usaha Jaya, Kinabatangan. There were about 50 families who lived here, 10 families were christians. We were joined by 3 youths from Kg Bukit Garam - Nur Eddie, Azrin & Muhamit. Muhamit, age 20, was assigned to me. We visited the local imam together. Earlier, Muhamit was given a task to deliver a short announcement after maghrib solah. He was in panic at first fearing that he would not be able to carry out the task. But, after delivering the announcement, he was so glad and happy that he could carry out the task. Alhamdulillah, may it be the beginning of him standing up for the sake of deen.

Our next route, Surau Wahdatul Fiqri, Kg Berjaya 1, Kinabatangan, is 3.4km away. Halfway walking, we were told by Nur Eddie and a local man who had earlier volunteered to transport our luggages ahead of us, that a person refuse to let them and the luggages in the masjid. Immediately I and Nuruddin were sent ahead to sort out the matter while the others continue walking. At the gate of the masjid, I was confronted by the person who tried to stop us from entering the masjid before obtaining permission from its chairman and religious office. Failing to reason with him, we just carried our luggages in. We then performed 2 rakaat solah seeking help from Almighty Allah. By the time the rest of our jamaat arrived, the man suddenly turned soft, joining us for drink and been telling the ehwal of the village in our mesywarah or consultation. Subhanallah! By maghrib time, the locals flocked the masjid as we got to know them better and we even had meal together prepared by the locals.

It was here that we met John, a young man from Sulu tribe, who had been working for Hj Abdullah, an elderly man of Kg Berjaya 1. When he was born, his father was in a jungle working, and a christian nurse managed to coax his mother to name him John, after the christians' John the Baptist. Hj Abdullah who is also his guardian asked us to give him a Muslim name. And so we named him Yahya after the prophet of Allah. He was very happy when everyone in the masjid embraced him for his new name. After isya', Nuruddin read a short hadith from Fadha'il Amal and delivered a moving talk about the importance of fadha'il taklim at masjid and at home. Immediately after, Hj Abdullah and the man who had first refused us entry to the masjid, asked us to get a copy each of Fadha'il Amal for them.

We then moved on to Masjid al-Hilal, Kg Berjaya 2, Bt. 6, about 1.6km away. This time, Pak Teh ismail travelled ahead with our luggages in a car driven by Imam Mazlin of Kg Bt 5. When we arrived Pak Teh was still outside the masjid, sitting alone, reading Muntakhab Ahadith at the stairs of the masjid. The door of the masjid was tight locked. We were perturbed as it was Friday. Again, I and Nuruddin were sent to meet any responsible persons of the masjid. A 15 year old young man known as Giant (as a character in Doraemon) led us to Hj Asmara's house about 100m away. An announcement was made by Hj Asmara welcoming our presence shortly before Friday khutbah.

We reached Masjid al-Ghaffar, Kg Perpaduan, after walking about 3.2km. Abd Rahman and Nur Yusry assisted us a lot, taking us visiting many local folks. A number of ustadzs from the peninsular lived in the vicinity of the masjid. Most of them rented houses here far away from schools where they teach as there is a steady supply of pipeline water in this area. The ustadzs were treated with bubur kacang after isya' while we explained our mission to them.

Nur Yusry, 17, the local young man, had made a superb effort on the local youngsters. A month before, about 20 of his schoolmates went out in the path of Allah for 3 days for the first time. They visited us in school uniforms with miswaak in their pockets. A number of his Form 5 mates intended to spend 40 days after the exam. May Allah make it easy for them.

Masjid al-Falah is 3.2km away. I and Hj Roslan arrived there early to do our khidmat. We were concerned about the little rainwater left in the masjid's water container. But, alhamdulillah, by maghrib time, the chairman of the masjid had arranged for a pick-up with a water tank to refill the containers. The chairman who is a retired school principal and also a local politician curiously asked us all sort of questions regarding the effort of dakwah & tabligh. We could not help but noticed his face brightened up each time he got the answer. By lunchtime on the second day he awkwardly eat together with us in the masjid. By asar he brought a friend joining in the discussion. By maghrib both of them gave intention to go out in the path of Allah for 3 days. By isya' 3 other local folks intended to join him.

