Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Majlis Ilmu: Sidi Abdal Hakim Murad di Malaysia

Sunday, March 28, 2010
7:30pm - 9:30pm
Masjid Tengku Kelana Putra, Jalan SS7/13, Kelana Jaya

One of the great Shaykh from UK. In UK, we have Cambridge and Oxford. And in Islamic world, we have Al-Azhar. This Shaykh went to study in all three universities.Conversant in both traditional Islamic scholarship and Western thought and civilization, he is one of intellectual giant in Western Islamic circle.

Welcome to Malaysia, our dear Shaykh!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Queen Victoria and Abdul

Original article here

Early one cold, February morning in 1901, the inhabitants of a cottage on the Windsor Castle estate were startled by a loud banging at the door.

Tired and dazed, the head of the household, Abdul Karim, opened the front door to find a party of guards standing outside, menacingly. They were accompanied by Queen Alexandra, wife of the new king, Edward VII, and by Princess Beatrice, youngest daughter of the late Queen Victoria.

It was on King Edward's orders that the house was raided. Only days before, Abdul Karim had been given a prominent place in Queen Victoria's funeral procession - which aroused the disgust of her family.

Now, much to his astonishment, the guards were ordering him to hand over every letter, note and memo that the late Queen had sent him over the 13 years he had served her.

She was a prolific letter writer, sometimes penning several a day to Karim - and often signing them 'Your affectionate Mother'. As anyone would have done, Karim had treasured them.

But the new King wanted them destroyed. A bonfire was started outside the cottage and Karim watched in abject horror as desks, drawers and cupboards were turned out.

Abdul Karim, the man whom the Queen had called her 'dearest Munshi' (teacher), could only watch in silence, while his wife stood beside him, tears coursing down her veiled face, as every scrap of paper bearing Victoria's distinctive handwriting was hurled on to the fire.

The Munshi and his family were then ordered to pack their bags and leave for India immediately.

But what on earth had he done to elicit such vengeful behaviour from the usually genial Edward?

The answer lay in the letters that now crackled on the fire - for they told the story of how a young Indian man, who had arrived in Britain 13 years earlier as a mere waiter, had risen to become the Queen's closest companion - and was treated more like a favoured son than a servant. The fascinating relationship between them is told in a new book, Victoria And Abdul: The True Story Of The Queen's Closest Confidant.

Queen Victoria had developed a fascination for all things Indian after she was made Empress of the country in 1876. For her Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1887, she declared that she wanted someone at hand who could help her address the Indian princes who were due to attend the jubilee.

And so she wrote to her officials in India, asking for two Indian servants to be sent to her for a year's duration. One of those who was picked was a 24-year-old clerk from Agra - Abdul Karim - who was given a crash course in the English language, social customs and court etiquette - and fitted out with smart tunics and trousers.

Together with a jolly, portly man selected as the other servant, he arrived in England in June 1887, just three days before the start of the Jubilee celebrations.

The Queen, then aged 68, had been a widow for 26 years. For a while, the void in her life left by the death of her beloved Albert in 1861, had been filled by John Brown, the highland ghillie who became her trusted companion.

Their relationship was so close that there were rumours that they were lovers - or had even secretly married - and the Queen was dubbed 'Mrs Brown'. Even her children referred to the Scot as 'Mama's lover', fiercely resenting the hold that he appeared to have over her.

But Brown died in 1883, leaving the Queen devastated and lonely once more. 'I sat alone! Oh! Without my beloved husband,' she wrote mournfully of the Jubilee thanksgiving service.

On the third day of the Jubilee celebrations, the weary Queen was introduced to her 'present' from India - the two impeccably dressed young servants, one stout and smiley, the other tall, handsome and grave. She perked up noticeably. The two began waiting at the Queen's table. Karim quickly became the favourite, impressing her with his dignified bearing, assisting her with her boxes of official correspondence.

Emboldened, he decided to make a curry for her, which she pronounced 'excellent', decreeing that curry should be served regularly.

Such was her enthusiasm for all things Indian that Victoria decided to learn the language of the country she reigned over from 4,000 miles distant. And who better to teach her than the helpful young man who stood beside her?

