Korea Experiences – Sharing for Muslim Travellers

I am now in a flight towards Kuala Lumpur from Busan, and I decided to write this piece. Perhaps, it might be useful to some other Muslim travellers bound for Korea.

Traveling in Korea has become slightly easier since my last trip more than a year ago. Today signage in English is more common. However, in general, we still have to depend on mix of words with hand gestures as well as trials and errors.

Traveller’s Saver Card

In this visit, I purchased a train saver pass that entitled me to travel anywhere on any train including the KTX for five days. Reservation for this pass can be made on-line from the KoRail website and the pass can be obtained from any train station by showing the reservation printout and your passport. Then using this card, free train tickets can be obtained from ticket counters. If you are travelling in groups and prefer to sit together on the train, it is advisable to book the ticket ahead of time.

T Money or All Pass Card

These discount cards are used in subway trains, buses, taxis, and some convenient shops. You can purchase and top up the cards at Story Ways, Seven Eleven etc. With this card, each journey provides saving. For example for a journey costing KRW 1500, only 1200 will be charged to the card, or something like that. More importantly, you don’t have to struggle with the ticket machines, especially if English option is not available in the menu.

T-Money (I had it since last trip)

T-Money (I had it since last trip)

Taxi

Interestingly, taxi fares in Korea were relatively cheap. So, if you travel with a group of 3 or 4, taxi would be a cheaper option. There were budget taxis and a bigger one, which was slightly expensive. You can ask the hotel to call the one that you like. They’re all metered taxi. 

Food

For Muslim travellers, to get a full meal would be a bit challenging, unless you know where to find them. If you go to the supermarkets, you’ll find that ingredients are all written in Koreans. So, apart from depending on breads or your own supplies, options are normally available if you can find the city mosque, if there is one.

If you have the option, perhaps it is better to book service apartments for accommodation. In Seoul there’s Hyundai Residence, for example that provides cooking facilities. At least you can cook a quick nasi goreng or something. I stayed there and it was very nice.

Busan Mosque

Busan is the second largest metropolitan city in South Korea. I was told that there are some 30,000 Muslims in Busan, majority of which are foreigners. Busan mosque was built in 1980 based on a donation by a Libyan benefactor and later renovated using funding from Turkish government. The mosque has 3 levels. The uppermost was a small prayer area for ladies. On the ground level offices, libraries, and other facilities are sited.

Inside Busan Mosque

Inside Busan Mosque

As I walked into the mosque, I heard a discussion between two gentlemen. From their appearance, I guessed one was a Korean and the other a Bangladeshi. They were discussing in Arabic, about a hadits that was familiar to me. I share the translation here:

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Everyone of my ummah will enter Jannah except who refuse”. He was asked: “Who will refuse?” He said, “Whoever obeys me, shall enter Jannah, and whosoever disobeys me, refuses to (enter Jannah)”. (Bukhari)

I recalled that this was one of the many hadist that touched my heart when I was young. Suddenly, a reminiscent of the past quickly dispersing into my feelings as I climbed the stairs towards the main prayer hall in level 2. In the hall, I saw a few Indonesians chatting happily. I greeted them and offered my prayer.

After performing my Zuhr and Asar prayer, I sat down with the imam of the mosque in the discussion room downstairs. He introduced himself as Yassir Lee, a graduate of Madinah University. True enough, he was talking to his friend, a Bangladeshi who was also a graduate from Madinah University. They were in a sort of teaching and learning session.

The imam asked me, “what do you understand about the word fitnah?” I told him, in Malay language, fitnah means false accusation. For that reason, Malaysians tend to misunderstand the word fitnah, which may mean trial and tribulation. The Bangladeshi scholar corrected me, by saying, in the book of tafsir, fitnah refers to shirk or bidaah. Yes, said I, since I also remembered reading the tafsir of the verse 2:191, where part of the verse is referring to a phrase, “Fitnah is worse than killing”. The mufassir explained that fitnah in this context is shirk. Many Malaysian quoted this verse, and put it in a different context, with the word fitnah referring to false accusation.

Subhanallah, what a nice moment was that. A short acquaintance that refreshes knowledge.

Turkish Restaurant

Next to the mosque was a house, nicely converted into a restaurant with Turkish murals and decorations. It serves variety of Turkish menu. It was a treat for us as halal food is difficult to be found in Busan.

