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."

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Travelogue Germany - Part 10

Before the work of dakwah has its roots in Switzerland, Muslims in Switzerland were seen as people of low morale and committed all kind of vices.The Schweiss people are the wealthiest among the Europeans. Practically whatever their worldly needs are fulfilled. But they are in dire need of contentment, serenity, complacency and peace of mind that could only be accorded by the deen of haq - Islam. It is said that two people committed assisted suicide weekly in Switzerland. It is the duty of each and every single Muslim to show the world, and these people in particular, Islam's way of life.  And, alhamdulillah, with the work of dakwah and tabligh, the way of life of Rasulullah SAW has started to come in the life of Muslims here. 

I'm proud to tell you that among the brothers that I met in Zurich who tirelessly made the effort of dakwah and tabligh were Subhinor and Abudzar, both are Malaysians. Subhi and Abudzar stuck closely to us all the time (about 5 days) we were there. From Madni Masjid we were taken to other masjids in the vicinity such as Xhamia Neseebach (Albanian Masjid) and to many other places to meet many Muslim living in Zurich including all the Malaysian staff stationed at Sauber-Petronas. Ziarad Khan, Muhammad Amin, Subhi and Abudzar were with us as our guides and mutarjim (translators). 

I believe Abudzar is still living in Zurich. I hope he still is. There's a great deal of deeni contributions that could be derived from him over there. Once he opened up a Tai Chi class that had attracted many people in Zurich. I was not surprised of the attraction since he is a very nice person. He never failed to put up a smile on his face. Even when he was upset the smile never faded away. However he abruptly stopped teaching Tai Chi when he dreamed of Rasulullah SAW telling him that Tai Chi is not from him (i.e. not from Nabi SAW). And mind you that Abudzar related his dream to us back in 2004, four years before the brouhaha raised by the ignorant people here in Malaysia after the National Ulama Council made a fatwa of haram on yoga (something quite similar to Tai Chi) to be practised by Muslims. Anyway, Abudzar rode his superbike for 248km escorting us like a sole outrider from Zurich to Ulm, Germany.

Travelogue Germany - Part 9

We were all having lunch at Madni Masjid, Zurich, when we heard a salutation from a heavily bearded handsome european man dressed in all white kamis and shalwar and white amamah who suddenly appeared at the entrance of the masjid. All eyes were beamed on him as we instantly answered his salutation. He just grinned and said in a perfect kelantanese dialect, "Ooo makey nasik ko?" A few seconds of silence then turned into eruption of astonishment and joy. 

Muhammad Amin is an Italian Muslim living in Zurich. His presence at Madni Masjid were cherished by us all. He blended instantly with the three most senior among us as he speaks fluently the same language - Kelantan language. In fact he could not speak Malay language other than Kelantanese dialect. 

Amin told us a fascinating story on how he first came into the fold of Islam. He had come backpacking to Malaysia from Italy in search of religion. Intrigued by hinduism, he had heard about a large hindu ritual gathering in Penang during thaipusam. However, what he uncovered at the ritual in Penang had turned him away from hinduism. The sight of people afflicting physical pain and punishment on their own bodies did not appeal to him at all as an ideal religion for him to embrace. He felt even more displaced and perturbed. 

It was at night in the month of Ramadhan when Muhammad Amin was having a snack at a burger stall in Penang. He saw a scene that he had never encountered before. Crowds of people - men, women and children - all heading towards the same direction. He asked the burger stall lad about it and was told that they were going to masjid for prayer. When he eventually asked the lad about Islam, the young man scratched his head and told him to go to Kelantan to know more about Islam!

Amin did take a bus to Kota Bahru and, alhamdulillah, praise be to Almighty Allah that led him straight to dakwah markaz at Dusun Raja, Kota Bahru, Kelantan. With the light of hidayah, he not only embaced Islam but the work of dakwah and tabligh as well as did the early generations among this Ummah. He stayed in Kelantan for four years before returning home. Truly, when men really search and make effort on hidayah, Almighty Allah will surely grant them hidayah.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Travelogue Germany - Part 8

Albstadt is a small city in Baden-Wurttemberg, located on the Swabian Alb mountains near the border of Switzerland. I and the amir of our jamaat reached the city by train whereas the others travelled by road. The majority of muslims here were hanafi-Turks. There were a handful of Pakistanis but they were all non-Muslim Qadiyanis. All the Malaysian students studying in Albstadt-Sigmaringen University here were very close with the Turks community here. Many muslims lived in the vicinity of Bilal Habesyhi Masjid. The weather was too cold for early August.

