Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Shaykh Salah Al-Budair - Madinatun fragrance comes to KL


Shaykh Salah Al Budair
Present Imam and Khatib of Masjid An-Nabawi
& Judge of High Court
Bismillah.

Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah, we're indeed grateful to be in his majlis organized by the IAIS Malaysia on 24th April 2013.

Think of the first imam of Masjid An-Nabawi, subhanallah, the Prophet salallah alaihi wasalam and here we have one of the successors. Indeed, the fragrance of Madinah lingers on from the supreme scent left by Rasulullah salallah alaihi wasalam.

The eminent shaykh spoke on the 'Place and Role of Maqasid Shariah with the Global Ummah'. A major part of his speech was about a letter sent by King George II to the emir of the Andalus Caliphate during the 4th century of Islam.

The key points of which were: the respect and recognition King George had for the Andalus Caliphate and the fruits of a healthy international relations that took place during the time.

Hope to share more about his speech later InshaAllah.
I know I owe you plenty. 

But I leave you with another key message from Shaykh Salah Al Budair during the Q&A session. He said: "I record my respect for the Malaysian women!"

So there, I regard it as a weighty du'a coming from the holy land of Madinah where our beloved Prophet resides, one whom we know had elevated the dignity of women during the early days of Islam, one who stood up upon seeing a group of women approaching, one who loved Ummul Mukminin Saidatina Khatijah (radhiallahu anha) so dearly hence making it an everlasting primary model for a relationship and partnership between a man and a woman.

May Allah make us heed lessons from the righteous.
Ameen.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rizq zahir & batin

Bismillah.



One mua'leem at Masjid Sultan last night gave a tausiyah on a Kitab by Shaykh Zainal Abidin Muhammad Al Fathani. He reminded the audience that rizq (provision) is not just food, money or property but also that of the batin aspect such as amal soleh, ibadah, zikir and makrifah.

Consider the batin provision Allah promises for those who perform the sunnat prayers bundled with the fardh prayers, for it is better than this world and its contents.

May Allah grant this faqir the tawfiq to practise all that which she reminds people on this blog.

And I humbly ask for your du'a for a friend who is hospitalised, please.

Thanks,
E

p/s Cet Amour Nest Pas Chose Facile is a soothing song for the soul by the Ibn Arabi Ensemble.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Thinking of you / Will share more later InshaAllah

Bismillah.

Assalamualaikum dear friends. Just a quick stop to say Alhamdulillah we managed to complete all five lectures with the highly esteemed Shaykh Dr. Usama Al Azahari last night. He is leaving for Cairo today. Upon granting the audience with ijazah/sanad of Kitab As Syamail Al Muhammadiyah, the humble, unassuming (and good looking) shaykh asked us to pray for his parents, his teachers and all teachers at the Al Azahar University. We stopped at chapter 26 of the Kitab and skipped through to the last chapter on the subject of meeting Rasulullah in dreams. He prayed so that we would all be able to dream of the Prophet someday. We must keep revising the Kitab and continue to make plenty of salawat until we see him salallah alaihi wasalam in our dream. The Kitab is a means for us to see him and be guaranteed of being with Rasulullah in akhira. Shaykh Dr. Usama promised if God wills he will come again and cover the chapters which we had skipped and finish up the entire Kitab with us.

I pray Allah will grant tawfik to share some more notes from the lessons, but not so soon since I am travelling. Meantime, I promise I'll say a prayer for all Lisan al-Din visitors when I visit the maqam of Habib Noh in Singapore tomorrow InshaAllah.

I leave you with this advice Shaykh Dr. Usama Al Azahari gave last night. That the ulama advise students to do these 3 things fast: eat fast, walk fast and write fast. That we must appreciate time and use it wisely. It's related that one scholar actually asked his qadam to read out his book loudly whilst he is in the toilet just so that he doesn't waste time. And this scholar had written numerous Kitab. One Kitab has at least 800 volumes. And for one of his Kitab, Ibn Jauzi had compiled an index which comes in 15 volumes for index alone!

May Allah include us among people who value time and put it to good use for the good of our religion. Ameen.

Though I have not been posting, know that I am always thinking of you : )

As ever,
Eza

Writing from JB -  a city in the southernmost state in Peninsula Malaysia.




Thursday, April 18, 2013

Knowing and loving Prophet Muhammad pbuh | Studying Kitab As-Syamail with Shaykh Dr. Usama Al-Azahari

Learning As-Syamail Al-Muhammadiyah
with Shaykh Dr. Usama Al-Azahari
Masjid Al Falah, Malaysia
17 April 2013

Bismillah.

Alhamdulilllah wa shukrulillah we are indeed grateful for the opportunity to sit in a majlis with Shaykh Dr. Usama Al-Azahari of Egypt last night. It was the first of a five series lecture with an intention to khatam (complete) Kitab As-Syamail Al-Muhammadiyah the preeminent kitab authored by Imam Tirmizi on the attributes of Rasulullah salallah alaihi wasalam. 

We would like to urge our friends in and around KL to come join the halaqah tonight until Sunday 21st April InshaAllah. Indeed this is a golden opportunity. Shaykh Usama was born on 16 July 1976. He learned and memorized the Quran from his father. He obtained syahadah (degree), masters and doctorate at the prestigious Al-Azahar University. Among his prominent gurus were Dr. Ali Jum'ah and Shaykh Muhammad Ibrahim al-Kattani. He has obtained ijazah from some 300 ulama. It was said that even cats would come sit in his majlis.

It was an interesting first experience of mine, when I was going to purchase the kitab inside the masjid, I was shown a card and asked to read a list of intentions as follows:

That I am buying the kitab with an intention to reap benefits from it zahir and batin.
That I will use my time for good deeds.
That I will learn about useful things.
That I will memorize my knowledge.
That with the book, I will help people and lend it to those in need.
That I will spread knowledge.
That I will busy myself with the kitab so I am distant from unpleasant words.


