Friday, 6 November 2009

Sin vs Da'wah

Imam Hasan Al-Basri once said,

"O mankind, truly I am advising you, and that doesn't mean that I am the best amongst you, and doesn't mean too that I am the most pious amongst you. Even I have exceeded upon myself."

("Wahai manusia, sesungguhnya aku sedang menasihati kalian, dan bukan bererti aku orang yang terbaik di antara kalian, bukan pula org yang paling soleh di antara kalian. Sungguh, akupun telah banyak melampaui batas terhadap diriku.”)

On another occassion, he said,

"If a Muslim does not give advice to his brother except when he has become perfect, then there will be no one to advise others. There will be very little of those who will want to advise others, and none will perform da'wah in Allah's way..."

(” Andaikata seorang Muslim tidak memberi nasihat pada saudaranya kecuali setelah dirinya menjadi sempurna, nescaya tidak akan ada para pemberi nasihat. Akan menjadi sedikit jumlah orang yang mahu memberi peringatan & tidak akan ada orang yg berdakwah di jalan Allah….”)

(Mawa’izh lil Imam al Hassan Al-Basri, pg. 185-187)

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The Journey Along The Great Ocean Road

Saturday, 3rd October was the second last day of my midterm break. And after a whole week finishing my assignments, finalising my semester project, fulfilling commitments, I have pre-arranged for this day to be fully occupied by me, myself, and I.

A couple of weeks previously, I planned to day-travel to a destination outside of Melbourne. The destination itself was either to Ballarat, The Great Ocean Road, or Dandenong. To go to Ballarat, I can just take the V/Line train. To Dandenong, I can just take the metropolitan train, free of charge, as I hold a monthly travelcard, which allows me to venture into Zone 2 during weekends, where Dandy lies. I was spoilt for choice.

On the 30th of September, I calculated my monthly expenditures on the Excel. And, after calculating the remaining balance, plus balances from the previous months, I found out that I have managed to save up a wealthy sum of money, despite the fact that the University officials were delayed in returning my accommodation refund.

And so, I decided to rent a car and drive along the Ocean Road.

On Friday, after congregation at Newport Masjid, I went to Footscray town. There’s a Thrifty rental office there. I browsed the internet previously and found out that I could get a small car for $42 at the Footscray branch. However, when I enquired at the office, I found out that most cars were sold out. The only one available is either a Ford Mondeo or Toyota Camry which goes for about $130!

My next option is the Budget car rental which is about a couple of blocks away. Sadly, they too were sold out. I was devastated. I considered calling the trip off, when I suddenly remembered that there are rental centres throughout Franklin Street, which is next to the RMIT Swanston Street campus. So, I decided to take a last shot before calling it off.

My first stop was Budget. But there was a queue there. Next door is AVIS. No, AVIS is a bit expensive from what I recalled. Further down is Europcar...I’ll consider it as a last resort. Next to it was Hertz. I didn’t know why, all I knew was that I ended up at their front counter.

I enquired about the availabilities for the morrow. The clerk said that that there are cars available, and asked for details of the car I intended to rent. I simply mentioned that I want the smallest car available, manual or automatic. A friend once suggested that I go for the high-powered cars

He then said that the smallest available is a Class C Toyota Corolla sedan. He then asked if I am a student. I said yes, and he said that I am eligible for a student’s price, and that makes a total of $64.90, inclusive of admin charges, GST and Driver Under 25 Surcharge, which is roughly between $15 to $25.

Usually a Class C would cost around $65 - $70, excluding the external charges. Clearly there was a hidden wisdom when Budget was out of cars, and Thrifty had only Mondeo and Camry cars. I also requested for the fuel pre-purchase option of which they offered at a rate of $1.12/litre. The advantage of this is that I can return the car with the tank almost empty, without having to refill it. Furthermore, the price of petrol for that particular period was between $1.18 to $1.30 per litre, depending on outlet.

On my way back, I stopped by at Coles supermarket in Altona town to buy some snacks for tomorrow’s trip. I had some thought as to what food to bring. And then I recalled; back in England when we travelled to the countryside, or over a long distance; Nottingham, Loughborough, Bath, or the seaside, Abah would just buy crisps, sandwiches, and a bottle of Lucozade each. Sometimes, Mak would cook something from home.

That I could just do...minus the sandwiches, as sandwiches here are not as variable as those in UK. Furthermore, a packet costs $5.50! At that point in time, I can’t make sandwiches at home as I was out of stuffs to put on the bread. So, I just packed a few packets of plain crisps, a packet of nuts, freshly-baked cookies (gone stale the next morning... ), and a flask of water...yezzz... water is very important when I’m driving. I don’t know why, but whenever I drove over a long distance...beyond 2 hours, my throat seems to go dry.

The next day was the big day. But it was also a morning of disruption. On this day, the Werribee Line train service has been temporarily terminated due to construction works in Laverton. So, I had to take the replacement bus up to Newport, then take the train to Melbourne Central.

Having received the car I booked, my first destination was Geelong via the M1 (Princes Freeway). There, I was to pick up an old friend of mine, Nurul Alif As-Solihin (Alif Mastor). We’ve known each other since secondary school. Since I’ve never been to his house, I told him to wait in front of my sister’s house in Preston Street. My sister was away with her friends in Melbourne. He was the only one who was not doing anything on that Saturday, so I invited him to accompany me on this trip.

