Saturday, 7 September 2013

Jihad....a sister's dilemma........

“How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top.” ― Yvon Chouinard.

One weekend, hubby and I, decided to follow my dad back to the orchard, to help him harvest the fruits. We took the kids along, hoping that the kids will learn to enjoy ‘kampung’ life. The last time we went back was more than a year ago. The excuse was, we were just too busy.

Anyway, we arrived at the orchard just after midnight and from the moment we set foot in the house, the kids started their whining, “mommy, a mosquito bit me”, “mommy, I can’t go to the toilet cos there is a spider and it’s staring at me” “mommy, there’s lizard dropping everywhere, eeuuwww”.  Sheessh! And I thought I was bad! After all the drama had died down, they finally settled down to sleep.

The next day, hubby told the kids to change into their outdoor gear and help him pluck the fruits from the trees. I, too, decided to put aside my diva-ness; changed into my gear, put on my gardening shoes and ventured into the garden. I was completely covered from head to toe and with a huge sombrero like hat, plunked on my head. I looked like the cross-over between a Chinese immigrant and a Mexican senorita. My intention was to keep the sun and also the mosquito away. If I had my way, I would have wrapped my entire body and face with white cloth, to protect my skin but I was afraid that the villagers might shoot me down thinking there was a white rhino loose in the village…sigh!

I took a bag and began plucking the fruits from the trees. Hhhhmmm…. I thought to myself……… this is quite fun….Then, my dad came to me and commented that I used to love the outdoors. I stared at him and said “we are talking about the same daughter right? “ Me? Love outdoors? Since when? My dad replied “When you were small, you used to love the outdoors”.

OOooo…when I was small!.... No wonder I don’t remember. As far as I can remember, I have always been a creature of comfort. I think I probably pampered myself too much, when I was growing up, that I forgot what it’s like to go back to basic. I am accustomed to physical ease that I was reluctant to step out of my comfort zone.

I do remember visiting my grandparents in the village when I was small and I do remember being naughty but somehow, my memory eludes me when it comes being outdoors.

My dad’s comment somehow got me thinking. Have I gotten too comfortable with my life that I’m not willing to go through hardship again? Do I have the same attitude when it comes to religion? Am I so contented and complacent with life that I have ceased learning and trying to understand Islam? Do I feel that I am quite safe from the Hell Fire?

The reason why such questions were swirling my mind was that, lately, I have been reluctant to travel outside my familiar territory, when it comes to seeking knowledge. As a result, I have actually missed out on attending many good lectures by learned scholars and speakers. I didn’t understand why I was reluctant. Was I getting lazy? It’s not that I completely missed out on those lectures, as I do watch the recordings on youtube later or catch the live streaming, if it was available. It’s just that I was not as eager to dash across town, brace the crowd, just to attend the lectures, no matter how famous the speaker is.

I was beginning to get worried. Am I becoming arrogant? Do I feel that these scholars are not worth my time? Naahh..…that can’t be it because I still do listen to them. So what could it be?

This could very well be a sickness of the heart and I needed to get to the bottom of it. 

The Arabic word “jihad” means struggling or striving.  Acquiring knowledge is also of form of jihad where we strive and struggle to obtain the knowledge from the teachers. Some people travel thousands of kilometers just to be a student. If I don’t strive or struggle to acquire knowledge by attending those lectures, does it mean that I have not performed ‘jihad’? Does that make me a lesser Muslim? Should I feel guilty? Does the knowledge that I acquired has less barakah or blessing?

 I decided to confide in hubby regarding my woes. I mean, he, of all people, knows me inside out and he doesn’t mince his words when he gives his opinion, so, he would be the best person for me to speak to.

After talking to hubby, what he said me afterwards, completely put things into perspective.  He said that, for as long as he has known me, I have never been lazy when it comes to acquiring knowledge. The number of books that I have in my possession and read, were enough to prove it. He even reminded me the time when I took up part-time post-graduate studies, immediately after giving birth  to our third child and whilst still working full time. So, laziness is not an issue.

My hubby seems to think that my reluctance comes from the fact that I feel torn. I want to be there but I feel I need to be elsewhere. You see, I am a working mother of four children and after finishing work, I always make sure that I’m home with the kids and with hubby, to see to their needs. I don’t really like going out at night on my own because I feel that I need to be home with hubby and kids. I feel that is where my place is and that’s where I truly belong. Similarly, any event that is held in the evening, unless my husband goes with me; more often than not, I rather be at home. I can always catch a recording later, though it may be stale news, but I can’t rewind or replay, the precious moments of my kids’ life, that I missed. I feel that my first responsibility should be with my family and second, acquiring knowledge.

The thing is, even if I leave them at home and went for those lectures, my mind would not be there, hence, going for those lectures would actually be pointless. Feeling torn, according to my hubby, is pretty much the source of my reluctance.  It has nothing to do with laziness or being arrogant.

When I thought about it, hubby is actually right. If I’m single and alone, I would probably be dashing all over town, going for as many lectures that I can but I’m not. As much as I would want to go, I realise my priority lies elsewhere.

I am sure that are some mothers, out there, who are in the same predicament and face the same dilemma as I do, but do not despair, we would still be rewarded by God Al Mighty for our intention and sacrifices. Sometimes, we can’t help feeling left out, but I know, given the choice, we would still choose our families over anything else. It is okay to move at our own pace and to stay in our own protective circle. All of us have common destination, only different journeys. What matters is not ‘when’ we arrived but ‘how’ we traveled.

I realise now, that my jihad is different from others. I don’t feel any guilt as I understand that my struggles are also different and I strive for different things. 

Most importantly, I have put my woes to rest ……

`Aishah (RA) reported:
I said: "O Messenger of Allah! We consider Jihad as the best deed, should we not then go for Jihad?''
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, "The best Jihad for you women is Hajj Mabrur (i.e., one accepted by Allah).''

Asma (RA) reported that she approached the Prophet (SAW) on behalf of women and mentioned that men excelled women due to their participation in Friday and congregational prayers, visiting the sick, attending funeral prayers, performing the Hajj and Umra, and due to their participation in Jihad. The Prophet (SAW) replied: "Go and inform the women that their beautification for their husbands, discharging their rights, seeking their pleasure and obeying them is equal in reward (to the above mentioned acts) of men." [Kanz-ul-Amaal]

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