Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Spirituality in Nature

Bismi Allahi ar-Rahmani ar-Rahim

There is a recurrent theme in the Qur'an to observe the universe and make conclusion on Allah's existence and His Attributes.  Indeed, the universe is full of spiritual stimulation.  Creations lead to and describe creators.  For instance, when I read "Sunan Musafir", it tells me about the creative imaginations of its writer.  When I look at the azure mountains surrounding Semanggol (Kampus PTS) in Janda Baik, it really touches my innermost being.  These serene pictures are nothing but signs of Allah; manifestations of Allah's Greatest Attributes...No wonder people find solace in nature for nature conveys messages from Allah and nature never stop singing praise and submitting to Allah The Almighty...SubhanaLlah, AlhamduliLlah, Allahu Akbar!

Senja di Semanggol Kampus PTS

Pagi yang nyaman di Jalan Kennedy Instanbul

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Reflection in His Eyes

In the name of Allah The Beneficent The Merciful

Once I met a young man
His eyes reflected a fire of love
Nevertheless, his face conveyed a life of heartache and sorrow
Yet he spoke enthusiastically about life and dreams of touching the heaven
While his fingers fidgeted a sign on his other finger
His smiles betrayed his innermost secrets
That got me wondering of love toils he had to endure

The lights of his eyes courageously
Penetrate deep into my soul
Conveying his life of hope and dreams dashed by doubt
As if I could read all his misery and joy
My soul was touched through reading his countenance

If what YOU has planned for me is this
that is YOU has chosen me to set him free
From the bondage of reluctant love
Love sacrificed for higher dream
Then guide me to the right way 
and protect me from getting entangled 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fuss over a Piece of Cloth

The meeting room was big enough to accommodate a big oval meeting table which can house 15 people comfortably.  The windows were left open to allow damp summer breeze to enter the meeting room of this isolated seminary.  At 9.00 am, participants of a short summer course entered the meeting room one by one.  They took seats nearest to the window causing a fly and a couple of bees to fly away into the wood outside of the retreat house.  A few seconds later, a black figure glided into the meeting room.  Her black blouse and long skirt a picture of elegant and a grey abstract-print scarf gracefully shaped her oval face.  The smile that was on her face made the two bees regretted that they had flown away.  Softly she lowered herself into a swivel chair at the head of the meeting table.  All eyes were fixed on her.  As she sat down, she uttered “Good morning” with an air of authority even the dogs which were yapping outside of the meeting room had to listen and obey. 

Soon after, the organizer walked in apologizing for being late.  She introduced herself jovially.  She explained that the course would be conducted informally and in relaxed mode.  She asked the participants to introduce themselves one by one beginning with the one seating on her left.  He was Justine, a young man from Chicago with hair that rabbits would love to chew.  Next to him was a lady professor from South Korea named Daeryun with skin as smooth as a virgin mango peel.  Two beautiful women from Italy, Lisa and Roberta proved descriptions of goddesses by Homer might be true.  Then, a friendly young man told his name was Dan from New York.  Beside him was an energetic lady from Istanbul.  From her look and dress, she could be mistaken for a non-Muslim lady from Serbia.  She introduced herself as Nina, a Muslim professor from a prestigious university in Istanbul.  Next to her was a petite young lady from Portugal; she mentioned that her name was Margie.  

Then all eyes were directed to this unassumingly simple with no façade to hide behind yet stunningly elegant lady.  She spoke with a tone of voice so soft that they had to open wide their ears but her words were firm and authoritative.  The smiles on her face a depiction of sincerity.  She said in fluent American English, “I’m Hajr from Malaysia.  I’m a full time homemaker doing PhD because I’m a Muslim”.  Hearing this, the jaw of the professor from Istanbul dropped in astonishment.  She boomed with a heavy accent that even a buzzing bee could hinder one’s effort to understand her, “What do you mean?  The scarf on your head is a symbol of your husband oppressive iron curtain he casted over you”. 

Despite this rude personal judgment, Hajr was calm as if she had heard this 1000 times before and she was prepared to face this offensive remark.  She spiced up her smile with a tinged of smirking and responded with conviction, “I understood being Muslim as being intelligent because seeking knowledge is obligatory based on the teaching of my Prophet and thus my husband is required to provide the financial support for my education.  And if my husband were to force me to take off this piece of cloth on my head which you despise so much, I’ll divorce my husband…There is no obstacle between My God and I”. 