From Geelong, I took the B100 highway which would take me to Torquay; gateway to the Great Ocean Road. The travelling time on the initial portion of the Road was instantaneous, as the roads were wide and straight, contributing to a speed limit of 100km/h. But, as it goes further along the coast, the road goes up and down, and between hills, contributing to a speed limit of between 50km/h to 80km/h.

The first stop was the lighthouse on the coast of Aireys Inlet. Actually, I didn’t know that the place was called Aireys Inlet, not until I pondered over the road map. It was here that I had my first glimpse of what G.O.R. was all about.

Subhanallah! The beauty of it. The sound of waves, the crisp breeze, and the view of the cliffs along the coastline as far as the eye can see. It was a breathtaking moment. Having lived within the suburban for a couple of months, this turned out to be a good change for me.

Back in the car, I wondered where our journey would lead us to. No use asking Alif, as even he does not know where is where for the moment. My initial plan was to go as far as Lorne, and then back to Geelong via the country road. The clerk at the rental office suggested that I drive up to Warrnambool, one of the reason being that I’ve already pre-purchased a full tank of petrol, and that I should make the most of it seeing that it’s not refundable, regardless of fuel volume left in the tank.

Warrnambool is about 200+ kilometres down the Ocean Road, and about 3.5 hours drive judging by the road structure and signboard placed by the side of the road. I asked Alif about his plan for the day, he said nothing doing.

Seeing this, I decided to drive as far as I could manage. When I watched Discovery Channel a few years back, there was a saying in one of the advertisements,

“A true traveller has no destination, and is not keen on arriving.”

After a period of driving, we came to a town that I do not know the name of, probably missed the sign. Only after exiting the town, I caught a glimpse of one of the signboards and noticed the word “Lorne”. Only then I knew the name of the town. From the map, Lorne looked quite far away. Practically, it’s not that far. It’s true what the professor from Newcastle University said to me back in Malaysia,

“We Australians have a different opinion when it comes to distance. We have staffs working in the University in Newcastle, yet they live in Sydney. We also have people working in Sydney, but living in Newcastle. Like you mentioned, the travel time is roughly one to two hours. For you, that is one heck of a distance. But for us, it’s nothing. Australia is a big country, and two hours of travel is nothing to us...”

Judging by my current location, time, I decided to go further down the Road. Next primary destination is Apollo Bay, some 40 to 60 minutes away, if I’m not mistaken. The road between Lorne and Apollo Bay was long and winding, thus the average speed was only around 60 to 70km/h. Another reason for this was that the drivers ahead of me had this tendency of slowing down every once in a while to gaze at the scenery, or coastline.

It was at this time that Alif has started dozing off. Prior to reaching Apollo Bay town, there is a signboard which points to the direction of Geelong via the inner roads. The time was 2.00 pm, so I decided to drive further on. The next primary destination is Port Campbell, famed for the 12 Apostles. A large portion of the road between Apollo Bay and there was mainly inland, so there was less winding, twists, and turns, with the speed limit being 100km/h.

After about half an hour of driving, I started wondering as to where exactly I was currently situated. So, I stopped by the roadside and pored over the map. Clearly, I was somewhere between the two towns mentioned, but have no idea as to EXACTLY where I was situated. However, I was initially stunned when I found out the road which goes back to Geelong is in Warrnambool, roughly 2.5 hours away, but sighed in relief when I realised that I overlooked a minor road a few miles off Port Campbell which would lead me back to the main road back to Geelong and Melbourne.

And with that, I continued my journey. I can’t recall how long I’ve been driving since then. All I know is that I suddenly found myself arriving at the 12 Apostles National Park, about ten minutes prior to reaching Port Campbell.

I drove into the Park, parked my car, and went for a walk along the coastline (cliff) with Alif to gaze at the 12 Apostles...or what used to be 12 until a few of them collapsed recently. The walking and stretching was helpful, as I’ve been sitting for more than 2 hours. Not to mention being worn out. Well, what do you expect? I’ve not been driving for more than 2 months, I get the opportunity to drive, and went off half a thousand miles cross-country, in a land I’ve never driven before.

Having been fully stretched, we drove into Port Campbell town. I parked the car at the town square, and we walked around town. Having walked, the both of us felt hungry, and decided to find something to eat. I brought pizza slices, but Alif ate them all as he didn’t have any breakfast. Adjacent to where I parked my car was a Fish & Chips outlet. So, we bought a helping each, and ate on a bench by the sea. It was a wonderful feeling; eating whilst the salty sea air blowing into my face.

However, I was feeling a bit worried, as I usually avoided eating whilst on the wheel. But then again, compared to nasi campur in Tapah or Kuala Kangsar, fish and chips shouldn’t be too much of a digestion issue.

Having eaten, we got back into the car. We left Port Campbell behind us, and I drove a few miles up the Road before making a right turn into the C164; a country road which would take me across the countryside to the main road which goes back to Geelong. Based on the map, the route seemed long and winding. But then, winding as it may be, the road itself was wide, with a speed limit of 100km/h.

I drove for almost an hour before coming to the junction adjoining the A1 highway. From there, it was a swift drive back to Geelong, some 80 kilometres away. This particular road was wide and straight, with two lanes on occasions. Other than that, it’s just a normal country road (jalan lama as we call it). From where I was, I could see far up the road. It was a beautiful sight, with the sun and fields of daisies on either sides of the road.

