Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Zulhijrah 24, 1442: The 'loving sheikh' from Lubuk Merbau...

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


The Declining Day (Al-'Asr) 1. By the declining day, 2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss, 3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.

A few years ago, when I was in Kuala Lumpur, I took the opportunity to visit a bookstore. At the bookshop I searched for a series of 'kitabs' (books) named 'Bahru Al-Madzi' written and compiled by our very own international renowned ulama, Sheikh Muhammad Idris Abdul Rauf Al-Marbawi. 

At that time, one of Sheikh Idris's book, 'Bahru Al-Madzi - Syarah Mukhtashar Shahih At-Tirmidzi Juzuk 13') was being used as a text book during a 'tazkirah' (Islamic lesson) at a 'masjid' near my house. 

Who was this Sheikh? Perhaps many of us do not know this figure who was famous among students and intellectuals in Egypt and Makkah. So let us find out more about this Sheikh...

There are 22 'juzuk' (volumes) of 'Bahru Al-Madzi' (Lecture on 'Shahih' At-Tirmidzi) by the great Malay scholar; the one I was looking for was 'Juzuk 13' (the 13th Volume) which discusses topics on food, good deeds and relationship.

Since during his class (kuliah Subuh) on every Sunday morning after 'subuh' (dawn) prayers, the 'ustaz' would just start reading from the book after finishing 'Juzuk 12' (Volume 12), I started looking for the book.

Well dear readers, hadiths mentioned in the book are very detailed indeed - readings from its early pages proved it - in Chapter 1 the hadith is about eating dates with cucumber.

Sheikh Idris quotes Abdullah ibn Jaafar 'radiyallahu anhu' (may he be pleased) says, “Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam (s.a.w.) ate Qith’thaa (Arab cucumbers) with dates.”

Cucumber has a cold effect and dates have a hot one. By combining the two it becomes mild. From this hadith we gather that it is recommended that the effect (hot or cold) of things eaten should be taken into consideration. Cucumber is insipid and tasteless, and dates are sweet which results in the cucumber also tasting sweet. 

Sheikh Idris usually begins his lectures with these soothing words: "Ketahuilah kiranya, ya saudaraku..." (Please, be informed my dear brothers..." This 'catchy phrase' by the Sheikh is his trademark; he makes readers feel very close to him; he is like a 'fatherly or a brotherly figure' advising his children or brothers and sisters. 

So, Sheikh Idris is close to his readers and those who follow his writtings and teachings. And some readers, I included, have fallen in love with his 'Bahru Al-Madzi'.

The ustaz during our 'kuliah Subuh' also mentioned another hadith in which Aisha radiyallah anha reports that, “Rasulullah s.a.w. ate watermelon with fresh dates.” 

In Tirmidhi and other narrations, in explaining this, Sayidina Rasulullah s.a.w. also said, “The cold effect of one removes the heat of the other, and the heat of one removes the cold effect of the other.” 

Anas radiyallahu anhu says, “I saw Rasulullah s.a.w. eat together musk-melon and dates.” 

Some ulamas have translated this also as watermelon instead of musk-melon, the reason being, as in the first narration, here also the cold effect is intended. But it is clear that musk-melon is meant here. The reason for eating dates is also that it gives the melon a sweeter taste. It is not necessary that one’s benefit be gauged everywhere. It is possible that this is due to some other benefits.

According to this humble servant the eating of watermelon with dates has its own benefit and that is to create evenness in the effect of both, so that it becomes mild. The eating of musk-melon with dates has its own benefit and that is that if the melon is insipid and tasteless, many a time, due to it being insipid sugar is mixed before it is eaten. Therefore it is not necessary to give the same reasons for both watermelon and musk-melon. 

The ustaz during our 'kuliah Subuh' showed us the way to eat Arab cucumber with dates and also water melon with dates. He said in 'one hand hold the cucumber or a piece of watermelon and in another hold the date'. 'Bite the cucumber and then the date and when both are in the mouth, start chewing them'; the 'show put on' by the ustaz made the audiences burst into laughter! 

Our ustaz have high respect for Sheikh Idris; each time he begins his lesson by mentioning contributions of the Sheikh to the Muslim ummah especially those living in the Malay archipelago. He said the Sheikh's 'kitab' was the only one from the Malay world that was being lectured at the Haram Masjid. 

