Spending a beautiful morning with friends and nature  at the world-famous Singapore Botanic Gardens

Spending a beautiful morning
with friends and nature 
at the world-famous
Singapore Botanic Gardens

Members of the Briskwalk-Zumba Gang had a fun morning at the world-famous Singapore Botanic Gardens last Sunday (8 April 2018).

The huge and lovely Gardens is the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a pleasant place for family and friends to gather, exercise and relax.

The trip was the first outing this year organised by the Malay Activity Executive Committee (MAEC) of the Siglap Community Centre for its quarterly outing programme for its Siglap constituency residents in motivating community bonding and interaction.

MAEC organises briskwalks, conducted by Mr Najib Ahmad, and Zumba sessions, conducted by Ms Victoria Ng Teng Yin, at the community centre every Sunday morning.

The Briskwalk-Zumba Gang’s good habit of exercising, making friends, getting together for outings to lead a healthy lifestyle continues…

The group of about 51 people who went for the Briskwalk & Zumba at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on Sunday, 8 April 2018.

ENJOYING THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

The very first activity in the programme was the fitness exercise conducted by Mr Najib Ahmad followed a leisurely briskwalk around the huge Gardens to enjoy the beautiful morning atmosphere and the sights and sounds of nature.

Varieties of flowers and plants…: “A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and man cannot live without love.”

More varieties of flowers and plants…: “Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower and draws all good things towards you.”

Still more varieties of flowers and plants…: “Life is the flower for which love is the honey.”

And more flowers. Well, what is a garden without flowers!: “Be honest, be nice, be a flower, not a weed.”

And fruits of many varieties too: “A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds.”

THE LIVELY GROUP

Some of the group members relaxing along the scenic briskwalk route. The lady in the middle is not ready to have a bull-fight but getting ready to resume her briskwalk with a command: “Okay, okay, friends. Enough rest. Start moving.”

Enjoying the surrounding from a bridge.

Some Chinese residents also joined us for the outing. 

And they saw gushing water:  “Ah! A nice fountain! Come, let’s take a photo here.”

Enjoying the swing of a suspension bridge and hurrying to a nearby pond to enjoy the sight of swans swimming in it. 

Yes, there are children too in our group…but wait a minute, there’s a acute white child! Whose child is that? Ms Sri Zuraida’s? Can’t be. Sri adopted her? May be. O my gosh! Hope Sri didn’t kidnap her! (The white child and her parents are among those on-lookers who excitedly joined us in the Zumba exercise.)

More members of our group posing for more pictures.

NATURE’S MAGNIFICENCE

Splendours of nature and its mysteries: “I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of nature – mountains, trees, flowers, birds, insects, swans swimming in the pond, the air, and  I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.” 

A tree lizard turned around and “posed and smiled” for a photo-shoot…

YACOB’S DREAMS 

Mr Yacob Hussain is so amused by Ms Noorliah Howdi taking a photo with a “statue” kingfisher: Perhaps he’s thinking: “I’m the real king here and I can not only catch fish but also cook them into curry – delicious fish curry – and she’s posing not with me but with a dummy kingfisher!  So sad!” (Photos combined for humour.)

“Woo! Look at that couple, Mr Najib Ahmad, our Brishwalk & Exercise instructor, and his wife, Susilawati, so romantic lah! But, look at my husband, Yacob Hussain, he married me (Keiko Soeda), a Japanese, and now he’s looking skywards, perhaps hoping for a Korean girl to drop from Heaven.”

ZOOMING FOR ZUMBA

Ms Victoria (in orange shirt) leading us in Zumba with body-shaking Hindi and English songs after our briskwalk.

The fast-moving Victoria makes even children marvel at her vitality and energy, motivating them to do regular exercise to be physically fit.

Even some outsiders joined in to shake their bodies a bit…

After our Zumba session and when our lunch boxes were about to be distributed, my wife, Khairon, and I happened to meet a member of our Umrah group, Ms Hairani Osman, who went for the Umrah last month (March). (See the 3-Part article about our Umrah and Ms Hairani’s comments in “Part 1, Our Umrah: Opening friendship opportunities” at https://readnreap.wordpress.com ).

A SATISFYING OUTING

Ms Zainab Mahmood.

“Everyone in the group enjoyed the day at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Apart from coming closer in friendship, the trip was educational.

The participants learned much about the rain forests and the varieties of plants, flowers and fruits.

Even our Chinese friends in the group wanted us to organise more such outings. They like our friendly and cheerful members in the group.

We appreciate their participation and feedback.” – Ms Zainab Mahmood, member of the MAEC organising committee.

Hey! Why is Ms Susilawati climbing up the safety rail without her husband’s notice? Wow! A balancing act? She got talent, man! (Tapi Najib, jaga cermin mata isteri awak baik baik, jangan jatuh. Mahal cermin mata dia…) (Photos combined for humour.) 

See you on Sunday mornings for the weekly Briskwalk and Zumba sessions at the Siglap Community Centre. And, of course, the Briskwalk-Zumba Gang is waiting for the next outing. Where and when will it be?

For some of the past outings, see my blog. Type “MAEC” in the “Search” and read about those outings that I have written.

Shaik Kadir
11 April 2018

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“Part 3, Our Umrah: The enthusiasm of Masjidil Haram” 

Part 3, Our Umrah: The enthusiasm of Masjidil-Haram

Makkah, where the holiest mosque, Masjidil-Haram,
is located, is held in high esteem by Muslims
throughout the world as the most sacred spot on earth.
There is no other spot in the whole wide world that 
has been so sanctified, honoured, respected and
visited in multitudes as Makkah.