We passed through several towns, the major one being Colac. The clock showed 5.30 pm. Maghrib was an hour away, and we have yet to pray Zuhr and Asar. At that time, I was just entering Winchelsea town. At the other end of town, I saw a public toilet sign, and decided to stop for a while, as I was getting a bit lightheaded.

I saw that next to the public toilet was a small grassy park facing a stream. So I took my sarong from the boot, and we prayed on the grass. Having prayed, I felt more refreshed (come to think of it, it always happens after each prayer) and we continued our journey. About half an hour up the road, we finally reached the outskirts of Geelong.

By the time we reached Alif’s apartment in Geelong CBD, it was 6.20 pm, a few minutes to spare before Maghrib. After having rested, and prayed, I left Geelong and headed back to Melbourne. I drove up the A1 northbound which would lead me to the M1 Princes Freeway. It has been quite some time since I drove at night.

As I reached Werribee, I decided to stop over at my house and drop off my things before heading to Melbourne. I took the Kororoit Creek Road exit and drove to Altona via Maidstone Street. I only stopped for about 10 minutes or so to unload my things, save my clothes, and headed back to the freeway.

At West Gate Bridge, there was a long crawl, as there were construction works throughout the bridge. After passing through the construction site, I started to look out for the Docklands exit which would take me into Melbourne CBD. Further than that, and I’ll have to pay the toll. There’s no toll booth. Everything’s electronic. They just simply detect the license plate number, and send an invoice. But I didn’t register my car with the concessionaire, and if I entered the toll road, I have 48 hours to register my car.

I entered Melbourne CBD via Flinders Street. There was a lot of traffic on that street that night. I wanted to enter Russell Street, which was along Flinders. The street entrance itself being next across the train station, and there were many pedestrians. Thus, I had to wait for pedestrians to cross before I can enter Russell Street.

From there, I drove all the way to Lygon Street and entered into Drummond Street, where Zaim resides. I spent the night there as I had to return the car by 9 the next morning.

When I returned the car the next morning, the invoice stated that I had travelled roughly 580 kilometres within one day. That is roughly similar to driving from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, and back again. Wow, never thought I could cover such a large portion of distance within a day!

It was an enjoyable day. But the most enjoyable of all is the driving itself. One thing I initially feared...which later turned into an obsession, was the traffic light pattern. Here, to make a right turn, you have to enter at your own will. Intersections with heavy traffic usually have guided traffic lights for right turns (like Malaysia). But others, you have to enter as if the traffic light had no electricity, in which you had to wait for traffic from the oncoming direction to clear before entering.

It’s just like entering UiTM on those days when there was an electrical failure. It was scary at first, but once I got hold of it...quite fun!

And then, there’s the Hook Turn, in which you take the right turn using the left lane. This one is a bit complicated to describe. You can read about it on this web address, ( )


Sunday, 27 September 2009

Aidilfitri @ Melbourne (Minggu pertama Syawal)

20 September 2009 merupakan hari di mana umat Islam di serata dunia menyambut hari kemenangan...kecuali beberapa lokasi yang menyambutnya sehari lebih awal, atau lebih lewat.

Tahun ini merupakan tahun pertama aku menyambut Aidilfitri bersendirian di perantauan, jauh dari tanahair. Pada awal pagi ini, memang wujud perasaan sayu. But then again...who doesn't on their first time, eh?

Solat Aidilfitri anjuran persatuan - persatuan pelajar Malaysia diadakan di St. Ambrose Hall di Brunswick. Solat dijangka bermula pada jam 9.30 pagi. ICV mula pada jam 7.00 pagi. Masjid di Newport, sejurus selepas subuh. Aku dan Syed Marwan berjalan dari rumahnya di Drummond Street sehingga ke Elizabeth Street, dan dari situ kami menaiki tram nombor 19 ke Sydney Road (Brunswick).

Selepas solat, serta khutbah Aidilfitri, maka ada jamuan di situ. Dalam keadaan orang lain sibuk mencari - cari, berpeluk - pelukan dengan rakan - rakan mereka, aku pulak tak tahu nak cari siapa. Yang kenal, dah peluk siap - siap dah. Maklumlah, baru 2 bulan turun kapal.

Dalam aku merewang sendirian di dalam dewan itu, maka terserempaklah aku dengan Ismail Amsyar. Ismail merupakan kenalan sewaktu di UiTM Shah Alam dahulu. Sewaktu minggu orientasi, kami di antara yang naik turun pentas; beliau sengan sesi tilawah Al-Quran, aku dengan sesi baca doa. Kali terakhir bersemuka dengan beliau adalah pada tahun 2007, sewaktu aku datang bercuti di Melbourne.

Namun, melihatkan beliau, aku menjadi terkejut beruk. Ismail yang aku kenal dahulu sihat dan tegap orangnya. Ismail yang aku lihat sekarang, very frail looking dan bertongkat. Aku bertanyakan pada beliau akan keadaannya. Ismail menyatakan bahawa dia dah 2 tahun mengidap Arthritis.

Aku pun menjadi seram sejuk, kerana mengenangkan diri yang baru sahaja pulih daripada gout. Namun sedih melihatkan si Mail, kerana Arthritis beliau satu badan. Setelah bersembang - sembang, maka pergilah aku mengadap hidangan...what's left of it.