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Asking for Forgiveness

Bismi Allahi ar-Rahmani ar-Rahim

When a person ask a question to a religious teacher and the question is on a new problem; and the religious teacher answer the question immediately, is the answer an opinion or a ijtihad?

According to al-Ghazali, to do ijtihad is to strive hard like a man carrying a big boulder on his back while climbing up a steep hill.  This means that to do ijtihad is to do an extensive research until all available resources on the problem are exhausted.  The result of this extensive research is knowledge or ruling on certain issues.

I told my students the other day that one should not advice others to do things that one has not done extensive research or one has not find any evidence or foundation on such action.  For example, should a mother or parents ask forgiveness from their children when they did something wrong? 

The findings by Hadith of Psychology Research Team revealed that Prophet Muhammad did not ask his companions to ask forgiveness when they did something wrong to their children.  In the case of the conflict between Abdul Rahman bin Auf and Khalid al-Walid, the Prophet also did not ask them to ask forgiveness from each other.  The same is true when Allah reminded the Prophet of his wrong action toward Ibnu Makhtum, the blind man in surah Abasa.  Prophet Muhammad did not ask for forgiveness from Ibnu Makhtum...And when Prophet Muhammad beat a person wrongly, he did not ask for forgiveness but he said to the man to beat him back. 

This got me wondering on the wisdom behind this.  I wonder why Prophet Muhammad did not ask a mother who lied to her child to ask for the child's forgiveness for lying?  The wisdom could be many but the most important thing is the advice that we give to others should be grounded on a firm foundation, that is, Qur'an and Hadith not on mere opinion or popular practice.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Giving is Receiving

Bismi Allahi ar-Rahmani ar-Rahim

'Giving is receiving' is a paradox.  To give away something means that something is gone...How can one receive when one gives?  This may not be difficult when what is involved is feeling such as love.  When we give our love to someone, we probably receive love in return.  Can this also work for material things like for instance money...Can we receive money when we give out money?  Allah mentions in the Qur'an that when you give sadaqah you will receive 10 folds or more, up to 700 times more.  Of course you will not receive the money from the one you give money to...Most probably you will receive the returns from someone else; and if TAQWA is your clothing, then that someone else is very unexpected by you.  Is there any evidence to this?  Indeed, there are many but I just want to share one experience...

Nadwan's dream is to go to Gaza and see with his own eyes the conditions of the people there and wanted to help or die as a shahid.  But he has not enough money for his daily consumption let alone to travel some few thousands kilometers to Gaza.  However, Nadwan is a generous young man.  With limited money that he has, he helps as much as he could.  One day he received a message from an unknown person offering him to fund his travel to Gaza...See! When you give you receive...Indeed words of Allah are the Truth!

What I want to share here is not the material giving and receiving.  I have appeared twice on TV show "Semanis Kurma" to share the findings of our team's research on Prophet Muhammad techniques of motivating and educating people to change from negative to positive moral behaviors and performances.  After this program, I have received many new friends who pray for my well-being, psychological and spiritual...I feel so touched and I cried for receiving so many goodness just for the little act of giving and sharing.  In fact, when it comes to knowledge, we do not give because it is not gone from our mind and heart rather we share.  And the act of sharing expand our heart-mind to receive more understanding...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Strange but True

Bismi Allahi ar-Rahmani ar-Rahim

Life has its own twists and turns.  Sometimes the unexpected things happened in our life that we grope deep in our intellect to find the meaning and wisdom of them all.  The scariest thing is we sometimes do not understand and cannot find the wisdom underpinning these unexpected experiences; and this of course left us wondering and waiting in anticipation of what the future might hold. To me, this whole experience left me hoping and pleading for Allah’s Mercy and Compassion.

Last October 2012, I went to Istanbul, Turkey to present the findings of my experiment at an international conference.  The experiences gained at the conference were profound and educational.  I cherished the wonderful people I have met and the insightful moments I have spent there.  Nonetheless, the strangest or may be the inexplicable thing that had happened was, I met a very enthusiastic young man who in just few hours decided to jump into an airplane and travel half way around the world to be for better and worse with me in this country that is so foreign to him.  A perfect stranger followed me home…strange but true.

