Sunday, January 29, 2012


RIGHTLY AND IN RESPECT OF RABIULAWAL the third month of Hijrah 1433, the particular subject becomes an urgent reminder to us. We are made aware of our duties to our neighbors religiously , ethically and culturally and in respect of its adherence we may be satisfied and proud that there is a continuing sense or responsibility and commitment. Is it so?

Taking the following as obligations to Muslims, we must search its true applications in the current dimensions. 

Prophet Muhammad SAW on the rights of the neighbor said,

" It is to help him if he asks your help, to lend him if he asks to borrow from you to satisfy his needs if he becomes poor, to console him if he is visited by an affliction, to congratulate him if he is met with good fortune, to visit him if he became ill, to attend his funeral if he dies, not to make your home higher than his without his consent less you deny him the breeze, to offer him fruits when you buy some or to take it to your home secretly if you do not do that, nor to send out your children with it so as not to upset his children,no to bother him by the tempting smell of your food unless you send him some"     

Truly the neighbour holds a specific station in Islam. Islam encourages Muslim to treat their neighbors in a gentle way that reflects the true and genuine spirit of Islam as exemplified in its tolerant aspect especially with people of other faiths."  Consider this .

" O Messenger of Allah, I have two neighbours. To whom shall I sent my gifts?" asked Ayesha the Prophet's wife .Prophet Muhammad said " To the one whose gate is close to you.' 

 It helps because we have many  as defined  "Your neighbour is 4o houses ahead of you and 40 houses at your back, 40 houses to your left and 40 houses to your right'  That already makes a total of 160 good friends around us.

I am struck by the above subject by incidents and happenings that came to light in the last few days. Yes not even a week back yet. Hj Md Arshad, my father- in- law succumbed to his long illness on 29th Safar 1433 and was laid to rest on the same day. In those moments and hours of sadness and consoling to the family as the body lies for visitation by families and friends, none more comforting than to see friends, kins and neighbours descending on the home to pay their last respect and offer prayers as they saw him for the last time. More so when hundreds were at the mosque to offer 'solat jenazah' before he is laid to rest and the 'talkin' read.

He lived to the ripe age of 85, a week before his 86th birthday, a respected personality in the community, religious and forthright and never shunned to help and contribute. Yet he was humble, a non scholar as primary schooling was not even his forte yet he rose in life, a  self -made carpenter and later a partner in a company that went to be listed on the board. A giant of a man who left much to be admired and followed. A father with seven sons and daughters, plus the in laws, forty-one grand children and nine great grand children.None so much richer with the blessings of Allah SWT.

A close door neighbour also came visiting a few days later. They had earlier conveyed condolences personally by phone and in their busy schedules saw necessary to call personally.They are our next door neighbour, whose gate is  closest to ours as the fence are shared too. They and many others called to share their sadness while offering strength and consoling to my mother-in-law and the family.Theirs is a relationship that has stretched more than fifty years.  

Yes truly our neighbours, friends and families become the token of our existence, our shared comradeship and our love and respect for one another. The linkages and enduring strength comes in moments when we most needed and hoped for. Truly it is a lesson in life.

   Tun Siti Hasmah offering her condolences to the daughter of Al Marhum Hj Md Arshad

      Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the neighbour being welcomed by the son and grand son of AlMarhum Hj Md Arshad

Kisses and warmth sealed the visitation

     The family is grateful for the visit from our neighbor

In his busy and tight schedule our visitor like others who called earlier honour the spirit of friendship and neighbourliness as exemplified in the quotes above

         The grandchildren now learning  more of their late grandfather

     The family at the graveside before the 'talkin' was read

The 'doa' offered on the first three nights at the home with our neighbours and friends attending.

       Al Marhum Hj Md Arshad with the wife. Both on the wheel chair while in his last umrah in 2008. Even when on the sick bed lately he expressed the hope of fulfilling the umrah again with the family. On many occasion he brought joy to friends and family by sponsoring their visits to the holy land for 'umrah'


Monday, January 23, 2012


'Katanya pada bulan Rabiulawal kebiasaannya di Tanah Arab pokok buah-buahan mula berbunga dan seterusnya berbuah.  Setelah kedatangan Islam Rasulullah SAW telah mengekalkan nama Rabiulawal hingga sekarang.'

