Monday, October 31, 2011

Our Children's Education, At Its Best ?

Pilot project for vocational training

SINGAPORE: A total of 50 schools have been selected to carry out a pilot project offering a subject on basic vocational training for students entering secondary school, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.
Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, also said the subject would be offered to students in Form One to Form Three beginning next year and would be on a voluntary basis.
“We will issue them with certificates and if they want to continue after that, they can pursue vocational training until diploma level,” he said, adding that the subject would be taught during school hours.
He said the ministry had adequate manpower to teach the subject.
Quizzed: Muhyiddin (middle) asking hospitality student Michelle Yap (left) during his visit to the Institute of Technical Education.
Muhyiddin reiterated that this project was in line with plans to carry out a transformation of the existing vocational training model being used in the country.
He added that the ministry was keen to learn from Singapore’s model as, presently, 20% of those entering the republic’s schooling system opted for vocational training.
“At the moment, 70% of their vocational courses are based on practical applications while 30% involves theory.
“Although the Singaporean model is different, we are interested to learn from them as they started early,” he said during a press conference after his two-day official visit to the island nation recently.
While in Singapore, he visited the Institute of Technical Education College West to find out more about its vocational training.
During his trip, Muhyiddin had inspected the Tuas South Incineration Plant.
He said Malaysia would have to follow Singapore’s steps to build such incinerators as part of its long-term measures to manage solid waste in the country.
“Back home we have a lot of challenges, especially managing people’s concerns whenever we decide to build such a plant.
“But whatever system we use, it will be the best as in Singapore. They not only dispose of their waste this way, but also generate electricity with it,” he added.
On other matters discussed during the visit, Muhyiddin said all issues agreed by both countries, especially with regards to the handing over of KTMB land in Tanjung Pagar, the handing over of the Singapore water treatment plant to Johor and the development of property projects, were proceeding as planned.
“One issue that both parties have agreed to take to a mediator is the development charges imposed on certain pieces of land in Singapore,” he said.
Earlier, at dinner with about 250 Malaysians living in Singapore, Muhyiddin called for citizens to return home and contribute their skills to the country’s development.
He said the country was in need to professionals and those with these skills should think about returning to Malaysia.
“It is good that you have served the Singaporean community. Now it is time to think about Malaysia.
“There are many avenues for you, especially through Talent Corp,” he said in his speech during the dinner.
Muhyiddin added that talent is needed to fill at least three million jobs that will be created through the various economic and transformation models being carried out by the government.

Source: The Star - Saturday, October 29, 2011


Where we have gone wrong in education

DEPUTY Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has indicated a desire to learn from Singapore’s vocational and technical education.
May I point out that success in any field at higher levels does not happen in isolation?
A lot of work has to be done at the foundation so as to pave the way for such achievements to occur.
Trying to emulate whatever is happening at the top level without first scrutinising and doing the same at the foundation is bound to lead to failure.
As far as the Singapore model is concerned, it does not take much to see what they have been doing at the foundation.
At a very simplistic level and one that is obvious to all but those who refuse to see:
> HAVE only one national education system that caters to all;
> MEDIUM of instruction – English; and
> PAY the teachers well to attract the best to enter the profession.
Do we not realise that what Malaysia has done and is doing is directly the opposite to the above?
This is our situation:
> OUR education system is split: There exists national schools which are primarily Malay medium, national-type Chinese and Tamil schools, and private ones which cater to parents who want their children to have the advantage of learning in English.
> MULTIPLE mediums of instruction in school which multiply the difficulties for our children when they enter institutions of higher learning because of the lack of fluency in English, which is the medium used in most universities abroad.
And now with the imminent reversal of PPSMI, the problem of poor fluency in English in subjects for which a command of the language is of utmost importance in order to ensure progress will resurface.
> LOW and unattractive salary scale for the teaching profession.
The notion of trying to overcome problems by tackling the issue(s) at the wrong level is evident in the way the Government is trying to instill racial integration through programmes like National Service.
Does it make sense to tell the youth at age 17 or 18 to learn to live together with other races in harmony when they’ve lived out their entire formative years in racial isolation in schools which have segregated a majority of them by race?
Save the money currently being poured into National Service and use it to reboot the failing school system.
Put our children together in schools where, from a young age, they can interact with all races and a natural outcome of this will be racial integration.
Listen to the voices of Malaysians united across the racial divide, encompassing all ages, over the request to continue PPSMI for the benefit of our future generations.
Then maybe young Malaysians in future will instead have the upper hand and be able to teach the Singaporeans a thing or two about education instead of being condemned to lag behind them forever.
As a matter of interest, can the public be informed as to which schools the children/grandchildren of the politicians, who are against the PPSMI, are in?
If the PPSMI is not retained, can it be made mandatory for them to be enrolled in the national school so as to be able to get the “best” education possible for them?             
Kuala Lumpur.