After three days in Albstadt, we were taken to Zurich by a Malaysian brother who was working at Petronas-Sauber in Switzerland, straight to Madni Masjid. Upon hearing the news that a jamaat from Malaysia would be travelling to Germany the Malaysian brother had contacted brothers in Germany requesting the jamaat to be diverted to Switzerland for a few days. Madni Masjid, Weinbergstrasse 147, Zurich was established under the banner of Swiss Muslim Society in 1996 to provide religious facilities to the Muslims living in Zurich city.

The effort of dakwah and tabligh had started in Switzerland in early 1970s. The first jamaat from Pakistan came  to Switzerland facing all kind of hardship. Back then, there was hardly any masjid in Switzerland and the jamaat had to sleep outside in snowing season. Alhamdulillah, through their affort and mujahadah, Almighty Allah had caused the effort of dakwah been rooted in Switzerland. Now there are about 120 masjids all over Schweiss. In Zurich city alone there were 15 masjids, 6 of which were very active in dakwah and tabligh effort, including Madni Masjid.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Travelogue Germany - Part 7

On August 1, 2004 we arrived at Fateh Masjid, Reuitlingen. The masjid was not in the planned route but we had to spend a night here for some reasons. We were told that not long ago the masjid had been used by some Turkish muslims to harbour Khilafaat Movement. We had no idea what the movement was all about. But apparently the German authorities had arrested some people from the masjid before to quash the movement. Even one Malaysian student who stayed nearby got called by the police to record his statement. Of course he frequented the masjid daily for namaaz for it was nearest to his house. And like us, he did not have any clue as to what the Khilafaat Movement was all about. Perhaps because of the unfortunate event, the handful namazis that went there and muslims nearby were unresponsive towards us. We really felt the pain and anguish the whole day and night.

The very next day we were driven to Sehid Jamil Masjid where we experience the opposite. Truly the greatness of Allah could be tasted. Only yesterday, at Fateh Masjid Almighty Allah gave us the environment of icy, frigid, impersonal, inhospitable and joyless but suddenly in Sehid Jamil Masjid Almighty Allah changed the environment to compassionate, kindhearted, loving, pleasant and cheerful. The ambience of the Ansaaris was felt in the distinctive quality and character of the namazis who had given nusrah to us - Muhammad Borhan (Habsyah), Nasir Ahmed (Pakistan), Muhammad-Abdul Kadir Goker-Salleh and Yusoff (Turkish). The brotherhood of Islam was prevalent here irrespective of language barriers. We discovered that our tough and rough Turk brothers were gentle and affectionate after all, and even more. The three days that we spent at Sehid Jamil Masjid made us realised that there is no end or limit to ikram muslimeen.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Travelogue Germany - Part 6

The masjid, Bangladesh Islamisches Zentrum is situated at the most awkward place in the middle of a red light district. There were Muslim-Arab bars close-by selling wine and liquor. At night, the area transformed into vice centre with drug trafficking and prostitution dominated by middle eastern people.

We took turns among us to meet muslims at the bars in the vicinity of the masjid and we also made ghast patrolling the streets, meeting muslims from house to house with the help of a local guide. Once a woman followed us for some distance handing a  flower to us, trying to tell us something that none of us could understand. Back home only children sometimes follow us when we made ghast.