Tengah - tengah makan, jumpa pula Lutfi Hakim, rakan lama sewaktu sekolah menengah, juga menuntut di Melbourne. Kali terakhir aku jumpa beliau ialah sewaktu aku mula - mula sampai di Melbourne.

Selesai jamuan, dan setelah seorang demi seorang mula beransur pulang, Ustaz Zul ajak ikut pergi beraya. Maka sepanjang hari ikut ustaz, isteri, serta 3 orang sahabat aku kulu kelior beraya.

Mula - mula, kami ke dewan komuniti dekat - dekat dengan kawasan Pascoe Vale (...???). Di situ ada majlis rumah terbuka anjuran komuniti Melayu Melbourne. Melihatkan gelagat mereka, aku membayangkan mereka adalah PR dan juga warga Singapura. Selesai, kami singgah di rumah ustaz Zul sebentar untuk berehat dan solat.

Selepas itu, kami pergi beraya di Bundoora, utara kawasan Melbourne. Tuan rumahnya merupakan PR, namun berasal dari Bukit Jambul, Pulau Pinang, dan berkahwin dengan bekas askar Australia.

Selesai, kami ke Clayton pula yang terletak di tenggara Melbourne, juga berpusatnya Monash University untuk beraya di rumah Abang Hanif. Di rumah inilah yang aku berasa selesa sikit dan kurang malu (bukan tak tahu malu!!!) kerana dikelilingi orang - orang serta sahabat - sahabat yang aku kenal dan rapat. Sinonimya macam beraya di Parit; empat rumah opah saudara di sepanjang jalan, paling selesa beraya di rumah Opah We, sebab biasa sangat bertandang ke rumah tu. Kalau kata aku berlari - lari dalam rumah tu, orang tak hairan.

Sesampai di Clayton, dah hampir Maghrib. Maka kami melantak di laman, solat Maghrib di Monash Uni punya masjid yang terletak di hujung jalan, dan berangkat pulang ke pusat bandar Melbourne. Sesampai di Drummond Street, jam menunjukkan pukul 7.45 malam. Maka, aku naik ke rumah Zaim dan Syed Marwan, solat Isyak, kemas beg dan terus ke Melbourne Central lantas menaiki keretapi Werribee Line dan terus pulang ke Altona.

2 Syawal

Hari ini hari Isnin. VU tak bercuti. Minggu depan baru cuti. Maka ada kuliah. Pagi itu aku berasa agak pelik, kerana sudah lumrah aku akan beraya selama seminggu (mengikut tradisi Melayu). Tapi, raya kedua pergi kuliah.

Kuliah hari itu hanyalah dari jam 11 pagi sehinga ke jam 1 petang (paling lewat lah). Habis sahaja kuliah, aku ke pusat bandaraya. Sesampai sahaja, maka jihad pertama aku adalah mencari beg sandang baru. Beg yang sedia ada, dah terputus tali, dan aku dah naik rimas jalan berdengkot sebab bergantung pada satu tali sahaja. Beg itu aku beli di Korea dengan harga $10 kira - kira 2 tahun sebelum ini.

Niat aku nak cari di Victoria Market. Namun, sesampai sahaja aku di perhentian tram Vic Market, mulut ternganga 10 inci. Macam mana aku boleh lupa??? Hari ini hari Isnin, Market tutup!!!

Aku cari pula di kedai - kedai komputer. Paling murah, Aus$ 80. Tak nak! Akhir sekali, aku ke Big W di La Trobe Street, maka berjumpalah aku dengan satu beg yang harganya dalam lingkungan Aus$30. Besar pun besar, Kalis air. Sesuai nak bawak laptop kulu kelior.

Selesai itu, aku ke Drummond Street. Selepas Maghrib, aku ikut Syed Marwan ke majlis sambutan Aidilfitri di Monash Uni kampus Parkville, yang terletak di antara pusat bandaraya dan Brunswick. Majlis ini adalah anjuran Ikatan Mahasiswa Muslim Malaysia (ISMA). Setelah makan, bersembang - sembang, melihat persembahan silat, persembahan karaoke (>_<), aku bergegas pulang ke pusat bandar, dan menuju ke stesen keretapi Flinders Street lantas pulang semula ke Altona.

4 Syawal

Hari ini hari Khamis. Aku telah menjemput seorang rakan Muslim bernama Khalili datang ke rumah. Dia merupakan warga China. Sehingga ke hari ini aku menyesal tak memaklumkan padanya akan berakhirnya Ramadhan. Sungguhpun Muslim, aku dapati beliau kekeliruan tentang kewajipan agama, oleh kerana sudah terlalu lama tidak beramal dengan sebaik - baik amal.

Namun, setelah slow-talk dengan beliau, maka beliau bertekad untuk kembali mengamalkan kewajipan - kewajipan asas, dan aku akan membantunya dari amsa ke semasa. Pada hari itu, aku mengajar beliau kembali tentang bagaimana berwudhu'...alang - alang dah nak masuk waktu Maghrib. Aku berpesan padanya supaya datang balik hari Jumaat, supaya aku boleh bawa beliau pergi solat Jumaat di Newport.

6 Syawal

Hari ini hari Jumaat. Aku membawa Khalili ke Masjid Newport. Satu kekurangan buat beliau adalah bahawa masjid itu berkhutbah di dalam bahasa Arab, kecuali tazkirah ringkas dalam bahasa Inggeris sewaktu berhenti di antara dua khutbah; merumuskan kandungan khutbah kepada mereka yang tak fasih berbahasa Arab. HAmpirnya rumah aku dengan amsjid ini, memberi peluang untuk memahirkan semula bahasa Arab yang telah lama ditinggalkan.

