Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Haj - There Is Always Leeway For HIS Special Guest

It was very unlikely that Sarah would hide from me about her husband's Haj pilgrimage.

Her sisters, whom we met at their mother's house, could not answer on her behalf, as Sarah is more open to me about almost everything of hers, than with them.

I had just knew that Mus, her husband, is now performing the final Islamic pillars when we went to her mother's house for Eidul Adha visit last Sunday. 


Sarah's mother was once minding my children when they were small, although she has seventeen children of her own. 
Now, after my children are all adult, our families' relationship is as good as ever. 
Until today, I tried to make a point to visit Sarah's mother, once in a month or two. 
The elderly lady never fails her yearly 'Aidilfitri visit to my house, as according to her children, I have always a very special place in their mother's heart. 

After I moved to town, not too faraway from Sarah's working place in Tropical Inn, Sarah became much closer to me as she would spent her Saturdays in my house, bringing her workmates along, always having her favourite dish, Chicken Rice. 
During the 90s, the dish was not served in many Malay foodstalls in JB, so I often cooked it as it's good for growing children too, having garlic and ginger in it. 
Now, I could not remember when was the last time since my last cooking of Chicken Rice, as it is now being sold at almost every stalls.  


When Sarah, in her early 20s, decided to marry Mus, she spent most of her decision moments at my house.

Mus, more than twenty years her senior, is very much older than Sarah's eldest sibling, and only a couple of years younger than her mother - they were married anyway, and stayed in Sarawak where Mus was stationed. 
She would drop by my place whenever she was in JB, to have her Chicken Rice. 
She came back to JB upon Mus's retirement from his high ranking government post. 

Unlike his former working colleagues who make the best of knowing the right contact, Mus, somehow, struggled with his post-retirement, for wanting to lead a clean living and earning an honest income for his five family members. 
To supplement his income, beside the monthly pension, Mus had experienced working as a pump attendant, and a gardener too. 

Today, when he is off-duty, he can usually be found in one of the mosque in his housing estate, where he volunteered his service since more than ten years ago.  


Mus had always wanted to perform his pilgrimage, possibly, with his wife too.
But with Malaysia's waiting list of 500,000 prospective pilgrims, their queue will only surface in 2024.
Sarah was worried as Mus will be in his 70s then, and she has doubt about her husband being fit to perform without difficulties.
Then, there's finance to look into.

We had to assure him, Haji Mabrur is more about our intentions and more about our hearts.
Just stay focus, set the year for our departure to visit HIS house, and the rest, soul searching...

Being one of HIS invited guest is not about quota allocated by Saudi or personal finance.
Mus very much doubted it, as much as I doubted that too - when Tabung Haji called me in 2005, to say the agency was sending my airplane ticket via Poslaju to be shown to Singapore's Islamic Council (MUIS), I was surprised too.


We talked about his much anticipated Haj during the recent 'Aidilfitri visit.
We assured him finance is not an issue, as we had assured others, who were raring to go, or whom we think duty is upon us to make their dreams come true, or to ask them, especially the elderlies with no means, to make their holy journeys.
It's not only Haj, but also when filial duty or responsibilities are severed because of living difficulties.

InsyaALLAH there is always ways for the insufficence to be met, but Mus was severely depressed when his application was being turned down by Tabung Haji again.


I called Sarah on Monday.
She is still in a state of shock and disbelieve as she related her story.

She is confused about informing others of her husband's Haj pilgrimage, lest, as she said, others would think she is bragging about it.
I had to assure her that informing others of our journey to visit HIS house is not about bragging, as I would usually go to her  mother's house informing the lady about my journey.

I had to tell her, upon Mus's return, it is now her husband's duty, to inform her sixteen siblings with their spouses, of their duty to complete their pillars.
Most of them should have been there many years ago, as it is only Sarah and her eldest sister who are with only a house and a car.
The rest, with at least two houses and at least two cars.


