Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pride and Prejudice.... and Pilgrimage....


Today my secretary asked if she should start putting Haji before my name on the letters that I sign. I said, no... out of humility. I am a humble person after all.

But, then, I started thinking. Don't I deserve to be called Haji. It is not a title given by another human (like Dato' or Tan Sri or whatever). It is a title I earned (deservedly or not is up to Allah swt), by performing that which was obligated upon me as a muslim. And my heart warms to every time I hear somebody calls me Tuan Haji.

So I am caught between wanting to tell people that I have performed the Hajj, thus, I would like it very much to be have the title Haji before my name, and not wanting people to think that I am boastful and proud.

Of course, along with me and my wife and 90 other people that were on the same pilgrimage package, there were also, at least, 2 million other people from all over the world performed their Hajj this year.

But, to me it is a big deal. To me, it is a major life achievement that I have completed all 5 pillars Islam. Again, whether all the Solah, the Fasting in Ramadhan and the payment of Zakat, is acceptable to Allah, is a matter I will not worry about, for it is entirely in His hands... as are our very soul.

And the Hajj, for me, was a wonderful and sobering experience. It was a time to contemplate our previous lives and to begin a new one. It was the time and place to be thankful, to seek forgiveness, to gain strength, to cleanse your soul, to make changes. It was a chance to put your feet and your forehead in prayers, on the very ground that our Prophet once stood, where he once lived and fought us, his ummah.

Perhaps, that is what I need. I need to tell my friends that I am transforming myself. And, that, most importantly, by having the Haji before my name, is a self reminder of the resolutions I made, which I intend to keep.

Perhaps, I should tell my secretary to put the Haji before my name..... or not... I don't know...

Yours truly,

Haji Shamsuddin bin Haji Jaafar.
Class of 1434 Hijriah  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Past revaluations

Sometimes, after prayers, I would contemplate my life while still sitting upon my prayer mat. And, once in a while, like this morning, I had (another) epiphany.

Thinking about my future, about what I wish I should be doing after I retire, I realized, that while I am dreaming of the future, what I am yearning for is really the past. Because all the things I want to do.... are really the things I used to do, a long long time ago..

I remember those good old days (they are always "good old days" in retrospect), when I would live my life on a whim. Back from school, I would have my lunch, change and then, whenever I feel like it, off I go on my bicycle to see a movie. I love science fiction (saw Star Wars IV 6 times), or I would take in a Kung Fu movie or if I am in a melancholy mood, I go to watch "Sofie's Choice" or "Terms of Endearment" or "Out of Africa" (yes I have a crush on Meryl Streep) and even occasionally, I watch a love story... "Goodbye Girl" (Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason) was the most memorable one for me.

Or, I would just go to the riverside to have a "Rojak Mee" under a shady tree looking nothingness, as the wind from the Malacca Straits rustles the leaves and the Muar river flows lazily, lapping the rocks on its banks.

Or, I would just stay home, sit in front of the Hi Fi set, put on a record on the turntable and let the music blast away, ensuring the neighbors know how cultured I am. I love music, and I enjoy all kinds of music. I listen to Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra and Nancy Wilson and Dean Martin, I love the blues (B.B.King), I listen to J. Geils Band (the Freeze Frame album), The Eagles, Bee Gees (the spirit having flown album), I love Linda Ronstadt (I have 5 of her records), locally, I am a fan of Jamal Abdillah, Sheila Majid, I bought Fairuz Hussein debut album, I even like Black Dog Bone, Carefree, Freedom and Sweet Charity. I love S.M.Salim and occassionally listen to P.Ramlee songs (especially, the jazzy ones like Putus Sudah Kasih Sayang and Tunggu Sekejap).

The irony of it all, while these things I did when I was still in school and living off my father's pension (Allah bless his soul), this morning, still seated cross-legged on my prayer mat, I am contemplating the wealth I will need to accumulate within the next few years so that I can do all these things again, after my retirement.....

However, at today's prices, I wonder, is retirement an option? (Sigh...) Better get dressed, I am late for work....

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I know

Dearest Allah swt,

I want to thank you (although, somehow with you, the word "thank" seem so minuscule and grossly insufficient) for letting me see through another Ramadhan.

I don't know what you make of this Ramadhan for me, but I actually feel this time was better than the last. But, I now seek you forgiveness because the reason this Ramadhan is better than the last, is because the last one was "crap" (for lack of a better word). During the the last one, I did not read the Quran and missed many tarawikh prayers. This time, praise be upon You, I took time to do some reading, although, I have just finished juzu' 10 (pathetic, I know, Ya Allah.... please accept it). And, this Ramadhan I only missed one night of tarrawikh, but please forgive me my Lord, I had to send my son back to his hostel (bad excuse, I know).