Namun, bagi Khalili, ini adalah permulaan langkah - langkah awal untuk beliau kembali membiasakan diri dengan ibadah - ibadah khusus Islam. Cuma, dari masa ke semasa kena ikut perkembangan dia. Takut kalau, lepas macam tu je, dia balik ke keadaan asal.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Aidilfitri @ Melbourne (pinggiran Ramadhan)

Jumaat malam, 18 September, aku bertolak dari stesen keretapi Westona menuju ke Pusat Bandaraya Melbourne. Dalam perjalanan, keretapi melewati loji penyulingan petroleum yang terletak di antara stesen Seaholme dan Newport. Di kala malam gelap, api yang marak menyala di salah satu menaranya menerangkan kawasan persekitaran.

Aku dah biasa dengan pemandangan ini memandangkan aku selalu menggunakan perkhidmatan keretapi ini untuk ke Universiti, dan juga ke masjid di Newport. Namun, pada malam ini, melihatkannya, aku teringat pula pada kilang simen di Bukit Berapit, yang terletak di tepi lebuhraya antara Changkat Jering dan Kuala Kangsar.

Maka teringat pula nostalgia Aidilfitri yang lalu. Tamat sahaja kuliah yang terakhir, malam itu juga terus bertolak dari Permatang Pauh balik ke rumah opah di Kuala, walaupun raya lagi 5 hari, dan tak ada isu kesesakan jalanraya bagi perjalanan menghala ke Kuala Lumpur. Salah satu sebabnya, dok kat Kuala Kangsar ini ada rasa ketenangan. Mungkin kekerapan balik kampung sejak kecil yang menyebatikan aku dengan bandar diraja ini. Sebab tambahan...saja cari alasan memandu di waktu malam. Memandu di waktu malam ini ada 'feeling' sikit. Sebab tu kebanyakan perjalanan jauh aku dilakukan pada waktu senja dan ke atas...walaupun mak abah tak berapa perkenan.

Balik kepada kisah asal...aku 'berkampung' di rumah sahabat di Drummond Street, berhampiran Melbourne Museum sempena raya. Sahabat - sahabat aku yang lain akan bercuti selama 2 minggu bermula 1 Syawal. Manakala aku yang menuntut di Victoria University, cutiku hanya akan bermula seminggu selepas raya.

Kalau ikut tradisinya, aku akan turun di stesen Melbourne Central, dan terus berjalan ke Drummond Street, atau naik tram kalau tak ada mood nak jalan. Namun kali ini, aku turun di Southern Cross terlebih dahulu, oleh kerana Zaim dan Syed Marwan berada di Islamic Centre Victoria untuk mengerjakan tarawih dan seterusnya berkampung di situ untuk berqiam, dan aku perlu mengambil kunci rumah dari Zaim.

Sesampai di rumah Zaim, aku menyiapkan kerja - kerja programming aku, qiam dan terus masuk tidur.

Tengahari esok, aku dan Zaim ke Glenroy (utara Melbourne) untuk membantu Ustaz Nushi menyediakan hidangan untuk esoknya. Ustaz Nushi kena sediakan juadah untuk 800 orang.

Sekitar pukul 4.30, datang pula Ustaz Hasnizul membawa kami ke Malaysia Hall di High Street untuk majlis berbuka dan takbir beramai - ramai.

Tepat jam 6.16, masuklah waktu Maghrib, dan berakhirlah Ramadhan bagi 1430 Hijriyyah.

Sedang bertakbir, tiba - tiba berlaku flashback. Depan aku muncul muka mak abah, muka arwah atok, Masjid Jamek Kampar yang diisi jemaah bertakbir. Entah kenapa. Mungkin Masjid Jamek tu yang menjadi tempat aku mengenali takbir raya. Pendek kata, tahun 1995 merupakan tahun pertama aku bertakbir. Adapun Aidilfitri di England pada tahun 1993, dan 1994, aku pun tak tahu wujudnya takbir, solat raya.

Biasanya kalau bertakbir, seolah - olah ada aura yang dilepaskan. Tapi entah kenapa, malam tu 'aura' tersebut seolah - olah tersekat, tak boleh nak dikeluarkan. Mungkin kerana aku berdepan dengan suasana yang lain daripada yang aku alami seumur hidupku.

Entahlah... (to be continued)

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

A Conversation...

Usually at home, I'd have dinner together with my Chinese housemates. Though not being able to consume their meat dishes, yet their vegetable dishes were of no problem, and they are welcome to have a pinch of whatever I cooked, meat or no meat.

However, since early Ramadhan, I've succumbed to dining on my own. As Maghrib is around 5.40 pm (as of 1 Ramadhan)...heading towards 6 pm and beyond as the days head closer to spring season, I usually start cooking at 4, and start eating immediately when the time comes.

This is because I'm rushing against time. I have to catch the 6.37, or 6.57 train to Newport to join the Tarawih congregation, which begins after 'Isya prayers, currently timed at 7.15 pm.

My housemates usually have dinner between 7 to 8 pm.

Anyhow, yesterday as I was tending to my cooking, my housemate came up to me,

"Err...Karim, are you doing anything on Saturday? I think I want to go to the IKEA in East Melbourne."

