Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Birthday,

What is a birthday all about? Everyone knows that it is the day that we were born. As we advance further in age, birthday tells us how old we are getting or how many years we have been living. Birthdays are normally celebrated with  blowing of candles on a piece of cake, followed by dinners, parties and a lot of gifts from close relatives and friends. To celebrate a birthday is actually to celebrate another year of living or survival in this world.In reality, celebrating a birthday is also celebrating the year that we are closer to death. We all must leave this world one day. Whether we like it or not, we must accept the fact that no one lives forever in this world and that includes you and me as well.Some of us believe that  there is no life after death. But there are also many who believe that there is life after death and I am one of them, who believes that there is life after death, a life that is going to be permanent and ever-lasting.Life in this world is only temporary, a transition for the final destination.. One can die at anytime, maybe during childbirth. One can die of drowning when one is a kid. One can die of an accident when one is a teenager and one can die of a heart attack or cancer when one is 40 years old and so on. Not everyone can live to a ripe old age to die. It is already "written" when we were in our mother's womb the day that we are going to leave this world.Living in this world is but a series of tests of our patience, endurance and tolerance. Where we end up in the next world will be determed by how we fair with all these "tests". If we pass these tests remarkably well, we will end up with the highest and most beneficial place in the next world (Heavens). If we fail them miserably, we will end up at the lowest and most miserable place (Hell).Whether you are born to be rich or poor, both are "tests" for you. A test for the poor is how he reacts and copes with his poor life, whether he is patient enough to endure all the hardship or he may prefer to cheat, steal and rob instead. A test for the rich is how he spends his money, whether he helps the poor or other less fortunate people, or whether he prefers to keep the money for himself, enriching himself further and further without consideration for the needy.It is said in Chapter 103 (Al- Asr) of the Al+Quran "By the declining day. Verily, man is in loss. . Except those who believe and do righteous deeds, and recommend one another to the truth, and recommend one another to patience." which means that time passes by without waiting for anyone or anything. Suddenly we realise we are at our present age. There is no way of returning to the former time The only way is to go forward. The Quran says 'Verily, man is in loss." which means men are not gaining anything that will guarantee them a place in Heavens. The Quran further says "Except those who believe and do righteous deeds.", which means those who believe that there is no other Gods except Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger. Examples of righteous deeds are such as donation to charity, helps wherever he can, teaches the truth as found in the Quran and practises those that are required to be done and avoid those acts that are forbidden such as illegitimate sex, cheating, murder, robbery and unfair treatment of fellow human beings and other living things.The Quran further says "and recommend one another to the truth.", which means to state the truth about Allah, that He is One and Only, the Most Powerful, the Greatest, Most Loving, Most Merciful, Most Forgiving and He is without partners. The truth is also that one day, when the sun rises in the West instead of the East and sets in the East instead of the West, the world will come to an end and everyone will wake up from the dead to live again. That is the time when everyone will be judged according to his own deeds, which he had committed in the previous world. Those who have done more righteous deeds stand a better chance to live in Heavens whereas those who have done more wrongdoings than righteous ones, may not be able to avoid being sent to Hell as punishment for all his wrongdoings.Lastly, the Quran says "and recommend one another to patience.", which means that whatever bad things happen to us, such as the loss of our loved ones, loss of our properties or facing calamities such as tsunami and earthquakes, we must always face them with patience for they are but tests from Allah, the AlMighty.So the next time when someone wishes you "Happy Birthday", always remember you are closer to the time of death, which is the time when you have to return to Allah to receive judgement on your life in the future. If you have done many righteous deeds, you can look forward to a beautiful life in the hereafter. But if your righteous deeds are negligible, you better start to spend on charities all those big properties that you have as you can't exchange them for righteous deeds in the next world. However, a place in Heavens for those with abundant righteous deeds only applies to the believers, not to the unbelievers. Wallahualam...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Better to be Safe Than Sorry

I received the following article in my email and would like to share it with you:

Three Saturdays ago, my brother Wooi Chi, who runs an insurance agency business from the 1st floor of a shop office in SS15 Subang Jaya, was alone in the office browsing through his emails. At about 11 o’clock in the morning, he heard a buzz at the magnetic-controlled door and what looks like a courier man peering through the glass door. Since there was no other staff around, he got up and strode to the door and pressed the button to open the door. Next thing he knew, two Indonesian men burst in and one of them with a parang started chopping him on the head. He fell backwards and as the blood oozes out from his open wounds he lapsed into semi-consciousness. They rifled through his office, took away his I Phone, I Pad, notebook and his wallet. It was all over in about 5 minutes. And the blighters bolted.