After a couple of days at the Bangladesh Masjid, a squad of police in three or four vehicles called upon us when were listening to hadith of Rasulullah SAW in the morning. Imam Suhayl attended to the police queries while we carried on with the ta'leem. Our passports were thoroughly checked with a portable device carried by the police. After a while, a male and a female police officers came in the masjid to talk to us. We had a pleasant surprise when the officers, speaking in English, apologised to us for the inconvenience. The female officer told us that she had been to Malaysia and she was treated very well by the locals during her stay. She explained that they had to respond to a complaint lodged against us, and I believe it came from someone in the area who felt offended by our presence.We were very calm and I must say it was rather exciting and thrill for me to have the police as our visitors. 

Imam Suhayl was a very nice person and a wonderful host. He had spent time for four months in the path of Allah and frequently travelled in dakwah missions throughout Europe. He had a room in the masjid and he taught mostly Bangladeshi children the Holy Quran and shariat. I still remember when we fried anchovies in the masjid's kitchen for our food and it gave unpleasant smell in the masjid. As it was near Friday prayer, poor Imam Suhayl frantically tried to get rid of the unpleasant smell by spraying deodorant. Lesson learnt by us - never fry salted fish or anchovies in any kitchen in the masjid.

Travelogue Germany - Part 5

A gathering had been held in Bangladesh Islamisches Zentrum, Pfarr Str. 7, Stuttgart. Many brothers from the vicinity and adjoining states came to the masjid for this jorr (gathering). Two jamaats of 40 days had been form to go out in the path of Allah. Among them, four Malaysian students - Iznan, Nazali Sham, Azizul and Fairuz.

At this point, I have to mention about the invaluable and treasured aid and assistance that had been given by Malaysian students to the cause of dakwah and tabligh throughout our journey of faith in Germany. These students had taken turns to accompany us during our journey as our guide and interpreter. For a long time I held a rigid one track view that all children and kids would only get proper education in Islamic school or madrasah. The only thing that stop me from being adamant and inflexible about it to my own children is the holding back and lack of support from my wife (and this is due to my failure to enlighten her about the importance of it). I still fancy all my children to become haafiz or haafizah, and aalim or aalimah. May Almighty Allah accept my prayers for them. Nevertheless, my obstinate view is bendable after witnessing the effort and sacrifice given by the Malaysian students who had wisely made full use of their study break and more for the cause of dakwah and tabligh and turned out to be devout and pious young men themselves. There is hope after all for our children and younger generations.

Maulana Yusoff rahmatullah alayhi used to say that the purpose of dakwah and tabligh mission is not to produce huffaz but to produce deendar.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Travelogue Germany - Part 4

It's quite a big task for us to know who the imam was among the namazis in turkish masjids. Everyone looks the same and they dressed the same as the europeans - casual clothes, pants and jackets. The imam could only be identified when he entered a room at the mehrab and came out wearing black robe and red and white turkish head gear. Back then, I used to giggle with amusement when sometimes the imam entered the room through a door and came out through another door with changed clothes altogether. I thought he was a bit like Clark Kent changing to Superman. But now I begin to appreciate the whole idea and rationale for the turkish imams to change to the proper attire. Here in Malaysia, I just could no bear the sight of any man wearing office clothes or tucked-in t-shirt and tight pants standing in front of the rows dare to be the imam for other namazis who are more appropriately dressed than he is. I believe it is a total ignorance of the sunnah and utter disrespect of fellow namazis for someone, though he is an appointed imam, to ignore the importance of proper muslim dress code when leading others for namaz. This type of ignorance is prevalent in Malaysia.

We arrived at An-Nur Masjid, Neisser Str. 10, Waldstadt, Karlsruhe on 25 July 2004 in two cars driven by Abdul Rashid and Ashraf Qureshi. An-Nur Masjid also served as an Islamic Centre for the muslim arab community in Karlsruhe. There were daily, weekly and monthly programmes for men, ladies and children. About 10-12 arab youths joined together making effort on dakwah and tabligh here - Abdelaziz Idrissi, Bali Abdelbaki, Tijani, Abdurrahman, Abdurrazak, to name but a few. Not long ago they all had attended an ijtima' of dakwah in France. They were muslim youths fulled of jazbah and energy. 