"No. I don't think I'm doing anything on Saturday. Should be OK," I said.

"Owh, OK. Are you still using the oven?"

"Just another 10 minutes. I'm cooling it down. By the way, you realised of course that I did not eat with you and Jared these last few days. You know I'm fasting, so I have to eat early when the time comes."

"Err, ya I know. Maybe someday we can go and buy Halal meat and we can all cook and eat together."

"Hmm...sounds good."

I have to admit that I was touched for a moment. Here I am with an individual with no religion beliefs (refer to China's Cultural Revolution effects), yet he knows my religious obligations.

However, this chap is seeking religion knowledge. He knows a bit about Islam in terms of prayer, fasting, and Halal meat. He kept asking me about Islamic lectures programmes. So far, I know none that would suit him. Those at Newport Mosque are in heck of a problem if I were to translate it to him in real time.

I'll have to check with ICV for any Islamic programmes. In the meantime, I'm trying to find a Quran volume with Chinese translation for him to read. It's the best method for understanding Islam. He knows about the Quran, only that he doesn't know the name, and only refers to it as Islam's text book. Hahaha.

So far, I've found none. ICV only has translations in Albanian, Urdu. I'm not in the mood to get him an English translation volume, as he is himself having difficulties conversing smoothly in English. Furthermore, the English translation uses Shakesperian English. Very classic, I must say.

Maybe I should go to Sydney Road in Brunswick. There are Islamic bookshops there. I've been wanting to go to Sydney Road for weeks now. It's been 2 years since I last went there. Owh, how I missed the fresh arabian delicacies (baklawah) the sell at Balha's Patisserie shop down Sydney Road (this is not due to the fact that I'm fasting!). I used to buy a boxful of them for mum last time.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Hikmahnya aku ke Victoria University

Sewaktu di Malaysia, aku sering ditanya akan Universiti yang akan kupergi kelak. Bila disebut Victoria University, maka naik pening sang bertanya. Kalau sebut RMIT University, UniMelbourne, Monash University, belum habis sebut dah tahu di mana. Tapi VicUni...???

Lantas terhumbanlah pelbagai persoalan,

"Kat mana Universiti tu?"

"Diiktiraf ke?"

"Cemana boleh ke sana pulak?"

Tak lupa juga kepada komen,

"Masa aku tanya Uni mana yang bagus - bagus, diorang rekemen X, Y, Z. Tapi takde la diorang sebut Victoria Uni pulak..."

Bila ditanya kepadanya akan jurusan yang ditanya, maka jelaslah bukan jurusan kejuruteraan. Nak aje aku lepuk kepala beliau.

Ya, saudara...memang tak ramai di Malaysia yang mengenali Universiti ini. Publisitinya di Malaysia pun tak seberapa. Namun, apabila aku bertanyakan Universiti yang sesuai untuk bidang kejuruteraan, Universiti ini salah satu daripada yang dicadangkan.

Ketahuilah, lain bidang, lain Universiti yang disyorkan. Adakah anda akan bertanyakan kursus perubatan di Institute of Art & Design? Sudah sekali tidak!

Maka, bagaimanakah boleh aku mendarat di Universiti ini? 10 tahun perancangan, 8 bulan menyelidik, dan 2 bulan menyaring yang telah membawa aku ke VicUni.

Selama 10 tahun, aku meletakkan matlamat untuk menyambung pengajian di luar negara. Dalam 10 tahun ini juga aku telah menyenarai pendekkan negara - negara yang sesuai berdasarkan geografi, demografi, serta kestabilan ekonomi dan politik.

Menjelang berakhirnya zaman aku di UiTM, aku mula membuat penyelidikan ke atas universiti - universiti di negara pilihan; UK, Kanada, Australia, dan New Zealand. Pada peringkat awalnya, Kanada dan New Zealand telah dibuang; Kanada kerana tidak ada MoU dengan mana - mana universiti di Malaysia dalam bidang kejuruteraan. New Zealand kerana IELTS diperlukan.

Maka tumpuanku adalah pada UK dan Australia sahaja. Kelebihan bagi kedua - dua negara ini adalah tidak perlunya kepada IELTS, memandangkan UiTM menggunakan bahasa Inggeris sebagai bahasa pengantara. Tambahan, pengalaman bersekolah di UK memudahkan urusan memohon ke sana. Setelah mendapatkan maklumat yang diperlukan, maka muncullah senarai berikut:

United Kingdom

  1. University of Sheffield
  2. Manchester Metropolitan University
  3. University of Portsmouth

  1. University of New South Wales
  2. University of Newcastle
  3. RMIT University
  4. Victoria University
  5. University of South Australia

Seterusnya, aku menilai setiap universiti darihal berikut:

  1. Yuran
  2. Kualiti pembelajaran
  3. Kebajikan pelajar Islam
Setelah disaring, maka tinggallah University of Portsmouth, RMIT, VicUni, UniSA, dan Newcastle Uni. Namun pada saat - saat akhir, aku membuang RMIT daripada senarai ekoran isu musolla di kampus Swanston.

Aku ada cuba pertimbang semula RMIT. Namun, seolah - olah takdir Allah aku tidak dapat memohon ke RMIT. Ini kerana, setiap kali aku ke EduFair, ada sahaja yang akan mengganggu aku daripada ke kaunter RMIT, antaranya barisan yang panjang gila, ataupun tidak ada orang yang jaga kaunter sewaktu orang tak ramai.