With adrenalin pumping through his body he managed to stagger down a flight of stairs, wobbled another 7 shops away and sought help from BP Lab. They administered first- aid and summoned an ambulance from Subang Hospital. Thank God for Good Samaritan at BP Lab and adroitness of the surgeon at the hospital, and after 104 stitches on the head, he survived. The attack was unprovoked, cold-blooded and brutal.

This seems to be the latest technique used by robbers and snatch thieves: To prevent victim from resisting or fight back, they clobber the victim first, just like President Bush’s famous, or rather infamous, “ Shock and Awe “.

The irony of the story is that my brother, who is also a lay pastor, feeds and provides shelter to the homeless, ex-drug addicts, ex-prostitutes (some of them are Indonesians) along Jalan Chow Kit and Tiong Nam in KL.

Over the weekend I googled “ How to avoid being mugged “ and “ Delay and Defence “ and checked with friends in the police force how best to survive in this concrete jungle of ours, where you are a prey and the predators are lurking out there.

There are two main areas I would like to focus on, namely: when you arrive early or work late in the office and when you are walking to and from your car. Here are the 4 Ds tips to survive: Delay, Detection, Deterrence and Defence

When You Are in the Office

Lock the main door or your room door (Delay)

Remember where are all the fire alarm and panic buttons located (Deterrence)

Practice on the fire alarm and panic button (Deterrence)

Look at the CCTV before leaving the office (Detection)

Ask questions before opening the main door (Detection)

Keep an umbrella next to you (Defence)

When You Are Walking To and From your Car

Walk with your colleagues (Deterrence)

Don’t use your mobile phone and be alert with your eyes darting around (Detection)

Don’t walk, but stride to and from your car (Deterrence)

Look around before getting into or out of your car (Detection)

Bring along an umbrella or tennis racquet (Defence)

When you get into the car, the first thing to do is to lock your car (Delay)

Carry a pepper spray in your hand, not in your handbag (Defence)

Bad things happen to good people. You are a soft target. Be Paranoid.

Chee Kong Chi
23rd of November 2011

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Basket

Everytime I go to a supermarket in Malaysia and grab a basket instead of a trolley, it always reminds me of those days when I spent my first 11 years of childhood in Singapore. At that time, I stayed with my parents at a rented wooden attap house in Kampung Bukit Kasita and went to Radin Mas School, where I studied from Standard One to Standard Five. My family was of course struggling at that time to make ends meet.

The basket in the supermarket reminds me of the cane basket that I used to carry when I had to walk for half a day after or before school, selling food to the public. If I went to school in the afternoon, then in the morning before sunrise, the kampung folks would be hearing a boy calling out "nasi lemak...nasi lemak...", sometimes louder than the sound of the "azan" (the call for prayer) from the local village mosque.

Yes, in those days (1951 to 1962), the village folks didn't have to go to a Malay or Mamak restaurant for their breakfast. Breakfast was literally brought to their doorsteps. All they had to do was to call out to the boy,"Hey, Nasi lemak, mari sini" (Hey Nasi lemak, come here...). The boy would then carry the basket of "nasi lemak" to the customer who would then purchased the quantity that he wanted that morning. At that time a packet of nasi lemak wrapped in banana leaves only cost ten cents. Now it costs from RM1.00 to RM1.50, depending on where you are in Malaysia. To know more about "nasi lemak" dish, please click here.

The nasi lemak made by my late mum was very popular and well-liked by the local village folks. It sold out so quickly that sometime I had to come back to the house to fill my baskets with more nasi lemak packs and went out again to finish my round of the village. You see, I had a fixed route which I took every morning with my baskets of nasi lemak. Normally there won't be any nasi lemak left by the time I finished my round of the kampung.

If I went to school in the morning, then I would go out to sell "epok-epok, mee Siam" and a few other Malay "kueh" like "seri muka and lepat pisang" in the afternoon. After I came back from school and had my lunch, my late mum would hand to me the two baskets containing the food to be sold that day. I carried a basket in each hand and with my right hand holding the bottle of mee Siam sauce, I began the journey in the afternoon to sell them to the Singapore town folks.

At that time the "karipap" of today was called "epok-epok". I don't know why the Malaysians called it "karipap" and not "epok-epok" and I have not been to Singapore for so long that I wonder whether Singaporeans still call it "epok-epok." "Karipap" as I understand it was originally made by the Sikhs or "Benggali" as we called them. It was a big-sized triangular-shape piece of food containing spicy curried potatoes wrapped with a layer of flour. It was deep fried until the flour skin became crispy.

The "karipap" of the Malays is also made of spicy curried potatoes and wrapped in the skin of flour and deep fried. However, the shape is different and the size is smaller.

"Mee Siam" was actually the fried mee-hoon that is normally found in Malaysia, except that "mee Siam" came with its own special sauce. I can't seem to find mee Siam in Malay restaurants nowadays.

