Friday, July 15, 2011

You Think The Prophet Is Not Knowing?

Prior to my last year's Umrah Syawal, strange thing happened.
I would see vision of main road, highway and the side of a flyover whenever I recited my selawat and salam.

Whenever I feel like wanting to be close to Prophet Muhammad sollallaahu 'alaihi wasallam, beside selawat and salam, it would be the last two verses of Surah At-Taubah
there has come unto you a Messenger (Muhammad
from amongst yourselves 
(i.e. whom you know well). 
It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. 
He (Muhammad ) is anxious over you 
(to be rightly guided, to repent to ALLAH, 
and beg HIM to pardon and forgive your sins, 
in order that you may enter Paradise 
and be saved from the punishment of the Hell-fire), 
for the believers (he is) full of pity, kind, and merciful.
But if they turn away, 
say (O Muhammad ): 
"ALLAH is sufficient for Me.  
La ILAHA Illa HUWA (none has the right to be worshipped but HE), 
in HIM I put my trust and HE is the LORD of the Mighty Throne." 

.    ******

My late sister never failed herself to recite Maulid every Monday, and everyday when Rabi'ul Awwal was around.
She stood up when she reached the marhaban page, to welcome Rasulullah s.a.w., even when she just recited it all alone, just by herself.

Maybe that's part of the reason why she could sense the time had come before her final day.
She was all prepared to meet Izrael, the death angel, asking to be bathed with Zamzam water a day before her death.
At any time of the year, Zamzam is well stocked at our homes.


I used to increase my selawat and salam when there was sudden urge is in me to visit Baitullaah and Rasulullah s.a.w.

As usual, I did what I usually did last year, increasing the frequency of selawat and salam.
But the vision of main road, highway and the side of a flyover kept recurring.

What was really happening?

When I was in 'Arafah in 2001, after reciting Maulid, the smell of fresh citrus engulfed the whole tent.
There were only two jema'ah in the tent, myself and another sister, a new Chinese Muslim.
The rest of the jema'ah went to the washroom preparing for Maghrib.

The Chinese sister, just two years into Islam, was amazed by the new experience.
The tent openings was as if blown with misty air fresheners.
But that was not the case as we were in Ihram.
No perfume what so ever.

It was only after the swish swashing of a person wearing a like long robe walking past inside the tent, then could the sister refreshed what she had just recited in the Maulid book.


On another occasion, while waiting for Subuh, sitting outside Masjidin Nabawi in 2005, I took pity of an old Turkish pilgrim who was massaging her legs with crucial pain shown on her weathered face.
ubat minyak geliga
Using lemon grass oil, minyak geliga I brought from home, I massaged the old woman's legs.

She kept praying, lifting both hands high up, thanking GOD of lifting the pain she had to bear.
At last she could smile.

Very soon, one after another old Turkish women, a small pre-dawn crowd outside Masjidin Nabawi was built in no time.
These old Turkish women, old they were, but definitely they were raring for a quarrel.
I was not used to the scene of pushing and shoving their way for just an ordinary massage.
I just pushed the minyak geliga into the hand of one of them, then I exited out of the scene.

The quarrel intensified as I left the scene.
Now, who has had the right to the small bottle of ointment...

I used to bring many bottles of local ointment for my Haj and Umrah.
But on that morning, there was only one bottle in my bag.

I thought nothing of the pre-subuh incident.
But the dream I had that night, carved an eternal memory in me.

Three men, one of them with henna red beard, were searching for the person who massaged the legs of an old jema'ah.
They were hurrying to the person who massaged the legs of an old jema'ah, infront of Rasullah s.a.w. in the early morning...


It was only after I walked down Suqul Lail, the night market, [but Malays usually called it Pasar Zink (?)] last Syawal, I could fully understand my dream of main road, highway and the side of a flyover.

The first time I was in Mecca in 1996, we stayed at Ar-Reem Hotel in the area of Suqul Lail.
It was the place where day or night, we could see men eagerly volunteered carrying dead bodies on their way to Ma'la cemetery.
We never fail to pass by Ar-Reem whenever we were in Makkatul Mukarramah.

But walking down memory lane last year, we were not able to find the place, due to the many constructions took place all at once around Masjidil Haram.
Even to Pasar Zink was no easy access for us. 
There were just too many blockages.

But we were sure that the access to the library of Makkatul Mukarramah was not blocked. 
It is now a very big open space.

To safeguard the historical place from being neglected, a library was built, but now demolished. 
The library, located on Al-Qashashia Street used to be in the Maulid District, is the birth place of Muhammad.
The place where Hazrat Muhammad (SA) Born, at Makkah
Photo Source: Panoramio

The small library was the original home of Sayyidina Abdul Muttalib's foundation.
We had many times tried to visit the place since 1996, but it was closed most of the time.

My eldest sister told me, before the sacred place was made a library, Maktabat Makkatul Mukarramah, the house in which Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was born, it was razed and turned into a cattle market.

In 1990, the matrimonial home of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and his wife, Saiyidatina Siti Khadijah rodhiallaahu 'anha was paved over.
It was the spot where the Revelation descended upon The Prophet s.a.w. from GOD.
The site was buried in concrete and covered in marble.

Enough indication of the demolished blessed house with just a public toilet now stands nearby!!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Nenek In Her Mystery World

Seeing Japanese soldiers around Nenek's house in Kempas was a usual sight during Japanese Occupation as these soldiers used to ask her ( Nenek's ) mother, to cook for them.

But there was once, when one of these soldiers while walking past Nenek's house, he saw a Chinese woman, into her late pregnancy.
One of the Japanese soldier caught the woman, tied both her hands to her back.
Both her legs were tied too.

Then, without showing any sympathy, the Japanese soldier thrust his long sword into the woman's big belly...

Nenek pre-schooling age then, ran into her house.
She told her mother of what she had just saw: The Chinese woman's belly oozing blood...

Her mother without further delay, quickly bundled her.
They ran further into the deeper jungle of Kempas, to Lukud.
Lukud was the third place of residence for the family of two in Johor Bahru, since Japanese landed in Tanah Melayu, Malaya.

Before, they were staying in Stulang Darat.
Their house was bombed by the invading force.
The only house in the village that escaped the bombing, despite all surrounding houses flattened and on fire, was that belonged to Haji Rashid's.
But that was with his family's rituals safeguarding it.

Often, the young Nenek saw Haji Rashid with his children would sit around the house.
Then ritual prayers were recited.

When Nenek could feel the earth trembling and wobbling, she knew that the very big and very tall giant guard that looked after Haji Rashid's house, was walking around his compound.


For the past few nights, the Japanese soldier who strike the pregnant Chinese woman's belly with his long sharp sword appeared in Nenek's sleep.
He brought along the woman with him.

He went to Nenek, asking for rice for him to eat. 

"Tak mau, tak mau kasi engkau. Engkau setan."

Nenek refused to give him any food.
He was a satan to her.

Both the soldier and the woman appeared in Nenek's sleep for a few nights, before Nenek prepared a handful of rice grains mixed with turmeric and rock salt.
She mixed them together and throw it around her house.
Then the dream stopped.


That was what was being said by Nenek when my daughter and I visited her in her new house in Kempas.

The girl was very close to her Nenek.
The grandmother used to be our next door neighbour.
She treated my daughter as her own grandchild, always showed the girl her greatest concern, always preparing her favourite asam pedas kepala ikan sembilang, whenever the girl was around.
The grandmother was forever willing to stretch her limited finance that she had, for her granddaughter.

