Monday, July 23, 2012

Farewell to a friend

I received a message on my mobile phone about the passing away of a dear friend this morning and immediately drove to his house in Bukit Damansara. I was quite surprised that traffic was light and I reached the place in a short time. I thank Allah Almighty for the ease of driving which I always dread when driving to the city in the rush hour.
As I made the turn to the address, lorong Setiapuspa 1, Bukit Damansara, the Boom gate was down, but as I approached, the security guard raised the gate and I followed a car which presumably was going to the same place. I saw many cars parked along the sloping road, so I made a u-turn and proceeded to enter the lane to the house. I parked my car about 70 metres from the house and walked slowly right to the end of the row of double storey link-houses and I saw the people sitting on chairs near the entrance. I met another old acquaintance who was serving at the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah who was busy helping with the funeral preparations and he must be a member of the qariah Masjid since the funeral rites must be arranged with the officials of the Mosque nearby.
As I entered the house, the late friend's brother greeted me and showed me inside. My friend who messaged me was already there together with another friend. We were all once Members of the Public Service Commission and a close knit 'family' as it were.
I sat down next to the "Jenazah" and started reciting the Surah Yasin and as I was doing so, a close relative of the late friend came and he opened the shawl covering the face of the "Jenazah" and I could see the expression of serenity on my late friend's face. He must have been prepared to face the inevitable of being called to face his Creator because he had been in frail health after his open heart surgery and he had to undergo dialysis almost every day.
I mentioned to my friend, that the most poignant moment that I recalled of him was when we were performing the Hajj in Makkah in the 80's where I went to his place of lodging and he gave me a plastic plate when I complained of the difficulty of finding one at my lodging place. Allahyarham Dato' Mohsin Khir would always be remembered by his colleagues as the fearless "Commissioner" as he liked to call himself then and always spoke his mind. We shared the same spirit and insisted that we must always remained independent as provided for by the Federal Constitution and serve without fear or favour. During the monday weekly meetings only a few of us spoke our minds and always reminded the Chairman of our role as the gatekeepers to the public service and we should not be subservient to no one. Farewell my dear friend and May Allah place your soul amongst the pious and Al-Fatihah.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The First Day of Ramadhan

It is not just another normal day in the Muslim calendar, but the month of Ramadhan is the most blessed of all, where the Prophet's hadith points out that the gates to Heaven are all opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the Satan are all chained.
When I was a small kid, the "Puasa" month is the most exciting because the breaking of the fast is accompanied by "air batu bandung" and other sweet delicacies which one sees rarely during the other months.
But now with the abundance of "Pasar Ramadhan" the excitement is of a different type, i.e. the dilemma of having so many choice of food for the breaking of fast but at a price. With the prices of food having multiplied many times as compared to then, the fun of home cooked delicacies is very much reduced. In those good old days, we exchange delicacies with neighbours and that was how goodwill and the spirit of Ramadhan was fostered.
I met a Cikgu at my usual car wash centre in Kelana Jaya and it was quite interesting as what he observed about the concept of fasting and Ramadhan, which I would like to share with readers here. He said we should  welcome the blessed month much more than Hari Raya which is just for one day as compared to Ramadhan which is for one whole month. The significance of the Ramadhan should be a much awaited event because the rewards of doing good is multiplied by many times over when compared to other months. He said it during the month of Ramadhan that we should be wearing the best clothes going to the mosques to perform the Terawih prayers instead of the Hari Raya day. Another observation which he made not specifically in Ramadhan only is the practice of begging for alms. If the Zakat authorities is doing their job, he said there should be no beggars especially in the blessed month when the unfortunates  should be well taken care of.
He pointed out the need to change the concept of welcoming Ramadhan as compared to the month of Syawal. I just listened without much comment as I do not want to jeorpadise my fasting. But I think there is some truth in his observations. We have somewhat gone off tangent with the times and hope the new generation will be back on the right track with regard to how to perform their obligations in keeping with the practice of Islam and not being side-tracked by other influences.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Ushering the Blessed Month

The month of Ramadhan will be coming in about a fortnight's time and as usual most of the mosques will be initially full of muslims who are doing their "Terawih" prayers but towards the end, the numbers will slowly get less and less.
Last night was the "Malam Nisfu Sya'ban" which means the night of the half of the month of Sya'ban in the Muslim calendar. It is normally welcomed by many believers in the Nusantara region by performing the reading of the Surah Yaasin and other prayers because Allah Almighty grants the wishes of those who pray during this particular night. Although some regard this practice as "Bidaah" or an addition, but it has been practised by those who are pious and religious in many parts of the Islamic world. What is important such a practice is not against the Shari'ah.
Many believers take the opportunity of fasting on the 15 of Sya'ban which falls on 05 July which is a Thursday. In fact the holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) performed the non-obligatory fasting mainly in this month as the preparation for the holy month of Ramadhan. As believers we should prepare ourselves for the coming of this most Blessed month in the Muslim calendar by doing what was practised by Allah's messenger.