Were were exhaustively brought to meet many muslims around Karlsruhe. We were brought to every muslim shops meeting the owners and waiting for other muslims there at the shops to meet. They also brought us to political asylum centre where we managed to gather muslims from Bosnia, Croatia, Trinidad & Tobago, Kurdish, Iraq, Palestine, Afganistan etc. They were refugees running away from turmoil in their respective countries, seeking better life in Germany. Since arrival, some of them had never known the direction of the qiblah, let alone performing namaz. We had gathered them at one place and one of us delivered a bayan. It was translated into many languages. This happened for two consecutive days. A lot of them cried during and after bayan and du'a.  We were also moved by the sight. May Almighty Allah strengthen our iman and purify our amal.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Travelogue Germany - Part 3

Selimiye Camii Masjid, Neuissenberg, Frankfurt am Main, was the first turkish masjid  that we had been to. In fact we were the first foreign jamaat that came  to the masjid. Initially we faced difficulty in mixing with a handful of turkish namazis that came to the masjid. Abdul Rashid, a moroccan arab brother, had done substantial effort in blending with the turkish community there. He was based at a nearby arab masjid but he was very close with the turkish imam, Imam Yusuf. If you are close with the imam or the baskan (chairman) of any turkish masjid, then consider you are accepted by the other namazis of the masjid. A few other local arabs joined Abdul Rashid in making the effort of dakwah from this masjid, doing intikali jaulah. Abdul Rashid's faithful ghast partner was his 10 years old son, Abdul Karim. 
Ashraf Qureshi, a pakistani, also came from a nearby masjid to make nusrah to our jamaat. He drove us to suburban Langen some distance away, to meet a Malay man in his 50's from Perak. Ashraf Qureshi  had met this man only once before. But in the spirit of muslim brotherhood and  concern for another muslim, Ashraf managed to know where the man lived. The malay man lived with his Polish wife and two teenage daughters. The first time I saw him, he sounded as he spoke deutsch with thick accent (though I would not know the difference either). He was amazed and stunned with our unexpected visit but happily and warmly received us as his guests though I could not say the same about his wife. She looked unsettled and petrified with our presence. He later told us that his wife was terrified that we could be terrorists and tried to stop him from joining us at the masjid. 
He was a jovial person. Having spent an evening with him at the masjid, from asar to after isyak, we could feel his tender love and concern for his daughters. He told us that the only thing he ever explained to his daughters about Islam was once when they were about to go somewhere in a family car, he started the engine and uttered "Bismillah". One of his daughters asked him what was he  saying. He answered that it was a prayer of Islam, that whosoever said it before a journey would be saved. And that was all they knew about Islam.
We parted with the malay man later at night urging him to frequently come to the masjid and to always keep close in the company of fellow muslim brothers. May Almighty Allah guide him and us to the end.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Travelogue Germany - Part 2

Generally in Europe, and Germany in particular, almost all masjids are ethnic-based. Everywhere we went to its either pakistani or arab masjid, indonesian or albani masjid. At first, I did not quite fancy the idea of masjids being known according to ethnicity but having spent most of my time in all those masjids for four straight months, I did not see any sign of division among the muslims in them. Muslims of all races and ethnicity bowed down and prostrated to Almighty Allah peacefully following one imam. In fact I began to appreciate the practice more when I compare them with the masjids in Malaysia. Though most masjids in Malaysia are shafie malay-dominant, we also cherish the existence of hanafi indian and pakistani dominant masjids. I only have a complaint against one particular indonesian masjid in Hamburg because it only was unlocked and opened once a week on fridays.

Apart from my unique and enlightening experience spending time associating and fraternizing with my fellow muslim brothers in turkish masjids, I had observed that there were basically three 'types' of turkish masjids. A masjid that has support of turkish government is called Diyanet. A masjid that has political motive swaying against the turkish government is called Milli Gorus. You could easily tell the difference between the two by looking at its carpet. Diyanet has red carpet and milli gorus has green carpet. Another type of masjid is Sulaymani where sufism dzikr was prevalent. 