Shaykh Dr. Usama began his tausiyah with salutations to the Prophet. He said (as interpreted by Ustaz Ashraf): We are gathered here to discuss about the Prophet's ahadith and to reap benefit from knowing his syamail (attributes). One of the greatest blessings is when Allah makes us convene for the purpose of learning about His beloved. Your faith is not considered complete unless you love him and follow in his footsteps. Allah collates all the great attributes of all the other Prophets in Muhammad salallah alaihi wasalam

Allah makes the Prophet a vessel for hidayah and rahmat in general (for all). Each creation relies on his blessings. There is a hadith where the Prophet said; "Verily Mount Uhud loves me, and I love it." So the message that the Prophet was trying to tell us is that not only people have love and respect for him but the entire creations including inanimate objects.

Allah gives us an example of His love granted to Prophet Musa. He says: "I grant Musa my love." So Musa in turn was loved by all including his enemies, including Firaun who did not have the heart to murder him. Now what about the love Allah has for Prophet Muhammad? Every single creation, the angels from up above and down under and everything in between all love Muhammad. We must love him more than we love our parents, children and everything else.

O Allah, be our witness, that we love Your Beloved, that it is He whom we love more than we love our parents and all men and that we love him more than we love ourselves. Make our proclamation a reality and gather us with him, for You are powerful over all things. Make this majlis a stepping stone for us to fully realize the love of Prophet in our hearts and for us to understand his syamail, attributes and akhlak so that we could introduce him to this ummat and everyone.

***
After the congregational Isha' prayers, Shaykh Dr. Usama resumed his tausiyah saying:
The purpose of this majlis is for us to achieve the reality of love and the objectives for us learning the syamail are several:
  • To increase our knowledge on the persona, akhlak and attributes of the prophet.
  • To appreciate the creation of Prophet Muhammad and his noble characters.
  • To acquire a speck of the Prophet's ma'rifah (gnosis).
So we will learn about his physique from those who had met him before; about his hair; his transport, his food and drinks; his household; how he sits and interacts with his companions. Anyone and everyone who met him the first time felt a sense of awe and admiration towards him. Anyone who mingled with him would  love him. 

We learn from the ulama that love comes forth from three things: beauty, perfection and goodness. There is not a love that exists in this world except that it has one or more of the three things. The Prophet salallah alaihi wasalam reaches the peak of each of the three criterion. 

We learn about his beauty from As-Syamail by Imam Termizi. We can learn about his perfections from the kitab by Imam Suyuti and we learn about his goodness from seerah.

It's natural for people to like/love those who treat them good. People become servants to kindness. Do you think the kindness your parents have shown you and that of all the other people are better than the kindness of the Prophet? 

There is one kitab called Dalailul Nubuwah that's worth mentioning. It is a book by Imam Baihaqi that compiles all the proofs concerning the Prophet's honesty. Those who study this kitab will learn one important point - there are three things that point us to the Prophet's honesty, his syamail, his uniqueness and his mukjiza (miracles). 

Clearly the Prophet is unique and special. Solat witir is optional for us but obligatory for him. Similarly, qiyamulail and siyyam. The Prophet would fast continuously but he discouraged us to do the same. His food and drinks are not the same as ours. When he is fasting Allah feeds him with heavenly food in the forms of light and secrets; His gifts and knowledge. When these "foods" descend on the Prophet, his body would not need any kind of worldly food. That is why we cannot fast like him as it is beyond us. We are not worthy of the kind of lights and secrets he was privileged to receive.

The Prophet has more than 1000 miraculous powers. Some ulama accounted for 3000 mukjizat. Some of the often quoted miracles are the Isra' wal mikraj; the moon splitting; water gushing forth from his fingers. There is one kitab by Ahmad Shibli which is the best of all kitab that pertains to mukjizat. A student must heed the relationships between all these kitab. You must make reference to as many kitab as possible.

One other thing we could reap from studying the Syamail is that it will endear us towards anwar nubuwah (the prophetic lights). It will influence us in the way we deal with people i.e. muamalat. And our akhlak too.  

I met a friend in Jordan. He is an eminent ulama in fiqh and tasawwuf. He accepted Islam at a late age. So I asked him, what was the one thing that evoked his love for this deen. He said something even we Muslims may not be aware of. He said, it's the mukjizat of the Prophet's akhlak. Indeed the Prophet's akhlak is his mukjizat

Those wishing to emulate the akhlak of Rasulullah must practise for many years and still we might not be able to attain anywhere near the akhlak of Rasulullah. Allah created his supreme characters and honor him with it. And Allah confirms as such in the Qur'an.

Pray we leave not this majlis unless we attain the Prophet's love and imitate his characters, salallah alaihi wasalam.

***
Before Shaykh Dr. Usama began the first chapter of Kitab As-Syamail, he mentioned briefly his credentials and sanad (chain of transmission) which he had obtained. He assured the audience that at the end of the lecture series he will bring along and distribute his sanad. He also assured the audience that they too will obtain the sanad so they could in turn teach the kitab to others in order for the knowledge to spread far and wide.

***
Shaykh Dr. Usama then started reading all the 15 hadith in the first chapter of Kitab As-Syamail Al-Muhammadiyah by Imam Termizi.
  
Chapter Two - to be continued the following day at Masjid Ittifaqiyah.

***
18 April @ 8 pm - Masjid Al-Ittifaqiyah, SG 1/26 Sri Gombak
19 April @ 8 pm - Yayasan Al Wariseen, Setiawangsa
20 April @ 7.45 pm - Masjid Wilayah Jalan Duta
21 April @ 7.45 pm - Masjid Wilayah Jalan Duta

Allahu a'lam. May the shaykh forgive me for any errors and omissions.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Get to know the Prophet with Shaykh Dr. Usama Al-Azahari in KL 17- 21 April 2013

Bismillah.