Cappadocia Kebab

Cappadocia Kebab

The easiest way to get to the restaurant and Busan mosque is to take subway train line No 1 to Dusil station. Then after taking exit 8, just walk straight a head until you see a tyre shop on the right with a gas station on the other side of the road. At that intersection, turn right and very shortly you’ll see capacedonia restaurant on your right. You can have your treat there, or go down a short alley next to the restaurant towards the mosque. I have a full meal of Adana Kebab, one of my favorites. It was a treat indeed.

Itaewon Mosque in Seoul

Seoul has a much larger Muslim population including a substantial number of Malaysian students, and increasing numbers of visitors from Malaysia, perhaps a direct influence from the Korean drama casted on Malaysian TV. Somehow, the Muslim communities are concentrated more in Itaewon. In fact Itaewon is an area with totally different aura than other parts of Seoul. It is International. 

Taking exit 3 from Itaewon subway station, you’ll emerge on the main road of Itaewon. Then walk straight ahead until an intersection, where you need to make a right turn, going uphill on a small road towards the end where you need to turn left. From there, you can see the mosque at the end of the road.

Seoul Mosque

Seoul Mosque

Along the way, there are many restaurants should you want to make a stop. If you want to try some halal Korean food (cooked by Bangladeshi, I think), there’s a small restaurant on the right side of the road, close to the mosque. You can also opt for other choices  – Turkish, Indian, Egyptian-Malay (Siti Sarah), and many others.

Gwangju

Gwangju is the 6th largest city in South Korea. You can get to Gwangju in 1 hour 50 minutes on a KTX from Yongsan station (not Seoul Station) to Gwangju Songjeong Station.From there you can take a metro train to the city. 

My destination was not the city. It was the  Mudeungsan National Park that I’ve fallen in love with. So, I took a metro train to Hakdong-Jungsimsa Station. From there, there’re bus No 9, 50 etc that can take you to the the bus stop near the park.

In this particular trip, Gwangju has not acknowledged T-money, so, I paid cash. My wife had All-Pass Rail Card, and this discount card was useable in Gwangju. Still – a discount travel card is useful.

Outlets for outdoor apparels were plentiful with all major brands - Lafuma, Millet, Columbia, Northface and many others that I didn't recognize - Korean's and international brands.

Outlets for outdoor apparels were plentiful with all major brands – Lafuma, Millet, Columbia, Northface and many others that I didn’t recognize – Korean’s and international brands.

As you walk towards the entrance of the park, you’ll distracted by rows of stores selling branded outdoor apparels and equipment – international brands such as Columbia, North Face, Millet, Merril, Deuters, Lafuma, Alpine, Eider, Fila, Mountain Hard Ware, etc, along with Korean brands such as westwood, center pole etc. So, if you’re not determined to go on hiking, you may end up shopping.

At Gwangju Songjeong Station

At Gwangju Songjeong Station

Gwangju Mosque

I didn’t get chance to visit Gwangju mosque, but there’s one and Friday prayer was held there. Some information can be obtained from http://quran.or.kr/gwangju/. I have not verified the info on the website, use it at your own risks.

Turkish Kebab Stall (Hasan, Murat etc)

Turkish Kebab Stall (Hasan, Murat etc)

Gwangju Kebab

For a quick Kebab meal, there’s a place in the city that I visited during my last trip. In this recent trip, I went straight to the mountain park and back to Seoul on the KTX on the same day. It was a nice outing day which ended with a reward of Turkish meal in Itaewon.

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Hati yang bersih

Yusuf dan Saudaranya

Tersentuh hatiku membaca dialog antara Yusuf a.s. dengan saudara sebapanya yang suatu masa sebelum itu telah menginggalkannya keseorangan di dalam telaga. Kisah tauladan mengenai Yusuf ini diceritakan dengan panjang lebar dalam ayat 4-102. Diringkaskan cerita, Yusuf ditemui peniaga dan dijual. Kemudian dibesarkan oleh orang yang membelinya sehingga dewasa. Kemudian dia diuji dan dipenjara. Liku-liku itu dilalui dengan taqwa. Akhirnya, apabila dia telah mendapat tempat sebagai pembesar negara, ketakwaan dan kebersihan jiwa kekal padanya.

Mari kita amati dialog antara Yusuf dan saudara-saudara yang satu masa dahulu telah membuangnya ke dalam telaga dan ditinggalkan bersendirian.