Source: The Star - Sunday, October 30,2011

Don’t tinker with PPSMI

I REFER to the letter “Where we have gone wrong in education” (Sunday Star, Oct 30). I cannot agree with her more.
The Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, on an official visit to Singapore, sang praises about the vocational and technical education system in Singapore.
Did he fail to realise that as a whole, parents in Malaysia are envious of the good education system in Singapore?
It is not only vocational education alone that is worth emulating. The schools in Singapore are well funded, teachers are motivated, the standard of teaching is high.
But more importantly, they teach in English, the language of science, commerce, and diplomacy of the 21st century.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) ranks consistently as one of the top 30 universities in the world.
Universiti Malaya, the precursor institution of NUS before the two universities split in the 1960’s, struggles to stay within the top 200, despite numerous attempts by many vice-chancellors to improve its ranking.
This is an example of how our education system has deteriorated. It is all because of meddling by our politicians since the early 1960s.
Now we know why there are bus loads of school children crossing the check point in Johor Baru at 4am every morning.
Not something that you would want for your children if you do not believe that studying in English gives them an edge in the job market.
I cannot understand the statement made by Muhyiddin yesterday, that it would be ‘kucar kacir’ (chaotic) if parents are given the choice to choose the medium of instruction for Science and Maths.
This situation arose only because of the Education Ministry’s weak position on Teaching of Science and Maths in English.
I could sense that the level of English among our teenagers was improving because of this policy.
Malay, Chinese and Indian kids no longer give you a blank look when you speak to them in English.
The children themselves agree that their English is improving. So what if we do not have enough competent English teachers for now?
The teachers’ English proficiency will definitely improve over time.
Do not underestimate our children’s ability to cope on their own, with the help of the Internet, tons of study materials are available in English compared to Bahasa, and also the fervour of the parents helping their children with school work. We need at least 20 years to see results.
An entire generation of school children will benefit if this policy is carried through with strong will.
Unfortunately, our Cabinet, together with the ministry, saw it fit to again tinker with something that works, pandering to grouses of a few short-sighted Malay and Chinese educationists and numerous obscure pressure groups who may not even have school-going children!
I also find it extremely hypocritical that our ministers and senior politicians have no shame when they mention that their children are studying in international schools instead of national schools.
Why the need to study in international schools? Is it not because they can learn in English?
Why is the future of our children less important than theirs?
I urge the Deputy Prime Minister and his colleagues in the Cabinet to think again for the future of other people’s children, and do not back track on this policy of teaching of Science and Maths in English.
It is the only semblance of a good education the average child can hope for in this country.
Kuala Lumpur.

Source: The Star - Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Singaporeans Only

Johor moots quicker immigration checks for Singaporeans
By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal October 29, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 — The Johor Immigration Department is now providing mobile counters to allow Singaporeans to register for a biometric system which will get them through immigration checkpoints quicker, the Singapore Straits Times said yesterday.
Introduced in 2009 to attract investors to the Johor Iskandar region, the Malaysia Automated Clearance System (Macs) was extended to all Singaporeans and permanent residents earlier this year.

A statue of the Merlion, a symbol of Singapore, is seen illuminated in front of the city-state’s financial district at dusk in Singapore. The Immigration Department is making it easier for Singaporeans to enter Malaysia. — Reuters pic
For RM30 (S$12), applicants for the biometric system will get a special sticker with a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip attached to their passport, valid for a year, which allows them to use dedicated lanes at immigration checkpoints and bypass filling out immigration forms. Registration would take only five minutes, state director Nasri Ishak was quoted as saying in the report.
The mobile counters, open between 10am and 10pm, are located in the City Square Johor Baru shopping complex, Giant Hypermarket in Tampoi, Jaya Jusco in Tebrau and Holiday Plaza and will be open till November 15.
Last year, tourists from Singapore made up more than half the 24.6 million visitors to Malaysia. Visitors from Singapore made some 13 million trips, an increase of 2.4 per cent from 2009.
The Johor Immigration Department made headlines on June 14 when two Singaporean women, who had intended to drive to Johor Baru for supper, were questioned by immigration officials, handcuffed, thrown behind bars and made to do squats while naked.
The two women claimed they drove through uninspected because the immigration lane was unmanned, and that no one answered the intercom.
Following their punishment, they were allowed to return to Singapore after 48 hours with a warning.
Both women have reportedly vowed never to return to Malaysia after the incident, which drew criticism from Malaysian opposition MPs who called the act “humiliating and ridiculous.”
The Singapore government has that it has not ended the probe into allegations that the two women were forced to perform nude squats by Malaysian immigration officers.
Singapore said it was told on September 9 by the Malaysian High Commission “that a thorough investigation of the case had been completed.

Source: The Malaysian Insider

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thousand Years Later, A Letter, Rightfully Delivered

When the people of Madinah, the Ansar (the Patrons), heard that Prophet Muhammad sollallaahu alaihi wa sallam was coming to Madinah from Makkah on His Hijrah in 622 AD, they started making preparations for his arrival.
The Ansar cleaned the streets and spring cleaning their houses.
All of them wanted Muhammad s.a.w. to be welcomed into their houses.

