Answered Prayers

Ramadan is a time when all of us would be making doa more frequent than usual, more detailed than usual. In your many doa, how do you know it has been answered? You pray for work success but how do you know Allah’s plan for your success is the same thing you consider to be inconvenient now. You pray for good academic results but how do you know you not getting your targeted results is a door to greater successes?

I recently watched a lecture on the power of doa and it made reference to the story of Nabi Musa A.S, as mentioned in surah al-Qasas ayat 24-27. The story told of how during one of his visits to town, he accidentally killed an officer from the ruling class. That incident made him a wanted man, despite him being affiliated to the Pharoah’s household. He escaped Egypt immediately and had to traverse uncomfortable desert conditions with little provisions. He happened upon a well and he saw two girls, holding back their herd of animals from running towards the water. He asked them, “what are you doing?” The girls tell him the area near the water is populated with men, that the girls’ father is old and that the men rudely call out to the girls when they come so they have to wait till the men leave before they can bring their herd to drink. Musa told the girls that he would gladly help and brought the animals to drink on their behalf.

After he was finished, in the shade, he made doa to Allah, “My Lord, I am in need of whatever good you could send me”. The girls said their thanks and left only to later return and to invite him to meet their father. Musa had to the wisdom to realise this is Allah’s answer to his prayer, he said yes to meeting the girls’ father. What came to follow was that the father rewarded Musa with a roof on top of his head, a job and in realising his good character, marriage to his daughter. 

There are many lessons to be learnt from this story – one of which is having the wisdom to know the form Allah’s help appears. In our many doa this Ramadan, may we all also have to wisdom to recognise in what form our prayers are answered.

Sabar & Shukur

Some years ago I attended an event organised by Frost & Sullivan in Nusajaya. It was the kind of event where they invited CEOs from various organisation, both multinationals and GLC, to speak. As part of the itinerary, they had a one on one session with Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, the Managing Director of Khazanah Nasional Berhad. The interviewer was one of the global heads of Frost & Sullivan and one question (and it’s answer) stuck with me. 

The question was, “what are the attributes of a person you value most?”.

I’ve attended many speaker sessions such as this and this sounds like a typical question where answers range from the need to be charismatic, visionary, driven, leading by example and the sort.

Tan Sri’s answer to the interviewer, who was a foreigner mat salleh, was “there are two qualities which I believe are important for a leader, that is Sabar and Shukur”. I remember telling myself, “wow, I’ve didn’t expect that”. He went on to explain to the crowd what Sabar and Shukur means, patience and gratitude respectively, and why it is important any person has them.

It always impresses me when a veteran leader, corporate or otherwise, emphasises the importance of good moral and religious values, which I consider patience and the need to be grateful to be. I remember it was sometime shortly before the talk that I read Surah Ibrahim, Ayat 7, where Allah promised:

“And remember when Lord proclaimed, if you are grateful, I will surely increase you; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe”

I often feel in selected industries in corporate Malaysia, piety is absent and to show you have it is unfavourable. It’s refreshing for me to see at least one leading corporate leader to believe in these values.

Birds on the Kaabah

In my two weeks in Mekah and Madinah, I prayed for many things. I prayed for Allah’s barakah and rahmah in this life and the hereafter, I prayed for the long life of my family members, that our sins be forgiven, that our ibadah be accepted and for my family and I to be rewarded with Jannah.

When I first arrived in Mekah last week, a question came to my mind. Do birds fly over or even land on the Kaabah? I’ve lived here for many years and never recalled seeing this. 

During my 6th round of Tawaf Wada’ just now, I recited a line from the Quran which I memorised:

“And when my slaves asks you [O Muhammad] concerning me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant whenever he calls upon me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they be rightly guided” – AlBaqarah: 186

As I recited this line, birds flew in front of me and landed on the Kaabah. I thought it is a lovely yet deep coincidence this happened and whipped out my phone to take a quick picture (I generally dislike having my phone distract me during ibadah).

Seen here, birds on the Kaabah. I prayed for many things and had a simple question when I came to Mekah and Allah showed me his answer. May all my prayers be answered eventually Inshallah.

#mekah #umrah #alharam #kaabah #islam #peace

Lessons from the Story of Prophet Daud

Ramadan this year is my first year fasting back in KL, after two years spent in Johor Bahru. One of the distinct change in lifestyle that I have to reacquaint myself to is the constant predicament of getting stuck in traffic jam – the traffic is either bad or very bad. 

To make full use of my time and my Ramadan since I have to be stuck driving, I decided to listen to the series of videos by Mufti Menk titled Stories of the Prophets. We Muslims believe the Quran was sent to mankind as guidance and Allah SWT, as the owner of communication and understanding, tell us stories of the prophets as there is a perennial lesson to be learnt. 

As Malay Muslims, many of us grow up acquainted with stories of the prophets, may it be through our sekolah agama classes or as told by our elders. As with many things in life, I’m a firm advocate that one should revisit the things one experience as a child. This way, not only are you able to reaffirm your understanding of the subject, you are also able to revisit your childhood. With that said, the stories of the prophets above are stories which I knew, albeit in abridged form and indeed it was refreshing relearning these stories. 

One story which struck a chord with me was the story of Prophet Daud. 

Most of us know the story of Daud (David) and Jalut (Goliath), how the young Daud overpowered the towering Jalut. In the Quran, Allah spoke of how he was blessed with power and abilities. 

Allah made him an able warrior, a King, able to speak to the birds and animals and able to shape metal with his bare hands. As a leader of men, Prophet Daud was also an excellent judge.

“Be patient over what they say and remember Our servant, David, the possessor of strength; Indeed he was one who repeatedly turned back to Allah” (Quran 38:17)

“And we strengthened his kingdom and gave him wisdom and discernment in speech” (Quran 38:20)

O David! Verily! We have placed you as a successor on earth, so judge you between men in truth and justice. And follow not your desire for it will mislead you from the Path of Allah. Verily! Those who wander astray from the Path of Allah shall have a severe torment, because they forgot the Day of Reckoning. (Quran 38:21-26).

Beyond it all, despite the power and wealth, Prophet Daud was an excellent worshipper. In the Quran, it is mentioned that when he engages in tasbeeh, the birds assembled with him to engage in tasbeeh. (Quran 38:19)

“The most beloved fasting to Allah was the fasting of the Prophet Daud, who used to fast alternate days. And the most beloved prayer to Allah was the prayer of Daud, who used to sleep the first half of the night, and pray for one third of it and again sleep for a sixth of it.'” (Sahih Al-Bukhari).

Personally to me, the story of Prophet Daud is a reminder that you should not allow wealth, power and success to blind you, to clothe you in arrogance and hubris. The wealth and power you accumulate in this world is incomparably small compared to the wealth, power and abilities of Prophet Daud and yet, Prophet Daud is a man that is ever conscious that all these worldly possessions belong to Allah and constantly engages in prayer for the remembrance of Allah. 

It is my personal belief that the two best qualities any man can have is patience (sabar) and gratefulness (shukur). Give thanks and be grateful. I end with a beautiful reminder from Allah on his promise to mankind:

“And remember when your Lord proclaimed, “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe”” – Surah Ibrahim, Ayat 7