May Allah grant us the tawfiq to attend
all 5 series of lectures on
Syamail Muhammadiah
with Shaykh Dr. Usama Al-Azahari

Insha Allah

1. Wednesday, 17 April @ 8 pm - Masjid Al Falah, Subang Jaya
2. Thursday, 18 April @ 8 pm - Masjid Al-Ittifaqiyah, SG1/26, Sri Gombak
3. Friday, 19 April @ 8 pm - Yayasan Al Wariseen, Setiawangsa
4. Saturday, 20 April @ 7.45 pm - Masjid Wilayah Jalan Duta
5. Sunday, 21 April @ 7.45 pm - Masjid Wilayah Jalan Duta


Allahumma salli 'alaa Sayyidina Muhammad
Al faatihi limaa ughliq
wal khaatimi limaa sabaq
nassiril haqqi bil haq
wal haadi ila siraatiqal mustaqeem
wa 'ala aalihi haqqa qadrihi
wa miqdaarihil azeeem

O Allah bless our liege-lord Muhammad
who opened what was closed
and who sealed what had gone before;
he makes the Truth victorious by the Truth;
and he is the guide to your straight path
and bless his household
as it befits his immense stature and splendor.
________________________

Credit: http://www.facebook.com/baalawikl?fref=ts



Sunday, April 14, 2013

Certainly certainty

Bismillah.

Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah. It's been a very enlightening weekend. As we witness and reflect on our surroundings, we can appreciate life better and become more mature in our thinking and disposition.

I learned something important at the majlis ta'lim with Shaykh Fahmi Zamzam al-Maliki tonight. He expounded on a couple of aphorisms from Al-Hikam. I'm not sure how to share all the details because it was pretty deep. Maybe next time. For now, this is one key message from the majlis hosted by KL Ba'alawi.

We all know the virtues of seeking knowledge from an 'aleem. We are told to go out and seek knowledge as much as possible. But Shaykh Fahmi said we should also "go take certainty from people of certainty." 

We think we have heard it all, we have read it all, we know so much, but the truth is that we still don't have certainty (yaqin). If we were certain about our faith, we would have acted differently, it would have translated into actions. But nay! We're just talking, reading and listening, more talking, reading and listening and not acting enough. And we go about our daily business thinking akhirat is still far away. It is near said Shaykh Fahmi.

We may have iman (belief) but we may not necessarily have yaqinYaqin is iman that which brings forth actions.

We know and believe the virtues of praying 2 rakaah fajar that it's worth more than this world and its contents. But we don't have enough yaqin, that's why we are still reluctant to do it.

If we had certainty that each word we say and write will be taken into account by Allah, we would be more careful. We would be more wary of each word we utter and write but because we don't have that certainty about Allah watching and listening, we don't really care, do we?

Once again, this is the key message from Shaykh Fahmi Zamzam al-Maliki.



For now I am certain I'd like to go on a hiatus for a week, maybe more. Until then. Bi-iznillah.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Recorder | In company of the One

Bismillah.

It was hard not to cry when Habib Ali Zaenal Abidin al-Hamid spoke on a higher than usual pitch, warning us about Allah being THE Recorder of everything.

: ' (

It's a fact I take for granted often. We forget conveniently something wrong we did yesterday let alone two weeks ago. "How many of us even remember the bad and good deeds he/she has done today?" asked Habib Ali at Masjid Muadz bin Jabal last night. We may forget, but forgetting does not mean that it's not there. It is very easy for us to forget our actions but Allah sees and records every single thing. He is Al-Hasib, so it's not difficult for Him to do an accounting of our actions, us, the jin and even the angels.


Because we will not remember a thing of the past, our amal will be presented to us in akhirah. At that time we will wish we could run away from the bad deeds, saying: how I wish I had not done that, how I wish I had not seen that, how I wish, how I wish....

As related in a hadith, when we die, three things shall escort us to the grave: our families, properties and amal. Two of those will leave except our amal which will appear either in a good or bad form and will keep us company in the grave. "Who designed it?" asked Habib Ali. We. We create the appearance of our grave companion.

Therefore said the habib: "Make Allah present with you wherever you are. Make a determination to leave the bad and do good instead. But remember also: Allahu raufun bil ibad. "Allah is compassionate to His servants."

Yes, it helps to think that His mercy exceeds our mountain-sized, sea-wide sins. That's the gist of Surah Al-Imran verse no. 30.


***
Tomorrow 14 April 2013, there are two majlis you may choose to flock to:

Haul Habib Ali bin Jaafar al-Idrus at
Masjid Sultan Ismail, Batu Pahat, Johor
6.30 pm - 11 pm

Majlis ta'lim at KL Ba'alawi
with Shaykh Fahmi Zamzam al-Maliki
After Maghrib
http://www.facebook.com/baalawikl?fref=ts

InshaAllah

Friday, April 12, 2013

Habib Salim bin Umar at Masjid Muadz bin Jabal - Kuala Lumpur

Bismillah.

The weekly majlis ta'lim organized by Darul Murtadza on 12 April was special because it was our first time to sit in a majlis with the son of the venerable Habib Umar bin Hafiz of Yemen. MashaAllah tabarakallah - Habib Salim bin Umar - his voice sounded almost exactly like his father, it felt as though it's Habib Umar who's speaking. Subhanallah! And in an instant, Allah soothed all hearts who could be missing and longing for Habib Umar's presence.

Habib Salim bin Umar bin Muhammad BenHafidz

Habib Salim bin Umar said, as interpreted by Habib Ali Zaenal Abidin al-Hamid:

Praise be to Allah, He who is Ahad, He who witnesses there is no God but He, as do the angels and people of knowledge. I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. May Allah gather us with Prophet Muhammad salallah alaihi wasalam and his families.  