To overcome the generosity of Ansar, The Prophet s.a.w. came up with a proposal.
His camel was to rein free.
The camel was let loose.
Let his camel go its own way for the ship of the desert is guided by its CREATOR.

When the camel finally knelt, Rasulullah s.a.w. did not dismount.
Up on its feet, went down the streets ambling for some distance, it then turned back and knelt at the same spot as before.
Adjacent to the spot where the camel knelt was the house of Abu Ayyub Ansori rodhiallaahu 'anhu.

Abu Ayyub r.a. quickly lifted the saddle from the camel and took it home.
Rasulullah s.a.w., with his sense of humour, remarked that
'A man must follow his saddle,”
He followed Abu Ayyub r.a.
Masjidin Nabwi was then built on that very spot where the camel stopped.

Born in 576 AD as Khalid bin Zaid bin Kulaib, Abu Ayyub r.a. hailed from the tribe of Bani Najjar.
Aptly called Abu Ayyub, as an indication he's the father of Ayyub.

Rasulullah s.a.w. stayed in Abu Ayoob r.a.'s house for seven months until the erection of Masjidin Nabawi had completed.
Ironically, the house was built for Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. by the king of Yemen, Tab’a Awwal Hamiri, a thousand years earlier.


Muhammad s.a.w., saw the servant of the house was approaching him.
The Prophet s.a.w asked if the servant of the house is Abu Laila.
Abu Laila (father of Laila) was surprised, having his name mentioned by Rasulullah s.a.w. who had just came from Makkah.
But knew his name.

The Prophet s.a.w. continued that He's the Messenger of ALLAH.
He wanted to have His letter which was sent by the then king of Yemen, Tab’a Awwal Hamiri.
It was written a thousand years earlier.
Abu Laila was asked to bring the letter, which he had been entrusted to, for safekeeping.

He appeared before Rasulullah s.a.w. with the letter.
It had been passed down from generation to generation for over a thousand years from King Tab’a Awwal Hamiri.
After Rasulullah s.a.w was presented the letter, upon acknowledging it, He congratulated the pious GOD's servant Tab’a Awwal Hamiri.

The letter from King Hamiri stated that he pledged his faith in Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and in the Book (Qur'an) that will be revealed to this Prophet.
He follows the path of Muhammad's religion.

If he is fortunate enough to see Rasulullah s.a.w., then it will be a great pleasure for him.
If it is not possible, he request Prophet Muhammad s.a.w for His intercession (Syafa'ah).
Not to forget him on Judgement Day.

The king believe in Muahammad s.a.w.'s Prophethood.
He pledged his spiritual allegiance (Bai'ah) in advance, before Rasulullah s.a.w.'s arrival.
He, Tab’a Awwal Hamir, swear that there is only one ALLAH and that Muhammad s.a.w. is HIS true Messeger.

******      ******      ******

About 2500 years ago, the king of Yemen, Tab’a Awwal Hamiri, went on a tour in his kingdom, and its neighbouring countries.
In the entourage of this rich king, with him, were 12,000 knowledgeable men ('Alims) and physicians, including 113,000 soldiers.
Wherever they went, people would gather and lined the roadsides to watch and welcome them.
There were much pomp and ceremony.
There were always great procession for these men and soldiers.

But when this entourage reached the outskirts of Makkah, no one came to welcome them to the valley town in the desert.
The king was greatly surprised.
He asked his chief minister,
'Where have all gone to, instead of gathering together in droves to welcome them?'

The minister replied that there is a house in the town Baitullah. 
All folks have great respect for it.
The king's entourage has no comparison to it.
Not only neighbouring people, but from far flung places, came for their pilgrimage to Baitullah.
Everybody, poor and peasants, will show no importance to the wealthy or their rulers.
They show more importance, they have greater respect to the Holy House, Baitullah.

The king was furious when he heard the statement.
He declared that he will raze the House to the ground and will kill all the people living in Makkah.

Just after he said that, blood started oozing from his eyes, mouth and nose.
Men in his entourage kept their distance from their own king.
They wanted to stay away from the nonstop oozing blood.

He was sleepless nights after nights.
His condition worsened.
Doctors and physicians were unable to provide the best treatment for their king.
Nobody could help nor provide the badly needed treatment.
But the king wanted to be treated by any means and at any cost.

One of the GOD fearing physician amongst the king's entourage inspected him.
Upon taking his pulse, the physician claimed that the cause of the king's bad condition is about spirituality.
No other form of medicines will work on him.

If the king harbours evil intention, his condition will not improve.
But will probably worsened.
If the king abort his ill intention, he will be forgiven.
His misery will be alleviated.

The GOD fearing physician advised his king to take back his ill intention of wanting to destroy the Ka'bah and killing the valley's folks.
The king should repent, asking forgiveness from the Almighty GOD.

Taking the GOD fearing physician's advice, the king did what he was advised to do.
He needed treatment at any cost.

Soon after he repented, blood stopped spurting from his eyes, mouth and nose.
Miraculously, he was completely cured.

