My Grateful Moments (MGM)

As the celebration of my birthday continues (only me still celebrating) I ponder upon the moments in my forty-over years living through the thick and thin of life. We all have our moments that shape our destiny. I did not have a real aim in life when I was a child. I remember that I wanted to be an ADO ( assistant district officer)…you see an assistant, not even the DO itself . Another choice was a teacher. Only because my class teacher asked me to think so that he can put something down in the borang. But the fate put me through the hardship in life maybe to show me that believing in God and trust your own self would take care of everything around you. But the best part being through the rough edge of life is that you have all sort of moments to treasure ….grateful moments, dark moments, hilarious moments and so-so moments. The color of life that you have enjoyed; seeing and touching your very souls and only you can feel it. Isn’t it wonderful?

MGM#1 : got into smskel in 1977

Back then I was about 11 years old when this headmaster of my school dropped by and delivered the letter. I was playing with my brothers and sister. When Mak and Ayah went off to work; we were left to care on our own. It was the school holidays and during this time we just played around the house just to keep everyone within the compound and not to be too adventurous and wandered off into the kampung. All of us would get into trouble if there is anyone missing by the Maghrib time. When the headmaster who happened to be our next door neighbour ( but we never talked to him because he was so bekeng(fierce) at school) called us out, I sneaked in between my brothers and tried to be nosy. Never expected any letter for myself. But this time it is for me. We understood the letter because my sister was already at sri puteri at that time and my brothers were already at this school. Now it is my turn. We maybe poor but alhamdulillah. God is gracious. I remember to hold the letter and read it over and over again. Not knowing exactly what was the meaning of all that. I knew that like my sister I would be going off somewhere living in asrama with other students. There would be no more fighting with my brothers for so little food that we have on the dinner mat. No more tears from Mak for not being able to give what I wanted. Maybe I will be better off, so I thought. I remember Ayah was so excited for me but at the same time could not figure out where to get the money for all the stuff that I needed for the asrama: the clothes, cadar, uniform and all. Luckily he had a nephew who worked as an ADO and got help from him. I am so grateful for that moments because it changed my life forever.

MGM#2 : “graduated” from jemaah tabligh in 1979

I was always fascinated with “org2 alim” (religious people). Back then Islamic movements was a hit and Ustaz Ashaari (of Al-Arqam) was a celebrity. One time he came to our village and I was so impressed with him and his movement. I wanted to join the movement but my father said you could not afford to go to KL and live with those people. So I just held off that idea. I frequented the ceramah by these tabligh people at the mosque near our home.Not like Arqam; tabligh movement is low-profile. You follow their program and they would give you food and made new friends. Once a week they would take me to the city for a weekly gathering. Some big alim people would give ceramah and ask you to go out and travel giving dakwah. That was good. I came back and told this to my father and he told me not to get involved…nanti jadi gila. Besides, where do you find the money for the traveling? I did not know how to answer. I did not understand why we did not have much money like other people. Even with that constraint I was able to attend the tabligh program most of the time. In 1979, after the SRP examination we had a long break and a little sum of money from the scholarship, I pursued my intention to go with jemaah tabligh. There was a big gathering in Kuala Terengganu and I happened to pass by KT on the way back from KL. I told my teacher that I would stop in KT to visit a friend. He said OK and off I went to the gathering (could not remember the term for such gathering). I remember my senior at school was there to greet me (Dr Razali Mohd Zain) and he showed me around the camp that will be my home for the next 3-4 days. The term was –ijtimak, now I remember it!. I put down rm60 that I brought with me so that I could be put into a team. This team would go out and do dakwah for 40 days. Anybody who has gone out for 40 days will be considered meeting the basic requirements to be a pendakwah (preacher). I was going for that. We traveled by foot from one mosque to another for 40 days staying a day or two in one mosque. It depends on the people of that village. Some would be so hostile but many would be very receptive and welcome us with food and blankets.

I remember going around KT area during those 40 days we went deep into the villages that the people speak with the slang that I could not understand. The mosques were not well taken care of in those days compared to today. People in the village were busy with their farming that they did not have time to come for prayers. So the mosque or surau had become neglected and some completely neglected. So we actually revived the activities at the mosque. Mostly in those days they clashed due to political differences; very obvious and very sad indeed. Although today the same idea might still alive it has toned down a bit and we can see people are no longer abandoning the mosques. We all sort of people. At one place we were harshly told off because the ‘tok guru’ there said we were practicing deviant Islam….as most Tablighi will do, we just kept quiet and smiled all the time. That’s what we were taught…never to confront and always patient and leave everything to the Almighty. In another village we met a group of people practicing strange Islam. Didn’t really understand what they were doing but when we arrived there the group were down at the village to get supplies of food and rice. Every night our ameer will do the bayaan. I’ve never had a chance to deliver bayaan. It was the highlight of the day because many people would come to hear it. Our ameer was a good orator so I was very fascinated with his speech. At one village there was no electricity so the bayaan was delivered under one oil lamp… dark and hot and with the speech gaining pace you could imagine that the atmosphere was so tensed. We cried when the story of sahabah was related and the agony in the hereafter was addressed.

The real training is when you were assigned a task; maybe cook the meals, do the zikr or go out visiting people around the mosque (could not remember what that’s called). It really got me working and trying very hard to do them properly. We were at this one village called Kg Pulau Manis in the area of Kuala Terengganu. It was the fruit season and we had the chance to have all kind of fruits that have been brought to the mosque by the kind villagers; loads of them. When I talked about this during the reporting session (we had to give report on our experience during the 40-day outing) the ameer grinned and blushed…..that’s not it you are supposed to get a spiritual change not about a bunch of fruits. Then my ameer took over and finish up the report. I guess I was too young/naïve to say anything spiritual. I clearly remember that incident and feel a bit disappointed for not doing it right. I guess you should learn the lesson. And that was it about this whole outing—learning the lesson “real-time”. You made a mistake you face it right there and then. After the 40-day outing you are supposed to go out again for about two weeks; I was sent to Tumpat area —a mainly Siamese community in Kelantan. I had my confidence already and was able to approach any bunch of teenagers hanging around on their motorbike whenever I met them during the afternoon visit.(gush??). With no hesitation I would talk about Islam and Iman and give come-and-follow-me-to-the-mosque-right-now kind of message. It was straight to the point and that’s really the beauty of Jemaah Tabligh—direct with proactive. You bring the message to the people and do not wait for the people to come to the mosque. Nowadays, this is the part lacking in any surau or mosque—there is no effort to get the message of Islam and Deen out of the surau and mosque and give it to the people at their doorsteps. No one is willing to do that even the AJK surau; all they know is to fight each for the post and get a few ringgit the allowance. No one except people of Jemaah Tabligh.

You would go through all sorts of training during that 40 days. Remembering surahs from the quran, learning how to deliver a speech in front of so many people, doing the ceramah, going for door-to-door preaching etc. Nothing fancy just some ordinary things that somehow have built my the end of that period I had become someone new; not only religiously but personality wise. I found confidence within me. Perseverance that helped me a lot later in life.A belief that I can do some impossible things. I enjoyed it very much. I “graduated” 40 days later renewed as a man with endless possibilities ready to take on the world. I am grateful for that moments in life. I am no longer following jemaah tabligh but would remind me of all those years when they knock on my door every now and then.

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