We are in a majlis which is a heritage of the Prophet. The Prophet salallah alaihi wasalam did not leave dinar and dirham as inheritance. He left us with knowledge to inherit. Whoever takes that, takes the best part. Whoever is present, takes the best part of the inheritance. 

There will always be a gathering of all sorts. People get together for properties, for power, for popularity, for fulfilling their desires, but we gather to grab the Prophet's heritage.

In every age and place, there will always be gatherings organized by certain corporations, organizations, societies, countries. There are all kinds of event organizers. But we are at a gathering which is sponsored by Allah. 

Events taking place out there may be considered special. Some are being organized in a large scale at a luxurious place with good infrastructure, at vast public spaces, on the roads, in grand ballrooms. But we gather in the house of Allah. It is the most sacred of places.

It is indeed a great bounty of Allah to be here, to reap the heritage of the Prophet salallah alaihi wasalam in the company of angels. How can there be a better gathering than this? If Allah were to unveil our hijab and let us see the angels, we would see them, many of them filling up from down here to the highest skies and none of us would want to leave. He who told us about this, was one who never said a lie. 

The angels are with us, when we say a prayer, they say ameen. When we ask something from Allah, the angels serve as shafaat. When we leave, we leave not unless our sins are pardoned and Allah replaces our bad deeds with good ones. Let no one say, there is a better gathering than this. Attending majlis ilm is the best of all good deeds. The rewards exceed that of sending 1000 janazah, or visiting 1000 sick persons and better than performing 1000 rakaat of solat.

Praise be to Allah for this blessing. This masjid is named after Muadz bin Jabal who is sheikhul ilmi. One who is well known among sahabah for having a high degree of knowledge. The Prophet salallah alaihi wasalam once said: "He who is most knowledgable on matters of halal and haram is Muadz." 

Muadz knew the Prophet when the latter was in Makkah. Muadz was present during bay'atul aqabah. He was an Ansar of Madinah - one who welcomed the Prophet to Madinah. Muadz participated in the battles of Badar and Uhud. He possessed plenty of knowledge and understanding but what is most significant is that he won the love of Rasulullah salallah alaihi wasalam. There is a hadith where the Prophet said to him: "O Muadz verily I love you..." It is a great honor for one to have love for Rasulullah but it is even a greater honor to have the love of Rasulullah in return. Muadz was already a learned person, still the Prophet taught him, that it's not enough to just have the knowledge. One must also have a grateful heart, a tongue that makes zikir and limbs occupied with ibadah - Allahumma a'inni ala zikrika, wa shukrika wa husni ibadatik. 

The Prophet sent him to Yemen. Unlike all others, Muadz was given permission by the Prophet to accept gifts. But upon returning to Madinah, Saidina Umar asked him to forego his properties. Muadz contested, saying he had obtained special permission from the Prophet. Nonetheless, he went to see Saidina Abu Bakar afterwards, to give away whatever bounties he had accumulated in Yemen. Such was the character of one who's 'aleem who sacrificed what was deemed halal for him to keep. 

It was narrated that Muadz was referred to not as a person but as ummat who was obedient to Allah. Saidina Abdullah bin Mas'ud thought he heard it wrong and that it was in reference to Prophet Ibrahim. Muadz was regarded as ummat because he had many followers. He was a devout man. Everything he did was for Allah. As related in a hadith, Muadz will be resurrected before the ulama. 

Here we are present at this masjid named after him. May we belong with Saidina Muadz bin Jabal together with the ulama who practice their knowledge. One who does not practice, is like a tree devoid of fruits. However big the tree is, without fruits, it has no value. It's better to know little and practise much and not the reverse.

I am happy to be here in this majlis where people read the Qur'an, hadith and learn about the inheritors of Allah. We are actually living in akhirah though we are physically here. Angels are all around us. Allah says our names and is pleased with us. Our grave shall be bright with this act we perform tonight. The graves of our parents are well lit too due to this act of worship we do. 

There was an incident where the angel exempted someone from punishment in the grave all because his son had gone to learn the Quran and recited Bismillah. Imagine, you recited more than Bismillah just now. We pray so that Allah grants us istiqamah in acquiring knowledge and performing amal; gives us the tawfik so that we could teach others; that Allah accepts our deeds and purify our hearts from riya', ujub and from having worldly intentions. May Allah clean our heart from depending on anything other than Allah. May Allah, He who knows the wishes of each one of us, may He fulfill our hajat in this dunya and akhirah.
[Ameen]
[May I be forgiven for any errors and omissions]


Habib Ali Zaenal Abidin al-Hamid
12 April is the birthday of our much adored and respected Habib Ali Zaenal Abidin al-Hamid, the leader of Darul Murtadza of KL, Malaysia. One whom we have been quoting a great deal.

We pray Allah grants him sihah wal 'afiah, increases him in knowledge and makrifah, grants him continued strength to propagate beneficial knowledge on Islam to more and more people; may he become the source of hidayah to those in need, far and wide. Whilst he busies himself for the good of the deen, we pray so that Allah takes care of his family affairs in the best of manners; that Allah grants him and his loved ones continued sakinah and happiness. Ameen.
________________________
Pic credit: Darul Murtadza.com

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Partnerships

Bismillah.

One reputable emcee at the wedding I attended last weekend made some very good points. I would vote him the best wedding emcee anytime. He recited some cleverly composed poetry - poetic and romantic yet loaded with wisdom.

He succinctly defined the partnership of Prophet Muhammad salallah alaihi wasalam with Saidatina Khadijah and Ai'shah; Yusuf and Zulaikha; Sulaiman and Balqis.

He reminded the audience not to dream for extraordinary wife or husband because we are people of akhiru zaman. We should just be more concerned about being a soleh and solehah ourselves and not harbour too high an expectation on our partner.

