Wednesday, 27 February 2013

In The Land of Invisible Women

Nope..this is not the continuation of my haj story even though I was there in the Land of  Invisible Women...haj story still pending :).  I have just discovered the joy of buying books online and having it in your hands crisps and new in a matter of days.  Nevertheless for this book I had to wait almost a month since MPH does not have it in their current collections. Most good and latest books are hard to come by here in KB and often times I dreamed  of opening a bookstore here stacked with all the latest bestsellers....just wishful dreaming!



"In this stunningly written book, a Western trained Muslim doctor brings alive what it means for a woman to live in the Saudi Kingdom. I've rarely experienced so vividly the shunning and shaming, racism and anti-Semitism, but the surprise is how Dr. Ahmed also finds tenderness at the tattered edges of extremism, and a life-changing pilgrimage back to her Muslim faith." - Gail Sheehy

The decisions that change your life are often the most impulsive ones.

Unexpectedly denied a visa to remain in the United States, Qanta Ahmed, a young British Muslim doctor, becomes an outcast in motion. On a whim, she accepts an exciting position in Saudi Arabia. This is not just a new job; this is a chance at adventure in an exotic land she thinks she understands, a place she hopes she will belong.

What she discovers is vastly different. The Kingdom is a world apart, a land of unparralled contrast. She finds rejection and scorn in the places she believed would most embrace her, but also humor, honesty, loyalty and love.

And for Qanta, more than anything, it is a land of opportunity. A place where she discovers what it takes for one woman to recreate herself in the land of invisible women.

As I flipped over the early pages of the book  a paragraph caught my attention, the writer was describing the situation at The King Khalid Airport upon her arrival in Riyadh and observing other passengers... "As I wondered who would be sent to meet me, I looked on at hundreds of Malaysian Muslim women quietly squatting on the marble floor by a silenced baggage carousel.  All were fully veiled.  Even buried in material, each emanated resignation, defeat.  They huddled, eyes downcast, silently awaiting their employers.  I heard no laughter, no muted chit-chat.  Piled like the uncollected baggage around them, they were silent and inanimate.  Yet their inertia was much more than just the pounding fatigue of jet lag; these were women stripped of hope."

Oh my! oh my!  I think she got the facts wrong here..... are there Malaysians women being sent as maids to Saudi Arabia?  She must have mistaken Indonesia for Malaysia and most probably has never traveled to the Far East.  As a patriotic Malaysian I do feel belittled coming across such a description of our women, we in 'the land of endless possibilities' (PM's words hehe) would not resort to sending our women, Muslims for that matter to be maids there or elsewhere. Its not that working as a maid is degrading, far from that except for that maniac indon maid who tossed a baby boy (and he is the same age as my cucu..feel like tossing her too till her bones break!) like tossing a roti canai. 

  I have yet to finish reading this book and yesterday received another package via poslaju containing the two books below... light readings suits me and heavy thought provoking books don't excite me...happy reading to me :)


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Once in Lifetime Ritual - Makkah

Memang sudah lama tertangguh nak post continuation my haj story sehinggalah terima one phone call from one dear blogger pagi ini tanya kenapa tak update lagi....she will be doing the ritual this year and would like to know some tips what should one do and not do there.   I remember one of my late aunts who went for haj in the early 1970s (the last to go to Saudi Arabia naik kapal laut untuk tunai haji), somebody asked her how did she perform the haj rituals, she answered simply....mok cik turut apo orang lain buatlah.  Iyelah dulu-dulu mana ada badan-badan seperti Tabung Haji nak tolong bakal-bakal  haji berkursus tentang bagaimana hendak menunaikan haji dengan sempurna.  Dulu-dulu pun ramai mak ayah kita yang 'unlettered'....tidak boleh membaca dan menulis (tidak termasuk mok saya...even though she can't write but she can read the jawi scripture and the Utusan Melayu jawi was her main staple diet everyday).

