Friday, September 20, 2019

Malas atau rajin

Malas ialah suatu perkataan yang ramai alergik apabila mendengarnya. Baru-baru ini ramai yang marah apabila Tun M menyebut lagi tentang ‘kemalasan’ orang Melayu.

Apakah maksud malas?

Menurut kamus Dewan, malas bermaksud ‘tidak mahu berbuat sesuatu; segan atau enggan berbuat sesuatu’. Antara perkataan yang sinonim dengan malas ialah cuai, leka, berat tulang, lengah, lesu, lambat, enggan bekerja dan banyak lagi. 

Apabila Tun M sebut melayu malas, maka, mungkin kita kurang bersetuju dengan satu penyataan yang agak umum yang seolah2 memukul rata semua melayu. Betulkah semua melayu enggan berbuat sesuatu? Enggan bekerja? Atau semua melayu berat tulang? Apabila kita terjemahkan ungkapan Tun M menjadi persoalan2 seperti ini maka macam kurang logik tuduhan tersebut kerana pada hemat kita, ramai juga dalam kalangan orang melayu yang kelihatan tidak malas, sebagai contoh seorang nelayan yang dari awal pagi keluar ke laut mencari ikan demi untuk kelangsungan hidup.

Namun, cuba kita lihat pula isu ini dari sudut yang sedikit berbeza. Jika benar melayu bukan malas, maka logiknya melayu rajin.

Apa maksud rajin?

Rajin ditakrifkan sebagai bekerja atau berusaha dengan sepenuh hati. Antara perkataan yang sinonim dengan rajin adalah giat,bersungguh-sungguh, tekun dan gigih. Maka di sini timbul satu persoalan. Jika kita tidak bersetuju dangan andaian bahawa melayu malas, maka apakah benar melayu rajin? Iaitu, apakah melayu gigih dan bersungguh-sungguh dalam melaksanakan sesuatu? Apakah melayu telah berusaha dengan sepenuh hati dalam merebut setiap peluang ekonomi, pendidikan dan bermacam lagi? Apakah melayu pada hari ini mempunyai daya saing yang kuat untuk turut sama membina negara dalam era 4IR? Atau kita masih redha dengan sifat ‘tidak apa’ dan ‘tidak peduli’ kerana kita melayu?

Pastinya jawapan kepada persoalan ini jelas kita ketahui jika kita jujur dengan diri kita sendiri. Kita sebenarnya belum capai tahap rajin.

Cabaran untuk kita

Ketahuilah bahawa cabaran yang mendatang bukanlah calang-calang cabaran. Persaingan yang akan dihadapi bukan lagi dari dalam Malaysia semata-mata. Internet memungkinkan persaingan wujud melalui satu klik tetikus. Justeru melayu perlu amalkan sifat bersungguh-sungguh dalam segala segi kehidupan. Bersungguh-sungguhlah kita  dalam mempelajari ilmu baharu, dalam berniaga, dalam bekerja, dalam bersukan dan lain-lain.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Memori Haji: Bitter sweet memories of Hajj

In the beginning
This has taken a really long time to write about. My Hajj journey took place in 2017. The actual flight date was sometime at the end of July. Of course the preparation took place years before. In Malaysia, to go to Hajj we have to register with the Hajj ‘governing’ body. And the queue is quite long, but Alhamdulillah my mom and I got our turn to go in 2017. It was the first Hajj for me and my mom’s third. I got the good news that my turn had come for Hajj in December 2016. Upon receiving the confirmation letter, I had to go through a series of events that finally led to the day of departure. First of all, I had to go through a series of talks on the dos and don’ts of Hajj. Actually I had been to two previous ones before, but this time I am more focused, because this time I really will get to go for Hajj. Before, it was just a knowledge acquisition exercise. In order to go for Hajj, the pilgrims have to be certified fit. Hence we have to go through medical check-ups by authorised health providers. It was during this check-up that I discovered that I had several ailments and had to be put on several types of medication. For one moment in the middle of the visits to the doctors, I was told by a doctor (who had very little tact) that I can kiss my Hajj goodbye, because as far as she was concerned, I was not fit. But as my daughter told me afterwards, it is not for her to decide. Allah will decide for me. And lo behold He did. After a final check-up, the nice female specialist doctor told me I had no need for worries, I can go for my Hajj. Hence, I was finally certified fit to go round about Ramadhan time, sometime in May or  June 2017. The situation for my mom over in Terengganu was quite different. She was certified fit immediately by the doctors, even though she was a diabetic and suffered from hypertension. I suppose her condition was stable and managed well. At one point she became very worried that we will not be able to make our Hajj journey because of my condition.
As the day drew closer, I became a lot apprehensive. A lot of things occupied my mind. I was terribly concerned about my family (even though they are all grown up and my husband will be around with them) whom will be left behind. Will they be able to cope? What if they get sick? What if I never come back? And many more. To some extent I managed to quieten my mind by telling myself that Allah will look after them. He has done it all this while anyway.