I left the wedding with a lovely gift and this line etched in mind: "if you are not a woman of strength like Siti Hajar, then don't hope for a husband as brave and as patient as Ibrahim."

And this, I think, describes a good partnership:
"We're sufficiently similar to understand each other easily, 
and sufficiently different to surprise each other."
- Daniel Kahneman 
[on his sparring partner and sidekick Amos Tversky in 'Thinking, Fast and Slow']

In keeping with the love theme, I wish to quote an Indonesian song. Apologies to the non-Malay readers, I will not translate it line by line, lest its beauty dissipates.

Sorry about this mushy stuff tonight. Al-Wadud abound!

Gapai semua jemariku 
rangkul aku dalam bahagia mu
ku ingin bersama berdua selamanya
Jika aku buka mata ini
ku ingin selalu ada dirimu
dalam kelemahan hati ini
bersama mu aku tegar



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

WHSmith is in Penang y'all | Keep smiling y'all

Bismillah.

Boy was I surprised to see WHSmith the moment I disembarked and stepped on the newly refurbished Penang International Airport yesterday. Smith's is a major British book retailer. It's virtually everywhere in the UK. Founded in London in 1792, it's probably the country's oldest bookstore. This is what they say on their plastic bags: "Every year, you pick up 40 million unputdownable books from us."

Smith's at Penang International Airport
- Possibly the 1st outlet in Malaysia

And I have a proof that I wasn't the only one who's surprised and excited about it. 

Another Smith's fan
You noticed anything from their ads? "Every year you pick up 40 million unputdownable books from us." They could have said: "Every year we sell 40 million books." But of course Mr. Smith is smart enough to know that in business it's always about you and not me/we. So they say 'you pick up' and not 'we sell'.

Couldn't resist being part of the statistics of 40 million, I bought 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' by Daniel Kahneman, a winner of the Nobel Prize.

Am thinking slow this moment, because I've just got home and feeling tired. But it's refreshing that at last on my 6th flight within 9 days, the flight captain caught my attention. Now, how many of us actually pay attention to the in-flight announcements? But Captain Nukman was different, he had this energy, his brief speech striked the right tone. Yeah...yeah...you might say. What I'm trying to say is that I noticed another important point about effective communications. This I learned - be it written or spoken, we must strike the right tone. And we must sound fresh and speak from the heart even if we're saying something so common like what Captain Nukman was saying. Apart from talking about the usual stuff like the weather on the ground and the altitude, he said: "be cheerful and keep smiling." Yes.

The next time you fly, especially you frequent flyers out there, see how many flight captains actually compose their words in a refreshing manner. Oh well, maybe you couldn't be bothered...heh heh...sorry I'm rambling again.

Anyways, keep smiling y'all : )

p/s 
Captain Nukman also said this little weighty word. 
He said: "We will, InshaAllah, land at 6.30 pm."
Good to have a God-fearing flight captain, is it not?


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Status | Singled out

Bismillah.

Because I am single, I get plenty of me time. So I can spend time to scribble something in response to some funny and sweet postcards sent to me about being single. People like to single out single persons especially single women, that I conclude from my own experience. But of course people mean well, they just want you to be happy or maybe happier, but that's just a perception. Whatever it is, they and we are pro-sunnah after all.

You may recall a postcard posted a couple of days ago. It says: "Single is not a status. It is a word that best describes a person who is strong enough to live and enjoy life without depending on another for their own happiness. They don't need another to validate their own self worth."

I agree, partly. I say, single or otherwise is a status decreed by the Most Clever. It's not good to always depend on another for our own happiness, true. We can all independently decide to be happy or otherwise. And let no one, single or otherwise, be in need of another to validate our self worth.

Most importantly, I think we are all contented with whatever He has decreed for us: single, married, separated, divorced or widowed. If we are not contented, then we should strive to be. As Muslims, we are fortunate because we have the Hereafter where happiness will be eternal regardless of one's status here.

For all the cute postcards about "being single" that have been sent to me, here's my own version : )



Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah.

p/s In case you're wondering why ahh Kak Eza dressed up like that. Well she just got back from her colleague's wedding. She's elated. To show how happy she was for her friend, she dressed up a little.

Pray Allah bless the union of N & Dr. S.
Ameen.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Praiser and the One praised

Bismillah.

I was going to make a special mention about praise-r as in the kind people who have praised my writing. But Aunt Merriam [Webster] was quick to correct me. The word praiser is actually a noun for praise and does not in any way refer to the person praising something/someone. 

Hah hah...that's another proof I'm not a good writer actually. But still I want to be honest and say that of all the compliments this amateur writer have received, three came from people who are themselves excellent in their respective fields. Coincidentally, they all live near the Queen of England. So they speak and write the Queen's English. Whereas my English is "Manglish" - mangled Malaysian English.

You may recall one lesson from Shaykh Fahmi Zamzam al-Maliki, he said the "praisers" are praising not because we are so good but because Allah is so good in covering up our flaws and faults. That's from Kitab Al-Hikam. How true!

With due respect to the other "praisers" whom I know are all learned and righteous. You are much appreciated. But who are the three people whose words of praise have made me feel extra grateful and thankful? 

One is a consultant surgeon based in London. Young and accomplished. If I could mention just two of his good traits: he's truthful and polite. [Z: may your upcoming umrah benefit you for the longest time.]

One is a specialist doctor based in Oxford, who seems to be adding more and more qualifications on his already impressive CV. If I may mention his plus points: he's tirelessly seeking knowledge in his area of specialization and also religious knowledge, hopping from one majlis zikr to another. [TW: know that I admire you big time, no matter what.]