Makkah Al-Mukarramah (Makkah the Blessed or Ennobled) (or “Mecca” as spelt in English) is a unique city in Saudi Arabia and most the well-known city in the history of Islam because of two reasons: one, it is the birthplace of Islam and its final Prophet, Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, and two, it contains the world-famous Ka’aba. It is the sanctity of the Ka’aba that had made Makkah a sacred city.

The Ka’aba is also a focal point on earth towards which Muslims throughout the world face, termed “Qibla” or prayer direction, when performing their solat (Islamic prayer).
It is in Makkah that the Haj (major pilgrimage) and the Umrah (minor pilgrimage) are undertaken by pilgrims.

Photo of wall-picture of Masjidil-Haram taken in Museum Haramain, Makkah, during our visit to the museum.

Postcard photo: Another view of Masjidil-Haram.

At Museum Haramain: Photo of the model of the planned enlargement of Masjidil-Haram, the construction of which is being carried out presently (March 2018) and might be fully completed in a couple of years.

Mr Irwan Ramlan.

“Makkah is an important city in Islam; it’s the centre of Islam. During my journey to Makkah, I felt extremely excited and very nervous at the same time.   Makkah is near and dear to us Muslims.

When I reached Masjidil Haram, I felt so happy, and on seeing the Ka’aba, I was so awed.  Though it was my second time to see the Ka’aba, I still shed tears on seeing this simple but magnetic structure.

When performing the tawaf and the sa’i for my Umrah, I was overwhelmed. I felt fortunate that I’ve been invited by Allah to do the Umrah for the second time.    

It was also an amazing to see people from different continents coming together to perform the Umrah, and friendship was forged along the way.

InsyaAllah in two years’ time, I would come back. In fact, I am already beginning to miss Makkah and Madinah.”  – Irwan Ramlan     

(1) My wife, Khairon, standing in front of Dar Al-Ghufran Hotel Makkah in Al Safwah Tower where our group stayed for five nights. Our hotel is in the low building on the extreme left of the Clock Tower located right in front of Masjidil-Haram. (2) With our Umrah friends in the hotel.

Various hotels across the marble-floor of Masjidil-Haram. This floor is also used for prayers when the mosque is full, especially during the evening prayers, Maghrib and Isha prayers.

Pilgrims going to Masjidil-Haram for prayers and returning after their prayers in all directions to their respective hotels located around the mosque.

In Masjidil-Haram: Pilgrims await the azan (prayer call) to perform their congregational obligatory prayers, while a group of young students in ihram who had just entered the mosque are performing their sunat prayer (voluntary prayers in respect of the mosque) before the start of the obligatory prayer.

After the congregational obligatory prayer and the prayer for the dead, the dead, placed at one area of the mosque, are taken away for burial in Makkah.

Zam Zam water, together with disposable paper cups, is readily available everywhere in the covered part of the mosque via newly constructed dispensers.

Renovating and expansion of Masjidil-Haram: While the enlargement of the mosque on the opposite of the circular mosque (see photo of the model of the enlargement of the mosque shown in Museum Haramain presented earlier) is being carried out as is seen by the cranes, internal improvement renovation works are also on-going with safety being observed as thousands of pilgrims descent on Makkah every day while thousands of others leave after completing their Umrah every day. Masjidil-Haram as well as the pilgrims performing the tawaf go non-stop around the clock every day – yes, even in the dead of night people are going round the Ka’aba every second in the daylight-turned Ka’aba open-air area.

Visits to places of interest: Jabal Rahmah (Mount of Mercy), the hill where Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, had stood to deliver his last sermon, known as the Farewell Sermon. Some pilgrims climb the hill though it is not a sunnah to do so (nothing meritorious about it) but from sheer love of the Prophet.

Masjid Namirah in Arafah: Arafah is the plain where the Haj (not Umrah) pilgrims have to be present for a period enroute to Muzdalifah and finally Mina when Eid ul-Adha (or Hari Raya Haji) is celebrated. Huge tents are erected in the Arafah plain for the stay which could be even for a few hours or even a few minutes (for the late comers) to accomplish the wukuf, climax of the Haj on 9 Zulhijjah of the Islamic calendar. Masjid Namirah is in Arafah where the Haj pilgrims, whose tents are near it, perform their prayers, otherwise, if their tents are far away from it, they perform their prayers in their respective groups’ tents. Some of the men in our group performed a sunnat (voluntary prayer) at the spacious corridor of the mosque as the huge mosque, being in the desert where nobody resides, opens only during the Haj period to cater to the huge number of Haj pilgrims.

At Museum Haramain: Various artefacts, like early copies of the Qur’an, photos/drawings of Masjild-Haram from its early days till today and of its future shape in the form of a model, are displayed for information of the visitors.

A view of the Ka’aba area from the roof-top floor (fourth level) of Masjidil-Haram: The Ka’aba, pilgrims making the tawaf (in anti-clockwise direction) and other pilgrims sitting or performing their sunnat (voluntary) prayers while waiting for the azan (prayer call) for the next congregational obligatory prayer.

Another view of the Ka’aba and the tawaf area with two of the photos taken from the ground level.

The roof-top level of Masjidil-Haram is also occupied for prayers, especially after sunset.

Since the Ka’aba area is limited in size for performing the tawaf, pilgrims also perform the tawaf from the mosque’s second, third and roof-top levels. The two long photos show pilgrims performing the tawaf at the roof-level floor but performing the tawaf from any of the levels of the mosque is a number of times longer in distance and time than that performed closer to the Ka’aba due to its larger circumference though the merit gained for the tawaf (a complete tawaf being seven rounds) is the same. The moment the azan comes on, pilgrims making the tawaf at any level stop and perform their congregational obligatory prayers at the spot they stop and after their obligatory prayer continue to complete the remaining rounds of their tawaf as each pilgrim is responsible for his or her own counts of the rounds he or she has completed and needs to complete during each undertaking of the tawaf.

