Thursday, January 30, 2003

The Test 4 our brain

Below are four (4) questions. Answer them instantly.
You can't take your time. Answer them immediately.No pencil or paper!
OK? Let's find out just how smart and clever you really are.
GO!!! (scroll down)

First Question:
You are participating in a race.
You overtake the second person.
What position are you in?

If you answer that you are first, then you are absolutely wrong!
If you Overtake the second person and you take his place, you are second!
Try not to screw up in the next question.
To answer the second question, don't take as much time as you took for the first question. (You know you took too much time.)

Second Question: If you overtake the last person, then you are...?

If you answered that you are second to last, then you are wrong again.
Tell me, how can you overtake the LAST person?!

Third Question: Very tricky math!
Note: This must be done in your head only. Do NOT use paper and pencil or a calculator. Try it.
Take 1000 and add 40 to it.
Now add another 1000.
Now add 30.
Add another 1000.
Now add 20.
Now add another 1000.
Now add 10.
What is the total?
Scroll down for answer..

Did you get 5000?
The correct answer is actually 4100.
Don't believe it? Check with your calculator!
Today is definitely not your day. Maybe you will get the last question right?

Mary's father has five daughters:
Nana, Nene, Nini, Nono.
What is the name of the fifth daughter?

Answer: Nunu? Nana? Nene? NONO! Of course not.
The fifth daughter's name is Mary. Read the question again.

[*sigh* lemahnya diri ni :) ]

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

The misconceptions about Islam
Dr. Zakir Naik of Bombay, India

Summary of the lecture delivered by Dr. Zakir Naik of Bombay, India, on "The misconceptions about Islam", on Friday, November 26, 1999 at the Rakkah Stadium, Dammam, under the aegis of the Islamic Dawah and Guidance Center, Dammam.

The meeting was coordinated by Mr. Ahmed Nooruddin of New York.

Dear brothers and sisters, As-salaam-u-alaikum-wa-rahmatullah-wa-barkat-hu. May peace be with you and may God's mercy and blessings be on you.

It is my honor to be here for the third time in three years.

The topic of my lecture today is "Misconceptions about Islam". It is the duty of every Muslim to help remove some of the misconceptions non-Muslims have about Islam. By engaging in a dialogue with the non-Muslims, you will help lessen the level of anti-Muslim feelings in their hearts. These misconceptions prevent non-Muslims from seeing the beauty of Islam.

Some of the methods of conveying the message of Islam are effective and some are ineffective. The best way to start a dialogue is to first ask them: "What is it that you do not like about Islam". This opening makes them feel comfortable to talk to you. Also, it gives you a good chance to know what they have to say about Islam in their own words.

I have found from my lecture tours around the world that these misconceptions hinge around only 20 issues, by and large. I will try to cover as many of them today in the one hour I have to deliver my talk. I will also suggest ways you may tackle them.

There may be one or two issues that may be unique to Singapore, or Malaysia, Canada, etc, but essentially the various issues can be grouped into only twenty. These issues change from time to time. What I will be listing are issues that non-Muslims of today bring up. Twenty years ago, these were not the issues... there were other issues. Similarly, twenty years from now, there will be different issues that will come up.

So if you master the answers to these typical questions about today's misconceptions about Islam, you can help remove most of them from the hearts and minds of your non-Muslim friends. However, most lay non-Muslims have only about four or five issues they dislike about Islam; so it is not difficult for you to remove this animosity they have against Islam.

Misconception # 1: It is not civilized to have more than one wife at a time.

Reply: The only religious book that says: "... then marry only once" is the Quran, the holy book of the Muslims. This injunction is not found in the Christian Bible in the Hindu Geeta, or in the Jewish holy book etc. In the Bible there are so many references to various prophets and kings who had numerous wives. Abraham had three wives, while King Solomon had seven hundred wives, etc. In the Hindu literature the various gods have hundreds of wives. Krishna had one thousand women and concubines. Similarly, the Jews used to marry more than once, till as late as the 1950s. None of these faiths regulated the number of wives a man could have at a time. Only Islam limits the wives to four.

The monogamy that the Christians, the Hindus, and Jews practice today, is not from their religion, but from their government. So the issue of monogamy has no religious significance; it is a man-made rule. Monogamy was the result of an act of parliament, not their faith. Example: The Indian Parliament in 1954 passed the Hindu Marriage Act prohibiting the Hindu male from taking up more than one wife. The Jewish Rabbis in the 10th Century AD made monogamy a rule, although it was not enforced till as late as the 1950s. Similarly, the European countries and the American government passed laws to make monogamy the rule in their lands some time ago. Mormons still marry more than once.

In Surah Nissah God allows a Muslim to marry, one, two, three or four women as long as he can do justice between them. If the man can't do justice, the exhortation for him is: "... then marry only once".

Marrying more than once is not compulsory, but only an option to tide over unique circumstances that societies face from time to time. You will find in many societies today that the ratio between females and males is not 50:50. There are more females than males in Europe, USA and elsewhere. On the other hand, in India, because of the rampant female fetus abortions, the number of females is dropping, and a crisis is in the making, as not enough number of females will be available for Hindu men to marry a few years from now.

The option for women in countries with a bigger female ratio than male is to share a husband with another women, to remain single, or to become public property. "Become public property" is a decent phrase I'm using for what it really means. Ask any woman who cannot find an unmarried man to marry, if it is a better choice to share a husband with another woman, to remain single, or to become a mere mistress. As a lawfully wedded wife she will get the same right as the first wife, get legal status for herself and her children, get inheritance rights for herself and her children, and most importantly, get respect and dignity. Becoming a mistress is no choice. In the West becoming a mistress or a girlfriend is no problem, but becoming a second wife is totally unacceptable. The government will come after you, the society will come after you...

Misconception # 2: There is no equality between genders in Islam, as Islam gives men the right to have more than one wife, but does it not give the same right to women to have more than one husband.

Reply: Islam does not approve of polyandry, i.e., a woman taking up more than one husband. It is the male whose children the women bear. If a woman had multiple husbands, it would not be easy to know who is the biological father of the child. When a child is conceived, God puts love and affection in the hearts of the parents so that they can bring up the child. Without this love, life cannot be sustained. But if there was dispute about who really has fathered the child, there would be no love in the heart of the fathers. Psychologists say that children who grow up without knowing who their father is, are lacking in stability and maturity. These days because of scientific progress in DNA testing, one can say who the father is; but these tests were not available for mankind till now. Islam has historically provided for peace and stability in the family, not discord.

Misconception # 3: Islam subjugates women in a veil.

Reply: If you look at history, to ancient civilizations, you will find that women were the oppressed people. They had no individual merit. The Babylonians used to punish the woman for her husband's mistakes. The ancient Egyptians did the same. Ancient Arabs buried their newly born daughters.

It was Islam that uplifted the status of women. It gave women rights they never had before. Surah Nissah exhorts believing men to lower their gaze if a lady is passing by. Similarly, there are exhortations for women to lower their gaze if strange men are around. The Quran also speaks about the hijab for men and women to protect the modesty. The hijab for men is to cover their bodies minimally from their navel to the knees. The hijab for women is to cover their whole bodies except for their faces and hands below their wrists. There are descriptions for a female hijab, that it should cover the endowments including head, not be tight, not be transparent, not be like the clothes of non-believers, and not be like the clothes of the other gender, etc. Women got the right to own, inherit property, and to dispose it of at will.

Let me ask you a question: Suppose two identical twin sisters are walking down a street, and one of them is dressed in revealing clothing, while the other one is wearing a hijab. Who will be boys in the street whistle at or tease: the one who is scantily dressed in a mini-skirt, or the one who is modestly attired? The answer is obvious. The hijab is designed to prevent women from being molested. It brings peace to society and prevents mischief.

Misconception # 4: Capital punishment is barbaric.

Reply: There are crimes for which Islam prescribes capital punishment, e.g. for rape, murder etc. This is to protect society from criminals and anti-social elements. In USA there are 2713 rapes taking place every day. In Islam, the penalty is to award the death penalty so that the criminal is not around to repeat this crime, and to teach others a lesson. Americans say that this is a severe punishment. They say that the rapist must be put in jail for the first rape. If after his release he rapes again, then it is ok to put him to death. Friends, statistics in USA show that 95 percent of the rapists, after release from jail, rape again. Islam prevents this second rape. Following the Hijab dress code prevents the rapist from temptation to rape.

Misconception # 5: Islam was spread by the sword.

Reply: Nothing is far from the truth. It was the Islamic traders who served as excellent role models in the spread of Islam. In the book: "Islam at crossroads", the author, on page 8, says that this belief is a myth. Look at the number of Coptic Christians in Egypt. They number 14 million. Couldn't the Arabs have wiped them out or forcefully converted them to Islam? Look at India. In the 1,0000 years that the Muslims ruled over this subcontinent, every one could have been forcefully converted to Islam. How can you explain that there are 800 million Hindus and others still in India? Which Muslim army went to Indonesia and Malaysia to convert them? These people converted by seeing the good behaviors of the Muslim/Arab traders. Readers' Digest says that between 1944 and 1984, a period of 50 years, saw more conversion to Islam in Europe and USA than to any faith. I am asking you, who went with a sword to convert these people to Islam? It is the sword of th e intellect that converts people.

Misconception # 6: Muslims are fundamentalists.

Reply: What is the definition of the word fundamentalist? The dictionary says anyone who understands the basics of a discipline is a fundamentalist. Can you call yourself a mathematician if you can't understand the fundamentals of mathematics? No! Similarly, to be called a scientist, you must understand the fundamentals of science. There can be a positive fundamentalist and a negative fundamentalist. A thief/robber who is an expert at the fundamentals of robbing is bad; but a doctor who knows the fundamentals of healing is good. I submit that no fundamentals of Islam are against humanity. How can you be a good Muslim if you do not understand the fundamentals of Islam? How can you practice Islam? According to the Webster's dictionary, the word fundamentalist was first used on Christians; however, the new Oxford dictionary lists Muslims as fundamentalists.

Every Muslim should understand the fundamentals of Islam, and should be a fundamentalist. I am proud to call myself a 'Muslim Fundamentalist'. I submit that every Muslim should be a terrorist. Just as the policeman strikes terror in the heart of the thief, so should every Muslim strike terror in the heart of the thief, the rapist and other anti-social elements!

The word fundamentalist is open to wide interpretation, just like the word freedom fighter. In olden days, the British would label those Indians fighting for India's freedom as terrorists; while for the Indians, these were freedom fighters.

Misconception # 7: Muslims are ruthless non-vegetarian people.

Reply: God has granted Muslims the choice to be vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians. He has ordained in the holy book that everything that he has created in this world is for the enjoyment/pleasure of man (with certain restrictions and limits). It is ok for a Muslim to be a vegetarian by choice; it is also ok for him to be a non-vegetarian by choice.

