Sunday, June 9, 2019
Note : this article is taken from the 1st chapter of my book "Quran and I"
My experience with the Quran started early.
My Jid; grandfather in Arabic, was a Hafiz al-Quran, one who had memorized the Quran cover-to-cover. My eldest sister and I were his favorite because we had the opportunity to spend more time with him than the other siblings. I’d also like to think that it was because we were also quick to understand and recite the Quran, and our pronunciation and reading were outstanding. I would recite the Quran and Jid would shout corrections from afar while he tended to some chores.
Jid was my first Muslim role model. He was a gentle, responsible, loving, family man who loved his wife thoroughly. He was married to only one woman.
He was also hard working. At a young age he immigrated to Medan, Indonesia, from Yemen, with nothing to his name. By the time he passed away, he had amassed numerous properties that till today provides for his children and grandchildren, not lavishly, but enough to survive the vagaries of the Indonesian economy.
For me, the cultural legacy he left behind far outweighed his material possessions. He was a great mentor. When I was five, I spent three months in Medan with him. He would invite me to ride pillion on his bicycle. Sometimes I would rather play with the other kids so I complained. He told me that when I grew up I would understand why.
On one of those rides, he took me on a long journey deep into Medan pendalaman. "We are poor" he said, “but there are others worse off.” He wanted me to understand the concept of bershukor, thankfulness or gratitude.
“It is He Who brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers when ye knew nothing; and He gave you hearing and sight and intelligence and affections: that ye may give thanks …” - Quran 16:78
He cautioned me that when we reached our destination on the bicycle, when his friend served food and drink I must not complain no matter what, and I had to finish my given portion. The tea was awful, the bread was dry and hard, but I swallowed as advised.
On the ride back, it was ‘question answer time'. He asked, “The floor in our house, what is it made of? “ I answered, “Cement”. “How about my friend’s house, and the houses around it, what is the floor made off?” I answered, “Tanah!”
He went on and conveyed to me many important life's learning from that simple trip. He said, while the floor was made of earth and their house had few things, they kept it clean. His friend was a kind man, loving to his family and he was a good friend. God, my Jid explained, will not care about what you have on the outside, but will look at what you are from the inside. The Quran, Jid said, tells us that God is close to everyone regardless of whether you are poor or rich.
“NOW, VERILY, it is We who have created man, and We know what his innermost self whispers within him: for We are closer to him than his neck-vein” - Quran 50:16
When I was eight, Jid visited us in Penang. We would take long walks and the mentoring would continue. We walked to Tanjong Tokong and sat near a huge rock between the road and sea front (now the rock has made way for a housing development). He explained that the Quran says that any kind of job is good in the eyes of God as long as it is Halal. He pointed to a sweeper sweeping the roadside and told me that the man has a good job as he was keeping the place clean and God loved him for his work and that I must show respect to the sweeper too.
“For such the reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath,- an eternal dwelling: How excellent a recompense for those who work (and strive)!” - Quran 3:136
Jid’s advice was simple to understand. He said that any man who is able to work but lay idle, Tuhan nanti marah. Any man who failed to provide for his wife her nafkah when he is able, Tuhan nanti marah . He told me that one day when I am married no matter where my wife is, even if she is thousands of miles away, I must send her nafkah.
He lived as he preached. Jid did not have to work when he was almost eighty as he had funds and his children provided for him, but he insisted on working even if it was just laying a small rug on the streets of Aden with some goods to sell. He worked till his last days, making sure he sent his wife her nafkah with money from his own sweat. He never missed sending my Jidah(grandmother), her nafkah even when Jid was thousands of miles away in Aden and Jidah was in Medan for many years. Jidah was a lucky woman!
Jid, thank you for explaining the Quran to me in a language that I could understand, not just in Bahasa Indonesia, but in a language a little kid would make sense of and with real life examples and experience. But most of all, thank you for showing me a model to live, with the Quran as our hidayah (guidance).
“Say: "I but follow what is revealed to me from my Lord: this is (nothing but) lights from your Lord, and Guidance, and mercy, for any who have faith." - Quran 7 : 203
“Those to whom We have sent the Book study it as it should be studied: They are the ones that believe therein: Those who reject faith therein,- the loss is their own”. - Quran 2:121
“THIS divine writ - let there be no doubt about it is [meant to be] a guidance for all the God-conscious” - Quran 2:2
“We sent not an apostle except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people, in order to make (things) clear to them…” – Quran 14:4
Sunday, June 2, 2019
Ik Onkar is the central belief in Sikhism.
Let me elaborate.
Each time I meet and see a Sikh, the first thing that come to my mind is IK ONKAR. This term immediately makes me feel closer to my brothers and sisters in Sikhism. Ik means, one and only one, the one that cannot be compared with any other. Onkar means God.
So Ik Onkar can be summarized as One God – the one Absolute God, the Eternal, the Supreme Unity.
Ik Onkar has a central and prominent place at the head of the Mul Mantar - the first composition in the Sikh holy text, the Adi Granth – later became the Guru Granth Sahib. Ik Onkar is the first name our Sikh brothers and sisters call upon in prayer each time they go to the Gurdwara.
I find it very similar to one of our most repeated chapters in the Quran, Al-Iklas.
“Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.”
Another verse always come to mind, too.
“The most beautiful names belong to Allah: so call on him by them; but shun such men as use profanity in his names: for what they do, they will soon be requited” Quran 7:180
To my Sikh brothers and sisters, thank you.
Please continue the sharing that you are really good at, not just at Gurdwaras within Malaysia, but all over the world. May your spirit of giving acts like a virus that spreads to all of humanity.
Ik Onkar and Peace,