Berbanding dengan yang lain, permohonan berlaku dengan pantas. Ada hikmah...

Dua minggu kemudian, keluarlah keputusan. Alhamdulillah, semua universiti menawarkan tempat. Cuma, memandangkan aku memohon proses pemindahan kredit, kena tunggu lagi sebulan. Langkah seterusnya adalah untuk ke ibupejabat JKR di Jalan Sultan Salahuddin untuk bertanyakan pengiktirafan kerajaan.

Didapati bahawa untuk UK, hanya Masters sahaja yang diiktiraf ekoran pertindihan silibus serta tempoh antara UK dan Malaysia baru - baru ini. Pihak JKR turut mencadangkan Australia kerana kualiti pembelajaran di dalam bidang kejuruteraan. Maka dengan hati yang pilu, terpaksalah aku lupakan UK.

Kemudian aku ditunjukkan rekod pengiktirafan universiti. UniSA dan Newcastle diiktiraf sekitar tahun 1990-an ke tahun 2000-an. Namun VicUni...sejak 1972???!!! MasyaAllah! Rupanya VicUni ada nama lama, dan terkenal kerana bidang kejuruteraannya.

Sebulan kemudian, keluarlah keputusan pindahan kredit; Newcastle menawarkan 3 tahun, UniSA 2.5 tahun, dan VicUni 2 tahun. Maka setelah berbincang dengan mak, abah, VicUni lah pilihan.

Ketahuilah, dalam setiap fasa perancangan serta tindakan, aku tak lupa berdoa dan bertawakkal kepada Allah memohon ditunjukkan jalan terbaik. Walaupun agak liat nak terima VicUni pada awalnya, namun disebabkan aku telah berdoa, maka aku terima ini sebagai jalan terbaik yang Allah berikan.

Antara hikmahnya aku ke VicUni, disebabkan ramai yang lebih rela ke RMIT, Monash, UniMelb jika memilih untuk belajar di Melbourne, maka tak ramai pelajar di sini...khususnya dalam bidang kejuruteraan. Palajar tahun ketiga dalam bidangku hanyalah sekitar 20+ orang.

Tambahan pula, Universiti ini adalah Muslim-friendly. Kebajikan pelajar Islam dijamin. Dewan solat disediakan di setiap kampus, sekali dengan solat Jumaat. Semua makanan di kafeteria mereka menggunakan hanya daging Halal.

Namun, setiap kebaikan sudah tentu ditemani dengan pengimbangnya. Kampus aku terletak di kawasan Footscray, 'perkampungan' Vietnam. Kawasan ini dikenali sebagai kawasan yang 'keras'; dengan gejalanya, samsengnya dll.. Boleh kata, sewaktu tiba di sini, aku didedahkan kepada Melbourne yang aku tak sangka wujud berbanding dengan ketika aku datang pada tahun 2007.

Namun, pendedahan ini telah membuat aku lebih berwaspada, tidak terlalu selesa, dan juga mengentalkan diri dalam menghadapi segala cabaran dan dugaan selama di sini. Walaupun pada peringkat awal agak melemahkan semangat. Namun, as time goes by, sedikit demi sedikit aku mula membiasakan diri dan memberanikan diri.

Alhamdulillah, kini aku tak berapa nak hairan sangat jika bertembung dengan puak - puak ini. Sungguhpun demikian hazar (berhati - hati) adalah satu kemestian.


Assalamualaikum wrh. wbh..

Salam Ramadhan diucapkan kepada sanak saudara, rakan - rakan, teman - teman, serta sahabat - sahabat sekalian...walau di mana jua anda berada.

Semoga diberkati dan diterima segala amalan di dalam bulan mulia ini...


Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Ramadhan in Melbourne - How I Go About My Day

My last Ramadhan spent outside of Malaysia was about 15 years ago, back in England. However, during those years being in England, I was still a child, knowing nothing about the obligations of fasting upon Muslims.

This Ramadhan, will actually be my second experience spending it outside of Malaysia...down Melbourne way, and the first time going through it with a matured understanding.

So far, there's not much difference than to that of fasting in Malaysia. Only that the southern hemisphere is experiencing winter for the moment, so the daytime is short.

On average, my day begins by waking up at 4am in the morning, and having my sahur in the kitchen. The mornings are cold and chilly, so it would usually take sometime if I was to heat my food on the stove.

At around 5.15 to 5.30, Subh would emerge, and I would perform my prayer. What happens after that would usually be various; either wash the dishes if I didn't have time to do it before praying, checking incoming e-mails on the internet, or sleep for another hour or so depending on last night's activities.

If my lecture starts at 9, I would catch the 7.59 from Westona Station, or the 9.59 if it was to start at 11. Classes usually end for the day at around 1pm. I would go and pray in the University musolla before walking back to Footscray Station...or taking the bus if it is within 5 minutes of waiting.

Upon reaching Footscray town, I would head straight into the station. If I have some groceries to do, I'd stop over at Footscray Market for vegetables and fruits, and one of the two Halal butchery for meat. If I have to buy other groceries, I would take the 411 or 412 bus to Altona Gate Shopping Centre on my way back home, which houses the Safeway supermarket. Usually, I'd prefer Safeway/Woolworths rather than Coles, eventhough Coles is available in Altona.

