Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Righteous Mufti - Chapter 2: Ustaz Din

The Righteous Mufti is a collection of short stories designed around the Let’s Read The Quran Campaign. The story is about the protagonist and title character himself - Pak Manfi, his family and his life as a Mufti in the fictional land of Darul Salamshah. When I was writing about Pak Manfi, I imagined a wise and kind man that I, myself, would love to meet. Pak Manfi is far from perfect, as evident in some part of the stories, but his ongoing pursuit of learning, understanding, and applying the Quran in his life and through his leadership, is an admirable quest.

The inspiration of The Righteous Mufti saga is the Quran itself. Most of the stories are built upon a collection of verses on a particular topic. I hope that these stories will inspire you to be better acquainted with the Quran too. I would like to thank the two writers that helped me in writing these stories. For any feedback or enquiries, please email us at

Thank you,
Anas Zubedy

The Righteous Mufti
Chapter 2: Ustaz Din 

The rain had stopped as Pak Manfi’s jenazah arrived at the Muslim cemetery. The men flocked to aid Pak Manfi’s sons, Amir and Sham as they carried their father’s jenazah to the grave.

Ustaz Din was there, a frail old man standing over the grave. Ustaz Din was, in a way, Pak Manfi’s mentor. Over the years, they also became the best of friends. “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un, we surely belong to Allah and to Him we shall return.” Ustaz Din muttered under his breath.

“Who, when disaster strikes them, say, ‘Indeed we belong to Allah , and indeed to Him we will return’."
(Quran  2:156)

As they were lowering Pak Manfi’s jenazah to the ground, a tear trickled down his cheek. He took out his handkerchief and slowly wiped it off. He was sad to lose an old friend, but he was proud to have had the chance to know a man like Pak Manfi.

Pak Manfi’s long-time student, Sharifah, was reciting the talkin. Sharifah will be the first female mufti of Darul Salamshah, to replace the dearly departed Pak Manfi. This was a suggestion by Pak Manfi himself, as he saw Sharifah as the best fit, regardless of her gender. The King and the people of Darul Salamshah embraced Sharifah with open arms, as she is known for her intelligence and kind-hearted nature, much like the late Pak Manfi.

As Ustaz Din was listening to the talkin, his thoughts trailed off to his first encounter with the young Manfi. They met when Manfi was just a 17 year old boy. Ustaz Din thought to himself, “Manfi turned out to be such a nice and beloved man. Funny to think how I met him as a naughty teenager…” a small smile crept on his face at the thought of the memory…

“Hey, Manfi! I challenge you to steal Ah Tek’s money in that drawer!” Ustaz Din heard a young man’s voice as he was sitting at Ah Tek’s warung in Darul Salamshah.

“That one? No problem lah!” said another young man.

As Ustaz Din was about to drink his teh tarik, he saw a thin boy walking to the counter of the warung. The boy looked like he was still in school, thought Ustaz Din. The young man had dark brown eyes and messy hair. “Ah Tek, can you make me your famous teh tarik?” said the young man to Ah Tek, the warung owner.

Ah Tek obliged and headed to the kitchen. The young man went quietly to the table and quickly opened the drawer and took out a few bank notes. With a cigarette between his lips, he quickly walked away.

Ustaz Din watched intently. Instead of shouting at the boy, he waited. He felt guilty for not telling Ah Tek but something told him that he should wait. True enough, Ustaz Din heard Ah Tek screaming, “MANFI! GIVE ME BACK MY MONEY!”

In a few seconds, the boy, apparently named Manfi, ran as fast as he could but Ah Tek was faster. He caught up to Manfi and punched him hard. “You are not allowed at my shop anymore!” Ah Tek’s voice echoed.

Ustaz Din saw Manfi lying on the ground. He waited, expecting the young man to get up and run but was surprised that the young man continued to lie on the ground. After paying for his meal, he went to Manfi and saw him covered in blood.

“Manfi..? Manfi..? Wake up.” He shook Manfi’s shoulders.

Manfi blinked and asked, “What happened?”

“I think you got punched in the face really hard,” Ustaz Din smiled.

Ustaz Din stared long at Manfi. He could see that Manfi felt uncomfortable and decided to introduce himself. “I am Din.”

“I know, I’ve seen you before at the surau. Aren’t you an Ustaz?” Manfi replied.

Smiling, Ustaz Din replied, “Come follow me to my house, there’s food and I think you need a good long shower. I have a change of clothes for you too, I think you are about my son’s size.”

Manfi, being the stubborn boy that he was, just sat there, ignoring him. “Well? I won’t move until you get up. Come, it’s getting dark and I know you’re hungry,” Ustaz Din said.

Manfi thought of ignoring Ustaz Din but he was indeed hungry. He got up and awkwardly followed Ustaz Din. They walked for about 15 minutes, Manfi was tired and agitated. He snapped at Ustaz Din “Don’t you have a car? I’m tired of walking.” Ustaz Din smiled and replied calmly, “I enjoy walking, Manfi. It is not very far and I can get in on some exercise too this way. If you walked around more, maybe you could have escaped old Ah Tek just now.”

Ustaz Din lived in a modest house. It was a half brick and half wooden house. As they arrived, they were greeted by with his wife, Mak Lin and their two cats, who Mak Lin introduced as Manja and Lulu. Ustaz Din’s house was clean and cosy. It had an indescribable welcoming feel to it that even Manfi could detect. Manfi thought to himself, “This feels like a happy home.”