At Jabal Nur (Mount of Light): Some members of our group, on their own during our stay in Makkah, took a trip to Jabal Nur to visit the Cave of Hira. (The climb up this hill is not a sunnah, that is, there is nothing meritorious about it, but pilgrims climb it for their sheer love of Islam’s final prophet in treading along the steps taken by him. Ms Hairani Osman, who was in the group, said: “The trip up Jabal Nur to see the Hira Cave where our prophet, Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, received his first Revelation, was definitely unforgettable.” (See her comments in “Part 1, Our Umrah: Opening friendship opportunities”.)

Mr Asmali Tarmon.

“This is the fifth time I have climbed Jabal Nur to visit the Hira Cave where our prophet, Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, used to meditate about life and later received his first Revelation from Allah.

The path to the cave was bad at that time, yet our prophet climbed it, and his determination made me determined to visit the cave every time I go for my Umrah.

During the recent climb, we started at 10 pm with 14 people from our Umrah group and reached the cave area in 35 minutes.

We spent 45 minutes viewing the surrounding below. From that height, we could see the clock tower near Masjidil-Haram glowing stunningly.

I performed a sunat prayer in the small cave and chatted with co-climbers from Malaysia.

I feel, it would be a loss if we young people go for Umrah and not visit the Hira Cave.” – Asmali Tarmon

Many of us in this Umrah group might have undertaken the Haj, the Fifth Pillar of Islam, previously and the Umrah, too.  For instance, Mr Irwan Ramlan says that this was his second Umrah while for Mr Asmali Tarmon, it’s the fifth. I, too, performed my Haj, which is required only once in a Muslim’s lifetime and that too if he or she could afford it in terms of his health and finance, in 1992, and have gone for the Umrah, not a must, several times since then. But why do people go to the Holy Land more than once?

The direct answer by some people is: “The trip to the Ka’aba is worth more than any visit to any part of the world.”  And I quoted this significant remark in my book, “The Haj:  The annual pilgrimage of Islam”, published in 1995, about my Haj experiences.

Shaik Kadir’s 152-page book, “The Haj: The annual pilgrimage of Islam”, published in 1995, provides “a general feeling of this great event”. The writer’s article on Umrah in the “Life!” section of The Straits Times of 19 November 1996: “The number of Singapore Muslims who are going to perform the Umrah in November and December this year (1996) is set to reach a record high – exceeding 6,000.”

To undertake the spiritual journey for the Haj or Umrah is the desire of every Muslim, an ultimate goal, and for many their desire materialise, for others, not.

We pray to Allah that the 46 enthusiastic pilgrims together with our guide, Mr Nuddeen Sultan, who went for the Umrah recently (28 February to 12 March 2018) receive Allah’s Barakah (Blessings) for Umrah mabruh (Accomplished Umrah).  Ameen.

(This is the last of the 3-part article on “Our Umrah”.   “Part 1, Our Umrah: Opening friendship opportunities” was published in this blog on 21 March 2018 and “Part 2, Our Umrah: The pleasantness of Masjid Nabawi” was published last week on 30 March.)

Shaik Kadir
7 April 2018

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Part 2, Our Umrah: The pleasantness of Masjid Nabawi

    

Part 2, Our Umrah: The pleasantness of Masjid Nabawi

Madinah, where Masjid Nabawi is situated, is the only city
in the world which is so respected and visited every day 
by millions of Muslims from all over the world for the love
of one man – Prophet Muhammad.

Madinah Al-Munawarrah (Madinah the Enlightened or Radiant) is the other city where the feet of Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, had trodden – for 10 years.
The Prophet was born and bred in Mecca and began receiving Revelations from God at the age of 40. In the next 13 years he preached the Revelations he received from time to time but the pagan Meccans were not happy as what he preached went against their culture and way of living.

The Prophet lived at a time when the pagan Arabs worshipped numerous deities; they indulged in intoxicants; they practised infanticide (killing of female babies); they treated women as mere chattels and buying and selling them. But Islam advocated the worship of the One God; prohibited intoxicants, banned infanticide, condemned superstition and gave women their rights. All these and other positive changes made the pagans feel that their culture and traditions were being destroyed by his teachings and so treated him badly.

But the Prophet carried on with his mission patiently, bearing all the agony and hardship of the persecution. However, when the situation became unbearable, he decided to migrate to Madinah, which, at that time, was called Yathrib.

When Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, and his close Companion, Abu Bakr stepped onto the soil of Yathrib (in the Gregorian year 622), the Yathrib people, who were waiting to receive the Prophet, and as soon as they saw him approaching, burst into singing the famous nasheed (Islamic song), “Tala al-Badru Alayna” (The full moon rose over us).

The Prophet’s migration, called Hijrah, was a turning point in Islamic history. The Islamic or Hijrah calendar begins from this triumphant event, a date that changed the history of the world. This oasis town, Yathrib, henceforth became known as Madinatul Nabi (City of the Prophet) or simply Madinah (Medina).

The Prophet and his followers built a mosque near his simple home, which became known as Masjid Nabawi (the Prophet’s Mosque).

The Prophet passed away in 632, and was buried near the mosque and whose tomb is today enclosed in a chamber at one end of the huge Masjid Nabawi building.

MASJID NABAWI, MAGNET OF MADINAH

Madinah’s central attraction is Masjid Nabawi, in which is located not only the Prophet’s tomb (no entry for people but they can look into the tomb-room from one side of the grilled wall) but the Raudhah ul-Jannah or simply Raudhah (Garden of Paradise) where people yearn to perform their prayers.

Off-wall photo of wall-picture of Masjid Nabawi of some three decades ago taken in Museum Haramain in Makkah during our visit to the museum.