Biar pun kini pada bulan Januari dan menjelang Februari 2012 cuaca dan suhunya dingin di Hemisphere Utara, jelas pula tidak begitu di negara kita. Walaupun negeri-negeri di Pantai Timor masih menghadapi musim ketujuh nampaknya kedatangan Rabiulawal di negeri Jelapang Padi, Kedah yang bakal disambut dua minggu lagi telah menampakkan keistimewaan dan kelainan. Pada lazimnya pokok-pokok bunga khususnya di jalan-jalan utama berbunga pada bulan April  dan paling awal Mac. Hari ini sudah kelihatan sausana yang menyegar dan mengistiharkan 'Rabiulawal' telah menghampiri kita. Jesteru segala persedian menyambutnya  dan khusus ' Maulidur Rasul' perlu disegerakan.

Mengapa tidak kerana apa yang dirakamkan petang ini dan kelihatan dibawah nyata sekali musim bunga telah tiba di bandar ini, jauh lebih awal daripada biasa. Bukan Februari atau Mac tetapi pada tanggal 22 hb January 2012 bandar Alor Setar sudah digemparkan dengan satu keistimewaan.

Pohon indah ini yang berbunga lebat seolah-olah menyambut ketibaan Rabiulawal. ( It seems to flower much earlier than usual , in fact two months ahead)

It's flowering time in this city. Strange and a surprise indeed for 'springtime' comes much earlier than usual . No we do not have seasons here but we do have hot and dry plus the wet season. We are in fact  approaching the dry season now with less of rainfall. Nevertheless it is good to see the trees with their blooms. Come February we also celebrate the arrival of Rabiulawal, the third month of the Muslim Hijrah year, it succeeding Muharram and Safar . Rabiulawal is historical and significant to Muslims throughout the world for on the 12th of the month it ushers the birth date of Prophet Muhammad SAW. This year it coincides with the 5th of February which is a public holiday in Malaysia. No doubt various programs have been arranged throughout the country to remember this auspicious day either privately or by the administration at all levels. All mosques and surau would have activities to remember the significance of the day and salutations to our prophet Muhamad SAW. Homes too will echo with 'selawat' ,'zikir' and the reading of the 'Koran' as Muslims remember ' Maulidur Rasul'.

Let me remember this day by reflecting on a mosque that is much favoured and visited by pilgrims or visitors to Saudi Arabia besides Al Haram in Mecca. I would like to share several pictures of the mosque in Madinah with  those who have walked and prayed in its halls, felt its sanctity and sacredness. This is the Prophet's Mosque or 'Masjid Nabawi' at Madinah. InsyaAllah these photos would  call for our return visits or cause those who have yet to visit Mecca and Madinah either for the Haj or Umrah wanting and wishing to do so soon.           

 Giant umbrella or canopies protect the pilgrims from the hot sun while adding to the richness and beauty of the mosque. The open space has its value when a million jemaah or more visit Madinah Al Mukarammah and do solat at the mosque.

The green dome of Masjid Nabi

 One of the gates where jemaah enter the mosque. This is 'Babsalam' gate.


Among the doors and emblems that surround the mosque

In the interior section of the mosque you would find all things arranged neatly and orderly


Wall to wall carpeted  with the 'Koran' neatly arranged on shelves and fully access to the Jemaah 

On the open terrace of the top floor of the mosque

The open umbrella at the main court yard inside the mosque.This would be one of the first umbrella cover built in the mosque with extensions firstly 1368 - 1375H and secondly 1405 - 1414H.

  View of pillars and ceilings

It's flowering time at Madinah even in November 2010 as recorded in this photograph

Muslims who have been fortunate to visit Madinah and  have the exception of praying at Masjid Nabawi is rewarded for one  solat is equivalent to one thousand solat. In other words the reward here is greater than performing solat in other mosques excepting Al Haram. Forty solats in Masjid Nabawi are equivalent to forty thousand solats. Added a solat offered in congregation is rewarded by Allah SAW twenty five times more. Thus the forty solats will be equivalent to solats offered in five hundred years.Obviously  it is in the reward and not in number.  