I knew that Kempas used to be a black area.
It is only recently that housing development in Kempas took place.

I had heard of communist activity in Kempas area.
One of my husband's friend, his brother disappeared for good in the jungle.
Until today, there is still no trace to his alive or dead body.

My husband's cousin was caught, beaten and thrown into jail.
All of my husband's siblings and relatives, except him, went to Chinese school.
The cousin was suspected to be a communist as one of his friend had vaguely linked to the jungle party.

My husband said, being Chinese and staying not far from forested area, they easy fall prey into becoming one.
So, any Chinese then, could be suspected to be a communist.

The cousin however, was freed from jail.
Alive and kicking today, thriving in his automobile business.


It was only yesterday that I knew Kempas had its own story of Japanese Occupation to tell.

Life has almost comes to a complete circle for Nenek.
Her house she lives in, today, is around the place where she fled after seeing the Japanese soldier with the pregnant Chinese woman.

The peaceful river in front of Nenek's house, with spring water flowing down stream, she said yesterday, its water used to be red.
It was where can easily be found, many Chinese heads and bodies... separated.

In the meantime, Nenek is till mixing a handful of rice grains with turmeric and rock salt.
She is still placing the mixture all around her house.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Maid - Boyfriending @ Geylang (2)

The suggestion of granting domestic helpers a rest day every week has literally made many employers jumped.

Singapore was among 63 voters which abstained from voting on the new International Labour Organisation convention in Geneva from granting domestic workers greater protection from exploitation.

Yet Madam Halimah Yacob, the Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports said Singapore should consider legislation that makes employers give their domestic helpers a weekly rest day.

She said giving maids their weekly offdays might help to minimise stress and overwork issues.
They are just like other workers who need to rest, should not be made to work excessive hours that could affect their health and well-being.

Madam Halimah expressed hope that Singapore would 'take stock of its laws and policies and progressively make changes' to be in line with the convention since the country takes its international obligations seriously.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in the meantime, is reviewing the call for the government to implement a weekly rest day as MOM recognises the benefits of rest days to the well-being and productivity of foreign domestic maids.
It will consult with various stakeholders including employers, employment agencies and non-governmental organisations.
Members of the public are advised to email their views and suggestions to

MOM would continue to review the rights and responsibilities of employers and workers, and would sign the new treaty when it was sure it could implement it here.


Should the suggestion turn into law?
Then it becomes one size law fits all employers' policies.

Imagine getting paid at least six times higher than back home...
Free lodging, amenities, food, toiletries ...
Free weekends...
Free compulsory six-monthly medical check up...
Free return home with air ticket paid for...

Can't imagine what's the next best thing in life beside free...


Although it cannot be denied that some of these maids were abused and some tend to overwork, but not all of them are squeezed dry of their energy.

While their government impose all kinds of rule for their 'daughters' welfare working abroad, but bear in mind, we also travel to their country, went to their households to see first hand, how their 'daughters' in their own country are usually the lesser mortal.


Those with domestic helpers in their house, should know why.
Those with helpers for many years, know it best.

Although some Indonesian house-helpers have no off day, their nationality are all over the island.
They will often meet and get together with other domestic workers while sending and fetching their employers' children to schools.

I had once came across newspaper article, reminding these domestic helpers, not to take up the whole area of available spot at mosques while waiting for their employers' kids in kindergartens.
That shows their big presence.

Once, a six-year old came up to Me, saying he was absent from class the day before, because his father suddenly wanted to return home.
Upon opening the front door, the maid was asked to put on her clothing in her room, while the Bangladeshi man, who was then doing the painting job at his block, remained at the hall.
The boy claimed he could see the Bangladeshi's legs...


My friend had a hard time telling her maid not to feed her baby, of all place, at the bus-stop.
My friend was not too sure what the maid was up to, but given her friendly nature...

Some employers always want to be different from the rest.
They often feel sorry for their maids' living condition back home.
Thus they wanted to provide the best for their employees.

But it is not few employers that their trust were betrayed, their sympathy exploited.
Especially when these maids are provided with handphones, and they are unable to self control of using and abusing it.
The phone is a great distraction.
And even without off days, these maids can still managed to get boyfriends.


A brother had no other choice except to get a helper when his wife met an accident.
The helper's main duty was to look after their six children, especially the youngest, who was less than two years old then.

The helper, married with children, claimed did no know how to cook despite being married with children in Indonesia, and in her late 30s.
The brother cooked whatever he could for his family.

But there was once, when he was in a hurry to go to work, that he just put aside the ingredients for the helper to fry rice.
He did not believe his wife when told that the garlic and onion used was not peeled off the skin...

Luckily he believed his own eyes and ears when at his in-laws' place, the maid went downstairs to make a phone call to his wife's younger brother, wanting to know the young man better...


Suri* was given the choice of enjoying her once a month off day outside home, or be paid to stay home during her off day.
She chose the latter.

But in the end, she get to go out every weekends for the whole day attending classes in Orchard Road.
Every Ramadhan, she went to the mosque alone nightly for her terawih.

She had travelled to many states in Malaysia.
She had been to Batam, China and Thailand.
And, she is one of the 88% Indonesian domestic helpers who do not enjoy their off days.

Who cares?
She did not care.
She could not be bothered too.

Not all employers are without sympathy.
And employers who trust their maids, they can make a wise decision concerning off days.

But to make compulsory and lawful weekend offdays, the government is waging more social ills in our already colourful society.


A survey by non-governmental organisations here has found that few Indonesian maids get days off, with only 38 per cent having at least one day off a month. This is in contrast to 85 per cent of Filipino maids getting at least one day off a month. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUNIFAH

Those employers who had experience enough nonsense brought by their one after another problematic maids would definitely choose to OFF the OFF day.
The risk is simply too high.

Most employers treat their maids well.
Despite that, give these workers an inch, they expect a foot.
Before long, they jolly well demand a yard.


An acquaintance's Indonesian maid was given once a month off day, just like her friends from her home village.

But there was once, she was requested not to take or to postpone her off day, as it was the first day of Hari Raya. 
Better for her celebrating the festival with the family and usually, she will receive packets of monies from relatives.

But the maid, in her 30s, with children back home, insisted as she had planned a picnic at Sentosa.
If all her friends can have their off day, why not her?

But all her friends were working for Chinese families.

After all, it was not appropriate to celebrated the first day of Hari Raya at the beach.


A just arrived maid is given her off day in her first week.
She goes out looking for friends...

Big groups of migrant workers, men and women gathering at shopping centres on weekends, the government must really think of the social impact and its consequences. 

Just walk down Peninsula Plaza in North Bridge Road, a favourite spot for Myanmar, Lucky Plaza in Orchard Road for Filipinos, the Little Thailand Golden Mile Complex at Beach Road, Katong Shopping Centre at Mountbatten Road for Chinese national and City Plaza at Geylang. 

All these foreign workers just know where is the next best spot to spend in Singapore beside working place.


I was once asked by a Batam friend to find her niece living in Lampung, on the southern tip of Sumatra that borders Bengkulu, who had worked in Singapore for four years. 
She called her mother staying in their village, informing her she worked in Bukit Merah. 

My Batam friend believed her niece was being abused and tortured as that was the only upon arrival call she ever made. 
She insisted since we are the best of friend, sure I will 'save' her niece by knocking at every doors at all the blocks of flats in Bukit Merah. 

