Taman Negara Sungai Keniam (Sebarau, Kelah, 3 Nights Retreat in Wilderness )

Kampung Pagi, Sungai Tembeling

The guy at the jetty said, “There’s so much kelah (mahseer) fish in this watershed, and they will last for generations…”. Wow it was very encouraging. Everybody became so excited, especially when he showed us a 4 kg Kelah recently caught. The price of Kelah is about RM200 per kg. 

Frozen 4 kg Kelah recently caught

Frozen 4 kg Kelah recently caught

However, my angler’s instinct quickly did some mental arithmetics, Mmmm… lets multiply that with a factor of 0.3, then it might be right. Haha… that was at noon in Kampung Pagi, at the bank of Sungai Tembeling.

We planned to depart at 9.00 am from Kuala Tahan, but the boatman was late. He appeared some time later and said, “Guys, it is plan B. The water is too high and we won’t be able to move upstream the rapids with boats fully loaded” 

Water level in Sungai Tembeling was high

Water level in Sungai Tembeling was high

In fact when we checked in at Jerantut rest house the night before, the receptionist was puzzled when we told her that we were going into the national part. On these rainy days?, said her.

That didn’t affect me a bit. Rain or shine, I am sure the national park would give me pleasant time. And that was what I needed, after running this life at high speed on multiple terrains.

Depart from Kg. Pagi

Departing from Kg. Pagi

With plan B, we drove our cars to Kg. Pagi, and boarded the boats from there. The journey started at about 2 pm and since the water was high, we didn’t have to jump down pushing the boat. Only the boatmen did it few times. 

Moving upstream Sg. Tembeling

Moving upstream Sg. Tembeling

Warm Welcome from Sebarau Despite High Water

Along the way, we saw groups of anglers sitting quietly waiting for the bite. Believe me, if eating fish is what you are after, they come handy at the fish market. But those are fresh water anglers, enthusiastically waiting for actions. 

Somewhere upstream of Sungai Keniam, our boat stopped and Ismail the boatman threw his first cast. On the third, his rod quickly bent to form a “J”. Wow ! We were so excited. It was a sebarau (hampala barb) of around 2 kg.

A warm welcome from Keniam's Sebarau

A warm welcome from Keniam’s Sebarau

We reached Lata Said around 6 pm. The boatmen set up our big tents – well it was only roof and ground sheets. Some of the guys immediately started fishing and rewarded with species of carps – lampam, rong and whatever names that I don’t remember, also Baung (Mystus Nemurus), which belongs to the family of catfish I think. For dinner, we were served with variety of fish. They were all delicious, especially “Sebarau masak lemak”. I simply loved it. It also reminded me of my late father who used to bring sebarau home almost every time he went casting net in Melaka river. May Allah showers His mercy to both of my beloved parents

Planning for the next day

Planning for the next day

After dinner was story time. The guide explained the plan for the next day before going to sleep. Some of the guys continued fishing at the campsite, while others started snoring.

Hunting for Kelah

Fishing is perhaps not the right word. Catching would be a taboo. Perhaps hunting better describes the search for Kelah. After breakfast the next morning, we started our journey – trekking the jungle, crossing river and swamp, struggling with leech – until we reached the final destination.

Crossing river on the way to the targeted spot

Crossing river on the way to the targeted spot

Then we spread in pairs to various spots. Then the waiting started. Believe me,… I really mean it. It was full of waiting, haha…

Patiently waiting for Kelah that never come

Patiently waiting for Kelah that never come

Tired of waiting, I went on casting. As always, I prefer dynamics compared to static or steady state.

casting-for-sebarau

Kelah was difficult to catch, but our group got some, enough to make us enjoy the dinner.

Delicious Dinner in the Wilderness

Delicious Dinner in the Wilderness (grilled Kelah, Kelah masak tempoyak, etc)

Beautiful Views of Taman Negara

The best part of this trip was the opportunity to go back to nature. Beautiful views. Soothing sound of fast running water, singing of birds and crickets – it was simply amazing. Very different than daily routines.

keniam2

Hydrogen Researchers in the Wilderness

Living a multi tasking, multi activities hectic life is definitely not easy. But when it is needed, you simply have to do it. It requires sacrifices, determinations and enthusiasms – but these things drain energy, both physically and spiritually. Some forms of stress relief activities must be planned and included in life’s calendar, not merely an adhoc basis – do it whenever you have time. So, activities like hiking, deep sea fishing, mountain climbing etc are included in  the group’s calendar. These are planned along with academic and research activities. I think, it is a right decision.

Five researchers from Center of Hydrogen Energy at Lata Said, Sungai Keniam

Five researchers from Center of Hydrogen Energy at Lata Said, Sungai Keniam

It is time to go home…

Where there is a beginning, there is also an end. The three nights spent were a great blessing to us. It was time to say good bye to Lata Said. While the boatmen were dismantling our tents, the guys continued fishing and served us freshly frilled fish.