We can say 'syukur' for Allah has opened His doors of Mercy by allowing us to visit Madinah al Munawarah and Masjid Nabawi again and again. Ya banyak yang merinduinya dan Al Haram dan mohon untuk kembali semula.

Let me close this writing by showing several other mosques especially in our part of the country that have contributed in no uncertain ways towards growth of Islam and the Muslim community. We had the the opportunity to visit them excepting one in Islamabad.

    Masjid Faisal Islamabad, named  after King Faisal of Saudi Arabia who funded the building. Construction began 1976 and completed 1986

 Masjid Kapitan Kling Pulau Pinang (1801)

     Masjid Melayu Lebuh Acheh Pulau Pinang (1801)

  Masjid Kristal Kuala Trengganu

Masjid Zahir Alor Setar (1914)

Masjid Sultan Singapore (1824)

        Masjid Putra Putrajaya


Masjid Agung Palembang  (1738)

Jame Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Bandar Brunei Darussalam

Allah SWT berfirman di dalam Surah al-Anbia - 107  

"Tidaklah Kami utuskan engkau ( wahai Muhammad) melainkan untuk mendatangkan kerahmatan kepada seluruh alam"

Monday, January 16, 2012


THERE ARE HUNDREDS of photographs in our keeping, recorded through the years. What do we see in them? Memories, images , recollections, historical facts etc. Many a time we just had only brief glances, dismissing those that were irrelevant and unrelated to what we were focusing at the moment. Now  looking at them again I find there are hordes of wealth and fact that we could derive rather  than  put them aside just because they don't show our own pictures or that of those that we know. Then you are only thinking only of images that you recognize or like.  

But these photos which you yourself chose to place your finger on the camera's shutter and therefore record them for posterity unless of course you have erased them off  tell lots of things.   I am thinking of  our dressing as one factor. Let's look at them and discover what we chose and how we dress. Therefore the subject  THE STORY BEHIND THE  PHOTOGRAPHS - WHAT WE WEAR depicted our choice to be seen. Particularly the children  unless the very fussy and choosy ones left all to their parents to make the choice too. Did we do right? Do we dress  them rightly?

Each one of us, depending when the photos were taken would have our own opinion, no doubt struck by the cost of things, the popularity of the moment and how much we could afford .

 This is one of my early photos recorded on a colored slide and later transferred to print. The young girl would be married with a family of her own now .It was taken in a room at Cathay Hotel Singapore 1964. Even the hotel is no more though the name still stands representing a new one at the same site. Observe the flooring and of course the dressing. No departure I think from the present choice except maybe the polka -dots cloth is not easily available. Her hair do, any mother would have loved to bind them with a rubber band.

 This is one of my favourite pictures taken with a box camera way back in 1949 when our classmates took to cycling to a sea side bungalow near Yan in Kedah about forty kilometers away from Alor Setar town. Yes we cycled on our Hercules and Raleigh bicycles. I wonder whether our parents knew where we headed too. Dressing? Your choice is as good as mine. Shirtless would be the best attire. Many known persons in the pix too. The writer is in white round neck T shirt in the middle of last row. Stripes seen to be a popular choice too. Shorts were favourite and even 'sarong 'were good choice too. Every one would remember the occasion since we were frightened away in the night and saw us cycling home the very next day.    

Wow another pretty girl who has also grown up to have a family of  her own. Picture taken in Brunei 1963. She must be a choosy lady, making sure she had socks on. Thankfully I could connect to her parents. Would little girls have choices like this still or the fashion has changed? Hair-do?  Trimmed and short.

   The mother chose to carry her baby on a safe chair attached to her bicycle. She was dressed properly in jeans and attired with a hat and a small bag strapped to her back. The cool autumn weather in Osaka Japan perhaps encouraged her to enjoy the sights of the city with the family.  