Uncertainty leaves people in anxiety.  But I always remember that we human can only plan but the Best Planner is Allah.  Sometimes we do not even plan things that are unfolding before us, but Allah sure has perfect plans for our life…What is a person to do?  Just depend on HIM and trust HIM wholeheartedly.  May good things emerge out of this whole experience.  The anxiety and feelings that are developing within me is scary yet pleasant at the same time for it makes me reflect on the power of Allah “Kun fa Yakun”.  Further, I know for sure, even there might be heart ache and misery at the end of these experiences, what Allah has given me are the Best.

When my students asked what I have brought back from Istanbul as souvenir, I told them I brought a very big souvenir and his name is Hasan.  They were very surprised and bombarded me with questions that I didn’t even know how to explain.  I only can tell that when Allah wills something to happen, it happens.  When we trust Allah, what people can do or will do to us does not matter.

Eyup Mosque after Fajr prayer

Eyup Mosque

Turkish young ladies

At a cabal car station

The Blue Mosque


Hagia Sophia
Istanbul viewed from Camlica
Dr Norwati, Mr. Hasan Kuruz and yours truly

Between Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet Mosque

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bacalah dengan Nama Tuhan

BismiLlahi ar-Rahmani ar-Rahim

Bacalah dengan nama Tuhanmu ayatuLlah dalam bentuk kata-kata suci wahyu Tuhan dan juga ciptaan Tuhan termasuk dirimu yang diciptakan dari segumpal darah. Bacalah dalam dirimu dan dalam darahmu itu ada tanda-tanda dan mesej dari Tuhanmu...Bacalah kesemuanya maka dirimu tidak akan dapat lari dari membuat rumusan bahawa dirimu dan alam semesta yang terbentang luas ini berserta dengan segala isinya itu bukan terjadi dengan sendiri "by chance". Bacalah maka dirimu akan mengetahui dengan penuh keyakinan bahawa dirimu adalah hamba kepada Sang Pencipta. Sang Pencipta yang Maha Mengetahui lagi Maha bijaksana untuk mengajarkanmu ilmu yang tidak dirimu ketahui. Bacalah dan ketahuilah bahawa ilmu itu datangnya dari Tuhanmu dan DIAlah GURUmu yang pertama. Mengajarkan kepadamu bahawa segala-gala yang wujud itu tiada lain selain daripada tanda-tanda dan mesej dari Tuhanmu memberitahumu bahawa DIA WUJUD dan DIA menampakkan kepadamu sifat-sifatNYA yang DIA mahu dirimu ketahui.

Bacalah dengan menggunakan 'aql sihat kurniaNYA kepadamu kerana tanpa 'aql sihat dirimu tidak akan mendapat kepastian akan keberadaanNYA. Bacalah itu arahan untuk menggunakan daya fikir yang membuatkanmu terpaku terpesona sehingga jantung dan lidahmu tidak dapat lari dari menuturkan zikr.

Bacalah dan TuhanMU mengajarkanmu ilmu-ilmu yang tidak dirimu ketahui. Apakah ilmu itu? Bacalah, maka dirimu akan mengetahui bahawa 'aqlmu hanya mampu memproses maklumat yang didapatinya dari pancainderamu. Bacalah, dan dirimu memahami bahawa hakikat kewujudan itu luas tetapi kebenaran yang dirimu ketahui tentang hakikat kewujudan itu terbatas oleh kemampuan 'aqlmu. Maka, Tuhanmu yang Maha Pengasih Pemurah mengajarkanmu apa yang dirimu tidak ketahui tentang kewujudan dan kehidupan di alam sana.

Tidakkah kamu ketahui bahawa kehidupan alam sana itu adalah pendorong dan juga pengawal kepada tingkah lakumu? Bacalah dan dirimu akan mengetahui rahsia disebalik membina jati diri dengan mengetahui kehidupan alam sana bahawa gambaran hidup di sana dapat menghalang dirimu dari terjerumus ke lembah kehinaan.

Tidakkah dirimu dapat bandingkan bagaimana Nabimu mendidik sahabat-sahabatnya dengan memperlihatkan realiti kehidupan di sana dengan sejelas mungkin dan dirimu dididik dengan mendahulukan amalan-amalan yang kamu tidak memahami kenapa kamu harus melakukannya. Hasilnya, amalan-amalan itu tidak dapat menghindarkanmu dari jatuh ke lembah kehinaan.

Bacalah dan dirimu akan menjadi hamba kepadaNYA