Saturday, May 29, 2010

Story of Prophet Job

Ayyub (alaihissalam) was repentant, remembering Allah with thankfulness, patience, and steadfastness. This was the cause of his rescue and the secret of Allaah's praising him. A group of angels were discussing Allaah's other human creatures, how those who were humble earned Allaah's pleasure, while those who were arrogant incurred His displeasure. One of the angels remarked: "The best creature on earth today is Ayyub, a man of noble character who displays great patience and always remembers his Generous Lord. He is an excellent model for the worshippers of Allaah. In return, his Lord has blessed him with a long life and plenty of servants, as well as the needy and the poor share in his good fortune; he feeds and clothes the poor and buys slaves to set them free. He makes those who receive his charity feel as if they are favoring him so kind and gentle is he."

Iblis overhearing all of this, became annoyed. He planned to tempt Ayyub (alaihissalam) to corruption and disbelief, so he hastened to him. He tried to distract Ayyub from his prayers by whispering him about the good things in life but Job was a true believer and would not let evil thoughts tempt him. This disturbed Iblis even more; thus he began to hate Ayyub even more.

Iblis complained to Allaah about Ayyub (alaihissalam) .. He said that although he was continuously glorifying Allaah he was not doing so out of his sincerity but to satisfy Allah so that his wealth should not be taken away. It was all a show, all out of greed. "If You remove his wealth then You will find that his tongue will no longer mention Your name and his praying will stop."

Allaah told Iblis that Ayyub (alaihissalam) was one of His most sincere devotees. He did not worship Him because of the favors; his worship stemmed from his heart and had nothing to do with material things. But to prove to Iblis the depth of Ayyub's sincerity and patience, Allaah allowed him to do whatever he and his helpers wished with Ayyub alaihissalam' s wealth.

Iblis was very happy. he gathered his helpers and set about destroying Ayyub alaihissalam' s cattle, servants and farms until he was left with no possessions. Rubbing his hands in glee, Iblis appeared before Ayyub in the guise of a wise old man and said to him: "All your wealth is lost, some people say that it is because you gave too much charity and that you are wasting your time with your continuous prayers to Allaah. Others say that Allaah has brought this upon you in order to please your enemies. If Allaah had the capacity to prevent harm, then He would have protected your wealth."

True to his belief, Ayyub (alaihissalam) replied: "What Allaah has taken away from me belongs to Him. I was only its trustee for awhile. He gives to whom He wills and withholds from whom He wills." With these words, Ayyub (alaihissalam) again prostrated to his Lord.

When Iblis saw this, he felt frustrated, so he again addressed Allaah: "I have stripped Job of all his possessions, but he still remains grateful to You. However he is only hiding his disappointment, for he places great store by his many children. The real test of a parent is through his children. You will see how Ayyub will reject You."

Allaah granted Iblis authority but warned him that it would not reduce Ayyub's faith in His Lord nor his patience.

Iblis again gathered his helpers and set about his evil deeds. He shook the fountain of the house in which Ayyub (alaihissalam) 's children were living and sent the building crashing, killing all of them. Then he went to Ayyub disguised as a man who had come to sympathize with him. In a comforting tone he said to Ayyub (alaihissalam): "The circumstances under which your children died were sad. Surely, your Lord is not rewarding you properly for all your prayers." Having said this, Iblis waited anxiously hoping Ayyub (alaihissalam) was now ready to reject Allaah.

But again Ayyub (alaihissalam) disappointed him by replying: "Allaah sometimes gives and sometimes takes. He is sometimes pleased and sometimes displeased with our deeds. Whether a thing is beneficial or harmful to me, I will remain firm in my belief and remain thankful to my Creator." then Ayyub (alaihissalam) prostrated to his Lord. At this Iblis was extremely vexed.

Iblis called on Allah. "O my Lord, Ayyub's wealth is gone, his children are dead, and he is still healthy in body, and as long as he enjoys good health he will continue to worship You in the hope of regaining his wealth and producing more children. Grant me authority over his body so that I may weaken it. He will surely neglect worshipping You an will thus become disobedient. "

Allah wanted to teach Iblis a lesson that Ayyub was a devoted servant of his Lord so He granted Iblis his 3rd request but placed a condition: "I give you authority over his body but not over his soul, intellect or heart, for in these places reside the knowledge of Me and My religion."