To show her that indeed we are the best of friend, her persistent request led Me to bring her here to see things with her own eyes, as did not believe that Singapore law is always pro-maids rather than their employers.

Media reports on Indonesian maids are quick to report about abuse, violence and death.
So stories of these girls and women of not only meeting friends, but boyfriends, are but all sounds alien and great distant away from her.

Singaporean females to her, are all bossy, fierce lots and proud of themselves, including Myself.
We are just too proud being Singaporeans.
That's the reason to her, why there are many Singapore men buying terrace houses around her residence, staying with their young Indonesian wives.

Yes, I used to see households in her neighbourhood was usually void of men on weekdays.
Not only daytime, but nighttime too.
But come weekends, Singaporean husbands aplenty in her neighbourhood.

She even encouraged Me to get a house opposite hers, since we are the best of friend...


I fetched her from Batam to go to Bukit Merah on one Sunday last year.
We went to a playground.

She was taken for an initial shock seeing all maids with handphones gathering together while waiting for children at play.
A number of them were with fast texting fingers and some with ear pieces.

She went to them asking for her niece but nobody ever heard her name before.

She asked them if was possible for her to find her niece in one of the households.
One of them said, she must be out of her mind - Walking a block of flat is like walking around a whole village in Indonesia.
She was asked to count how many blocks were, just in front of her...


We then took a taxi to City Plaza, a hotspot for Indonesians, since about five years ago.
I requested the driver to drive slowly, and to make double turning around the shopping centre.

City Plaza was like a shopping centre in Jakarta to my friend.

These mostly domestic helpers, supposed to be simple-minded, many were all dolled-up, with make-up, and many were with revealing clothing with jewellery.
She realised, these Indonesians are not up to innocently nothing with their what she think of them, being simple- minded.

They were transformers.
They went all out for their elaborate physical transformation. 

Most sit on the steps or grass patches outside the mall to chat or having a picnic with their friends and male Bangladeshi construction workers.
She was told, male workers from Indonesia, Myanmar, and Sabah frequent the place too.

Their public behaviour awed my Batam friend and left her speechless.

She went up to few maids who were standing around in the nearby shopping place, Tanjong Katong Complex.
She asked them of their feelings after leaving families behind.
Many answered, although they missed them, but there was not much they can do.
They have to stay focus in their job, and own families back home could not swayed their minds.

Some preferred not to return home even after their three to seven years in Singapore.
Some even claimed families had faded in their memories.

Some sent home part of their salary, and a few she talked to, had broken their links.


We then walked pass Lion City Hotel.

I told my Batam friend, it was at the traffic light in front of the hotel that when I was waiting for the green man to cross the road, I saw an Indonesian woman crossing the road from Tanjong Katong Complex, outstretched her right hand to shake hand an old man directly in front of Me.

The man was shocked when the woman's left hand went behind his waist, holding him tight.
I stopped Myself from crossing the road, to see what she will do to the man.
He was then led to a bench in front of Lion City Hotel where the woman talked softly into his ears, and he kept nodding his head, with her left hand remained tightly behind the man's waist...


We then walked in front of the Haig Road Hawker Centre.

Although social divider with locals is strictly enforced by the law, forbidding foreign maids from marrying Singaporeans, we saw many old Malay men, chico pek men with Indonesians...  
These Indonesians did stand out, their facial features and dressing gave way from local residents.

Just too bad that Haig Road lies between Joo Chiat and Geylang.
Haig Road has been attracting seedy characters for quite some time.
Bad influence had crept in.
The housing estate has earned a reputation among foreigners too.

There is the open display of affection showing how bold these women can be.
Sometimes, residents can even catch occasional illicit, passionate moments in full view...

Just walk across behind it, Joo Chiat, many Indonesians were standing around the hotel wall although solicitors for prostitution can be fined up to S$1,000 or jailed up to six months.
They enticed local men and... youths.
Now, some refers it as ‘Little Batam’.

The nearby Joo Chiat Complex, especially the nearby eating place behind it, is a favorite spot for old, old local men and their young foreign partners.
I used to pass there, never fail to purposely staring at these old, old men with their odd partners.
These old, old men did not mind letting these as young as their daughters and granddaughters to sit on their lap...


The seeing is believing, been there, seen up close of not all maids in Singapore are facing what's printed in papers, led to many more trip of My Batam friend to Singapore.
And she kept exploring Geylang and its neighbourhood.

She knew now, being housemaids in Singapore is not about working 24/7.
She knew now, maids have had their own lifestyle to maintain. 

She get to know of married maids having relationship with Bangladeshi workers.
She get to know maids from her own country having affairs with multiple Singaporean partners who could support them, providing them cash, topping-up their phonecards...


Then, one day, My good Batam friend said she wanted to become a study mama.
She wanted her eldest daughter to study here.

I reminded her sternly, since we are the best friend, she is not allowed to appear at any of My Siblings' doors should one day, she truly become a study mama...

Yes, Singaporean females are all bossy, fierce lots and proud of themselves, including Myself.
We are just too proud being Singaporeans...

The best of friend indeed...

The Maid - Unholy Acts In The Holiest Place (14)

Another Indonesian maid dies in S. Arabia 
Mustaqim Adamrah

“Sister, I’m sick. I cannot stop vomiting blood. If I die, please do me a favor. I entrust father and mother to you.”

It was the last text message from 18-year-old Ernawati binti Sujono Konderin, an Indonesian migrant worker in Saudi Arabia, sent to her family on Jan. 26 before her final contact by the phone with her older sister, Yenni Larasati, on Feb. 1.

“I was really sad when reading her fi nal text message. I rushed to Jakarta on Jan. 31 from Tanjung Pinang [Riau Islands] to report Ernawati’s situation to the Foreign Ministry,”
Yenni said on Tuesday in a press conference at Migrant CARE Headquarters.

“On Feb. 1, [Ernawati] said over the phone that her employer’s son had tried to rape her. She was crying. After that, there were no more calls or text messages from her.”

Yenni said Ernawati was forced to kneel while her employer often slapped, punched, kicked, threw things at her or whipped her with a hose.
The employer’s lover allegedly followed suit.
She never received her salary, Yenni added.

Ernawati died on Feb. 10, 10 days after Yenni filed the report, from injuries allegedly sustained from physical abuse at the hands of her employer and his lover, according to Yenni.

“Every time I asked a ministry employee about my report, they told me it was still being processed — until my sister’s co-worker called our family on Feb. 10, saying she had died.”

Yenni said she was finally convinced of her sister’s death on Feb. 13, when someone at a hospital called her on Ernawati’s cell phone after Yenni’s numerous text messages and phone calls went unanswered.

“The guy at the other end said there was an Indonesian who had died and had been at the hospital for three days. I got all this information on my own, not from the ministry or the embassy,” Yenni said.

In a letter the Indonesian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Gatot Abdullah Mansyur, sent in February to the foreign minister, the manpower and transmigration minister and the head of the National Agency for Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI), he said that the Al-Muntazah police in Hail had received a report about an Indonesian migrant worker who was being treated for swallowing rat poison.

“How can the ministry and the embassy say my sister died from rat poison while at the same time they tell me an autopsy on her body is about to begin?” Yenni said.

She also said the ministry and the embassy insisted they could not reach Ernawati’s workplace in time because it was in Hail, 700 kilometers from the embassy.