Ustaz Din introduced Manfi to his wife. “Lin, this is our new friend, Manfi. He got in quite the trouble just now. Would you please get him something to drink, dear? I’m sure he’s very thirsty after walking home with me.” Ustaz Din winked at Manfi as Manfi smiled sheepishly at his apparent out-of-shape state.

Mak Lin smiled and nodded as Ustaz Din was explaining. Knowing her husband, this is not the first time he picked up a stranger that was in trouble. He has always liked offering a helping hand to those in need. 

Mak Lin asked Manfi, “Would you like a cup of Milo? I’m sure it would be nice at this time of day, maybe with some crackers?” Manfi was a little unsure of what to say. Mak Lin looked and sounded very nice and caring. He, in a way, was not used to it. He simply muttered, “Yes, please.”

After Manfi had quickly gulped down his Milo, Mak Lin cleaned his wounds and asked Manfi to freshen up before having dinner. She had cooked earlier and both she and Ustaz Din insisted for Manfi to stay for Maghrib and dinner. Manfi did not object, as he was rather famished.

At the dinner table, Manfi was silent. Mak Lin was making small talk with her husband, asking about his day and what not. After a while, Ustaz Din finally asked Manfi about his background.

Reluctant at first, Manfi began his story. Othman Hanafi Al-Takwa grew up in an unhappy home.  His father was a maintenance man at an old building in Darul Salamshah. Although he provided for his family of five, he had a bad, and at times, dangerous habit of gambling. This habit had caused tension between Manfi’s parents.

Manfi’s mother used to scream and shout at his father. She would ask him to leave the house whenever money issues arose. His father would happily oblige but would often come back home, with tears and apologies. Every time Manfi saw his father crying, he deemed it as his fake regret. Manfi became angrier and angrier and would often lock himself in the room and refused to talk to his father for days.

They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say: "In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit." They ask thee how much they are to spend; Say: "What is beyond your needs." Thus doth Allah Make clear to you His Signs: In order that ye may consider
(Quran 2:219)
This made him hate his father more as he grew up. By 17, Manfi had tried everything – he drank, he stole money, used drugs, gambled, joined group fights and was a womanizer.

“May I ask you a question, Ustaz Din?” Manfi said quietly after ending his story.

Ustaz Din nodded. “Where’s your son? Why is his room empty?”

“Our son, Haziq passed away about two years ago,” said Ustaz Din slowly. Mak Lin sat silent.

“I am so sorry to hear that. How did he died?” Manfi ask, careful as to not sound nosy.

“He passed away about two years ago from cancer. He would have been 19 now,” replied Ustaz Din calmly.

“Aren’t you angry?” asked Manfi.

“With whom?” Ustaz Din asked, rather perplexed.

Manfi looked at his eyes and said shortly, “God.”

“If I were angry with God, Manfi I wouldn’t be able to live. You see, everything is a test. God said in the Quranic verse 94:5, that after every difficulty, there is relief,” Ustaz Din replied. He continued, “You just have to be patient and trust Him, that’s all.”

For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.

(Quran 94:5)


Manfi stared long at Ustaz Din. “God doesn’t seem so loving in the Quran. He punishes people all the time.”

Smiling, Ustaz Din replied, “It looks like you do not really know the Quran, Manfi. You know, there’s a verse that says, Quran was not sent down to cause distress. (Quran 20:2). God is merciful.”

We have not sent down to you the Qur'an that you be distressed

(Quran 20:2)


Shocked, Manfi raised his voice, “I khatam the Quran three times by the time I was 12! I know the Quran enough!”

“But do you understand the Quran? The message, Manfi?” replied Ustaz Din calmly.

Manfi was confused. What was Ustaz Din talking about?.He has always believed that the Quran should be read in Arabic, that was what his parents and religious teachers taught him but Ustaz Din was different. Ustaz Din said “Yes, we must read the Quran in Arabic, but it is also important to read the Quran in a language that we best understand, so that we can practice and apply the teachings of the Quran.” 

He went back with questions. Questions that he felt he needed answers to. Quickly, he looked for his father’s old Malay translation of the Quran and randomly opened the book. The first verse that popped in front of his eyes was verse 14:4,

We sent not a messenger except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people, in order to make (things) clear to them. Now Allah leaves straying those whom He pleases and guides whom He pleases: and He is Exalted in power, full of Wisdom.”

(Quran 14:4)


Manfi was intrigued. Again, he randomly flipped the pages of the Quran and saw another verse and discovered,

Allah does not change a people's lot unless they change what is in their hearts.

(Quran 13:11)

From then on, he understood that he knew very little about the Quran. He decided to meet Ustaz Din to discuss more about the Quran.

Ustaz Din’s thoughts were interrupted as he heard Sharifah’s voice calling him. Confused, Ustaz Din looked at Sharifah and realized that he was supposed to start with the funeral procession.

People waited patiently for the now 88 year old Ustaz to begin his eulogy. In his years of giving eulogies, he has never cried. But today, his tears could not stop falling for the once thin boy he first met 47 years ago.

Pak Manfi was lucky to have met Ustaz Din. A leader, mentor and friend whose patience and gentle mannerism swayed Pak Manfi to learn, read, and understand the Quran better. Ustaz Din understood the message of the Quran to propagate knowledge with kindness.

It is part of the Mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee: so pass over (Their faults), and ask for (Allah's) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast Taken a decision put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).

(Quran 3:159)

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