Armed with this new authority, Iblis began to take revenge on Job's body and filled it with disease until it was reduced to mere skin and bone and he suffered severe pain. But through all the suffering Job remained strong in his faith, patiently bearing all the hardships without complaining. Allah's righteous servant did not despair or turn to others for help but remained hopeful of Allah's mercy. Even close relatives and friends deserted him. Only his kind, loving wife stayed with him. In his hour of need, she showered her kindness on him and cared for him. She remained his sole companion and comforter through the many years of suffering.

Ibn Asaker narrated: "Ayyyb was a man having much wealth of all kinds; beats, slaves, sheep, vast lands of Haran and many children. All those favors were taken from him and he was physically afflicted as well. Never a single organ was sound except his heart and tongue, with both of which he glorified Allaah, the Almighty all the time day and night. His disease lasted for a long time until his visitors felt disgusted with him. His friends kept away from him and people abstained from visiting him. No one felt sympathy for him except his wife. She took good care of him, knowing his former charity and pity for her."

Therefore Iblis became desperate. He consulted his helpers, but they could not advise him. They asked : "How is it that your cleverness cannot work against Ayyub alaihissalam, yet you succeeded in misleading Adam the father of man, out of Paradise?"

Iblis went to Ayyub alaihissalam' s wife in the form of a man. "Where is your husband?" he asked her.

She pointed to an almost lifeless form crumbled on the bed and said: "There he is, suspended between life and death."

Iblis reminded her of the days, when Ayyub had good health, wealth and children. Suddenly, the painful memory of years of hardship overcame her, and she burst into tears. She said to Ayyub: "How long are you going to bear this torture from our Lord? Are we to remain without wealth, children or friends forever? Why don't you call upon Allah to remove this suffering?"

Ayyub (alaihissalam) sighed, and in a soft voice replied : "Iblis must have whispered to you and made you dissatisfied. Tell me how long did I enjoy good health and riches?"

She replied: "80 years."

Then Ayyub (alaihissalam) replied: "How long am I suffering like this?"

She said: "7 years."

Ayyub then told her: "In that case I am ashamed to call on my Lord to remove the hardship, for I have not suffered longer than the years of good health and plenty. It seems your faith has weakened and you are dissatisfied with the fate of Allah. If I ever regain health, I swear I will punish you with a hundred strokes! From this day onward, I forbid myself to eat or drink anything by your hand. Leave me alone and let my Lord do with me as He pleases."

Crying bitterly and with a heavy heart, she had no choice but to leave him and seek shelter elsewhere. In this helpless sate, Ayyub turned to Allaah, not to complain but to seek His mercy: "Verily! distress has seized me and You are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy." so We answered his call, and we removed the distress that was on him, and We restored his family to him (that he had lost), and the like thereof along with them as a mercy from Ourselves and a Reminder for all who worship Us." (Ch 22: 83-84)

Almighty Allah also instructed: "Remember Our slave Ayyub, when he invoked His Lord saying: "Verily! Satan has touched me with distress (by losing my health) and torment (by losing my wealth)!" Allah said to him: "Strike the ground with your foot: This is a spring of water to wash in and cool and a refreshing drink." And We gave him back his family, and along with them the like thereof as a Mercy from Us, and a reminder for those who understand. (Ch 38:41-43)

Ayyub obeyed and almost immediately his good health was restored. Meanwhile, his faithful wife could not longer bear to be parted from her husband and returned to him to beg his forgiveness, desiring to serve him. On entering her house, she was amazed at the sudden change: Ayyub was again healthy! She embraced him and thanked Allah for His mercy.