She left me
So, after a lot of years waiting in the queue for Hajj, I finally set foot in Madinah (my second time in Madinah actually, the first time was for an academic conference). I remembered we arrived in the morning and was in our hotel rooms just before Zohor prayers. My mom and I were booked into a three bedroom hotel room. The hotel was nice and comfortable. We settled in and got into a routine of going to Masjid Nabawi from the hotel and back. We would go for our subuh prayers and we would walk back slowly to the hotel. I realized that my mom can be quite tired if we walked too fast. I was actually quite concerned about her physical state. I worried that she might not be up to the tawaf and sai activities once we arrived in Mekah for our umrah wajib. I talked to her about it and we made arrangements for some form of assistance for the said activities once we get to Mekah. We stayed for about one week in Madinah. We had a ritual whereby almost every morning, after we had our breakfast at the hotel, we would walk back to the Masjid and spend our time reading the Quran and drink lots of zam zam water inside the masjid. Other pilgrims will usually spend their time queuing for visits to Raudhah during these times. My mom and I opt out the visit to Raudhah because we realized that Raudhah is too far for my mom to walk to and at the time she refused to take the wheelchair. I remembered my mom felt quite at odds with this because she felt that she had robbed me out of the opportunity to visit Raudhah. I told her that I was ok with it because I had visited Raudhah several times during my first visit to Masjid Nabawi. I suppose she was not totally convinced with my reasoning because, on the last day of our stay, she insisted that we took the long walk to Raudhah, to bid farewell to our beloved Prophet (s.a.w). We had to make several stops during the walk, so that she can rest and take bites of the bread that she brought with her (because she was quite afraid of being hypo). When we finally arrived at the designated area, there are already hundreds of people queuing to go into Raudhah. Seeing that it will be a long and claustrophobic wait, we finally decided to offer our farewell doa just there in the masjid. She told me to read the doa, which I did. After we finished the recitation, we slowly walked back to our hotel. We had our lunch and subsequently waited for our buses that will take us to Mekah. We were in good spirits. I remembered my mom making jokes and telling stories to other pilgrims. Later in that day on our way to Mekah, just after doing her Asar prayers, in her ihram, my mom left us to be with Allah on the 7th of August. Inna lillahi wainna Ilaihi rojiun. Those were the words that were uttered by me when the doctor told me that she had gone. My mom had left me.
Mornings in Nabawi