Karim was delighted. To be appointed Munshi - teacher - to the Queen Empress was a huge honour.

Lessons commenced immediately, with the Queen and her Munshi sitting together every evening, as he taught her new phrases.

When the court moved to Balmoral for the summer, the Queen declared: 'Pray take care that my good Indian people get one of the Upper Servants places. Also that they have every comfort so that they are warm at night.'

Already some members of her household were irritated by the way she fussed over the Indians, Karim especially. Soon they were grumbling that he was beginning to resemble an Indian John Brown. They walked and talked together, with him telling a fascinated Queen stories of India, and her confiding in him more and more as his English improved.

In February 1888 she wrote to her daughter Vicky, the Empress of Germany: 'Young Abdul (who is in fact no servant) teaches me and is a very strict Master, and a perfect Gentleman.'

Aware of the Queen's growing reliance on him, Karim threatened to return to India unless his job elevation was made official.

Horrified at the idea that she might lose him, Victoria at once assented. He was now no longer a servant, but a full member of the Royal Household. Even Brown had never been so elevated, remaining a servant till his death.

There was no question of Karim's returning to India when his year was up - instead, more Indian servants were imported.

Karim saw every letter that Victoria sent, and she soon took to discussing their contents with him. The Viceroy of India started receiving frequent missives from the Queen, advising him how to deal with sectarian problems between Muslims and Hindus. Her solutions always seemed to favour the Muslims: Karim was, of course, a Muslim.

Her readiness to involve the Munshi in official business must have been galling for Bertie, the Prince of Wales, as Victoria refused to let him see any state papers.

The following summer at Balmoral, Karim's replacement of John Brown in the Queen's affections was confirmed when Victoria left for the 'Widow's Cottage,' the small house she had built for herself after Albert's death, in a secluded spot three hours' ride from Balmoral. She had stayed there alone with John Brown on several occasions, giving rise to gossip and jibes of 'Mrs Brown.'

After Brown's death she had sworn she would never sleep there again, but now she spent the night there - accompanied only by Karim. Once again, her conduct shocked the Royal Household - but Victoria was unperturbed.

Although besotted by the handsome young Indian 40 years her junior, the Queen's affection was maternal rather than romantic, signing herself 'your dearest mother'.

When Karim fell ill she would attend him herself, smoothing his pillows. When he returned to India for his annual leave she wrote to him daily. And Karim, though fond of the Queen, was quick to exploit her devotion. He demanded a special pension for his father and for himself a grant of land in India from which he could receive an income. Victoria overrode the objections of the Viceroy to grant his wishes.

Karim was now a wealthy man - but an increasingly unpopular one. The other Indian servants complained that he tyrannised them and Victoria's children were infuriated that their mother seemed to be in thrall to him.

At Balmoral, she had a house built especially for him. At Osborne and Windsor, he had his own cottages and redecorated them with no expense spared, while her own children were severely upbraided for extravagance.

She commissioned portraits and photographs of him just as she had of John Brown, hanging his photograph in her bedroom alongside those of Brown and Albert.

Worried that he might be missing his family, the Queen allowed him to bring his wife and mother-in-law, and later his nephew, over from India. She enjoyed taking guests to take tea with the veiled Indian ladies, her living emblems of the exotic east. The Munshi's visitor's book soon read like a Who's Who of European royalty.

She showered the Munshi with honours till his chest glistened with medals including the CIE, Companion of the Indian Empire. Unsatisfied, he asked for more, even demanding a knighthood, although Victoria for once took her courtiers' counsel and refused to grant this.

The rest of the royal household did not share Victoria's disregard for barriers of class or race and grumbled about the 'black guard,' as they referred to the Munshi and his family. Furious, Victoria ordered that the word 'black' about was not to be used in connection with them.

Although racism and snobbery undoubtedly played a part in the hostility towards the Munshi, his grasping, arrogant behaviour exacerbated tensions - but the Queen always defended him from attac

If she ever reproached him he would fly into a temper and threaten to return to India, whereupon a weeping Victoria would desperately placate him. She once complained to Sir James Reid, her personal physician and hitherto most trusted confidant, that the Munshi bullied her, but would not let Reid intervene.