The writer was warmly clad while his Japanese volunteer tourist guide chose the proper attire to meet the weather in Osaka too. He carried a small bag containing papers etc relevant to give whatever information required if necessary. In Japan volunteer tourist guides are available upon prior notice who would accompany you to see the city or places of interest. Mind you GRATIS and you ended up with true friendship. Meanwhile a person caught in the picture seems preoccupied to have his breakfast while crossing the road.For the tourist guide you have to give advanced notice if you require their service. They had good walking shoes necessary to walk the miles when touring the city.

     Now would this the proper attire for a person serving 'nasi-kandar' at a stall? One of the client must be in a hurry as he still had his crash helmet on. Notice the choice of colors.

    Head dress for the ladies may be the right subject for this picture. The colors too seems to be a combination factor to be considered,

Yes not often we have the chance to be attired like this. The bath robe provided at a hotel I was staying in Japan helped to keep me warm and perhaps encouraged in whatever way good exercise at the computer. One of those days you seemed to have the hair combed smartly

Last but not least, I clicked the shutter and had this picture of two colleagues as they stepped out of the mosque in Canberra Australia after a Friday prayer Both have settled in Australia but attired as any one you would see at home. The gentleman on the left obviously cared for his dressing. Even his socks matched with his shirt. ha ha.The white 'kopiah' has become a popular choice, being light. 

Thank you for fleeting through the above being a departure from my normal observation but obviously a factor to think of with all the photos in our stock. A new direction at discovering their worth maybe.

Monday, January 9, 2012


          The evening sky at the Iron Mosque Putrajaya and ecstatic features of the mosque

 On Sunday 8 January 2012 we had the pleasure of attending two wedding ceremonies or more definite receptions. One was at Putrajaya and the other close to it at Bandar Baru Bangi. Both receptions were held in a hall. The former was at Dewan Seri Hindon and the latter at Dewan Akademi Percukaian. Being held in a covered hall gives advantages to the organizers or  hosts. I am not about to talk about the merits of it but want to look at the very aspects of invitation itself.

Firstly with all the prior attentions and  procedures for the engagement of the couples made, how do the hosts set down to planning the invitation of their guests? Where would the wedding reception take place? How many would be on the invited list of the host? The biggest question perhaps would be how does he go about compiling the invitation list? Mind you 'he' would be a misnomer as many other 'he' and 'she' would come into the picture. Besides the man of the house, the 'lady' would have her guest lists too. Then the bride or the bridegroom plus the other members in the family who also would not like to exclude their close friends. Not forgetting the parents of the host and hostess. At the end of the day there will be a long list indeed. It therefore becomes a norm to 'slaughter' a cow or two if all are to be invited. Such is the occasion in the 'kampong' then and even now where necessities provide. For you and I who have passed through this encounter we would be happy to know that we have not forgotten the closest of friends. If that is done then there is another occasion if the opportunity allows us to have another reception for the following son or daughter. Foremost we will give priority to our neighbours and members of the 'jemaah' of the mosque or 'surau' which we attended, followed by relatives ( closed and extended), office mates, friends and all together with their families. Well I guess it is a big predicament if you determined not to miss all the closest of families and friends.   

Next on the agenda would be the venue. Your home would be of course the best alternatives. But the huge guests list would make you decide otherwise, unless you have a palatial home.Even parking would be an issue to think about too now.

I would like to look at the format of the 'Invitation Card' as part of the order of things. From a simple one piece invitation card, it too has taken its role as an important part of the check list. The wordings and phrasing may not alter much, being fairly constant but the card and its format, size, colour and scent too may take different styles. Noticeably there is hope and expression as one notice an opening page which reads:
                                    ' Ya Allah Ya Tuhan Kami 

Kami memohon restuMu,berkatilah majlis kami ini, limpahkanlah barakah dan rahmat keatas pasangan suami isteri ini. Jadikanlah  rumahtangga mereka aman dan bahagia dalam ketaatan terhadapMu. Kurniakanlah kepada mereka zuriat yang soleh dan solehah, serta berikanlah ketenangan kepada mereka di dunia dan di akhirat. Sempurnakanlah agama mereka dengn ikatan ini. Amin Ya Rabbal A lamin   '

Much as the host feels delighted and happy to  forward the invitation for the marriage of his or her daughter, he too asks for Allah's blessings for the future of the bride and bridegroom, their well being, their steadfastness to the religion and the granting of good and religious off springs and blessings for their future. That would be followed with the invitation to attend the reception on a particular day and date and at a specific time and place. Invariably a map of the location will be added for the convenience of the guests especially if it is held not at his residence.    .

