Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The adventurous second honeymoon (Part 3)

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


And when the Prayer is finished,
then may ye disperse through the land,
and seek the Bounty of God;
and celebrate the Praise of God often:
That ye may prosper. (Jumu'a 62: 9-10)

AFTER spending some time in Kelantan, my wife and I continued our journey to Terengganu. In the 'turtle state', we stayed at a relative house in a ‘kampung’, north of Kuala Terengganu. The house I stayed in was near a masjid, so for ‘solat’ (prayers), I tried my best to perform it in the masjid.

To my surprise on every occasion, only a handful of old men were at the huge sparkling new masjid. So I wasn’t shocked when newspapers not long ago carried stories from the State Assembly saying that masjids in Terengganu failed to attract Muslims especially the youth other than the weekly Friday’s prayers.

It was reported that the attendance at masjids was very poor even though the state government had built more than 100 masjids with several hundred millions of ringgit in allocations.

The state government headed by Menteri Besar Ahmad Said was reported had realized the situation and had taken various steps to rectify it such as introducing Quran learning lessons in masjids and setting up tuition classes.

The Terengganu government too had built a crystal masjid and 21 replica masjids costing millions of ringgits on an island (Pulau Wan Man) called ‘Taman Tamadun Islam (TTI)’ (Islamic Civilization Edutainment Park) at the estuary of the Terengganu River to project itself as being concerned about religious matters. One could witness the glittering masjids when driving along the Sultan Mahmud Bridge.

My wife and I visited the TTI and were given each a ‘passport book’ that could be used to get discounted prices on tickets for the second and third visits. The book states that TTI monument park provides its visitors with a unique experience; featuring 21 great Islamic monuments that reminiscence the rise of Islam into a sophisticated global religion.

The masjids and monuments featured were Masjid Negara (Malaysia), Kudus Minar (Central Java, Indonesia), Pattani Central Masjid (Thailand), Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Masjid (Brunei Darussalam), Taj Mahal (Agra, India), Badshahi Masjid (Lahore, Pakistan), Kubbah As-Sakhrah, (al-Quds, Palestine), Great Masjid of Samarra (Iraq), Sheikh Lutfallah Masjid (Iran), Abu Nasr Parsa Shrine (Afghanistan), Masjidilharam (Makkah, Saudi Arabia), Aleppo Citadel (Syria), Mohamed Ali Masjid (Egypt), Masjid Al-Nabawi (Madinah, Saudi Arabia), Suleyman Masjid (Turkey(, Great Masjid of Qairawan (Tunisia), The Palace of Al-Hambra (Granada, Spain), Kalyan Minaret (Uzbekistan), Great Masjid of Agadez (niger), Kul Sharif Masjid (Kazan, Russia) and the Xian Masjid (China).

In my opinion the Terengganu government should ‘muhasabah’ (revaluate) itself as to why the people shy away from masjids. It is a pity and strange sight indeed when only a handful of veteran citizens come to pray in the many big and beautiful masjids in the state. Only a handful of old timers were seen at masjids, so where have the youth of Terengganu gone to?

After Terengganu, we moved on to Pahang; stopping for rest and lunch at its famous Teluk Cempedak Beach. From Kuantan, we took the Gambang-Segamat Highway; this stretch of road reminded me of a tragedy (a horrorfic road accident which involved a car and a trailer) a few months ago that killed my wife’s best friend who was also close to me; my nephew and her husband and the car’s driver who was also my distance relative. Their car was reported to have crashed head on the trailer, was dragged for a few meters and then became engulfed in flames.

The wife’s friend was 46, the same age as my wife. She left behind her husband and a daughter aged 10. Driving along the highway, a vision of the accident was constantly on my mind. On several occasions I slowed down and let other vehicles including tankers overtake our car. Perhaps on that day, I was one of the ‘most polite’ drivers on the Gambang-Segamat Highway.

Talking about death in road accidents, I remember a ‘tazkirah’ (short sermon) at my office recently where an ‘ustaz’ (religious teacher), Ustaz Sobri Abdul Rani reminded Muslims to be extra careful in their driving because those who were negligent, careless and sleepy while driving and became involved in cases leading to death, would (God Forbid) in the eyes of Allah SWT be deemed murderers including of their own family members who were inside their cars. Should the drivers themselves die in the accident, in the eyes of Allah SWT, they could have committed suicide. Nauzubillah (God Forbid).

Ustaz Sobri said, Allah SWT had sent signals such as sleepiness, but some drivers just ignored it, and then if they were involved in accidents, it was at their own fault. The same could be said of careless drivers who were not sure if it was safe to overtake other vehicles; they try their luck or gamble their life even if it is a 50-50 situation.

“Make sure that it is 100 percent safe, only then should you overtake the vehicle in front of you,” said Ustaz Sobri. “If not, you are seeking trouble; Allah SWT would not be pleased with you.” Remember an ‘ayah; (verse) of the Noble Qur'an that states, “And do not throw yourself into destruction with your own hands.” (Al-Baqarah 2:195)

Regarding death, in general Allah SWT has given us warnings such as greying of our hairs or perhaps balding heads, weak bodies and teeth decaying away. The question is, are we prepared to meet our Lord as every one of us will have to face death. In short all life ends in death. Therefore, let us remember that a certain time is fixed for us when we too will be abandoned to the darkness of our graves.

The greatest misfortune for men, however, is they have in general chosen the path of eternal loss and perpetual perdition. The Holy Qur'an testifies to this, in the following words: “By age (by oath of the time factor), indeed, man is in utter loss except those who believe in Allah and do righteous deeds and mutually co-operate and strive for – ( the dissemination of the teaching of) the Truth and mutually inspire for patience and constancy. (Surah 103, Al-Asr)

And when our time to depart has come (death), none shall be given a respite for even an hour, neither shall death be hastened by an hour. So are we ready to meet our Lord, even though we always think that we are still young and have a lot of time before repenting?

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