Science tells us that animal flesh is a complete protein food. It is easier to digest than the vegetarian food. If you look at the teeth of carnivorous animals like a tiger or a lion they are sharp and pointed, designed to tear flesh. The tiger and lion can eat only flesh; they cannot digest leaves and grass. On the other hand, the teeth of herbivorous animals like the cow and camel are flat. Designed to chew grass and leaves. These herbivorous animals can't digest flesh. But if you examine the teeth of human beings, they are both canine i.e. sharp and pointed, as well as flat. Therefore human beings can chew both vegetarian foods as well as non-vegetarian foods. Humans can digest plant foods as well as flesh. This ability to enjoy and digest both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian food is a gift of God to humans.

Hindu scriptures permit the eating of flesh. In fact, their books are replete with incidents showing festivals and ceremonies where meat was served. When Jainism and Buddhism started to become popular with their philosophies of ahimsa, i.e., non-violence towards animals, and started to win converts from Hindus, the Hindus priests adapted the same philosophy of ahimsa to win back those who had left the Hindu fold. This is how Hinduism changed over to vegetarianism.

If no one eats meat the number of cattle will be uncontrollable. It will be a big problem about how to dispose of them.

Misconception # 8: Muslims eat animals and behave like animals.

Reply: There is a saying that you are what you eat. Muslims eat only herbivorous animals (animals that eat only plants, grass, leaves etc). These animals are peaceful animals, like goat, lamb etc. Therefore, we are peaceful people. Muslims are prevented from eating carnivorous animals, i.e. animals that eat other animals. The holy prophet has prohibited us from eating snakes, lizards, cats, dogs, birds of prey etc.

Some non-Muslims say that allowing slaughtered animals to bleed to death is torturing the animals. It is better to behead them in one quick shot on the neck. Some Muslims' response to this is that the non-Muslims attach the animals from behind, like cowards; while Muslims confront the animal in a manly manner, face-to-face, from the front. Of course this is not a good reason; it is only a joke.

Scientific tests have proven that when the animal's throat is slit along with the windpipe and the vein (without damage to the spinal cord), the animal dies a painless death. The animal twitches its legs, it is not because of pain but because the heart has pumped out all the blood from the legs. It is this twitching of the lags, this thrashing about of the dying animal that leads the non-Muslim to believe that the animal is in pain. Blood carries toxins and impurities that are harmful for humans. Islam prohibits the eating/drinking of blood. Meat without blood lasts longer than meat with blood in it.

Misconception # 9: Going around the Kabah is idol worship.

Reply: No religion is more vocal in condemning idol worship than Islam. The Muslims do not worship Kabah, only God, or Allah. While circumambulating the Kabah they chant: La Illa Ha Ill-lal-lah. (There is no object worthy of worship but Allah).

The Kabah is for unifying Muslims at prayer. It would be chaotic if Muslims prayed in any direction they chose. The Kabah provides a chance to unify in prayer as all Muslims face one spot, the Kabah. Throughout the globe people from various countries face North, South, East and West only to face the Kabah. When the Arabs drew the map of the globe, they put Makkah in the center; but when the Western people gained power, they put Greenwich in the center. But if you look at the map, Makkah continues to be in the center of the globe even today. Alhamdulillah!

Some accuse Muslims to be idol worshippers because they kiss the black rock at Kabah. This they do only because they saw the prophet do it. The black stone has no power to benefit or harm you. In olden times, the call to prayer was given by standing on the top of Kabah. If Muslims were idol worshippers, would they stand on top of their 'idol' and call people to pray. Does a Hindu or a Christian stand on top of their idols and call others to join in the worship?

Misconception # 10: Muslims are wrong in preventing non-Muslims from visiting Makkah.

Reply: Allah has prohibited this. Makkah is not a place of tourism, but a place of reverence and worship. A non-Muslim has no reverence for Makkah, and therefore should not be there as a mere spectator.

Although I am an Indian, I can't go to the cantonment area in Bombay where the military is based. I need a special permit. Similarly, all countries have their own rules to allow visitors in. Applicants must meet certain conditions insisted on by the host country. I had to meet the conditions of the US Government to visit USA. Similarly, there are conditions to visit Makkah. The condition is: You must recite from your heart "La illa-ha-ill-lal-lah, Mohammed-ur rasul Allah" (I bear witness that there is no object worthy of worship except Allah, and that Mohammed is the messenger of Allah).

Misconception # 11: Muslims wrongly don't eat pork

Reply: God has prohibited pork. There are several references even in the Bible where swine meat is prohibited. Science has associated 70 diseases with swine meat, the most dangerous being tapeworm, for which there is no cure. It causes irreparable damage to the insides of human beings. Even if a pig has been raised on a farm and its flesh is cooked very well at high temperatures, certain germs never die. The pig is a filthy animal; it eats human excreta. It has to protective instinct for its female. It is a shameless animal. Therefore people who eat its flesh, have no shame if their females mate with other men.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Selepas cinta yg terutama - Ar-Rahman .. pemilik hati ini,
Selepas kekasih - Muhammad ar-Rasul al-Mustafa ..
pemimpin jalan hidup ini,

bicara ini .

buat Ummi, cinta pertamaku yg hakiki!
[sempena diri mamaku punya harijadi]

Ummi ...
ada terlalu banyak hari dalam hayat ini ...
yang dalamnya ingin aku dakapi ummi,
ingin ku kucup dahimu dan kedua pipi,
ingin aku tutur kata kecintaan ku yg teramat di hati,
dan ingin aku buktikan kebenaran kata & rasa cinta ini,
selalu ... pdmu yg sungguh aku kasihi!

namun Ummi,
begitu banyak hari dalam hidup ini ...
cintaku tak terlahir seperti yg diingini,
tiada dakapan, tiada kucupan,
cukup sukar untuk aku menuturkan ...

"Aku Cinta UMMI"
ya ...
"Aku Cinta UMMI"
dengan pasti, terlalu pasti!

dan aku pasti jua kecintaanmu padaku,
dari pengorbanan dan hari-hari hidupmu bersamaku ...

namun aku tak pasti,
adakah dakapan, kucupan dan kata-kata itu sama
oleh Ummi yang cukup aku sayangi ...
dan adakah ia cukup untuk menghiburkan hati Ummi,
cinta pertamaku yg hakiki!

kerna aku ini Ummi,
"pemberian" Ilahi ...
yg lahir dari segala kebaikan,
dan dalam segala kebaikan & fitrah yg suci ..

namun aku kini tidak sebegitu lagi ...
begitu banyak kata2 Ummi yang aku ingkari,
betapa banyak ekspresi yg aku zahirkan,
yg pasti cukup utk melukai,
hati insan yg paling aku sayangi ...

begitu banyak cita-citamu ...
yg tak bisa aku tunaikannya,
begitu banyak perbezaan cara,
antara Ummi dan aku,
seorang ibu & anaknya ...
meski hakikatnya cita-cita kita terlalu sama ...

dan entah kenapa,
dalam terlalu banyak perkara,
kerdilnya diri ini terasa,
tak bisa jadi "anak Ummi" bak yg dicita-cita ...

kerana Ummi hampir terlalu sempurna,
kerana Ummi terlalu banyak pengorbanannya,
kerana Ummi bisa merasa cukup dgn Tuhannya,
meski dunia meninggalkannya sendirian cuma!

dan kerana Ummi yg aku cintai itu,
terlalu asyik menerima,
dengan tabah & dengan rela,
tajam kataku menyakitinya,
tawar wajahku memandangnya,
bentakku dan 1001 kesalahanku yg tak pernah ada
penghabisannya ...

maafkan aku Ibu,
ampuni aku Mama,
redhai aku Ummi ...

inilah aku anakmu,
datang memohon ampun & redhamu,
dalam hina dan penuh dosa,
dalam lahir & batin yg x sepertinya ...

sungguh aku cintakanmu!
meski tak bisa terucap selalu,
meski tak bisa terzahir ...
dengan dakap & kucup,
dengan hadiah-hadiah istimewa,
mahupun wajah penuh cinta,
dan ketaatan yg sempurna ...

sungguh cinta ini Ummi,
tetap adanya di dalam hati,
tak pernah terusik,
dan dengan izinNya ...
tak akan sekali-kali berubah
meski usia ditelan dek masa,
dan zaman merubah suasana ...

namun duhai Ummi,
perlu aku akui,
tak bisa aku jadi ...

dan inilah AKU yg x sepertinya,
menagih cinta, ampunan & redha,
dari ibuku, mamaku, Ummi ...
cinta pertamaku yg hakiki,
yg selama-lamanya aku sayangi!

maafkan aku yg ini Ummi,
yg x sepertinya dan sering melukai,
jiwa halusmu yg amat aku cintai!

akan ku cuba merubahnya,
Insya Allah,
hingga jadi anak soleh yg dicita,
"anak Ummi" yg dikasihi dan diredhainya!

hanya dgn redhamu Ummi,
bisa aku bertemuNya,
dalam suci & tenang yg abadi ...
dan moga begitulah kita nanti,
berkasih, bercinta di taman syurga yg hakiki,
dalam nikmat agungNya,
asyik merai cinta ILAHI ...

duhai Ummi,
usah biar aku sendiri,
pulang dalam kegelapan,
dek kesilapanku yg tak terbilang,
dek kecuaian yg tak aku terhitungkan,
dek cita-citamu yg pernah aku gagalkan,
dek ribuan luka dan kesedihan yg aku lukiskan,
pd jiwa halus Ummi yg aku cintakan!

maafkan aku Ibu,
ampuni aku Mama,
redhai aku Ummi ...

sungguh UMMI ...
kaulah cinta pertamaku yg hakiki!
bukan sekadar kata-kata,
namun dgn jiwa cinta yg pasti!

doakan aku Ummi,
ampunilah & redhakanlah diri ini,
moga aku jadi hambaNya yg sejati,
anakmu, teman di syurgaNya nanti ...

terima kasih Ummi untuk semuanya,
terima kasih Ummi kerana segala-galanya,
terima kasih Ummi ... yg tidak terhingga ...

"ismuki manqusyun fi qalbi"
"wa du'a-i yahfadzuki Rabbi ..."
-namamu terpahat di hatiku
-dan doaku moga Allah memeliharamu ...

selalu ...

sungguh Ummi,

151202 00:20

Saturday, January 25, 2003

A Ship's Journey
Adapted from: AHMAD March 1995 pp. 38-39
Written by: Abdallah Ahmad

A ship was moving through the calm sea, with its passengers enjoying the beautiful scene of the sea. Suddenly, a storm blew causing the waves to rise and the ship to swing. It was destined to sink, but Allah's Grace saw to it that it reached a far away island safely. The captain decided to deck on that island's shore till the sea calmed down again.