One is a lawyer based in London. This person is well mannered and is religion-conscious despite the fact that he grew up and has been living in the UK for many years. He is so very well read mashaAllah that he might have to move to a bigger house to accommodate his ever growing book collections. [C: I am amazed at how humble you are!]

We learned from the shuyukh that when we praise someone, we are in fact praising the good attributes which Allah has bestowed upon them, that which Allah has beautifully manifested on them. When we praise someone, we must recognize who is it we are actually praising. On any and all occasions, He is the One praised.

Pray, may Allah cover our shortcomings. And when we say that, said Shaykh Fahmi Zamzam al-Maliki just last week, it's not because we want people to see only the good about us hence ask Allah to hide the bad. We say 'O Allah cover up our faults' meaning do not let us fall into errors; prevent us from falling into vice; block from us opportunities for transgressing.

Ameen. Allahumma ameen.

A writer's kit


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Correcting one's vision

Bismillah.

Allah...Allah...I made a second attempt at improving my hajj vision. Don't know if this one will make it to the holy lands. Chances are still blurry despite having these new pair of spectacles. Whatever will be, will be. We shall see.



Because I am foolishly frank, I will tell you that I am feeling mentally and physically exhausted, and somewhat hopeless so I might escape to a maqam and be a qadam there for a day inshaAllah. Hoping to get basirah - the "eyes" of the heart corrected there. We all need to correct our vision every now and then, don't we? When the going gets tough, get in touch with the unseen realm.

Until then, please excuse me. I really need a break. This time you can say: "Kesian....Kak Eza!" [Pity Sis Eza!]

: (

Rabbi yassir wala tu'assir
Rabbi tamim bil khair

O Lord, make it easy, do not make it difficult.
O Lord, make it end well.

Ameen.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Musalla | Imam Afroz Ali on equality

Bismillah.

Musalla is an Arabic word for our Malay version for surau - a small room in a building or an outbuilding reserved for Muslims to perform our five daily prayers when we are out and about. Musalla at shopping malls in Malaysia is known for being below par. The one at BSC (Bangsar Shopping Centre) in KL, in my opinion, is par excellence. 

  
Today at the BSC musalla, Imam Afroz Ali of the Seekers Guidance and the founder of Al Ghazalli Institute of Australia gave a talk on 'Equality in Islam'. The event was jointly organized by Radical Middle Way of UK and Young Muslims Project of Malaysia.

It was my first time attending an event in KL which had a different approach in the way it was moderated. Imam Afroz wanted it to be interactive, and attendees were encouraged to discuss and express their views openly.

Because I wasn't expecting that, because I was feeling exhausted from travelling and because my comprehension level of spoken English was rather poor, I could not absorb as much information and knowledge as I had hoped.

Some points I did manage to jot down: 
  • Love needs not have a definition. Love may have a description from how you have experienced it.
  • We should not worry about form. We should get ourself concerned with meaning instead.
  • The secret of knowledge is service.
  • Man and woman are biologically different. A research shows that colors mean nothing to an infant male. He sees motion more than anything. A female infant on the other hand recognizes color better and is more conscious of soft and hard objects. 
  • Our education system is male centric.
  • Men tend to look for solution and women just need to express themselves.
  • When we speak of equality, an aspect of it is sameness.
  • There is a 'sameness' between men and women but we are different and in the eyes of Allah we are the same except in terms of piety (taqwa).
  • Two key Arabic definitions in relation to equality for us to note:
  1. Musawa - from Arabic word sawa or sawiya meaning equality which means to be the same, to put on the same level, to put on equal footing, non-discrimination before law. 
  2. Adala - means justice of equality that is to be fair and impartial to rights, honor of integrity and non-discrimination before law.
When talking about equality in Islam we should use adala instead of musawa. Equality in Islam is about returning to "whole". It is about equitable justice. It's about wholeness of equality.  

One common example is the authority a man has over woman in a marriage. Imam Afroz said man being a leader is not a privilege but a responsibility. Though a man may seem to have the upper hand in a marriage, he is actually subservient to a woman, his mother. So overall, in Islam this wholeness of equality becomes apparent. 
    
Allahu a'lam.  


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Radical Middle Way programs in KL | Equality

Bismillah.

We are pleased to mention these upcoming events by the Radical Middle Way UK which has recently established its presence in Malaysia:

Love Don't Cost A Thing
Thursday 4th April 2013
8 pm @ KGPA, Bukit Kiara, KL
&
The Meaning of Equality in Islam
Saturday 6th April 2013
11 am @ Surau/Musolla Bangsar Shopping Center (BSC), KL

A, what could have been a beautiful event, has passed, but here is the poster anyway so you'll have an idea of what kind of programs the RMW organizes.



'My love don't cost a thing' sings J.Lo. It would be interesting to hear from Shaykh Faraz Rabbani about the cost of love, if any.

But I remember, Shaykh Abdul Aziz al-Fattani saying over and over again about the cost of love. If I were to translate it literally: "the price of the heart is costly". It's pricey, said the shaykh, because Allah and none other is supposed to occupy it.

Perhaps Shaykh Faraz would be focusing more on the cost of love in a relationship between two married mortals. Pray someone could share with us his/her takeaways from the event afterwards. I will not be able to attend, unfortunately. Will try to catch the one on Saturday on equality in Islam, InshaAllah.

The subject of equality has always been hot because it's like a long time cultural wrestling of power, about striking a balance of rights or maybe fairness is a better word - between him and her. It's like balancing what's his and what's hers. We all know it's not like just having a bath towel with 'His' and 'Hers' nicely embroidered on it, and she and he would live happily ever after with everything between them clearly spelled out.

Gosh, being single, I should be the last person to say anything about this really.