Delishious instantly grilled fish

Delicious instantly grilled fish

On our way back, the water level was much lower and our boatmen were really commendable. The way they negotiated the sharp bends and narrow channel as we moved down the rapids clearly displayed their skills.

keniam4

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Warm Farewell from Sebarau, calling us to come back

We were warmly welcome by Sebarau on our way to Lata Said, and on the way back as we were leaving home, we did some casting and Faiz caught a 1 kg Sebarau.

The beginning was a2.5 kg Sebarau, the ending was a 1,5 kg sebarau

The beginning was a2.5 kg Sebarau, the ending was a 1 kg sebarau

Visit to Kg Orang Asli

One of our colleagues planned to organise some programs with orang Asli community as part of joint-events with researchers from the United Kingdom.  We took this opportunity to explore the possibility to do it here near Taman Negara so that the participants would have some opportunities to enjoy the attractions available.

Some of our teammates disembarked at Kg. Pagi to drive the cars to Kuala Tahan, while the 5 hydrogen researchers continued the boat journey to Orang Asli village at the bank of Sungai Tembeling to discuss the possibilities and surveyed the area. They were naturally a nomad tribe, but has settled down for few years in the area and facilitate the tourism industry.

 

Goodbye Taman Negara

Good bye Taman Negara Pahang. Thanks for the treat and we’ll come back ! We are going to miss the time spent there. It was refreshing. The surrounding was beautiful, simply astonishing. The singing of birds, lullaby of crickets and riang-riang, relaxing sounds of flowing streams drifted my mind away from all the problems, deadlines and target KPI’s. Of course, not to forget the snoring of tired researchers that sounded like old trucks struggling to go uphill. hehe…

Keniam6

Back to Old Routines

Once we returned to civilizations, I quickly scanned through emails, whatsupp, telegram, etc. Good news and bad news. The worst was the news of a colleague, a senior professor of UTM being admitted to the intensive care unit at a hospital, after having a heart attack. My Lord, please give him the health needed.

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Sampaikah hati anda?

Khutbah jumaat adalah satu wahana yang amat baik untuk memberi peringatan kepada umat Islam kerana peratusan mereka yang hadir bersembahyang jumaat adalah jauh lebih tinggi dari majlis-majlis ilmu yang di adakan di masjid-masjid selepas maghrib, subuh maupun dhuha.

Namun ada juga yang mengatakan, antara tidur yang paling enak adalah semasa khutbah jumaat. Sebab itu khutbah yang efektif adalah yang jelas isinya dan disampaikan dalam masa yang singkat. Mungkin tempoh yang sesuai adalah 20 minit kerana itulah tempoh masa maksimum yang kebanyakan orang boleh memberi tumpuan. Apatah lagi jika ucapan itu datang dari hati para khatib. Ucapan yang datang dari hati dengan penuh perasaan dan keikhlasan pasti dapat menyentuh hati pendengar.

Khutbah yang aku dengar semalam membuatkan aku terpegun seketika. Khatib membicarakan tentang buruknya amalan rasuah dari perspektif Islam, dan menasihatkan supaya para Jemaah tidak melakukan amalan tersebut.

Amaran dari Allah Azzawajalla amat jelas. Sabda Rasulullah SAW yang diriwayatkan oleh at-Tirmizi bermaksud, “ Penerima dan pemberi rasuah akan ditempat dalam api neraka”. Jika itu kedudukan penerima dan pemberi rasuah, amatlah wajar kita menjauhinya.

Khatib berkata lagi, sampaikah hati para jemaah sekelian membawa pulang hasil rasuah untuk memberi makan kepada ahli keluarga di rumah? Tidakkah kita merasa sayang kepada mereka? Sampaikah hati para jemaah sekelian memberikan hasil rasuah kepada kedua orang tua kita yang telah bersusah-payah membesarkan kita sejak lahir ke dunia ini? Ya… cukup dengan dua soalan itu. Hati yang hidup pasti dapat merasainya. Sampaikah hati anda?

Di akhir khutbah khatib membawa cerita khalifah Umar bin Abdul Aziz, yang merupakan salah seorang pemimpin agung yang patut dicontohi oleh pemimpin hari ini. Mendengar cerita itu, hatiku berkata, “mmm… amazing, it sounds like fiction, yet it is part of a written history, available for later generations to realize that even a normal human being can be truthful and virtuous.” Umar bin Abdul Aziz mengurus negara untuk kepentingan rakyat. Ia melakukannya sebagai ibadat untuk Allah s.w.t.