Yusuf-88

(88) Maka (bertolaklah mereka ke Mesir, dan) setelah mereka masuk mengadap Yusuf, berkatalah mereka: “Wahai Datuk Menteri, kami dan keluarga kami telah menderita kesusahan (kemarau), dan kami datang dengan membawa barang-barang yang kurang baik dan tidak berharga (untuk menjadi tukaran bagi benda-benda makanan negeri ini). Oleh itu, sempurnakanlah sukatan bekalan makanan bagi kami dan mendermalah kepada kami, sesungguhnya Allah membalas dengan sebaik-baik balasan kepada orang-orang yang bermurah hati menderma”.

Yusuf- 89

(89) Yusuf berkata: “Tahukah kamu (betapa buruknya) apa yang kamu telah lakukan kepada Yusuf dan adiknya, semasa kamu masih jahil (tentang buruknya perbuatan yang demikian)?”

Yusuf-90

(90) Mereka bertanya (dengan hairan): “Engkau ini Yusufkah? ” Ia menjawab: “Akulah Yusuf dan ini adikku (Bunyamin). Sesungguhnya Allah telah mengurniakan nikmatNya kepada kami. Sebenarnya sesiapa yang bertaqwa dan bersabar, maka sesungguhnya Allah tidak menghilangkan pahala orang-orang yang berbuat kebaikan.

yusuf-91

(91) Mereka berkata: “Demi Allah! Sesungguhnya Allah telah melebihkan dan memuliakan engkau daripada kami (disebabkan taqwa dan kesabaranmu); dan sesungguhnya kami adalah orang-orang yang bersalah”.

yusuf-92

(92) Yusuf berkata: “Kamu pada hari ini tidak akan ditempelak atau disalahkan (tentang perbuatan kamu yang telah terlanjur itu), semoga Allah mengampunkan dosa kamu, dan Dia lah jua Yang Maha Mengasihani daripada segala yang lain yang mengasihani.

Apa yang dibuat oleh Yusuf a.s. adalah melihat ke hadapan dan bukannya mengungkit perkara silam. Itulah pengajaran yang boleh kita hayati dari kisah yang amat menyentuh hati dari surah Yusuf.  Sahabat, bertadaburlah dengan ayat-ayat Allah.

Bingkisan Ramadan

Hujung minggu lalu aku berkhidmat sebagai supir, memandu sekarelawan menyampaikan sumbangan sempena Ramadan kepada golongan yang kurang bernasib baik di daerah Pontian. Subhanallah, memang hati ini perlu sentiasa diberi peringatan. Sama ada tinggal di rumah PPRT atau di rumah usang peninggalan keluarga ataupun pondok kecil yang dibina dengan kayu-kayu yang mungkin dikutip di pusat pelupusan sampah, kehidupan mereka kelihatan sempit. Mereka meneruskan kehidupan dengan apa yang ada. Ketika itu, hati merasa syukur di atas nikmat yang diberi oleh Allah kepada diri sendiri.

i-bantu-2015

Terbayang di ingatanku seorang nenek tua yang berusia lebih 80 tahun tapi masih tegap berbanding dengan usia. Dia tinggal di sebuah rumah kecil yang dibina dari bahan-bahan terpakai yang usang. Suaminya telah meninggal dunia dan dia tinggal bersama dengan 3 orang cucu lelaki yang tidak mempunyai pekerjaan tetap. Di sebelah rumah kecilnya itu, ada sebuah pondok yang lebih kecil. Di situ tinggal pula seorang lelaki yang kurang upaya. Bila ditanya, “siapa yang bagi makanan untuk lelaki itu?”, nenek tua menjawab, “apa yang saya masak dia makanlah.” Lelaki pertengahan umur itu adalah anak tiri kepadanya. Subhanallah, sungguh mulia hati nenek tua itu. Wahai Tuhan yang Maha Penyayang, murahkanlah rezeki mereka, ampunilah kesalahan mereka sekiranya ada dan berilah mereka kehidupan yang lebih baik di dunia dan akhirat. Amiin.

