Saturday, April 28, 2012

no big deal, its just u***h

WARNING : If you suffer from short-fuse syndrome, please refrain from reading this post. Also not for people allergic to a high concentration of D&T terminology. Please keep your arms and legs inside your seat at all times.

"Usrah? that's so old fashioned. Those people only stick to themselves. And every time its the same old thing."

Sounds familiar? It is!

The topic of this post is "why i choose to subscribe to the usrah system". After all, there are a lot of ways out there to do D&T:
- some people choose to give open lectures
- some people choose charity work and community service
- some people go into politics and work on islamic governance

So why usrah?


Okay, maybe the reasons above are valid. But we must do something because we understand and believe in it. So this is why i chose to follow the usrah system.

I believe that Islam, as a religion, is sent down to be the guiding principle behind every single system in life. Not only in 'religious' matters. A financial system must follow the principles of islam. A political system. A social system. Every institution, every facet of human existence, must have islam as its driving force. 

And who builds institutions? People. You and me.

But the people who build the foundations for these institutions must be people with a deep understanding of their religion. We can't have people who are 'sekerat-kerat' (half-cooked). 

And how do we build this deep foundation in people? That's where usrah comes in.

اسرة - family

Your weekly circles are not usrah. 

That's right. No one gets left behind. 

Usrah begins with tasbih kifarah and ends with al fatihah. It's what we do outside those weekly circles. Its the nucleus of the movement to restore islam, where each of the members in the usrah functions to help the others attain a degree of perfection. Perfection in belief. Perfection in worship. Perfection in character. Perfection in organisation. 

I've been with my usrahmates for more than a year now. And i can honestly say that they're a lot different to a few years ago. If i lie, you can cut my fingers. 

So we are building the people who will become the vanguard (frontline) and the pillars of the islamic renaissance. And throughout history, great revolutions started small, with a nucleus of like-minded men.

Ever heard of James Watt? He was the inventor of the steam engine. He was also part of a 'circle' called the Lunar Society, which promoted the ideals of the Enlightenment.

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin had his own usrah. They were called the Bolsheviks and they met and discussed Marxism until they developed it into Leninism. 

And the greatest example is of course, Rasulullah. From the earliest days, he had his usrah in the house of al-Arqam bin Abi al-Arqam, instilling into the Sahabah a deep understanding of the religion and a deep love for Allah 'azza wa jal.

his usrahmates changed the course of history.

Some people accuse the usrah system of being too slow. "we want action! we want results!"

Of course its slow. 

What we're doing is planting the seeds. No one looks at seeds. They're almost invisible from above ground.

But once the seeds grow, you'll be amazed at how big and strong the trees are.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What's the big hurry?

I used to have this mentality : take care of your obligatory deeds, do some superegoratory deeds (amalan sunat) if you can and live as a "normal muslim".

A lot of people in my country have this mentality too. When it comes to food, we're very particular about halal and haram.

But when it comes to other things, "malaysia boleh!"

graft? boleh! its called "service charge"

interest? boleh! give it a nice name, "bunga" (flower) and you're good to go.

touching a non-muhrim before marriage? boleh! 

So yeah, i had this 'ritualistic' mindset about islam. Do the rituals and you're going to heaven. Attend circles once a week and you're doing fine. 

Recently, the meaning of one verse became apparent to me:

إِنَّ سَعْيَكُمْ لَشَتَّى
Certainly, your efforts and deeds are diverse (different in aims and purposes); (Al Lail : 4)

This is why we musn't rely solely on translations. 

The word used here is: سعى (sa'a, sa'y). It is translated as "efforts, deeds".

But what does it really mean?

سعى - to move quickly, run, speed, to move across the sky, to head for, proceed, to strive for, aspire to, to work, endeavor, attempt, make an effort, to achieve, to run after, pursue, chase, to take steps.

To rephrase : "Verily, what you pursue/run after are diverse". The surah then proceeds to describe two different types of people with different pursuits. One in heaven, one in hell.

Let us reflect on that : what we run after.

We may be the typical 'good, ritualistic muslim'. But what do we run after? What puts us in a hurry? What makes us anxious? What do we stay awake at night for?

Imagine you were late for class. What would you do? You'd bathe like a buffalo, put on whatever clothes there are and get on the next train. getting squeezed by the closing door of the train? no problem. bumping into an old lady and spilling all the things in her grocery basket? no problem.