Two of the numerous gates located around the compound of Masjid Nabawi. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Off-screen photo of a video of an aerial view of Masjid Nabawi by Hussain b Alsubhi (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnLabguYCOk)

Among those in the group of 46 people who went for Umrah from 28 February to 12 March, are Ms Nurlyana Abdul Rahman and her husband, Mr Aizuddin. Nurlyana feels blessed to get the opportunity to visit Madinah and the Prophet’s Mosque.

Nurlyana at Jabal Rahmah (Mount Rahmah) in Arafah, during one of our visits to historical places in Makkah.

“The blessed land of Madinah will always hold a special place in my heart. The people who come in droves every day from all over the world with pious hearts and devout thoughts make this city very holy and special to me and to all Muslims in the world.

I will also never forget the tranquillity in my heart. The longing and thought of Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, who is so loved by the Muslims bring great peace to my heart and to all – young, elderly, the poor, the rich – who come to Masjid Nabawi to be near his tomb and feel his presence.

At the Raudhah I prayed in tears of joy for being blessed to be given a chance to be in this holiest area of the mosque.

I pray I will be invited again by Allah to this holy land, InsyaAllah.” – Nurlyana Bte Abdul Rahman 

EXTERIOR OF MASJID NABAWI

The huge doors on all sides of Masjid Nabawi.

In the marble-floor compound all around Masjid Nabawi, gigantic umbrellas that automatically open in the late morning provide shade to people performing their prayers and close at sunset for people to enjoy the evening atmosphere while waiting for the next prayer time or enjoy the serenity of the place after their prayers.

Views of the hotels located outside the compounds of Masjid Nabawi where people relax in the evening as the sun sets..

VISITS TO PLACES OF INTEREST

Some of the Umrah group members during the visit to a date plantation to see date palms at close range.

Masjid Quba: The first mosque built by Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, during his migration to, and before reaching, Yathrib (Madinah). Like Masjid Nabawi, Masjid Quba was initially a simple mosque built with materials of those days.

Masjid Sayyid al-Shuhada in Uhud: The mosque was built in honour of Prophet Muhammad’s uncle, Hamzah bin Abdul Muttalib, who was martyred together with 70 other warriors in the Battle of Uhud that took place in this area in 3 Hijrah (or in the Gregorian year 624).

(1) Masjid Qiblatain (Mosque of the two Qiblas): The Qiblah is the prayer direction that points to the Ka’aba in Mecca. In the beginning of Islam, the early Muslims’ Qiblah was the direction towards Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem. Then, after the Prophet received the command to change the Qiblah from Jerusalem to Makkah, the entire congregation led by a companion changed direction during a prayer session. The old mihrab (prayer niche) had been removed to avoid confusion.  (2) Mr Azman, a member of our group, likes the way the copies of the Qur’an are placed – in creative shelves.

Jannaṫ al-Baqī (Garden of the Baqi), near Masjid Nabawi, is the burial ground of many of Prophet Muhammad’s relatives and Companions, including Caliph Uthman.

INTERIOR OF MASJID NABAWI

Visitors (men’s turn) waiting to enter Raudhah ul-Jannah (The Garden of Paradise): “Between by house and my minbar (pulpit) there is a Garden from the Gardens of Paradise,” said Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him. Visitors to Masjid Nabawi would always look for an opportunity to perform a sunnat (voluntary) prayer at the Raudhah with men and women allotted different time to visit the area.

Another lady member in the group, who came with her husband, Mr Zaidi, is Ms Sarimah Safi’ee who was overwhelmed with blissful emotion when she entered the Raudhah (Garden of Paradise) in Masjid Nabawi.

Sarimah in front of one of the numerous doors of Masjid Nabawi.

“When the time came for the female members in our group to go to the Raudhah, I was a bit scared but I braved myself. Indeed, the crowd was huge but when I entered this special place, I was overwhelmed.

The moment I stepped onto the green carpet, suddenly my tears flowed uncontrollably. My heart burst with joy to be right in the Raudhah. And I kept saying ‘Ya Allah! Thank you very much for allowing me to be in this blissful place which I likened to Paradise.’
The crowd was thick, but I managed to perform my sunat pray, and I said my heartfelt personal doa,

After we went out of the Raudhah, I felt at ease. I was happy to have been given the chance by Allah to be in the Raudhah, even for a short time. and I am very grateful to Him for that. Alhamdulillah.” – Sarimah Bte Safi’ee

The intricate and unique architecture of the interior of Masjid Nabawi is a marvel to behold.

High decorative ceilings and air-con provide comfort to the worshippers.

Chandeliers, wall lights, huge pillars and domes (interior) enhance the exquisite atmosphere of the interior of the mosque.

(1) Zam Zam water is readily available for anyone to drink freely. Zam Zam water drums with disposable cups as shown are placed within short distances along the pathways and topped up hourly. (2) Copies of the Qur’an are placed at every pillar (with air-con outlets) for anyone to read it at leisure and worn-out copies are replaced every day. (3) Every Friday night, simple free meals are given to those who are fasting and breaking the fast, and the plastic cover-sheets and trash are cleared quickly to get ready for the Maghrib prayers. (4) Chairs are available for those who are unable to sit on the floor because of leg or knee problem/injuries. (These jobs, including vacuuming the carpets and cleaning the floor inside and outside the mosque, are carried out by a huge team of well-trained uniformed workers.)

The Green Dome is the exact location of where Prophet Muhammad’s tomb lies beneath in an enclosed chamber with Quranic verses forming grilles (gold mesh) for people to take glimpses of the tomb of their beloved prophet as they walk past the corridor of the chamber. (Visitors are not allowed to remain at the grille wall longer than a few seconds as to allow smooth flow of the unending movement of the large number of visitors.) Next to the tomb of the Prophet are located the tombs of his Companions, Caliph Abu Bakr and Caliph Umar.