No one could understand why the Munshi exerted such a hold over her, although some had their theories. Her Private Secretary, Henry Ponsonby, thought that the Munshi was, for her, 'a sort of pet, like a dog or cat which [she] will not willingly give up.'

One of her prime ministers, Lord Salisbury, believed that she enjoyed the spats over the Munshi with her household because 'it was the only excitement she had'.

The reality was that the Queen was lonely. Her relationship with her children, particularly the Prince of Wales, was distant and often strained. She needed someone who was loyal to her above all others, someone to gossip with and confide in.

On one occasion, during her Diamond Jubilee year of 1897, the entire Royal Household threatened to resign if Victoria insisted on taking Abdul on her annual European holiday as usual. They had just found out that this supposedly devout, married man was being treated for recurrent venereal disease - and were appalled that they would be forced to socialise with him as an equal.

It grated that he was given the best rooms in the hotels and villas where the royal party stayed, his own royal carriage and footman.

As always, Victoria took the Munshi's side, turning furiously on her mutinous staff. The household backed down, realising that there was little they could do to dislodge the Munshi while the Queen was alive. But they began sharpening their knives for later...

In 1900, an increasingly frail Queen was dealt a bitter blow when her son, the Duke of Coburg, died of cancer, the third of her children to die, and one of her grandsons died in the Boer War.

By the end of the year it was clear that her health was failing and she became more exhausted. On January 22, 1901, at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, the 81-year-old Queen died peacefully in her bed.

Having suffered the agony of having his personal correspondences and keepsakes destroyed by fire, Karim returned to India with his family, as ordered - albeit it a far stouter, far wealthier man than he had left 13 years earlier. But he did not live long to enjoy his riches, dying eight years later aged 46.

Even then the hounding of his family did not cease. Edward VII, paranoid that some papers might have survived the burning, ordered the Viceroy to send agents to demand any remaining correspondence from the Munshi's grieving widow, forcing her to give up the personal notes and photographs the Queen had given to her.

Just as he had tried to expunge the evidence of his mother's relationship with John Brown, destroying the busts and statues of him that Victoria had commissioned, so Edward wanted to obliterate all traces of her relationship with the Munshi.

It was a sad, bitter postscript to a most unusual friendship, one that, however divisive it had been, had brought comfort to a lonely Queen in the twilight years of her reign.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Obligation of Sacred Law: Between Ease and Difficulties

"This is the problem that many Muslims suffer from at present. The word ‘challenges’ is a modern word that was unknown to the previous generations. It is a word that is on the lips of everyone surprised by their impotence, when they depend upon themselves. When they rely upon their own power they are surprised by their weakness. They began to explain this away by using the term ‘challenges’. Certainly the companions of the Messenger of God never knew this word. Undoubtedly, the strains that they were put under were several times worse than the so-called ‘challenges’ endured by most of todays Muslims."

-Shaykh Dr Said Ramadan al-Buti-

Read and listen to the khutbah here

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Orthopedic in PD

Since I was transferred to be in charge of the wards in January, I've been 'entrusted' to run the Orthopedic Clinic in Port Dickson Hospital. Of course, there are few more MOs but all of them are so reluctant to run the clinic (we have loads of patients down here). We have 2 session, one on Wednesday with Mr Michael from HTJS, Seremban and another one on Friday with Prof Karim or Mr Chee Kid from IMU, Seremban.

I am not really 'into' Orthopedic since my medical years. I did housemanship in UMMC and in Orthopedic, housemanship is considered 'honeymoon' period for interns. Plus, I was in Oncology Orthopedic team under Mr (now AP) Vivek. Sadly, most of the cases that referred to our clinic are not Osteosarcoma, Ostoechondroma or pathological fracture. I was fortunate enough to work in Emergency Department in Seremban before being 'pushed' to district hospital. Thus, I had experiences in dealing orthopedic trauma cases.

