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Re: Salam Aidil Fitri

The following is a version of an email I sent to a non-Muslim friend of mine:
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Hi (name of friend),

Thanks for the Aidil Fitri greetings.

Since you only came back yesterday from Ipoh, then I believe the journey was not much of a problem, because the Hari Raya crowd had finished all the traffic jams last Saturday and Sunday, hehe.

Me and family, we left Jerteh, Terengganu to return to KL at 9.00 am last Saturday. We normally took the Jerteh – Machang – Kuala Krai – Gua Musang – Kuala Lipis – Benta – Raub – Bentong – Karak Highway route. But while we were packing our bags in the car my mum asked me whether I could send my niece, who was spending her Raya holidays with us in Jerteh, back to her HUSM hostel in Kota Bharu, Kelantan. I said yes. Therefore I needed to change my route to Jerteh – Kota Bharu – Machang instead of the direct route Jerteh – Machang.

I understood that when our mum asks us whether we can or cannot do something, deep in her heart she wants us to do the thing. And in Islam we have a guideline, we must do whatever our parents ask us to do, as long as the thing they ask us to do is not against the teachings of Islam. If we cannot do it for a certain valid reason, then we must explain the reason gently to them. In no instance can we raise our voice to our parents. Even saying “ahhh” to our parents is forbidden and a sin. What more other stronger words and acts. This is the order from Allah Himself, in the Qur’an.

At 10.00 am we arrived in Kota Bharu and dropped my niece at her HUSM hostel. She’s a first year degree student there.

Following a route suggested by my Windows Mobile GPS mobile phone, we then proceeded to Machang. But on the way, about 15 km after leaving Kota Bharu, there was a massive traffic jam, approaching the town of Ketereh. Because of this, and knowing from my past experience of Raya jams in Machang and Kuala Krai, I decided to bypass Machang and Kuala Krai, and take an alternative, but longer route to Jeli and thereon via an older road to Gua Musang. If you remember, Jeli is the town on the Kelantan side of the East-West Highway, connecting to Grik in Perak. There were also two jams between Machang and Jeli, but I managed to keep my cool, hehe. At Jeli it was already 1.00pm. I stopped at Jeli Petronas station to buy some food for my family in the car. The Petronas Mesra shop girl who attended to me at the payment counter gave me a puzzled look when she saw the pile of bread, drinks and packets of sweet keropok keping I put on the counter table. “Askar ramai” (literally, “many troops”)  I told her, grinning. There were 9 of us in the car – me, my wife and 7 children aged between 1 year-old to 18-year old.

Machang-Gua Musang alternative route, via Jeli

Dotted in red, GPS track of Machang - Gua Musang alternative route, via Jeli

The road from Jeli to Gua Musang was OK. No jams. We safely arrived at my wife’s parents’ house in Dong, 15 km from Raub, 4.5 hours later at 5.30pm.

It was a good decision to take the route via Jeli. Several days after arriving safely home in Subang Jaya, one of my surau (small mosque) friends told me that some people he knew were stuck on the Machang – Kuala Krai route in a massive traffic jam for 4 hours that same day I took the alternative route!

It was already in solat Asar time in Dong. There we did our solat Asar 2 rakaat followed by Solat Zohor 2 rakaat. As you know, normally Zohor is 4 rakaat and Asar also 4 rakaat. And under normal conditions Muslims must do the solat in its time, i.e. Zohor can only be done in Zohor’s time and Asar in Asar’s time.

But Allah knew that travellers would be tired, therefore He in His limitless wisdom and care, give us flexibility to do normal solat OR shorten 4 rakaat solat to 2 rakaat, and we can do solat in batches. i.e. we can do Zohor and Asar either in Zohor’s time, OR in Asar’s time, depending on our convenience. Similarly we can do Maghrib and Isha’ either in Maghrib’s time or in Isha’s time. The shortening of 4 rakaat solat to 2 rakaat is called Qasar, and the grouping of solat is called Jamak. Doing a solat in advance of its time is called Jamak Taqdim. Example – grouping Zohor and Asar in Zohor’s time. Doing a solat later than its time is called Jamak Taa’khir. Example as what we did – grouping Zohor and Asar in Asar’s time.

At 6.30pm we left my wife’s parents’ house for KL. But 10 km from Raub, there was a long queue of cars. From my experience also, if Raub is jammed, then so would Bentong. Therefore I decided to take another alternative but longer route to Sungai Ruan, Felda Mempaga and Felda Sertik to connect to the Karak-KL highway at Kg Cinta Manis.

Raub - Karak Highway alternative route, via Felda Mempaga, Sertik and Kg Cinta Manis

Dotted in red, GPS track from Kuala Lipis to KL showing the Raub - Karak Highway alternative route, via Felda Mempaga, Sertik and Kg Cinta Manis

At Dong, the car only had a quarter tank of fuel left. I had been meaning to refuel at Benta Petronas Station, but all pumps at the station were empty. Must be the works of the Raya crowd. The next Petronas station was in Raub in Jalan Cheroh. But taking a detour via Sungai Ruan would not allow me to do that. Luckily the BHPetrol station in Sungai Ruan was open, and I had the car’s tank filled to the brim. It was already dark when we reached Kg Cinta Manis and joined the highway. Traffic on the Karak-KL highway was heavy, but there were no jams.