The one (of many things) thing that I have yet to achieve is to do tahajjud, Ya Allah. This is a heavy task for me. For, sleep is one of the great worldly pleasures that you have endowed upon me that I am not strong enough to resist. But, I am toying with the idea of doing it.... I know, Ya Rahman Ya Rahim, that you recognise the intention even before the deed.

Ya Latif, Ya Karim, I thank you for all that you have given me. I do not know what good I have done to deserve all this. Yet, I know that you know that I will always have something to ask from you.I have many times heard the teachers say, that it is ok to ask from you, because you are rightfully The Giver. I know, Ya Allah, that I cannot even lift a finger without your will, and I know that each breath that I take is really at your ultimate pleasure. I know that the next one could very well be my last.

Thus, Ya Allah, I know I sound ungrateful, but, I must ask these things from you:

Ya Allah, please forgive my parents, cleanse them form all of their sins, big and small, and please take care of them as they have doted upon me when I was growing up. Put them together with those you love, your apostles.

Ya Allah, I ask for you to care of my wife and children whom I love very much, yet I am unable to be there for them at all times. Please show them the correct path, the path of those that you have guided, not the path of those who earn your anger nor of those who go astray.

Ya Allah, please forgive my father-in-law and mother-in-law and brothers and sisters, my brothers-in-law and my sisters-in-law, my uncles and aunts, my nephews and nieces, my grandnephews and my grandnieces, and all my fellow muslims and muslimahs, be they are alive or have passed on.

And, please, Ya Allah, please forgive me for all my stupidity, my arrogance, my forgetfulness, my insolence, be it towards you and towards my fellow man.

For Ya Allah, I know, that you are the Affuwun Kareem, and I know you love to forgive..... So please Ya Allah, forgive me...

I wish your blessings upon his Majesty Muhammad (pbuh) and upon his family, and all praise be to you, Lord of the universe.

Amin.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Never Ending Story

An old man and his young son was walking home from the market, pulling behind them a donkey, which they just purchased.

They passed by a group of men who chided them for not riding the donkey. Having heard them, the boy told his father to get on, as he continued on foot pulling the donkey along.

Then they came upon another group of men and they heard these men commenting on what a bad parent the old man is letting his poor son walked while he rode the donkey. So, the old man changed places with his son.

Then they passed another group of men and they scolded the boy for being an ungrateful son, letting his old father walked while he rode the donkey. The old man sighed and not wanting to subject his son to more insults, he got on the donkey, together with the son....

Then, they passed by yet another group, and these men shook their heads in dismay and said, "Poor donkey.... have they no consideration for the poor animal?".

So, the both got down from the donkey and walked on.

Then.....

They passed by a group of men who chided them for not riding the donkey. Having heard them, the boy told his father to get on, as he continued on foot pulling the donkey along.

Then they came upon another group of men and they heard these men commenting on what a bad parent the old man is letting his poor son walked while he rode the donkey. So, changed places with his son.

Then they passed another group of men and they scolded the boy for being an ungrateful son, letting his old father walked while he rode the donkey. The old man sighed and not wanting to subject his son to more insults, he got on the donkey, together with the son....

Then, they passed by yet another group, and these men shook their heads in dismay and said, "Poor donkey.... have they no consideration for the poor animal?".

So, the both got down from the donkey and walked on.

Then.....

They passed by a group of men who chided them for not riding the donkey. Having heard them, the boy told his father to get on, as he continued on foot pulling the donkey along.

Then they came upon another group of men and they heard these men commenting on what a bad parent the old man is letting his poor son walked while he rode the donkey. So, changed places with his son.

Then they passed another group of men and they scolded the boy for being an ungrateful son, letting his old father walked while he rode the donkey. The old man sighed and not wanting to subject his son to more insults, he got on the donkey, together with the son....

Then, they passed by yet another group, and these men shook their heads in dismay and said, "Poor donkey.... have they no consideration for the poor animal?".

So, the both got down from the donkey and walked on.

Then....
They passed by a group of men who chided them for not riding the donkey. Having heard them, the boy told his father to get on, as he continued on foot pulling the donkey along.

Then they came upon another group of men and they heard these men commenting on what a bad parent the old man is letting his poor son walked while he rode the donkey. So, changed places with his son.

Then they passed another group of men and they scolded the boy for being an ungrateful son, letting his old father walked while he rode the donkey. The old man sighed and not wanting to subject his son to more insults, he got on the donkey, together with the son....