It was a good news from our Pengarah that PD will be opening (re-opening) her Operation Theater again. We have OT but it is not functioning simply because there are no surgeons and anesthetists around. By July or August, we'll be opening our OT for minor procedures. Simple surgical and Orthopedic procedures will be done here, instead of referring them to Seremban. Previously, all cases will be referred to our clinic and then reviewed by the specialist. If the cases need any surgical intervention, we'll refer to Seremban. Now, PD folks including patients from Pasir Panjang, Lukut, Sunggala and as far as Bukit Pelandok will not be having any difficulty to get their op done. We can do it here (for simple procedures like K-wiring or plating).

Unfortunately, that means there will be an extra burden on us, the medical officers. With only 7 people in charge of the ward, one of us will have to go to assist the surgeon during operating days. Isaac will be sent for training under anesth in Seremban. The problem is, with the OT running, we don't have enough MOs doing the job in the ward. We got MOPD on Monday and Tuesday. SOPD on Monday and Wednesday.Orthopedic Clinic on Wednesday and Friday. ENT, Ophthalmology and PSY are also having their clinics.I just don't know how we are supposed to run the clinic and at the same time looking after the patients in ward and assisting surgeons in OT. Bear in mind, there's no houseman in PD!

My boss already told me that a complete/full Orthopedic team will be established in PD.Since I was running the orthopedic clinic here, I was invited to join the team as permanent Orthopedic MO. So far, I haven't make up my mind since I'm am no good at carpentering. Anybody interested joining Orthopedic team in PD?

Shaykh Ali Ghoma:Matan Arba'in

Kuliah yang membicarakan hadith 40 yang disusun oleh Imam Nawawi (rahimahullah) oleh Mufti Mesir, Shaykh Ali Ghoma.Sesiapa yang ingin mengikuti keseluruhan pengajian, sila ke laman web ini. Disampaikan dalam bahasa Arab dengan sarikata bahasa Inggeris.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Semalam, Pejabat Kesihatan Daerah Port Dickson menganjurkan sambutan sempena Mawlidur Rasul peringkat daerah.Tetamunya, Ustaz Hassan Mahmud al-Hafiz, mantan Imam Besar Masjid Negara. Terasa nostalgia sedikit mendengar kuliah beliau. Maklumlah, beliau antara pengacara program al-Kulliyyah yang terawal di TV3.

Ustaz Hassan masih dengan stail lama beliau.Ceramahnya santai dan penuh humour.Beliau berkesempatan bercerita tentang kisah hidupnya yang dahulunya pernah dimasukkan ke HUKM dan koma beberapa hari kerana Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Beliau memberitahu, saat itu dalam keadaan koma beliau mampu mendengar apa yang diungkapkan oleh salah seorang doktor yang merawatnya.Malahan, semangatnya untuk sembuh menjadi begitu luar biasa dengan rangsangan tersebut meskipun beliau diramalkan akan mati dalam masa beberapa hari. Sehingga sekarang, beliau sangat yakin dan percaya bahawa seorang pesakit, terutama yang sedang koma boleh mendengar, sensitif dan merasai persekitaran mereka meskipun mereka tidak mampu bertindak balas terhadap faktor luaran tersebut. Ustaz Hassan sempat menasihatkan kami,

"Berilah semangat dan kata-kata pendorong terhadap pesakit-pesakit anda. Kebanyakan pesakit sebenarnya tidak sakit, tetapi mereka cuma tidak mahu sembuh!Kadang-kala keikhlasan yang terpancar melalui kata-kata boleh menyembuhkan!"

"Bisikkanlah pada telinga pesakit-pesakit yang tenat ayat-ayat ini:
Wahai jiwa-jiwa yang tenang! Kembalilah kepada TuhanMu dengan hati yang puas lagi diredhaiNya.. maka masuklah ke dalam jemaah hamba-hambaKu dan masuklah ke dalam syurgaKu.. (Al Fajr 27-30) ".

Terima kasih, Ustaz Hassan kerana mengingatkan!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Belasungkawa: Shaykh Muhammad Tantawi

(RFE/RL) -- One of the most prominent and respected moderate voices in the Sunni Muslim world -- Sheikh Muhammad Sayed Tantawi -- died today during a visit to Saudi Arabia. He was 81.