Sahabat,

Benarlah kata hadits rasulullan s.a.w. “Sesungguhnya dalam diri manusia itu ada seketul daging. Jika daging itu baik, maka baiklah seluruh anggota badannya tetapi seandainya daging itu rosak dan kotor, maka kotor dan rosaklah seluruh anggota badannya. Daging yang dimaksudkan ini adalah hati.”(Riwayat Bukhari dan Muslim daripada Nu’man bin Basyir). Di sana sini, boleh ditemui insan-insan yang baik hati. Beruntunglah mereka kerana mempunyai kelebihan itu walau pun kekurangan dari segi kemewahan.

Marilah kita mengambil keberkatan bulan Ramadan ini untuk mensucikan jiwa. Mari kita guna masa yang ada dengan sebaiknya untuk merebut segala tawaran yang disediakan Allah di penghujung Ramadan yang sememangnya kita nantikan. Semoga Ramadan tahun ini lebih baik dari yang pernah dilalui sebelum ini. Amiin Ya Rabb.

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A week full of mathematics in Copenhagen

Mathematical Modelling 

For whatever reasons, I am comfortable with mathematics and computing. Perhaps it was the motivation from Miss Lim, when I was in school in Ipoh. But last week in Copenhagen, something caught my interest. It was ontology. It is actually a concept that I use all the time, but without formalizing it, let alone to give it a name. It is how we view a process systems before starting a mathematical modelling.

Prof Preisig explaining ontology and mathematical modeling

Prof Preisig explaining ontology and mathematical modeling

Ontology is the philosophical aspects of whatever that we are examining. Using ontology, a unit is visualised from its function, its nature etc, and depicted in various forms to facilitate representation of complex systems. There are two challenges – first is to have a comprehensive view of the system that we are examining, second, is to develop the engine that runs underneath, connecting objects and all its associated physical, chemical and other phenomena, and simulate them all simultaneously. Nice and neat, of course in principle,  but it is not an easy task.  Haha, a student of mine got stuck in developing the engine of functional models that he developed for fault detection system, and I didn’t have enough time to dig deep into the issue to help him solve the algorithms.  

I spent 2 hours listening to various researchers on ontology, including Prof. Preisig from NTNU, Trondheim, with whom I spend another half an hour on the matter. Interesting. Perhaps I’ll get into it later.

Markazi Mosque Copenhagen

After two long days attending conference at the Bella Center Copenhagen, we, a group of professors in process control  decided to visit a mosque. So, at 6 pm we started our journey by a metro train, followed by a bus ride, and searching for the place on foot. Few minutes later we saw a Muslim girl, who directed us to the place. Once inside, the aura was socially warm. It was the center of activity for Jamaah Tabligh of Denmark in Copenhagen. It was a house converted into a musalla. Brother Zahid told us that in the near future the place will be expanded as they have already purchased a plot nearby. At this small place, groups from various places gather in transits before being sent to various communities within Denmark. The mission is simple, calling people to be closer to the Almighty and reminding them not to be absorbed by daily activities, forgetting the mission of life – the world is a farm for the hereafter.

Markazi Mosque Copenhagen

Markazi Mosque Copenhagen

We were told that there are around 250 thousands Muslims living among the 5 million people in Denmark. So, they make about 5 % of the total population. Interestingly, in the aftermath of the “karikatur Danmark” where the Danish newspaper published 12 editorial cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in September 2005, and creating anger on Muslims around the world, more dialogues between muslim scholars and the Danish communities took place. It brought many positive impacts including the construction of a purposely built mosque in Copenhagen, growth in the number of mosques around the country and the locals became curious and interested in Islam. We left the mosque after a short stay, feeling fully recharged. 

PSE 2015/ESCAPE25

The 5-day event of  PSE 2015 was held in conjunction with ESCAPE25 and chaired by Prof Rafiqul Gani of the Denmark Technical University. The organization was neat and the participation was full. Due to some safety and health procedures, the organizer decided to cap the participation to 600 and about 50 % of papers submitted had to be rejected. It was nice to meet and talk to people highly regarded in the academic field..

Prof. Ventakasubramaniam explaining the difference view on process control by academics and plant operators

Prof. Ventakasubramaniam explaining the difference view on process control by academics and plant operators

I was told that once the early bird registration deadline was up, the organisers made their accounting and realised that they have made the break-even point. So, all additional fees beyond the date would be a profit.  Interestingly, instead of smiling and enjoying the would be profit, they decided that now they can offer free registrations from interested  researchers that were hampered by financial constraints. Such a noble act. They understood the aim of an academic conference. It is for dissemination of knowledge and networking, and not for profit making. They do make a little profit though.