Then, they passed by yet another group, and these men shook their heads in dismay and said, "Poor donkey.... have they no consideration for the poor animal?".

So, the both got down from the donkey and walked on.

Then......

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Moving On....

And thus begin a new era in Malaysian history.... At least I hope so.

In the last election, the swing votes were the Indians, this time around, it's the Chinese. But, overall, BN lost a few more battles than they did in the last election, but still ended up winning the war. This does not bode well with the opposition, the smell conspiracies and misconducts are ripe in the post election air. Black outs and Banglas, misplaced and magically appearing ballot boxes become topics on social media. We'll continue to hear all this for the next month or year.

Maybe police reports will be made, maybe somebody will sue the Election Commission. Whether action will be taken..... we'll have to wait and see.

It is sad and very frustrating when you sincerely believed you could have won. And, you question every marginal losses. Pakatan Rakyat will continue to highlight the slim losses in Trengganu and Perak, and BN will wonder about places like Lembah Pantai and Selangor has now become a stronghold of Pakatan Rakyat.

As for me, I like this result. It is the result I had hoped for. It is a result that I know will ensure our country continues to strive. I did not want for PR to take over the government because I do not have the full confidence of their leaders. Not all of them anyway and I am skeptical of how PKR and DAP can actually work with PAS at national level. At the same time, I was quite afraid if BN were to get a two third majority. I was afraid that they will be lulled back into thinking that they can rule the country with impunity and corrupt practices (including but not limited to nepotism, cronyism and favoritism). This result will keep BN in check until GE14. At the same time, I especially like the people's rejection of "ultra-racism" advocated by the likes of PERKASA.

So, in my mind it is a win-win situation. The people have spoken. BN now knows that there is much work to be done in reforming itself. Massive brainstorming will need to be done to analyse correctly why the people voted the way they did. Why was BN able to win back Kedah and yet almost lost Trengganu? What is the real issue that the Chinese community has with BN (especially MCA)? How "religious" must UMNO be and still garners the confidence of the non-muslims who clearly holds the reigns of our economy?

I look forward to coming years. I just hope there will not be social disturbances by irresponsible parties.

And for the record, I think it's a mistake on behalf of Datuk Seri Najib to use the term "Chinese Tsunami". But, I very much like the new phrase "National Reconciliation".

The mass media told us to do it, and we did. WE CHOSE MALAYSIA!!


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Take or Give a Chance

I want a government that put the needs of the people first. In the past UMNO and corruption is synonymous. People join UMNO and vie for state and parliamentary seats to have powers to control the business in their area, to fill their own pockets.

This perception has become so deep-rooted that  to reverse the people's thinking isn't easy. No matter what BN does, suspicions will be attached to it. Every contract awarded, every law enforced, every appearance made at any functions. Every bad rumour is true, every good one is ..... just rumours.

Ministers (including the Prime Minister) are expected to be humble people. They are government servants. They or their wives are not supposed to be shopping like the WAGs of professional sportsmen. They should not be be seen in a high fashion, expensive brands shops.

In Kelantan, you can say anything about Tuan Guru Nik Aziz. He can say the silliest things, but his humble demeanour wins the hearts of the people of Kelantan every time. Sit at a table discussing Kelantan politics and you will hear how the Tuan Guru prays together with the people, eats "nasi bungkus", go around in buses. Is he a good Chief Minister/Statesmen? Personally, I don't think so. Will he get all the votes? YES!!

I think most people who join UMNO are people who are lacking in resourcefulness. They need some political support, or else they can't even get a job.... or maybe they can but not the kind of job they want.

And, when they don't get what they want with UMNO, they leave and join PKR.

The so called 2008 General ElectionTsunami where BN lost so many seats and its hold on Selangor is a good thing. If that did not happen, I wonder if we would see all the GTPs ETPs, NKRAs and the like. But, once bitten twice shy. BN is asking to give them a chance to proof that they've changed. Pakatan Rakyat, suddenly found a foothold, now wants a bigger piece. But, they made blunders, too.

So, how do we choose? The lesser of the two evils? A devil you are used to or an angel you are not familiar with? Talk is cheap. Manifestos or "akujanji" call it what you want. If whoever wins fails to deliver, they can turn around and say, you voted for us.... live with it.




Monday, March 25, 2013

The Windmills of My Mind....

I really cannot comprehend why there are people who are willing to do the same thing over and over again for years... decades even.

In my place of work, I have retiring staff who have worked here since they left school over three decades ago. It is the security I suppose, of an employer who will pay you diligently at the end of every month, and an assured bonus before Eidul Fitri and the end of the year, regardless of whether you actually did any work during the year.