"It is common for 'kitabs' by ulamas from India and Pakistan being taught at the Holy Land but I have not come across any from this part of the world except for Sheikh Idris's," he said. 

So, who is Sheikh Muhammad Idris Abdul Rauf Al-Marbawi? In a book 'Tokoh Ulama Nusantara' (Great Ulema of the Malay Archipelago) by Tajuddin Saman who is my former work mate in NSTP and translated by thefreelibrary.com; he wrote that Muhammad Idris Al-Marbawi (he was from Lubuk Merbau, Kuala Kangsar Perak thus he used the name Al-Marbawi) was born on 28 Zulkaedah 1313 Hijrah equivalent to 1893 AD in Makkah al-Mukarramah. 

At the age of 10 years, he was able to memorize a total of 10 constituents while several other books. When he was a teenager, he returned home to be with his family. 

Returning home, he was educated first at Sekolah Melayu Lubuk Merbau. Next, he pursued graduate studies at several pondok schools such as Sekolah Pondok Syeikh Wan Muhammad in Bukit Chandan, Kuala Kangsar; Pondok Tuan Hussain al-Masnudi in Kedah; Pondok Sheikh Ahmad Fatani in Bukit Mertajam and Pondok Tok Kenali in Kelantan. Upon graduation, he worked as a religious teacher in Perak. 

Sheikh Idris fame is not only in the Archipelago but also in Egypt and Makkah especially in the field of Arabic language, hadith, tafsir and fiqh. In 1924, he studied at Al-Azhar University in Egypt and got High Degree. 

Then, he began to compile the Arabic/Malay dictionary or more recognizable as 'Kamus Idris al-Marbawi', published in 1937. Until now, the dictionary has been printed repeatedly, not less than 24 times. Then starting from here, he continued to explore the challenging in writing. The book, entitled 'Bahrul Al-Madzi' discussed about 8,200 religious issues and the relationship between the life of the Hereafter. He also produced several books of tafsir al-Quran in Malay Language. Among these are Tafsir Qu'ran Marbawi, Tafsir Qur'an Nurul-Yaqin and Tafsir Surah Yassin. 

Besides that, there a few publication which are entitled Bulughul Maram, MuNjam al-KaNnat, JamiNul Ulum, Usul al-Islam and Nizamul Hayah. 

All the books written by Sheikh Idris enrich the precious Islamic heritage in the Archipelago and expose the intellectuality of Muslim community. 

Due to the contributions and prospects in the field of religion and literature, on 5 July 1980, Sheikh Idris was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Philosophy by National University of Malaysia (UKM). Award bestowed by the Chancellor of UKM, Tunku Ja'far Ibni al-Marhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman during convocation. At that time, he was 86 years old and was recorded as a scholar who has produced 21 works in various aspects of Islam. 

In 1987, he was enthroned as the first Maal Hijrah National Figure based on contributions and high knowledge of Islam in the archipelago, especially in Malaysia. Sheikh Idris also received a cash prize of RM 40,000, a medal and certificate. The prize was presented by the then Prime Minister Dato' Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad in a ceremony Maal Hijrah celebration, in front of approximately 3,000 people were present, including ambassadors from Islamic countries, in the Islamic Centre Kuala Lumpur. When receiving the award, the Maal Hijrah figure was 95 years old.

He died shortly after receiving the award. Sheikh Idris leave a child, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He was buried in the Muslim cemetery in Kampung Lubuk Merbau that is next to the grave of his first wife, Hajah Khadijah Mohd Edham.

Sheikh Idris departure is still remembered and his name is commemorated by the Muslim society either young or elderly. The great and significant contribution by him was the Kamus Al-Marbawi. This dictionary continues to be remembered and used by students in any kind of study either high or low levels and can be seen up to now. 

As for me, I have fallen in love with 'Bahru Al-Madzi'. 'Jazak Allah Khayr' Sheikh Muhammad Idris Al-Marbawi; "May Allah reward you (with) goodness."

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Zulhijah 22, 1442: 'Hijra' - implementing our belief...

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


The Declining Day (Al-'Asr)

1. By the declining day,

2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss,

3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort 

one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.

