Thursday, November 9, 2017

A reflection after experiencing blackouts in Kundasang

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.

DEAR readers; sorry for not appearing in last week edition of Harakah as I was in Sabah, enjoying the many places of interest there such as the Kinabalu Park, Poring Hotspring and the famous fish spa 'Tagal' Sungai Moroli, Luanti in Ranau with my family, comprising my wife and our two girls. 

Unfortunately our visit 'coincided' with the windy and rainy condition which was said the side effect of a storm that lashed southern Philippines.

Heavy rains and powerful wind created havoc in various parts of Sabah especially in the western and northern areas - some low-laying lands in Kota Belud, Kota Marudi and Kudat were under water while the state capital Kota Kinabalu was not spared - several vehicles were damaged due to fallen and uprooted trees.

During the five days four nights trip we spend two nights in Kundasang, a small 'agriculture town' located on the main road between Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan. With an elevation of about 2,000 metres above sea level, it is one of the coolest places in Sabah with temperatures dropping to 13 degrees Centigrade at night.

In Kundasang we experienced blackouts several times during our nights stay. Inside our room in a 'kampung' homestay, we felt the eerie sound of the wind; lashing the roof of the two young girls were scared; they laid still on bed in the dark.

We used the toilet only 'when necessary' with the 'help' from the lights of our handsets. Mind you, the water was icy cold and since the heater was not working, nobody had the gut to bathe...we only rubbed our bodies with wet towels. 

Once  electricity was 'out' when we in Masjid Jamek Kundasang at night. Congregators used their handset to see their way...yes we need to have light to move our way even a faint one would be much appreciated when we were in total darkness.

As I had not brought along my handset, I stayed at the spot for some moment; trying to calm down and thinking of what action to do next. In the darkness, I did some quick reflections - if we could not stand the state without light, how was our situation during our 'historic moment' when we were put inside our graves - six feet underground! It was said there was no light at all in the graves, then how our 'reaction' then?

Whats the situation inside the grave? From my few experiences attending burials, I could see once the body was placed inside the 'liang lahad' (small hole or niche inside the grave), a large plank would be lowered to close the hole and then earth poured to fill in it, I could imagine there would be no light at all inside the grave!

The thought of the darkness and gloomy situation inside the grave (one day it would be my turn to be buried inside it) made me really scared and panicked; yes please do think that one day we would be sent inside the place of total darkness without any hope of returning! 

Yes dear, everyone would 'enter' their graves which are without any light; there is no exception what more choice. Death is the end of this life and there is no returning to this life in any form. Life in the grave is a state of transition and waiting. It is also known as 'barzakh' which means 'a barrier between two things'. It is a barrier between the worlds the dead had just left and the Resurrection on the Day of Judgment. (Qur'an 23:100) -- Life in the Grave (Invitation to Understanding Islam, PERKIM) 

So, what was it inside a grave? In a 'hadith', Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., said: "I have never seen a sight more horrifying than the grave." (Tirmizi) The passing of the dead to the world of the grave coincides with the beginning of their awakening to the the Truth. The Noble Qur'an says, "And the agony of death comes with Truth. That is what (the disbelievers and evildoers) used to flee from!" (50: 19) 

The souls of the righteous ones experience a gentle, quick and satisfied exit. Their souls will be taken to the heavens while the disbelievers and the evildoers will realize at death about the Punishment in the Fire that awaits them. They will struggle to prevent the removal of their souls from their bodies. 

They will be in great pain as their blood vessels and nerves are ripped apart when their souls are forcibly removed. The Prophet s.a.w. was reported to have said that if human beings could hear their cries at death, they would faint. Their names will be recorded in the Register of Hell (Sijjeen) - Qur'an 83: 7-8 

The Prophet s.a.w. was also reported to have said: "If one does not find salvation in the grave, then what follows is very hard upon him." (Ibn Majah and Tirmizi) 

Subhanallah, dear readers we could not or face difficulties to move around when it was dark, we need light; perhaps in such a 'tight situation' a beam of light from a car or a very dim light such as from a handset is very much appreciated.

An 'ustaz' in his 'tazkirah' (Islamic lesson) at a masjid near my house said human beings are without light (we are in state of total darkness); it is Allah SWT who give us that blessing for example He ordered the sun to light earth. Imagine what would happened if the sun failed to 'turn up'; lives on earth would be in chaos - thus during the eclipse of the sun a few days ago, we must say our prayers (solat) to be thankful to Allah SWT for His mercy upon us.

We badly need light on earth, inside our graves and in the Hereafter, so what is 'that light'? Perhaps we could learn something from the story of Prophet Yunus (Jonah) alahis salam (peace be upon him) who had to overcome 'three layers' of darkness. What were 'those three layers of darkness'? 

When Prophet Yunus set off in despair, abandoning his 'ummah' after giving up hope of them coming to the right path, Allah the Exalted planned for him to be thrown into the sea, and instructed a whale (nun) to swallow him (but not digest) so that he stayed in the dark belly of the whale contemplating his mistake in abandoning his 'ummah' without Allah's instruction and there he repented. 

So Prophet Yunus was left in the darkness inside the stomach of a fish, darkness of the deepest sea and lastly darkness of the blackest night. In was inside the fish belly, that he made du'aa (supplication) - ‘Laa ilaaha illa Anta, subhaanaka inni kuntu min al-zaalimeen (There is no god but You, glory to You, verily I was one of the wrongdoers).’ 

Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said to his companions: "“Shall I not tell you some words which, if distress or grief befalls any of you and he makes this du’aa, it will bring him joy? It is the du‘aa’ of Dhoo’l-Noon (i.e. Yunus or Jonah): ‘There is no god but You, Glory to You; verily I was one of the wrongdoers.’” (Saheeh al-Jaami‘, no. 2605) 

Well, back to 'the grave story' - if we needed light 'when we are buried six feet under' then let us be on His straight path - according to an 'ustaz' whose lessons I followed closely twice a month at a masjid near my house; the light was from our 'good deeds' during our lives such as performing 'wuduk' (ablution) 'solat' etc (performing all obligations under 'Rukun Islam'), Qur'an reading and learning, giving charity, 'dhikir' (praising Allah SWT), 'salawat' (prayer for peace and prosperity to the Prophet s.a.w.) and many more. 

And never forget to du'aa to Allah SWT for example: "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." Remember this du'aa is to be supplicated when we 'on the Earth and not when we are inside it!' 

Another 'ustaz' said knowledge is also 'cahaya' (light); it would light you up in this world and Hereafter. Thus seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim, said the Prophet s.a.w. (Ibn Majah)

Remember, when we are in a state of blackout, we need a 'cahaya' (light) what more when we are buried six feet under. If during a blackout, of which perhaps was only for a short period, we feel miserable, what would be said about 'our journey with a 'one way ticket' inside our own graves' please think wisely and carefully before its too late! 

Subhanallah, if we (I included) need badly 'cahaya' or 'nur' (Arabic) or light in this world, what more when we are buried inside 'our graves' (barzakh) and in the Hereafter! Well, the 'dark' nights stay in Kundasang helped me to do some reflections...yes all of us are 'inching' towards 'the darkness of our own graves'.

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