So there I was carrying the two baskets and a bottle of sauce with my bare hands. Initially it was tough for me because of the hot afternoon sun and the heavy weight of the baskets which were fully laden with the food. But as it got towards evening, the sun's heat became more bearable and the baskets became lighter after the food were gradually sold to customers.

The route that I took was diffrent from the village route in the morning. Onr of my elder brothers (Rosli or Shariff) was covering the village route and I had to cover the town area. Selling at the town area was tougher than selling at the village. I had to cover a longer distance. Normally I returned to the house at about 5.00 pm after the baskets were empty . When I didn't return to the house by 7.00 pm, my late mum would know that I couldn't finish selling all the food yet and was trying to finish selling before returning home.

My late mum gave me twenty cents for every dollar of food sold. I used the money to save at the Post Office. What I did was to spend all my earnings to buy stamps from the local Post Office and then stick the stamps onto the Post Office book. Whatever amount contained in the stamps were considered as my savings. I wonder whether the same style of savings are still being practised in Singapore now. Come to think of it, I don't remember whether I managed to cash out my savings before I moved to Johor Bahru in 1963 :)

After my father moved to Johor Bahru in 1963, my elder brothers and I also stopped our "selling business". My late mum didn't tell us why it was stopped and my brothers and I didn't dare to ask her (in case she changed her mind about not selling...hehehe). I guess my father had a better pay and we didn't have to resort to the "selling business" again to augment the family's income.

In 1963 and 1964, I manged to concentrate on my studies and was among the students selected to study Form One at the Malay College in Kuala Kangsar, Perak. The basket, wherever I see or hold it, will always remind me of the "selling business" experience that I had in Singapore as a kid.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Killing 3 birds with 1 stone

From Ibnu Umar radhiallahu 'anhuma that the Prophet (PBUH) said: "To pray in congregation (Solat jamaah) is 27 times more beneficial than to pray alone." (Dari Ibnu Umar radhiallahu 'anhuma bahawasanya Rasulullah s.a.w. bersabda: "Shalat jamaah adalah lebih utama dari shalat fadz - yakni sendirian -dengan kelebihan dua puluh tujuh darjat."(Muttafaq 'alaih))

Based on the above hadith, I always try to go to a mosque to perform the "solat jemaah." Where I work, it takes me about 7 minutes of walking to arrive at the nearest mosque and of course less than that if I am to drive there. So I have 2 choices, either to walk or drive there. Which one should I choose, then?

As you may have guessed correctly, I chose to walk there because of the following hadith:

From Abu Hurairah r.a. who heard the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Whoever cleanses himself ("berwuduk") at his home and then goes to one of Allah's houses (the mosques) to perform one of the five obligatory prayers ("solat fardhu"), therefore every step that he takes (on the way to the mosque) will remove one sin from him and the next step will raise his status ("darjat") to a higher level." (as "riwayat" by Muslim)

So it's nice to have our sins removed and status elevated higher ("dinaikkan darjat") everytime we walk to the mosque, don't you think? But what if we have a transport like a motorcycle or a car to take us there? Do we get the same benefits as walking? This question was subsequently answered when I attended one of the religious talks ("ceramah") by an Ustaz (religious teacher) who said that we get the same benefits as walking if we ride a motorbike or drive a car to the mosque. So, given the choice between walking and transportation, which one should we choose? To answer that question, let's look at the following hadith:

From Anas bin Malik r.a. who heard the Prophet (PBUH) said, "Make it more convenient and not more difficult, be calm and not be fearful."
Hadis Anas bin Malik r.a katanya:" Rasulullah s.a.w pernah bersabda: permudahkan dan jangan memayahkan, tenangkan dan jangan menakut-nakutkan. (Riwayat Muslim)

Thus, between walking and driving, which one is more convenient? It is of course more convenient to drive than to walk. So, I decided to drive instead of walking to the mosque to perform my "solat zohor" and "solat asar" there.

This went on for quite some time until a few days ago I came across another hadith which says that " A strong Muslim is much better and loved by Allah than a weak Muslim." (Seorang mukmin yang kuat adalah lebih baik dan dicintai oleh Allah berbanding mukmin yang lemah - Riwayat Muslim)

I deduce that to become a strong Muslim, one must be healthy,and to be healthy, one should exercise more often (apart from eating good food, has enough rest and peace of mind and heart).

I have always wanted to walk from day one, but because I was "convinced" by the above hadith that one should choose the more convenient way of doing things if there are more than one way of doing it, I decided to drive. Furthermore, I haven't come across a hadith which says that one can also get one's sins forgiven and one's status elevated if one is to go to the mosque by using a transportation as the ustaz had mentioned.