We arrived in Gombak, the gateway to KL, at 8.30 pm, i.e. 2 hours after leaving Dong. Normal travel time from Dong to Gombak via Raub and Bentong was at most 1.5 hours. At Taman Greenwood, Gombak, we did a Jamak Taa’khir for Maghrib & Isha’.

After that, at 9.00 pm, we had dinner at one of Taman Greenwood’s food stalls. At 10.00 pm we were back on the road, and we arrived home in USJ Subang Jaya at 10.40pm.

Alhamdulillah, the house was OK as what we left  one week before.

Phew, that’s a long story. I hope with this Raya story I have managed to explain to you two beauties of Islam. One is the very high position that Islam gives to parents. The other is that Islam is very flexible and understanding – one of which is in allowing us to shorten solat and to do solat in batches when we are travelling.

Until then, welcome back.

Nordin

3 years down the line

On 12th August 2005 I got my hands on a Dell Inspiron 700m laptop PC, with 12.1″ LCD display, Windows XP Home, 80 GB harddisk, 1 GB RAM, and a price tag of more than RM5,000.00. It became my trusted work and travel companion. It still is.

Side by side : Year 2005’s Dell Inspiron 700m and Year 2008’s Acer Aspire 2920

Three years later, on 8th August 2008 I selected and bought for a niece an Acer Aspire 2920 laptop, also with a 12.1″ LCD, but with a sparkling new Windows Vista Home Premium, 160 GB hardisk, 2 GB RAM, and only half the price at RM2,600.00.

Twice the capacity, half the price !

Here are the two laptops, with the Dell on the left and the Acer on the right. Click on the image for full view.

Same Time, Different Year

How fast time flies. It’s now August 2008. Seems to me that August 2007 was only one week ago.

Last year in August 2007 I went to do Umrah (small pilgrimage) in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, with my dear mother. That was my second Umrah trip after the first one in April 2005. I first step foot on the holy land in Feb-Apr 2000 when I did the Haj (big pilgrimage) with my wife.

For the 2007 Umrah, I brought along with me my Lowrance iFinder H2Oc GPS receiver so that I could mark interesting waypoints and tracks during the eleven-day trip.

I did not expect it nor did I plan for it, but on each sector of the Boeing 747 flights, I was assigned a window seat. This enabled me to hang my GPS receiver on the aircraft’s passenger window, and let it plot the aircraft’s flight throughout the journey.

Lowrance H2Oc mapping GPS, showing the aircraft just inside Saudi Arabia border

Lowrance H2Oc mapping GPS, showing the aircraft just inside Saudi Arabia border

This is the mapping GPS receiver.

In this image the current position is graphically indicated in the display, against a built-in world map. This is one of the page views that the GPS can display.

For the journey, I set the map orientation as “top shows map north”.

The advantage of this orientation as a passenger was that I could picture the actual progress of the flight.

When I took this picture, the flight had just left Oman’s airpace and had entered Saudi Arabia’s.

GPS readings, showing current latitude (N or S), longitude (E or W), speed (km/h), track and altitude (m)

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This is another page view of the GPS display.

Here numerical details of the position were displayed:

Latitude – the North-South position on the globe.

Longitude – the East-West position.

Speed – how fast the vehicle that the GPS is in, is moving. I set the unit in km per hour. The aircrart was cruising at nearly 1,000 km per hour !

Track – the direction that the vehicle is moving to. In degree.

Altitude – how high above sea level the GPS is at. The aircraft was nearly 12 km up in the air !

Here are some of my trip’s GPS tracks overlaid on Google Earth maps.

GPS flight tracks KUL-JED and JED-MED-KUL

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On the outgoing journey from Kuala Lumpur’s KLIA to Jeddah, we flew over the Straits of Malacca into the Bay of Bengal, across India into the Arabian Sea, across Oman south of Muscat before entering into Saudi Arabia.

On the return journey from Jeddah to KLIA, the flight made a short transit stop in Madinah, before crossing the Arabian Peninsula into Arabian Sea, then flying over south of India, across Sri Lanka and Indonesia’s Sumatera.

More details of GPS flight tracks over the Arabian Peninsula

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Here on the second image can be seen more details of the outgoing and return journey over the Arabian Peninsula. Interestingly, the flight tracks crossed each other nearly in the middle of the Saudi Arabian deserts.

After landing and dispensing with the usual airport formalities in Jeddah, we were taken to Madinah on a chartered bus. After two days in Madinah, we were taken to Makkah on another chartered bus.

Even more details

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Apart from doing umrah and solat (prayer) in Makkah’s Masjidil Haram, Islamic world’s holiest place, we were also taken on a rarely allowed trip to Taif, the city which Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. (peace be upon him) went to do dakwah but was turned down and stoned by its people, until blood flowed down his ankles.

But he persevered and declined angel Jibrail’s offer to uproot and turn Taif’s hills on top of the city’s residents. Instead he told Jibrail that even though the city’s residents refused to listen to his dakwah, he hoped that their offspring would accept Islam and would proclaim the religion of truth.