Ayyub was not worried, for he had taken an oath to punish her with a hundred strokes if he had regained health but he had no desire to hurt her. He knew if he did not fulfill the oath, he would be guilty of breaking a promise to Allah. Therefore in His wisdom and mercy, Allah came to the assistance of His faithful servant and advised him: "take in your hand a bundle of thin grass and strike therewith your wife, and break not your oath." Truly! We found him patient. How excellent a slave! Verily, he was ever oft returning in repentance to Us!" (Ch 38:44)

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "While Ayyub (alaihissalam) was naked, taking a bath, a swarm of gold locusts fell on him, and he started collecting them in his garment. His Lord called him: "O Ayyub! Have I not made you too rich to need what you see?" He said: "Yes, My Lord! But I cannot shun Your Blessings." (Al Bukhari)

Qasas al-Anbiya Ismail Ibn Kathir 1373

Friday, May 21, 2010

Night The Sunlight Fades



My daughter had written that in the guest book at my mother's funeral, the kind of assumptive yet incongruent thing a teenager comes up with. But seeing my mother again, hearing her explain how this "dead" world worked, how she was called back to people by their memories of her-well, maybe Maria was onto something.

The glass storm of Miss Thelma's house had passed; I'd had to squeeze my eyes shut to make it stop. Shards of glass poked in my skin and I tried to brush them free, but even that seemed to require great effort.

I was weakening, withering. This day with my mother was losing its light.

"Am I going to die? " I asked.
"I don't know, Charley. Only God knows that."
"Is this heaven?"
"This is Pepperville Beach. Don't you remember?"
"If I'm dead ... If I die ... do I get to be with you?"

She grinned. "Oh, so now you want to be with me."

Maybe that sounds cold to you. But my mother was just being my mother, a little funny, a little teasing the way she'd be had we spent this day together before she'd died. She was also justified. So many times, I had chosen not to be with her. Too busy. Too tired. Don't feel like dealing with it. Church? No thanks. Dinner? Sorry. Come down to visit? Can't do it, maybe next week.

You count the hours you could have spent with your mother. It's a lifetime in itself.

She took my hand now. After Miss Thelma's, we simply walked forward and the scenery changed and we eased through a series of brief appearances in people's lives. Some I recognized as my mother's old friends. Some were men I barely knew, men who had once admired her: a butcher named Armando, a tax attorney named Howard, a flat-nosed watch repairman named Gerhard. My mother spent only a moment with each, smiling or sitting in front of them.

" So they're thinking about you now? " I said. "Mmm, " she said, nodding.
"You go everywhere you're thought of?"
"No," she said. "Not everywhere."

We appeared near a man gazing out a window. Then another man in a hospital bed.

"So many," I said.
"They were just men, Charley. Decent men. Some were widowers."
"Did you go out with them?"
"Did they ask?"
"Many times."
"Why are you seeing them now?"
"Oh, a woman's prerogative, I guess."

She placed her hands together and touched her nose, hiding a small smile.

"It's still nice to be thought about, you know."

I studied her face. There was no doubting her beauty, even in her late seventies, when she had taken on a more wrinkled elegance, her eyes behind glasses, her hair-once the blue-black of midnight-now the silver of a cloudy afternoon sky. These men had seen her as a woman.

But I had never seen her that way. I had never known her as Pauline, the name her parents had given her, or as Posey, the name her friends had given her; only as Mom, the name I had given her. I could only see her carrying dinner to the table with kitchen mitts, or carpooling us to the bowling alley.

"Why didn't you marry again?" I asked.
"Charley." She narrowed her eyes.
"Come on."
"No. I'm serious. After we grew up-weren't you lonely?"

She looked away.

"Sometimes. But then you and Roberta had kids, and that gave me grandkids, and I had the ladies here and-oh, you know, Charley. The years pass."

I watched her turn her palms up and smile. I had forgotten the small joy of listening to my mother talk about herself.

"Life goes quickly, doesn't it, Charley?"
"Yeah," I mumbled.
"It's such a shame to waste time. We always think we have so much of it."

I thought about the days I had handed over to a bottle. The nights I couldn't remember. The mornings I slept through. All that time spent running from myself.

"Do you remember-" She started laughing. "When I dressed you as a mummy for Halloween? And it rained?"
I looked down. "You ruined my life." Even then, I thought, blaming someone else.
"You should eat some supper," she said.