But I have been reading some interesting articles in the March edition of the Harvard Business Review about equality for women at the workplace especially in leadership roles. I don't think it's that difficult to arrive at the fact that women contribute differently than men because for obvious reasons our strengths and capabilities are different and therefore the corporate world must acknowledge and evaluate a woman's role and success appropriately. This of course after having given women equal opportunities to be the best that they can be. Similarly, at home, the man should provide a healthy, nurturing and fair living environment so that the woman can be the best woman she can be, so she can be like that Lionel Ritchie's song: 'Three times a lady' : )

Equality at home is not so much of an issue for a single lady, obviously. Anyhow, I'd like to share this postcard a thoughtful married woman sent me recently, which might spark another exciting seminar topic. Allahu a'lam.



Alhamdulillah for anything and everything that He has decreed for us.

______________________
Credit: A. Civale 


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

When the sun sets | Signs on the horizons

Bismillah.

"And the sun is quickly proceeding towards its destination.
That is the designing of the all-Mighty, the all-Knowing."
- Surah Yassin:38

I am never going to pretend and you must have realized it by now that I listen to all kinds of songs. And if you are like me, that is if you are not a strictly nasheed-only-listener, you would have a theme song for the week, day or month depending on the mood or hal.

But the above ayat is my all time favorite and will always be. How many times do you catch the sun in a day? Don't forget the above ayat each time you set your eyes on that glorious planet. I pray to Allah the Merciful, the all Hearing, the Watcher, the Witness, if everything else I do is deemed unacceptable, flawed and invalid, I pray He be my witness that I remind people of this one ayat from the Qur'an. That He accepts my faith, that I believe in this ayat because I see it manifest everyday. I see His signs on the horizons. I see His signs in myself. 

And this is the other ayat that has triggered faith:
"We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in their own souls until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. Is it not sufficient that your Lord is witness to all things?"
(Al-Fussilat : 43) 
  
Sadaqallah al-Azeem
Allah says the truth.
_________________________

Disclaimer:
This blogger sometimes got off the track. So please excuse her. Pardon her appearance whilst she upgrades her deen. Today she saw the sun setting over Kuching riverside from her hotel room at the Riverside Majestic and she thought of sharing His majestic sign with you.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

On love, cats and clouds

Bismillah.

Heh heh...someone who's very caring seemed very concerned about my status. She has been sending cute little postcards about being single. Heh heh...let's spend the night rambling since I'm all alone in this very cold hotel room in Kuching. But Anuar Zain the charming singer is serenading ;) he's singing Sedetik Lebih (One more moment). Am trying to chill before tomorrow's seriously dry and long meeting, so excuse me. 

Kucing, that's what we call cats in Malay. Kuching is also a name of a small city in East Malaysia (Borneo). I love this city because my late father loved this place. He worked here for a decade long so I heard plenty about it as a bedtime story when I was small. I grew a love for this city a little bit more because my 'first love' was from here, ahah! And I am loving it because the hotel where I am staying does not make me count towels. In fact, they offer a menu of pillows: cotton, contour, feather, lavender etc. And in the cupboard there's a fresh smelling prayer mat (sejadah) wrapped in plastic, neatly hung. That's what we call good customer service. And love, is in the details.

Allah is very detail. He creates unique clouds in each and every moment. There are never two similar clouds anywhere at any given moment. He is always drawing them continuously and not continually, mind you. Moving them about so effortlessly, giving us beautiful skies to look up to and dream. There's a verse in the Quran about Him creating a canopy for us. And what a beautiful canopy above Kuching I saw just now subhanallah.

From Qur'an 2:22


And this card I received today, puts a smile on my face.



Oh, did you know there are 14 ways cats show their love? Yes! And I show my love by being frank in sharing my thoughts here on this space.

- E -
One Monday in Kuching



p/s 
It's ok Sister P, I am fine. One elderly shaykh once said to me, out of the blue: "In the hereafter, you'll get to choose any one of the shuyukh you fancy!" Hmm...who might it be?



Monday, April 1, 2013

Shaykh Fahmi Zamzam al-Maliki on Al-Hikam and the true Friend

Bismillah.

Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah, Shaykh Fahmi Zamzam al-Maliki was at Ba'alawi KL yesterday evening. May Allah grant him sihah and afiah and let's not ever take for granted his presence and teachings, this fatherly shaykh whom we all love.

He expounded on several aphorisms of Al-Hikam by Ibn Atha'illah as-Sakandari. The gist of the lessons is as below:

Had Allah not covered the imperfections of our worship/servitude, none of our amal (good deeds) would be accepted. Our worship [amal] is blemished, it's problematic, it's not pure. Allah covers up the flaws of our amal.

We learn from the Prophet the need to say istighfar immediately after solat, we say astaghfirullah three times. We must say istighfar even after having performed a good deed i.e. solat. Should Allah want to be strict with us, none of our good deeds would be counted. When we pray, our hearts roam everywhere. The portion which we are khusyuk (attentive) is negligible. So we try to pray in congregation and have at least 40 people praying so that Allah might accept our prayers. This is especially important for solatul janazah - prayer for the deceased.

The standard of our siyam (fasting) is like that of a primary/elementary school. Our fasting is categorized as awaam (general public) because we merely abstain from food and drinks. Our eyes, mouths etc. are not fasting as it should be. The elite (khawas) fast with all their 7 limbs. And the khawasal khawas (elite of the elite) their fasting is of the highest degree. For example, Saidatina Aishah. She was fasting when she was gifted with a big sum of money equivalent to $70,000. She immediately distributed all the money. When it was nearing iftar, she asked her maid what food was available for them. Apparently, they had nothing much for iftar except for some leftover bread. Shaykh Fahmi said, unlike us, we are always planning and preparing large meals for iftar, what more if we had plenty of money. 

The same goes with our hajj/umrah. Merciful is Allah who disregard our tainted amal. We tend to be proud and boast about our good deeds even though we cannot be sure if it would be accepted by Allah. How can we take pride in something which we do not do ourselves? We should always question our lower nafs. We should always doubt it by asking ourselves: am I really doing this for the sake of Allah? 

