Monday, September 20, 2010

Take benefit of 'five' before another 'five'

In the name of God, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

Whenever those who believe in Our signs come to you, say: "Peace be upon you!" (Hujurat 49:10)

A day before Eid, I made a sudden decision to spend a few hours by myself in several masjids in my homestate, Melaka. At 11.00 am I drove along the old Melaka-Muar trunk road and 30 minutes later found myself passing the replica of a giant ‘beca’ (trishaw), a landmark of Muar district in the state of Johore.

I made an U-turn at the Kesang Recreational Park, and then stopped at Masjid As-Syakirin in Sungai Rambai, the first masjid one passes if one enters the state from south using the old trunk road.

Other then the intention to ‘iktikaf’ (staying and doing good things such as reading the Qur’an or praying) in the masjid, I brought along piles of my own written and published book entitled ‘Bunga Jatuh Ke Dalam Telapak Tangan Di Raudhah’ {Flowers Fell into into the Palms in Raudhah - a sacred section inside the Prophet’s Masjid)} to be distributed to congregators.

I placed 20 copies of the book on a donation box at Masjid As-Syakirin, and stuck a note inviting congregators to buy it at RM1 a copy (the original price of the book was RM4) and slide the money inside the box. It was my way of doing a little charity during Ramadan. If all the books were sold, then my total contribution to the masjid would be RM20. Since it was Ramadan, I was hoping the rewards to be multiplied, perhaps by 70 or 700 times.

I then said my ‘Tahiyatul Masjid’ (introductory) prayer, read the Qur’an and wait for the muezzein to call for the ‘Zuhur’ prayer. After prayer, I sat quietly at a far end of the masjid and was glad to noteice that almost half the books had been sold. One customer was a traffic policeman in uniform; he was seen keen reading the book. He leaned his back to the masjid’s wall to read the book, and after that, he laid on his back, the book still in his hands.

At 3.00pm I left the masjid to continue my journey to another one. I stopped at Masjid As-Solihin, Sebatu. In this masjid I placed another 20 copies of my books and after saying the ‘Tahiyatul Masjid’ prayer, as I was about to leave, a member of the Jemaah Tabligh rushed to me to shake my hand. The man who was wearing a ‘jubah’ (long robes) and with thick beard held my hands hard and did not release them as he gave me a lecture.

“Remember to glorify Allah SWT at all times. Always talk about the greatness of Allah SWT. Others are nothing compared to Allah SWT. Only Allah SWT could bring you good or harm, others are weak.” I wanted to pull away my hand, but the ‘tabligh’ man pressed it even harder.

“Brother, you seemed to be rushing for something? What is it? Don’t be fool by the sweetness of the world. Take your time to ‘iktikaf’ (stay) in the masjid. Please do not increase your sins by seeing and hearing ‘haram’ (forbidden) things outside this masjid.

“You know some food sellers had their stalls open at 3.00pm. It is too early. At Ramadan Bazaar you would be seeing things that are ‘haram’ to you. I am afraid, you would only get thirsty and tired for your fast. Allah SWT would not reward your ‘puasa’ (fast) if you see all the bad things,” said the man.

After more words of advice, I managed to free my hand. Then after thanking him, I went straight to my car and drove to another masjid. It was Masjid Al-Abidin in Kampung Air Tawar. Since the masjid’s main prayer room was closed, I placed 20 copies of my books at a corner of the verandah; and after saying the ‘Tahiyatul Masjid’ prayer, I left the masjid to continue my journey.

I arrived at another masjid named Masjid Al-Rahim which is situated on the outskirts of Merlimau town, 15 minutes before the muezzein call for Asar prayers. In the front courtyard a few men were seen busy preparing ‘bubur lambuk’ (a kind of porridge). In this masjid, I also placed 20 copies of my book on its donation box.

After prayers, I stayed in the main prayer room, reading the Qur’an. I then realized that I was alone, all the ‘jemaah’ had gone out. I could feel the loneliness in me, I then coaxed myself that situation was nothing compared to that when one dies and his body was being placed and buried inside his/her grave. Inside the grave, you are alone in the dark, you have no one to turn to, except Allah SWT! So remember Allah SWT when you are alive for He would remember you when you are dead or helpless!

Since I could not bear the loneliness, I took a walk outside the masjid and reached the gate and compound of the famous ‘Rumah Penghulu Abdul Ghani/Mat Nattar’ (a Malay traditional chieftain house). Far away at the edge of the green lawn, I saw a handicapped man busily tidying its area. I toured the house and was amazed by its huge size. It has also a unique and fine architecture; in my opinion the building must be more than a hundred years.

I met the crippled man who busily working in the garden to give him some money and was surprised when he told me that he is the rightful owner of the house. He said his name was Rizal and was the great grandson of Penghulu Abdul Ghani. He claimed to live alone at the back portion of the house.

After getting to know each other better, I jockingly asked Rizal whether he was married. He replied humorously if I had a suitable candidate for him and then he pointed to his left ear. It was without a lobe. Its hole was blocked by scarred flesh. Rizal then said: “Who want to marry a cripple and an ugly man like me?”

Then the 35 year old former steel worker than narrated his story: “The unforgetful accident in the steel factory happened when I was 21. While doing some moulding work, my hair got stucked into a machine. I tried to pull it away but failed. Then the left side of my face was pulled inside the machine. I used my right leg to stop it, but it too was dragged inside the machine.

“Luckily for me, a co-worker was quick to switch off the machine. I am still alive, but all the good things in life had gone from me. So could you find a good wife for me?”

I didn’t answer, I could feel dryness in my throat. Yes, it was a hot Ramadan evening, I could feel the thirst and hunger sinside me, but I could at anytime I wish to go home to break fast in comfort with my beloved wife and children but what about Rizal?

He told me he would have a glass of water for breaking of the fast and after Maghrib prayers would rush to a nearby ‘makcik’s gerai’ (elderly lady's stall) to have a proper dinner.

Ramadan has come to an end, but what lessons did I learn and witness here, in front of the famous and beautiful house of the great Penghulu Merlimau?

I remember a hadith narated by Ibn Abbas: Allah’s Apostle s.a.w., said: “Take benefit of 'five' before 'five': your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free-time before your preoccupation and your life before your death.”

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