Happy with the recovery, he ordered Ka'bah to be covered with silk material.
He presented gold and silk clothings for all residents of Makkah valley.


The entourage continued their journey to Yathrib (Madinah).
The knowledgeable men, those 'Alims had studied Books that had revealed the Prophets who had come earlier before them, and the yet to come Prophet too.
Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.'s Hijrah from Makkah to Madinah is also indicated in these Books.

They went around Yathrib, the other Holy Land that is blessed.
They were overwhelmed with joy having stepped on the sacred land.
They wished to live their lives in Yathrib.
If opportunity arise, GOD Willing, they would meet the Beloved Prophet s.a.w.
Or, at least, The Prophet s.a.w. would visit their graves.

The king, after consultations and advice from his knowledgeable men, made his decision to build 400 homes for his men who wished to stay in Yathrib.
He left financial support for these 400 'Alims who decided to stay behind.
He asked for a house for Rasulullah s.a.w. to be built too.

He left instructions that Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. is to stay at that house, should Muhammad s.a.w. land in Madinah.
He requested the senior among his 'Alim to present his letter to The Prophet s.a.w., when He eventually comes to Madinah.

But should the 'Alim die earlier before Rasulullah s.a.w.'s arrrival, the letter should be kept and passed on.
The 'Alim's generation will present it to Rasulullah s.a.w.

Generation after generation of the Chief 'Alim, the letter was treasured.
From the initial 400, the number of these 'Alims families, children and their offspring had grown.
They now formed a large community in Yathrib.
Abu Ayyub r.a. (tomb above, in Turkey. Source: Today's Zaman) possessed the letter.
He's the descendent of the Chief 'Alim.
He handed it to his servant, Abu Laila for safekeeping.
Abu Laila then delivered it to Rasulullah s.a.w., the rightful owner.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Haj - GOD, Accept Our Prayers

Turkish pilgrims embark on Haj, pray for quake victims

Van residents who were about to leave for Haj make prayers for earthquake victims.    

Turkish earthquake survivors drew strength from their Muslim faith as they set off on an annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca, keeping in their prayers loved ones they had lost or left behind seeking shelter from the wet, wintry weather.   
In all, some 900 pilgrims were expected to make the long pilgrimage from Van in southeastern Turkey, to the holy city of Mecca, despite the tremor on Sunday that has killed at least 534 people and left thousands homeless. 
"We're going with a different feeling now," said Suat, a cleanly-shaved man in his late 30s, worried about his family now living in a tent, as he waited in the small departure hall of Van Airport on Thursday. 
He was among a group of around 100 pilgrims writing to embark a plane for İstanbul, on the first leg of their trip. A frantic, noisy crowd of relatives filled the hall to see them off. 
"We are overwhelmed, we will pray for our families. I will pray that the weather will not be so cold," Suat added, as those without shelter in the devastated towns and villages in eastern Turkey risked being drenched by freezing rain. 
Having been lucky enough to have been allocated one of the limited number of seats granted to Turkey under a quota Saudi Arabia awards each Muslim country for the Haj, the pilgrims did not want to lose their chance. 
They had planned their trip months in advance and what is already a special experience for all pious Muslims has gained extra poignancy for those who have witnessed the destruction in the last four days.
In contrast to the desperate and mournful expressions etched on the faces of people across Van province, the pilgrims had looks of hope and devotion in their eyes as they embarked on a journey which is one of the five pillars of Islam. 
"My biggest prayer will be for Van and for my family left behind. I will ask God not to punish us anymore with these earthquakes," said Fevzi Gürkaynak, 61, whose house was damaged though not destroyed by the quake. 
Survivors in Van pleaded for more tents on Thursday, fearing death from cold after the tremor left thousands sleeping in the open. Hopes of finding more survivors have faded. 
A lot of the pilgrims were elderly, the majority men. 
Many of the male pilgrims wore loose-fitting light brown trousers and jackets, bearing a badge emblazoned with the Turkish flag for identification. Once in İstanbul they will change into the white ihram garment which male pilgrims are required to wear.  
Some female pilgrims wore white headscarves and long light-brown dresses. 
Turkey's religious affairs directorate has arranged to take 500 people on the pilgrimage, with private companies taking another 400, Mehdi Kulaz from the Haj department of the local religious authority told Reuters. 
He said three pilgrims had not been able to make the journey because they had lost close relatives or their homes in the quake. 
Another pilgrim, Zait Sönmez, said his house had emerged unscathed but a nephew was missing. 
"My nephew was under some wreckage and they haven't been able to pull him out. May God give strength to our state, our nation and rescue people. I will pray for my country. May God forgive us," he said. 

Source: Today's Zaman - Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wicked Mother-In-Law At Work

While placing one of his finger at Tina*'s neck, Ustaz recited his selawat.
Tina's facial expression showed she was cringing with great pain, her eyeballs looked up, her four limbs were all struggling.
She had started the opening of her silat, the Malay self defence.

"Engkau siapa? Siapa hantar engkau? Kenapa kacau Tina?" 
Ustaz continued with her ruqyah verses.
Questions after questions, verses after versus from the Qur'an were recited.