The following aphorism was about our needs for Allah's hilim (patience/forebearance) after having performed a good deed more than after having committed a bad deed. Those who commit vice are usually fearful of Allah and are ashamed of themselves. Those who perform a good act have the tendency to feel proud of themselves thinking it's a result of their own effort. They forgot that being able to do a good deed is a blessing from Allah due to hidayah and tawfik from Allah.

We cannot escape Allah's watching over us. We cannot hide from Him. He knows the bad intention behind an evil eye. If we were truly aware of our own misdeeds and shortcomings we would not bother talking about people's faults. There is a Malay saying describing people who could see the most minute flaw of others, no matter how remote/distant it is. Yet he/she is unaware and oblivious of his/her own big faults.

Shaykh Fahmi said, to think we are flawless, clean and unblemished is ujub (pride). It's even worse for someone who is dirty, yet believe he/she is clean. Saidina Ali karamallahu wajhah was one of those who were guaranteed a heavenly reward - the al ashrah. Still he spent the night praying telling his nafs: "Ya nafsi, ghurin ghayri." O nafs, go cheat other people, don't cheat me. Do not ever feel safe from the tricks of your desires. Imam Ghazali said: "To perform a good act is difficult". But to protect the rewards of a good act like solat, siyam and teaching is even more difficult.

The next aphorism was on the need to ask Allah to cover up/veil our shortfalls. There're two meanings to this, said Shaykh Fahmi. The awaam (the commoners) they ask Allah to hide their faults so that people may regard them as a clean/good person. For the khawas (the elite) whay they mean by asking Allah to cover up their faults is that they hope Allah would protect them from any possibilities of doing a bad deed. They are concerned about their reputation in the eyes of Allah, whereas the awaam, they are concerned about people's perception towards them. The awaam, they are impure but want to be seen as pure. The khawaas,  they are pure and want to avoid from falling into errors. The awaam, they have commited vice and want it veiled from people.

If or when people show respect towards you, they are not actually respecting you but it's due to how well Allah has covered up your flaws. Abdullah bin Mas'ud said: "If they knew my faults, they would not show me any respect." Indeed people do not in reality, respect our true realities. People simply respect/honor the garments/coverings which Allah has put in place so as to hide our flaws.

There's a story about a shaykh in Mesir who on one festive occassion had worn ordinary clothes instead of the dressings he's known for, being a shaykh. And people ignored him. He then realized that people only had respect for his outfit and not him as a person. So he said addressing his jubbah and turban: "Now you eat O jubbah, O turban, people have more respect for you than me!"

People are not aware of our akhlak mazmumah (negative traits). We must therefore, doubt and question it.

***
Moving on to the next aphorism, Shaykh Fahmi explained why Allah is our only true Friend. None shall befriend you, who is aware of your shortcomings yet is patient about it.

Allah is our true Friend because He is well aware of us, of our faults but He keeps helping us, always offering us His bounties. Therefore, He is the best person whom we should keep company.

There's a saying by Imam Ghazali: "If a person truly understand with what he/she commits a bad deed, the person would refrain from commiting the bad deed." For example: the eyes. It's a gift from Allah, so how can we use His gifts to do something that He forbids? That would tantamount to kufur of His blessings. Our mouth is a gift from Allah. Allah lends it to us yet we badmouth/backbite people. We just do not know how to be thankful. There are people who worship idols, yet Allah never forsake them. He feeds them. So do not be fooled by Allah's hilim (forbearance) thinking He will forgive us for all that.

We must have adab. If you have cats as pets at home, do not ever think your cats are depending on your rizq. The reverse might be true!

The sahabah received plenty of lessons/admonition for their adab. Saidina Umar got very furious when Hindun bt Utbah (Abu Sufiyan's wife) pledged to eat Saidina Hamzah's heart. A revelation came reminding Umar that he too was like that before, but Allah gave him the blessing of Islam. If we want Allah to forgive us, we must offer pardon to people if we're in the position to do so.

The sahabi (friend) who is most patient with our faults is noneother than Allah. But so little thanks we give. We perform ibadah and foolishly think we are doing Allah a favor. And Allah just keep giving us plenty of things.

***
The last aphorism expounded by Shaykh Fahmi was on the degree of certitude.

Shaykh Ibn Atha'illah said: 'If truly the light of certitude occupies your heart, you will see akhirah so near to you without you having to approach it.'

Shaykh Fahmi said, we will not be so lazy to work for akhirah if we are able to see how close it is to us in actual fact. Many of us think akhirah is far away. The Prophet salallah alaihi wasalam once said, 'I could see the heavens behind the mihrab (prayer niche).' Yakin (certitude) is a degree after iman. There are many people who have iman but so few have yakin. Those who have yakin, their certainty of a particular thing, shapes and influence their actions.

In reference to the third and fourth verse in Surah Al-Baqarah:

 ٱلَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِٱلْغَيْبِ وَيُقِيمُونَ ٱلصَّلٰوةَ وَممَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنْفِقُونَ
وٱلَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِمَآ أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَآ أُنْزِلَ مِن قَبْلِكَ وَبِٱلآخِرَةِ هُمْ يُوقِنُونَ

"Who believe in the unseen, and are steadfast in salah (prayer) and spend out of what We have provided them; and who believe in what has been revealed to you and what has been revealed before you; and they have faith in the Hereafter."

Shaykh Fahmi said we must have yakin about Allah's reward for us in akhirah for a certain good deed we do. For example, in giving for charity, we must have faith that it is an investment for akhirah. That for every $10 we give away we don't lose that amount, but will only get more. We must have a good degree of certainty on the matters of akhirah.

***
Allahu a'lam. May I be forgiven for any errors and omissions.

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