TUESDAY, August 10th, marked the beginning of the Islamic new year of 1443; in Malaysia it is called 'Maal Hijrah' or 'Awal Muharram' (the first month of the Islamic calendar). Literally 'Hijra' means 'migration' and Muslims celebrate the anniversary of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. migration from Makkah (Mecca) to Madinah (Medina) in 622 AD.  

Scholars said it is a time for a new beginning, a change from bad to good and a chance to re-evaluate one's life and direction. It is because, the Prophet s.a.w. had said:  "There is no Hijra (i.e. migration) (from Makkah to Medina) after the Conquest (of Makkah), but Jihad and good intention remain; and if you are called (by the Muslim ruler) for fighting, go forth immediately.(Narrated by Ibn Abbas)

After delivering his 'tazkirah' (lesson) on Hijra at a 'masjid' near my house not long time ago, I asked the 'ustaz' what we could learn from the event of Hijra by comparing it with Isra' Mi'raj.

Subhanallah, he said when discussing on the subject of Hijra it is interesting to compare it with Isra' and Mi'raj - the miraculous night journey of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. from the Haram Masjid in Makkah to the al-Aqsa Masjid in al-Quds (Jerusalem) and from there he ascended to the upper heavens and Sidratul-Muntaha, was a test on the 'ummah' (Muslims) regarding their 'iman' (faith), Hijra was about 'implementing' and 'putting into practice' their belief.

If Isra' and Mi'raj which took place sometime before Hijra challenged the human being's mind regarding power, time and space; the Prophet's Hijra was 'an ordinary man's journey of more than 300 kilometers from his birth place of Makkah to Madinah which was then called Yathrib.

If Prophet Muhammad’s  s.a.w. journey to Al-Quds from Makkah (Isra') which is more than 1,000 kilometers was 'like a lightning'; this journey of Hijra (from Makkah to Madinah) in 622 AD, took days including the Prophet s.a.w. hiding for three days in the Cave of Saur (Thur) in south Makkah with his best companion, Abu Bakr r.a. (may Allah be pleased with him).

The Prophet s.a.w.,  Abu Bakr r.a. and their non-Muslim guide, Abdullah Uraiqit only arrived at Quba' on the outskirts of Yathrib after more than two weeks. There, with the help of the local people, they erected the first masjid - Masjid Quba' - before officially entering Yathrib and renaming it Madinat-un-Nabi, literally, the City of the Prophet after 30 days from the date they left Makkah.

The Hijra to Madinah was not the first for Muslims. Technically, the first Hijra occurred in 615 AD when a group of Muslims was counseled by Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. to escape persecution in Makkah and travel to Habsyah or Ethiopia (Abyssinia at the time), which was ruled by a Christian king, the Negus. But Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. himself did not join this emigration.

An 'ustaz' in discussing Isra' and Mi'raj and 'Hijra' said, based on the Prophet's 'tough' and 'hard' journey of the Hijra, Muslims too must be ever ready to face tribulations and obstacles in life what more when one is committed to live as a practicing Muslim in all aspects of life.

Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. had showed us the way to live as a Muslim who has to strive in whatever he does, be it regarding efforts to gain benefit in this world or in the Hereafter.

As Muslims we must work hard for our benefit of both worlds as we often recite in our du'a (supplication): Rabbana aatina fiddunya hasanatan wafil akhirati hasanatan waqina adhabannaar (Our Lord, give us good in this life, and in the Hereafter, and protect us from the Hellfire).

In their determination to see Islam flourish, the Prophet s.a.w. and his companions toiled and sweated including in the hot sun often in a state of hunger, for example the Prophet s.a.w. took the lead in digging a wide and deep trench around Madinah to stop the invading Musyrikin armies during the Ahzab war. In the battle of Uhud, the Prophet s.a.w. too was injured; this showed that Muslims would be 'tried' (face tribulations) by Allah SWT but must be brave in facing the hurdles to be better Muslims by each day.

All must be worked for; there is no such thing as a 'short cut' to success in the world, what more in the Hereafter. It was asked. "Oh Messenger of Allah: Who is the most excellent of men? The Messenger of Allah said, 'The believer who strives hard in the way of Allah with his person and property."