The jinn inside Tina could not take the  life threatening episode any longer.
It began to cry and promised to leave Tina's body.
Ustaz told the unseen being if it is to disturb Tina again, Ustaz will seek GOD's permission to kill it.

After Tina was better, she said she kept seeing the dukun who used to visit her mother-in-law.
As far as she knows, the traditional Malay healer is only a family friend.

But she was in a suspicious environment not long after marriage and staying with her in-laws.
Many frightening dreams and incidences had happened.
Worst of all, a great weight had blocked her breathing.
She was always at the brink of death.   

The first night at her in-laws' house, Tina already had nightmare.
Sleep disturbances were frequent, until they moved to their own home.
If not, she would often feel the presence of her husband beside her, although she knew that he was still at work.

Tina was not allowed to prepare morning coffee for her husband, nor preparing dinner for the family.
She knew, she had seen without her mother-in-law's knowledge, that the mother would blow into the plate of hot rice from which her husband will then eat.
She found it odd upon checking the kitchen cabinet, there were portions of sugar and salt, tied in small plastics.


The jinn inside Tina had agreed to become a Muslim.
After syahadah was recited for the conversion, it is not supposed to return to its master.
It will stay at the 'said' mosque where it will have to attend tazkirah, learning to become a better GOD's creature.
It is not to become human's slave.


"Ummie tak bawak balik ke air tu? 
Dah puas cari dalam kereta. Tak adalah."
Tina asked about the water that Ustaz had asked her to bath with.
I knew I did not bring it home with me.

She called Ustaz asking about the matter.
He said that the jinn's owner had send 'someone' to take it away.
The owner was furious knowing her slave has turned against her.

In the meantime, Tina is to recite Ta'aawuz a thousand times daily, and
Laa Ilaaha Illallaah.Wahdahu Laa Syariikalah.
Lahul Mulku Wa Lahul Hamd.
Yuhyii WaYumiit. WaHuwa 'Alaa Kullii Syai'in Qodiir.

Tina knows her mother-in-law always wanted her dead.
Often her husband's nephews and nieces told her that their grandmother likes this particular someone to be her daughter-in-law.
Until today, all family members know that the grandmother still harbours her dream.       

The Haj - We Are No Judges

Transvestite hajj: Sukisno aka Novi (right), a hajj pilgrim from Bojonegoro, East Java walked out from a rest room at the King Abdul Aziz Airport, Jeddah to perform hajj on Sunday night. Sukisno, a beauty salon business person, admitted his transvestite status and planned to learn Islam totally after the hajj.
Sukisno aka Novi, a hajj pilgrim from Bojonegoro, East Java walked out from a rest room at the King Abdul Aziz Airport, Jeddah to perform hajj on Sunday night.
Sukisno, a beauty salon business person, admitted his transvestite status and planned to learn Islam totally after the hajj. (Antara/Prasetyo Utomo)

Source: The Jakarta Post - October 24, 2011 


Before the scheduled date when I was to follow S back to her hometown in Lampung, Indonesia, she called to say she had to return home immediately. 
Her father had passed away in Mecca. 
So, her mother returned home at a much earlier date.
Neither her husband nor her children tagged along. 

S had planned for me to meet her village teacher when her parents will be from their Haj last year


The first time I met S, was at Masjid Raya not far from Batam Centre. 
I was seeing my friend for the last time before she and her husband perform their Haj, in 2006. 
S was sending off her father-in-law. 

S was initially sceptical about Singaporeans. 
Based on what she heard and read, Singaporeans are all about abc - abusive, being bossy, and cheaters.
What's more, her niece who had been working in Singapore for four years as a maid is yet to return home. 
S believed the girl was abused, tortured, and her salary was never paid.

It was only after I brought S around, she was taken for an initial shock seeing Indonesian maids with latest  handphones and fast texting fingers.
They gathered together, chatting their working hours away, while waiting for children at play.

We then went to hotspot City Plaza.
Many were dolled-up, many wore revealing clothing with jewellery.

S realised, these maids are not up to innocently nothing when many were accompanied by their male Bangladeshi friends.
After several trips to Singapore, and S get to know of married maids having relationship with not only foreign workers, but multiple Singaporean partners who support them, providing them cash, topping-up their phonecards, S realised her wrong perception of Singaporeans.

From then on, we became closer.


It was after two years of knowing S that she disclosed her father's predicament.

Her father had been the backbone of his family since he was able to carry loads.
The eldest in his family, responsibility was loaded on his both shoulders before he could understand the meaning of problem.
What's more problem solving.
Since her father became a man before he was even a boy, as a small built farmer, workloads he carried on his shoulder were usually more than any ordinary men able to handle.

Both S's parents were from the same village.
Her mother's parents married off their daughter (S's mother) to the man.
They knew their daughter will be in good hand, having a hardworking husband.