For our attendance at the above two receptions, we had to refer to the maps.   Invariably guests are invited to the reception which are often held between  12 .00 to 5.00 pm with mention of the time the bridegroom and bride would arrive. Hoping that guests will scheduled their time to be at this specific hour. Invitation to Majlis Marhaban or special prayer would have been arranged earlier with a chosen invited guests. This occasion would have been part of the program still if the function is held in the kampong and in the towns outside the capital cities. For convenience too several telephone numbers would be included in case guests would like to get explanations etc. Yes 'rsvp' is not requested. Neither is there a dress code. You could come in your normal attire or come in the best traditional dress. 

Therefore the host has to make the best of his planning especially in the preparation of dishes etc to be served. It would be a calamity if the servings should fall short of the expected number. In the kampong and suburbs where community identity and spirit still endures, reception and the preparation plus serving of the dishes for the special occasion would still be organized and prepared by the community's group who has always been trusted to come forth at such function. This would of course make for a complete participation of the neighboring members and friends.

Attendance at wedding receptions especially, continue to link the close friendships of friends, neighbours and relatives. It helps to bring about meetings of relatives and friends who may not have met each other for reasons of their own. Therefore every one concerned would attempt to attend irrespective of distance or time. The occasion of our trip to Putrajaya and Bangi with other relatives that accompanied us testify to that objective. As such we were glad to meet relatives and friends who had journeyed there from other towns and districts as well. No momentous would be more valuable then a photograph that recorded the warm meetings. All will go home with fond memories not so much of the wedding reception but the opportunities to have met uncles, aunties, grand fathers or grand mothers, cousins and nieces etc. By order of nature, perhaps the entourage could be invited to our home after the ceremony. This did happened.  

However we must remember that no amount of brilliance  in the invitation card can surmount the personal invitation by the host or hostess. They must make an effort to call at the individual homes of the closed relatives and friends.It would be excusable decades ago when transportation or communication was at its infancy. Now where motor vehicles and other means of transport are available there is no excuse. Telephone calls or 'sms' would be alternatives. Even 'emails' would be a good choice. As much as our guests take the opportunity to attend we must also be there at the front to welcome them when they arrived and departed. Such is hospitality.

The wedding reception at Putrajaya held in Dewan Siti Endon. Here we met our neighbours of Precinct 16 and also friends from Kedah itself.

                 The other reception we attended on the same day at Dewan Akademi Percukaian
    Bandar Baru Bangi. This was a family affair and you can see the closeness as all took time to have a photograph taken with the "Raja SeHari" It was more poignant to me as the father of the bridegroom was a student of mine when he was in the secondary school. Sadly he has passed away so too his parents and the children grew up with their mother. 

Our visit to the capital city gave us the opportunity to also record a few photographs of the new mosque at Putrajaya which has yet to attract jemaah and visitors as seen at Masjid Putra, the other mosque in Putrajaya.

It seems to flow into the lake beyond and thus bring the classic background as part of the backdrop to Masjid Tunku Mirzan Zainal Abidin which boasts of a no wall surroundings. Not a wadding pool but part of the mosque features.                               

    Iron everywhere and no doubt for its name. The entrance as you move in from the east into the main prayer hall for men.

                  Arches and frames that make the mosque a piece of architectural design

                                               Another view as seen from the mosque

The mosque is an integral part of the wedding ceremony too. The solemnity of the marriage ritual and vow is better done in the mosque than elsewhere else. It calls upon all to be at the mosque as at other times in the day too.It is good to see the adherence to this practice or choice.