“Was it really that hard to get there? I flew from Tanjung Pinang, more than a thousand kilometers from Jakarta, to seek justice and it took only one hour and 20 minutes,” she said.

“Had they immediately followed up on my report and evacuated my sister, she might still alive now.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene and the director for legal aid and protection of Indonesian nationals overseas, Tatang Budie Utama Razak, could not be reached for comment.

University of Indonesia international relations expert Hariyadi Wirawan said embassy staff did not arrive in time possibly due to diplomats’ reluctance to travel that distance or a lack of financial and human resources.

Only two weeks ago, an Indonesian maid named Ruyati binti Satubi was beheaded by Saudi authorities after being convicted of murdering her employer, who had mistreated her.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono met Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Indonesia Abdulrahman Mohammed Amen al-Khayyat at the latter’s request at the State Palace on Tuesday.

However, instead of expressing displeasure, Yudhoyono hailed Saudi Arabia for “giving aid” to an Islamic organization.

Migrant CARE executive director Anis Hidayah said she had reported the ministry, the embassy and the BNP2TKI to the Ombudsman Commission, which receives complaints of poor public service, for alleged “negligence that led to Ernawati’s death”.

Source: The Jakarta Post - June 30, 2011

****** ****** ******

Divorcee Ruyati binti Satubi became a migrant worker for the first time in 1999.
She returned to Saudi Arabia again and worked for six years.

Her children asked her to change her mind when she was about to leave for the third time.
She was adamant of not wanting to see her three children facing bleak future.
One of them is in nursing school.
And she wanted to buy her son a car.

She insisted to fly to the Holy Land seeking fortune yet again, only to meet bitterness.
After a year and four months, she was beheaded.

From information that the family gathered, the grandmother of seven was tortured a lot from the very beginning of employment.
She had broken her leg during the initial three months, because of torture.
She was not admitted to hospital, but was treated by one of her employer’s children was a doctor.

Ruyati TKI dipancung BNP2TKI Panggil Perusahaan Pengirim Ruyati ke Arab Saudi
Although Ruyati was a victim of violence by her employer, during trial, Ruyati confessed murdering 64-year old Khairiyah Majlad on 12 January, 2010.

She was not paid her three-months salary of SR 2400 despite being asked many times.
She was found guilty of of ruthlessly killing her employer, by repeatedly stabbing her.

For her offense, the 54-year old housemaid was executed by decapitation in Saudi Arabia.
One more Indonesian worker was beheaded in Saudi Arabia, on June 18, 2011.

The Indonesian embassy had not been advised beforehand about the execution.
The government saw the beheading as an unfair decision.
The execution over Ruyati is a great shock for many, irritated a lot of parties.

Migrant Care, an NGO that works for the rights of Indonesian migrant workers stressed that the government has failed to protect its citizen.
It had earlier reminded the government about Ruyati’s legal process in March 2011.

But the government denied it had been slow in preventing the decapitation penalty.
The execution has left Yudhoyono's government on the defensive as critics said there was not enough protection for Indonesian workers overseas.

Indonesia had summoned the Saudi envoy to express its "disappointment and deep regret" over the execution.

"We respect their legal system, but in this case, we feel they have failed to fulfil the Geneva convention on how to interact among countries," Teuku Faizasyah, the presidential spokesman for international affairs told Reuters.

"(The Saudi government) are being disrespectful of convention, they should have informed the embassy on any occurrence involving our nationals, especially in such cases where they are planning to execute our nationals," he said.


Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Indonesia Abdulrahman Mohammed Amin Al-Khayyat on Monday, June 20, had apologised for the execution of Ruyati.

He expressed regret that Indonesian Embassy was not given prior notice of the execution.
He assured Indonesia that it will not happen ever again.


Through RI Consulate General in Jeddah, the government has fought hard against the death penalty.
It had requesting the Saudi Board of Pardon (lajnatul afwu) to release Ruyati.

But the deceased family did not forgive her act.
The family did not forgive their 54-year old domestic helper Ruyati binti Satubi.

Indonesian government could not break the rigidity of death sentence in Saudi Arabia.


Ruyati’s three children in Bekasi, West Java, were initially informed by Migrant Care of Ruyati’s first hearing session on May 17, 2010.

In January 2011, they were told that the case was still on-going.
The family was then notified by the Foreign Ministry about the schedule for the next hearing that would take place in May 2011.

They had been struggling hard to find news about their mother's condition in foreign land.

Before long, a verdict was delivered, followed by an execution without them ever knowing anything about it.

Four hours before the mother was to be executed, one of her daughter saw the sight of 'her' in their kitchen.

Later, Migrant Care called to inform the mother had passed away.


The only person who had knowledge of the violence that led to 54-year-old Ruyati murdering her employer was Warni.
She is a fellow Indonesian worker who was hired by Ruyati’s employer too.

She knew a great deal about what Ruyati had to endure prior to the murder as they slept in the same room. She witnessed how the grandmother was punched and kicked.

Warni was reluctant to discuss Ruyati’s ordeal as it was Ruyati’s own request.
The grandmother had told her not to tell the children about what she saw.
She only revealed the truth after local police in Mecca moved in to arrest her.


Irwan Setiawan, the youngest of Ruyati’s three children, remember his mother as “a quiet and well-adjusted woman”.
She was reluctant to talk much about hardship she endured as a migrant worker.
She only talked about the good things in Saudi Arabia.

Irwan expressed his disappointment towards the role of the Indonesian government in helping his mother’s cause.
He felt neglected.

Ruyati’s family said they were let down by PT Dasa Graha Utama, a labour recruiting company which arranged Ruyati’s employment in Saudi Arabia.
At her age, Ruyati should have been ineligible to be sent abroad as a domestic worker.
The company had falsified information about the grandmother's age by registering her as 11 years younger.

Both the government and PT Dasa Graha Utama have responded to the grievances from Ruyati’s family by offering Rp 90 million (US$10,440) in compensation.

The family would wait until they have their mother's body home, despite information from the government that she was already been buried in Mecca, not far from the body of Saidatina Siti Khadijah, the wife of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

There are 216 Indonesians overseas facing execution, including 26 in Saudi Arabia.

Currently, there are 2.2 million Indonesians working in Malaysia and 1.5 million in Saudi Arabia.
Around 90 percent work as house maids and drivers for individual employers.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Maid - Chosen Over Mate (2)

Picking Maid Over Mate 

Is it a fetish?
THOMAS Jefferson was alleged to have sired several children with Sally Hemings, a slave at Monticello. Famous politician senator Strom Thurmond went to bed with his African-American maid and kept it a secret until he was 100 years old. Though one would assume this age-old practice of having sex with the "help" has long passed since the days of slavery, this is not the case at all.

Be it a fetish for French maid costumes and feather dusters, or a series of power trips, men are still turned on by their maids, as revealed in the recent case of former California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Last month, the 63-year-old Terminator star finally came clean about his affair and the "love child" he had with a two-decade-long household employee.
While his story is shocking, some countries have taken the maid fetish to another level.

In Japan, meido kafe (maid cafe) is the hottest trend in town. Designed to look like private homes, establishments like Tokyo's Cure Maid Cafe feature young waitresses dressed in French maid costumes.

They treat diners like masters and mistresses, sometimes offering massages and even kneeling by the table to stir cream and sugar into beverages.

Fuelled by sexy maid-themed anime, the trend is now taking off in Asia, too.

Are Malaysians spared from being enamoured with the help? Apparently not. 