Two ustadzs from Kelantan whom we met at our previous route, Kg Perpaduan, Bt 8, each came with their cars to drive us to Kg Ulu Dusun, 23km away. Though we were in paidal jamaat (walking jamaat), we are allowed to travel by vehicle if the distance is more than 15km. We arrived at Masjid Ulu Dusun, Bt 30, by the two cars and a pick-up driven by a Sandakan karkun. We were warmly welcomed by Imam Bustamin, 80 yrs of age, of Banjar tribe. There were about 150 families living in the vicinity, half of them christians. The were 4 churches in the four corners of the village. In the evening, we made ghast with the assistance of Mamat, a 12 yr old orphan, who guided us to muslims' houses. Mamat and his two brothers were deprived of schooling but they could read well enough from a free private tuition they had received from Imam Bustamin. From this ghast, we met a group of Banjar muslim youngsters. Glen, a Kadazan christian lad, was also amongst them. When all of his muslim friends were ready to go to the masjid, Glen agreed to join his mates. We gave him a sarong to wear in the masjid and he sat listening attentively to the sitting talk right to the end. Alhamdulilah, by then Allah gave him hidayat in accepting Islam. He chosed Ghazali as his muslim name.

From Kg lu Dusun, we walked to Kg Pertanian and stayed at the masjid there for a couple of days. Just about 800m from Kg Pertanian, behind a steep hill, is Kg Garinono. This route was the shortest in between so far. The two villages are famous for salak fruits. We had eaten 15kg of salak fruits between us in the period of our stay at both villages. Sadly, we found out the hard truth that the local folks here only came to the masjid on Fidays. During ghast, one local man even asked us when aproached, "Is it Friday today?" Ah! I should not be telling you the remorseful side of the Ummah...

Well, it is essential for every jamaat to travel well-prepared, even if we have to carry our own "ta'am set" (cooking stuff) that would help us to be absolutely independent of others for food. Dependency is only onto Allah. Alas, one must not let one's self and wealth becomes a source of burden to others, no matter how small it might be. This is the minimum requirement that every muslim has to strive to acquire. On the other hand, the noblest of characteristic that a Muslim could possess is to use his self and wealth for the benefit of other people, eventhough he himself is in the state of dire need. This noblest characteristic is prevalent in all Sahabah radiyalaahu anhum. The ta'am set is collectively acquired by everyone in our jamaat and used routinely by the khidmat pairs. As there were 8 of us, everyone took turns to have the taste of khidmat every 2 or 3 days. I had since stopped complaining about my wife's cooking after my first khidmat in a jamaat years ago...(grin).

Masjid at-Tauhid, Sakilan Desa Estate, is about 4km away from our last route. Again I was sent ahead of others with the luggages and ta'am set as it was my turn for khidmat. As we reached the road entrance to the masjid, we found out that the road entrance was ordered to be blocked by a locked steel bar by the estate's non-Muslim manager. After reasoning with the estate manager, the road entrance was eventually cleared.

On the third day of Ramadhan, August 2009, we began the 'mother of the walks' for a distance of 15km  from Masjid Pekan Gum Gum to Masjid Pangiran at the outskirt of Sandakan. I will treasure the ecstasy and blessedness that I felt walking with my fellow believers, diligently humming dzikr in the remembrance of Almighty Allah. When we felt the toil we would stop briefly and one of us would remind us of the sacrifice and hardships that Rasulullah sallalaahu alayhi wasalam and the Sahabah radiyalaahu anhum had to endure for the sake of deen.

Sandakan, the town faces Sulu Sea, not far from Amanilah (peace bestowed by Allah) in the old Muslim-dominated Sulu Sultanate era - now is known as Manila City. I could not help but noticed Sandakan's resemblance to the port of Algeciras in modern day Spain. It was the place where the great dai'e of Allah, Tariq ibn Ziyad rahmatullah alayhi landed with the other muslim faithfuls to spread the deen of Allah and brightened the European continent from utter darkness and total ignorance.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Comfort of Life

My father told me one day
I was born the morning on Monday
He cuddled me close to his body
And whispered in my ear
Allah is Great! Allah is Great!
Allah is Great! Allah is Great!
I guess I was too small to remember

When I was a toddler
The one thing that I could remember
When I cried night and day of hunger
My mother would not let me suffer
Feeding me, I recalled her smile and tender
Not long before I believed
My mother provided me with comfort of life

As I grew up, mummy and daddy's little angel
I felt more precious than a rare pearl
Daddy brought home candies and trifles
Not long before I believed
My father provided me with comfort of life

In a distant land I sat in lectures
Speaking the language of the past masters  
In the company of strange exotic people I lingered
Not long before I believed
My degree provided me with comfort of life

Stuck in a little room every day
I took orders without any say
Every month I waited for the pay
Not long before I believed
My boss provided me with comfort of life

The persistence of the callers made me curious
Invited me to sit in the company of the wise and pious
Teaching me not to depend on others
For we are all helpless
When it is only Allah who provide us all with comfort of life

Praise be to Allah who showed me the Way
None others except Him for us to pray
Indeed I had long been drifted away
O my brothers! Please do not turn away
Pause and listen to what I have to say
Allah is Great! Allah is Great!
Allah is Great! Allah is Great!