Times change... sekarang Tabung Haji sudah melengkapi segalanya untuk para bakal-bakal haji....dengan kursus-kursus haji tiap-tiap hujung minggu di masjid-masjid terpilih, kursus intensif haji selama dua hari (semasa kursus ini diadakan satu ujian objektif menguji pengetahuan bakal haji mengenai cara-cara mengerjakan haji, kalau tidak lulus ujian ini akan diberi satu lagi kursus yang lebih intensif  supaya bakal haji itu betul-betul memahami perkara-perkara mengenai haji)  dan Perdana Haji  sebagai persiapan untuk memudahkan bakal-bakal haji menunaikan rukun Islam yang kelima ini.  I would say Tabung Haji really take good care of us while we were there, saya ni ikut muasassah so 100% bergantung kepada khidmat Tabung Haji, tak tau cerita pasal mereka yang ikut package...layanan lain, duduk di hotel-hotel dekat dengan Masjidilharam, makan secara bufet tapi di Arafah dan Mina kena berebut jugak bila hendak guna tandas...agaknyalah.


Ok back to the times when I was in Makkah....  di bawah jalan 'flyover' inilah hari-hari berjalan untuk ke Masjidilharam, jalan menurun ke masjid dan bila jalan balik tonggek punggunglah daki bukit ke hotel.

Al-Janadriyah sememangnya a very happening place.  Kebanyakan berita berkaitan jemaah haji dirakam di sini untuk siaran tv di tanah air.  Ini saya tahu semasa duk sms dengan famili di tanah air, mereka tanya kenapalah tak 'enterframe' muka tu semasa orang-orang tv duk sibuk interview jemaah haji lain, boleh juga anok branok di rumah tengok ...tak ada maknanya nak 'enterframe' lagipun bila balik masjid berpeluh dan lekit dek jalan berdebu di sana.  Ada jugak semasa mula-mula sampai di Madinah ditemuduga oleh tv mana tak tahulah...harap-harap tv tak siarlah clip tu, gugup semacamlah masa bercakap sebab manalah pernah disua microphone dan dipancar lampu ke kita sebelum ni..hehe.

A favourite picture of the Kaabah taken from Masjidilharam's rooftop in the morning after dhuha's prayers

 Kaunter kewangan untuk urusan pengeluaran wang, bilik-bilik  rawatan untuk  keempat-empat Maktab di tingkat-tingkat berlainan dan satu farmasi di ground floor disediakan di Al-Janadriyah.  There's a cafe too here but with ridiculously high priced food...a piece of Kuih Bakar can set you back by 3 Saudi Riyal and the cafe is always packed in the mornings...sesiapa yang tidak ke masjidilharam untuk sembahyang subuh dapatlah beli makanan pagi2 lagi di sini untuk breakfast...lupa nak ambil gambar cafe ni.  

Suasana pagi di luar hotel...peniaga berasal dari Patani, Indonesia membuka jualan masing-masing di depan pintu masuk hotel.  Ada dijual telekung, jubah, barang kemas tiruan serta makanan untuk breakfast.  Restoran Al-Barakah di sebelah hotel, kari ayam, kambing mereka memang sedap. 

 As I am not one for walking long distances, my left leg always wears me down...we chose to go the masjid by riding a van and sometimes cabs.  These vans driven by the locals are stationed right infront of the hotel.  The drivers will shout 'HARAM, HARAM, HARAM'  at the top of the voices to get the attention those going to the masjid and for only 2 saudi riyals, they will drop us outside masjidilharam.  Mula-mula pelik juga kenapa drivers ni shouting 'haram, haram, haram!'... iyelah kalau haram mana boleh nak naik van tu kan...rupa-rupanya singkatan nama untuk masjidilharam.  When more pilgrims begin to converge in Makkah, the police blocked the road leading to masjid haram to these vans/cabs and we have to walk to the masjid... 