Thus, by walking to the mosque, one gets at least 3 benefits, namely,

1. One gets 27 times the benefit of praying alone.

2. One gets one sin forgiven for every step taken and one "darjat" elevated with the next step taken and so on until one reaches the mosque. The further the distance the more benefits one shall get. Thus, for a total of say, 500 steps, 250 sins are removed and one's "darjat" is raised 250 times.

3. One gets to become more healthy and therefore stronger with the exercise that one gets by walking to and from the mosque. A lot of chronic diseases, like high-blood pressure and diabetes, were due to lack of exercise.

Thus, without further delay, I started walking to and from the mosque starting from yesterday (1/11/11). I carry an umbrella with me just in case it rains or it gets unbearably hot. I have also told my friend that I have to stop going with him in his car to the mosque. He at first thought that there was something wrong with his car or the way he drove, but after hearing my explanation that my decision had nothing to do with them, he finally understood and felt better.

If you are unhealthy or overweight, why not you try "killing" 3 birds with one stone by walking to and from the mosque. instead? :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Zorzini Roslan

"An average of 195,000 people in the USA died due to potentially preventable, in-hospital medical errors in each of the years 2000, 2001 and 2002, according to a new study of 37 million patient records that was released today by HealthGrades, the healthcare quality company."(Obtained from this link)

My eldest daughter Zorzini passed away on 24th March 2011, which was 5 months after her 32nd birthday. At that age, you would agree with me that she died at an early age. The last time that I spent time with her was on her last birthday itself, where we had lunch at an Indonesian Restaurant in Kota Damansara.

Due to our respective heavy work commitments, we found it very hard to meet each other as often as we wanted to. The same can also be said about her siblings who are working. Zorzini worked with Shell as a senior manager and her work demanded her to travel outstation very often. So, we only managed to keep in touch with each other over the phones and by sms (short message services).

I remember on that day when we met for lunch, she looked very thin and slightly sick. I didn't mention about it to her then because I thought that she was on some kind of diet to lose weight. It's only later on after her death that I learnt she was suffering from athritis for some years. Not many knew about it except her mum and hubby. I can understand it, because she's the type who would rather keep her problems to herself rather than sharing it or worrying her younger sisters and those closed to her.

After she fell down on the way to the bathroom, unknowingly she contracted the Septic Athritis. The Wikipedia defines Septic Athritis as "the purulent invasion of a joint by an infectious agent which produces arthritis. People with artificial joints are more at risk than the general population but have slightly different symptoms, are infected with different organisms and require different treatment. Septic arthritis is considered a medical emergency. If untreated, it may destroy the joint in a period of days. The infection may also spread to other parts of the body."

How true. The infection from her knee spread to her heart and brain and subsequently caused her to lose her life.

When I first heard the news that she was hospitalised and in a state of coma at the University Hospital, I couldn't believe it. Who could believe that a healthy young girl like her could land in hospital and treated on a life-support system? I didn't hesitate to take a bus from Terengganu to Kuala Lumpur after I heard the news. Salmiah and I went to see her at the hospital on the same night that I arrived. She was in a state of coma for about a week, I was told. By the time I met her, she had already come out of her coma for a few days. She was kind of surprise to see me there and we chatted pleasantly for awhile. It looked like she had recovered from her illness. It never occured to me that she recovered just to be able to see and chat with her loved ones for the last time. Zorlinda, her younger sister also came down from Dubhai and managed to talk to her a few days before, saying "I love you" to each other before Linda left for Dubai.

From the brief explanantion given by Irman, her hubby, I was only vaguely aware that she was suffering from some kind of heart problem caused by bacterial infection. I knew it later as "endocarditis", which has something to do with the inflamation of the interior of the heart and also badly affected the function of the heart's valves. The doctor told Irman that her heart was weak and not to expose her to any kind of stress.

Irman and I had teh tarek after the chat with Zorzini and I went home that night feeling that she's going to be okay.

The next morning Irman called me to inform that her heart had stopped beating but the doctor managed to get it to beat again after 20 minutes. She had to be put on a life support system again. I rushed to the hospital to see her. I met Sureen Nita, her younger sister at the hospital too. A few of her friends were also there. Zorzini was lying on the bed motionless with only the sound of the breathing apparatus and the hearbeat equipment to be heard. I knew she was struggling to stay alive. Her heart stopped beating forever 5 days later. Innalilla hiwainna ilahirajiun...(from Allah we come to this world and to Allah we return)

Irman told me that it all started when she fell in the toilet and hurt her left knee sometime in November 2010, a month after I met her for her birthday lunch. She went to the Subang Jaya Medical Center for medical treatment. Her knee was x-rayed and they couldn't find any broken bones. So she was given some "standard" medicines like Panadol and told to go home. She went home alright, but that's how the septic athritis started. Her knee didn't get better. She couldn't walk properly and experienced severe pain whenever she tried to move her knee.