Monday, 12 July 2010

A Wonderful Initial Effect of Fadha'il Ta'lim

You could tell the dwellers of a house by looking at its main door. If there is a cross on the door, then the dwellers of the house are Christians. If you see the endless knot or the wheel symbol on the door, then the dwellers of the house are Buddhis. If you see the Aum or Om symbol on the door, then the dwellers are most definitely Hindus. And you could tell the dwellers of a house are Muslims when you see "Basmallah" or "Assalamu'alaykum" written in Arabic at the door. However, when you enter Muslims houses nowadays, there is a great chance that you could not differentiate them with the non-Muslims houses. The mood and atmosphere in Muslim houses are the same as the non-Muslims' - the mood and atmosphere of "restaurants" (eat, eat and drink); the mood and atmosphere of "hotels" (sleep and rest); and the mood and atmosphere of "cinemas" (music and home theatre). Where is the mood and atmosphere of "madrasahs and masjids" that we are suppose to propagate in our houses...? In fact, with regard to the hopes we cherish, we are like him who hopes to reap corn after having sowed barley.

The following is based on true story:

A Muslim husband decided that he has to do something to change the mood and atmosphere of his house. Love for his wife and two small daughters prompted him to make some effort in bringing the environment of deen at home. After all what is the meaning of this life if he would be separated from his family in the aakhirah? Alhamdulillah, the pious wise men advised him to start a fadha'il ta'lim at home.

He managed to get a copy of the book, "Fadha'il Amal by Sheikul Hadith Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Zakariya Kandahlawi rahmatullah alayhi" (literally means the Book of Virtuous Deeds). The pious wise men told him that the book is to be read at a fixed place at home, and at a fixed time when everyone in the house  is unoccupied or less occupied, starting with one or two hadith (approximately 5-10 minutes), thereby it should be consistently and gradually read with patient and persistent at the fixed time and place until the day of Qiyamaah. Thus he decided to start reading the book to his family at their common living room after he came back home from masjid every night after isya'.

The first time he opened the Fadha'il Amal to read, his wife did not show any interest at all, not even a slight gesture of appeal. She was watching the loud telly, and like Cleopatra who did not wish to be disturbed, she acted as if nothing happened, focusing more on what was being watched. Their little girl, aged 2, was playing with her baby sister. After a five minutes reading with a raised voice, he closed the book and said nothing to the cold reception.

Days passed by as he kept on doing the routine. Came back home from masjid, took the book from the shelf, sat down and read it to his daughters and wife. His Cleopatra wife seemed unmoved at all by the activity around her. Patient, he taught. The pious wise men told him he must constantly remind himself what he did was to please Almighty Allah, and that the hadith read was meant for himself. In this way, if nobody listened to him then he would not feel frustration, anger or sad. And even if everyone listened to him, he would not feel self-aggrandizing and pompous. The desirable result of fadha'il ta'lim would come with patient and persistent.

True enough after about two weeks, the first sign of acceptance appeared when his wife started to bring down the volume of the telly almost to mute, albeit she still wouldn't stare away from the telly. Another days passed when his small daughter started to notice what her father was doing. When she saw her father picked up the book from the shelf, she chanted in her cute little voice, "Ta'lim...ta'lim...ta'lim..." 

Right about this time his wife then switched off the telly. He couldn't help but noticed that she was pretending to play with the girls near him,  but trying hard not to acknowledge the reading of the hadith. The positive sign made him really look forward for the routine reading every night.

One fine night, as he began the reading with basmallah, his wife suddenly put on a scarf to cover her head, sat beside him with their baby girl on her lap. He was controlling his emotion by the sight of it and tried hard to conceal his solace and at the same time struggled to finish the reading, which by this time had been lengthened to 20 minutes. The next night, he gave her a ravishing smile as he said, "I've been reading this kitaab for a long time. I think it is now your turn to read."

Thus began the effort to instill the mood and atmosphere of masjid and madrasah in his home.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

A Parable of A Wahabbi

A man was drowning in the river. He frantically shouted for help, gasping for air in and out of the water. Along came a Wahabbi near the river bank. He paused and looked at the man. He then turned away from the dying man and said, "Bidaah! Rasulullah SAW had never drown."