In Madinah Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, gave form and continuity to the Muslim community and the state with all the various elements of social, economic and political life he had been commanded by God to establish. From Madinah, the first Islamic state in Islam, the religion rapidly spread throughout Arabia. The next state to become Islamic was Makkah. It is in Makkah that the Haj and Umrah are performed.

(“Part 3, Our Umrah: The enthusiasm of Masjidil Haram” will be featured soon. “Part 1, Our Umrah: Opening friendship opportunities” has been published in this blog last week, 21 March 2018.)

Shaik Kadir
30 March 2018

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Part 1, Our Umrah:  Opening friendship opportunities

Part 1, Our Umrah:
Opening friendship opportunities

Recently, a group of 46 people went for Umrah (minor pilgrimage to Islam’s Holy Land). Unlike the Haj (major pilgrimage) which is held annually during the Haj period of the Islamic calendar, Umrah can be performed at any time of the year.

Umrah can only be performed in Makkah (Mecca) but pilgrims would not miss the opportunity to visit Madinah (Medina) as well either during their Umrah (minor pilgrimage) or Haj (major pilgrimage) undertaking.

The group went for our Umrah with TM Fouzy Travel and Tours Singapore from 28 February to 12 March.

A memory photo taken against the backdrop of Masjid Sayyid al-Shuhada near Mount Uhud in Madinah. The mosque was built in honour of Hamzah bin Abdul Muttalib, Prophet Muhammad’s uncle, who was martyred, together with 70 other warriors,  in the Battle of Uhud that took place in this area in 3 Hijrah (or in the year 624).

The journey to the centre of the Islam was exceptional in many ways with spiritual gains as well as friendship gains. The people in the group took the journey not knowing other individual members or family members but returned with deepened friendship.

The following photos shows all the members in the group. The photos were taken in our hotels, in the mosques and during our visits to places of interest and Islamic history in and around Madinah and Makkah.

From right, Kadir, the blog writer; Khalid and Nuddeen, our guide and officer from TM Fouzy Travel and Tours Singapore.

Zayd, the youngest Umrah participant: A happy and cheerful 4-year old who is the son of pilgrims Juliarti and Zailani.

From left, Asmali and A. Rahman.

Sarimah and her husband, Zaidi; and Hairani and her mother, Siti Sawiyam.

Hairani enjoying the panoramic view of the surrounding from atop Jabal Nur (Mountain of Light).

Ms Hairani Osman, who joined the Umrah group with her mother, Mdm Siti Sawiyam, found the  members in the friendly and enthusiastic. “Alhamdulillah, the whole Umrah experience was an eye opener for me. I’m blessed with having a happy, close-knit group of people who are friendly and helpful. We do make friends easily during the Umrah as the Holy Land is overwhelmingly crowded with pilgrims from all over the world.

First of all, my mother and I were fortunate to have Irwan as our mahram. Together with his wife, Sabariah, they always ensured that both of us are comfortable during our entire spiritual journey.

The trip up Jabal Nur to see the Hira Cave where our prophet, Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, received his first Revelation, was definitely unforgettable. The encouragement and tips given by the younger friends in the group were definitely helpful.

The whole trip is something I will always remember. I cherish the friendship gained during this Umrah trip.” – Hairani Bte Osman

Irwan and his wife, Sabariah; and Nadiah and her husband, Fadhli. The mosque seen in the first photo is Masjid Quba, the first mosque built – now rebuilt and enlarged – by Prophet Muhammad on his way to Madinah during his Hijrah (migration from Makkah to Madinah).

Aizuddin and his wife, Nurlyana at the Prophet’s Mosque (Masjid Nabawi).

Zumrah, Mariyah and Sabariah.

Zahara, Hamidah and Azman in ihram in a coach on the way to Makkah for our Umrah.

Rahman, Rohayah, Rohani and Ibrahim in the huge compound of Masjid Nabawi where huge “umbrellas” automatically open in the afternoon to provide shade to the pilgrims who perform their solat (prayers) there when the mosque is full.

Suhaidah, Shahril, Suzana and Kamesa in the compound of Masjid Nabawi.

Bahron, Norrizah, Jaiton, Katmeaton and Ishak at our hotel lobby, Hotel Taibah in Madinah.

Suyati, Kassim, Zayd (boy), Juliarti and Zailani at Masjid Nabawi.

Selamat, Saadiah, Zaiton, Sariah, Yati and Abdul Samad at Changi Airport before leaving for Madinah on 28 February 2018.

Khairon and her husband, Kadir, at the entrance of a date plantation office in Madinah where the group visited to see date trees at close range.

The visit to Islam’s Holy Land brings Muslims from different lands and cultures closer to one another, strengthening universal brotherhood of Islam. The pilgrim becomes more aware that all human beings, rich or poor, rulers or followers, are equal before God. He makes new friends from the others parts of one’s own country as well as from other countries.

Though we have returned home, the members in the group are keeping contact in strengthening our friendship via the WhatsApp platform.

“Part 2, Our Umrah: The pleasantness of Masjid Nabawi” will be featured soon.

Shaik Kadir
21 March 2018

Posted in Practical Islam | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Relief after hardship

Relief after hardship

Muslims are informed in the Qur’an (Islam’s Holy Book) and the Hadith (Deeds and sayings of Prophet Muhammad, Peace be upon him, that there is relief after every problem.

Some of the numerous expressions and information and advice on this issue are:
• “Verily, with hardship there is relief.” (Qur’an 94:6)
• “O you who believe! Seek help in patience and the prayer…” (Qur’an 2:153)
• “…Bear with patience whatever befalls you….” (Qur’an 31:17) and “Be not sad, surely Allah is with us.” (Qur’an 9:40)
• “Verily, if Allah loves a people, He makes them go through trials. Whoever is satisfied, for him is contentment…” (Hadith, Tirmidhi)

I am going through a trial, and now, after a week, there is relief. And I thank Allah for it. I must say, with the “fright” I faced and now that the “fright” is abated, I feel that I am a renewed and a very happier person: I would be able to go for my 13-day Umrah trip next week. My wife and I are among some 40 people in the group that will be leaving for Medina first on Wednesday, 28 February 2018.