After numerous visits to the doctor, she was always given the same opinion and medication, which never improve her condition. In fact, her condition worsened. She finally insisted that the doctor checked her knee thoroughly again. Therefore they did some kind of scan on her knee and discovered a minute piece of broken bone from a fracture, which an x-ray couldn't detect. By this time her health had deteriorated and condition getting worst. The same doctor decided to introduce a strong medicine (I forgot the name), which I found out later, that it reduces or weakens the body's immune system. My daughter's immune system was already struggling hard to fight the bacterial infection and here we had a doctor giving something to weaken her immune system. Her condition got worst after taking the medication. She was beginning to talk "funny" suggesting that her brain was also affected by the bacterial infection. Her mother decided that "enough is enough" for the treatment by the SJMC doctor and decided to bring her to University Hospital.

Upon admittance, she was quickly diagnosed as being in critical condition and was put in the emergency room on the life support system straighaway.

I'm not going to write something here that will bring tears to your eyes for I am sure you know how it feels like to lose someone in the family whom you love so much. My only most regret is that I didn't spend as much time with Zorzini as I should. I shall always cherish the precious moments that we had together, from the time she was a baby until the time when she graduated and secured herself a job with Shell.

I can still remember how pretty excited she was back in 2003 when she got the job with Shell and was posted to Butterworth near to where I was living.

She was assigned to look after all the Shell stations in the north. I was at that time supervising the construction of a dam in Kedah (Beris Dam). We would always meet up for lunch whenever she had to travel and pass near the place where I worked. She would entertain me with her jokes in her usual cheering manner and smile. I can never forget her smile. In fact, I miss her smile now.

Her death came not only as a shock to me, but also to all her loved ones and close friends.

When it's time to return to Allah SWT to leave this world for good, the circumstances leading to death just happens the way it is "written" to happen.

Well Zorzini, stay put there. Papa's turn will also come one day, sooner or later, for death is only to wake up and live again in the next world., this time in a permanent world, where we don't have to be separated again and where papa can see your loving smile again...insyaAllah.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Umrah Trip - Part 5

Visit to a Camel Farm

Well, a visit to Saudi Arabia is not complete without a visit to a camel farm. Our tour bus stopped by this camel farm before proceeding to other historical destination. Visiting this camel farm really made me wonder how such a nice and gentle creature is brought up in a surrounding, which is rough, tough and environmentally unfriendly. Here they are in the middle of a desert under the punishing heat of the hot afternoon sun without any shelter. Yet, they greeted us amicably when we approached them. No wonder, it is quoted in one of the Hadiths that the camel is one of the animals to be guaranteed a place in Heavens.

The farm that we visited was run by an Arab single-handedly. While we were there, we had the chance to taste and drink fresh milk taken from the she camel. At first, we were thinking we would probably "throw up" after taking it, but after the first sip, we found that it tasted like "santan" (coconut milk) but more gentle. We paid 5 Rial for a small bottle and Salmiah and I consumed a bottle each. We also applied some of it on our face' Our guide said that it's good for our face. Wallahu'alam......

The Treaty of Hudaibiyyah

After the visit to the camel farm, the tour coach brought us to the historical site where the Treaty of Hudaibiyyah was signed. It is considered a very important historical site because it was where the treaty was signed between Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and one of the Meccan Quraish, who were the enemies of Islam then. Even though the treaty seemed to be more like one-sided in favour of the enemies, it turned out to be good for Islam because when the treaty was signed, there were only about 1,400 Muslims who accompanied Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). But about two years later, when finally the Prophet (PBUH) marched into Mecca to perform the Haj, he was accompanied by 10,000 Muslims. Mecca was finally conquered without much bloodshed. Without the treaty, there would probably be more bloodshed amongst the Arabs before the Prophet (PBUH) could finally take over Mecca.

We visited the place of Hudaibiyah, which looked like it needed some improvement. It also explained why no snapshots were taken by us of the place. It looked like a building in a ruin. The Saudi Government should do something to improve the place. However, there was a mosque nearby where we went in to perform solat sunat tahayatul masjid before we left the place.

The Museum

After we left Hudaibiyyah, our last stop for the day before we reached Mecca was a museum. Here we found the historical relics of Mecca, especially those of the kaabah. A picture paints a thousand words. So we are going to show you some of the photos that we took in the museum.
Former Maqam Ibrahim Former Steps to Kaabah
The former casing for the Hajarul Aswad
The former door of Kaabah
Time To Go Home
After spending 6 memorable days in Mecca, it's time to pack our clothing and other personal belongings into our luggage to leave Mecca for Jeddah to catch a plane for our trip home to Malaysia. We had done our very best in performing our umrah and we hope that Allah SWT accepts our ibadat.

