Thursday, November 24, 2016

'Maximizing everything' during this hard time...

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.

FUEL prices is up. Beginning November 1st, RON95 is priced at RM1.95, an increase of 15 sen compared to October prices. RON97 is at RM2.30 per litre, also up by 15 sen. For diesel and Euro 5 diesel, it is priced RM1.90 and RM2 per litre respectively; also a 15 sen increase for both.

Cooking oil prices too is up and there were cases up to 40 and 60 percent from previous prices. When the prices of 'oil' is up, 'automatically' and 'surely' the prices of 'other items' would eventually be up. The ordinary 'rakyat' would suffer most but crying would not help - please help yourself by adhering to what the 'experts' have to say!

One way to beat the 'tight situation' is to have more than a job. The 'rakyat' should have two or more jobs as suggested a minister not long time ago. For example after you have finished your 8.00 am - 5.00 pm work why not 'offer your service' at pump stations or fast food chains from 6.00 pm to midnight or to the wee hours? You too could do online business while on your jobs. 

Well, that's more than two jobs already; see you could do it as suggested by the minister - Malaysia 'boleh' (can)! Armed with the money from payments of doing two or more jobs, it is hoped that you could sustain your way of living...but to every 'positive actions' there bound to be 'negative reactions' and vise versa - for example by working like 'mad' the tendency you would fall ill is high, relations among family's members would jeopardize and at the end you would realize that 'you loose more than what you gain'. So think very,very carefully before embarking 'this mission'.

The second option is to be thrift on you money. In short, stretch your ringgit to the maximum. As a pensioner with 'ached bones and body' (old already to do robust work especially the 3Ds - dirty, dangerous and difficult), I opted for this plan. So let's look at the aspects that we could save our money...

To cut on cost of living especially with the rising prices of fuel, I have opted cycling for short journeys such as going to the 'masjid' especially for 'subuh' (dawn) and isya' (late evening) prayers when the air is cool and to buy grocery items and newspapers at shops in the neighborhood. 

Cycling does not only benefits cyclist in terms of 'money saving' and health, but contributes to well being of human beings. In certain countries especially European nations, they go for the green concept including promoting the usage of non motorized vehicles such as bicycles. 

Sadly we are not serious about this concept but luckily there are groups of people who are aware about the importance of safeguarding the healthy environment and one way to contribute to the welfare of the country is by 'leaving behind' our cars or motorcycles and opting out for public transport or using the bicycle.

Unfortunately our country with its rather hot climate (different from those temperate European nations) makes the situation uncomfortable for workers to cycle to and fro their workplace, but one thing for sure bicycles would be handy for short distances such as for going out to do some grocery at a shop next door in a 'taman' (housing estate) or visiting relatives living nearby. 

During this 'hard time', let's have a look at the advice from Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and the 'simple things' he did to suit the situation he faced. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. taught people to live on less for example regarding food, the Prophet s.a.w. would do the recommended fasting (puasa sunat) whenever there was no food laid on the table in the morning.

The Prophet s.a.w. too taught us to share our food for example by eating in 'jemaah' (for example with family members and relatives) and have a thought about our neighbours. Abdullah ibn `Abbas reported that the Prophet s.a.w. said, "The believer is not he who eats his fill while his neighbor is hungry." (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

He too advised us to share our food and drinks with animals. We have to be pity to them for example stray cats and dogs. There is a popular hadith about this: "A man felt very thirsty while he was on the way, there he came across a well. He went down the well, quenched his thirst and came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. He said to himself, "This dog is suffering from thirst as I did." So, he went down the well again, filled his shoe with water, held it with his mouth and watered the dog. Allah appreciated him for that deed and forgave him." The Companions said, "O Allah's Messenger! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?" He replied: "There is a reward for serving any living being." (Narrated by Imam Bukhari)

An 'ustaz' said when a stray cat come over to you at your legs when you are eating at a 'gerai' (stall) or restaurant, do not kick or chase it is not asking for your money or meal; leftovers such as 'tulang ikan' (skeleton of fish) is enough for it! Why the animal choose you from the many people in the is because you are 'the chosen one' by Allah SWT, said the 'ustaz'.