The “fright” that assailed me started on Friday, 16 February – just 12 days to my Umrah journey: My knee suddenly jammed when I hurried down some steps of a staircase towards the bus-stop right in front of my flat to go for my Friday prayers. I could not place my right leg on the floor to take another step – the pain on the knee and on the thigh was excruciating. I leaned on the handrail, thinking to return home by taking a little step at a time a couple of minutes later. But 5 minutes passed and I could not take another step. I began to perspire.

Good deed

A man, also going to the mosque, saw my agony and stopped to enquire. When I pointed that I live in the block about 20 metres away, he offered to help me walk to my block by holding my shoulder. I tried but I could not touch my foot on the floor of the covered walkway. A minute later, another man, who was also going to the mosque, stopped. Then both men, who were not young but around 60, carried me all the way into the lift and to my unit without putting me down. I do not know their names but I hope to thank them again for their good deed if I were to meet them again in the future.

In my home, I called my son, who lives with his wife and daughter about 5 minutes’ drive away. He said he would come to see me after his Friday prayer. Later, he took me and my wife in his car to the A&E of Changi General Hospital where an x-ray showed that my leg-bones were injury-free but there was a muscle tear in my thigh. I am using crutches since then.

Yesterday, Thursday, 22 February, an examination of my injury with CGH’s orthopaedic doctor gave me the green light to travel but with the advice that I must ensure that I don’t strain my leg by walking without any supporting aid. I am now a happier person as I would be able to go to the Holy Land where wheelchairs are available on hire to perform the rituals of the Umrah. Alhamdullilah.

Hj Nuddeen and my grand-daughter, Nur Iffah Muhammad Imran, at my home.

I am very thankful to Hj Nuddeen, our Umrah Guide from TM Fouzy Travel and Tours, who came to my home to see me yesterday afternoon, 22 February. A few days earlier when I informed Hj Nuddeen in a personal WhatsApp about my leg injury, he, with all good intention, mentioned that I was “unwell” in the Umrah group chat platform and many, though they did not know me, responded with get-well messages and doa for my recovery before the Umrah trip. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart.

Get-well doa

I also greatly value the doa of a number of my former students who I taught in Primary 5A (in 1967) and the same batch in Primary 6A (1968) at Kaki Bukit Primary School. They “discovered” me only some eight years ago and since then they have created a chat group to keep in touch with one another and who always greet me with the salam every morning. So, I informed them of my ailment a couple of days ago, and they poured their doa as follows:

• “Mudah2an cepat sembuh Sir Kadir . Amin ya rab.” – Jamal Rahim

• “Salam Sir SK. Dgn doa dari anak2 murid, cik gu akan cepat sembuh utk menunaikan umrah di tanah suci. InsyAllah.” – Khadijah Kareem

• “Semoga Sir SK cepat sembuh n dapat melaksanakan ibadah umrah dgn mudah n sempurna. aamiin ya Rabbal ‘aalamiin” – Hj Mohd Nasir

• “Semoga Allah memberi kesembuhan & kesehatan buat Sir SK dan mempermudahkan beliau untuk mengerjakan umrah nye. My prayers to u Sir SK & take care!” – Junainah Hassan

• “Semoga Allah menganugrahi kesembuhan pada guru kami sir Kadir dan mudah beliau menunaikan ibadah umrohnya tanpa halangan..ln sya Allah.” – Iskandar Sabirin

• “Semoga Allah memberi cikgu kekuatan kesehatan kesembuhan dan umrah mabrur…amiin.” – Suhaimi Bari

• “May Allah bless you & have a speedy recovery. Selamat berangkat to you & wife semoga semua urusan di permudahkan. Pulang dgn Umrah yg mabrur. Aamiin.” – Zainab Marican

• “Waalaikumsalam Sir. Thank you for keeping me in the loop – much appreciated! I will DUA for your speedy recovery and InsyaAllah you would be able to join the group to perform Umrah together with your beloved wife. Do take good care Sir. I will be thinking of you and please keep me updated.” – Rohani A Rahim

• “InsyaAllah dengan berkat Doa dari kami … di permudahkah segala urusan dan sembuhkan segala macam peyakit dan musibah … GET WELL SOON, SIR. Amin.” – Isa Adam

I value the doa of everyone, verbal or written. With your doa and the blessing from Allah, I am able to go for my Umrah. Thank you.

Shaik Kadir
23 February 2018

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Adam’s visits Part 2: Adam in Singapore

 

Adam’s visits

Part 2:  Adam in Singapore

In Charlotte, North Carolina: Lib Dula (Adam’s grandmother), Fred Dula (Adam’s grandfather) and Alson Dula (Adam’s aunt) having some fun time with Adam.

Yes, Adam is here in Singapore, the Lion City. He and his parents came here last Tuesday morning, and, after a week, the family is now all-ready to return to Sydney – late tonight, Tuesday, 13 February – for her mother to get prepared for her PhD graduation which would be held soon.

Four-year-old Adam Rayan Dula is the grandson of American Lib Gray Dula and Fred Dula and Singaporean Khairon Mastan and Shaik Kadir, writer of this article. In mid-December last year, Adam went with his parents Munirah Shaik Kadir and Allen Dula to meet his American relatives after stopping over in Singapore for two weeks.

Adam’s photos in Charlotte, North Carolina, are shown in an article at: https://readnreap.wordpress.com/2018/02/07/adams-visit-part-1-adam-in-north-carolina/ )

Adam had a great time in Singapore, the place of his birth. The following photos show Adam’s fun days in the Lion City.