The night before, we had been told to place our luggage outside our hotel room before 6.00 am, so that they could be collected and loaded onto the bus that was going to take us to the airport in Jeddah. In the morning after we had performed our last solat Suboh at Masjidil Haram, we also performed our last tawaf around the kaabah. We went back to the hotel to have our breakfast and then waited at the lobby for the bus to come and fetch us.

We arrived at Jeddah around noon time. We were taken to a beach where we had our lunch. Whilst having lunch and facing the Red Sea, I couldn't helped but recalled the journey made by Prophet Musa r.a. and his followers who crossed the sea with the Pharaoh and his troops closed behind him.
The "Floating Mosque" at the background
Having a rest under a hut after having lunch
After lunch, we went to the mosque to perform our solat, but unfortunately the mosque was locked. Fortunately the place for taking ablution (wuduk) was opened and we used the outside part of the mosque to perform our solat (jamaq takdim). After being used to the good service provided by Masjidil Nabawi and Masjidil Haram, it was quite difficult to accept the condition of this mosque.
The hut and the mosque and the Red Sea as the backgroundAfter we had performed our solat at the "floating" mosque. we boarded the bus to take us to the airport. There was some waiting and confusion at the airport, but our travel agent managed to resolve it. We managed to take a group photograph at the airport before we finally boarded the plane. Our trip back to Malaysia was uneventful and our plane safely landed at KLIA in the early hours of the morning (Malaysian Time). Alhamdulillah...

Me & Salmiah on the 1st and 2nd left. Ustaz Mahmud, who led us during the umrah, was standing 7th from the left

The End.
Click here to go back to Part 1 (beginning)

My Umrah Trip - Part 4

Visit to Historical Places

Waiting for the coach to take us to visit Jabal Tsur. The plastic bag contained my Ihram clothes, which I used at a Miqat on the way back to the hotel.
Jabal Tsur
Left - Photo of Jabal Tsur and on the Right is Photo of Jabal Tsur - closer view
The tour package also included visits to historical places around Mecca. One of the places that we visited was the Jabal Tsur (Jabal means mountain). This was where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his faithful companion, Abu Bakar As-Sidik hid themselves from their enemies in a small cave for 3 days and with the help of Allah SWT, a spider spanned its web and a bird nested itself at the entrance to the cave, thus creating an impression to the enemies that no one had entered the cave.That was also the beginning of the Hijrah for Prophet Mhammad (PBUH) from Mecca to Medina. To avoid detection, he stayed in the desert during the day and travelled only at night. When he finally reached Medina, he established the Islamic Kingdom whichquickly spread the religion of Islamic to the world.

The Peak of Jabal Tsur

Jabal Nuur

Jabal Nur with Hira Cave at the Peak

The Jabal an-Nour (also Jabal an-Nur or Jabal Nur) is the name of the mountain which contains the Cave of Hira at its peak. The cave itself is about 4 meters in length and 1.75 meters in width.
It is notable for being the location where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received his first verses of the Quran from Allah SWT through the angel Jibraile.
Before the Prophet PBUH received his first revelation in this cave, he always climbed to this mountain to be on his own and to meditate in the Hira cave. He felt sad at the state of affairs of the Mecca people then - they worshipped deities and statues, killed their new-born baby girls, gambled, got drunk, killed and robbed each other with no law and order.

An optional trip was organised to climb Mount Hira at night because it would be unbearable to climb it in the day time due to the heat from the sun. Since my eye-sight was not good at night, Salmiah and I decided not to join in the trip. But the descriptions by fellow Muslims who climbed the mountain to reach the cave was good enough for me to picture the situation there. According to them, the cave is not large. There was enough space only for one man to pray standing, and another immediately next to him to pray sitting. There was a long queue of those who were able to make the almost 1-hour climb to get to the cave. They were queuing to pray at the same blessed place where revelation of the Qur'an was first given to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 1,440 years ago.

Jabal Rahmah

Jabal Rahmah, the mountain of love (kasih sayang) is the place where Adam and Eve met after being separated from each other for 200 years. It is said that from Heaven, Adam landed at India and Eve at Jeddah. Our mutawwir suggested that those of us who were still single, could climb on the hill and pray to find his/her life partners. I wonder whether the single people in our Umrah group had managed to find their life partners after they returned to Malaysia. The Prophet (PBUH) also delivered a speech on his last pilgrimage from this
mountain, the most famous message being, "O' people, reflect of my words. I leave behind me two things, THE QURAN AND MY SUNNAH (HADITH), and if you follow these, you will not fail."