I think I have mentioned in one of my previous posts that this place is a utopia of employment. A dream job.
But, if the nicest dream becomes tiresome when it is just a repetition, and you know how the story ends and then begin again.

It is a lovely Monday today. The morning was misty, the traffic was flowing smoothly, had breakfast and somebody paid for it. But, a Monday nonetheless. And as soon as I got into my company car, I see my future and suddenly, my spirit becomes unwilling, my flesh becomes weak. Even before I shift the gear into "D" for "P", I see the route I will be taking, the same route I have taken five days a week, for the last 6 years. Then, I see myself park the car, walk out to the nearby cafe for breakfast, and walk back to the office building, up the elevator, walk some more to my office, turn the swivel chair to accommodate my butt, switch on the computer, put in the password, wait for the Windows tune, login to my Outlook to check my mail.

The pile of cheques for me to sign, the flurry of people coming in and out of my office with documents for me to sign, the ringing of the telephone.... then the indecision of the place to have lunch. Then, it begins again, a fresh pile of cheques and documents, ringing telephone and the repeated glances at the wall clock... 3 more hours..... argghhhh!!!

Eventually, it came, the time to leave. But, there are more cheques to sign and the boss would have asked me for something, which I will have to write a paper on. By time I am done or have given up, it is already dark outside. And, I walk among the empty desks, down the elevator to the basement, start my car, and join the evening congestion.

Already, I am counting the days before the next weekend, only to be further discouraged by the thought of another inevitable Monday. Thus, and the loop begins again, caught in a cycle from which I find no escape.

This merry-go-round isn't going to stop for me.... time to jump....




Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Not a Midlife Crisis.

The thing I hate most about dealing with people is that they look but do not see, they hear but do not listen.

And, I am one who hates repetition, yet when dealing with humans, you need to say things a few times, and perhaps in different ways before they can understand. I get stressed up... and thus, as much as I can I avoid confrontations.

But, like the old saying, when you point one finger in the other direction, three are actually pointed right back at you... and if you point with your thumb, then four fingers are accusing you of the same things you are saying about someone else.

I have been listening to Anthony Robbins, and at almost every pause he makes as he talks, I would be saying to myself... "I knew that.... I knew that...". Robbins said we must write out a blueprint for our lives. In our part of the world we call the drawings that represent the building we are about to build a "plan". But, for Americans, these are called blueprints. So, when Tony Robbins said to write out your blueprint of life, he was asking for a paragraph or two on how you think your life should be. Well, Mr. Robbins I did that.... ten years ago, and nothing in that piece of paper has come true.

Thus, Mr. Robbins says, my blueprint is the reason for my unhappiness, or dissatisfaction, or frustrations or pain in life. Because, I keep comparing this blueprint to my real life and then, as he puts it "should myself". I will look and the blueprint and say, I should be that, I should have done that, I should be at that level... etc.

On that same piece of paper that I kept for a decade I also wrote; "Faith and Focus".

Maybe, Anthony found this piece of paper and made millions from it, because that is what he is preaching. That is what he is telling me, in his gruff phlegmy voice, for me to change and make all the things in that blueprint of mine to become a reality, is to have faith in myself and focus on my goals.

And, he's spot on... Ever since I wrote that, I lost faith in myself and forgot about my goals, putting blames on things that happened around me, and my business partner; making excuses about having to raise my children and not wanting to burden my wife.

I was also blaming myself, to placate myself, to say I am responsible for my actions, saying that I am not a salesman, this is not natural to me... I can't take rejections.... etc.,etc,.etc.

Again, all these are repeated to me by Mr. Robbins. He said, when things do not go according to the blueprint you will blame three things: an event, a person and yourself.

And, I keep saying... I knew that, I knew that...

Of course, I am not saying my life is miserable. There are things in my life that I am very happy with and Mr. Robbins say these are the things in my life that match my blueprint. Of course, I did not write these things down. My blueprint only lists out the gaps in my life not the things I have acquired or gained or achieved.

But, to continue to have some dissatisfaction with certain aspects of your life is natural. Anthony Robbins lists out 6 things that we need in life and thus the reasons that we will always be wishing for something more:

1) the desire for certainty in life
2) the desire for variety in life
3) the desire to be significant
4) the desire for connection/relationship/love
5) the desire to continue to grow and improve ourselves
6) the desire to contribute

That made a lot of sense. Special attention to numbers 5 and 6, which should be a continuous process for as long as we live.