That is sa'a. We hurry for class because no class ---> no preparation ---> fail in exams ---> no job ---> no money. Of course we're in a hurry.

But what if 

*LLLB = Lek Lek La Bro.

We hurry for our world. But when it comes to the eternal life, we say "I won't procrastinate tomorrow".

look at the man Allah described in surah Yasin. 

وَجَاءَ مِنْ أَقْصَى الْمَدِينَةِ رَجُلٌ يَسْعَى قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اتَّبِعُوا الْمُرْسَلِينَ
And there came running from the farthest part of the town, a man, saying: "O my people! Obey the Messengers; (36:20)

Its that word again :  يَسْعَى . This guy was running from the furthest part of town. Just to say "Obey the messengers. obey these people. obey these righteous men."

He got killed. But as soon as he was killed, Allah said to him "enter paradise". He was rewarded paradise just for RUNNING, for HURRYING to convey the truth. 

Dear readers, run. Run to save your lives.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

on the man with two gardens

Today i'd like to comment on a verse which i think is really significant.

مَا أَصَابَ مِنْ مُصِيبَةٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَمَنْ يُؤْمِنْ بِاللَّهِ يَهْدِ قَلْبَهُ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
No calamity befalls, but with the Leave of Allâh, and whosoever believes in Allâh, He guides his heart and Allâh is the All-Knower of everything. (64:11)

Whoever believes in Allah, He guides his heart.

Tarbiyah (education) can come in the most extraordinary way. Sometimes, you go to a circle where a person talks for hours, and you don't remember a thing he said. But sometimes you're just browsing through facebook, looking at the random things people post, and suddenly you click on a video/post/article. And that video/post/article (magically) seems to have answered the perplexing question in your mind. Or you wanted to do something bad, and that video/post/article warned against that specific act. And it stays in your mind forever.

Coincidence? Far from it. Everything was pre-planned by Allah to guide us. If anything is magical, it is the magic of His will.

Yes Mickey. Even the magic of Disney. What Allah promised in paradise is faaaaaaaaaar more fantastical than any Disneyland.

So this happened to me yesterday. I watched a video on Youtube explaining about a tale in surah al-Kahf. This is the tale of two men who had gardens (credits to allah, by way of Nouman Ali Khan ):

So this story is about two guys. One very rich, one not so. This story made perfect sense to accountants, you see, because to show how rich the guy was, Allah described his assets.

He had two gardens of grapes. Grapes require a lot of care. You need to put stakes in the ground for them to grow on. You need to prune the plant so it directs its energy into fruits and not leaves. You need a good water supply. In fact, there's a whole science dedicated to grape-growing, called viticulture. To do all this, the man surely needs a lot of employees.

And that's not enough. Surrounding the gardens were date palms; these probably protected the grapes from being destroyed by the wind. So he didn't just have enormous assets; he had a security system in place to protect those assets.

And that wasn't all. Between the garden and the date palms were crops. I noticed how farmers usually planted some other crop in the middle of their main crop. This is because you only harvest your crops once or twice a year, so for extra income you sell other stuff in the middle like chillies, lettuce and stuff.

And Allah said that those gardens never failed to produce; so this guy was having good harvests all year round.

artist's impression

But one day, he was in the middle of talking to his neighbour and this sentence slipped in : "I am more than you in wealth and stronger in respect of men"

He was in the middle of a conversation with his friend and that single sentence slipped in. A lot of us do this.

"Aww, i got that Volvo at a bargain, only RM200,000. What about you? You're still using that old proton right? good car, good car."

"My university is..blablabla..and it got this..and this..which university were you from again?"

Allah warns us against this sort of condescending behaviour, thinking we are better because of our material possessions. Who gave them to us in the first place?

And this made the rich guy forget about the hereafter. He began to think "I am blessed with good things in this world. Allah must be keeping some good stuff for me in the hereafter." He started to gauge his success based on his material wealth. Then his friend advised him to turn back to Allah, until

The rich man's gardens were destroyed. How they were destroyed, we weren't told. But the important point is they were wrecked. All of it. Even having a security system doesn't help.

But there's another beautiful lesson here. After seeing his gardens vanish, the man said "Would I had ascribed no partners to my Lord!"

LESSON : If you lose ALL your wealth and you get Allah, that is the most profitable trade you can ever hope for.

The End.

This story struck me. Why? because my life so far has been filled with grapes and palm trees.

getting good results in exams ---> going to boarding school ---> getting a scholarship ---> studying overseas 

So this was probably a warning. 