The passengers looked around them. The Divine creation was obvious in the beauty of every tree and flower in the island, which seemed uninhabited. Fascinated by the charming Scenery, most of the passengers wanted to tour around to enjoy this beauty, relax and forget all about the troubles they had faced. They asked for the captain's permission. He agreed on one condition: that they must come back upon hearing the first signal indicating that the sea became calm. He added that they should go home before another storm broke.

The passengers toured around the island. Attracted by the beautiful views, some of them went into the bushes, and began to collect many things to give to their relatives and beloved ones back home. Whereas the rest, who thought carefully about their situation, concluded that the ship couldn't carry all the things they intended to bring, and decided to take in only their basic needs that would help them in making their journey. They went back to the shore carrying only their vital supplies, and waited patiently for the storm to calm down. Soon, the captain saw that the weather was clear. He signaled once and twice asking the passengers to get aboard right away.

The first to arrive were those who were already waiting. They climbed up carrying their essentials, and they naturally found plenty of room to sit comfortably around the ship. Some of the other passengers hurried back, carrying the precious stones, fruits and flowers. When they reached the ship as it was setting sail, they realized that there was not enough room left to accommodate all what they brought. Thus, they had to throw all of the riches away.

A third group of passengers who were preoccupied with seeking more precious stones, fruits and beautiful flowers, were so much attracted by what they had seen that they did not respond to the signals coming from the ship.

Finally, the ship set sail leaving them behind, for it had to reach home safely before another storm erupted.

They did not realize that the ship had left, except after dark. They were very exhausted and they slept deeply, hoping that they will be saved one day.

The ship reached home after a long and tiresome journey that made the passengers, who were not attracted to the charm and beauty of the island, know the true meaning of survival.

They felt that the fate of those who were left on the island is like the fate of the people who are fascinated by the pleasures and joys of this world: They got fully engaged in them that they forgot that they will return back to their Creator to be either punished or rewarded.

Allah, the most Exalted, said in His Glorious Book: In the Name of Allah the Compassionate, The Merciful.

"Let the life of this world not deceive you, nor let the dissembler trick you concerning Allah "
Allah the Most Exalted speakth the Truth.

Friday, January 24, 2003

... Nor backbite one another; would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would abhor it.
(Qur'an 49:12)

Diseases of the Soul :: Gheebah (Mengumpat)

The cure for this disease

If someone, God forbid, has been guilty of this ugly act, he or she must purge this vice and nourish the roots of sincerity, unity, and solidarity in his or her heart by following these steps:

q Meditate for a while about the effects of this sin in this world and in the Hereafter. Reflect on the fearsome, frightful forms that will beset you in the grave, in the Barzakh, and on the Day of Resurrection. Heed the words of the the prophet for his pearls of wisdom in this regard will overwhelm you. Then weigh a quarter of an hour's pleasantries, gossip, and satisfaction of the imaginative lust against thousands upon thousands of years of adversity or eternal damnation in hell and everlasting painful chastisement!

q Consider this: even if you have enmity toward a person whom you backbite, that animosity requires that you should not resort to backbiting. It is stated in the traditions that the good deeds of the backbiter are transferred to the book of deeds of the victim of his backbiting, and the victim's sins are transferred to the record of the backbiter.

q Repent and seek the forgiveness of the victim, if this is possible without any chance of vicious consequences; otherwise, you must implore God's mercy for the victim.

q Gather all your strength to rid your soul of this sin at all cost, by making a covenant with yourself to abstain from this abominable for a certain time. Bring your tongue under control and be fully watchful of yourself, steadfastly vigilant, calling yourself to account. God willing, it is hoped that after some time you will find yourself reformed and free of its ill traces. Gradually the burden of the task will ease, and you will feel a natural disposition to dislike and detest it. At that point, you will come to possess spiritual peace and delight in achieving freedom from this vice.

q Backbiting often results from a weakness in the backbiter’s own soul, such as an inferiority complex. You should pry into your soul to discover what weakness prompted you to backbite your brother or sister; then set out to remedy the weakness.

When backbiting ingresses into our conduct, it leaves adverse effects on the soul. One of these is cultivation of enmity and hatred towards the victim, which gradually increases. At the time of death, when the veils of the angelic realm (al-malakut) are lifted, the backbiter may be brought to witness the high station of his victims before God, and the honour and blessings bestowed on them by the Almighty Lord.

Prohibition of listening to Backbiting

In the same manner as backbiting is prohibited, so also is listening to it. Indeed, as some traditions indicate, the listener is like the backbiter in all the evil aspects—so much so that his act is a grave sin carrying an obligation to seek forgiveness from the victim.

Among the more subtle forms of backbiting is listening to it with amazement. Such a person expresses his amazement in order to make the backbiter more lively in his descriptions. His amazement encourages the latter in his evil act. For instance, he will say, “Strange” or “Astaghfirullah!”. Or he might say, “I didn't know that!” or “I didn't know he would do such a thing!” These expressions are meant to affirm the backbiter's statements and to encourage him to add something more. These acts are in fact the Devil's artifices. Surely, to affirm backbiting is also backbiting; as is to listen to it, or even to remain silent upon hearing it.

Is backbiting ever allowed?

There are very few situations where it is permissible to speak about the faults of another person. One must be very careful not to let the existence of these exceptions allow transgression into sin. Some of these situations are:

q to protect Muslims from the evil of another person, including situations where one is asked to vouch for the integrity of a marriage prospect

q when the person being talked about does not conceal his violations of Divine commands

q to describe any fault of a patient before a physician for purposes of treatment

q criticism about a narrator of traditions (hadith).


... when they stand up to prayer they stand up sluggishly; they do it only to be seen of men and do not remember Allah except a little.
(Qur'an, 4: 142)

Disease of the Soul :: Pretending Virtuous

What is Riya'?

Riya' means to falsely make oneself appear to be virtuous, good natured or a true believer before people for the sake of earning their respect and admiration, or for the purpose of gaining a good reputation among them. It differs from hypocrisy (nifaq) in that a hypocrite feigns integrity, uprightness, virtue, honesty and piety without sincere intention of acquiring these traits for the sake of God, while a person with riya acquires these good traits for the sake of pleasing God ‑ however, he later performs good actions for the sake of gaining respect and good reputation among people. .

Advice to combat riya’

q A person suffering from this grave disease is usually not aware that it has penetrated his personality and thus made his deeds worthless. The lures of the devil and the self are so subtle and the path of humanity is so delicate that unless he is very self-vigilant, he cannot understand this inherent evil. He imagines that his actions are for pleasing God, but in reality they are serving his own interests.

q Be your own physician and regularly scrutinize yourself for the real aims behind your good actions, words, and acts of worships. Do you feel the same fervour in doing good acts, offering prayers or fasts when you are alone or when these deeds are not known to anyone? Are you really performing good only for the sake of earning the pleasure of God? Do you feel a desire for your friends to praise you for your good deeds, intellectual endeavours, long prayers and piety? How do you feel when you are not praised for a certain good action? Compare your feelings when performing an action in public and then doing the same act when the chance of it being seen by others is least. If, God forbid, your eagerness to do an act of goodness or worship is more when you are in the company of your friends or in public or when there is a greater chance of it getting seen or praised, then consider yourself to be a victim of riya’.

q If you are acquiring knowledge, falling prey to riya' will make you desire to gain an important position in the eyes of scholars or men of honour by solving an important problem or presenting a topic in a unique way and to make you the focus of their attention in order to receive applause from them and the praise of the public at a gathering. Ask yourself: If a friend of mine or some one else had done the same feat in front of others or done it in a better way, would I have felt the same way? Was this action of mine only for God?

q Take a firm step to get rid of riya’ for it is leading you to hell. Eradicate the desire of getting praised by creatures for the actions that are done for the sake of God. Do all your acts as a duty to God. Fight your inclination of performing virtuousness and worship in public or where there is a chance of getting praised, until this inclination is totally eliminated from your heart. Pray frequently to God Almighty to purify your heart of the stains of polytheism and hypocrisy and to clean it of the rust of the love of the world, which is the source of all vices.

The stages of riya’

q The first stage: A person makes a display of his religious beliefs, and shows off his knowledge of religious teachings in order to project himself as an honest person in the eyes of people in order to gain their confidence and respect. For example, he tries to make a display of his trust in God and His Power, saying that he does not believe in any being except Him. When trust in God or submission to His Will is discussed, he wags his head in affirmation with a sigh, and thus deceives people giving an impression that he is a true believer. This stage of riya’ is also seen in a person who eradicates false beliefs from his heart and, through such purification, wants to attain power and respect among people by making an overt or covert display of his purity. For instance, when nifaq (hypocrisy) is mentioned, his utterances or gestures will be of a person who is purified of it.

q The second stage: The individual demonstrates his piety and virtuous deeds and he then behaves in such a manner as if he is free from all vices. The aim behind such actions is to win the confidence of others. For example, a person may give charity or claim great spirituality in order to win respect and praise.

q The third stage: It is marked by an individual's overt performance of the prescribed forms of acts of worships and good deeds in front of other people on purely rational grounds and with the intention of posing himself as a person who strictly adheres to the religious commands or abstains from evil deeds. He thus wishes to win the hearts of people and attract their attention towards himself in the name of religion. For example, a person may observe obligatory prayers strictly on time or pray night prayers in order to be known as virtuous and God fearing by his circle of friends or common people

The devastating effects of riya’…..

q A person suffering from riya’ fails to realise that even if he earns worldly fame among people, scholars or the elite, he will be disgraced in the eyes of the King of kings, and his actions will lead him to Sijjin (the lowest level of hell). Riya' is often accompanied with other serious moral vices. One of these vices is sum`ah, which means to orally transmit one's good qualities to the ears of people for the purpose of attracting them and publicising oneself. A person with

q riya’ usually likes to humiliate others, and injures the feelings of brothers and sisters-in-faith. He is often rude to a pious person and behaves proudly with him in order to project himself to be more virtuous.

q If the tree of riya’ grows for a long time in a person’s heart, it leads him to become a hypocrite. Each one of the vices mentioned above is enough to land a person in hell.

q It is stated in the traditions that the person used to riya' i.e. the person who displays his devotion, high religious status, knowledge, preaching, leading of prayers, fasts and other pious deeds for the sake of gaining respect in the hearts of people instead of truly seeking reward from God is a polytheist (mushrik). His idolatry (shirk) is confirmed by the Qur’an and the traditions narrated through Prophet and therefore his sin is unpardonable.
The Media Column: War journalists should not be cosying up to the military
By Robert Fisk
21 January 2003

It looks like a rerun of the 1991 Gulf War. Already American journalists are fighting like tigers to join "the pool", to be "embedded" in the US military so that they can see the war at first hand – and, of course, be censored. Eleven years ago, they turned up at Dhahran in Saudi Arabia, already kitted out with helmets, gas capes, chocolate rations and eyes that narrowed when they looked into the sun, just like General Montgomery. Half the reporters wanted to wear military costume and one young television man from the American mid-west turned up, I recall well, with a pair of camouflaged boots. Each boot was camouflaged with painted leaves. Those of us who had been in a desert -- even those who had only seen a picture of a desert – did wonder what this meant.