Growing trend in maid-employer affairs
A maid agency operator in Klang says he is noticing a growing trend in husbands taking a liking to maids.

"I've run a maid agency for more than six years without any problems. However, for the past two years, there's been a rise in husbands hoping to 'bed' their maids.

"Since most of the maids I provide are young Filipino girls, who clean apartments on an hourly basis, many employers assume they can get away with taking advantage of them."

Florence, a part-time maid, was lured to Malaysia by a man whom she met on the Internet. She was hoping to start a new life in Malaysia and earn a decent living.

"I was happy when my boyfriend told me to meet him in Malaysia. He said there were good jobs here and I would earn a decent living.

"As soon as I arrived in Klang, my boyfriend introduced me to a maid agency boss. He said I had to work for about four hours in an apartment, cleaning and doing the laundry. The boss was willing to drop and pick me up from the apartment guardhouse.

"My first few jobs were simple; I only had to deal with the 'maam' of the apartments.

"One day, I was asked to clean a new client's apartment and was shocked to find only the husband there. I did my work as usual.

"But, when I went to make the bed, I heard someone entering and locking the door. I was scared to see the husband in the room. He said he wanted to make sure I was doing a good job.

"But when I felt his arms around my waist, I started yelling. He told me not to worry because he would pay me a lot of money to have sex with him. I pushed him aside and screamed even louder.

"He got scared the neighbours might hear me, so he left the room. I quickly packed my things and left."
Because of her harrowing experience, Florence is planning to return to the Philippines as soon as she has enough money. 

Victims choose silence
Ananda S.P., who runs a maid agency in the Klang Valley, believes such cases are rampant but most victims choose to be silent.

"There are no statistics to show how many of these cases exist because most of the maids are threatened. They only talk about the problem when they're about to leave the country or have already left. Only about one in 50 cases is reported to us during their contract period.

"Generally, this is a problem with Indonesian and Filipino maids. This could be because there's a higher ratio of them here and many of them are also attractive."

Ananda believes there are two sides to the coin: if there are no givers, there won't be any takers.

"These days, most wives spend less time at home and more at work. Men, on the other hand, hold higher positions and have the flexibility to be in the house more.

"Most of the time, these men strike a conversation with the maid. They ask about the maid's background and financial situation before feigning sympathy. Before long, they tempt the maid with extra cash and goodies.

"From the maid's perspective, since she's already married, this is similar to 'servicing' another master. Although this is far from being acceptable, most maids give in to temptation because of their financial situation back home."

Ananda says although most of these sexual advances are consensual, the marriage is at risk.

"In many instances, the maid will try to break up the home by finding favour with the husband. This is where trouble begins because once a wife starts to be suspicious, she will want the maid to leave. In the end, the maid will lose earning a living in Malaysia.

"Sometimes, the maid gets pregnant and is afraid to go home. She usually seeks an abortion. If this happens, we ask the husband to pay compensation to the maid to enable her to return to her country. More often than not, this breaks up the marriage and the couple get divorced.

"However, if the maid is forced to have sexual relations with her employer, we act in the best interests of the maid. We lodge a police report unless the maid is agreeable to the compensation."

Ananda says employers should realise that when they employ a maid, they're inviting a guest into their home, who probably has no money or contacts. They are responsible for her safety and well-being. She's not there to be a sex slave.

HELP University College vice-president and psychologist Dr Goh Chee Leong believes the strength of a marriage is the predictor for whether affairs happen.

"The will and discipline of either party determine the strength of a marriage. When a party is weak, that's when you give in to temptation.

"Wives or husbands who encounter situations like these should not blame themselves; the fault lies with the party who has cheated.

"Human beings are people with will and have the freedom to make their own decisions. No one is forced to cheat because as human beings, we pride ourselves in controlling our instincts and impulses. When we feel tempted, we have the strength to resist that temptation."

Source: New Straits Times - July 3, 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Maid - Chosen Over Mate

When Men Choose Maid Over Mate

Caught in the act by young son
ADAM (not real name) is a househusband who takes care of his two children while his wife works as a lawyer.

"It was simple at first. After our second child was born, I couldn't handle the additional workload. When I suggested we get a maid, my wife didn't hesitate.

"Although our Cambodian maid was not drop-dead gorgeous, I was attracted to her petite figure and demure character."

After a couple of months, Adam's attraction towards the maid grew.
"I wouldn't say I am a pious man but neither would I have expected to be a cheating husband.

"It all started with an innocent brushing of hands when she passed me a cup of tea.

"I could see that she was not the type to say 'no' to requests. So, when I asked her politely if she would sleep with me, she said okay.

"We started having more and more afternoon 'sessions' while the kids took their naps."

Adam's wife didn't suspect anything. In fact, she felt at ease staying late at the office, knowing that someone was at home to take care of her family.

Adam said: "As much as I tried to stop, I couldn't. Soon, I found myself taking more and more risks. I would even try to get the maid into bed while the kids were watching television in the living room. I knew we could get caught, but that was part of the excitement.

"However, the baffled and confused look on my eldest son's face when he walked in on us one day was all it took.

"It was a good thing my son didn't say anything about it to my wife. But from that day, I stopped sleeping with the maid. I realised that I was hurting two innocent victims." 

When the maid's bed broke
Shana (not real name), 33, first suspected her husband was having an affair with the maid when the maid's bed broke.

"I always knew my husband had a roving eye and would constantly get attention from his female colleagues. But I expected him to have some standard in choosing his affairs.

"Don't get me wrong, I never condoned it but I was willing to put up with it for the sake of the marriage and kids.

"When our first maid confessed that she had slept with my husband, I accused her of lying.

"I packed her bags and asked her to leave. I was under the impression that she only wanted to 'divide and conquer' the family.

"But when our replacement maid's new bed broke, I got suspicious. She was a skinny and small-sized girl and it didn't seem possible for her to break a bed on her own."

Shana's suspicions were confirmed when she caught her husband sneaking out of their bedroom in the middle of the night one day.
"A part of me didn't want to accept what that might mean, but I had to know. After a couple of minutes, I opened my maid's bedroom door and found him on top of her.

"Needless to say, he was dumbfounded and could not weasel his way out of it.

"I filed for divorce and am now happily remarried to an honest, loyal and trustworthy man." 

Expert tips on "affair-proofing" your marriage
UNITED States-licensed marriage and family therapist Dr Johnben Loy, who is also Taylor's University visiting fellow, provides some tips on affair-proofing your marriage. 

Q: Why do you think some men find maids sexually appealing?

A: There is a host of factors to be considered before a man finds a maid appealing, not just for the care she provides. For example, the age and the look may be important.
A maid who is older and more matronly can provide care, but can be perceived as a mother figure. 

Q: What warning signs should wives look out for?

A: One of the main contributors to extramarital affairs is prolonged emotional and physical distance between spouses. Often, the stress of having a second or third child, together with a busy career, can lead to couples growing apart from each other, thereby, creating a tendency towards extramarital relations.
Wives who are concerned can monitor the "emotional temperature" of the relationship to make sure it is warm and the connection is vibrant. 

Q: When it comes to maids, how can couples safeguard their marriage?

A: If a couple is concerned about safeguarding the marriage, the couple can agree to let the wife be in charge of the maid. The husband can request household needs from the wife, who can then instruct the maid to execute the requests.