"O Ikmal. Don't lose your head".

Allah planned everything. What if i was born in another country? What if i was born to different parents? What if i was born in another decade? probably wouldn't be here right now. So there's absolutely nothing to brag about. 

If you're feeling down because you can't get to med school and your mum's saying "but your brother can do it", don't feel so. (be grateful because med school is modern-day torture..teehee) Allah probably has something better in store for you.

Don't lose our heads.

having lots of followers doesn't mean we're better.
reading lots of books and knowing lots of things doesn't make us better.
having lots of deeds doesn't make us better.

If doing all that brings us further from Allah, increases our ego, reduces our humility, then its a curse not a blessing.

Reflect. Don't wait until you lose everything. But then, even that may be a blessing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

on a riddle : what flips faster than boiling water in a pot?

How do you stay motivated?

I don't really know, because im not really feeling it right now.

Iman increases and decreases. But in the long run it must look like this:

I dislike down periods. How do you know you're in the down period? for me, its when

When its down time, people can turn from angels to devils in less than a second. Even a Ferrari goes from 0-60mph in 4 seconds. Impressive!

The sahabah used to say, "the heart flips and flops faster than boiling water in a pot".

even faster than
So that is why they used to make it compulsory upon themselves to attend circles and remind each other and create that environment of wholesomeness.

They made it compulsory UPON THEMSELVES. No need for anyone's forcing.

And yes, we cannot force anyone. There is no compulsion in religion, as Allah says. That's the ayah (verse) that people often use as a shield. But they often leave out the next part of the verse.

".. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Tâghût and believes in Allâh, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allâh is All-Hearer, All-Knower." (2:256)

There is no need for compulsion, because things are very very clear. As clear as night as day.

So whoever wants to follow truth and the people who are on it, let them do so.

And whoever wants his iman locked in a downward spiral, let him do so. We seek refuge from Allah from perpetual downness.

Monday, April 23, 2012

on going back for good

Its April already. Seems just like yesterday that i landed in heathrow airport to be picked up by a 15-seater van and brought to a kebab house called Harput.

haaaaaaa~ (choir singing in background)
but eventually i ended up getting more than mixed doner with chips and chilli sauce and free drinks *drool* in london, i learned the meaning of serving one God.

But now 3 years is almost up and i will be going back to

choir : *malaaaaaysia cemerlang gemilang. malaaaaaysia ku gagah gemilang*
And as any da'ie will tell you, the word 'BFG' is a worrying one.
what does BFG mean? 

Big Friendly Giant?

Bipolar Freakish Graduate? 

Big Fat Guy? -.-

No. BFG = Back For Good.

being a BFG fills me with apprehension because lots of questions crop up.

- in the UK, if my iman is down or i slack up, there'll be someone else to push me. something is seriously wrong with you if you don't feel a pinch a guilt when you see people reading quran everyday and you're not.

- although studying drives some people to suicide, its not as taxing as work (especially when you're at the London School of Enjoyment). This is what i've heard from people already in the rat race. Wake up in the morning, work 9 to 5, spend time getting stuck in the legendary KL traffic jam, you'll be really hard pressed to find time for D&T.

- and one more worry : when we go back, will there be people who are willing to continue our work? who will be brave enough to shoulder the duty and continue to spread the message? 

You? hopefully.

So yeah, these are some of the worries on the mind of everyone on the plank. 

And if you want to risk being thrown to the sharks, be the next person to ask me the question "so you're going back to malaysia. when are you getting married?" aiyoo -.-

As a safety measure, i've asked one of the brothers to check this blog : if it hasn't been updated for 2 weeks in a row, call. save me if i 'drowned'.

Although that's not a fullproof safety measure. If we let ourselves get carried away with the syaitan, only God can save us. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

on overcoming addiction

are you an addict?

"Please answer yes or no to the following questions:

-Do you lose time from work due to your *insert activity here*?
-Is *insert activity here* making your home life unhappy?
-Do you *insert activity here* because you are shy with other people?
-Is *insert activity here* affecting your reputation?
-Have you ever felt remorse after *insert activity here* ?
-Have you gotten into financial difficulties as a result of your *insert activity here* ?
-Do you turn to lower companions and an inferior environment when *insert activity here*?
-Does your *insert activity here* make you careless of your family's welfare?
-Has your ambition decreased since *insert activity here* ?
-Do you crave a *insert activity here* at a definite time daily?
-Do you want a *insert activity here* the next morning?
-Does *insert activity here* cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
-Has your efficiency decreased since *insert activity here* ?
-Is *insert activity here* jeopardizing your job or business?
-Do you *insert activity here* to escape from worries or troubles?
-Do you *insert activity here* alone?
-Do you *insert activity here* to build up your self-confidence?
-Have you ever been in a hospital or institution on account of *insert activity here* ?