Well, of course, it symbolised fantasy, the very quality upon which most viewers now rely when watching "live" war – or watching death "live" on TV.

Thus, over the past four weeks, the massed ranks of American television networks have been pouring into Kuwait to cosy up to the US military, to seek those coveted "pool" positions, to try on their army or marine costumes and make sure that – if or when the day comes – they will have the kind of coverage that every reporter and every general wants: a few facts, good pictures and nothing dirty to make the viewers throw up on the breakfast table. I remember how, back in 1991, only those Iraqi soldiers obliging enough to die in romantic poses – arm thrown back to conceal the decomposing features or face down and anonymous in the sand – made it on to live-time. Those soldiers turned into a crematorium nightmare or whose corpses were being torn to pieces by wild dogs – I actually saw an ITV crew film this horrific scene – were not honoured on screen. ITV's film, of course, couldn't be shown – lest it persuade the entire world that no one should go to war, ever, again.

The Americans are actually using the word "embedded". Reporters must be "embedded' in military units. The fears of Central Command at Tampa, Florida, are that Saddam will commit some atrocity – a gas attack on Shiites, an air bombardment of Iraqi civilians – and then blame it on the Americans. Journalists in the "pool" can thus be rushed to the scene to prove that the killings were the dastardly work of the Beast of Baghdad rather than the "collateral damage" – the Distinguished Medal for Gutlessness should be awarded to all journalists who even mention this phrase – of the fine young men who are trying to destroy the triple pillar of the "axis of evil".

Already, the "buddy-buddy" relationship – that's actually what the Ministry of Defence boys called it 11 years ago -- has started. US troops in Kuwait are offering courses in chemical and biological warfare for reporters who might be accompanying soldiers to "the front", along with "training" on the need to protect security during military operations. CNN is, of course, enthusiastically backing these seemingly innocuous courses – forgetting how they allowed Pentagon "trainees" to sit in their newsroom during the 1991 Gulf War.

So here's a thumbnail list of how to watch out for mendacity and propaganda on your screen once Gulf War Two (or Three if you include the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq conflict) begins. You should suspect the following:

Reporters who wear items of American or British military costume – helmets, camouflage jackets, weapons, etc.

Reporters who say "we" when they are referring to the US or British military unit in which they are "embedded".

Those who use the words "collateral damage" instead of "dead civilians".

Those who commence answering questions with the words: "Well, of course, because of military security I can't divulge..." Those who, reporting from the Iraqi side, insist on referring to the Iraqi population as "his" (ie Saddam's) people.

Journalists in Baghdad who refer to "what the Americans describe as Saddam Hussein's human rights abuses" – rather than the plain and simple torture we all know Saddam practices.

Journalists reporting from either side who use the god-awful and creepy phrase "officials say" without naming, quite specifically, who these often lying "officials" are.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Adik dan Palestin

Adik bangun pagi. Adik kesat mata. Walid yang kejut adik. Adik mengantuk sangat. Adik tarik gebar semula. Tidur balik. Walid geleng kepala bila nampak adik tidur balik. Walid tepuk belakang adik suruh adik mandi. Lepas mandi adik pakai baju baru. Ummi kata hari ini Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Semua orang pakai baju baru. Tapi adik tengok ummi pakai baju buruk,walid pun pakai baju buruk. Ummi cuma senyum bila adik mengajukan soalan itu. Ummi kata cukuplah adik seorang pakai baju baru.

Walid pimpin tangan adik pergi masjid. Kami jalan kaki melalui denai-denai kecil. Sepanjang jalan adik dengar takbir raya. Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar, La ilaha illallah huallahu akbar, Allahu Akbar wallilla hilham…. Adik khusyuk dengar. Merdu. Adik angkat tangan ke telinga,lagak seperti bilal masjid sambil menjerit takbir raya. Walid cuma ketawa kecil melihat gelagat adik. Di persimpangan jalan, kami bertemu Pak Cik Nassier jiran adik. Adik pandang walid. Walid ralit berbual dengan Pak Cik Nassier. Adik dengar walid berbual tentang syahid, Yassier Arafat dan lain-lain lagi. Nama negara adik pun walid sebut, Palestin. Tapi adik tidak faham. Adik cuma mendengar.

Adik tiba di perkarangan masjid. Masjid itu besar,tersergam indah. Masjid kebanggaan negara adik, Masjidil Aqsa.Walid pernah beritahu adik, Masjidil Aqsa kiblat pertama sebelum Kaabah di Mekah. Masjidil Aqsa juga adalah salah satu tempat suci dalam Islam. Nabi Muhammad pun mengalami peristiwa Israk dan Mikraj di masjid ini. Adik buka kasut dan masuk ke perut masjid. Adik lihat ramai orang. Semuanya duduk dalam saf. Walid tarik adik duduk di penjuru masjid,kemudian walid solat tahiyatul masjid.Adik ikut walid solat raya. Adik berdiri betul-betul dekat dengan walid. Adik pandang walid. Bila walid angkat tahbiratul ihram adik pun angkat. Mulut walid kumat kamit membaca sesuatu. Adik pun ikut sama walaupun adik tak tahu apa yang adik baca. Walid rukuk,adik rukuk. Walid sujud,adik sujud.

Adik membilang anak tangga selepas selesai solat raya dan bersalam-salaman dengan jemaah yang lain. Walid ada di belakang adik. Suasana ketika itu tenang dan damai. Adik suka ketenangan. Adik tarik nafas, hirup dalam-dalam udara pagi. Tiba-tiba ketenangan itu diragut. Adik nampak ramai orang bertempiaran lari. Adik juga nampak sekumpulan askar yang memegang senjata sedang mara menuju ke arah masjid. Adik dengar bunyi kuat. Bunyi tembakan. Walid dukung adik erat sambil melaungkan takbir Allahu Akbar. Adik takut. Adik pejam mata. Kaki walid yang kuat berlari tiba-tiba terhenti. Pautan tangan walid longgar dan akhirnya terlerai. Adik rasa seperti sekujur tubuh tumbang dan menghenyak adik. Adik pandang belakang. Mata adik terbeliak. Adik nampak tubuh walid. Kepala walid berdarah. Adik menjerit nama walid. Manik-manik jernih bergentayangan dan gugur satu persatu dari tubir kelopak mata adik. Walid pandang adik. Walid cium pipi adik. Walid suruh adik lari. Adik geleng kepala. Adik pegang tangan walid. Adik hendak duduk di sisi walid. Walid senyum pada adik. Mulut walid lemah menutur kalimah syahadah. Adik goyang tubuh walid. Walid tidak bergerak. Walid kaku.

Adik kesat air mata. Adik lari kuat-kuat. Adik lari tidak kalih kiri dan kanan. Sampai di rumah, adik terus menangis. Ummi hairan tengok adik. Adik sebut nama walid berkali-kali.
Mayat walid di hantar ke rumah tidak lama selepas itu. Adik masih menangis. Adik tengok ummi cium dahi walid. Ummi peluk adik. Beberapa orang jiran cuba tenangkan ummi. Abang yang duduk di penjuru dinding juga menangis. Abang dah besar. Umur abang enam belas tahun. Abang pergi dekat walid,abang peluk dan cium walid. Selepas sembahyang adik nampak orang angkat walid keluar rumah. Abang pun ikut sama. Adik tidak ikut. Adik duduk rumah dengan ummi.Adik tanya ummi, mana perginya walid. Diam. Adik tanya lagi sambil menongkat dagu menunggu jawapan daripada mulut ummi. Ummi pandang adik, ummi kata walid pergi ke satu tempat yang sangat cantik. Walid pergi tidak akan kembali lagi. Adik cuma mengangguk.
“Adik nak ikut walid” Ummi geleng kepala dan peluk adik. Adik lap air mata di pipi ummi. Adik senyum, ummi senyum.

Petang itu ramai kawan abang datang. Abang ajak mereka ke belakang rumah. Adik berlari-lari anak ikut abang ke belakang. Abang tekun membuat sesuatu. Sesuatu yang menyerupai senapang. Adik cuma duduk diam dan tengok. Kawan-kawan abang pun khusyuk membuat kerja. Adik menguap berkali-kali. Boring duduk diam tanpa melakukan sebarang kerja. Tidak keletah adik dibuatnya. Mata adik melilau-lilau mencari barang mainan. Adik nampak benda bulat seperti bola. Adik pergi dekat cuba mencapai benda itu. Adik pegang dan belek. Sedang adik seronok bermain, abang rampas ‘bola’ adik. Adik masam. Adik tarik muncung empat belas. Adik marah pada abang. Abang tersenyum melihat tingkah laku adik. Dengan lembut abang mencubit pipi montel adik. Abang beritahu adik yang benda itu bom tangan bukannya bola seperti yang disangka adik. Adik diam, kemudian berlari mendapatkan ummi. Merajuk.

Adik bangun awal pagi itu. Tidak seperti hari-hari lain, walid tidak ada untuk kejut adik. Apabila teringat walid,mata adik berkaca. Adik tidak mahu menangis. Adik orang lelaki. Orang lelaki tidak boleh menanggis, orang lelaki kena kuat dan tabah. Adik nampak abang sedang bersiap-siap. Abang galas beg besar. Semua benda yang abang buat semalam abang bawa. Benda bulat seperti bola pun abang bawa. Kawan-kawan abang semuanya sedang menunggu di depan rumah. Abang cium tangan ummi, minta izin untuk pergi. Ummi peluk abang,cium abang berkali-kali. Adik cuma memandang dengan mata terkebil-kebil. Adik garu kepala yang tidak gatal. Abang datang dekat adik. Abang dukung adik,usap kepala adik. “Adik jaga ummi ya” pesan abang.
“Abang nak pergi mana” tanya adik seperti orang bodoh. “Abang nak pergi berjuang”. Abang mengukir senyuman mengakhiri bicara.

Kelibat abang hilang ditelan kabus pagi. Hanya lambaian tangan adik mengiringi pemergian abang. Lepas abang pergi ummi cerita macam-macam perkara pada adik. Pasal Israel, pasal syurga, pasal jihad dan banyak lagi. Semuanya adik tidak faham. “Isra….Israfil…” terkial-kial adik menyebut perkataan itu dalam pelat yang pekat. “Bukan Israfil. Israfilkan nama malaikat. Malaikat yang tiup sangka kala. Israel…” Ummi membetulkan sebutan adik. “Is…ra…el” akhirnya adik berjaya menyebutnya juga. Ummi ketawa kecil. Adik ikut ketawa menampakkan sebaris gigi adik yang ronggak. Ummi kata Israel jahat. Israel musuh umat Islam. Israel juga musuh Allah. Israel yang mencetuskan peperangan di bumi Palestin. Israel yang bunuh walid. Adik benci Israel. Adik benci sesiapa yang menjadi musuh Allah.