Once I've reached home, I'd pray 'Asr, and then start smoking the kitchen to prepare a meal for breaking fast later on.

After having broken fast, prayed etc., I would leave home and head for the station to catch the 6.37, or 6.57 train to Newport, some 10 minutes away.

There's a mosque adjacent to the Newport station where I would perform Tarawih prayers. This is an Arabian mosque, hence all forms of announcements are mostly being made in Arabic.

I'm not sure if their khutbah is in Arabic or English, because I've yet to perform Friday prayers there, as I usually perform so at Victoria University.

Here, Tarawih is only performed up to 8 rakaats. More than that, do it at home. After 4 rakaats, the congregation would pause from prayers, and give way to a brief tazkirah or short sermon...similar to what is practised at Masjid Batu in Permatang Pauh, Penang.

It's a beautiful experience; Muslims from all walks of life, from different races lining up under one roof to worship the One true God.

After that, I would return home, recite the Quran, prepare some meal for sahur, recap on any outstanding academic matters, and jump into bed.

Monday, 24 August 2009


Last Thursday, I received an SMS from my younger sister in Geelong, telling me that my package from Malaysia has arrived. Finally, after a month going about bookless, I finally have the books I needed for my studies.

I decided to go to Geelong on the following Saturday. Come Saturday, it was the first day of Ramadhan. To go to Geelong by train, I have to catch the V/Line train. This train stops at either Melbourne Southern Cross Station, Footscray Station, Newport Station, and Werribee Station. The closest from Westona Station was of course either Newport or Werribee.

I chose to go to Werribee because I won't have to double back on the same route just to switch trains. The only disadvantage was that Werribee lies on Zone 2, whereas my monthly travelcard covers only Zone 1. So, I bought a Zone 2 Daily Travelcard.

Furthermore, the fare from Werribee is half the price of the fare from Melbourne CBD, not to mention it's the weekend, so there's an off-peak price, half the normal price.

The average temperature was around 7 Celcius and very windy throughout that day, somewhat unusually cold. So, I brought my jumper along just in case the weather drops further. The problem with Melbourne, is that the weather tends to change every 10 - 30 minutes.

I caught the V/Line train from Werribee at 12.26 pm, and arrived safely at Geelong Station at around 1 pm. From there, my sister met and took me to her house in Preston Street. Atiqah was busy with her submissions, so I prayed Zuhr, and went out to venture Geelong CBD. Atiqah told me to be back in time for Iftar (breaking fast).

I first went to the waterfront. Masya-Allah, it's so beautiful. The blue sea stretching out as far as the eye can see. Then, as I was walking along the Deakin University building, I came across a museum; Ford Discovery Centre.

Hey, nonny nonny, a museum! In it I must go. I got a concession's price since I was an enrolling student...though I was hoping that I'd get free admission. The museum was filled with arrays of Ford vehicle models, beginning from the infamous Model T, up to Australia's renowned Falcon.

The exhibition on the upper level was my favourite; the processes of designing and manufacturing a certain model of a car. I was more attracted to the instrumentation equipments which were on display.

After that, I went for a walk around Geelong, until I realised that I've not prayed 'Asr, and that Maghrib was closing in. So, I rushed back to Preston Street just in time to pray, an wait another half-an-hour before we broke fast.

After having eaten and prayed, I rested in my sister's room while waiting for 'Isya at 7.15 pm. The V/Line runs every hour or so. I decided to catch the 8.26 back to Melbourne. After having prayed and passing goodbyes, I headed for the station.

Chill winds passed by me as I headed down the lamp-lit street towards the station. The last time I walked in the dark, cold night was about a month ago. On the train, I gazed out into the dark valley. Though there was nothing visible, it sure was a peaceful view as dark outlines of the hills emerged every now and then.

As I reached Werribee station, a Melbourne metropolitan train was waiting across the platform. One thing I liked about travelling public was that everything was on time and that they are properly synchronised to meet connecting services. By the time I reached home, it was 9.40 pm. I had a quick hot shower, prepared my sahur meal, and flunked right onto the bed.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Maribyrnong --> Altona

Alhamdulillah, last Sunday I finally left the Student Village for good. Packing my stuff took about two days. Looks bizarre; I came to the Village with two luggage. Now I'm leaving with stacks of boxes and cases.

My new home is in Altona, southwest of the CBD, and about 15-20 minutes away from Footscray by train. The house that I'm renting with my two Chinese chums is a one-floor unit, isolated from the main road. So, it's peaceful and quiet...good for studying. There is also a patch of land surrounding the house.

Maybe I can take up gardening every now and then. It's been quite sometime since I did some gardening.

It is also 2 minutes from Westona Station. Not to mention, the beach is just 10 walking minutes away. I must say, the beach is very beautiful. The closest mosque is the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque, situated next to Newport Station, three stops away. Now I don't have to travel all the way to Victoria University for Jumaat prayers, and Tarawikh prayers.

Since it is close to the coastline, the weather tends to be very cold at night. I only hope that I won't have any troubles whilst residing in this neighbourhood.

I and my fellow housemates took a couple of days to spring-clean the house. The previous tenants was not very hygiene-conscious, so they left the house in a very, very horrible state. The rooms, kitchen, hallway,'uzubillah. Not to mention the toilet!!!

Anyhow, it's clean now...and hope it stays that way 'til we move out.