In addition, the couple needs to make sure not to involve the maid in their personal conflicts, for example, complaining to the maid about the wife or the husband.
Although the maid may be living in the house, it is important to exercise proper boundaries with her and to treat her with the same respect that one would treat a local employee.
Doing these things can help protect the boundary around the husband and wife. 

Q:Should wives take on a more nurturing role in terms of cooking and cleaning for their husbands, instead of leaving these tasks to the maids?

A: In marriages with more traditional role patterns, wives can instruct and manage maids in such a way that the maids are seen as assisting them in their nurturing roles.

The couple can agree to treat the maid as the employee of the wife so that subsequently, even though the tasks are carried out by the maid, the instructions and intentions come from the wife, thereby, strengthening the couple's relationship.

Source: New Straits Times - July 3, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Maid - Boyfriending @ Geylang

Nora*'s soft laughter as she talked, was to hide her blushing face.
She regretted hiding the paper that My Elder Sister was searching.
But she was ashamed to let My Sister read it.

There was a picture and story of an Indonesian maid and her boyfriend.
She felt ashamed looking at it, without even reading the paper.
She was ashamed because it involved her nationality, and it revolved around the work she is doing, being a domestic worker.

I did not know which paper and who was Nora talking about.
In My head, it was because of boyfriend issue that led Me to want her to follow Me to City Plaza.
It was not exactly because of remittance.

The second time she remitted some money, it was My Elder Sister who did it for her.
With that money, the mother had bought storage for water for Singaporeans' (???) usage, when they will be at her house soon.


Stories of maids had been hogging headlines lately.

27-year old Indrani arrived in Singapore last year, in March.
In July, she ran away from her employer and prostituted herself to earn money.
In October, she discovered her pregnancy without knowing who the father was.

She dug a 10cm hole to bury her newborn, his umbilical cord attached, on April 18 in Eunos Crescent in a rooftop garden.
Her baby's mouth, alive when found, was stuffed with mud and dried leaves.
The baby is now under foster care.

She was arrested near Eunos MRT Station on April 24 after overstaying here for 273 days.

She was jailed for 10 weeks and fined S$2,000 for abandoning her newborn baby.

****** ****** ******

Ruliyawati, married with a son, entered Singapore in July 2010.
A month later, Md Repon Mostafa befriended her.

Her body  was discovered on Monday morning, in a 2-meter water tank atop the 15-storey Housing Development Board block of flats in Woodlands, serving residents of  Block 686B, Woodlands Drive 73 on May 16.

The 27-year old Bangladeshi cleaner Md Repon was charged with her murder between 7:10 a.m. and 9:54 a.m.

****** ****** ******

An Indonesian domestic worker was about to finish her two-year contract.
She was asked to continue her service.
The four and two-year old toddlers she looked after, are too attached with her.

The maid laid down her term for extension.
She needs off days, which the employer agreed.

The employer received a police call at her working place to pick her maid at the police station.
Her domestic worker was caught with a Bangladeshi man at the beach not far from her house.
The employer was shown compromising and intimate photos of the maid with her boyfriend.

The maid gave the worst shock to the employer last February - Her two small kids were locked at home.
Just the two of them, to fend for themselves.

****** ****** ****** 

29-year old Anis Dwi Rianawati had told her employer that she was pregnant and would work for another two to three months before quitting.

A week later, she was missing from her bedroom at about 8am.
Her wallet, jewellery and some notes was on her bed.
It was a suicide notes.

The pregnant Indonesian maid had jumped from her employer's flat through the 18th-floor kitchen window on October 24, 2010.
Her body was found on a second-floor parapet shortly afterwards.

Her 45-year old Malaysian married boyfriend refused to stop seeing another girl in Batam. 

****** ****** ******

Another Bangladeshi worker, 35-year old Kamarul Hasan Abdul Quddus, met 25-year old Yulia Afriyanti at a social gathering in 2005.
They became intimate a year later in January 2007.

In September, she told her employers and friends that she would be marrying Kamrul in Indonesia.
But a month later, the marriage was called off as Kamrul was already married in Bangladesh with two children.

Early October, a Filipino construction worker, 25-year old Joseph Guerzon Corpuza, was given Yulia's number by his close friend, Aunt Annabelle.
He called her and they made plan to meet on Sunday, October 14.

She told him that her boyfriend had returned to Bangladesh.
Their relationship blossomed, became intimate, planned to marry but she never broke up with Kamrul.

Joseph would sometimes travel from Boon Lay to Grange Heights to meet her when she walked her employer's dog at 8 pm every night.
They had intimate relationship in November despite Yulia's fear of getting pregnant again.
Her previous pregnancy was aborted without knowing who the father was.

When Joseph saw the last of Yulia on Dec 9, she told him she and Kamrul Hasan were getting married in January.
On the evening of December 15, she called Joseph telling him she was going to Changi Airport with Kamrul to welcome his mother and brother.
He then tried to contact her many times but failed to do so.

When he finally managed to phone Yulia, a police officer answered, saying his former girlfriend was dead and that the police wanted to talk to him.


In mid December, upon Kamarul's return from Bangladesh, he met Yulia.
He then returned to his dormitory in Kaki Bukit but at 11.30pm, he took a bus to his worksite.

Less than eight hours later, a construction worker found Yulia's body in the cardboard box.
His fingerprints were found at the crime scene and DNA test showed they had sexual relationship within the 12 hours before she was found dead.
He was found guilty of strangling his girlfriend on December 16, 2007.

Her naked body was found at about 9.50am, in a big 1m long and 3/4m wide cardboard box in the bomb shelter of a third-storey unit at a condominium construction site in Queensway, near Holland Road, where he worked.

Police found Yulia's phone and jewellery in his Kaki Bukit dormitory locker when he was arrested on December 19.

He was sentenced to death in early January 2010.

****** ****** ******

24-year old Umi Umiroh was plagued by dreams of a crying baby in her employer's semi-detached house along Hillside Drive, a month into her job in July 2008. 

She told her friends about her dreams whom she usually met at the old age home, Ling Kwang Home in Serangoon Gardens. 
She took her employer's mother for therapy sessions twice a week.

The friends said it was the ghost of the previous maid's baby.
Kirun had confessed to them she had secretly given birth to a seven months baby girl in the toilet of her employer's house. 
She did not know what to do, so she just killed the baby, and buried her in the backyard.

While trimming grass in the garden later in theday, Umi smelled something foul. 
She related her fears to her employer of what her friends told earlier. 

A police report was made and the next day 9am, the police with four sniffer dogs, spent three hours in the garden. 
Then they digging up something buried about 15cm deep into the soil. 
Some small bones, born prematurely, wrapped with a yellow batik cloth, were recovered and analysed by the Health Science Authority.

Kirun, married with two children, was employed in June 2006, was always seen wearing loose-fitting batik dresses or oversized T-shirts.
Her main job was to take the employer's 82-year-old mother for physiotherapy sessions twice a week. 
They spent about seven hours from 8.30am to 3pm. 

Umi Umiroh arrived at Ms Goh's house on 6th June, spent two weeks with Kirun before she returned home on June 22.
Kirun, before her departure, had told Umi that she had at least two boyfriends in Singapore. 
She also told Umi about having aborted her three-month foetus, fathered by the Bangladeshi boyfriend.
Her Bangladeshi boyfriend gave her $10 each time they met.

Before she met the Bangladeshi, she was seeing a Myanmar national. 
She was able to meet them while waiting for the therapy sessions to end.