Bayangkan seorang pemimpin negara yang tidak mempunyai wang untuk membeli baju baru untuk anaknya menjelang hari raya… Ketika itu aku merasa sedih teringat kepada al-marhum bapaku yang juga pernah melalui suasana itu. Tapi dia seorang penoreh getah, sedangkan Umar bin Abdul Aziz itu seorang khalifah. Semoga Allah merahmati khalifah agung itu, dan semoga Allah merahmati kepada kedua ibu-bapaku yang telah melakukan pelbagai pengorbanan dalam membesarkanku dari kecil hingga dewasa.

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The baseline of humanity

I am now at the airport, waiting for a flight to get home, after a long day at a seminar. Lots of interesting ideas gathered and more unanswered questions emerged. One thing that I’ve learnt in this life – change is actually not that difficult to make, it only requires conscience and political will. Lets leave it at that…

Then I watched a TED talk on my mobile. It was a talk by Mellisa Fleming, describing the journey of a young woman who became an unlikely hero, among the 11 who survived a capsized boat that carried 500 people. Not only that she survived, she also saved another life, an infant. It was a touching story. I found a youtube link here that you might want to use.

Melissa also brought about few important points and raised a number of questions. She asked, why isn’t the world more organized in helping the Syrian refugees in the manner that it did to the Vietnamese in the 1970’s? Why is so little being done to stop the war, the prosecution and the poverty that is driving so many people to shore of Europe? She also made few statements that fundamentally need to be understood by all, “… no refugee would be on that dangerous boat if they can thrive where they are.., no migrant will take that dangerous journey if they have food to feed themselves and their children….”

Last month, I met a Professor in Europe who came up with a hypothesis. Well, professors love to hypothesize and assumed that it becomes accepted theory immediately after they said it. That’s why professors enjoy arguing with each other. He said that among the refugees are ISIS fighters that wanted to attack Europe from inside. So Europe should be careful in opening their doors. Then in the next day I met another professors who was severely criticizing the Hungarian for turning their backs on the refugees. He said in a very logical manner, that when they were in crisis and fled their countries to Western Europe, they were welcome. Why couldn’t they do the same for the Syrian?

In the end, there is a fundamental question to be answered on this matter. What would be the baseline? What is the acceptable level of humanity to be adopted by us towards our fellow human being that we share the world with ?

My Lord, please provide us the wisdom needed to make correct judgments…

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Process or Outcome ?

Konvensyen Maqasid Syariah 2015

Konvensyen Maqasid Syariah 2015

Journey and Destination

Quite often I told my students that the journey is as important as the destination. Well, this is very true when we are travelling. Instead of rushing to the destination, why not enjoy the journey – it can be the scenery, the friendships with fellow travellers, or any other things. In fact, the journey can be more enjoyable than the activities at the destinations 

Similarly, quite often I also told my students that the process is as important as the outcome. Yes, in carrying out any task, it is important to scrutinize the process so that we are ensured that the desired outcome would be obtained in the best possible manner, without giving adverse effects to whatever means that we use to produce the outcome.

Over-emphasizing the Process

Nevertheless, I have noticed many situations where people are over-emphasizing the process to the extent that I think they may have forgotten that it is the outcome that they should be working for, because in the end, we want the results. We want the objectives satisfied. But why are these people focusing on the process to the extent that the desired outcome might be compromised?

I really like the legal arguments on the spirit of the law vs the letters of the law. Whenever there is conflicting argument on the interpretation of the laws, they highlighted the importance the spirit so that the interpretations are guided towards achieving the objectives on the rules and regulations.

My fellow academics may have noticed how we sometimes get carried away with the audit exercise based on OBE. This outcome-based education (OBE), is emphasizing on the immediate outcome (Program objectives, PO) and the medium term outcome (Program Educational Objectives, PEO). In achieving these objectives, there are processes that we have to establish. Unfortunately, some of the “guardians” of OBE may have over-emphasized the process to the extent that it is making the process very rigid that it deserved to be renamed to a “Procedure-Based Education, PBE”. I think, some of these people have gone astray, away from the spirit of OBE. The OBE should have allowed more varieties of approaches, more flexibility to achieve the target, after all it is the objectives that we want to realize. 

I am sure many researchers have had colorful experiences with  their Research Management Centers. This is because, the center which is supposed to facilitate researchers has somehow became a gate-keepers and making the life of many researchers more difficult. It seems that establishing good records in maintaining the process is much more important than motivating researchers. That is why when some researchers from various universities met, one of the topic is their RMC. Aah, this is a sensitive one for some… You can use your own imagination.

In fact we can see similar things in many realms of life. The religious department in Malaysia is seen to be more interested in establishing uniformity. That is why during Ramadan, there is circular coming from the department to the mosques telling which chapter of the qur’an should read in which rakaat of solat tarawih, and how many rakaats you should do in congregations in the mosque, etc. Those are processes.