And with that, we were back in her kitchen, at the round table, one last time. There was fried chicken and yellow rice and roasted eggplant, all hot, all familiar, dishes she'd cooked for my sister and me a hundred times. But unlike the stunned sensation I'd felt earlier in this room, now I was agitated, unnerved, as if I knew something bad was coming. She glanced at me, concerned, and I tried to deflect her attention.

"Tell me about your family," I said.
"Charley," she said. "I've told you that stuff."

My head was pounding.
"Tell me again."

And so she did. She told me about her parents, both immigrants, who died before I was born. She told me about her two uncles and her crazy aunt who refused to learn English and still believed in family curses. She told me about her cousins, Joe and Eddie, who lived on the other coast. There was usually one small anecdote that identified each person. ("She was deathly afraid of dogs." "He tried to join the Navy when he was fifteen.") And it seemed critical now that I match the name with the detail. Roberta and I used to roll our eyes when she launched into these stories. But years later, after the funeral, Maria had asked me questions about the family who was related to whom-and I struggled. I couldn't remember. A big chunk of our history had been buried with my mother. You should never let your past disappear that way.
So this time, I listened intently as my mother went through each branch of the tree, bending back a finger for every person she recounted. Finally, when she finished, she pushed her hands together, and the fingers-like the characters intertwined.

"Annnyhow," she half sang.
"That was-" "I missed you, Mom."

The words just spilled out of me. She smiled, but she didn't answer. She seemed to consider the sentence, gathering my intent, as if pulling in a fisherman's net.

Then, with the sun setting into whatever horizon of whatever world we were in, she ticked her tongue and said, "We have one more stop to make, Charley."

For One More Day Mitch Albom, 2006

Friday, May 14, 2010

What Made Up A Malay

In the pre-colonial (Sumatra before Dutch) period, the origins of the term Batak as a form of self-ascription is elusive. In 19th century European accounts, mainly based on interviews with coastal Malays, Batak had the connotation of interior people, pork-eaters, and uncivilized cannibals. The Malay and Batak identities were once mutually exclusive, at least on the east coast of Sumatra. However, the Batak and Malay distinction was not racial but cultural. If a Batak converted to Islam, he ceased to be Batak and became Malay. Islam was perhaps the most definitive Malay marker.

In the early 19th century, Stamford Raffles proposed a policy that the Islamic lands of Acheh and Minangkabau should be kept apart by making the Batak lands a Christian block. Raffles was also the architect of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 that irrevocably and arbitrarily divided the cultural unity of Sumatra and the peninsula. The contemporary boundary between Indonesia and Malaysia is a legacy of that treaty.

The Dutch authorities also maintained a ‘wedge policy’ – the strategy of keeping the two Islamic bulwarks of Aceh and Minangkabau separated by a belt of non-Muslims in the Bataklanden. Indeed the Dutch encouraged the Christian mission into the north, once it was clear that Mandailing were highly resistance to Christian evangelism inspite of achieving the conversion of some Mandailings in Pakantan.

The Transformation of Traditional Mandailing Leadership in Malaysia and Indonesia in the Age of Globalization and Regonal Autonomy by Abdur-Razzaq Lubis, 2001

Monday, May 10, 2010

At The End

It was early in the morning at four,
When death knocked upon a bedroom door,

Who is there? the sleeping one cried.
I'm Azrael, let me inside.

At once, the man began to shiver,
As one sweating in deadly fever,

He shouted to his sleeping wife,
Don't let him take away my life.

Please go away, O Angel of Death!
Leave me alone, I'm not ready yet.

My family on me depends,
Give me a chance, O please prepense!

The angel knocked again and again,
Friend! I'll take your life without a pain,

Tis your soul Allah requires,
I come not with my own desire.

Bewildered, the man began to cry,
O Angel I'm so afraid to die,

I'll give you gold and be your slave,
Don't send me to the unlit grave.

Let me in, O Friend! The Angel said,
Open the door, get up from your bed,

If you do not allow me in,
I will walk through it, like a jinn.

The man held a gun in his right hand,
Ready to defy the Angel's stand.

I'll point my gun, towards your head,
You dare come in, I'll shoot you dead.

By now the Angel was in the room,
Saying, O Friend! prepare for you doom.

Foolish man, Angels never die,
Put down your gun and do not sigh.