Three days before she left Singapore, she took Umi to meet her Bangladeshi boyfriend. 
He asked her to be his girlfriend after Kirun returned home.


I brought Nora to City Plaza to show her the popular hang-out for Indonesians on weekends.
It's Orchard Road's Lucky Plaza of the east. 

I wanted to show her how her folks are clothed, what some of her people are doing and behaving here - shopping, friending and boyfriending.
The partners are usually from Bangladesh.

But last Saturday afternoon, there were none to show her.
City Plaza was a desert, not a single maid's soul.
(to be continued)

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Maid - The Loan

Nora*'s mother had just secured a deal with a sugar factory when it offered Rp13,000,000 (S$1,880) for Nora's two-year old quarter acre of sugarcane plantation.

The mother will use the money to renovate part of their house as she had the feeling that very soon, Singaporeans will want to visit her family.
Time is running out before these Singaporeans appeared at their front door.

Since Ramadhan is next month, it is better that the mother start renovating the house now.

Nora could not said no to her mother, as what the woman was earlier assured by her daughter, come July, Nora will receive her first salary of about Rp3,500,000.
But the mother did not know that Nora had spent two months idling in Batam before her first employer employed her to work with his family in the western part of Singapore.

And, Nora knew that she was cheated by her Indonesian agency.
Since she paid her own passage to Batam, she knows salaryless working in Singapore will be reduced to six, and at the most seven months.
Not nine months as she is facing now!

Nora's family was at the most critical period when her father met with an accident and their failed chilli plantation due to erratic weather that I had blogged earlier, exhausting all financial resources.
They were left totally dry but her children have to be in school and life has to go on.

So, Nora took drastic and unwavering step leaving her 3 young children with her aged mother and bedridden father to be in Batam last Ramadhan.

When others working in faraway land all converged home in Ramadhan to be together for the festive Syawal, Nora left home during the fasting month, leaving her children not only without their father who had simply left his family to pursue his own living, but without their mother too.

To reach Batam, Nora desperately went around asking for loan.

Normally Rp800,000 (about S$116) would be more than enough airfare.
But it was the peak period Ramadhan.

Since demand was more than supply, ticket prices went spiraling, that Nora had to ask for another loan of Rp500,000.

I used to fly to Jakarta from Hang Nadim Airport in Batam to Jakarta.
It costs less than S$100 for return ticket.

But last year, when I offered to pay a family of four's passageway to return home to Semarang from Batam, to spend their Syawal with their aged parents, whom they had not for met more than ten years, ticket price was already Rp1.2 million (about S$170).
And it was around two months away from Syawal.

The husband's mother was always in tears, longing for her only son and never before seeing her two granddaughters, when the couple called home.

Bear in mind, it was after a field day running counter after counter for wanting to secure the cheapest price.
Bear in mind, it was weeks before Ramadhan, in July, not August, and the ticketing girl said, ticket price went up each passing day.

So, I understand Nora's predicament.


The loan had been bothering Nora.
It was really a heavy burden on her shoulder, the biggest stone she ever had on her shoulder, as there was no such thing as to wait for nine months to earn her first salary working in Saudi.

And to tell her mother that her first salary will only be in September, she did not know how to create sentence from the limited words she has.


The cruel maids' world, she only knew and encountered after her two years in Abha, Saudi Arabia.

After her two years of working abroad, after repeatedly hearing others kept saying, she was one of the exceptionally lucky maid, it led her to make a nazar, a promise to slaughter a goat and holding a feast for her village folks after completion of honouring her another two years with the same employer.

When her second two-year contract was completed, upon landing at the airport, immediately after exiting the immigration counter, another maid who returned home together within her group from Jeddah, was struggling and gripping tight, holding Nora's baggage from being pushed away by unknown and suspicious men, hovering around the airport preying from victims.

These vultures, as if being tipped-off, always knew the schedule of return-home maids and many had fallen to become penniless victims, robbed of belongings upon stepping on homeground.
These maids often return to their families not only financially broke, but with shattering brokenhearted too.

The goodhearted maid refused to let Nora charted her home journey with just her and the driver.
Since it was almost nighttime, despite her children and family were all eagerly waiting for her, she was dragged to follow the goodhearted maid home, in Surabaya too.
She was forced to spend her night there.

The 'saint' maid personally chose reliable transportation for Nora to safely reach her waiting family.


Before Nora embarked in search of greener pasture in Singapore, she made a prior nazar, to do the same as what she did before.

But when she worked with her first employer here, she often complained to HIM, what HE gave her was not what she wanted.
She told GOD, her nazar is no trivial matter to look into.
She will do more when HE Gives her more than she had asked for.

As what she told Me, this time, upon completion of her two-year contract, she will qurban, slaughtering a kibasy.
She will ask someone to find the best mountain goat with good meat, the biggest mountain goat yet to be found.
She hope all Nyai's Children will be able to join in the feast she will be going to offer to all her villagefolks.
GOD willing.    


I had told My Husband of Nora's loan since March.

To Him, just get the heaviest stone off on her shoulder, just pay up for her.
After all, it costs Us less than RM400.

Yes, I'll pay up, but not then, in March.
I'll wait until July.
No wonder the zakat, the tithe, He handed Me to give away early this year, I kept postponing.


Yesterday, I told Nora, since it is already July, the promised time has come for her to honour her loan payment.
The promise will be fulfilled when we reached City Plaza.

Nora quickly closed her mouth with both hands when she heard herself shouting loudly

Upon signing the transfer slip, she claimed weightless on both shoulders.
The heaviest stone had automatically slipped away.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Marriage Consent From The Grave

I just fall for the girl.

I knew she was the right person.
But to get her, I had to go through the mother.

So, I became one of the widowed-mother's best friend.

The girl, eldest of four sisters, felt she had to leave school after her A-Level.
She had to help her mother to put her three sisters in school.

I asked a lot about the family.
I popped the question of remarriage to the mother.

She said, it was unlikely to happen.
Sometime, before her sleep, she had the feeling that her husband was watching her from over her head.
Often she dream of him, came back to visit his family, and observed his daughters' well-being.


Our relationship elated the mother more, as her late husband was my mother's classmate.
And, my late grandfather was her late father's best friend.

When her family was staying at Kampung Wak Tanjung, my grandfather used to go to her place.
He went to visit her father, who was an imam at the Wak Tanjung Mosque.


I told my eldest sister that I had found the right girl for my brother.

When she asked about the age, and I said 19, she said that the girl was way too young for my brother, who was already in his late 20s.
Age was never an issue to me, but yes, to my eldest sister.

In the meantime, I prayed hard then, that the girl will be my sister-in-law.

Then, one day, when the girl was around 20 or 21, the mother said a man had asked for her eldest daughter.
The man looked pious with his serban, a turban, on his head.
There was nothing more that the mother could asked for.
Since the man looked religious, he sure knows how to be the head of his family.

The news shattered me, as I still harboured hope in the girl.
Although my sister knew of my intention, but not the mother.
I had not made the proposal yet, even after around two years.

But, the mother continued, her late husband appeared in her dream, rejected the serban man.
The father said, his daughter will marry a man staying just few blocks away from them.

It was until then that I knew of my sister's refusal.
Sure, HE Knows Best, by episodes in our lives yet to unfold.


Not long after that, the mother had a great surprise.
Her few blocks away neighbour whom she already knew for more than twenty years, asked for her eldest daughter.