Too hardworking S's father was, until his body gave away.
He became a very old man in his 30s, and had lost all ability to work.
No energy left in his body.
He could not even sit down without being assisted, what's more to stand up.
Doctors just advised him to rest at home.
But as a farmer, there were 1001 things to be done.
They turned to traditional healer, who inserted susuk or charm needle, to support her father's body, for his health and mobility.


About 30 years on, the old man was advised to remove the foreign object before he reached the Holy Land.

On one hand, S knew it is religiously wrong to have susuk implanted in one's body.
But on the other, it is used for medicinal purpose, nothing to do for vanity.

I brought this matter to my eldest sister.
The susuk reminded her of a Singaporean female who had the object inserted into her knees, for health reason, after her long stay in hospital.

******      ******      ******

The susuk was not removed when the father left for Haj to complete the last pillar of his faith.
He had worked too hard to make a decent living.
Now, before his death, this ultimate goal needs a scoring too.
He wanted to step the spiritual path, the spiritual journey to reach HIM.
The journey that had been taken by just mere physical creatures who are all owned by THE ONE beyond the material world.

He wanted to see the Ka'abah.
Ka'abah is very inviting.
The very inviting Baitullah invites all sincere guests.
Its OWNER Selects HIS guests.
The father wanted to be one of them. 

Baitullah is gravititional.
It has Its own unique pulling force.
That ALLAH's Possession was always in his mind, forever appearing in front of his eyes.

The father wanted to perform tawaf.
He wanted to be part of the whirling scene, like the obedient orbiting planets, never straying away from the designated path, before The CREATOR call off the day.

The father wanted to be present during wukuf, the world's greatest spiritual assembly.
Never mind the susuk inside him.
He wanted to be truthful to himself.
He wanted to lay bare his heart and soul for HIM to see.
HE Who Creates, Knows what's inside HIS mere creation.
The old man brought with him plentiful requests...

After performing their Haj, few days before the scheduled flight home, S's mother was doing her last minute shopping for souvenirs when news reached her that her husband had passed away in his sujud position while praying.

A new chapter in one of GOD's creation had opened.
His journey continues...       

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gaddafi's Wealth And Harun Ar-Rasyid's Drinks

69 year-old Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year rule had ended.
He was found and being pulled out from a sewage drain.

Reports suggest that Gaddafi apparently had an estimated over US$200 billion, spread in bank accounts, real estate, corporate investments and gold, hidden away around the world.
He has some US$125 billion more than Mexican businessman Carlos Slim, whom Forbes estimates to be the world's wealthiest person.
Gaddafi had an Airbus A340 private jet.
It was used to repatriate Abdul Baset Ali Al-Megrahi, upon his release from prison in Scotland in 2009.

Eight-month uprising in Libya is hoped to end, with the ruler's horrible death.
After his death, Gaddafi's body was laid on a mattress in a cold storage, in an old meat store on Friday.
The place was formerly used for meat and other produce in Misrata's old market area.

Gaddafi was discovered hiding in a drainage culvert under a roadway.
The fallen strongman was dragged, beaten, and pushed around, but very much alive when he was found.
He was losing a lot of blood and his aged body could not bear with it.
He was begging for mercy.
The desperate Libyan leader begged for his life by offering gold and money before he was killed.
He was willing to offer anything in exchange for his life - Money and gold exchanged if his life was spared.

Instead of talking about money, as a Muslim, he was told to pray for his soul to be entrusted to God before dying.
But he just kept saying he was ready to give away his lots and lots of money and gold.
He kept pleading for life despite being ridiculed.
He was reminded to pray like a good Muslim before dying rather than lowering his self-esteem.


Khalifah Harun Ar-Rashyid, born in Rey, Iran, between 763 - 766, was the fifth Abbasiyah ruler in Iraq, from 786 to 809.

He was intellectually, politically and militarily resourceful.
During his reign, scientific, cultural and religious prosperity were significant.
Baghdad flourished into the most splendid city of its period. 
He established the legendary library Baitul Hikmah, or House of Wisdom.

The ruler often asked for advice from his men, from time to time.
There was once when Khalifah was sitting in his palace court when he became very thirsty.
He asked for a glass of water.

An eminent preacher, Ibn Sammaak, who was then visiting Khalifah Harun Ar-Rasyid, asked the ruler,
'If he is in the heart of the desert anywhere in his kingdom, 
and he is about to die from thirst 
and is refused that glass of drink, 
would he bargain for it with half of his kingdom?'

To that question, Khalifah said `Yes.'

After finishing the drink, Ibn Sammaak followed up with another question,
'If that water stopped in his bladder due to some sickness, 
then Khalifah is unable to discharge the drink from his body, 
would Khalifah be paying another half of his throne just to be able to extricate it?'

Again, Khalifah answered, `Yes.'

Ibn Sammaak then said,  
"The kingdom is worth one glass of water. 
So is the urine that is produced from it. 
What use is it to be proud of immense wealth!"

When Khalifah Harun Ar-Rasyid heard this statement, he went silent before he cried out loud fearing GOD.