If you answer yes to one question, it is a warning for potential addiction to that activity. If you answer yes to two questions, it is likely that you are an addict. If you answer yes to three questions, it can be assumed that you are addicted. Please contact us for a more comprehensive assessment."

This test was written at Johns Hopkins University to assess for alcoholism and drug addiction. But i think that it could equally apply to other forms of addiction, which i will describe later.

Why is this a crucial issue? because in my limited experience, one of the biggest hurdles for people starting off in D&T is overcoming addiction.

why are addictions dangerous? because:

1) an addiction to a creation will distract us from remembering the Creator. I've never seen a drug addict do this:

2) people with an addiction will feel reluctant to do D&T, because time spent doing D&T is time lost doing that addiction. And the addict will also suffer from the 'i-can't-do-it' syndrome

3) a caller to islam who has an addiction sets an erroneous example to the people he is calling.

4) even if you are not doing D&T, having an addiction is bad anyways. bad for your mental state, bad for your health, bad for your social relationships and so on.

But i want to put an emphasis point 1: if you are occupied with the creation, you will be distracted from the Creator. Throughout human history, people have rejected the call of their prophets because they did not want to break free from the things they love on Earth. The people of Nuh did not want to leave the addiction to their idols:

وَقَالُوا لَا تَذَرُنَّ آلِهَتَكُمْ وَلَا تَذَرُنَّ وَدًّا وَلَا سُوَاعًا وَلَا يَغُوثَ وَيَعُوقَ وَنَسْرًا
"And they have said: 'You shall not leave your gods, nor shall you leave Wadd, nor Suwâ', nor Yaghûth, nor Ya'ûq, nor Nasr (names of the idols); (Nuh :23)

The Quraisy also had addictions. They did not want to leave their addiction to idols, to power, to money, to all the bad habits that they had.

Today we also have addictions. The stone idols may be gone, only to be replaced by new forms of addiction : to games, to the TV, to obscene materials, to our own opinions, and so on. We know our own addictions.

The fact of the matter is : we love other things more than we love Allah.

As muslims, it is an obligation for us to leave these bad habits and clothe ourselves with the best of akhlaq. It is, to be frank, a hard thing to do, especially when we've spent the past 20 years in ignorance. I have friends who were compulsively addicted to p**n. Some were addicted to games. Others had more severe compulsions. But they offer some tips on breaking free : 

1. get to know Allah and the purpose of this life, and surrender to Him 

when a friend of mine understood his purpose, he didn't want to waste time anymore, and threw all his CDs into a bin. when you love Allah, breaking free is easy.

2. find good company

find people who are likely to be your neighbours in heaven.

3. keep yourself busy

we have lots to do: updating blogs, going to circles, memorising the quran, reading books of seerah, reading our school books, meeting people, catching up on news, blablabla..there's no 'idle time' in the dictionary of a muslim.

takdelah borak dakwah je sepanjang masa. lol. Only now our fun and entertainment serves a higher purpose : to call people to islam. No more fun just for the sake of fun.

: breaking free is not easy. It will probably take some time before we are purified. Just like drug addicts checking into rehab, we will probably relapse at some point. But remember the words of maher zain : "don't despair, and never lose hope..cause allah is always by your side.."

Friday, April 20, 2012

on being supermen. because being typical is too mainstream

D&T is fun.

Don't believe me? this is how my circle looks like :

We have physical nourishment

And spiritual nourishment.

Don't be jealous that i have awhsome circlemates who can cook steaks :p

Yesterday we talked about


You know how when we were younger, we wanted to be like the Power Rangers? we wanted to have special powers, be like the Red Ranger and say 'Tyrannosaurus!' When i was in kindergarten, i had this cool Red Ranger watch with a battle game on it, and i would show it off to the other kids.