That is why I despise some of the professional institutions that put so much emphasis on profit making in running academic conferences. Knowledge creation, dissemination and sharing are noble acts. I call upon all friends in the academic world to have this in mind.

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There goes my place of retreat…

The color of academic world

Living the academic world is not as easy as it is often thought of. Though we are a government employee, we do not even enjoy the standard perks made available for government officers. University is a poorly funded organization, and we have to survive with what’s given.

The expectation on the academicians is almost without limit, often influenced by politicians and the media. Being pressured by the ministry, the university administration cascaded the expected performance to the academicians by embedding increasingly stringent requirement in annual appraisal and promotion exercise. The pressure is increasingly high.

The life of an academician is also tricky. How much you want to contribute, how many hours you want spend on your work etc,… there is no ceiling. Academicians work from everywhere, day and night, even while on holiday. Some are too engrossed in their works and lost track of time, ended up working late until their energy fully drained, not even enough to do physical exercise needed by the body. And it is not strange to find that many are ailing relatively younger.

A routine personal retreat is definitely needed. His mind need to be cleared. He needs to reflect on himself, to reconcile life activities. Maybe he should meditate in a cave (careful, there might be snakes around). Maybe he prefers to travel (careful, don’t miss your classes). To me, outdoor ventures are always appealing. I find serenity within surrounding natural beauty soothing. It doesn’t need to be long, but it has to be scheduled. 

Pemanggil/Aur/Dayang

These three islands have always been my favorite place of retreat.  These are quiet islands visited only by divers and anglers. The sights of dolphin, flying fish, vast blue sea, boats and ships passing through and most importantly patches of small islands in the background are common features. As an activity, we call it fishing trip, but unlike other groups of people, to us, it is the journey that is important, not the outcome. The focus is more on enjoying the moments. Of course, we always caught enough for lunch and dinner plus some extra to take home. Every year we spend some time on these islands – clear water, clean beach, delicious food and great hospitality. Over the years, the islanders have become friends.  

But Taman Negara Johor has confiscated the luxury we had. Not only that we have to pay for fishing fees, we must now stay away from most of the great spots (lubuk) that we used to gather handsome catches. They are are now considered out of bound, as we are no longer allowed to fish within 2 nautical miles off the isles in Johor. For those who enjoyed catching kerapu using bottom drift techniques (I’m included), it is very frustrating indeed.

The policy has a strong impact on the livelihood of the islanders. Some chalets have already closed down. A friend that used to prepare our lunch has now moved with his family to Mersing. The jetty of Pulau Dayang has been dismantled for whatever reasons. One  villager told me that it was rumored that the school in Pulau Aur will be closed, which I doubted. It nevertheless added to the pushing factor for them to migrate to the mainland.

I wonder, … Is this is exactly what the authority wanted to see, less divers and anglers in the area? Perhaps something is coming, that’s what my intuition says. My imagination went wild, but my analyses say that these are plausible. Whatever it maybe, many people are affected, and I don’t like it at all..

Suddenly, South China Sea can no longer promise us a good time, like it used to do in the past.

Endau Rompin National Park

Recently, we went on a recce. In a 15 HP boat, we went upstream from Tanah Abang towards Anak Endau river. The journey took 90 % of the time, and we spent only 3 hours casting lures in the river. Sometimes they ended up on the branches of the tree, sometimes stuck in between rocks. I lost one of my favorite white & red spoon and I failed to catch any Sebarau that I was looking for. It is a different game indeed. When I caught a small Baung (a species of catfish), I can feel the difference.

Jeti Tanah Abang

Jeti Tanah Abang

The aura in this watershed was nice and serene. There were plenty of music from wildlife – I simply didn’t know what they are. Swimming in the cold water was nicer than the salty water of the South China Sea. But the view was different. It was mostly green forest instead of vast blue water.

Relaxing under the shade

Relaxing under the shade

Time was short and we couldn’t do much, but we’ll be back for camping trips. I thing that’s the way to go – 1 night on a raft-house in Tanah Abang, and another night camping. Mmm, whatever happens, we’ll always find something interesting to freshen up our mind and to break boredom and stressful life of modern academics.