The mother did not know the neighbour's son had came back to Singapore after studying in Madinah.
He was sent to work in one of the mosque in the eastern side of Singapore, which had just been built.


The girl and her neighbour is now married.
After more than ten years, I knew they have four children, maybe more, now.

I wonder if I can navigate my family from my graveyard.
Although the girl's father had long been dead, but, he still wants the very best for his future generation.

The girl's father-in-law is just an ordinary noja, an ordianry caretaker at his neighbourhood mosque, but all his children, as I see it, turned out to be all super extra-ordinary.

They are not only in Singapore, but Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and sure, more countries which I knew not.
They can be heard over the radio, watched on tv, seen at MUIS and ...

The Robber, The Saint, Because Of Rajab

The notorious robber had passed away.

The children of Madinah knew that Prophet Muhammad sollaahu 'alaihi wasallam dislike what the man did.
The dead man used to roam the streets after midnight to run his activity.
He was elusive, and was never caught.


When news reached the children that the bad man had died,
they dragged his body through the streets of Madinah.
They then threw him into a dry well.

ALLAH Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aala said to the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., 

"O My Beloved Prophet, today one of my saints has passed away. 
You must go and wash him, clean him, cover him, pray for him and bury him." 

Rasullah s.a.w. was surprised because that was the man whose character He did not like.
Now that the man had passed away,
GOD told Him that the highway robber was a saint (wali).

Rasulullah s.a.w. had even told himself, 'that is an evil person. 
He will never pray for him.  
He will not bury him in Muslims' graveyard.'

How could the robber be a saint?

But instead, GOD had told the Prophet s.a.w., 

'O Rasulullah, take him and purify him.' 

Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. immediately called Abu Bakar as-Siddiq radhiallaahu 'anhu and said,

'O Abu Bakar, we have to go and bury the highwayman who died.'

Abu Bakar r.a. said,  

'O Rasulullah, 
You said that You did not want to bury that person in a Muslim grave for he is not a Muslim!' 

But the Prophet s.a.w. said, 

"No! Let alone ordinary Muslims. 
GOD informed Me today that the person was a saint!"


Rasulullah s.a.w. went into the well, and took that person's body out.
Then with His Companions,
they carried the body to the Prophet s.a.w.'s house.
The Prophet s.a.w. himself cleaned, washed
and wrapped the dead man in a shroud.

All the Companions were surprised.
Rasulullah s.a.w. performed ablution for the dead
with his own hands on that man.
He washed and prayed for him,
before the body was brought from Masjidin Nabawi to the Baqi cemetery.

It took the Prophet s.a.w. more than two hours for that fifteen minutes walk,
to move from the mosque to the cemetery,
as he was walking on tiptoes.

And that surprised His Companions even more! 

"O Rasulullah, 'Why are you walking on tiptoes?"

He said,   

"GOD ordered all saints from East to West, 
all angels from the seven heavens 
and all spiritual beings to be present 
and follow the bier (movable frame for coffin) of that saint. 

There are so many of them filling the way, 
that I cannot find a place to put my feet. 

Never in my life was I so surprised as I am today." 


No one can interfere with GOD's Knowledge, not even the Prophet s.a.w.  
If GOD makes the highway robber a saint, no one can ask.  
Everyone around us and everyone that we know,
can always attain betterment, better than us. 
GOD needs no human interference, but it is we, who need HIM. 


After the man was buried, Rasulullah s.a.w., shivering and trembling,
made His way home, without speaking to those around HIM.

Later, when the Prophet s.a.w. sat with Abu Bakr as-Siddiq r.a.,
He s.a.w. asked Himself what the saint had done?
An infamous robber all his life, but to receive such a high merit from the Creator?

Abu Bakr as-Siddiq r.a. said, 

'O Rasulullah, I feel ashamed to ask about what I saw today. 
It was so astonishing.'

To which He s.a.w. answered,   

"Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, I am even more surprised than you. 
I am waiting for Gabriel to come and inform me 
of what has happened." 

When Gabriel 'alaihis salam came, the Prophet s.a.w. asked him, to which he replied, 

"O Rasulullah, do not ask me. 
I am also astonished! 
Yet do not be astonished. 
GOD can do what no one can do.
HE is telling You to ask that man's daughter what he did in his life."


Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., with Abu Bakr as-Siddiq r.a. immediately went to the man's house to see the daughter and said,   

"O My daughter, please tell Me how your father lived."

She told him,   

"O Rasulullah, I am very ashamed before You. 
What am I going to tell You? 
He was a killer, a thief. 
I never saw him do anything good. 
He robbed and stole day and night, 
except for one month during the year. 

When that month came, he would say, 
'This is the month of GOD,' because he heard You said, 

'Rajab is the month of GOD, Sya'ban is the month of the Prophet  
and Ramadan is the month of the Community.' 

So he said,   

'I do not care for the month of the Prophet  
or the month of the Community, 
only for the month of my LORD. 

Therefore, I am going to sit in my room and close it 
and perform seclusion during this month."


The man was out in the street looking for someone to rob. 
He found an old man of seventy or eighty years of age. 

He beat him until he was unconscious before robbing him. 

He then found a small piece of folded paper in the old man's pocket. 
He opened it and found a prayer inside. 

In the name of ALLAH, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful 

I ask Forgiveness of YOU 
for everything for which I repented to YOU then returned to.

And I ask Forgiveness of YOU  
for everything I displeased YOU with, 
and all that concerns me with which YOU are displeased. 

And I ask Gorgiveness of YOU 
for the favours which I used, 
for increasing my disobedience towards YOU. 

And I ask Forgiveness of YOU 
for the sins which no one knows except You 
and no one sees except You 
and nothing encompasses except Your Mercy 
and nothing delivers from except YOUR Forgiveness and Clemency. 

There is no GOD except YOU alone. 
YOU are the Most High, and I was one of the self oppressors!

I ask Forgiveness of YOU 
for the injustice I committed against YOUR servants. 
Whatever of YOUR male or female servants whom I have hurt, 
physically or in their dignity 
or in their property give them of YOUR bounty which lacks nothing. 

And I ask YOU 
'to honour me with Your Mercy which encompasses all things.' 

Do not humble me with YOUR punishment 

but give me what I ask of YOU, 
for I am in great need of YOUR Mercy, O Most Merciful of the merciful. 

May ALLAH send blessings upon Muhammad 
and upon all His Companions. 
There is no power and no might except in ALLAH the High, the Exalted.

Blessings and Peace upon Sayyidina Muhammad, 

His Family, and His Companions.  

The robber liked that prayer, the Istighfar Rajab, very much.

So, every year, when the month of Rajab came around,
the man used to sit and read that prayer day and night.

Only during eating and ablution time did his tears dried.
Other than that, he was weeping all the time, reading the Istighfar Rajab.

But once Rajab was over, the man would get up and say,  

'The month of GOD is finished. 
Now, for my pleasure.'

He went back robbing and stealing for eleven more months.


When Rasulullah s.a.w. asked the daughter to bring Him the paper,
He s.a.w. kissed the paper, then rubbed it over His body.

ALLAH S.W.T. told Muhammad s.a.w.,

"O MY Beloved Prophet, 
that person came and repented to ME, 
in the most precious month of the year. 

For that reason, 
because he sacrificed at least one month of the year for ME, 
I have Forgiven him all his mistakes 
and I have changed all his sins into laudable deeds. 

As he had many sins, now he has many Rewards. 
He became a great saint."