At background is Jabah Rahmah
Climbing up the Jabal Rahmah.
Salmiah with a "taxi"camel at Rial5.00 per ride

End of Part 4
Click here for Part 5 (last)


Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Umrah Trip - Part 3

Meal Times

After performing the Umrah, I remembered that we still had another 7 days to go before taking the flight back home from Jeddah. In Mecca, we made sure that we did not miss any of the five (5) Solat Fardhu Berjemaah. We were late for the Solat Jemaah on one or two occasions, but other than that, we were always in the mosque ahead of time before the azan was called.

All our meals were arranged to be had after the Solat time - breakfast after Solat Suboh, lunch after Solat Zuhur and dinner after Solat Ishaq. Any visit to historical places was carried out in the morning after breakfast and after finishing all the visits, the bus would take us back to our hotel in preparation for our Solat Zuhur. We never missed our meals at the hotel because my wife and I agreed that it was so easy to get hungry there :-). The meals were quite delicious and we enjoyed them. Normally after lunch, we would get some rest in our hotel room and get ready to go to the mosque before Solat 'Asar. We decided not to go back to the hotel room after each Solat Asar, preferring to stay back in the mosque, either to read the Quran, perform the Solat Sunat or Tawaf Sunat around the Kaabah.

Standing in front of the Masjidil Haram leading to King Abdul Aziz Gate (Gate No.1). We always used this gate to enter the mosque and exit from it.

Kissing the Hajarul Aswad

Every time we did the Tawaf, we always observed the situation at the Hajarul Aswad. No matter what time of the day, it was always occupied with Muslim men and women attempting to kiss the Stone from Heaven. We also felt like doing so but was discouraged by the sight of the pilgrims struggling at each other to reach the Hajarul Aswad to kiss it. However, we managed to reach and touch the Kaabah walls and also found a space at Hijir Ismail to perform the Solat Sunat. It is said that if we wish to get rich and prosperous in this world, the Hijir Ismail is the place to ask for such requests from Allah SWT.

Salmiah was more determined to kiss the Hajarul Aswad than me. One fine day after Solat Asar, we performed the Tawaf Sunat and after that she said she wanted to attempt to reach the Multazam, which is the Kaabah wall located between the Kaabah's door and Hajarul Aswad. It is the place where we request from Allah SWT to be exempted from Hell.

I would have discouraged Salmiah at that time if she had said that she wanted to try to kiss the Hajarul Aswad. She didn't tell me and so I left her there and went back to the mosque to perform Solat Sunat Tasbih and another two (2) Tawaf Sunat before Maghrib time. We did not meet each other again until we had finished performing the Solat Ishaq Berjemaah. Our meeting place was the Shoe Rack No.8 at Gate No.1 (there are 93 gates altogether).

When we met after Solat Ishaq on the way back to the hotel for dinner, only then did she excitedly narrate to me that she managed to successfully kiss the Hajarul Aswad single handedly (without my help, of course). She said, "Moving into the corner from the Multazam was quite easy for me, where the guard on duty assisted by asking the other pilgrims to make way for the "Hajah".

"After I managed to kiss the Hajarul Aswad, coming out from the corner was one big battle." she said. "Being pushed and squeezed from all directions, I really could not get my way out. I even reached out my hand for the guard to pull me out but he just ignored me."

She said that being squeezed from all directions made it very difficult for her to breathe and desperately she prayed for Allah SWT to help her get out from there. Suddenly her feet felt something solid at the bottom of the Kaabah. Reaching down, she grabbed the steel ring and slowly pushed her way along the wall until she managed to free herself from the struggling crowd.

She said that she had performed the Solat Hajat earlier on to ask for the help of Allah SWT to facilitate or make it easier for her (mempermudahkan) to kiss the Hajarul Aswad.

Standing on the Balcony of the Masjidil Haram with the Kaabah in the background

My wife's success in kissing the Hajarul Aswad inspired me to attempt to kiss it too. I also Solat Hajat the next morning requesting the help of Allah SWT to make it easy for me to approach and kiss the Hajarul Aswad. I said to myself that surely there must be something significance or beneficial in being able to kiss the Hajarul Aswad. Otherwise, there won't be so many Muslims making such attempts to kiss it.

After that, even though I did a few rounds of the Tawaf, I still could not find enough courage to attempt to kiss the Hajarul Aswad. However on Thursday, 7th August 08 after Salmiah and I completed the Tawaf Sunat, I decided to try it. We also Puasa Sunat (optional fast) that day. With my wife's help (she was embracing me from behind with both her hands around my waist), we slowly made our way to the Hajarul Aswad. We were pushed from behind, front and the sides, but we maintained our course, always striving forward, as if there was a force helping us to go through. Suddenly, I found myself directly in front of the Hajarul Aswad, with a woman who was kissing the Stone from Heaven. I set myself in readiness and immediately after the woman left, I found myself standing right in front of the Hajarul Aswad. Without much hesitation, I kissed the Stone from Heaven, uttering "Subhanallah walhamdulillah walaila haillallah huwallah huakbar" so many times. It was difficult to leave that position and I felt like staying there forever, but the thought of giving the others the chance to kiss it too, made me slowly withdrew from Hajarul Aswad.