But as we grew older, we turned into 'average Mat' (the malay equivalent of 'average Joe')

The average Mat

- prays (even doing this makes him a 'better than average Mat')
- fasts in ramadhan
- goes into a cocoon and studies
- Goes out of the cocoon and finds work
- marries and brings up a family
- retires and lives on pension (until malaysia goes bankrupt in 2020)
- dies

Let's compare this to the life of an average caterpillar:

- praises Allah constantly (17 : 44)
- goes into a cocoon
- comes out of the cocoon and becomes a butterfly
- pollinates flowers to become fruits
- never goes on pension
- dies

So yeah, when we grow older all the spirit and the fire is taken out of us and we decide to become 'a typical muslim'. what is a typical muslim anyways?

nowadays, having a relationship before marriage is normal for most muslims. wasting time on the internet is normal. having an addiction (to movies, to games, to smoking) is normal. Its normal because society says so, not because Allah says so. If things go on like this, i wonder what 'normal' is in 10, 20 years.

So we should pose a question to ourselves :

Are we following the islam of society? or are we following the islam of Allah and His messenger?

Are we following the truth, or are we following our egos and our desires?

What was normal in the time of the prophet and the sahabah is now branded 'extremist'.

To be fair, things are not all that bad. If you post something about palestine on facebook, odds are a lot of people will 'like' that post. But palestine will not be free through slacktivism. (slacktivism = slacking + activism) It needs real work and real men like 'Umar and Salahuddeen. And real men like 'Umar and Salahuddeen were not built in one night. They underwent a long period of education and purification, and they sold themselves to the cause of islam. If they did something, it was for the purposes of da'wah. You could cut open their bodies and find the word 'Allah' in every single red blood cell. (2:138)

That is what we call superhuman. We don't need a million normal men who proclaim that they love Allah. We just need a few superhumans/renaissance men/SuperMats who commit themselves to the cause, and God willing, the world and all the butterflies in it will be safe.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

on having the last laugh

I used to watch Spongebob Squarepants, and one of the things i remember most is the 'Fun Song' :

"F is for friends who do stuff together

U is for U and Me

N is for N-yone and N-ywhere at all

Down here in the deep blue sea"

Yesterday i accidentally switched to Facebook's Timeline, and i went all the way back to 2008 to do some, ehem, pruning.

So back to the Fun Song. Looking back to the year 2009 B.T (before tarbiyyah), i guess i had a lot of fun, in the way people normally think about fun. Playing games, hanging out, you know, all that stuff. 

(speaking about fun, i vividly remember the text message that pushed me into D&T: "biasalah tu, dah berseronok-seronok, siapa nak pergi program keagamaan!" -.-)

And people have this perception that when you enter D&T, fun is sucked away from you like teh o ais limau going down a straw on a hot day until you hear that 'shruuuushruuuu' sound. absolutely no fun left.

i beg to differ.

وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنْتُمْ أَعْدَاءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُمْ بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنْتُمْ عَلَى شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِنَ النَّارِ فَأَنْقَذَكُمْ مِنْهَا كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ
And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allâh, and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allâh's Favour on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islâmic Faith), and you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allâh makes His Ayât clear to you, that you may be guided. (Ali Imran : 103)

What could be more fun than being saved from the pits of Fire? ngeeheee

There's a lot of fun in doing D&T. There's the fun in being able to get closer to perfection as a slave every single day.

There's the fun in having friends who bring you to heaven, rather than away from it.

There's the fun in being part of a renaissance project to create a change in the whole system of humanity.

And this is just on earth.

There's also the fun of being able to eat as much as you want without getting full.

There's the fun of having a palace of your own.

There's the fun of having angels as our companions. Angels who are similar in age and voluptuous (this is their actual description, not kidding)

Compared to these everlasting fun stuff, my previous fun is, frankly speaking, a joke. imagine this conversation:

You : O Allah, give me more time, i promise to do good.

Allah : i gave you time before. What did you use it for?

You : err, ermmm..just, you know, harmless games and other stuff..not so bad, but i wish i had something to help me now..

"F is for Friends who dakwah together

U is for U and Me

N is for N-yone and N-ywhere at all

We're all into D&T!!!!"


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

on 'komitmen tahap gaban'


It is attending a D&T conference in the weekend, when you have an assignment to submit on monday.

It is receiving a call saying 'can i talk to you now? i have a problem' at 12 midnight and getting out of your blanket.

It is being asked to go to a place you don't know, meeting people you haven't met, and saying 'no problem'.

It is disciplining yourself to read the quran everyday.

It is getting worried and restless when people stray from the teachings of the Prophet.

It is a vow to never stop improving.

It is a promise to Allah.