Why are you afraid! Tell me O man,
To die according to Allah's plan?

Come smile at me, do not be grim,
Be Happy to return to Him.

O Angel! I bow my head in shame,
I had no time to take Allah's Name.

From morning till dusk,I made my wealth,
Not even caring for my health.

Allah's command I never obeyed,
Nor five times a day I ever prayed.

A Ramadan came and a Ramadan went,
But no time had I to repent.

The Hajj was already FARD on me,
But I would not part with my money.

All charities I did ignore,
Taking usury more and more.

Sometimes I sipped my favourite wine,
With flirting women I sat to dine.

O Angel! I appeal to you,
Spare my life for a year or two.

The Laws of Quran I will obey,
I'll begin SALAT this very day.

My Fast and Hajj, I will complete,
And keep away from self conceit.

I will refrain from usury,
And give all my wealth to charity,

Wine and wenches I will detest,
Allah's oneness I will attest.

We Angels do what Allah demands,
We cannot go against His commands.

Death is ordained for everyone,
Father, mother, daughter or son.

I'm afraid this moment is your last,
Now be reminded, of your past,

I do understand your fears,
But it is now too late for tears.

You lived in this world, two score and more,
Never did you, your people adore.

Your parents, you did not obey,
Hungry beggars, you turned away.

Your two ill-gotten, female offspring,
In night-clubs, for livelihood they sing.

Instead of making more Muslims,
You made your children non-Muslims.

You ignored the Mua'dhin Adhaan,
Nor did you read the Holy Quran.

Breaking promises all your life,
Backbiting friends, and causing strife.

From hoarded goods, great profits you made,
And your poor workers, you underpaid.

Horses and cards were your leisure,
Money-making was your pleasure.

You ate vitamins and grew more fat,
With the very sick, you never sat.

A pint of blood you never gave,
Which could a little baby save.

O Human, you have done enough wrong,
You bought good properties for a song.

When the farmers appealed to you,
You did not have mercy, tis true.

Paradise for you? I cannot tell,
Undoubtedly you will dwell in hell.

There is no time for you to repent,
I'll take your soul for which I am sent.

The ending however, is very sad,
Eventually the man became mad

With a cry, he jumped out of bed,
And suddenly, he fell down dead.

O Reader! Take moral from here,
you never know, your end may be near

change your living and make amends
For heaven, on your deeds depends.

If this poem inspires you,
it can help someone too.

Poem Of The End by Laila

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What Colour Was the Dog?

Once there was a community of Muslims who were small in number yet large in belief and strong in action. So much so that, the non-believers could not defeat them in battle even though they had the Muslims out numbered.

One day a young man from the enemies pretended to enter into Islam and he went to the big teacher [learned man] in one part of the city and listened to his teaching of the Quran. The subject happened to be on the chapter of the Quran called Al Kahfi [The Cave #18].

When the teacher completed his talk he offered a chance for the brothers present to ask some questions. When it came the turn of the non-believer, he asked the teacher the question:

“Sir, in the story of the 'sleepers' in the cave, there is mention of a dog. And I was wondering if I might inquire as to what color the dog might have been? I hope you don’t mind my asking, especially if it is something that maybe you don’t know the answer to.”

Immediately the teacher says to the young man, “That’s no problem at all, everyone should know that the dog was YELLOW.”

The young man said, “Are you sure? I mean, could it have been another color?”

“No.” replied the old teacher, “It was definitely YELLOW.” Once again the young man thanked him and when on his way.

The next night the young enemy acting as though we was still seeking knowledge went to the other side of town and sat in another gathering of knowledge and they too were discussing different things about verses in the Quran.

So when it came time for the teacher to give each person attending, the opportunity to ask a question, the imposter posing as a Muslim raised his hand and then asked the question, “In the chapter about the “Cave”, the sleepers are mentioned in different numbers but each time there is a reference to their dog as being counted along with them. Now I was wondering whether or not anyone of knowledge has ever made any reference to what the color the dog might have been?”

The teacher immediately said, “Yes! The dog in this story in the Quran was BLACK.”

The young non-believer man was pleased and continued, “Sir, are you quite certain that the color of the dog mentioned in the story was BLACK?”

