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."

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Imam Al: The Dawning of Dakwah Work

Al, in short, is for Haji Ahmad Alhadi. He is two years my senior in age but years more experience than me in the effort of dakwah and tabligh. He hailed from an elite family and went to study in the prestigious Malay College Kuala Kangsar. He was also on scholarship studying accountancy in London, England. It was in England during his student days in the 80's that the effort of dakwah and tabligh had been introduced to him.

He moved in the neighbourhood a year before me. It was then a newly developed housing estates. He was one of the group of people who worked hard in building the small masjid (surau) in our neighbourhood. In fact, he was one of the regular Imams leading the people for the daily solah in our masjid. I was nowhere to be seen then. Perhaps as he was leading the solah, I was in front of the telly going to waste, watching all sort of rubbish at the time when my Rabb, the Creator, commands me to worship Him. Perhaps as the others said "Aamin" to his du'a, I was just lying idle picking my nose, decaying my healthy body and mind in the precious time that my Rabb had granted me.

It still astonished me how I had missed out 'screening' one of the Imams in our masjid for almost two months while I daily frequenting the masjid for solah. What I remember is that whenever Imam Al stood in front leading the solah, it would be performed in brisk, basic, simple and straightforward. It was not arduous and demanding, especially to people like me who was just getting started to stand, bow down and prostrate in sajdah worshiping Allah in congregation along with other worshipers. For people like me, solah is not just about takbiratul ihram to salam, but it goes beyond that. Often an Imam would make wird or du'a after solah with loud voice and even louder with the surrounding loud speakers inside and outside a masjid. To this day I could not understand the rationale behind it when even whenever one is reciting surah Al-Fatihah in the solah, one should recite it in a whispering tone so as not to distract anyone nearest him on the left or right in a saff (line). Some Imam are so loud as if he is leading thousands of people in congregation. Does not the Imam fear that his loud voice would distract people who are in the midst of performing his nafl solah or late-comers who are still in solah making up for the missed rakaat?

Anyway, one day at the iqamat of Isya' solah, Imam Al caught my attention as he was straightening the saff. Only then I've been shown a face of a man with a little goaty beard, trimmed mustache and wearing a sarung above his ankles. After the solah was over and everyone was leaving the masjid, I stood outside the masjid waiting for him to come out. I approached him and fired away the question, "Are you a karkun?" I noticed that he was quite shocked and stunned as he looked at me up and down, perhaps he himself was trying to find any apparent sign of a karkun in me. He then replied reluctantly, "Errr...yes, I had been going out with jamaat."

That was really all that I needed to hear. There was a mixed feeling of excitement, joy, relief and concern within me. I immediately started to bombard him with queries and questions. "When are we going to do our taklim?" "When are we going to do our ghusht?" "Are there anymore karkuns nearby?" "When are we going out for 3 days in tabligh?" I was not aware of the amount or the extent of the pressure which I must have placed on Imam Al in those early days. Perhaps only Imam Al himself could justify how annoying it must have been for him to put up with my constant pestering and harassment. But, alhamdulillah, soon the two of us were sitting at a rear corner of the masjid reading ahadith from the kitaab Fadha'il Amal by Hazrat Sheikhul Hadith Maulana Zakariya Kandhlawi rahmatullah alayhi. That was the dawning of dakwah and tabligh work in our community. And in the same year, in 1997, the first jamaat came to our masjid for 3 days from the Masjid Jame' Seri Petaling, the centre of dakwah and tabligh in Malaysia.

Alhamdulillah, to this date Imam Al remains as a friend, a partner, a colleague, a senior as well as a teacher for me in the effort of dakwah and tabligh whom I had gained tremendous benefits from and I hope to continue to gain benefits from.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Stranger in Masjid

The very first time that I entered the small masjid (what Malay Muslims call 'surau') in my locality, eyes seemed to coldly stare at my every movement. Perhaps it was just my feelings of guilt. I had never bothered to know about the masjid before though I passed by it daily going to and back from work. It was a single story wooden structure collectively built by my concerned surrounding neighbours from the pieces of building materials salvaged and donated by the developer of the housing estate from the site office near the main street that had been brought down.