For 14 years, Tantawi used his position as Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University in Cairo to defend traditional interpretations of Sunni Islam against challenges from radical Islamist groups such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

He repeatedly condemned the use of terrorist attacks against civilian targets and labeled extremism in general as against Islam.

"It is not appropriate to link Islam to terrorism and destruction," he said in an interview with RFE/RL's Tajik Service in October. "Terrorism means destroying lives of peaceful people, and all religions and humanity condemn it."

As the head of Sunni Islam's most prominent theological institute, Tantawi's opinions and fatwas carried tremendous moral and legal weight. Al-Azhar's teachers are traditionally respected throughout the Sunni Muslim world, and its grand sheikh's views are given particular consideration.

In 2003, Tantawi notably called suicide bombers "enemies of Islam." He also spoke out against the misuse of the word "jihad" by extremist groups, saying the difference between the meaning of jihad in Islam as a religion of peace and its meaning for extremist groups is "like the earth and the sky."

In The Headlines

Tantawi often found himself in the headlines as he was asked to give his opinions on the most topical issues in the news. He not only spoke out against suicide bombings but also weighed in on controversies ranging from face veils to abortion to female circumcision.

Asked to give his judgment on whether Muslim women in France should wear head scarves in public classrooms, he ruled that Muslim girls could take off their head scarves while attending school. That ruling reflected his opinion that removing the head scarves was the lesser of evils compared to the girls not receiving an education.

In the heated politics surrounding many of the issues Tantawi considered, his lengthy and complicated legal opinions were often only partly quoted by the news media.

He at times complained that he was misunderstood, including in a famous ruling last year banning students from wearing full-face veils, or niqab, in Al-Azhar's girls' schools across Egypt. Islamist political groups in Egypt accused him of seeking to ban face veils in public. But speaking to RFE/RL's Tajik Service in October, Tantawi said his fatwa had no such intent.

"We have never issued a fatwa that a Muslim woman cannot wear a niqab in public places. We have only ordered that female students should not wear a niqab in classrooms, where all other students and teachers are women. There is no need to wear a niqab in such all-women classrooms," he said.

"It doesn't make any sense when a female student wears a niqab when she is with her fellow female classmates -- all wearing adequate Islamic clothes. And besides, there is no man in the classroom. Our fatwa was about this particular issue, only."

Regarding abortion, Tantawi said it should be allowed in cases of rape. At the same time, he opposed female circumcision, saying the practice had "nothing to do with religion."

However, while Tantawi's views on many issues angered those with more severe interpretations of the faith, his views could equally anger progressives.

Not Influenced By Politics

He took an orthodox stance on the place of women in Islam, opposing women as imams in mixed congregations. He said that when a woman "leads men in is not proper for them to look at the woman whose body is in front of them."

Islamist political movements in Egypt often accused Tantawi of promoting a moderate view of Islam to serve the interests of the Egyptian government. Cairo, which appoints the grand sheikh of Al-Azhar, has sought to suppress political Islam as a rallying point for opposition movements.

But Tantawi, who was the state-appointed grand mufti of Egypt for 10 years before heading the entirely state-funded Al-Azhar, maintained his views were not influenced by politics.

In addition to heading Al-Azhar University, Tantawi was grand imam of Al-Azhar mosque.

A member of Tantawi's office, Ashraf Hassan, told Reuters that Tantawi's deputy, Muhammad Wasel, is expected to temporarily lead the university and mosque complex until the Egyptian president appoints a new head.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Kuliah Hikam