Playing at “Atuk’s” home with Iffah’s toys…

At the nearby playground…

Exploring the neighbourhood…

Neighbourhood walk: Stopping to buy drinks…

Enjoying! Enjoying! Enjoying! And showing off his skills…

“Woh! What’s Adam doing!”, wondered Iffah:  He’s peeping into Iffah’s classroom and found her not in, and looking out of a “hole” and looking at the road scene from the balcony…

Water, waterfalls, leaves and flowers:  A visit to the famous Gardens by the Bay with Aunt Faz and Nani Mah.

“Aunty Suriani (seated in the massage chair) and Uncle Hamid visited me, and then Uncle Hamid gave me a good massage. Wooh! Shioklah! And I almost fell asleep. Service cost $300 but free for me.”

With Uncle Hamid and Aunty Su and Aunty Suhaila Ghaffar at Atuk’s home; and with  Nani Jai and Dadu Norman at Nani Jai’s home.

A train ride from the Tanah Merah MRT Station to the Raffles’ Place MRT Station: “It’s nice to look outside. There are many things to see. The train  even crossed over the Kallang River. Then, the train went underground and I saw nothing.”

Middle photo was taken at the Singapore River. The other two, one was in the lounge of the Clifford Pier Hotel and the other near the Raffles’ MRT Station with Adam posing with a Clementine tree (tree bearing small oranges) which serves as Chinese New Year decoration.

At the scenic Marina Bay: Posing with the Merlion.

Exploring Marina Bay with Daddy…

Exploring the Singapore River with Atuk…

Adam helping to water the plants in “Iffah’s Garden” with a photo showing Iffah spraying her plants before Adam’s visit. The other photos show Adam playing with a stray cat. The top square photo shows Adam playing with the same cat in December last year.

“With my Nani, and with Aunty Shamira and Nani Nab.”

“With Uncle Imran and Aunty Shu and my cousin, Iffah.”

Both Adam and his cousin, Nur Iffah Muhammad Imran, met and played together during their December 2017 meeting and were anxiously waiting to meet again during his visit now.  But, very unfortunately, Iffah, who lives about 5 minutes’ drive away, is not well the whole week; and the cousins were not able to meet at all. The photos above showing the cousins together were taken last December.

Adam: “I love everyone in the SK Family. I love Atuk, Nani, Daddy, Mamma, Uncle Imran, Aunty Shu and my cousin, Iffah. I love them all. I also love my other relatives.”

Well, Adam leaves for Sydney tonight, and “Atuk” (as he calls his Singapore grandfather) and “Nani” (Singapore grandmother) as well as “Uncle Imran”, “Aunty Shu” and Iffah would certainly miss him.

Shaik Kadir

13 February 2018

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Beauty and Rationality of Islam – The Spirit of Islam – Part 3: Prophet Abraham, Patriarch of Revealed Religions

Beauty and Rationality of Islam

( The “Beauty and Rationality of Islam” series aim at showing the foundation of Islam, especially its concept – that Islam was not introduced or founded by Prophet Muhammad but it started with the first pair of human beings – Adam and Eve and that Prophet Muhammad was sent only to confirm and complete the “Religion of Truth” whose teachings were taught by numerous prophets before Islam, including Prophet Jesus (Jesus Christ), Peace be on them all.

Islam is the name given to the “Religion of Truth” when the time came for it to be further expanded and completed. For example, in the past, people learned to pray for request and praise at any time in a simple way and what to say briefly during the prayer; but at the time of the completion of “The Religion of Truth”, in Islam, prayer is established as obligatory and non-obligatory. The non-obligatory prayers can be done at any time of the day or night or whenever required or urgent while the obligatory prayer is regulated, thus:
The Islamic prayer is called solat, and there are five prayers performed daily, each performed at different times of the day, at home, at any suitable place or in the mosque. The prayers are Suboh or Fajar (before sunrise), Zohor (early afternoon), Asar (late afternoon), Maghrib (after sundown) and Ishak, also spelt Isyak (early night). No footwear is worn during the prayer, and before starting each prayer, the main parts of the body – head area, hand and arms and legs – are cleaned using sparing running water. The prayer can be performed alone or in congregation of any size as small as two persons or in thousands as in huge mosques or at the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Each prayer is performed by silently reading Quranic verses and executing a set of postures like standing, bowing and sitting on the floor. In a congregation, people, male and female separately, position themselves close to each other in straight rows, showing unity, respect and no distinction of race, colour or wealth – all face towards the Ka’aba in Mecca for unity in prayers of the One God (Allah).

It is hoped that with the proper understanding of Islam, people of other faiths would appreciate Islam and thus live with Muslims as fellow brothers and sisters. There is no place for suspicion, hatred of races and faiths or terrorism. What we need in this world is peace, happiness, togetherness and harmony.

The first article in the series, “The Spirit of Islam – Part 1: Prophets and their missions”, appeared last Saturday, 27 January, in this blog. Part 2: Human nature and Prophet Adam” was posted on Saturday, 3 February, and the third and final part of “The Spirit of Islam”, “Prophet Abraham, Patriarch of Revealed Religions”, appears today, below. )

Beauty and Rationality of Islam

– The Spirit of Islam –
Part 3: Prophet Abraham,
Patriarch of Revealed Religions

Prophet Abraham is known to the believers of the three well-known religions of today – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. As the patriarch of the Jews, Christians and Muslims, Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim) is closely connected to Muslims in many ways.
The life-story of Prophet Abraham is one characterised by tremendous trials, great sacrifices and complete submission to Allah. And when he had gone through the trials successfully, Allah made him a great leader. Allah says: “And when His Lord tried Abraham with (His) Commands, and he fulfilled them, He said: “Lo! I have appointed thee a Leader for mankind.'” (2:124)

Prophet Abraham spoke out strongly against the worship of idols which his people were practising. He even physically destroyed their idols to prove his point – that things made by man could be destroyed by man. His preaching of the One God, Allah, earned him the wrath of his idol-worshipping people and, one day, he was subjected to torture by fire, from which he escaped. He travelled to Egypt and Palestine and then to Arabia to spread his teaching of the One God.