Khalifah should show gratuity, not pride,with the kingdom he was entrusted to.
Khalifah should not be deceived by his whole kingdom which he valued it to just his double glass of water.

What does Khalifah desires from his throne, when he himself, equates it to what he had drank and just relieved.

Nights and days, we drink and we relieve ourselves, without GOD asking anything in return.

The World, With Whatever In It,  Has No Value
When It Is Devoid Of Faith. 

When Faith Is Lost, 
So Is Inner Peace.

If Inner Peace Has No Soul,
It Is Not Enlivened By HIM
WHO Enlightened Whoever HE Pleases.

Pleased With Living Lives
Living With Faith 
The Very Substance Of Inner Peace.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nyai Roro Kidul In JB ?

N* had resumed her work.
She called me yesterday, promising to massage my feet for free.

She had been experiencing breathing difficulties for the past three months.
Even after several visits to the doctor, the breathing problem did not go away.
There is nothing wrong with her, according to the doctor.
She was not able to go to work, even to perform her daily prayers, for that three months.

Two weeks ago, she experienced suffocation.
Then she was not herself.

Nyai Roro Kidul painted by Basuki Abdullah  

The spirit of Nyai Roro Kidul had entered her body.
Nyai Roro Kidul, that legendary 'Ratu Laut Selatan', Queen of the Southern Sea of Javanese mythology, is in JB?
Hard to believe, I said, during the first time I heard about it.

She claimed that the Sultan of Yogyakarta, Hamingkubuwono (1 - 10? Or only one of them? I did not ask) is her husband.

Nyai Roro Kidul has other different names too.
Sometime, she is referred to, as 'Gusti Kanjeng Ratu Kidul'
To the royal palace, 'Keraton' of Surakarta, she is 'Kanjeng Ratu Ayu Kencono Sar'.

My Late Father used to tell stories of her, which I had mostly forgotten by now.
But N's incident reminded me of a documentary I watched few years back.

A group of university students went to make their own research on Nyai Roro Kidul.
They went to Samudra Beach Hotel at Pelabuhan Ratu in West-Java.
Roro Kidul's green room, numbered 308, is well kept.

They were supposed just to make a visit, without touching any items that is in the room.
But one of the student, just took the comb that was placed in-front of the mirror, and started combing his hair, without prior permission from the caretaker.

Not long after, putting on a green T-shirt, he told one of his friend that he was going for a walk into the sea.
The friend who watched him from the hotel room  felt uneasy.
The said friend walked not along the beach, but he walked straight to the vast ocean, as if heading towards someone.
His dead body was later found by the search and rescue team in the sea.

It is a well-known legendary fact that Nyai Roro Kidul has always like green.
Men putting on green at the beach, most likely, will be pulled towards the sea and swept away by waves.
A number of them were never found, believed to have become her slaves.


Last Saturday, the spirit of Nyai Roro Kidul  was in N again.

She came, accompanied by the beat of 'Kuda Lumping' or 'Kuda Kepang' as it is known here.
Claiming herself  to be a Buddhist, many of her generations had become well-known, living their lives helping others.
One of them is now with a church, living his good and rich life in Jakarta.

Although N is a Muslim, it is ok for her, as N is her seventh generation.
She chooses N because of her good-heartedness, that makes Nyai wanted to help her to help others.

She warned N's husband, she would go after him if he is to mistreat N.
She touched many issues of N's marital lives.

She knew N wanted to return to Solo this coming Eidul 'Adha.
She named N's relatives back home, whom N has to meet.

She spoke at length non-stop, for more than two hours, of N's good deeds.
Now, Nyai will stay in N's body, never wanting to leave her again.
Nyai said, N has many known 'friends' who envy her.


It was the third time that the spirit of Nyai Roro Kidul entered N.
Whenever Nyai entered her body, it was almost deathlike experience for N with excruciating pain and suffocation.
She was unable to perform her daily prayers.

N just wanted to lead a normal life, massaging others.
It is all true what Nyai had said.
She did not deny that she is the seventh generation of Nyai Roro Kidul.

But N knows that whatever goodness had Nyai, her earlier generation, had brought to her - bear in mind - the spirit of Nyai Roro Kidul is a Buddhist.
Whereas N is a practicing Muslim.                    

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hajarul Aswad

The Black Stone and its importance 

When we do the tawaf around the Kaaba, during the pilgrimage or the Umrah, or even as a sunnah, we always start and finish at the eastern corner of the Kaaba where the Black Stone is placed. It is recommended to kiss the Black Stone or touch it at the beginning and as we start every round, but if the place is too crowded, it is enough to just signal with one’s hand, observing what is recommended to do and say during tawaf. It is important, therefore, to know what significance, if any, the Black Stone has.

Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second closest to the Prophet (peace be upon him) of all his companions, once stood at the Black Stone and kissed it as he was about to do his tawaf. He then addressed it saying: “I know that you are merely a stone that can cause neither harm nor benefit. Had it not been for the fact that I saw the Prophet kissing you, I would not have kissed you.” (Related by Al-Bukhari).