Whoso is able and fit and does not work for himself or for others, God is not gracious to him. To his companions, the Prophet s.a.w. said it is better for any of you to take your rope and bring a bundle of wood upon your back and sell it, in which case God guards your honour, then to beg of people, whether they give or not; if they do not give, your reputation suffers, and you returned disappointed; and if they give, it is worse than that; for it makes you under obligation.

The Qur'an says: "Scatter over the earth and seek Allah's bounty. Aren't we Allah's vicegerents on earth? (62;10)

But a word of caution, in performing our works and duties, Muslims must be clear in mind that we are only to please Allah SWT for during our 'solat' (prayers), we would supplicate: "Surely, my prayer, my sacrifice, my life, and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds." (Qur'an, 6: 162)

To be on Allah's straight path, we must ask for His help - as we mention at least 17 times in our 'solat' (Eh'dinas siratalmustaqim) and we must seek knowledge for only he who knows his own self knows Allah SWT.

And if we want to 'live happily in this world and Hereafter', worked hard for it, there is no short cut to success.  Yes work hard and pray hard for Hijra is to implement our belief

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Zulhijah 21, 1442: The beauty of sacrificing animals in Islam

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


"Anyone who obeys the Messenger has obeyed God..." (Nisaa 4:80)

TIME flies very fast; now Dhul-hijjah, the  last month of the year of the Muslim calendar, is about to end. The year 1442 Hijra would end in a week time and Malaysian Muslims would celebrate 'Maal Hijrah' or 'Awal Muharam' (the first day of the new year) most likely on Tuesday,August 10th.

This hajj month of Dhul-hijjah commemorating the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim a.s. (peace be upon him) to sacrifice his beloved son, Prophet Ismail a.s. as an act of obedience to Allah SWT.

Muslims who can afford are encouraged to sacrifice their best domesticated animals such as cow, sheep and goat as symbol of Prophet Ibrahim’s a.s willingness to sacrifice his only son to his second wife, Hajar (Hagar).

In Malaysia, during the festive of  'Eid Adha' (10, 11,12,13th Dhul-hijjah), thousands of animals were slaughtered by individuals and various groups which organized the events such as masjids' committee members.

The meat of the sacrificed animals were then distributed to the poor and needy nevertheless the rich too were given the meat as presents. 

Regarding this aspect in a 'tazkirah' (Islamic lesson), I heard an 'ustaz' (religious teacher) saying sacrificing animals to God (Allah SWT) but distributing the meat to the needy display and prove the beauty of Islam.

"We sacrifice the animals just to please Allah SWT, but Allah does not need the meat. We give away the meat for the benefit of fellow human beings. It is such a  beauty; compare it with some 'praying rituals' carry out by men of other beliefs where the items 'sacrificed' such as food and fruits such as oranges and apples are left to rot under trees or are being washed away in waters of rivers and seas," said the ustaz.

Regarding the act of sacrificing animals, Allah SWT says: "Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may glorify Allah for that (to) which He has guided you; and give good tidings to the doers of good." (Surah Al-Hajj 22: 37)

'Subhanallah' (Glory be to God), Allah SWT The Mighty Rich does not need the meat; is is meant to feed the poor. 'Alhamdulillah' (All praise is due to Allah) nowadays Muslims of Malaysia have made themselves available almost everywhere at poor countries of the world to sacrifice animals there. 

Troops of Malaysian Malaysian volunteers and workers are having their arms busy in countries such as Cambodia, Philippines (southern part of the country), Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand (southern part of it) and far away lands such as Sudan during the days of sacrificing the animals that is on the day of Eid Adha (10th Dhul-hijjah) and the days of Tashreek - 11, 12 and 13th of Dhul-hijjah.

Of course regarding the sacrificing of animals during Eid, the Holy Land is a place where hundred thousands of cows, camels and sheep are slaughtered; and during a hajj season a few years back, Saudi Arabia’s prestigious sacrificial meat utilization program sent the meat of one million heads of sheep and 10,000 cows and camels to the poor and needy in many poor countries, as well as Syrian refugees.

It was reported that its inception in 1983, the project has utilized and distributed meat of more than 16 million livestock, amongst the poor in Saudi Arabia and 27 other countries. Subhanallah, the sacrificing of animals by Muslims during Eid Adha truly benefited people through out the globe; it clearly points up to the 'beauty of Islam'.

