Thursday, April 23, 2020

Ramadhan Kareem 1441 Hijri | Flee to the Almighty


Assalamualaikum warahmatullah,

I hope this posting finds you well, and that you and I shall be given good health and tawfiq by Allah from Day 1 of Ramadhan until the last day, to fast and perform all other ibadah in the best manner, and that Allah would accept it from us. Aamiin Allahumma Aamiin.

It is humbling, to say the least, that we cannot visit the House of Allah this Ramadhan as most countries are on lockdown. Below is a screenshot of my neighborhood mosque. How blessed are they! They are the chosen ones. But I am sure they are missing us too, the jemaah

This mosque customarily broadcasts majlis taalim via FB Live every single day after Maghrib and Subuh, sometimes during Duha too. The number of viewers rarely exceeds 20 (if I am not mistaken), yet the show goes on. Since March 18th, 2020, only three of them (imam/bilal) are allowed to carry out their duties at the mosque. HRH the Sultan of Selangor has decreed the closure of all mosques in Selangor until 31st May 2020.

This is a picture of them reciting a special du'a in conjunction with the arrival of Ramadhan. During Ramadhan, on a daily basis at 6.30 pm, they would broadcast Yaasin and Tahlil recitations prior to Iftar and Tadarrus Al Quran at 9.45 pm.

Eve of Ramadhan
23 April 2020

I thought this photo should be here to honor them and to document this unprecedented occasion that has befallen the entire world. 

As we perform our prayers, particularly, teraweh at home, it is worth reflecting on the lessons that the pandemic has presented to us. As for me, I want to regard it as an opportunity to truly be alone with the Alone, albeit inwardly, and to be in seclusion (khalwat) with the Almighty, as if He is reminding us to not fret because He is nearer to us than our jugular veins and that this entire world is a mosque. So let us set some big, hairy audacious goals - daily Ramadhan goals. Let's strive, fastabiqul khairat! 

Setting goals and recording our progress would be useful as it would remind and motivate us. Since the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced in Malaysia, I pledged to make 500 selawat a day (the one taught by Habib Umar asking Allah for mighty support). I am pleased to share with you especially the young ones, a photo of my selawat progress report. Since 19th March 2020, I have so far recited over 17,000 selawat. On some days, I do slightly more than 500, as I might get busy with my MBA assignments on other days. So I know how much I have slacked and how much I have to speed up. There were days when I felt overwhelmed or a little unmotivated, so this small notebook served as a beautiful picker-upper. I would run my fingers through the numbers as if it was braille for my blind heart, reminding me of what truly matters in life.

Sometimes I wished I could save RM500 a day and make similar records. LOL. A friend shared with me a beautiful custom-designed Ramadhan scorebook. It does not matter the form or format. This notebook of mine costs merely RM5, but to me, it is worth more than RM5,000 as it symbolizes my love and commitment to keeping my line-of-sight with the Prophet salallah alaihi wasalam. I hope to continue doing this post-MCO for as long as I live InShaAllah. I am sharing this because I wished someone had told me to do this when I was in my 20s or 30s. I wished selawat had become a natural thing to do then. But that's ok, what is important is that I can keep harping on this until it falls on the hearts of the young ones among us, bi-iznillah.

Today is also a humbling day as I reflect on Allah's generosities towards me, the way He has been facilitating my affairs and surprising me with boons. It would be a great shame if I cannot offer extra gratitude to Allah. I have a means, this laptop, to speak good about Him and about the Prophet salallah alaihi wasalam. It would be a shame if a good thought passes my mind about posting a positive sharing, but I don't act upon it. Indeed, we have to proclaim the bounty of the Lord, He is Al-Kareem, Al-Wali, Al-Wadud.

He is Al-Hadi Al-Aleem. We would not know a thing, had He not guide and teach us. 
Let's flee to the Almighty.

WaSalamualaikum warahmatullah,

- E. Ismail

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Give value to time | Isolate


This is just another personal reflection.

Khalwat or isolation or social distancing has always been good for the soul. But social distancing in the context of a spiritual khalwat is not about keeping a distance of 1 or 2 meters between people. It is about occasionally distancing oneself from the crowd altogether, it is about going into a private retreat where one isolates him/herself at a quiet space, to mind one's own business, particularly one's transactions with the Creator.

It is a common practice for those who are on the spiritual path. They would actively cleanse their souls by committing to khalwat. How do they give value to time during khalwat? They commit to inward and outward servitude. I think even if we can't do a proper khalwat, it is wise to distance our hearts from the mortals and the irrelevance.  

All of a sudden millions of people are in khalwat though a majority might not realize it. I was reminded of the term khalwat upon watching a tausiyah by Habib Novel Al-Aydrus two weeks ago. He advised the audience to take advantage of the Movement Control Order (MCO) or the likes of it as practiced in your respective countries.

It is indeed a good opportunity to gear up on one's amal. I must admit as someone who is a recluse, unsociable, an introvert, I have always practiced social distancing LOL. I am loving it!

I hope a sizeable sample of the population who are on quarantine would stumble on this blog and find the postings useful, some of them, if not all. I hope the old yet timeless lessons from the shuyukh would give value to your time. 

The present circumstances made me question myself in terms of the value I had given to time in the old world - the world before the C-outbreak. It made me realize even more of the importance of journaling and documenting the lessons and experiences we had. If we did not make an attempt to record the paths trodden be it through photography or writing, it would be just like a blank paper without meaning. Though it might be possible to find some traces of our past smears in a hater's record. Why carry other people's baggage?

I pray so that Allah would give us the strength to ignore matters that are not of our concern. Except maybe the good of humanity in general and certainly not Mr. A's episode B or Miss B's episodes A, B, and C.

The episodes of our lives are indeed unique. How each one of us gives value to time is also unique, it is like a private conversation with the Lord, a private interaction with Him who records even that of our non-movement and silence. So let's use our time wisely.

May Allah keep us safe in His most perfect protection.


'Business as Usual' during quarantine = studying, online meetings re office work & MBA assignments and caring for my dear mother. Plus, manually recording in a notebook, my 500 daily selawat and the zikir assigned by Habib Umar bin Hafiz for the month of Shaaban. I am pretty sure there are people who do 1000+ selawat or 3000 zikir a day. I wish more people would openly share their selawat/zikir routine. To me, it is like a good campaign. It is not self-advertising. It is advertising the Prophet (salallah alaihi wasalam) and reminding people to nourish their souls. Unfortunately, the ads on Dalgona coffee has gotten a lot more air-time. LOL.

Anyways, I love appearing in the blogosphere more than I do on other socmed platforms. I think it has got something to do with you, who have husnul zan towards me. Thank you!
Fi amanillah.


Habib Novel's tausiyah on khalwat
[in the Indonesian language, though]