Semalam, aku singgah ke masjid TTDi untuk solat Maghrib berjemaah. Kebetulan, ada kuliah mingguan oleh Dr Zulkifli al-Bakri. Selama ini aku berhajat untuk hadir ke majlis kuliahnya di Port Dickson, Isnin malam Selasa. Malangnya, aku tak pernah berkesempatan.
Masya Allah, aku boleh rasakan kelembutan dan ketenangan yang cukup luar biasa dalam kuliah beliau.Tidak dinafikan ada ramai para ustaz dan tuan guru yang mengajar di masjid-masjid di sekitar Lembah Klang. Namun, ustaz Zulkifli ini agak istimewa. Mungkin kerana tendency tasawwuf yang agak terpancar melalui ceramah-ceramahnya. Anak murid Shaykh Salih Farfur, Shaykh Rusdi dan Shaykh Hassan Habanakah dari Syria ini mempunyai daya tarikan tersendiri di sebalik ketenangan dan kelembutan tutur katanya.
Semalam, beliau membahaskan kitab yang beliau karang yang diberi judul 'Ahasin Kalim Syarah al-Hikam'. Kitab ini merupakan syarahan kontemporori Hikam Ibn Ata illah al-Sakandari.Dr Zulkifli membahaskan nama-nama lain bagi tasawwuf. Ini termasuklah;

Ilmu Tazkiyah
Ilmu Suluk
Ilmu Batin
Ilmu Sirr
Ilmu Zauq
Ilmu Ladunni (yang pernah disebutkan dalam surah al-Kahfi)
Ilmu Kasyaf
Ilmu Ihsan
Ilmu Ikhlas

Syakh Dahlan al-Kadiri pernah menyebut dalam kitabnya 'Siraj al-Talibin' bahawa hukum belajar ilmu tasawwuf ialah wajib ain. Ini kerana, seperti kata Syakh Syazili, "Siapa yang tidak menceburi ilmu kiyta ini, nescaya dia mati dalam dosa besar yang tidak disedari."

Sekali lagi, Dr Zulkifli menerangkan kalam Imam Malik yang pernah mengatakan;

"Siapa yang bertasawwuf tanpa memahami fiqah, sesungguhnya dia kafir zindiq.
Sesiapa yang mempunyai fiqah tanpa tasawwuf, sesungguhnya dia fasiq.
Sesiapa yang menghimpunkan kedua-duanya, nescaya dia tahkik (benar)."

Sumber ilmu tasawwuf ialah daripada Quran, Sunnah, ilham orang soleh dan futuh orang alim. Perkara ini menarik untuk diteliti kerana tidak seperti pandangan Barat atau manusia liberal yang mementingkan logik akal dan pandangan empirikal sebagai sumber ilmu, Islam mengiktiraf ilham dan pembukaan orang soleh sebagai salah satu sumber ilmu. Bahkan banyak orang soleh yang menjadi jagoan dalam bidang fiqh dan hadith turut dikurniakan Allah SWT dengan ilmu ladunni atau ilmu kasyaf ini.

Imam Shafi'i misalnya diketahui umum sebagai imam dalam fiqh tetapi riwayat hidupnya turut menggambarkan beliau sebagai seorang wali Allah yang tajam firasatnya. Dikatakan bahawa beliau mampu mengetahui dan menilai seseorang daripada pemerhatian mata sahaja (samada seseorang itu seorang yang beriman atau fasiq).Begitu juga dengan Imam Nawawi dan Imam Sayuti yang masing-masing dikatakan mempunyai karamah dan kebolehan luar biasa. Namun, kelebihan yang paling dikagumi daripada mereka ialah keilmuan mereka yang masih bermanfaat sehingga sekarang. Tidak ada seorang penuntut ilmu pun yang tidak perlu berterima kasih kepada Imam Nawawi atas sumbangannya dalam bidang hadith, terutama dalam karya Syarah Sahih Muslim. Atau dalam bidang fiqh di mana matan Minhajul Tabilin menjadi matan utama dan antara yang tertinggi dalam fiqh Shafi'i.

Bagaimanapun, seseorang tidaklah harus menjadikan ilmu tasawwuf sebagai alat untuk mencapai atau memperolehi kelebihan-kelebihan yang bercanggah dengan adat. Fokus utama ilmu tasawwuf ialah mendidik hati bagi mengenal Allah SWT. Justeru, dalam keadaan sosial masyarakat yang sedang menggila, ilmu tasawwuf diharap dapat menawarkan antidot untuk mendepani masalah-masalah dalam masyarakat.