 

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Refleksi Orang Tua

Kuliahku tamat jam 10.30 malam ini, tetapi terus didatangi beberapa orang pelajar yang ingin mendapatkan penjelasan. Setelah beberapa minit berbincang, akupun melangkah ke kereta untuk pulang. Dalam perjalanan, fikiranku melayang jauh, teringat saat manis beberapa tahun yang lalu. Ia manis kerana aku menyaksikan kejayaan anak sulungku yang telah menamatkan pengajian diplomanya dengan cemerlang. Ia manis kerana itulah kali pertama aku merasakan perasaan seorang ayah melihat anaknya berjaya melangkah ke alam dewasa untuk terus ke tahap yang seterusnya.

Kemudian, ketika Tan Sri Arshad Ayub melangkah ke hadapan pentas dan berucap dengan refleksi ITM, hatiku amat tersentuh. Aku yakin, ucapan Pro-canselor UiTM tanpa teks itu membuat ramai ibu bapa yang menitiskan air mata. Mungkin graduan yang merupakan generasi Y tidak dapat menghayatinya.

Dia bercerita kisah bermulanya ITM.  Apa semangat mereka ketika itu. Dia bercerita tentang anak-anak desa dikumpul dan disusun dalam program-program akademik,  kemudian dididik sehingga berjaya memasuki kerjaya. Ianya usaha berasaskan semangat perjuangan. Ingin mengubah sebuah generasi. Itulah semangat yang mendorong usaha ke arah kejayaan.

Dia bercerita tentang penarik beca. Ketika itu aku teringat seorang sahabat,  anak seorang penarik beca. Aku pernah melihat bagaimana ayahnya mengayuh beca meninggalkan rumah dan pulang di petang hari. Ibunya pula membakar kuih yang dihantar ke kedai untuk dijual bagi menampung kehidupan. Ayahnya seharian berpanas di jalan, mengutip hasil walaupun sedikit. Anak penarik beca itu berjaya belajar ke luar negara dan berjaya pula dalam kerjaya.

Dia bercerita tentang seorang penjaja. Terbayang pula seorang sahabat yang dibesarkan oleh bapa saudara yang tinggal di rumah rakit. Rumah itu diikat di tebing sungai. Setiap hari mereka menjual air tebu di tepi jalan bagi mendapatkan rezeki yang halal. Usaha itu juga membuahkan hasil. Sahabatku kini juga berjaya dalam kerjaya.

Dia juga bercerita tentang seorang penoreh getah. Ketika itu aku terbayang penoreh getah yang mengayuh basikal di awal pagi di atas jalan tanah merah menuju ke ladang tempat bekerja. Walaupun matahari belum meninggi, bajunya sudah basah kuyup dengan peluh yang menitis dari kepala, muka dan seluruh tubuh. Dia pulang ketika matahari sudah tegak di langit. Dan di petang hari pula dia memikul jala menuju ke sungai atau memikul lukah ke hutan untuk menangkap ikan bagi menambahkan pendapatan keluarga. Memang jerih. Tapi jerih dan lelah itu jugalah yang membesarkan anak-anaknya yang ramai sehingga berjaya.

Sebab itu aku amat marah apabila melihat anak yang tidak menghormati ibu bapa. Sebab itu hatiku tidak senang apabila anak meninggikan suara kepada ibu ataupun bapa. Ingatlah anak, bukan muda ayah dan ibu membesarkan kamu. Mungkin engkau tidak perasan. Mungkin engkau tidak ingat. Setiap fasa kehidupanmu dari lahir hingga dewasa, banyak sekali pengorbanan ibu bapamu.

Suatu hari seorang bapa bercerita kepadaku. Dengan nada bersyukur dia membuat refleksi ringkas perjalanan hidupnya membesarkan anak-anak. Memang sukar dan perlukan banyak pengorbanan. Tapi didorong keazaman, dia mampu bertahan hingga anak-anaknya berjaya. Dia bercerita, “Hari ini aku rasa puas hati. Hilang penat selama ini.” Apakah, tindakan itu. Aah rupanya dia merasa amat bahagia kerana anak-anaknya sama-sama berkongsi memberikannya rawatan yang terbaik kepadanya dan berkongsi membayar bil hospitalnya yang tinggi. Muafakat adik beradik itu menjadi penghibur kepada bapa tua itu.