Adik lari keluar rumah. Adik pergi ke jalan besar. Ramai kanak-kanak sebaya adik di situ. Mereka semua baling batu kepada sekumpulan tentera yang bersenjata di seberang jalan. Adik ingat lagi, tentera itulah yang bunuh walid. Merekalah Israel. Adik marah. Adik geram. Adik capai batu, adik baling kuat-kuat. Adik pejam mata. Terbayang di kepala adik peristiwa yang menimpa walid. Adik sertai kawan-kawan adik yang lain; membaling batu. Kadang-kadang kami lari apabila tentera itu menyerang balas. Ada juga kawan-kawan adik kena tembak. Tumbang satu persatu. Adik nampak baju mereka merah berlumuran darah. Adik lari menyorok di sebalik bangunan usang untuk menyelamatkan diri. Adik lari bersama seorang kawan adik. Namanya Jamal. Dia juga sama dengan adik. Walidnya juga pergi ke suatu tempat yang sangat cantik dan tidak akan kembali lagi. Apabila keadaan semakin reda, adik pulang ke rumah. Adik berjanji dengan Jamal untuk melontarkan batu lagi pada keesokkan harinya.

Sesampai di rumah adik berasa sangat lapar. Adik cari roti di dapur. Adik buka almari, adik cari dalam almari tapi tidak jumpa. Perut adik mula berbunyi minta diisi. Adik sudah makan roti petang tadi tapi adik masih berasa lapar lagi. Adik nampak ummi pegang roti. Itu sajalah satu-satunya roti yang tinggal di rumah kami. Ummi tidak makan apa-apa lagi sejak pagi tadi. Adik pergi dekat ummi. Ummi yang baru menyuapkan roti ke mulutnya tersentak. Ummi keluarkan semula roti dari mulutnya dan suapkan ke mulut adik. Adik kunyah dengan gelojoh.
“Ummi, kenapa kita hidup susah?” adik tanya pada ummi dengan mulut dipenuhi roti. Ummi pangku adik di ribanya. Ummi mengelus lembut rambut adik.
“Kita kena sabar sebab sabar itu cantik” ujar ummi perlahan.
“Cantik macam syurga ker ummi?” adik tanya lagi.
Ummi senyum.
“Nabi Muhammad pun hidup susah juga. Baginda dilontar batu ketika menyebarkan dakwah di Taif. Malahan kaum Quraisy ramai yang ingin bunuh nabi. Nabi sabar,nabi tak cepat putus asa” sambung ummi lagi.
Adik dengar dengan khusyuk. Adik nak jadi baik macam Nabi Muhammad. Nama adik pun Muhammad. Walid yang cadangkan nama itu. Walid hendak adik tabah dan cekal macam Nabi Muhammad.

Malam itu adik duduk bersila depan ummi sambil tangan memegang Al-Quran. Adik ikat serban sendiri. Adik lilit serban ikut suka hati adik. Sekejap adik lilit ke kiri, sekejap ke kanan. Kadang-kadang serban itu tutup mata adik. Adik kuak sedikit kain serban ke atas ketika hendak membaca Al-Quran.
Adik baca Al-Quran dengan bersungguh-sungguh. Adik baca kitab Allah itu dengan tekun. Ummi duduk depan adik sambil memerhati bacaan adik. Adik hendak jadi macam abang. Umur enam tahun sudah khatam Al-Quran. Adik baru umur tiga tahun. Adik kena baca Quran dengan rajin kalau hendak khatam Al-Quran cepat macam abang. Adik ingat pesanan ummi. Ummi kata Al-Quranlah satu-satunya harta yang paling berharga. Adik ingin baca Al-Quran hari-hari. Adik tidak mahu ponteng baca Al-Quran.
Bacaan adik terhenti apabila pintu diketuk dan nama ummi dilaung-laungkan dari luar.
“Syukur ya Huda, anakmu Yassin mati syahid”muncul Mak Cik Fatima di depan rumah.
“Anakmu,anakmu adalah salah seorang pengebom berani mati ya Huda. Tindakannya menyebabkan tujuh orang askar Israel laknatullah terbunuh. Yassin dan tiga orang lagi pejuang Hizbullah mati syahid. Semoga syurga menanti mereka kelak” terang Mak Cik Fatima panjang lebar.

Ummi panjatkan doa pada Allah semoga roh abang ditempatkan dalam golongan orang-orang yang beriman. Adik kaget. Nama Israfil…bukan..Israel disebut lagi. Adik benci mendengar nama itu. Kemarahan adik meluap-luap. Ummi beritahu adik abang telah pergi ikut walid. Ummi kata ummi bangga mempunyai anak seperti abang. Adik masuk tidur awal. Adik mimpi satu tempat yang sangat cantik. Adik nampak walid dan abang di sana. Walid dan abang senyum pada adik. Adik cuba kejar mereka tapi semakin adik kejar semakin mereka menghilang.

Keesokkan harinya, adik tunggu Jamal di tepi jalan seperti yang dijanjikan. Lima minit berlalu Jamal tidak muncul-muncul juga. Hampir setengah jam adik tunggu tapi Jamal tetap tidak muncul. Adik tidak suka orang yang mungkir pada janji. Adik ingat lagi, salah satu ciri org munafik ialah mungkir apabila berjanji. Adik tidak mahu jadi munafik. Adik tanya kawan-kawan adik yang lain. Rupa-rupanya Jamal juga seperti walid dan abang. Jamal pergi ke satu tempat yang cantik. Tempat yang adik tidak tahu di mana letaknya. Semua orang yang adik sayang pergi ke tempat itu. Mula-mula walid,kemudian abang dan akhirnya Jamal.

Adik pulang ke rumah awal. Adik terkejut. Terkesima sebentar. Rumah adik dikepung askar Israel. Mereka memang sedang mencari keluarga adik ekoran tindakan berani mati abang mengebom kubu Israel. Tubuh adik yang kecil memudahkan adik menyusup masuk ke dalam rumah. Adik nampak ummi terpelosok di satu sudut. Adik lihat dengan mata adik sendiri, tentera itu tendang ummi. Mereka sepak dan terajang ummi. Tapi ummi masih bersabar. Ummi tidak putus-putus menyebut satu kalimah keramat….Ahad..Ahad. Mata adik merah. Adik menahan marah. Adik tidak suka orang pukul ummi. Adik sayang ummi. Adik benci Israel. Seorang tentera Israel mengacukan pistol ke arah ummi. Ummi dengan tenang menghadapinya. Tiada pun segaris garisan gusar terpancar di wajah ummi. Ketika peluru dilepaskan, tiba-tiba………..

“Muhammad!!!!!!!” Ummi menjerit sambil memegang tubuh adik. Badan adik berlumuran darah. Pekat dan merah. Adik raba perut adik. Adik rasa sakit. Sakit yang mencucuk-cucuk. Seketika tadi adik telah korbankan tubuhnya untuk melindungi ummi. Natijahnya peluru itu merobek perut adik yang tidak berdosa. Ummi peluk adik. Ummi menangis semahu-mahunya. Adik cuba senyum pada ummi walaupun perit.

“Ummi…adik rasa mengantuk,adik nak tidur.Adik nak jadi mujahid,adik nak ikut walid dan abang” terketar-ketar suara adik kedengaran di cuping telinga ummi. Ummi angguk,berusaha sedaya upaya untuk menahan air mata daripada jatuh bercucuran.Adik pejam mata. Adik nampak walid, abang dan Jamal melambai-lambai ke arah adik.


[Ya Allah .. please forgive me .. please forgive me .. forgive me ya Allah .. ]

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Rintihan Subuh

Pada pagi itu, seperti mana pagi-pagi yang lain, aku menyambut kedatangan seorang tetamu tetapku.

"Assalamualaikum", seru Subuh.
"Wa'alaikumsalam", sahutku.

Dan kami terus berpelukan, tanda rindu serta kasih sayang. Kutanya khabar Subuh, bagaimana keadaannya mengembara dari satu tempat ke satu tempat.

"Tadi..", kata Subuh dengan sayu, "... aku baru sahaja melintasi satu tempat.

Kucari tempat persinggahan, kuketuk rumah-rumah yang sunyi, tapi satupun yang tiada mahu menerimaku sebagai tetamu." Dan airmata Subuh pun berlinangan.

"Subuh, usah kau pedulikan mereka, bukankah aku menyambutmu dengan penuh rasa kegembiraan? Subuh mengangkat mukanya seolah-olah teringat sesuatu.

"Oh ya, tadi aku lalu di suatu tempat yang tanahnya disebalik sungai. Orang-orangnya sepertimu, menyambutku dengan penuh kesukaan, menjamuku dengan pelbagai hidangan yang lazat serta mengiurkan. Hidangan yang paling kusuka adalah buah Tahajjud, puas kucari dibumi lain, tapi jarang kujumpa. Di situ aku meratah buah Tahajjud dengan puas serta leka".

Dan Subuh merenung mataku mengharapkan sesuatu. Aku fahami maksud Subuh.

"Maaf Subuh, aku tiada menanam pohon Al-Lail, jadi aku tidak dapat menghidangkanmu dengan buah yang kau sukai. Tapi aku ada Roti Shiyam",cadangku pada Subuh.

Subuh menolak dengan hormat. "Roti itu ada tuan punyanya", kata Subuh.

"Adakah kau mahu manisan Zikir?" rayuku pada Subuh.

"Baiklah, ambilkan aku sedikit, serta bawakan aku segelas Air Mata Tangisan", pinta Subuh.

Aku agak sugul, bagaimana harusku beritahu pada Subuh, yang Mata Air Tangisan sudah hampir kekeringan akibat kemarau Maksiat yang berpanjangan? Namun, aku tetap menjenguk ke dalam Perigi yang memuatkan Mata Air tersebut. Aku terkejut. Perigi tersebut hampir separuh penuhnya.Dan aku berdetik didalam hati, adakah ini tanda kemarau akan berakhir? Tanpa berlengah lagi kubawa Air tersebut pada Subuh, tetamu yang kusanjungi, dan kusuakan manisan yang dipintanya. Selesai menjamah kesemuanya, Subuh pun melirikkan sebuah senyuman.

"Subuh ..", seruku, "... mahukah kau tinggal selamanya denganku? Aku memerlukan teman dalam kesunyian. Akan kulayan kau dengan sebaiknya,wahai Subuh". Subuh tersenyum lagi menandakan permintaanku tidak akan terpenuhi. "Aku perlu menziarahi ramai orang, dan ramai lagi yang memerlukan kehadiranku untuk mengubati rindu mereka, sepertimana aku menguliti

Dan aku akur dengan penjelasan Subuh. "Subuh",.. seruku lagi bila melihat Subuh bersiap untuk pergi, "Sudikah kau menziarahiku lagi esok hari?"

