Tuesday, April 29, 2014

'Muhasabah' at the Royal Museum (I)

************************** In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. *************************** Reflection ********************* Surat Adh-Dhariyat 55:56 (The Winnowing Winds) Allah SWT says, with the meaning; "I have only created jinn and men, that they may serve Me." ************************* RECENTLY while I was in Kuala Lumpur, I took the opportunity to visit 'Istana Negara Lama' (Old Royal Palace and nowadays being called the Royal Museum) at Jalan Istana. ******************** The entrance fee is RM5 for locals and for foreign tourists RM10 and it is open daily from 9am to 5 pm except on two days that are on 'Hari Raya Puasa' (Eid Fitr) and 'Hari Raya Haji' (Eid Adha). ************************** For years, I used to pass 'Istana Negara' on my way to and fro from work from my hometown in Melaka and my office in Jalan Pahang Barat and could never imagine how it looks like inside. ************************** Visitors too could only have glances of the palace from the main gate. However, that is history when the Royal Museum open its doors to the public in 2012. Since the opening of the new palace, the old palace has been turned into an exhibition hall thanks to the Museum Authority of Malaysia. **************************** After the 'Istana Negara' moved to the new palace at Jalan Duta in December 2011, 'Istana Negara Lama' was later used for a royal exhibition called 'Raja Kita' (Our King), in conjunction with the installation of Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, the Sultan of Kedah, as the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong in 2012. **************************** Visitors would have a great opportunity to experience and understand the history behind the old Royal Palace. Wikipedia noted that the palace was originally a double-storey mansion which called The Big House built in 1928 by a local Chinese millionaire, Chan Wing. ************************* During the Japanese occupation from 1942–1945, it was used as the residence of the Japanese Governor. After the surrender of the Japanese on 15 August 1945, the British Military Administration (BMA) commandeered it for a senior military officers mess from the rank of brigadier. ************************* With the formation of the Federation of Malaya in 1950, the Selangor State Government rented the residence from the owners for Straits Dollars 5,000 a month until Merdeka or Independence in 1957. It was renovated to become the palace of His Majesty the Sultan of Selangor. In 1957, the owners sold the property of 13 acres to the Federal Government at an agreed valuation of Straits Dollars 1.4 Million. *********************** The Federal Government then converted the residence into the Istana Negara for the newly created sovereign post of Yang di-Pertuan Agong of 'Tanah Melayu' (Malaya) which was about to achieve independence that August as scheduled. Since then it has undergone several renovations and extensions. ************************ But the most extensive upgrading was carried out in 1980, as it was the first time that the Installation Ceremony of His Majesty DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong was held at the Istana Negara. Prior to this the Installation Ceremonies were held at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Hall in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur with the first one held in 1957. *********************** After spending about an hour inside the palace 'peeping' into royal rooms and other rooms such as 'Bilik Duta' (Ambassador Room), 'Bilik Menteri' (Minister Room) and 'Bilik Permaisuri' where the Queen receives her guests; its time for me to say goodbye, but the visitors' book placed on a table on the way out 'stopped' me from making 'a fast disappearance'. ************************** I took time to look at some comments written by visitors. Among others were: ************************* * Mrs Wulan, Indonesia - Amazing. ********************* * Dr Wulan Retno W, Indonesia - Nice indeed. ************************ * Shoko Miyoke, Japan - Awesome! Love it so much. ************************ * Hussein Al-Murib, Iraq - So nice palace, and simple and classic. I like the design and type of original material. *************************** * Razet, India - Museum are about stones! There is nobody to tell stories relating to the king's life. A very sad experience. ************************ Well, it was my turn; what did I write in the book? I wrote nothing; but in my heart I have 'something to say' about my 'muhasabah' (reflection) at the 'istana' - but I 'reserved' it to be shared with readers. ***************************** My mind 'race back' to the final exhibit on the first floor which I went - the Royal Bedchamber, the room where the King and Queen slept. It was posh and large with different sections or smaller rooms such as His Majesty Restroom, Her Majesty Restroom and Her Majesty Powder Room. The Royal Bedchamber had four different lighting systems which stimulated the change of seasons. ********************************** Just outside the Royal Bedchamber, on the walls there were a few large pictures; one that caught my attention was the picture of His Majesty Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Rahman posing with Prime Minister, Tuanku Abdul Rahman. It was written that the picture was taken in 1955, but while staring at the smiling and jovial face of both statesmen, made me have the feeling that they are still among us today, but the real fact that both of them had passed away many, many years ago. ***************************** 'The jovial mode' that was captured in picture was just like yesterday, but the reality of it; the event was slipping further and further away in the name of time. The 'magic moment' captured on picture is still there, but where had the 'subjects' gone? *************************** Contradict to events whether they are happy or sad moments that are moving away from us, our own death is creeping nearer and nearer and perhaps in one, two, five, 10 or 15 years time, we would too be no longer in this temporary world where once we 'used our minds and strength' to the maximum to gather worldly gains such as power, ranks, status, wealth and perhaps women. **************************** But when death knocks at our doors, all that worldly pleasures had to be left behind - not even our much loved item would be buried with us in our graves. Everything would be separated from us, we would be left alone in the darkness of our own graves. We would be answerable to each and everything we did and owned in this world. ******************************* It is reported in a 'hadith' that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him - s.a.w.) said: "This world is captivatingly sweet and rosy; and Allah will make you rulers therein and will see how you act. Behold fear this world and fear your desire for woman." ************************************* When the Jews rose to power, sex, gold and fine dresses became their weakness. Think for yourself, O brethren, have we not fallen victim to the same malady as had befallen the Jews? - Pearls of the Prophet (Islamic-Outreach-ABIM) ************************************ We have been cautioned every now and then in the Qur'an to realize our folly and guard ourselves against pitfalls and illusions. We are told in Surah Al-Hadid very clearly: "Know that the life in this world is only play, and idle talk, and pageantry, and boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children; as the likeness of vegetation after rain, whereof the growth is pleasing to the husbandman, but afterward it drieth up and thou seest it turning yellow, then it becometh straw. ********************************** "And in the Hereafter there is grievous punishment, and only forgiveness from Allah and His good pleasure, whereas the life of the world is but a matter of illusion." (57: 20)

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