Thus Umar put the whole issue of the Black Stone and its significance in the right perspective. It is a mere stone that causes neither benefit nor harm to anyone. As a stone, it is not different from any other stone. Umar obviously knew that the stone could not hear him, but his words were meant for the people present, and indeed for all others. Saying them there meant that they would be communicated by other pilgrims to all their peoples throughout the Muslim world. Hence, the action of kissing the Black Stone or venerating it seeks only to follow the Prophet’s example, because the Prophet has taught us only what is good. Thus, it falls within the general requirement of following the Prophet’s guidance. The Black Stone has no significance other than its being the mark for the start and end of a particular ritual of worship.

It is useful to know something of the history of the Black Stone. It is well known that the Kaaba was built, on God’s instructions, by the prophets Abraham and Ishmael. It is reported that when they completed its building, Abraham said to his son: ‘Bring me a fine stone to but at this corner. He brought him this stone which was different from the rest of stones they used in the building. It is black with a touch of redness, and looked different in texture. There is no doubt that it is unlike other stones, because it has been there for several thousands of years, retaining its shape, form and color despite all sorts of weather conditions and the billions of hands touching it and lips kissing it. It resisted fires, floods and other turbulent conditions, as well as several cases of renovation and rebuilding. All those who renovated the building of the Kaaba retained it in its position. Some reports suggest that it is a meteor brought to Abraham by the Angel Gabriel. Even if this is true, it does not change its religious status we have mentioned, that it is a stone with no special characteristics or status. When we venerate it, we do so because it marks a ritual of worship, but it is not a part of that worship.

What is part of our worship is to follow the Prophet’s guidance. In this connection, he kissed the Black Stone at times, signaled to it with his staff at other times and signaled with his hand when convenient. Whichever of these is easiest for us when we do the tawaf is perfectly acceptable. We are rewarded for following the Prophet’s example. Anyone who thinks the Black Stone can bring him benefit or prevent harm is in gross error.

Source: Arab News - October 14, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Too Young To Age

Nguyen Thi Phuong age 21
This is the 2006 marriage photo of 21 year old Nguyen Thi Phuong.
She is married to Thanh Tuyen.

In 2008, she suffered allergy reaction.
It was itchiness all over her body.
She had to scratch, even in her sleep.

After a month, she stopped taking drugs as her body itched lesser.
She then switched to traditional medicine.

The itch may have gone, but her skin began to sag and fold.
Her face puffed and wrinkled over a matter of days.
Nguyen Thi Phuong at 26
Now, the above 26-year old Nguyen Thi Phuong always don a mask whenever she is out.

Our love hasn't faded: Tuven said he still loved his wife but they hadn't had children as their lives were too difficult
It is because of her carpenter husband that she persevered.
He built the confidence and the purpose of living in her. 

Read More here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Their Tomorrow's Marriages

His siblings are all trying hard to find a wife for him.
When he was asked when he will be getting married, his immediate reply is usually, 'tomorrow'.

Successful in his career, he has more than enough finance for reasonable dowry.
Even if that tomorrow is really tomorrow, the next day, he has no qualm of footing whatever reasonable bill that will come with that reasonable 'tomorrow's marriage'.

Yes, definitely he wants to enter the marriage world.
But he's patient enough to play the waiting game, even now entering his 40s.

A number of anon female callers had several times wanted to talk to him, to know him better, to get closer to him, and his closely-knit family.
But he had warned the maid not to ever pass the phone to him.
After much introduction, one after another girl, by relatives and friends, none seemed to be what he usually saw in his dream.

Yes, he had often dream of seeing a girl, wearing black but glittering all over, bangled arm-length, chaperoned by her mother.
In his dream, both mother and daughter were usually doing their shopping at and around Mustafa Centre in Serangoon.

No, he is not keen about the jewellery that adorned the girl's arm.
But he wants to know who the girl is, that often appeared in his dream. 

"Move on, it's only a dream."
The big sister had often reminded him.

"No, I know, the girl will surely appear. 
She's somewhere now."
The big sister is definitely worried about the brother.

The sister often told the brother of a man who often saw a very beautiful girl in his dream.
For many years, his mother was made to wait anxiously for her to meet her future daughter-in-law while her son lived in his dreamland.

When the actual day (actually it's mid-night) came, for him to meet her, he brought his mother along.
To recognise the girl, she was said to be the only person sitting at the bus-stop nearest to his flat in eastern part of Singapore.
She will be noticed with her fresh yellow, fully blossomed ylang-ylang or cananga (kenanga).

If he was to smile at him.
His smile is the indication that he accepts her into his life.
If not, then she will walk away.

Beside reminding her son, the mother prayed hard that her son will change his mind.
The mother prayed hard that his son will not smile at his dream girl.
It's OK for her to wait longer for another prospective daughter-in-law, not this very beautiful dream girl. 

The mother knows, never in the world, that there is known to be any ylang-ylang or cananga (kenanga), its petals are fully blossomed.
Maybe, just maybe, it is planted in the world where mere mortals are not living in.