"InsyaAllah", jawab Subuh,"... bukankah aku kekasih yang kau rindui?" Subuh berangkat dengan lambat tetapi tetap.

"Assalamualaikum", seru Subuh.

"Waalaikumsalam", jawabku kembali.

Dan mataku terus meniti langkah Subuh, yang semakin laju dengan setiap langkah. Dan akhirnya Subuh hilang dari pandangan.

seorang gadis itu ...

seorang gadis itu ...

yang lembut fitrah tercipta,
halus kulit, manis tuturnya,
lentur hati ...
telus wajahnya,
setelus rasa membisik di jiwa,
di matanya cahaya,
dalamnya ada air,
sehangat cinta,
sejernih suka,
sedalam duka,
ceritera hidupnya ...

seorang gadis itu ...

hatinya penuh manja,
penuh cinta, sayang semuanya,
cinta untuk diberi ...
cinta untuk dirasa ...

namun manjanya
bukan untuk semua,
bukan lemah,
atau kelemahan dunia ...
ia bisa kuat,
bisa jadi tabah,
bisa ampuh menyokong,
pahlawan-pahlawan dunia ...

begitu unik tercipta,
lembutnya bukan lemah,
tabahnya tak perlu pada
jasad yang gagah ...

seorang gadis itu ...

teman yang setia,
buat Adam dialah Hawa,
tetap di sini ...
dari indahnya jannah,
hatta ke medan dunia,
hingga kembali mengecap ni'matNya ...

seorang gadis itu ...

bisa seteguh Khadijah,
yang suci hatinya,
tabah & tenang sikapnya,
teman ar-Rasul,
pengubat duka & laranya ...

bijaksana ia,
menyimpan ílmu,
si teman bicara,
dialah Áishah,
penyeri taman Rasulullah,
dialah Hafsah,
penyimpan mashaf pertama kalamullah ...

seorang gadis itu ...

bisa setabah Maryam,
meski dicaci meski dikeji,
itu hanya cerca manusia,
namun sucinya ALlah memuji ...

seperti Fatimah kudusnya,
meniti hidup seadanya,
puteri Rasulullah ...
kesayangan ayahanda,
suaminya si panglima agama,
di belakangnya dialah pelita,
cahya penerang segenap rumahnya,
ummi tersayang cucunda Baginda ...

bisa dia segagah Nailah,
dengan dua tangan
tegar melindung khalifah,
meski akhirnya bermandi darah,
meski akhirnya khalifah rebah,
syaheed menyahut panggilan Allah .

seorang gadis itu ...

perlu ada yang membela,
agar ia terdidik jiwa,
agar ia terpelihara ...

dengan kenal Rabbnya,
dengan cinta Rasulnya ...

dengan yakin Deennya,
dengan teguh áqidahnya,
dengan utuh cinta yang terutama,
Allah jua RasulNya,
dalam ketaatan penuh setia .
pemelihara maruah dirinya,
agama, keluarga & ummahnya ...

seorang gadis itu ...

melenturnya perlu kasih sayang,
membentuknya perlu kebijaksanaan,
kesabaran dan kemaafan,
keyakinan & penghargaan,
tanpa jemu & tanpa bosan,
memimpin tangan, menunjuk jalan ...

seorang gadis itu ...

yang hidup di alaf ini,
gadis akhir zaman,
era hidup perlu berdikari ...

dirinya terancam dek fitnah,
sucinya perlu tabah,
cintanya tak boleh berubah,
tak bisa terpadam dek helah,
dek keliru fikir jiwanya,
kerna dihambur ucapkata nista,
hanya kerana dunia memperdaya ...

kerna seorang gadis itu,
yang hidup di zaman ini ...

perlu teguh kakinya,
mantap iman mengunci jiwanya,
dari lemah & kalah,
dalam pertarungan yang lama ...
dari rebah & salah,
dalam perjalanan mengenali Tuhannya,
dalam perjuangan menggapai cinta,
ni'mat hakiki seorang hamba,
dari Tuhan yang menciptakan,
dari Tuhan yang mengurniakan,
seorang gadis itu ...
anugerah istimewa kepada dunia!

seorang gadis itu ...
tinggallah di dunia,
sebagai ábidah,
daíyah & mujahidah,
pejuang ummah ...
anak ummi & ayah,
muslimah yang solehah ...

kelak jadi ibu,
membentuk anak-anak ummah,
rumahnya taman ilmu,
taman budi & ma'rifatullah ...

seorang gadis itu ...
moga akan pulang,
dalam cinta & dalam sayang,
redha dalam keredhaan,
Tuhan yang menentukan ...
seorang gadis itu dalam kebahagiaan!

Moga ar-Rahman melindungi,
merahmati dan merestui,
perjalanan seorang gadis itu ...
menuju cintaNYA yang ABADI!

18 Januari 2003
01:35 am

(edited version 20 Januari 2003 6:54pm)

Monday, January 20, 2003

The Malay (Apa Kata "Mereka"?)

Population: 23 Million;
Language: Bahasa Malaysia;
Bible: Under revision.

The Malays of Malaysia

Malaysia gained independence from Britain in 1957 and has grown in prominence since then. Though Southeast Asia is often associated with Buddhism and Animism, 99.9% of the ethnic Malay are Muslim. The Malaysian government has imposed strong restrictions against evangelism to Muslims. Significant persecution is a reality for the handful of Malays who have entrusted their lives to Christ and for those few Christians who would dare to share their faith with the Malay.
Courage for Malay believers and especially pastors.

Malaysia is actively recruiting English teachers; pray that many Christian English teachers will be called by the Lord to live with and love the Malay. Pray that God would raise up many new missionaries of all types to work with the Malay.

Wisdom for the few Christian organizations working with Malay.

DAWN (Discipling a Whole Nation) has planned by 2000: 4,000 new churches, 200 Bahasa Malaysia services, 100,000 prayer partners for Malaysia. Pray that this would become reality!

Pray for Christians to befriend Malay students in America.

More on the Malay

Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand. These five countries in Southeast Asia contain a people group of about 23 million people called the Malay. They are a Muslim people, Islam having come to this region of Asia in the early 1500's. Although the following statement is used primarily in Malaysia, it is true of the Malays in other countries as well: "To be Malay is to be Muslim." The approximate geographic distribution of the Malays is as follows:

Malaysia 9,500,000
West Malaysia 8,850,000
Sarawak 500,000
Sabah 150,000
Indonesia 10,200,000
Sumatra & Riau Islands 6,200,000
Kalimantan 4,000,000
Thailand 2,250,000
Brunei 210,000
Singapore 400,000

While the Malays of West Malaysia seem to have the purest form of Islam, one finds that Islam in all these countries, and especially Indonesia, is placed over layers of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Animism. All are resistant to the Gospel and in two countries, Malaysia and Brunei, it is illegal to evangelize a Muslim. In Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to evangelize Muslims. The government is becoming more resistant because some Muslims, particularly the Javanese in the heavily populated Island of Java, have become Christians. At the same time, God's Spirit is moving among the Malay.

Generally, the Malays tend to be a rural people and even in cities such as Singapore, will often be found to be living together in villages called Kampungs. Their historical roots are in the village with its community life. Because of this emphasis on and the importance of community, it is difficult for a Malay to become a Christian, even if he wants to do so, as he will probably be forced to leave the village, his family, and his relatives. It is a difficult position to be in and one that the Christian missions community needs to address if it is going to see Malays come to the Lord in significant numbers.

There are very few believers among the Malay, no known churches, and little work being done to reach them, particularly those of Indonesia and Brunei. Some outreach to the Malays in southern Thailand has gone on for a considerable period of time but without much success with only 100 or so believers at the present time out of a population of over two million.

The language spoken varies but is basically known as Bahasa Malaysia or Bahasa Indonesia, each with quite a number of dialects. The Malaysian and Indonesian languages are very similar with 80% of each language found in the other. They are fairly easy for a foreigner to learn. The Bible is available in Bahasa Indonesia while the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia is under revision.

For more information, contact

Sunday, January 19, 2003

"Priests & Preachers Enter Islam?"
Chaplain Yusuf Estes

I was raised as a strong Protestant Christian, born in Ohio, raised and educated in Texas and was a successful marketing entrepreneur and preacher of Christianity.

My ethnic background is English-Native American, Irish and German. I was what they called a "WASP" (white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant). My family moved to Texas in 1949 while I was still in grade school, so my accent changed from "Yankee" to "Texan" real quick. We learned how to say "Ya'll" instead of "youse guys" and "Howz ever thaang?" instead of "Waz up?" We also learned how to eat "Corn bread 'n bains" instead of "Johnny cakes and beans."

I grew up in a very religious home. My parents and their relatives were all 'good Christians.' Basically that means that you never drink alcohol, except on very special occasions and never gamble expect Bingo at the church. Religion was a real part of my life. I believed very much in God and the Bible as His Word. While other children were playing 'school' and 'cops and robbers' I would sometimes play the 'Preacher.' I can still remember my first sermon, standing on the ground in Doug Hidemen's backyard: "We must learn the Way of God! And then stay on that Way." (That's all I said. I couldn't think of anything else)

My whole family on both my mother's and father's sides were very active members of the same denomination of Protestant Christianity. We all loved to go to church on Sunday mornings for Sunday school and sermon (well maybe we didn't all love the long sermons). Then of course, special activities and holidays such as Easter, Christmas, Halloween and parties were always a part of our lives in my early years. Our church was originally called only "Christian Church." It wasn't until I turned 10 or 12 years old that the church 'split' into two different groups that we started calling ourselves "Disciples of Christ."

My father was an ordained minister and also very active in church work, as a Sunday school minister and fund raiser for Christian schools. He was the 'expert' in the Bible and its translations. It was through my father that I came to know about the various versions, translations and editions of the Bible as well as the introduction of pagan worship to Christianity about the time of the Emperor Constantine (325 C.E.). He, like many preachers would answer the question: "Did God actually write the Bible?" by saying: "The Bible is the Inspired Word of Man FROM GOD." Basically, it means that humans (inspired humans, but humans just the same) wrote the Bible. That quickly explains the errors, mistakes, deletions and additions which have crept in and fell out over the years. He would add: "But it is still the Word of God, as inspired to man."

God was always on my mind. I was 'baptized' into the 'Spirit' at age 12 and surprised even the minister (an ex-Jew who accepted Jesus) by my seriousness and intent on being a 'full real follower of Christ." I would think about Him and what He wanted us to do and why He created us in the first place, very often. Many times I would be caught 'day dreaming' about God when I was supposed to be paying attention to other things, like watching the pots boil over on the stove or not listen to the teachers at school. Sometimes I would rest my head on my arms on the top of my desk and try to imagine: "What will happen when we die?" and "What will Heaven be like?" or "Can we ever see God's angels or the devil?"