Towards the end of last month, as usual, Mus was in the mosque in which he is a volunteer. 

A man whom he had never met, not even once, approached him, asking him if he had done his pilgrimage. 
When he said he had never been there, the man offered to send him, convinced him that he did his pilgrimage, yearly.

It puzzled Mus as it has been years that he is waiting for his turn with bated breath, and here, the man in front of him, is there every year. 
Nevertheless, he went to Tabung Haji again, and again, his application was being turned down - most Malaysian pilgrims were already in The Holy Cities. 

The next day, Mus received a call from the man, telling him there were two available vacancies for 2010 Haj via a private agency in KL. 
Mus was hesitant initially, as part of the amount of RM13,000 by Tabung Haji is already too much for the man he did not even know his name, to bear. 
Now, the figure of RM19,000. 
But Mus was immediately asked to make a passport and to go for injection. 

Sarah was all along in a state of awe, could not think of what is next to be done. 
As she said, both husband and wife could not think straight.
Even the feast for well-wishers, few days before her husband's departure, was prepared by the wives of the mosque's committee members. 
Beside her husband's few friends who attended the kenduri, there were many more whom she had never met. 


Mus went to Tabung Haji again, this time, not to ask about quota, but to ask about the RM4,000 which the well wishers presented him. 
He had asked around, and there were too many contradicted versions of what to do with the money. 
Only when one of the Tabung Haji's officer assured him that the money is rightfully his, he did not have to spent it all in The Holy Places, he can  either use it for his family's need, or save it if he wished to, then his mind was at peace for, he had always wanted to lead a clean living and earning an honest income for his five family members. 
He decided to leave the RM4,000 with Sarah knowingly, she needed it more than he can spend it all.


A day before his departure, they were all at home, waiting for Sarah's sixteen siblings with their spouses to turn up, but none did.
Mus is an only child and his parents were no more around.
They went to visit Sarah's mother before night fall as Mus had to leave for Senai Airport early in the morning.

The next day after Subuh, the man who made possible of Mus's pilgrimage, turned up at their house early in the morning, before everyone else did.
He handed RM4,000 to Mus, this time, for his pocket money in The Holy Cities.
He left not long before Mus's friends and the mosque congregation turned up to see him off to Senai Airport early this month.

Until Sarah reached home from Senai Airport, there were still no sight of her sixteen siblings with their spouses.

*** Some changes made.


Uncle Lee said...

Hi Ummie, x'cuse me, but Sarah's mother has WHAT?
17 children? Is that a typo error, the one infront of the seven? Ha ha.
And all from one husband? Just joke joke.
Holy Smoke! Their house sure ada traffic jam, especially in the mornings pergi bathroom, ha ha.

That must be some kind of Maternity Olympic record.
That 17 kids sure got me, ha ha.
Have a nice day, Lee.

Anak Mak said...

Salam Ummie
Very deep indeed.
Yr post always refresh my hope. You see I've been to most countries in the past 30 yrs (some 4 to 5 times) but not Mecca (maybe I didn't try hard enough?). It saddens me that I'm not 'invited'. But then Allah knows best. It could be I'm not 'prepared', maybe the family & mum neesds me more, maybe .... maybe ....
Thanks Ummie.

Ummie said...

Yes, Mr Lee, seventeen, all from one husband - no twins, one child at a time.
12 boys & 5 girls - Sarah is among the youngest.
The husband, a bachelor, did not mind her divorced status as she is a very good woman with a very big heart whom the ex-husband failed to see.


Envy you (serious), Anak Mak - 30 countries when I only get to travel (I like travelling) the world with only the Travelling Channel.
Anyway, 1st time Haj is just like daily prayers, we have to slot it somewhere in between our busy schedule.

Al-Manar said...

I wonder why many have to wait lifetime for their turn when some seem to be able to do haj just like going for a normal overseas trip.
I matvel at the number siblings your friend has.