There I was, a stranger in the masjid and unknown to the few surau people although I had been living in the area for 3 years by then. I did not know any of them. I felt like a fresh first year kid on the first day of school. A mixed feeling of anxiousness, edgy, a little hesitant and uptight. However, I remember a brother in the jamaat said that a righteous Muslim feels calm in the masjid like the calmness of a fish in the water, whereas a hypocrite Munafiq feels disturbed in the masjid like a distress bird in a cage. And so it was the beginning of a starting point where I frequent the masjid every day for solah.

I had just returned from my first three days in dakwah and tabligh short journey then, and my beard was hardly three days old. What I had been told when I return home was to start the effort of dakwah and tabligh both in my own locality and to get it started in my own house. The local work must start from the local masjid. As the effort of dakwah had initially centred at the house of Arqam bin Abi Arqam radiyalaahu anhu, but when Allah Ta'ala commanded Rasulullah sallalaahu alayhi wassalam and the Sahabah radiyalaahu anhum to make dakwah publicly, the effort of dakwah shifted to Masjid al-Haram though the opposition from the Makkah Mushrikeens that controlled the Haram Shariff intensified manifolds.

Maulana Inamul Hassan rahmatullah alayhi used to say that the most effective means for protection against the present day evils is to do this work of dakwah in a simple way with adherence to principles and single mindedness. He said, "This is the age of fitan. They are emerging from all sides. If we keep ourselves firm on this work with simplicity, the work and we too will remain safe from fitan. Avoiding the fitan, if we continue doing these deeds with single mindedness we shall be safe from fitan otherwise even if we just have a peep into a fitan, it will pull us towards itself. Therefore, my brothers and friends! Keep engage in these deeds with simplicity and single mindedness and do the work with avoidance of the fitans, otherwise they will grab our attention. May Allah save us from fitan. Amin."

For me, there was one big problem - I did not even know how to start the work of dakwah and tabligh, let alone be familiar with its principles. For one or two weeks, I looked for any sign or clue if the work did exist in my local masjid, but there was none. I needed to start the work for my own benefits. I have to be in the environment of dakwah for my own constant reminder. It then occured to me that I need to find someone who had been going out with tablighi jamaah. I need to find someone with the same mindset and the same heartfelt. I need to find a 'karkun'.

My quest to find a fellow karkun began soon after. I started to 'screen' every men that I met in my locality. There were certain standard or benchmark in the appearance for a karkun that I somehow formulated myself. Firstly, the man must have beard - full bearded or goaty, it did not matter to me as long as his mustache is clipped short. It was a very simple and helpful criteria as I managed to narrow down and restrict my search considerably. Back then it was not easy to find bearded Muslim men, especially the Malays. Secondly, the man must be wearing his pants above his ankles. This criteria too did limit my search considerably. I've seen most men wearing their lower garments lower than their ankles - and ironically, women shortening their lower garments. The general criterias were helpful but they were not necessarily accurate. I once saw a man who almost fit the standard and benchmark and boldly stopped and asked him, "Are you a karkun?" He looked puzzle and replied, "No, I'm Thamby Sudeen."

As I mentioned, the above benchmarks were used then in order for me to look for a karkun that could assist and guide me in the effort of dakwah and tabligh. The two measures used to be sufficient then. Now I have to add a third benchmark i.e. speech. For only when you talk to someone that you are able to determine whether he shares the same one mindset, one heartfelt and one work act in relation to the effort of dakwah and tabligh. This criteria is especially important when there are more Wahhabis or Salafis lurking around. But alhamdulillah, now most of the time I would be able to recognize a karkun even from a distant the moment our eyes met. Alhamdulillah, it is by the Grace of Allah Ta'ala that instill the feeling of love and affection to whomsoever He wants.

Anyway, my quest in search of karkun in my own locality finally was over when I met Al.