My article, “The acquisition of knowledge in Islam”, published in a quarterly magazine, “Al-Islam” in the January-March 1976. (Photos show the front page of Al-Islam and the first page of the article.)

The second and third pages of my article in Al-Islam.

Prophet Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was unable to bear children. So, with his wife’s consent, he married Hagar (Hajar) for the purpose of begetting a son. His wish was fulfilled and he was blessed with a son, Ishmael (Ismail). However, from the time Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, Sarah, out of jealousy, used every opportunity to make Hagar’s life miserable. This troubled Prophet Abraham and he prayed for Allah’s Guidance. Prophet Abraham, upon receiving Allah’s Guidance, and obeying it, took Hagar and their child, Ishmael, out of Palestine and travelled to the Arabian peninsular. He arrived at a desolate area, the Valley of Bakkah, later to be called Makkah (Mecca).

When Hagar asked her husband if that was the place commanded by Allah for them to live, Prophet Abraham replied: “Yes. It is Allah’s Command.” And Hagar said, “If that is so, then Allah will not abandon us.”

This event led to many significant events over the years. The following main ones were associated with the family of Prophet Abraham:

• Settlement developed
Though this valley (Valley of Bakkah) was a parched desert, water (today known as the Zamzam water) appeared before Hagar, and it gave sustenance to the family and others who passed by. The water attracted people, known as “bedouin”, who roamed the deserts of Arabia seeking pastures for their herds of camel and other animals. Soon a habitation emerged and, not long after, a settlement was established here in this valley which became known as Makkah (Mecca).

• Command executed
Some years later, in Palestine, Prophet Abraham was elated because Sarah conceived a child and Isaac (Ishak) was born. But Prophet Abraham was saddened to receive a dream-vision in which he was commanded by Allah to sacrifice his first-born, Ishmael, who was about mid-teen by now.

But when he told this to his son, Ishmael, who was also a great believer in Allah, he surprisingly agreed. Allah says: “Then when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, He (Abraham) said: ‘O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: now see what it is thy view!’ The son said: ‘O my father! Do as thou art commanded, thou will find me, if Allah so wills, one practising patience and constancy!'” (37:102) (Note: In the Bible, it was Isaac who was sacrificed.)

• Faith triumphed
At the site of the sacrifice, Ishmael put his head down on a rock in preparation for the sacrifice, and Prophet Abraham, with a heavy heart, placed the knife to his son’s throat to execute the sacrifice. Suddenly, a voice, the voice of Angel Gabriel, was heard. Conveying the Message of Allah, the Angel said he had passed the test of his deep faith in Allah, and that Allah required no sacrifice of his son. Prophet Abraham was relieved and thanked Allah for it. The willingness to sacrifice the first-born son was an ultimate test of faith.

Allah says in the Qur’an, thus: “We called out to him: ‘O Abraham! You have already fulfilled the vision.’ Thus indeed do We reward those who do right. For this was obviously a trial; and We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice. And We left (this Blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times. Peace and salutation to Abraham. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right; for he was one of Our believing servants!” (37:104-111)

• Haj instituted
It was Prophet Abraham, assisted by Ishmael, who built the Ka’aba as instructed by Allah (through Angel Gabriel) as a place for the worship of the One God, and called people to it for the Haj. Allah says: “Behold! We gave the site to Abraham, of the (Sacred) House, (saying): ‘Associate not anything (in worship) with Me; and sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or stand up, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer). And proclaim the Haj among mankind…'” (22:26-27) The Haj was thus instituted, and it is one of the five Pillars of Islam.

About Prophet Abraham, Allah says: “Abraham was indeed a model, devoutly obedient to Allah and true in faith, and he joined not gods with Allah. He showed his gratitude for the favours of Allah, who chose him and guided him to the Straight Path. And We gave him good in this world, and he will be in the Hereafter in the ranks of the righteous.” (16:120-122)

My book, “Read!” (Iqra) – the Islamic inspiration on guidance, wisdom and progress”, published by the Islamic Theological Association of Singapore, also known as Pertapis, in 1986.
(Photos show the front and back covers of the book.}

When Ishmael became a Prophet, he reminded the people of the teachings of his father and reiterated the belief in the One God. However, when Prophet Ishmael died, many of the people of Mecca gradually over time forgot the teachings and, seduced by satanic forces, reverted to worshipping idols made of clay and stone. [Such “back to old” practice also took place with the people of Prophet Moses. When Prophet Moses left his followers to pursue a religious calling, although for only a short period, his people “made out of ornaments, the image of a calf for worship.” (7:148)]

The pilgrimage to the sacred “House” continued annually, but not as originally instituted. The practice was corrupted by idol worship. The pagan Meccans worshipped 360 idols which were placed in and around the Ka’aba. Also, a trade fair flourished in the vicinity of the Ka’aba with dancing girls and other vices practised. The pagans also indulged in immorality, slavery and cruelty such as pawning away their wives and infanticide (burying female infants alive).

This long period, known as the “Age of Jahilliyah” (Age of Ignorance), extended right to the time of the advent of Prophet Muhammad, Allah’s final prophet, and these atrocities and idol worship came to an end with the inception of Islam.

Shaik Kadir
10 February 2018

(The writer of this series of articles would take a one-month break to undertake an important Islamic obligation – Umrah or minor pilgrimage in Mecca. )

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