So, to my friends out there (a special shout to my emba15a alumni) who think that they are going through midlife crisis.... Don't worry about it, you are just thriving to live out your blueprint.

Keep at it!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Time to Look Inside (again)

I have just heard part one of Anthony Robbins' Ultimate Edge (free trial version) and I must admit I am inspired. Maybe it's his voice and the passionate way he delivers his talk, but I am motivated to make changes in my life, now.  I am determined to follow the foot steps of people who overcame life's best (worst) shots to be recognized as the masters i their field of interest.

Tony Robbins told about J.K. Rowling's miserable life, having been badly treated by the people around her, living in her car and on welfare, rejected by publishers before becoming a billionaire. Robbins also mentioned how Stephen Hawking was devastated to be diagnosed with ALS, yet went on to write numerous books and is today considered the greatest Physicist since Einstein.

However, it was while listening to these stories that I realized .... I am embarrassed to be seen buying or reading self-help or motivational books. I do have in my collection Steven Covey's "7 habits", T. Harv Eker's "The Millionaire Mind Set", Zig Ziglar's  "See You at The Top", and Robert T. Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad Poor Dad" and "Cashflow Quadrant", all bought discreetly, when there aren't anybody at the cashier or lately, I buy them online.

And I know why....  In my mind, I see people who read these motivational books are people with issues. I mean why else are you reading or listening to Anthony Robbins. I don't have issues... please... I am happily married, I have good children, I am NOT poor, I am not rich either but... I am happy... I have a great life!! I do!

But, the question remains.... Why am I listening to this gruff voice and finding myself actually, soothed by it. Maybe it's listening to the terrible things that other people went through in their lives, make my problems trivial.

And, I guess, perhaps it is time to look inside and be honest with myself. It is time (again) to ask .... What do you want in/from this life?

(Downloaded part 2, so I can hear it in the car on my way home....)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Melancholia

There are days when you just can't get started. Today is one of them... and the older I get, these non-starting days are occurring more frequently. I know this day will be an almost zero-productivity day for me, when I woke up this morning and the first thing that crossed my mind is "I'm going to get-off early today..."

True enough, I spent today with minimal sense of achievement and instead of starting on a new project assigned to me by my boss, I wrote this blog.

I do not have anything particular to write about. The news and social media is filled with updates and comments about the assault on Tanduo. Prior to this, the political parties supporters are flinging mud at each other in the build up to the coming general elections which nobody knows when.

I hope nobody will comment to say things like, "count your blessings" or "be thankful". Please don't... today, I want to wallow in this quicksand of depression. Today, I want to whine about ever worsening morning traffic congestion, the same breakfast choices, the repetition of daily work, the slow sweep of the clock's hands, the incessant ringing of telephones.... Today, I want to immerse myself in the meaninglessness of my existence. Today I want to view life, the world and its occupants with contempt.

Today, the customers are wrong, I do not want to hear another point of view, all excuses are lame, it's my way or no way....

How I wish I can be this way everyday....





Sunday, February 17, 2013

Changing

Tree of Life?... Near Tanjung Emas, Muar, Johor
Somebody said (nobody can tell me exactly who) that to keep doing the same thing but expecting different results is madness. Everybody knows that but nobody bothers to change, and hope that the goodness of their hearts and their charitable deeds are recognised by God and God will reciprocate with granting them good fortune.

Count your blessings, they say, which actually means be satisfied with what you have. But, at the same time everybody knows that the only constant in life is change. Even if you do not want to change, things happen around you will force you to make adjustments. We are never tired of speaking of the good old days when we say things were cheaper, life was simpler. That is just a perception because, as humans we cannot help ourselves but to compare and imagine that the comparison is absolute. Compared to today we imagined that we were happier "in the old days" than we are now. Yet we forget that we complained of the same thing then. 

As humans, we are constantly unsatisfied. Because we are ever satisfied, than we are not humans. We would then be angels (i.e. "Malaikat" as per Islam not "angels" as per Christianity). This constant dissatisfaction is in fact the very thing that made it possible for humans to flourish on this earth (touching 7 billion), despite the ever present threat of environmental disasters and deadly diseases.

So, it is quite normal if you always feel you want something more in life..... 

What I am trying to say is, everybody is willing to change and adopt, but nobody likes going through the pain of HAVING to change. Again, it is a human thing. we get into a habit and then we can't get out of it.

What am I rambling about.... Well, there are things happening in my life this year and I know I must change. What I am required to do is simply be more disciplined. Put my days in order, schedule everything and stick to that schedule......  I have nicely laid out the schedule. But, 48 days in 2013, I have only diligently followed only one of my to do list.

God have mercy on me.....