I was surprised that my withdrawal from Hajarul Aswad was made so easy without being pressed and squeezed. I can't describe to you the happiness inside me knowing that Allah SWT has granted my wish and made it so easy for me to kiss the Hajarul Aswad. Syukor Alhamdulillah.......


Without the Zam-Zam water, which is always available not only in Masjidil Haram but also in Masjidil Nabawi, in Medinah, life there could be quite unbearable. The mosque workers always made sure that the Zam-Zam water was available for fellow Muslims to drink to quench their thirst and also to refill their small or large bottles to bring back. The mosque workers also make a good job of maintaining the cleanliness of the area in and around the mosque as well as the compound around the Kaabah. Congratulations to the management of the two mosques for doing a great job and making it pleasant for the pilgrims to perform their Umrah.

What the Prophet (Prayers and Peace Be Upon Him) said about the Zam-Zam water was, "The Zam-Zam water is the antidote for the purpose that it is drank for. It is also a food that can satisfy the hunger and a medicine that will cure."

Inside Masjidil Haram on the 1st Floor. The Zam-Zam water are kept in plastic containers as can be seen on the right side of the photo. Disposal plastic cups are also provided and whenever the containers are empty, they will be replaced with new containers full of Zam-Zam water. Both cool and lukewarm Zam-Zam water were provided.

Medicinal Effect of Zam-Zam water

I didn't know the true medicinal value of the Zam-Zam water until I myself had an unbelievable experience to proof it. One or two days after we arrived in Mecca, I developed a blister on the sole of my right foot. Maybe it was due to my attempt to walk barefooted after I lost my slippers at Masjidil Nabawi in Medinah a few days back or maybe it was due to not getting used to wearing new slippers there. The blister got worst as I was doing a lot of walking there. It reached a stage where I was limping as I walked to and from the mosque. I applied the balm ointment, which we brought along with us together with other medicines from Malaysia, but it never got better. Then one night before going to sleep, Salmiah suggested that I applied the Zam-Zam water to the blister. So I filled a few drops of the Zam-Zam water into a cup and after praying to Allah SWT for His help to cure it, I applied the water on the blister area. At that time I also applied the water at both my right and left ankles because since at Medinah, my skin at both ankles had developed some kind of itchiness, which was very irritating. When I woke up the next morning, not only the blisters had gone, the itchiness too was gone and I was able to walk normally to the mosque without limping. Subhanallah...... If they say miracle happen in Mecca, that was the miracle that happened to me:-).

Salmiah helping herself to the Zam Zam water

I was a diabetic and brought along an instrument from Malaysia to measure the glucose level in my blood. A diabetic is discouraged to consume carbohydrate food like rice and flour for they get converted into sugar after the food is digested. However, in Mecca and Medinah, I did not control the consumption of carbohydrate food. I ate as much rice and bread that I could consume as if I was not a diabetic person. When I checked the sugar level in my blood, it was giving a normal sugar level reading. Maybe it was due to the exercise from walking to and from the mosque (Wallahu'alam), but every time before I drank the Zam-Zam water I preyed that I be cured of all kinds of disease and to clean my heart and mind from any dirty or negative feelings and thoughts. That Zam-Zam water by the Grace of Allah SWT really helped to control the sugar level in my blood but whether I was totally cured of my diabetes for good, only time will tell. But so far, the sugar level in my blood is giving a normal reading. All Praise be to Allah SWT......
Facing the Kaabah, I requested from Allah SWT for good health before sipping the ZamZam water

Our Mutawwir also relayed to us cases of pilgrims who had benefited from the curing or medicinal effect of taking the Zam Zam water. He was telling us about a Muslim who had a kidney problem and had difficulty in urinating. He went to see a doctor who advised him to undergo an operation. He referred the matter to his religious teacher, who advised him to drink the Zam-Zam water. He consumed the Zam-Zam water, each time filling up half his stomach. Alhamdulillah, he got well and there was no need for him to go for operation.

Another case happened during Prophet Muhammad's time (PBUH), when an Arab by the name of Abu Zhar, who for two weeks went without food. He drank only Zam Zam water and he gained weight instead. This happened before he became a Muslim.

Another thing which I forgot to mention earlier, was that there was no need to rush to go to the toilet for urination after taking much Zam Zam water in Masjidil Haram. However in Malaysia, I had to rush quickly to the toilet after consuming much of the local water here. :)

End of Part 3
Click here for Part 4