Gambaran suasana pagi di luar hotel Al-Janadriyah...anak Arab jual sejadah, jubah dan para haji dari Malaysia membeli belah. The best time to do any shopping is in the morning and after solat Isya at night, selepas zohor cuaca semakin panas .....   to be continued :)



Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Once In A Lifetime Ritual - Makkah Al Mukarramah

 Tukar sikit tajuk daripada yang dulu...Lifetime Journey, this sounds more appropriate..Lifetime Ritual (got the idea from Al-Manar...tq Pakcik hikhik).  Entah berapa lama tertangguh nak sambung cerita musim haji tahun lalu, kini Tabung Haji sudah pun hantar surat tawaran kepada bakal-bakal haji untuk musim haji tahun 1434H/2013 dan bila baca blog-blog orang lain yang bercerita pengalaman masing-masing di Tanah Suci.... terasa I am so insignificant to write about my haj there, well ....to each his or her own....

And so...the story continues (untuk sesiapa yang baca entry di Madinah dulu lah).    KT 01 pilgrims boarded nine buses to Makkah on our ninth day in Madinah after Asar prayers.  Hubby and I rode on Bus No. 6.  The journey to Makkah took about 6 to 7 hours being the distance from Madinah to Makkah is 337.88 km.  Sebenarnya saya tidak tahu berapa jauh antara Madinah dan Makkah kerana ada maklumat mengatakan 400 km lebih.  There was a brief  stopover at Bir Ali for miqat (vow or intention to perform the Umrah later in Makkah).  Bir Ali dengan Madinah ni dekat saja cuma 15 minit perjalanan. 

 Semasa taklimat di Madinah sebelum berangkat ke Makkah,  Ustaz TH ada sebut yang jemaah haji tidak perlu beri 'baqsis' (tips) kepada pemandu bas tapi tahu tahu sajalah perangai setengah pemandu bas di sana yang suka melambat-lambatkan perjalanan untuk sampai ke destinasi.  So awal-awal lagi kutipan dibuat untuk beri baqsis kepada pemandu bas No. 6 supaya perjalanan kami lancar..In Shaa Allah.  Seperti biasa jemaah disaran agar bertalbiyah sepanjang perjalanan ke Makkah, pemandu bas pun sama-sama bertalbiyah menaikkan semangat para jemaah dalam bas, almaklumlah dah dapat baqsis kan..... Setelah hari bertambah gelap dan perjalanan semakin jauh meninggalkan  Madinah, suara-suara bertalbiyah semakin kendur dan akhirnya sunyi sepi, hampir kesemua jemaah lena masa ini.  Kalau celik mata pun bukannya boleh tengok apa-apa di luar...gelap gelemak!

Dusk comes early there and it might have been around 7 pm or 8 pm when the bus made a stop at a roadside eatery with a neon signage 'Coffee' for us to get down for some refreshment and performed the solat jamak for maghrib and isya.  Even though we were on bus no. 6, our bus was the first to arrive at this spot.  The driver must have overtook the earlier buses and must be mentioned he was jovial (speaking arabic) all the way...due to the baqsis no doubt hehe.  So in the quite cool night air I made my way to a so-called toilet for women for ablutions.  The place is a far cry after the comforts of the toilet at Movenpick hotel Madinah... I won't go any further with the description, for to anyone who has been there will know what I'm talking about.  There's a compensation though and hubby has not stopped comparing the hot delicious 'mandey' rice served at the eatery with half of a roasted chicken with the ones we had eaten in Makkah or Madinah.  I'm a coffee/nescafe person and how nice to have a cup of it to perk me up but sorry only tea with milk was available there...so the coffee signage was only for show..sigh.  When the other buses started arriving we were ready to leave the place. 

At one point of the journey the driver slowed down in the middle of nowhere (to me ie.), there was a car accident on the other side of the road.  I did not get a good view of what hit what...but there was already a small crowd with the police and an ambulance in the middle of nowhere there. Sleep took over and I was awaken by the loud talbiyah of the driver ...Labbaik-Allah hummalabaik..Labbaika la sharika laka labbaik..Innalhamda, wa'ni'mata, lakawal mulk, la sharika lak... thus joined by the voices of the pilgrims signalling we were ready to enter Makkah... "Here I am at your service O Allah, here I am at your service and no partners do you have. Verily, all praise and all bounty belongs to you, and  yours alone is the sovereignty.  No partners do you have".  

