I saw the film 'Friday the Thirteenth' when I was in secondary school, almost 30 years ago. And on Friday, 13th July 2007 (a year ago), a S61-A4 Sikorsky Nuri helicopter crashed in Genting Sempah, Pahang, killing all six crew members aboard.
Those killed were Capt Nor Azlan Termuzi, 29, from Kuala Lumpur; co-pilot Capt Nor Intan Asykeen Mohd Arof, 27, from Butterworth; air quartermaster Flight Sergeant Khusnizam Ariffin, 34, from Kelantan; avionics technician Flight Sergeant Mohamad Azmie Md Yassin, 35, from Batu Berendam, Melaka; airframe technician Leading Aircraftsman Saifulizam Alias, 28, from Muar, Johor; and engine technician Leading Aircraftsman Muhammad Ridzuan Ahmad, 27, from Pokok Sena, Kedah.
The Genting Sempah Nuri helicopter crash was the 18th in 40 years that had claimed 90over lives of our serviceman when the country is in the eve of celebrating 50 years of independence. What's more, come 31st July we will be celebrating Warriors Day.
Our condolences to the grieving family members and pray their souls rest in peace and be placed among the blessed. Al-fatihah. From my readings from the dailies about the Nuri crash, one news item that caught my attention was an interview with Capt Nor Intan Asykeen's mother, Masnah Nopiah, 51, who said her daughter talked a lot about her difficult job and mentioned about death several times.
Seldom young men and women have thoughts about death. Even some in the old age category; the popular saying among the Malays, 'dunia kata pergi, kubur kata mari' (the worldly life begins to reject, the grave beckons) too do not like to discuss topics about death. In short, they shy away from anything that is associated with death.
In discussing about preparation for life in the Hereafter, I recently stumbled upon a photocopy of a book by an author who wished to be known only as K, which was written on his deathbed after he was diagnosed with choroidal melanoma (a cancer of the choroids behind the retina) and then multiple liver metastasis.
Copies of the book entitled 'Facing Death, A Testimony of a Muslim Stricken with Metastatic Cancer' were only distributed after the author's death on the 27th November 2005 at the age of 39.
His elder brother in fulfilling K's wish, wrote that K left behind a clear request to distribute his book only after his death.
The writer in his introduction among others mentioned that he wrote the article to share certain knowledge that he had gained throughout his ordeal in dealing with cancer since 2002. He was determined to finish writing his article when the doctors told him that if his illness was not treated, he might only have six months or so to live.
K, in mentioning his main reason to remain anonymous, said he wanted readers to concentrate more on the contents of his article rather than to concentrate on the character of the author.
"This is because this article contains things that I've learned from personal experience throughout my ordeal in facing death, which I now feel is an obligation to share with my Muslim brothers and sisters.
"At the same time, however, I know I am far from being a perfect Muslim, and I am still unsure of the state I will be in when my Creator finally calls me up.
I am still worried whether I would pass the test, i.e. the pain, the agony, especially during 'sakratul maut' (death throes). Therefore, I do not want the state of my death to affect the credibility of the knowledge that I want to share with you in this article," wrote K.
It was heartening when K mentioned that readers may distribute his article freely to others, and the writer (LanH) took this opportunity to convey K's 'wasiat' (bequeath) to Harakah's readers.
For K's good deeds, let's pray to Allah SWT that he is placed among His pious servants and selected ones in 'jannah' (heaven), Amin.
K said his illness gave him the opportunity to do some kind of preparation in facing death. In fact he acknowledged that he should have done it earlier because as Muslims we should start the preparations even when we are healthy, because we actually do not know when we are going to die.
Before setting up his preparations, K said he had adopted the 'reda' and 'tawakal' attitude (resigned to and trust in God), in a situation in which there could be only two possibilities, i.e. either Allah SWT (a) heals him or (b) takes away his life.
K divided his preparations into two parts – the worldly ones and the spiritual part in which he prepared himself in his way to meet the Creator, Allah SWT. Examples of the worldly ones are like preparing a 'wasiah' (bequest) and settling of debts.
Under the sub topic 'The Spiritual Preparation', among others K wrote: "I realize all the good things that we think we have done in our lives in this world may not be helpful to save us from Allah SWT's punishment. The fact is nobody can ever enter the Paradise due to his good deeds alone (there are stories about this).
"This is even more so after I realized that there have been so many shortcomings in my 'ibadah' (solat, prayer etc). being 'khusyuk' (attentive) while performing my 'solat' was probably non-existent, and my intention to be 'ikhlas' (sincere) in all my 'ibadah' (worship) and actions could be questioned. If that is the quality of my life and 'ibadah', I don't think I can really be saved from His punishment (na'udzubillah- God Forbid).
"But I do know from the stories and knowledge I have gathered that one could be saved only with Allah SWT's mercy and forgiveness. And if Allah SWT is pleased with us, the chances of getting His mercy and forgiveness are even better, 'insya-Allah'.
"I then realized that my only chance perhaps to be saved from Allah's wrath is to obey everything that He has commanded us to do, and to please Him with whatever opportunity I have. The first part can be achieved by first studying seriously the teachings of the Quran, while the second part is to use whatever remaining time of our life to please Him."
Regarding the Quran, K pointed up many important things derived from the sacred book for example the 'akidah', and 'ibadah'. The writer discussed at length about 'akidah' and at one point wrote; "Many of us think that simply bearing witness 'La illhaillaAllah' and Muhammadur Rasulullah' (the syahadah), plus performing the four fundamentals of Islam (solat, fasting, zakat and hajj) is sufficient for us to be called good practicing Muslims, and will have a great chance to be saved from Allah SWT punishments and earn his paradise."
K noted that the 'syahadah' is a promise we make to Allah SWT on how to lead our daily lives. After making this promise (i.e. to submit ourselves and to obey all His Commands), we have no choice but to prove our commitment. Muslims should have no reservations in implementing all of Allah SWT commands including HUDUD Law and preventing 'mungkar' (sins). Having reservation on any of Allah SWT's commands is a clear violation of our oath, the 'syahadah', that we will submit and obey all of Allah SWT 's commands.
"Some scholars even say having such an attitude will nullify our 'syahadah' and is sufficient to make a person 'kafir'. And Allah SWT has given us warning on this matter in one Quranic verse, where Allah SWT warns us not to become like the Children of Israel who disobey some of Allah SWT's commandments in the Taurah, as stated in Al-Baqarah: 85 "…Then is it only a part of the Book that ye believe in, and do ye reject the rest? But what is the reward for those among you who behave like this but disgrace in this life? And on the Day of Judgment they shall be consigned to the most grievous penalty. For Allah is not unmindful of what ye do."
Regarding the 'mungkar' (disobedience) around him K wrote: "…When we see something that is obviously against the commands of Allah SWT and we know we can't do much about it, at least we can do is to have the feeling of displeasure about it, support those people who voice out against it, and pray to Allah SWT to continuously give guidance to the Muslims.
"Brothers and sisters, I am not saying the above because I am a member of any political party or organization, but I say the above because I question myself, how am I going to face Allah SWT soon if I still have reservation on any of His commands or simply ignoring the state of 'mungkar' around me."