In 2002, some months after I completed high school I got a temporary three week job at an international high fashion boutique outlet. It was in the KL Twin Towers (KLCC) and they needed extra staff during the sale season.
I was 18 years old.
Simply said, I wasn’t quite connected to my faith – especially in a God fearing context – but I did perform the basic obligatory prayers, perhaps it was a chance for an easy break rather than asking for one to do nothing. Anyway it typically meant I’d take two, three and sometimes up to four breaks during a ten hour shift to go three floors up to the prayer room.
Once in a while yes I would stopover in other shops to talk to other colleagues who worked in shops that were owned by the same holding company. This was me breaking a trust while being on break for a specific cause.
Whether the total time taken for prayer, or brief chats with mates, differed from the cigarette breaks my other colleagues were taking, I won’t go into this but it’s worth to note.
A permanent colleague later told me that the manager said to a him once after approving me to go pray, ‘you know next time, I think we’ll hire someone who doesn’t pray.’
Both were Muslims. Both were smokers.
Professor Syed Naquib al-Attas explains in his most famous work, Islam & Secularism, that the word religion and city, share the same roots in Arabic language.
In meaning, a village, town, flourishes and grows into a city, the more it manifests religion and not be absent of it. Then that is enlightenment. Of people and place. Of product and environment.
The disbelievers of Makkah used to look down on Yathrib, as a place of farms. And then the Messenger of God migrated there, and transformed it into Madeenah al-Munawwarah.
The city that the Prophet (pbuh) built has an epithet – illuminated and enlightened (al-Munawarrah), for a reason.
However what we have mostly today, cities in comparison village life, gets further from religion as it ‘flourishes.’
So despite the tall buildings and transport infrastructure, educated people who work jobs that apparently feed people in abundance be it on a porcelain curved plate or a LED flat screen, it’s important how to let ourselves understand whether this that which we are indulging in, is what meant by that which is enlightened.
If it isn’t, then what is it?
And where are we heading?
*Pic is of Habib Ali al-Hamid conveying the translation of the Friday prayer sermon delivered earlier by Habib Omar Bin-Hafidh in Arabic. This was in the mosque directly next to KLCC in 2012.
Note: for those out of Malaysia and know Arabic, khas is also a word in Malay. In this context it means (Specially) Reserved.
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