Who was my mom?
Her name was Atikah Abdullah. The Abdullah here signifies that she was adopted. Her adoptive parents were quite ‘privileged people’ in Terengganu, which will remain anonymous here for various reasons. Because of certain status that was enjoyed by her parents, she had an easy childhood. She used to recall how she was taken in car rides just so that she would stop crying. However, as she got older she realized that she had to have more than a silver spoon in her mouth. She wanted to have an education and insisted that she was enrolled in a teacher training college. My grandparents had no choice but succumb to her requests and so off she went to MWTC in Melaka and later became a certified teacher and taught in schools around Kuala Terengganu.  She had dedicated most of her life to teach children how to read and write at an age when preschools had not came into existence in Terengganu. When all of us, my sisters and I, had graduated and secured jobs, we suggested to her that she should retire and enjoy her life as a lady of leisure. She did listen to us and retired when she was 48 years old. Post retirement she became an avid traveller. She and my dad travelled to Turkey, Jordan, Indonesia, Thailand and numerous times to Mekah and Madinah for their umrahs. They managed to perform their Hajj twice. In her early 60s, she decided to equip herself with more knowledge about the Quran. A chance meeting with an Ustazah led her to seriously study a method for translating (into Malay) the Quranic verses. Upon completing the course, the Ustazah encouraged her to teach others. Hence began her journey as a teacher of the Quran. In 2011, following the demise of my beloved father, my mom decided to stay alone in Terengganu. She had refused to stay with any of us. On occasions when she did come to our houses for visits, I can see that she was totally out of her element. She was like fish out of water. She felt trapped. So, when she insisted to stay alone in Terengganu, we reluctantly agreed with the decision, because it was one that made her happy. Being a fiercely independent woman, I suppose that was the only logical decision that suited her. She carried on giving lessons about the Quran. She held several classes a week in suraus near her home. Her students were actually her friends and neighbours. That was essentially her life prior to the Hajj trip in 2017. It was a life that revolved around the Quran. She would spend hours going through her notes just before she gave her classes. She would contact her Ustazah in case she had any queries before and after her classes. During other times she would listen to recordings of the Quran in an effort to memorize surahs of the Quran. She would sometimes stay awake into the wee hours at night to memorize those verses. She also relentlessly recites the Quran daily and managed to khatam the Quran many times a week. I recall her complaining about herself if she had read ‘too little’ Quran in any day. I suppose it made her feel incomplete. That was the relationship that she had with the Quran. It made her happy and fulfilled. In fact now that she is gone, I really missed my discussions with her concerning the Quran.
Where are the tears?
The events after my mom had passed away were surreal. We were in a moving bus on our way to Mekah. I remembered how a doctor, a fellow pilgrim came and check her pulse and declared that she was no longer with us. This was then followed by a scurry of activities, whereby phone calls were made for an ambulance to meet us at the next rest area. There were also calls made to Tabung Haji people, travel agent people and also to the muassasah representative. After Maghrib prayers at the RnR, I was hurried off into an ambulance with my mom’s jenazah. The muassasah representative told me that my mom will be laid to rest in Baqi’ just outside Masjid Nabawi. In the ambulance I kept holding my mom so that she would not fall off the stretcher because the ambulance was driven very fast. We were brought to a hospital in Madinah (I cannot recall the name) where I was questioned by the attending doctor regarding the circumstances of my mom’s demise. I called the travel agent’s Ustaz who promptly came with the Tabung Haji people. They told me that I had to follow them to complete some documentation at the Muassasah office in Madinah. All in all everything went smoothly and my mom was laid to rest in Baqi’ after subuh prayers. I attended her jenazah prayers as a makmum, one lonely figure out of thousands that congregate that morning. I prayed that my mom is forgiven for all her sins and will be given the highest of Jannah. During the whole event until the jenazah prayers, I realized that I had not shed much tears. I did not know why. It might be shock, or it might just be me being strong. However, it was during my two days wait for the bus out to Mekah, alone in a hotel room that I suddenly became very sad. It was like someone turned on a pipe of never ending tears. I cried and cried until I cannot breathe. I did not cry because I am angry that she was taken away from me. Because at 78, I knew that her days with me will not be as many as when she was 40. I also did not cry because I felt that there are many things I should have done for her and with her. This was not the case because I had made it a point in my life to spend most of my holidays with my parents in Terengganu. I took long breaks to be with my parents. I called them almost every week and after my dad died and my mom was alone in Terengganu, I called her almost every evening, because she always told me that evenings are her loneliest times of the day. So, as far as redha goes, I was ready to let her go. I was happy that she was laid to rest in Baqi’. And yet the tears flowed. I suppose what made me feel really sad is the fact that I will not have her around anymore. No more phone calls in the evening, no more discussions, no more opportunities to savour her uniquely cooked dishes: her nasi goreng, her ketupat sotong, her ayam masak merah, her nasi minyak, her various puddings….and her special nescafe. All that are left now are memories of her. Her attempts to make the perfect nasi dagang will always remind me of her persistent nature in whatever undertakings that she took. This, coupled with her idiosyncratic ways of doing things, like her “OS” for the washing machine, will always be remembered fondly. Till we meet again Mom, in Jannah in sya Allah. Aameen.
Her resting place in Baqi'

