Friday, September 17, 2010

My favourite books from the Holy Land

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

"O ye who believe! If ye keep your duty to Allah, He will give you discrimination (between right and wrong) and will rid you of your evil thoughts and deeds, and will forgive you. Allah is of infinite bonty." (Qur'an, Surah 8:29)

Labbayk, Allahumma, Labbayk, Labbayk, La Shareeka laka, Labbayk. Innal-hamda wan n’imata laka wal-mulk, La Shareekalaka. (Here I am at Your service, O Lord, here I am, no partner do You have, here I am, truly, the praise and favor is Yours and the dominion. No partner do You have).

After Eid Fitr, its hajj season again. Some 30,000 Malaysians are expected to perform hajj this year, with the first group expected to leave in early October.

Besides KLIA, departures on board Malaysia Airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines for hajj pilgrims will also take place from Johor Bahru, Penang, Kuala Terengganu Kucing and Kota Kinablu The flight would take about eight hours.

This year hajj brought back my nostalgic time in the Holy Land when I performed hajj in 2002 and 2005/6 seasons. In Makkah and Madinah, sometimes I took break from precious moments doing ‘ibadah’ such as praying in the Prophet’s Mosque and al-Haram Mosque to be inside the cities bookstores and shops. While others might be crazy running for surveniors, I chose to spend hours in those shops.

Almost all the books were in Arabic, but fortunately in large bookstores, they had collections of books in English. In each hajj season, I bought about 20 books; they ‘contributed’ much in making my luggage exceeding the weight limit.

One book I liked best was ‘Don’t Be Sad’ by Dr Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni’. It was a translated version from an Arabic book by Faisal ibn Muhammad Shafeeq. For me this book could lift one’s spirit to face the challengers of life and peaceful road to the Hereafter.

During my stay for the 2005/6 season, I mananged to finish reading about 10 English books regarding Islam and after reading them, I realized how little I knew about the religion I was born in. If English books could steer one’s life, what could be said about Arabic books, in abundance here in the Holy Land.

Another book that had great impact on me was ‘Way to the Qur’an by Khurram Murad. This book published by The Islamic Foundation in London, told us about our duty to read and understand the Qur’an, and live by it. This contrasted with some of us, especially among the Malays who learn and read the Qur’an when they were children but after they had ‘khatam’ (completed) in reading it, they left aside the holy book only to look it back when they had became pensioners or at old age.

In the book’s Preface, among others, Khurram summarized: “First, our lives will remain meaningless and ruined ruined unless they are guided by the Qur’an, the word of God. Second, the Qur’an, being the eternal guidance given by the Ever-living God, is as relevant for us, today, as it was fourteen centuries ago, and will remain so forever.

“Third, therefore, we almost have a right, in some sense and measure, to receive its blessings today as its first believers did; provided, of course, that we come to it and move in it as is necessary in order to share its rich harvest. Fourth, every Muslim has a duty to devote himself to reading it, understanding it and memorizing it.

“Fifth, one must abandon oneself totally, in thoughts and deeds, to whatever the Qur’an has to offer him. Any pride, arrogance, sense of self-sufficency, reservation, or ingenuity that can read in it what it does not mean, is fatal to its understanding and would shut the door to its blessing.

“Sixth, the path of the Qur’an is the path of self-surrender, of practicing what it tells you, even if one learns only one Ayah. One Ayah learnt and acted upon is better than a thousand which are explained beautifully but which do not impart any beauty to the reader’s life. Obedience, after all, is the real key to understanding, too.”

Reading this section of the preface for the first time in the holy city of Makkah; I was in tears. Khurram words – “our lives will remain meaningless and ruined unless they are are guided by the Quran” – kept on ringing in my ears. Well, I told myself; all along I been living a ruined and meaningless life as I (and readers too) were not living in accordance to the words of The Almighty.

We were living a secular life; our country, our societies and our families were not governed by His laws. We were placing man’s made laws (whats more they were enemies of Allah SWT) in number one position; thus pushing Allah SWT’s laws aside. Who were we to do this sort of nonsense? Oooh, I felt so weak and afraid; so I cried and cried.

A book specially dedicated to Muslim women entitled ‘Seeds of Righteousness’ too had a great impact on me. Although my attention to buy it was to give it to my wife; it contents seemed suited me. This book written by Abdul Malik Muhammad and published by Darussalam Publishers and Distributors in Riyadh, gave tips and tools for Muslim women to spread Islam.

In his introduction, Abdul Malik among others wrote: “Since the job of da’wah is also obliged on Muslim women, they (from the earliest times of Islam) called to Allah’s religion and played a major role in spreading Islam among mankind…Trying to overcome the hindrances on the path of Allah carries good rewards and benefits from Him. Therefore, Dear Muslim Sister, discard the robe of lazinest, trust and rely on Allah dan fill your coming days with firmness and endurance…”

I must admit I had copied ‘some seeds’ written in the book and practiced it. One seeds read: “She carries a purse (handbag) just like other women, who usually stuff their purse with beauty items. However, her purse is full of Islamic books and pamphlets and wherever she goes; she leaves some of these books and pamphlets as a resource of righteousness for peope…”

For several years now, I have been carrying a bag with Islamic materials; be it newspapers, magazines, books, pamphlets, photocopies of them and so on. Other than distributing them in public places, I made a point to leave behind an item each time I left my seat in public transport such as buses and trains.

Another seed read: “Most Islamic books do not cost much to print and buy. There is a good collection of books in her house, which she buys on a regular basis and distributes to her relatives and neighbours, little by little over a period of months at a time.”

I have been subscribing an Islamic monthly magazine – Hidayah – since 2001. Instead of heaping or binding and storing them in my house, I gave them to relatives and neighbours. They seem eager and happy to read them; so I assumed the reading materials were beneficial to them. What made me happier was the interest shown by children of my relatives and neighbours in reading them.

I too gave away Islamic children magazines such as ‘Asuh’, ‘Sayang Muslim’ and ‘Aulad’ after they had been read by my children. I too have an old ‘pondok’ (small house) in which our neighbours’ children could spend their time reading books and magazines. But sadly, children of today are too busy attending to computer and electronics games and watching television, so only a few boys and girls turned up to read.

In doing these deeds in which I prayed were in line with Allah SWT orders, I must say Alhamdulillah (be thankful to Him) for showing me His way. An appreaciation must also be given to the writer of the book ‘Seeds of Righteousness’ and other Islamic books for giving me and perhaps thousands of readers inspirations and ideas how to contribute our small part in the Islamic dak’wah. Syukran.

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