Maqasid Syariah

That is why I really like the fact that “Maqasid Syariah” is now becoming a buzz word in Malaysia. Many are talking about it. Some attempted to explain what it means. Some are focusing on discrediting those who tried to make people understand. Some are saying that we are ignorant, thus we shouldn’t be talking about deep concept like maqasid, let’s leave it to the scholars. And yet they are professionals who have gone through many years of higher educations. I am sure that they can think, if the prefer to do so.

I really like the fact that now, Muslim and Nonmuslim alike are trying to understand this concept. After all, it is the higher objectives of syariah. In designing our procedures of living, we need to ensure that these objectives are satisfied. When we build a system of life, regardless of which domain – social, economics, legal, etc – it needs to satisfy these objectives. It can be done explicitly or implicitly without causing any stir of sensitivities because the outcome is positive, and good for everybody.

Somebody gave me an idea on how to simplify the explanation of maqasid syariah – it means making things better for everybody. Islam will ensure that you have a good life and your rights protected. So, go and get the details from those opportunities arising these days.

I’ve got quite a good dose of it last weekend, and to my surprise, sitting next to me was a young fisherman who came by motorcycle from Melaka to Kuala Lumpur for the event. I asked him, what made you come? He said, he saw the advertisement on facebook and wanted to learn more about what is meant by maqasid syariah. Yes, we have to understand this concept to appreciate what is meant by “Islam as a mercy to mankind”.

 

 

 

 

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Brussels – A Short Guide for Muslim Travelers

Language

If you are in the Euro capital, Brussels, you would find people speak either French or Flemish. Some speaks English. Signage is often bilingual in Flemish and French. Some of the newer metro trains or trams have also English instructions. But if you are not careful, you might be lost, at least for a moment. For example, this can happen on a metro train and when you are expecting your next stop, you saw a different name appeared on display. Haha… that would be the same stop, but the name is expressed in different language. So remember both names or have a map on your hand.

Grand-Place

Place to Visit

Naturally, there’s a place in a city where people would visit just for the sight of it. In Brussels, I think that would be the Grand Place. Nice architecture painted the scenery and the colorful patches of flower in balconies add to its beauty. From there, there are many interesting place to visit, all guided by signposts showing the directions for pedestrians. There are others such as mini-Europe, Atomium and many museums, if you have the time and interests.

mannekan-pis

Mannekan Pis

Food 

Some travelers have difficulty in searching for foods. Others do not face a single bit of it. For Muslim travelers, variety of halal food outlets are available in the city, especially in the area surrounding the Lemonnier Metro Station, in the South side of the city.

A nice Teh-Tarik on the roadside

A nice Teh-Tarik on a roadside cafe

In your excursion on foot in the city, if you have reached the Mannekan Pis (The small statue of a boy urinating), then it is not too far to the area.

Stalingrad- THEY SERVE RICE!

Stalingrad- THEY SERVE RICE!

Mosque 

There are mosques in various places especially in the south side, such as the one on Lemonnier st. Most are houses converted into mosques. A larger purpose-built mosque is located near the Euro buildings. I have been there 2 years ago and what a pity, I didn’t write it down. Luckily, I could vaguely remember that it was located on the same road with the Carrefour express. So today I searched for it and Alhamdulillah, I found it without a problem.

Carrefour Express (Opposite of 11 Schuman)

Carrefour Express (Opposite of 11 Schuman)

So, if you are in the Euro buildings for meetings, walk ahead towards the large roundabout and in the opposite side of 11 Schuman place, there is Carrefour express (a grocery store). From there, follow the road away from the roundabout, and in about 2-3 minutes, you’ll see the Brussels mosque. On your way, you’ll pass the European Personnel Selection Office on your right.

So, you can offer your noon and evening prayers in the mosque during breaks. It is very convenient.

Brussel's Mosque

Brussel’s Mosque

The toilet and ablution areas are in the basement and the main prayer hall is level 2 which can be reached via an elevator.

Be Careful in Busy Areas

I asked the receptionist on the hotel counter, “is this area is considered safe?, he then told me that in general, major cities in Europe including Brussels are safe. Then we had some discussions as I told him about some incidents that I’ve heard of etc ,while waiting for him to do the check in procedure, he then said, “if you are in busy areas, such train stations, subways, etc, be a bit more careful. Take a closer look on your luggages, beware of pick pockets, etc.” So, as a rule of thumb, we need to be mindful of our belongings.

Perhaps, the Professor in Erlangen exaggerated a little bit when he said nobody in Erlangen would steal anything… It is a safe city. Haha… but the aura in Erlangen was a bit different. Much more calm than Brussels. Perhaps he was correct?…

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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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