My mind was frequently preoccupied with these types of thoughts as a child. But then as with most youth, I became distracted from my pursuit and began to be influenced by my peers. Other children would make fun of me if I talked about these questions and thoughts, so it seemed like a good idea to keep it to myself. No problem. I like to be alone with my thoughts of God anyway.

After growing up and owning many business, I realized that I did not want to be a 'preacher.' I was too afraid that I might be a hypocrite or call people to something that I myself didn't truly understand. After all, I had 'accepted the Lord' and considered myself a true Christian, but at the same time I could not resolve the idea of God being One and at the same time He is 'Three.' And if He is the 'Father', how could He also be the 'Son?' And then what about the 'Holy Ghost?' (later they changed that to 'Spirit'). But my big question was always the same: "How does three equal one?"

Over the years I had tried to 'find' God in many different ways. I checked out Buddhism, Hinduism, metaphysics, Taoism, different forms of Christianity and Judaism. The one most attractive to me was a combination of Gnosticism (Christian mysticism) and Cabbalism (Jewish mysticism) and metaphysics. This actually is a form of pantheism (God being throughout His creation) and is similar to some of the 'Sufi' mystics of today. But this concept in its entirety repulsed me because I did not want to imagine myself as being a 'part of God.'

God is Pure! God is Perfect! God is All Knowing and All Aware of all things! So, how can I come along and say things like I was hearing from the other preachers: "In a way, we are all gods..." Read the Bible:
"You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like men, and fall like any prince." (quoted from the Old Testament; Psalms [82:6]) & "I said, you are gods.." (New Testament John 10:34)

The rationalization which comes about in the books attributed to the Apostle Saul (changed his name to Paul), are full of statements which basically cancel the Torah or Law of the Old Testament. He makes it a matter of how you 'understand' something that makes it 'permissible' or 'forbidden.' As an example in the English Revised Standard Version which I have carried with me since 1953, it says in Paul's letter to the Romans:
"I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for any one who thinks it unclean."
[Rom 14:14]
And again, in the same letter:
"So do not let what is good to you be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God does not mean food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
[Rom 14:16]

By these types of statements, Paul pretty much destroys the entire Old Testament Commandments. Yet at the same time, in the same English version of the Bible in the first book of the New Testament, we are told that Jesus preached a message which was exactly the opposite of St. Paul:
"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth shall pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
[Mt. 5:17-20]

So according the St. Paul's own testimony in his letter to the new Roman Christians, he is relaxing not just the least of these commandments, but basically all of these commandments. And he justifies everything with his rationalization that if you don't think it's bad, then it's not!

I just felt that something was wrong in this message and decided to try to uphold the Commandments according to the Old Testament as much as I could. That would mean: No Pork; circumcision; no sex outside of marriage; no adultery; worship on Saturday (not Sunday) and most important of all: No worship of anything which is in the creation. This is in direct line with the verse which says:
"You shall have no other gods before (besides) me. You shall not make yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments."
[Ex 20:3-6]

It seemed reasonable to me, that there should only be One God. He should be All in Charge and without any partners. Reason also would demand that only He should be given any worship because He Alone deserves it. And as God, He should be the One to set the rules and give the orders. Then it would be clear who really loved Him and who was following His Commandments.

I had tried not to deal with these issues for many years. But now I was getting close to fifty years old and needed to do something for the Lord. After all, had done everything for me. So, it was time for me to get serious about my religion and make some head way for the Lord. I decided to join in with some of my friends who were evangelists and preachers who preached in various parts of the country and even in Mexico. We traveled together and praised the Lord together and shared in 'the spirit' and went where the 'spirit lead us.' One of them use to carry a huge cross on his shoulders and drag it down the highway and give out little 'mini-Bibles' to those who cared to stop and visit. It was enjoyable to go to those who had given up hope or had no money or jobs and give them food, money, assistance and at the same time call them to the message of Christianity. I took my Bible everywhere and was very fast to whip it out and begin to 'preach the message.'

I was 'born again.' I needed to 'be in the light of Christ.' I needed to share the 'message.' There was only one problem:

"What is the message?"

Oh sure, I know what some of the 'born agains' are saying as they read this:
"The message of salvation of Jesus Christ!" - "He died for your sins!" - "He paid the price of redemption." - "He is the Risen Son of God!" - "Jesus is LORD!"


I got that. I preached that message myself and thought I understood it as well as anyone else did. The problem is that one time I heard another preacher say: "Don't leave your brain in the parking lot with your car."
Then it hit me to start thinking about the very serious problems and real facts about my religion:

The Bible was never in English during the time of any prophet (not even Muhammad) - because English did not exist until after 1066 AD!

What was the original language of the Bible?

Who actually wrote it?

The Bible does not exist in the original form anywhere on earth

The Catholic Bible has seven (7) more books than the Protestant Bible

These two Bibles have different versions of the same books

Mistakes and errors are from the very first verse right up to the very last verse

'Born Again Christians' teach concepts that are not from the Bible

There is no word "Trinity" in the Bible in any version of any language

The oldest forms of Christianity do not support the 'born again' beliefs

Jesus of the English Bible complains about the 'crucifixion'
("Eli! Eli! Lama sabachthani? - My God! My God! Why have You forsaken me?") [Mk 15:34]

How can Jesus be the "Only Begotten Son" of John 3:16? When in Psalms 2:7 David is God's "Begotten Son?"

Would a 'Just' God, a 'Fair' God, a 'Loving' God -- punish Jesus for the sins of the people that he called to follow him?

What happens to people who died before Jesus came?

What happens to those who never hear this message?

What about innocent children who die although their parents are not Christian?

Didn't God create Adam from dirt? -- So, why does he need Mary to make Jesus?

How can God create Himself?

How can God be a man?

How can a man be a God?

How can God have a son?

The Bible says "Seth (is) the son of Adam, the son of God." [Lk 3:36]

Can't God just forgive us and not have to kill Jesus?

Jesus did not even carry the cross -- Simon Cyre'ne, a passerby did! [Mk 15:21]

Jesus of the Bible was NOT on the cross for longer than six (6) hours -- NOT three days -- (from the 3rd to the 9th hour) [Mk 15:25 & 15:33]

Jesus of the Bible did not spend three days and nights in the tomb -- Friday night - until Sunday before dawn -- is not 3 days and nights!

Jesus DID NOT claim to be God - or even equal to God!

My friend with the huge cross became tired of trying to answer all of my questions and in desperation one day, he told me to read the story of Abraham in Genesis in the Old Testament. Especially the part of sacrificing his son for the sake of God. He seemed to feel that this was going to explain the whole concept of sacrifice and obedience to God.

I read it.
But instead of convincing me that this was the meaning of punishing the good so the bad do not have to suffer, I saw a totally different message here.
Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son on the alter for the sake of Almighty God, if that was what God wanted from him. But God did not really want to take the life of an innocent boy for sins that Abraham committed. That was not even the story here. And as far as replacing his son with the ram for sacrifice, this also does not match the story of Jesus on the cross.

Stop. Think.
Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his son to test the loyalty of Abraham. He did not withhold his son from God, so God's angels ordered him to offer a ram in place of his son. God was pleased with his total submission and as a result, God Blessed him and his offspring.
[Gen. 22:9-18]
Now think about the New Testament story of 'salvation.'
Jesus asked God NOT to put him through this ordeal.
"Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but Yours, be done." [Luke 22:42]
Notice in the next verse, an angel from heaven also appears to Jesus to "strengthen him."
Abraham's angel comes to offer a ram as a sacrifice instead of the son.
The next verse [22:44] Jesus is in AGONY as he prays "more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down upon the ground."
Then I looked to the account of the story in the Book of Mark [14:32-39].
Jesus goes to the garden of Gethsemane and his soul is "very sorrowful, even to death.." And "... going a little farther, he fell on the ground prayer that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him." Meaning that somehow when the time came for the event to take place he could escape it. This is NOT the submissive attitude of Abraham.
Next I noticed in verse 36, Jesus says: "Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt." And then he goes to his disciples and wakes them up and then returns to pray "... saying the same words."

This whole concept was so totally different than the one from Genesis talking about Abraham and his son.

I asked questions and delved into 'those kind of stories' the more I would like to facilitate the truth. Many strange things began to happen. Very strange.

I met a Muslim. Then a few weeks later, I met a Catholic priest and between all of us, we felt sure that he could convert the Muslim

And later I prayed like this: "I am sending this prayer out to One True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Jesus. If You are there guide me, make me Yours…." And stuff like that. I specially used this kind of phrase naming these people for a good length of time.

During all this, I consciously chose faith in God. This was pure naked faith not really having reasons to believe, but choosing to do so anyway. I did this because the saints in the Catholic tradition said to do so. They would say that often God seems far away or non-existent-so keep faith! Trust God even though you don't see Him at all. So, that is what I did.

I remember one time with particular clarity. I was standing in the Hall between my living room and bedroom - it all really hit me: I had no reason to believe in God. None at all. But I remembered all I have read and said to myself: "I say 'yes' to God in spite of the fact I have no reason to believe in God. I choose to say 'yes' and have faith that it is all true."

I was not really practicing Catholicism. (The last time I began application to seminary it was because I was thinking where else could I go? It wasn't a perfect fit, but it would be the best fit.) When it came time to write my dissertation for the Ph. D. I had to include a section about a religious tradition that was not my own i.e. something other than Christianity. I chose Islam. Believe it or not, it was the one religious tradition I knew nothing about! This struck me as somewhat odd.

But I noticed that I did indeed have a prejudice against it. I felt somewhat repulsed by it, actually. (Stuff left over from the Crusades just "gets into" Euro-Americans, I think.) And plus it couldn't possibly be true -- how could there be revelation after "The Jesus Event"? It had to be just another guy who felt "Inspired by God" and really affected the people around him. No big deal.

It was difficult finding decent books on Islam. I had to get most by mail order. There was an Islamic Center here so I began to go there and learn some things. (I finally learned what happened to Cat Stevens! I had a bunch of his recordings but never knew why he disappeared from the scene.)

The people at the Islamic Center were very nice. Not really what I expected. No one tried to put slightest pressure on me to covert. It was nothing like being around born-again or evangelical Christians. Which was what I half expected. I mean aren’t all Muslims supposed to be on the crazy-fanatical side? Well, they were not like that at all. They simply presented the information and answered my questions. No one called me or bothered anything or me like that. It was rather refreshing, I must say.

I repeat: there was nothing even resembling pressure to convert. Just a warm openness and a friendliness not often encountered in the States. One guy did try to get me say the words, but everyone else jumped on him immediately and told him to be quiet. (And of course, I would never make a ritual declaration like that unless I thought it was true.)