It must have been around 11 pm when we arrived at the Abraj Al-Janadriyah, a big brown building which housed the Tabung Haji Headquarters here in Makkah.  Likewise in Madinah, there was a small reception waiting for us as we stepped off the bus (we were the first to arrive ..yet again, we must have done something good to be the first to arrive among the nine buses hahaha...just kidding! Only Allah knows best!)  This time we were given a small plastic ewer filled with Zam Zam water...Alhamdulillah. 

 Gambar kongsi daripada blog 'Kehidupan Makkah' (thank you) - arrow showing the big brown  hotel at Al-Janadriyah where we reside for the rest of our stay in Makkah.  Gambar ini diambil dari arah Masjidil Haram dan jauhnya ke masjid ialah kira-kira 750 meter.. ini tidak termasuk berjalan masuk kawasan masjid untuk mencari tempat-tempat solat yang sesuai.

TH cramped 5 other ladies and I in the room below (on the 7th floor)...who am I to complain maybe I did something bad to deserve this hahaha..(padan muka).   So there we were, six of us in this small room with not enough space to stash our luggage and personal belongings.  Two other beds were not in the picture, the toilet was just outside the room.  Interestingly enough all of them were from my own State, one of them was my room mate in Madinah so it was kind of a familiarity when we quickly chose beds next to each other.  Three of my room mates were teachers teaching in secondary schools,  another room mate a desk officer with the Education Dept and my room mate in Madinah a homemaker  (later did I know from one of our many conversations that she was in the same batch as I was taking MCE from the same school in the middle of the 70s and was the best Malay science student for MCE for that particular year, so she was a brilliant homemaker!)  Her children made up for what she lacked in achieving her goals in being professionals - a doctor, an engineer, lecturers. 


Later did we know that pilgrims from other KTs were given a better deal than us on the upper floors (8th - 15th floors) with larger rooms with enough space to 'solat jemaah' in the middle..huhuhu.  Being tolerant  was the key being cooped up in a room that is more suited to  house  4 persons comfortably. But we all made by even though there were some hitches here and there and we were in a place where our patience will be tested (semua nak haji mabrur).

Selit sikit acara semasa di Madinah, Petugas Tabung Haji ada aturkan acara ziarah/lawatan ke Bukit Uhud, Masjid 2 Kubah, Masjid Tujuh dan Ladang Kurma.  Kalau tidak silap di hari ketiga di Madinah lawatan diadakan.  Tidak berapa menyeronokkan semasa ziarah ke tempat-tempat ini disebabkan cuaca yang panas terik, lagi pun dah pergi tempat sama semasa buat Umrah tahun 2000 dulu, tapi dalam ingat tak ingatlah. 

Tertarik dengan pandangan budak Arab ini menjual sejadah di Bukit Uhud, kesian tengok dia berkelip-kelip mata duduk di tengah panas tetapi agaknya dia sudah biasa dengan keadaan cuaca panas begini.

This is long enough...other episodes following In Shaa Allah!


Saturday, 2 February 2013

Dobah Darul Quran


Bermula April 2011 (come to think of it... its the same age as my blog)  rumah pusaka antik berusia lebih 100 tahun ini telah dijadikan tempat menimba ilmu ugama.  Sesiapa yang pernah lalu/mengguna Jalan Pos Office Lama untuk ke Penambang, Pantai Cahaya Bulan pasti terpandang rumah antik ini disebelah kiri jalan.  Dobah Darul Quran ini adalah sempena nama isteri termuda  Haji Mohammad  (moyang kami yang berasal dari Pattani).  Dobah merupakan nama isteri kesayangan Haji Muhammad hingga saudagar sutera ini dikenali oleh masyarakat setempat sebagai Mat Doboh.  Pemilik asal  rumah ini adalah anak Mat Dobah dengan isteri pertamanya Che Moh, iaitu Che Noh. Rumah ini kemudiannya diserahkan kepada anak bongsu Che Noh, Poksu Zin sebelum diwarisi oleh kelapan-lapan anak beliau.