“Young man,” he quickly replied, “I'll stake my reputation on that as a fact.”

“Thank you, sir." said the non-believer.

The next night the non-believer still posing as a Muslim went back to the first teacher and then when it came time for the questions and answers he raised his hand and asked, “Teacher, you have so much knowledge and I am only a small beginner, I was just wondering, could you maybe remind me about the answer to the question the other night about the color of the dog in the cave in Surah Al-Kahfi?”

The teacher said, “There is no doubt whatsoever amongst the great scholars of Islam on this question. The dog was YELLOW. And anyone who says other than this has no knowledge.”

With that the young man spoke up again and said, “Sir, what would you say if someone else said that he would stake his reputation of being a scholar in Islam on the fact that the dog is not yellow, but rather that the dog is most certainly BLACK?”

The teacher quickly replied, “Then his reputation is not that of a scholar but one of a fool.”

Now the next time the enemy went to the teacher who believed the dog was BLACK, he told the teacher that the teacher on the other side of town was calling him names and saying that he had no knowledge of Islam and that for sure that the dog was YELLOW.

The teacher became angry and shouted, “You tell him, that I said he is the one without knowledge. I am the one who graduated from the greatest of schools of Islam, while he is but a fool.”

The plan was working. Before long the community was divided into two groups. Each group was claiming that their teacher was the one with the correct answer. Fighting broke out in the streets and the Muslims began attacking each other all over the city. Everyone became involved to the extent that there was not a single person who was excluded from this terrible situation. Screaming, shouting, hitting and fighting were everywhere.

And then it happened. The kafr went back out to his people and told them, “Let us go to fight them now. You will now find them most easy to defeat.”

Which Group is the Right Group (Fourth Edition) by Yusuf Estes 2005

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Reinforcement Theory

Generally peoples are likely to seek out and remember things that provide support for their already established attitude and belief. The mathematics for this is there aren't a single person who like to be at the wrong side. Most individuals usually had pre-existing belief when it come to certain issues (eg. Religions, politics, ideologies, celebrities they admired etc) and often feel uncomfortable and threatened when their belief are challenged. The Reinforcement Theory is an assumption that people with pre-existing opinion will selectively incorporate with information that support their own views. This results to three primary phenomenon - Selective exposure, selective perception and selective retention.

Selective Exposure - When individuals encounter information that is discrepant from their own opinions, they seek to resolve the resultant disharmony somehow. People in general do not like to be wrong. A change or shift in attitude is sometimes interpreted as an admission that the original belief was inaccurate or inadequate. To avoid having their opinions challenged, people tend to simply avoid information that might be discrepant in nature. Obviously, most are not able to completely avoid all potentially challenging information. In these cases, message receivers may outright reject dissonant messages. The reasons for rejection are varied and plentiful. For example, the person might justify message rejection by attacking the source’s credibility (Sound fit with most Malaysians information-digesting behaviour)

Selective Perception - No matter how much effort that we put in ignorance, there are no way we could completely dodge all the information from reaching us - especially not in this internet era. Booming number of blogs, social nets, forums, facebook and twitter users, the only way to secure your belief from dissonant exposure is by living in cave (which is also impossible to normal 21st century human beings). Now when the exposure has occurred, selective perception often follows in the facts digesting process. Selective perception simply mean that people tend to skew their perception to coincide with what they desire.

There are three potential actions a person may take to reduce dissonance in this situation. First, the person may learn about the new opinion on the issue and then change his opinion or alter his own position on the issue in question to bring them in line. Second, he may still choose to disagree with the new opinion but instead will lessen the issue’s personal importance. Last, the person may engage in selective perception and actually misperceive the new opinion to align better with his/her own stand than it actually does. Commonly the third option to occur with the greatest frequency.

Selective Retention - The final mechanism behind reinforcement theory has to do with selective retention and recall. This phenomenon occurs when people remember only those items that are in agreement with their predispositions. The ease with which a person can recall information impacts the level and intensity of judgment related to the topic. For example, people who can easily recall an example related to the message are more likely to make an intense judgment about it.

Conclusion: Make your own conclusion

Reinforcement Theory from Rahimah IPB management class, 2009