Sunday, October 18, 2009


"Why are you looking so drab this morning? " I asked my youngest son over a late breakfast about two days ago. He gave me a dry smile. "Come on, Allah tak buat dunia kita ini sempit. Jangan kita yang menyempit-nyempitkan." I told him, trying to cheer him up. I said that there are many things in life to be thankful for and that we should not feel so let down at the slightest thing that happened to us that we are not happy about.

My youngest son is not so young, really. He is into his 28th birthday.But like most mothers, he is as young to me as can be. He graduated from Al Mu'tah University, Jordan at 26. He has his own way of "looking at life" and ventured as he liked before finally taking my advice to finish college first before anything else. He "wasted" a year coming home to "escape" the Gulf War and the War in Iraq.It was some experience for him to be lifted by the Malaysian Air Force from Amman back to Kuala Lumpur stopping only in Madras to ease himself and so did everyone else because the aircraft has no rest room facilities. He stayed a year or so in Sudan to polish his Arabic language and along the way he gained some and lost some, as the saying goes.I went to visit him in Khartoum in 2002 and I could understand why he told me a year in Sudan was enough for him. Sudan was like 25 years behind us in terms of development and of course he missed a lot of things especially soccer. I persuaded him to stay on and learn to be hardy like most of the Indonesian students, but it was an attempt in vain.

He is a little better in Arabic than he is in English and I can see that as a beginner into this world of work in Malaysia he is at a disadvantage. But jokingly I told him that it is the style of speaking rather than the grammar that matters in communicating in English. I can see that he is trying hard. He is now helping the big brother who is into Animation in the multimedia industry. The brother made him one of the directors and his income depends on the performance of the company. He is in charge of general management rather than the technicality of animation itself.

The biggest challenge as a beginner is convincing himself that being self employed is better than working for people or an organization. His friends are mostly with the federal or state government earning a stable income, though relatively low compared to some others in the private sector or those who are making it good on their own. He sees that as being more secured and more predictable and he so can have more time "socializing" and picking up other new interests in life. I was a little disappointed to here his views on that. This is where I started giving him "a lecture" on Life's Challenges. I reminded him that our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was involved in business together with Khadijah, his beloved wife, even before he was 25. Before that he was into farming and his animal farm was very successful. There is no entrepreneurial venture that is easy, so said the Hadith and that is why about 90% of wealth accumulated comes from business ventures.(please refer exact text else where.) There are many challenges and the feeling of insecurity, which is more apparent than real, is one hurdle one has to overcome in order to move forward successfully.I told him about the saying: "When the going gets tough, only the tough gets going."

Being tough is being resilient and relentlessly pursuing what you believe to be the right thing to do and to do it well. If you fall, you will pick yourself up, pick up the pieces and move on without feeling having to turn back. A tough person should be "thick skinned" when criticized. Do not feel that you have to immediately defend yourself when criticized. Listen well first before coming forward to defend and give alternative ideas. If you are quick at defending yourself, it means that you are not confident at what you are doing and in the long run you may loose out because you are closed to new ideas.

And the most important thing to do is to have a strong conviction that Allah will help you if you seek His help. The thing to do is: "ZIKIR, FIKIR, IKHTIAR.", a motto based on the Islamic Tauhidic paradigm which I personally picked up from a modern Pasentren in Bandung, Indonesia, which I thought summarizes well my understanding of how to go about institutionalizing a good decision making process. This Pasentren trains individuals and groups to be good entrepreneurs, technocrats, and other professionals so they would be successful here and the hereafter. The 'fikir and ikhtiar' part, I told my son, can be sourced from books and literature by successful businessmen around the world, old and contemporary. Learn "the trick of the trade", adopt and adept accordingly so you do not have to 'reinvent the wheel'. That would save a lot of time and energy. As an example you may want to read about Onassis, Bill Gates, the Kuok Brothers and many more. But do not forget to read about A. Rahman Ouff.

"This is just the first part of the challenges you have to face as a beginner, " I told my son. "We will continue at other session. May be you should reorganize your schedule for the day so you can be back early and therefore you can get up early and not sleep again after the Subuh prayer. Too much sleep and sleeping after subuh is very unIslamic. The alQuran says;
"and when the prayer is finished, then may ye dispersed through the land, and seek of the bounty of Allah: and celebrate the praises of Allah often (and without stint); that ye may prosper." Chapter 62, verse 10. Also take note of verse 11, "But when they see some bargain or some amusement, they disperse headlong to it. Say: 'The (blessings) from the Presence of Allah is better than any amusement or bargain! And Allah is the Best to provide (for all needs)."

We ended the "morning session" on a smiling note. May Allah guide us all the way just as we say at least 5 times a day at the beginning of our daily prayer: " Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek. Show us the Straight way." Chapter 1, verse 5 and 6.  


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