Cerita sikit pasal zaman dulu-dulu ni (tahun 60an)...isteri Poksu Zain, Moksu Mbon (tak reti nok eja)  terkenal dengan jualan nasi belauk, nasi kerabu, apam kukus berkuah.  Nasi belauk hari tu boleh dibeli dengan harga 10 sen saja, kenyang makan. Sampai hari ini tidak jumpa lagi sesiapa yang boleh buat apam kukus berkuah sesedap Moksu Mbon.  

This unique antique house often captured the attention of tourists who stopped by to take snapshots of it.   It was featured in several local design magazines due to its beautiful carvings and unique design. 







Atas berkat usaha salah seorang anak Poksu Zin iaitu Hjh Hazimah Mohd Zin, kami panggil dia Che Chik (sekarang pesara Penolong Pegawai Belia dan Sukan) dan persetujuan adik beradiknya yang lain rumah pusaka ini dijadikan tempat pusat pengajian agama selepas tiada kata sepakat untuk menjual rumah pusaka ini.   Rumah ini sudah lama ditinggalkan kosong tanpa penghuni kerana semua adik beradik Che Chik mempunyai rumah sendiri di tempat lain. 

Pada 12 Rabiulawal 1434 yang lepas Dobah Darul Quran menganjurkan Majlis Maulidur Rasul  dan itulah pertama kali saya ke sana untuk sama-sama rai dan selawat ke atas Rasul kita.  Tiada kesempatan sebelum ini  untuk sama-sama mengikuti program keagamaan di sini disebabkan saya masih bekerja.  Hari itu kami diberi ceramah/tazkirah oleh Ustaz Sanusi yang juga merupakan ustaz yang menyampaikan tazkirah pada setiap hari Khamis di Dobah Darul Quran ini.


Kuih Muih yang disaji pada Majlis Maulidur Rasul
Baru dua tahun dijadikan pusat keagamaan, rumah ini berfungsi sebagai tempat mereka yang ingin belajar agama termasuk tajwid al-Quran dan tazkirah agama.  Setiap petang Sabtu diadakan kelas tajwid al-Quran manakala setiap pagi Khamis pula diadakan tazkirah agama melalui dua tenaga pengajar.

Malah ada juga beberapa pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO) yang menjadikan rumah ini sebagai lokasi aktiviti keagamaan seperti Maulidurrasul dan majlis yang membabitkan anak yatim.  Tiada peruntukan diterima sebaliknya perbelanjaan ditanggung sekeluarga dan waris-waris terdekat.  Sebagaimana kata Che Chik, "kami ikhlas menjadikan rumah pusaka ini tempat ibadat dan saya cukup berpuas hati dengan kedatangan penduduk setempat yang mengimarahkan rumah ini.  Kalau ada derma dan sumbangan peribadi daripada mereka sekalipun, saya gunakan untuk membayar elaun tenaga pengajar dan upah orang yang menjaga rumah ini selain membayar bil api serta air".

Di sini diwar-warkan program majlis ilmu di Dobah Darul Quran:

Hari Sabtu     -   3.00 petang - selepas Asar  -  Tajwid (diajar oleh Hjh  Khadijah iaitu anak murid Hjh Faridah, qariah terkenal)

Hari Selasa    -  10.00 pagi - 11 pagi   -  Hadis Rasulullah & Fekah - Ustazah Rohani

Hari Khamis  -  10.00 pagi - 11 pagi   -  Tazkirah   -  Ustaz Sanusi

Nombor telefon yang boleh dihubungi untuk pertanyaan lanjut:
                      014-846 0040 - Hjh Hazimah Mohd Zin
                      013-939 7969 -  Puan Nor Suhaili
















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