There were certain set of rules and practices that we learnt to adapt in each and every turkish masjid:
1. Wearing of khuff or socks were strictly observed all the time in the masjid. 
2. Cleanliness was the utmost priority. One was expected to wipe dry and never left wet toilet seat, wudhu' area and kitchen area. 
3. Farting was near absolutely forbidden in turkish masjid. We were told that there was an instance where a Malaysian student got thrown out from masjid by the collar when the poor lad farted and giggled. Seriously, never fart in turkish masjid.
4. Certain words like arabic word "ibnu" or urdu words "sikna sikana" (learn and teach) were self-prohibited or self-censored during bayan as the two words denote dirty words in turkish.
5. Du'a was always close with the word "al-fatihah".

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Travelogue Germany - Part 1

Im Namen Allahs, des Allarbermers, des Barmherzigen.

Unserer erfolg ligt in deen, bifolgen die befehle vont Allah Ta'ala, method vont Rasulullah sallalaahu alayhi wasallam.

Ahamdulillah, all praise be to Allah, we safely landed at Frankfurt Airport on 21 July 2004. We were in a jamaat of six brothers between the age of 37 to 66, all of whom had never been to any European countries before except me and Haji Kamaruddin, the amir of our jamaat. Haji Kamaruddin had travelled on dakwah mission before to Albania in early 1990s via England. I had studied in England from 1989 to 1992 and travelled to most of European countries during study breaks in that period. But it was my first journey on dakwah and tabligh mission to this part of the world. All of us were granted 3 months visa on arrival without any difficulty. The sight of men in white robe and amamah attracted some attention of other passengers who were lining up at the immigration, customs and security check-points at the airport. But there was an atmosphere of calm and friendliness when we were passing the security checkpoint. One of the security officer even cracked a joke with three of the elderly men in our jamaat , each one of them with walking stick, asking them cheerfully if they have any weapons to declare.

At the exit point we were greeted warmly by three Malaysian students - Iznan, Azizul and Yunus and a local Pakistani ethnic brother, who had been waiting for our arrival since before dawn. We were then driven to Pak Muhammadi Masjid at 212 Land Str, Frankfurt am Main in two vehicles.

Pak Muhammadi Masjid was a newly built masjid that was used as a transit masjid for jamaats coming to Germany. Germany has no specific centre yet for the work of dakwah and tabligh. We were told that brothers from the four corners of Germany - east, west, north and south - were all eager for the centre to be based in their own areas, making it difficult to decide where the centre should be. Nevertheless, they met once every three months at a designated masjid on rotation basis to discuss and decide upon matters relating to dakwah and tabligh.  Our routes in Germany had been decided by Sheikh Abdul Rahman Iraqi upon consultation with our jamaat and some other responsible brothers in Germany.

We were to travel along these routes: Frankfurt-Karlsruhe-Stuttgart-Reutlingen-Sigmaningen (Albstadt)-Zurich in Switzerland-back to Ulm in Germany-Augsburg-Munchen (Munich)-Regensburg-Nurnberg/Erlungen-Fulda-Erfurt-Bochum (from Bochum we would have to make consultation on the next routes according to needs).

Germany has about 5-7 million Muslim population or it could be more. About 3 million are the from Turkish ethnic. Hazratji rahmatullah alayhi used to say that when the effort on dakwah is prevalent in Germany, it will also move the effort of dakwah all over Eastern Europe such as Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Czech, Romania etc. The first time that we make ghast, we met a Turk Muslim. After a brief introduction, one of us started to remind us all about Islam and iman that Allah had blessed us with. The short reminder had affected  our Turkish brother who complained that he also wished to become like us. He told us that he prayed to Allah for a strong iman and for Allah to give him strength to stop drinking wine. May Allah bless him and all of us Muslims with hidayat. Maulana Ilyas R.alayhi used to say, "The example of Deen and Iman is liken to a rose plant (deen) whose stems, leaves and flowers have all died and has lost its value. However, when effort was made on its roots (iman) it again blossomed and was admired by all."

Besides meeting a handful of muslims lived nearby Pak Muhammadi Masjid, we were taken to Ulu Cammi Turkish Masjid and Arab Masjid in Dietzenbach to meet more muslims there during prayer times. They gathered around us in large number listening to our targheeb and tasykil.