Mungkin anak-anak generasi Y dan Z tidak faham. Terutama bagi mereka yang mempunyai ibu bapa dari kelas menengah. Dilihat ayahnya berkereta, ibu juga berkereta. Ada yang berkereta mewah. Dia tidak dapat membayangkan kesusahan ibu bapa membesarkannya.

Dilihat ibu-bapa sentiasa mempunyai wang bila diminta. Walaupun kadang-kadang ibu berleter suruh berjimat, namun akhirnya dia dapat juga apa yang diminta. Dia tidak faham pengorbanan ibu bapanya itu. Dia tidak dapat mengerti bahawa pensyarah yang mengajar 6 jam sehari di hujung minggu selepas memandu selama 4 jam untuk mendapatkan pendapatan tambahan itu memerlukan kegigihan. Dia juga tidak menjiwai kejerihan ibu bapa yang terperangkap oleh kesesakan jalan raya sehingga lewat sampai ke rumah. Dia tidak dapat memahami letihnya ibu bapa yang terpaksa bertugas hingga ke malam dan ditambah pula dengan mesyuarat di hujung minggu.

Ibu bapa hari ini juga letih membesarkan anak-anaknya. Mereka juga terpaksa membuat pelbagai pengorbanan, walaupun tidak sama bentuknya dengan apa yang dilakukan oleh penarik beca, penjaja atau penoreh getah. Cabaran kerjayanya memang jauh berbeza tetapi ia juga meletihkan dan memerlukan pengorbanan, di samping keliru dengan kerenah anak di zaman yang berbeza berbanding ketika mereka masih kecil.

Itulah sebabnya Tan Sri Arshad Ayub berkata, “Anak-anak, ciumlah ibu bapamu. Mungkin dia berpeluh dan baunya tidak enak. Tapi dialah yang telah berjasa sehingga kamu berjaya pada hari ini“. Sebagai ahli akademik aku memang banyak menghadiri konvokesyen, termasuk berdiri di atas pentas menyaksikan graduan beratur mengambil ijazah. Tetapi itulah ucapan konvokesyen yang terbaik yang pernah kudengar. Terima kasih Tan Sri.

 

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Selamat Menempuh Hidup Baru – Huda Arshad

Huda-nikah

Kicauan burung di Perdana Terraces memang merupakan kelebihan yang diberikan Allah untuk kami. Alhamdulillah, pelbagai spesis menyanyi riang di awal pagi. Selepas puas tidur dengan nyenyak akibat keletihan, pagi ini fizikalku merasa begitu segar sekali. Mungkin juga kerana telah terangkat satu lagi beban dari bahuku. Anak perempuan yang disayangi telah dinikahkan dan walimahnya juga telah dilangsungkan. Alhamdulillah semuanya berjalan dengan lancar.

Aku masih ingat lagi musim panas 1992 ketika aku sibuk menguruskan perkhemahan musim panas untuk sahabat-sahabat UK & Eire, di Newcastle. Ketika itu aku merupakan pengarah program tahunan itu. Ketika itu juga isteriku sedang sarat mengandung. Sepanjang tempoh dia mengandung, banyak ujian dilalui. Di fasa awal, dia diminta berehat di hospital kerana placenta previa dan pendarahan yang agak banyak.. Setelah 3 minggu di sana, isteri merayu untuk pulang ke rumah. Doktor bersetuju tetapi aku terpaksa mendengar pelbagai amaran dan peringatan darinya dan diminta menandatangani surat mengambil tanggung-jawab dari pihak hospital.

Lebih kurang seminggu sebelum perkhemahan musim panas bermula, isteriku melahirkan seorang anak perempuan. Kami merasa amat bersyukur, Alhamdulillah, mendapat puteri pertama (dia juga satu-satunya puteri dalam keluarga ini)  di samping 3 putera sedia ada. Alhamdulillah, bayi yang pernah dikatakan mempunyai peluang 50% untuk “survive” itu akhirnya lahir dalam keadaan normal dan sihat serta sempurna segalanya. Selepas itu dia sentiasa menjadi penghibur hatiku, dari kecil hinggalah dewasa.

Oleh kerana kami ketika itu sedang sibuk membuat persiapan terakhir untuk perkhemahan yang melibatkan ramai peserta, isteri dan bayi itu ditempatkan di sebuah rumah, bersama seorang sohibah yang juga baru melahirkan anak. Alhamdulillah, semuanya berjalan dengan jayanya dan menjadi kenangan manis dalam kehidupan.

