Thursday, May 27, 2010

Charity and Blessing

In a surau the other day, a friend read for me a sentence from a book that goes something like this:-
In the morning, some Angels would supplicate “Dear Allah, please give back, the equivalent or better to those who have given to charity (sodaqah); please take away part or all things that people hold back from giving to charity”.

Note: Non-Muslim readers are much-welcomed to read but may find the content is a tad too "Islamic".

An enterprising cousin, who has been operating a ‘not too small’ roadside food stall, has recently confided in me the secret of her success:- Her late mother told her to give to charity whatever little that she can spare – after following her mother’s advise her business ‘blossomed’. A three storey bungalow somewhere in Gombak near Batu Cave is a testimony of her endeavour (Oops! her word here, I believed her husband has also contributes big time for the bungalow).

The story of AbdurRahman ‘Auf (one of the richest men during Rasulullah s.a.w. time) might have been recounted to some of you umpteen times over the years, in short the story goes like this:-
AbdurRahman was bringing back a trade expedition of 70 fully loaded camels to Madinah.
On confirming the tradition of Prophet which (more or less) pointed out that ‘AbdurRahman will crawl on his way to enter the paradise due to his wealth in this life’, AbdurRahman then donated the whole 70 fully loaded camels to Baitul Mal (House of Finance).
Hardly a week has passed-by, by the grace of Allah: AbdurRahman has through normal trading/business, regained a similar size of wealth.

Following are some verses from Al Quran that relates to wealth, sodaqah, remembrance of Allah and spending for the betterment of souls.

“Verily, as for the men and women who accept the truth as true and who [thus] offer up unto Allah a goodly loan, they will be amply repaid, and shall have a noble reward [in the life to come].." (Al Hadid, Verse 18)

Say: “Behold, my Sustainer(Allah) grants abundant sustenance, or gives it in scant measure, unto whomever He wills of His servants; and whatever it be that you spend on others, He [always] replaces it: for He is the best of providers.” (Surah Saba’, Verse 39)

O ye who believe! Let neither your wealth nor your children distract you from remembrance of Allah. Those who do so, they are the losers. (Surah Al-Munafiqun, Verse 09)

And spend of that wherewith We have provided you before death cometh unto one of you and he saith: My Lord! If only thou wouldst reprieve me for a little while, then I would give alms and be among the righteous. . (Surah Al-Munafiqun, Verse 10)

So keep your duty to Allah as best ye can, and listen, and obey, and spend; that is better for your souls. And whoso is saved from his own greed, such are the successful. (Surah Al-Taghabun, Verse 16)

If ye lend unto Allah a goodly loan, He will double it for you and will forgive you, for Allah is Responsive, Clement. (Surah Al-Taghabun, Verse 17)

My late FIL and MIL stayed with me for few months before my FIL felt that he should go home for the Ramadhan in late 1999. I remembered very clearly that before they came over, for months I used to have RM10-30 in my bank balance a day before the salary day. Somehow my saving improved, I have some RM200 -300 addition to the previous balance to my bank account for each month of their stay.

I did not earn any extra money through salary increase or other activities and I did not recall that the in-laws chip in any money for their stay as yours truly is supposed to be well to do Petronas staff. What I recalled was that during the few months of their stay I did not have to send my old 23 years young car to my trusted foreman, Ah Lai, “under the big tree” workshop in Ampang.

Several months before I retire from Petronas last year, I sold off my 12 years old second hand car after acquiring 2 slightly newer (6 and 9 years young) second hand cars. One is to ferry my family, MIL and her helper and the smaller 2 doors for me and my family. I bought them because members of my family thought that I, as a Petronas retiree should have nice or acceptable (not too old) cars. I was rather reluctant at first, trying not to use so much money as I might need them for my two children’s education (the eldest was in form 5 then) and I was also very mindful that I might not be working after my retirement. After much persuasion from my children, I gave in telling myself that I have to do willingly and sincerely.

