‘Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter,’ says Serbian-American inventor, Nikola Tesla (1856–1943). ‘When they separate, man is no more.’
It has been more than a week since our gathering took place at the end of January. Within a few hours, all of us have welcomed each other, newcomers and old-timers alike, strengthening our ties as family members of ASIQS. We have listened and responded to each other, from within forum-like settings to intimate chats over lunch, carefully treading the scale of comments, arguments and suggestions. We have acknowledged that there exists a mental battleground in between the crucial demands of examinations and the delicate management of soft-skills, and that it is always a campaign worth fighting for, regardless.
Uncompromisingly, our stand remains clear: that the ever-diverse range of talents found and yet to be found in our children, should always be treated under the limelight. It always has. It is, therefore, far from surprising that we have crowned our gathering by celebrating and honouring our young minds with awards, recognitions and performances. They reigned over the event, and our hearts.
This very act of celebrating of the young is to be traced to our beloved Prophet Muhammad—peace and blessings be upon him and his family—himself. Narrated Anas ibn Malik that the Prophet came to some children who were playing, and he saluted them1. “Act equally between your children,” the Prophet said, in a narration2. “Treat them fairly,” he said in another3. And surely the Prophet has extended this manifestation of adab and akhlak to the members of his family: he has made no secret to the world the love he has for them. A Companion, Usamah ibn Zayd ibn Harithah, was knocking on the Prophet’s door in need of something, to which the Prophet said afterwards: “These (al-Hasan and al-Husayn) are my sons and my daughter’s (Fatimah az-Zahra’s) sons. O Allah, I love them, so love them, and love whoever loves them.4”
“You have, indeed, in the Apostle of Allah,” Allah says, confirming the esteemed decorum of the Prophet, “a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.5”
What is today a transboundary, global religion was at its infancy a faith moved by the young and the meek. It wasn’t politics nor law that informed the early days of the Revelation, rather, for the earliest Muslims, an education of adab and akhlak, lessons of values and the learning of attributes, Godly and manly: thankfulness, piety, humility, forgiveness, patience, mercy, compassion, goodwill, love, peace. No sooner than that were societies enlightened, knowledge flourished and civilisations cultivated—the rest is history.
Today, this very strife to seek knowledge, to be made even more honorable with adab and akhlak, remains an intergenerational cause: it transcends age. It also requires co-operation, collaboration and communication from all parties involved. Together, we invite you to look at ASIQS as a big drawing board, and our ideas as the ink that will draft the great design that is our children.
The exchange of ideas that we have had reminded us of a Sufi parable; in this case, narrated by Pakistan-born British author, Ziauddin Sardar (1951–) in his 2014 book, Mecca: The Sacred City. The parable, with its chains claimed to sprout from the great Sufi saint Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (1207–73) himself, goes along these lines:
Somewhere along the passage of time, there lived four travellers, a Persian, a Turk, an Arab, and a Greek, making their way to a land distant. At one point in this journey they had had with them only a single coin, and all four of them wanted something to eat.
“We shall have angur,” said the Persian. The Turk however, declined: “we shall have uzum.” “No,” said the Arab, “we’ll use the coin to buy inab instead.” The Greek disagreed: he wanted stafil.
A passer-by overheard them as the quarrel stiffens, and so he approached them. Linguistically gifted, the passer-by asked for the coin from them, biding to provide the four a way out of the mess. As he returned to the travellers from the nearest market, he brought with him four small bunches of grapes. He gave the travellers a bunch each.
“This is my angur!” cried the Persian. “But this is what I call uzum,” replied the Turk. “You have bought me my inab,” the Arab said. “No! This in my language is stafil,” said the Greek.
‘All of a sudden,’ comments Sardar, ending the story, ‘the men realised that what each of them had desired was in fact the same thing, only they did not know how to express themselves to each other.’
Still grateful over your attendance, comments and feedbacks, we pray that our good intentions—whichever language we chose, whatever words we used—arrive at a destination we all desire. Perhaps the manner of executing this task of ours is never too far from the intention behind the age-old saying bagai menarik rambut dalam tepung: during which both variables, the strand of hair and the pocketful of flour, are handled with scrutiny.
Rambut jangan putus, tepung jangan berserak. The walk continues.
1 Abu Dawood, Sunan Abu Dawood
2 Abu Dawood, Sunan Abu Dawood
3 Al-Bukhari and Muslim, Sahih Bukhari & Sahih Muslim
4 At-Tirmidhi, Jami’ at-Tirmidhi
5 Surah al-Ahzab, 33:21, The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, Translation By Abdullah Yusuf Ali