Semoga Allah menjadikan anak itu sebahagian dari kekuatan ummah, bakal meneruskan perjuangan Rasulullah s.a.w., dan sentiasa diredhai Allah s.w.t. Itulah antara bait-bait doa yang bermain di kepalaku dan di lidahku ketika itu. Itu jugalah antara ungkapan-ungkapan doa sahabat-sahabat yang hadir di perkhemahan itu. Itulah juga harapanku pada pagi ini.

Sehari yang lalu, sejurus selepas dia kunikahkan dan apabila pasangannya memperdengarkan lafaz taalik, dadaku berdebar, hatiku menjadi sayu dan di dalam hati aku berdoa, wahai Allah yang Maha Penyayang, berilah petunjuk kepada mereka dan peliharalah pasangan ini agar dapat melaksanakan tanggung-jawab masing-masing dengan baik dan berkekalan dalam membina keluarga keluarga dakwah yang tetap tsabat dalam perjuangan.

Malam itu sukar untukku melelapkan mata walaupun badan terasa letih. Mungkin inilah perasaan yang dilalui oleh ayah yang lain ketika melepaskan anak perempuan masing-masing. Benar tulisan yang pernah kubaca sebelum ini, “my daughter is always my little baby, my little princess, even though she has grown up”.

Selamat jalan anakku sayang, selamat jalan Huda Arshad. Semoga Allah sentiasa memberi kekuatan dan petunjuk kepadamu untuk menjadi isteri yang solehah dan ibu yang penyayang yang bakal mendidik pemimpin umat masa hadapan. Semoga doa yang selalu kubaca ini diterima oleh Allah yang Maha Pengasihani.

rabbana-hablana

“Wahai Tuhan kami, anugerahkan kepada kami dari pasangan kami dan zuriat keturunan kami perkara-perkara penyejuk hati kami, dan jadikan kami pemimpin bagi orang-orang yang bertakwa”. (QS. Al-Furqan: 74).

Dr. AA, 8.00 am Ahad, 22 Mac 2015

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Do locals benefit from industralization?

NNP-jobs I’ve just heard something interesting from the French experiences, yesterday. Whether it was exaggerated or not, it is not important, but the idea is fundamentally correct and the impact has been very positive. They were talking about some policies on getting the locals actively involved in their nuclear energy program.

Well before the project commenced, the communities were actively engaged and the plans were presented transparently so that the public was aware about what was coming. Then as the works started (and even before that), training programs were launched to prepare the locals to be part of the nuclear power plant economy, which was expected to be massive. The lifecycle of a nuclear power plant is about a century. The design and engineering plus construction would take 10 years or so, operation is aimed to be about 60 years, and decommissioning would take another 20 years. So, it is 90 years. If you include the process of decision making and delays, it is a one century business that spans across 2 generations. So, it makes a lot of sense to invest on the locals.

Their definition of locals is as narrow as the people of the vicinity of the plant, the town folks themselves. They have certain policy installed to ensure the contractors, operators etc train and hire the locals.

When I heard their explanations, my mind drifted to the villagers in Paka and Kerteh. My heart is with the people of Pengerang (I visited Pengerang recently). The Kerteh petrochemical complex brought significant development to Trengganu and many people benefited. There are some “locals” working in the plant. The companies have some engagements with the communities such as safety awareness etc as required by the safety guidelines. My question is, how much do they benefit from the industry that has brought hazard to their homes? I recalled seeing an old lady squatting on the beach digging for “remis” or “kepah” (both are shellfish) not far from the ethylene and polyethylene plants. How much benefit has this industrialization provided to the villagers?

The cost of living increased significantly due to the higher purchasing power of the “oil people” working in the areas. Maybe it helped some of the food stall operators, but this is just a handful.

Somehow, I think the French was right in doing what they claimed they were doing. Maybe they had to be that way due to the nature of the population, but I am sure you would agree with me that a local would love the place more than the temporary migrants. I believe it would be nice if we can make the people feel that they are part of the development, and recognize the importance of those installations, and they themselves have some roles in them.

Perhaps we need some of those policies on “localization” of economic activities. Bottom line is, we don’t want to make the locals poorer by bringing developments to them. Teach them how to fish so that they can catch a lot more since there are many new species made available by the new “lubuk”.

Dr. AA (while waiting for a flight at KLIA)

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