The Aftermath
After performing the umrah wajib, the days that followed were filled with the usual activities of going to and from the Masjidil Haram, performing the obligatory prayers. I usually go with my room mates who really took very good care of me. I suppose they felt sorry for me, the fact that I lost my Mom. During the times in the masjid, in between prayers or in my hotel room, I spent most of the time reading the Quran. Specifically, I read my mom’s copy of the Quran and made sure I finished reading it in Mekah. Needless to say I spent a lot of my time making doas for my parents and my family. One of the specific doa that I did not miss making was the ‘rabbi yassir wa la tu’assir’ doa. I asked Allah for ease in all the activities required in the Hajj. He did answer my doa. On reflection, I know that it was not my effort alone that enabled me to walk 7 km for the stoning ritual. I mean, everyone who knew me will testify that I am not a one hundred percent physically fit person. However, Allah was there to ease everything for me. He helped me through. He gave me the strength and will power to carry on at the times when my legs felt like jelly. I know it might sound very clichéd, but Allah did answer my doa and everything was actually made easy for me. In Mina, queuing for the toilets were never an issue; there were many kind hearted people that allowed me to jump queues. In Arafah, where so many were restless in the humid tents (a result of the scorching heat outside the tents), Alhamdulillah I managed to keep my cool. The sight at Muzdalifah is forever etched in my mind. To see thousands of people sitting under the bright moonlight offering doa and picking stones was quite humbling and enlightening in so many ways. The tawaf and sai sessions were also quite challenging. Thousands of people were cramming to circle the Kaabah and do the sai. Alhamdulillah my room mates and I made it even though it took us hours to complete the tawaf and sai. It is all Allah’s doing. He eased my journey. He helped me through. Alhamdulillah for all His mercy that He had showered on me, my room mates and friends during the Hajj. Alhamdulillah.
My view of the Kaabah
Coming Home
Coming home was both sad and sweet. It was sad because I had to say goodbye to Mekah and to my Mom. I do not know when I will be given the opportunity to walk the cool marble floors of the Masjidil Haram and drink the zam zam water to my heart's content again. I do not know when I can visit Masjid Nabawi again and maybe get close to my mom’s resting place in Baqi’.  And coming back home with my mom’s luggage with me was a bit odd to say the least. It was sweet because I had finally managed to perform the Hajj. All these years prior to performing the Hajj, I always felt that I was not a ‘complete’ muslim. I mean, I had not done the fifth pillar of Islam. So Alhamdulillah there is some sweetness in the feeling of ‘accomplishment’. I was also very happy that I get to meet my children, husband and sisters again. During Hajj I was always apprehensive about whether I will live long enough to meet them again, I mean what with my mom leaving us so suddenly. So anyway, it was sweet that I finally got home. I remembered that I talked almost non- stop recounting the day that my mom died and also all other events that I had gone through during the Hajj.
May Allah forgives all of our sins, accepts all of our good deeds and grants us the highest Jannah. Aamiin.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Thank you for the journey

I never liked to lead anything. I always see myself as a professional follower ☺. Anyway,  since I have been brought up to put responsibilities above personal wants and preferences, there was no choice but to accept the appointment as Head of Softam.
It was not an easy journey, especially for someone of so little talent as me. During the five years, there were two major faculty restructurings and several minor ones. Suffice to say that I had to move office twice ☺, which means that I had been in three different rooms (in block H) as head of Softam ( that was rather confusing for some of my students over the years 😃).

The most challenging aspect as the Head was to find ways and means to motivate my colleagues to move in tandem with the needs of the university. This essentially means research and publication. I do not think I had succeeded in doing just that...but I do hope I had managed to make all my friends in Softam realize the importance of knowledge via research and dissemination of knowledge, via publication.

Equally challenging was to foster harmony and synergy between colleagues both professionally and personally. Since no man is an island and since meaningful research cannot take place without proper collaboration between colleagues (from within Softam or outside), harmony and synergy are two main goals to aim for. I do hope with some of the activites carried out by the faculty and Softam and also via the research labs, each one of us can find ways and means to put aside our egos and idiosyncracies so as to work as teams to achieve greater good. I hope we are able to be tolerant towards each other, accept each other's weaknesses, capitalize on each other's strengths and move together as one.

Over the years whenever I feel down and out, the Quran has never failed to lift up my spirits. There are many favourite verses but during my term as the Head of Softam I keep reminding myself of the following:

1. Be it students, colleagues or support staff, we always need one another and the verse that is always on my mind when dealing with any situation is:
Ađ-Đuĥaá:10 - Adapun orang yang meminta (bantuan pimpinan) maka janganlah engkau tengking herdik;

2. Life is hard. That is the nature of this thing called life. So, always learn to take things in your stride and remember that if you are doing good then Allah is with you as promised:

Ash-Sharĥ:5 - Oleh itu, maka (tetapkanlah kepercayaanmu) bahawa sesungguhnya tiap-tiap kesukaran disertai kemudahan

3.  We are here to serve Allah. I have to keep reminding myself (still...and always) at the fact that on this earth there is no time to waste. Here we have to work tirelessly in order to serve Allah. In sya Allah we will rest in Jannah (aamiin ☺). So, always be reminded:
Ash-Sharĥ:7 - Kemudian apabila engkau telah selesai (daripada sesuatu amal soleh), maka bersungguh-sungguhlah engkau berusaha (mengerjakan amal soleh yang lain).

Last but not least I believe that in whatever decisions that we make, whatever rules or process that we impose, it must be based on three words. Is it kind? Is it helpful? Is it merciful? As is so eloquently stated  Dr. Bilal Philips:

Be kind so that He is kind to you
Be helpful so that He is helpful to you
Show mercy so that He shows you mercy
Remember Him so that He remembers you
---quoted from Dr. Bilal Philips