This went on for few years. I was reading a lot ABOUT Islam, but did not read the Qur'an. Slowly, my prejudices and repulsion faded away as I learned the true stories about Muhammad (God love him!), as well as Muslim history, beliefs and theology. Then I stopped for a few years, as I wasn't going to finish my dissertation. (It was resumed after I accepted Islam.)

A few years pass. I read things about Islam here and there. At the behest of a good friend, I read "The Autobiography of Malcolm X." After reading this I had a very strong urge to go and get and read the actual Qur'an. I called around to some bookstores and ran out and got the translation by Dawood (the one in the proper order).

I will never forget that day. Ever. I can still see it happening. Little did I know what I was in for that my life and total world-view would be changed-that I my-self would be changed. I read the whole thing through in one sitting. I don't think I even changed position.

Right from the start it grabbed me. The very beginning-called Al-Fatihah-is a prayer. I immediately liked it as a prayer. It was, in essence, what I already prayed. You are God the Creator. Guide me; make me into one of those You love. I certainly couldn't argue with those sentiments!

Then, in the beginning of the second chapter, it gave me the description of who this book is addressed to: people who believe in God, establish prayer, give in charity, believe messengers were sent to us, and that we will return to God! Well, that was me - that this book was not to be doubted - that it was truly and sincerely from God to these people - like me - precisely to guide them - which was what I had wanted for years. So right off, it was speaking directly to me as an individual. Right off, it wasn't just some ancient 1400-year-old text. It really grabbed me and did not, would not, let go.

As I read a thought began to form and then started going through my head over and over and over: "Oh my God! This is from God!" It was real. Not the "inspired writing" of the Bible. It was *direct revelation*-- it was really the Word of God. Literally. Oh my God! This really IS from God.

Well, needless to say, I was floored. I knew there was something very extraordinary here. Quite amazing. Something was happening. Imagine how bizarre it would be to really see an UFO. How unusual and fantastic something like that would be. Or what if someone just started to truly levitate and fly around right in front of you. Or what if you really truly see a miracle? Your view of the world would necessarily change after such a non-ordinary experience.

What was happening to me as I read the Qur'an was beyond that. Way beyond that.

So much of what I was reading in the Qur'an was stuff I was already thinking due to my academic studies in religion. The Qur'an not only confirmed things I was already thinking, but completed thoughts and ideas I was only vaguely aware of-like things "half-thinking" if that makes any sense-and then it also opened-up to me an entire new universe of meaning and possibility. Suddenly, it was as if I was standing in a whole new vista like the open plain of a whole new world stretched out before me. Quite stunning and amazing. There was nothing that gave me pause-I kept saying, "yes" to all that I read.

One thing pulled me up short and that was that Jesus did not die on the cross.

But by that time, the evidence was so overwhelming to my heart, my soul and mind that this Book was indeed EXACTLY what it claimed to be that I had no trouble accepting this as the truth from God Himself. And none of this is the slightest exaggeration whatsoever. I am not sugarcoating or embellishing my story to make it more attractive, or pious sounding, or dramatic, or whatever. I am telling the truth. I was especially struck by how contemporary the Qur'an is -- remember my background. Everything about it is just absolutely brilliant! I don't know why Muslims are afraid of contemporary philosophy, psychology, or textual criticism. There is nothing to fear. The Qur'an is very "today." Actually, it is very "tomorrow."

Two weeks later I declared in public that "I bear witness that there is no god but God (Allah) and I bear witness that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is a messenger of God.” I was always able to say the first part of that.

Note the two weeks wait. I was nervous. Was I really going to get involved with these people? This was not my cultural background, to say the least. White Americans do not become Muslim, do they? I remember standing in the masjid during this period watching them pray salat. Indeed, a news camera was on location, filming for a story, which was later shown on the local news. It showed everyone praying salat, except that one guy standing in the back-and in a bright red shirt no less. C'est moi! (That's me!)

I thought: "Who am I kidding? I really do think that Muhammad was a messenger from God." So, that was that. I would have been dishonest with myself if I did not declare what I now thought to be true, and I thus entered the Muslim Ummah. This was in Ramadhan in 1992 CE. (The first time I ever met a Muslim was in Turkey during Ramadhan when I was around 20 years old. -- I am almost 40 now.)

So, all these years of prayer for guidance were answered. For real. Even today, years after these events, I am still amazed by it all -- not only that I'm a Muslim (who would have ever thought that?) -- but all those prayers really were answered by means of my encounter with the Qur'an in the light of the Sunnah of Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Islam is truly the best and I say this coming from a background of formal study in religious issues. I am rarely at a loss for words, but I am when it comes to describing how I feel and think about Islam, the Qur’an, and the Sunnah of our beloved Rasoolulah Allah, may God love him greatly. It is simply astounding. Beautiful like a work of art. Dynamic and vibrant. Brilliant in how it all unfolded. Mature-no magic, no superstition. Excellent! What can be said but 'Alhamdu-lil-Llah-Glory to God in the Highest?" Nothing! Nothing else can be said! Alhamdulillah ‘Lah!

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Oleh: Imam Muhammad Joban

Suatu ketika di sebuah taman, tinggallah keluarga burung pipit. Mereka bersarang di sebuah pohon yang rindang, di pucuk dekat dahan yang terjulur ke tengah kolam. Ada seekor pipit kecil yang tinggal disana, sementara kedua induknya, terbang bolak-balik untuk mencari makan. Kadang kedua sejoli itu membawa ranting kering untuk penghangat pipit yang baru menetas itu. Cericit nyaring kerap terdengar, tanda si kecil butuh makan dan butuh kehadiran induknya.

Dua minggu telah berlalu, pipit kecil itupun sudah mulai dewasa. Bulu-bulu di tubuhnya mulai rapat, paruhnya pun tampak lebih runcing. Ada makin banyak bulu yang muncul di kedua sayap. Itu berarti, sang pipit harus mulai belajar untuk terbang, dan mengepakkan sayap-sayap kecil di udara. Kedua induk pipit itu pun mulai tak sabar untuk melatihnya untuk terbang beriring. Maka pada beberapa pekan selanjutnya, mulailah mereka mengajak pipit muda itu keluar dari sarang.

"Ayo, sekarang saatnya belajar terbang," cericit Ayah pipit kepada anaknya. "Sayap-sayapmu sudah tumbuh, cobalah kepakkan ke udara.." Namun, sang Ayah mendapatkan jawaban pendek. "Aku tak mau belajar terbang. Aku malas." Sang Ayah yang sudah bertengger di sisi dahan, kembali menuju sarang. "Kenapa?"tanyanya. "sayapku masih kecil, " jawab si pipit, "Lagipula, aku belum mau terbang. Tempat ini pun terlalu tinggi, tentu sakit sekali jika aku terjatuh."

Mendengar jawaban itu, sang Ayah pipit mengepak-ngepakkan sayapnya. Ia terbang berkeliling. Berputar-putar di sekitar sarangnya. Pipit kecil hanya memperhatikan. "Kita bangsa burung, pasti punya sayap. Tapi tak semuanya bisa terbang. Bukan sayap itulah saja yang membuat kita terbang. Tapi, kepakan sayaplah yang membuat kita bertahan di udara. Cobalah, kepakkan sayapmu. Jangan berhenti." Cericit kecil dari induk pipit terdengar ramai. Kepakan sayapnya tak henti-henti.

"Biarkan sayapmu berlatih. Biarkan angin dan udara yang membuatnya kuat. Biarkan sinar matahari yang membuatnya gesit. Biarkan tanah di bawah yang jauh itu sebagai ujiannya." Kepakan sayap Ayah membuat si kecil terpesona. Ia mulai bangkit dari sarang dan berjalan meniti dahan. " Biarkan saja air hujan yang jatuh mengenai kedua sayapmu. Biarkan dahan-dahan ini tempatmu berkelit. Jangan pernah berhenti menggerakkan sayapmu jika ingin terbang seperti Ayah. Jangan berhenti."

Pipit kecil mulai bergerak. Burung itu mulai mengayuh kedua sayapnya. Plap...plap, sayap mungil itu terangkat perlahan. Plap..plap..plap, badannya mulai naik ke atas. Lihat, si kecil mulai terbang. Ups...badannya mulai oleng sedikit, tapi plap..plap..plap, ia mulai terangkat kembali. Pipit kecil mulai belajar terbang. Ia juga belajar, bahwa angin, udara, sinar matahari, dan dahan-dahan itulah yang menjadi karibnya belajar.


Teman, begitulah. Setiap mahluk, mempunyai keunikannya masing-masing. Allah menitipkan burung sepasang sayap untuk terbang. Allah juga mengamanatkan sepasang sirip kepada ikan agar mereka berenang. Allah menunjukkan kita, tentang sepasang kaki-kaki yang kuat dari kuda agar hewan itu dapat berlari kencang, juga memperlihatkan kita tentang kokohnya badan gajah saat mereka sedang membawa beban.

Namun, apakah Allah langsung menciptakan burung yang bisa terbang, dan ikan yang terlahir luwes dalam berenang? Apakah Allah juga serta-merta menganugerahi kaki-kaki yang gesit pada kuda, dan badan yang kokoh pada gajah, tanpa membuat hewan itu mengenal arti tentang belajar? Saya kira tidak. Allah menitipkan sayap pada burung agar mereka terbang, tapi juga menyandingkan sayap itu dengan terpaan angin, dan teriknya matahari agar burung itu dapat bertahan di udara. Allah mengamanatkan sirip pada ikan untuk berenang, tapi juga memberikan derasnya arus, dan lekukan-lekukan karang, agar ikan itu dapat luwes berkelit di dalam air.

Begitupun kita. Allah menitipkan kita banyak kemudahan, tubuh yang sempurna, pikiran yang cerdas, dan beragam kemuliaan yang kita miliki. Tapi, Allah juga menyandingkan semua itu dengan cobaan, terpaan, tantangan, hambatan, dan beragam ujian buat kita. Itu semua, adalah bagian dari perjalanan kita dalam belajar, dalam berusaha. Itu semua adalah bagian dari rencana Allah untuk kita, agar kita memahaminya. Layakkah kita untuk berhenti? Pantaskah kita mudah mengeluh? Saya yakin semua ujian itu adalah rahasia Allah agar kita makin sempurna, pikiran kita semakin terbuka, dan kemuliaan kita makin nampak.

Jangan pernah berhenti "menggepakkan sayapmu" teman. Biarkan cobaan itu membuatmu kuat, biarkan derasnya terpaan itu membuatmu gesit berkelit. Biarkan jiwa-jiwa pemenang itu memenuhi hatimu. Biarkan jiwa-jiwa sabar juga menjadi penyejuk bagimu. Selamat terbang. Selamat tak henti mengepakkan sayap-sayapmu.

Note: I really love the idea of 'flying' and 'soaring' in the air. It never fails to amaze me. Subhanaka ya Rabb.