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

A Closer Look at Wahhabism - Part 3

Needless to say, our relationship turned sour. I ceased to attend his weekly early morning lectures. We both merely exchanged faked smiles whenever we bumped onto each other in the masjid. By this time, from the many various muzakarah or discussions and advices that I had with various knowledgeable ustaadzs who are well-versed in all the four madzhahabs, it is crystal clear to me the fitnah of wahhabism that he was trying to advocate and spread.

After about a month, I realised that he was nowhere to be seen at the masjid on his usual weekly lectures. I was told that finally the other namazis had enough of his unconventional lectures. It happened one day when apparently he caused much stir and uproar among the people in the masjid when he gave the most disparaging remarks. He told the people openly in his lecture that the namaaz or prayer of those who pray fajar namaaz behind an imam who recited the qunoot du'a would be invalidated. These ridiculous statement had disheartened many people that finally caused his lectures to be cut off and cancelled. I did not know to what extent the damage of the remarks had caused. I was not there. But I remember feeling glad that the attempt to spread the fitnah of wahhabism in my masjid was finally over.

Meanwhile, my wife and two very young daughters was enjoying an attached relationship with his wife and daughters. Both my daughters were very fond of his daughter, their Quran teacher. Sometimes my wife would cook some food and a portion of it to his family. After all we are very close neighbours. Our house are only a few feet away from their house. And during all these time I kept all the encountering episodes between me and him to myself, seeing no point to involve my family in the matter that did not concern and benefit them.

However, the most unfortunate event happened during my 40 days khuruuj in the path of Allah to Sabah. My wife started to receive photocopied articles and materials in our post box, some of which were from a wahhabis' website and some others originated from Indonesia. Most of the materials written were utter rubbish and craps condemning the effort of dakwah and tabligh with the most deregatory and slanderous statements. A couple day after that, his wife called my wife over the phone asking her opinion about the articles, coaxing and alluring my wife to  accede to the rubbish and craps stated in the materials about tablighi jamaat. Little did she knew that my wife had already traveled with me several times in khuruuj in masturaat jamaat (husbands and wives jamaat) and already had tasted the sweetness of making effort on imaan and aamal. In the end, when my wife refused to subscribe to her constant pestering, his wife then relentlessly told my wife not to send our two daughters to her house for the Quran recitation lessons anymore for her family had to severe relationship with my family for we are the astrayed (sesat) people! I briefly mentioned about this unfortunate event in my earlier notes 40 Days in Sabah.

It was just simply astonishing the extent of brainwashing he and his family were willing to force onto other people.May Almighty Allah have mercy on us and them.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

A Closer Look at Wahhabism - Part 2

Towards the end of his series of weekly early morning lectures, there existed fractions between the namaazis of our masjid. His lectures were filled with allegations of bidaah, deviation and shirk to the usual practices of the people, particularly aamal that are being practiced in Malaysia. At the same time, I frequented Mazahirul Ulum, Masjid Jame' Sri Petaling bombarding the ustaadzs there with my questions and queries about his teachings that increasingly confusing to me.

The first bombshell was dropped on me during one of his lectures. In his excitement in convincing the namazis regarding a contested issue, he jolted me with his remarks when he openly said, "The whole of scholars or ulama' during the time of Al-Ghazali had unanimously agreed that Al-Ghazali had deviated (sesat)!" I instantly raised my voice asking him question in a disapproving tone, "Ustadz! Did you mean Imam Ghazali rahmatullah alayhi, the author of Ihya Ulumuddin?" "Yes!", he replied in a high tone. "In fact, the book, Ihya Ulumuddin is more rightly called **** (he mentioned the Arabic words which I could not remember) which means the trap of Shaytaan!", he said. I could not believe what I just heard. I was wrecked and traumatized. I could not think of better action to take but to instantly stood up and walk away from his majlis.

No sooner I found myself at his house for the third invitation. This time he did not spare me and wasted no time in intimidating me. At the very first words he dropped the second bombshell on me with a smile on his face. He told me that he sympathized with me and especially my family. He told me that I worked hard just to stuck myself in the path of deviation (sesat). Not only that I deviated (sesat) but I had also deviated (menyesatkan) my family. He then continuously abused and vilified tablighi jamaat, at the same time slandering and abusing Maulana Ilyas rahmatullah alayh and his family including Maulana Zakariya rahmatullah alayh. He took out a few copies of Fadha'il Aamal which had been marked with different luminous colours on the pages. We exchanged words and engaged in heated arguments until a handsome Arab visitor arrived at his house. I then left his house in pain and distress.

Alhamdulillah, the sting and agony in my heart quickly faded away. If he had the guts and courage to abuse and vilify one of the Imams of the Ummah, Imam Ghazali rahmatullah alayhi,  should I pay heed to his abuses towards me?