Somehow, very shortly after buying and selling the cars, money from unexpected resources came in. One from JHDN (after 5 long years of trying to get back whatever extra I have paid to them) and the other one is the lump sum merit increment (my third for a duration of more than 29 years of services.. just a month before retirement at that.. this do not normally happens, in Petronas mind you)… Alhamdulillah

In the end, with the money from the sale of one car and the two windfalls, I only have to pay less than 30% of the prices of the two cars. To top that, the hard-headed firebrand, barb-trading and ‘lawan-towkey’ yours truly, was offered two year contract to continue working in Petronas at a much lower responsibility and at slightly lower salary. Alhamdulillah.. kecil tapak tangan, nyiru saya tadahkan.

There are few other smaller incidents that also contribute and make me conclude that the money sincerely spent on my household, my family, my friends, my relatives and in-laws may indeed be considered as sodaqah(giving to charity) for I felt there is some baroqah (blessing) as on month to month basis, I end up spending much less than I normally would..

You may have heard or by your own experience conclude that any kindness (giving to charity, do’a and other good deed) you have extended/expended is indeed for the betterment of yourself.

Now that we know, may Allah give us sustenance, strength and courage to always give (sincerely) in His way.

P.s. If you have any similar experiences/incidents, kindly relate it in your comments below so that other readers and I can share them InsyaALLAH. Even if you do not have them, feel free to drop your kind comment/s.

Monday, May 24, 2010

"Guiding Verses and Triple Filter Test'

In My “Salam Pengenalan”, I wrote about reading a lot of blogs which has landed me on some political blogs that somehow got me into thinking that bloggers can, through their choice, make our earth a better place to live.

Note: Non-Muslim readers, although are much-welcomed to continue reading, might find the content of this entry is too "Islamic".

However, the eagerness to be seen as strong supporter of political person/ persons/groups or to be in sync with friends can make one forgets oneself. General guidelines such as not to hurt, judge, be-little, implicate and worse still to disgrace others through our writing are not put into good practice.

What makes me rather sad when reading some of those political blogs are that the content of some of these blogs which are written by my Muslims brothers/sisters are found to be on contrary to the following "Guiding verses" in Surah 4 AnNisaa of the Al-Quran.

106. And seek the Forgiveness of Allâh, certainly, Allâh is Ever Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.

107. And argue not on behalf of those who deceive themselves. Verily, Allâh does not like anyone who is a betrayer of his trust, and indulges in crime.

108. They may hide (their crimes) from men, but they cannot hide (them) from Allâh, for He is with them (by His Knowledge), when they plot by night in words that He does not approve, And Allâh ever encompasses what they do.

109. Lo! You are those who have argued for them in the life of this world, but who will argue for them on the Day of Resurrection against Allâh, or who will then be their defender?

110. And whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks Allâh's Forgiveness, he will find Allâh Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.

111. And whoever earns sin, he earns it only against himself. And Allâh is Ever All Knowing, All Wise.

112. And whoever earns a fault or a sin and then throws it on to someone innocent, he has indeed burdened himself with falsehood and a manifest sin.

Within a few days of finding these "Guiding Verses" of AlQuran, I have received an interesting article (from a good friend from INCEIF, The Global University in Islamic Finance) called “Triple Filter Test” -the article is in PPS but to simplify it I have re-write it as follows:-

During the golden Abbasid period, one of the scholars in Baghdad, the capital of Muslim caliphate at that time, was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem.

One day an acquaintance met the great scholar and said, "Do you know what I just heard about your friend?

The scholar said “Hold on a minute, before telling me anything I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Triple Filter Test”.

The man said “Triple Filter Test?”

The scholar said “That's right, before you talk to me about my friend it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you're going to say.”
The scholar continued “That's why I call it the triple filter test. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”

The man said “No, actually I just heard about it and ...”

The scholar said “All right, so you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?”

The man said “No, on the contrary...”

The scholar said “So, you want to tell me something bad about him, but you're not certain it's true. You may still pass the test though, because there's one filter left:”
The scholar continued The filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?”.

The man said “No, not really”.

The scholar said “Well, if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”

O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah (God). Verily, Allah is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful. Surah 49 Al-Hujurat Ayah 12

This Triple Filter Test can be a useful guideline in our daily life. It can also serve as a general guideline for us to blog or not to blog or even to evaluate blogs that we may want to follow.

Now that I have written down what I believe to be good guidelines on to blog or not to blog.. hopefully some of those who have followed this blog (not that many he, he) may understand why I have not been making any entry for so long.