While Muslims worldwide are celebrating Eid Adha, some three million very, very lucky men and women have been chosen by Allah SWT to be His guests performing hajj in the Holy Land. 

Dhul-hijjah is the month Muslim perform hajj, with its peak when they do ‘wukuf’ (to stop or gather) in Arafah (or Arafat) on the 9th Dhul-hijjah.

Before leaving their hotel rooms for 'wukuf' beginning on the 7-8th Dhul-hijjah, pilgrims wear their 'hajj attires' and they are in the state of 'ihram'. They are recommended to recite this verse: "Labbayk, Allahumma, Labbayk, Labbayk, La Shareeka laka, Labbayk Innal-hamda wan n’mata laka wal-mulk, La shareekala" – (Here I am at Your service, O Lord here I am, No partner do You have, Here I am, Truly the praise and the favour is Yours and the dominion. No partner do You have).

'Wukuf', being the highest 'rukun' (component) of hajj must be rendered; without which hajj does not take place. The requirement is the presence in Arafat, regardless of whether the pilgrim is riding, walking, sitting or moving. In Arafat one is to spend the afternoon from dhuhr (midday)to maghrib (sunset) prayer times making du’aa (supplications) and repenting to leave Arafat with all of one's sins forgiven.

For Muslims who are not performing hajj in their homelands, they are encouraged to perform recommended deeds during the first nine days of Dhul-hijjah such as fasting especially on ‘Wukuf’ day and giving charity. Then during Eid Adha (10th Dhul-Hijjah) when Muslims perform ‘solat’ (Eid prayers) and the days of Tashreek (11, 12, and 13th Dhul-Hijjah) they are recommended to do the slaughter or ‘korban’ (sacrifice) animals (such as sheep and cow).

After Arafah, the pilgrims would then proceed towards Muzdalifah and pick up pebbles there to be used when stoning the Pillar of Aqabah or Qubra on Eid Adha (10th Dhul-Hijjah).

In Mina, they are required to stay for three nights where they will stone the three ‘jamrahs’ beginning with the first Pillar (i.e. the one which is furthest from Makkah), followed by the middle Pillar and lastly the Pillar of Aqabah. The pilgrims will also shave their heads or cut their hair and then proceed to Makkah to perform the Tawaf Al-Ifadah (circling the Kaabah seven times which is an essential part of Hajj) and then perform Sa’y (walking seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwa).

While performing their hajj rituals many Malaysian pilgrims prefer to bring along their du'aa (supplication) books. A few years back while performing hajj, I too prefer to read from the books; if you had full concentration especially when 'you were alone' even though in actual fact there were thousands of people around you, it would not be surprised if you were in tears, sobbing admitting your past sins and beg forgiveness from the Almighty. 

Among the supplications, I read: "O Allah! I ask of Your integrity and soundness in my religion, my life, my family, and my possessions.

O Allah! Cover my shame, pacify my fears, guard me from what is in front of me and behind me, from what is on my right and on my left, over my head and under my feet.

O Allah! Grant health to my body. O Allah grants health to my hearing. O Allah! Grant heath to my sight. There is no deity except You.

O Allah! You are my Lord. There is no deity except You. You are my Creator and I am Your creature. I try to keep my covenant with You and to live in the hope of Your promise as well as I can. I seek refuge in You from my own evil deeds. I acknowledge Your favours to me, and I acknowledge my sins. Forgive me my sins, for there is no one who can forgive sins except You.

O Allah! I seek refuge in You from worry and sorrow. I seek refuge in You from impotence and sloth, from stinginess and cowardice, and I seek refuge in You from the burden of debt and from being humbled by men.

O Allah! Make the beginning of this day good, the middle prosperous, and the end successful. I ask You to grant me the good of this world and of the Hereafter. O Most Merciful of all Who show us mercy!

O Allah! You hear my words, You behold my situation, You know what is open and what is hidden within me; nothing is hidden from You. It is me alone who is in need, a humble seeker of Your forgiveness. I beseech You with humility in my heart, with trembling and fear, in prostration and utter helplessness.

O Allah! Grant me soundness of belief, goodness of character, forgiveness of my sins, and Your eternal pleasure in the Hereafter. Ameen