By the grace of Allah, the city was saved from destruction. And true enough, several years later after the Hijrah, the city’s residents embraced Islam. In the above image we can see the relative locations of Taif, Makkah, Jeddah and Madinah.

On the above image we can also see the place called Qarnul Manazil, which is one of the “miqat”, boundaries of the holy land, where Muslims intending to perform Haj or Umrah are required to don the “ihram”, which for men are two pieces of cloth with no closed sews, and make the “niat” .

Desert traveller from Kuwait, at Qarnul Manazil Mosque

Desert traveller from Kuwait, at Qarnul Manazil Mosque, Saudia Arabia

At Qarnul Manazil mosque I came across many vehicles at the parking lot. One especially caught my attention, because from a distance it looked like a two-tone SUV.

Upon closer view I realised that the lighter tone on the Ford Excursion was actually desert dust, which had covered and stuck to half of the front of the vehicle.

From the registration number, the SUV apparently had crossed the desert all the way from Kuwait, about 1,500 km away…

Racetrack above the Straits of Malacca

GPS flight tracks over the Straits of Malacca, showing a racetrack-shaped holding pattern

There must have been heavy airport traffic at KLIA when the aircraft was approaching the Malaysia Peninsula, because about 67 km North-West of the airport, the aircraft did a racetrack holding pattern in the Straits of Malacca off Pulau Ketam, Klang. From the GPS track I measured the loop as 28km by 17 km.

The aircraft then got out of the loop and took a  059 degree bearing to north-west of Meru before making a turn to approach KLIA on 145 degree bearing to runway 14R of the premier Malaysian airport.

Reunion

Saturday 2nd August 2008.

It was a sweet reunion. Meeting new as well as trusted friends from the first gathering of year 2000, from the formative year of 2001, from the second gathering of year 2001 (whilst I was strapped under weighted traction for 42 days in a hospital bed due to a leg bone fracture), and from the third gathering in year 2002.

The venue was beautiful, amidst flowing stream of cool, crystal clear waters in the hills of Gombak off the old Gombak-Bentong road.

The children of the friends were even more beautiful, just like ours.

I wished I could stay until the end of the program, but I had to reluctantly leave after lunch, to meet another equally important group of friends at another place.

My Long Lost Friends

It has been a long journey across the gulf of time. 36 years. The last time I saw these two friends of mine was back in 1972, when we were in year 6 of primary school in Jerteh, Terengganu. We were only 12 years old then.

Then on Friday 25th April 2008 at a mosque near my house, after Asar prayer, someone that I had noticed had been scrutinizing me approached and asked me if I was me. It was my friend Wan Ismail. Sorry my friend, all those years had muddled my mind. It was a chance encounter. Maybe a one in a million chance. And I was grateful for that. And he gave me information about another long lost friend.

And today Thursday 8th May 2008, I connected with that other friend, via email. Wan Azmi.

Alhamdulillah, all praises be to Allah.

My friends, we must meet soon. So many things to talk about and catch up with.

Exotic fruits from my childhood

On my last night Wednesday, March 5, 2008, here in Washington, D.C., my newfound friends from the Embassy of Malaysia took me to dinner at Penang (Restaurant) in Bethesda, Maryland. It was Kak N’s idea. And she was joined by Kak Mun and Kak Siti as well as Suhaimi and Amir, who drove me there, in the chill of the wintry evening, from my hotel.

Over splendid dishes of specially-ordered “upright” fried snapper, pasembur, giant popia, belacan-fried watercress (looked like kangkong), soy sauce-fried sotong, Penang home made tofu, mee goreng mamak, rice and other dishes which I could not remember, we talked about a great many things – the upcoming March 8, 2008 Malaysian 12th General Election, voting away from home, etc, etc, and about certain exotic fruits from our childhood.

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My first post .. from the hinterlands of Pahang, Malaysia

Assalamualaikum.

Hello World.

Here I am. My first post on php-mySQL weblog that I self-installed on my own personal webserver.

What follows below is a post that I made elsewhere last Saturday 9th February 2008, that I want to share here.

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It’s Saturday 9th February 2008 9:38am Malaysian Time (+08:00 GMT).

I’ve just completed registering this blog several minutes ago, using a Toshiba Satellite notebook PC with Sierra Wireless AirCard 875 3G datacard.

I’m here at my wife’s village in Kg Durian Sebatang, Dong, Raub, Pahang since yesterday afternoon 8th February, the second day of the Chinese New Year.

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Test

Test

Gambar-gambar Majlis Berkhatan 2009 Masjid Al-Falah USJ 9

Gambar-gambar sekitar Majlis Berkhatan 2009 Masjid Al-Falah USJ 9, UEP Subang Jaya, Selangor yang telah selamat diadakan pada Ahad 6 Disember 2009.

Sila klik gambar untuk paparan imej lebih besar.

Untuk muat turun, selepas imej besar dipapar di skrin, klik kanan pada tetikus anda dan “Save Picture As” (Windows Internet Explorer / Mozilla Firefox)

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