A scholar said excessive eating is abhorred in Islam. For the days of Ramadan, fasting is precisely a command in order to learn control and when to say 'no'. Prophet Muhammad did not encourage eating a three course meal nor a heavy meal. Every meal should be shared between two and choosing between take-outs and home-cooked, a healthier diet is always the better option (less meat, more greens). In the Islamic law system (Shariah), a person should stop eating as soon as the hunger pangs cease.

“Nothing is worse than a person who fills his stomach. It should be enough for the son of Adam to have a few bites to satisfy his hunger. If he wishes more, it should be: One-third for his food, one-third for his liquids, and one-third for his breath.” (Narrated by Imam Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

Regarding the Prophet s.a.w. thriftiness,  the scholar advised us to consider recycling and fixing before buying new items. When asked about how the Prophet s.a.w. used to live in his house, the Prophet's wife, `A'ishah, said that he used to repair his own shoes, sew his clothes and carry out all such household chores done without complaint or want for more. (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

The scholar said the idea behind this was to show Muslims that menial tasks were not degrading for God's Prophet. Reusing and repairing things instead of always buying new is not a sign of poverty, they are a sign of power. By performing household duties, the Prophet was saying we can build foundations on less 'stuff', we are in control of what we consume and we don't need more.

The Prophet too asked us to 'go green' for example to plant a tree even if it's your last deed. “If the Hour (the day of Resurrection) is about to be established and one of you was holding a palm shoot, let him take advantage of even one second before the Hour is established to plant it." (Narrated by Al-Albani)

He also said planting trees is a renewable source of reward. "If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift (sadaqah) for him."  (Narrated by Imam Bukhari)

Thus during this 'hard time', why not try our luck by planting greens around our house or compound. I tried planting 'bendi' (ladies fingers or okra) and 'terung' (brinjals or egg plants), the 'end result' was 'alhamdulillah' - my family could have 'bendi' and 'terung' dish almost every day but we prefer at times to 'sadaqah' them to relatives, neighbours and friends.

The Prophet s.a.w. too advised us to conserve resources even when used for routine rituals. He s.a.w. happened to pass by a Companion, Sa’d, as he was performing ablution (wudhu) next to a river. At this, the Prophet said, "Sa’d what is this squandering?" Sa’d replied: "Can there be an idea of squandering (israf) in ablution?" The Prophet said: "Yes, even if you are by the side of a flowing river.” (Narrated by Ibn Majah) So, save as much we could regarding the usage of electricity, gas, water, telephone and etc.

The Prophet s.a.w. too asked us to do maintainance works and street clean-ups, he s.a.w. said "removing harmful things from the road is an act of charity (sadaqah)." (Narrated by Abu Dharr Al-Ghafari) In this way, we could save money for example the tendency of our bicycles and motorcycles tyres being punctured would be lessen. 

An 'ustaz' said with the abundance of goodness in life, one must pay back by contributing something to society. The more you contribute, the more you get the rewards. But mind you, these rewards should not be looked as material gains only but also the spiritual aspects of life including good health, vast and rich experiences, satisfaction in life and sound education.

The Qur'an states that whatever we give away generously, with the intention of pleasing God, He will replace it. God knows what is in the hearts of men. Say: “Truly, my Lord enlarges the provision for whom He wills of His slaves, and also restricts it) for him, and whatsoever you spend of anything (in God’s Cause), He will replace it. And He is the Best of providers.” (Qur'an 34:39) 

Whoever is kind to His creatures, God is kind to him; therefore be kind to man on earth, whether good or bad; and being kind to the bad is to withhold him from evil, thus in Heaven you will be treated kindly. He who is not kind to God's creatures, God will not be kind to him.

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