Sunday 23 November 2014

A Faceless Hero

I shall not mention his name but this is not because he is the person whose name is not supposed to be named like Lord Voldemort. Rather he was an ordinary Malaysian who believed in doing the right thing based on his faith and principles and later endured the consequences, whether they were pleasant or otherwise.

He was an uncle to my late mother and we in the family loved him dearly. Having obtained his basic education through the religious system, he went on to Singapore for the Bachelor of Arts degree from then, the University of Malaya. This aggregation of religious and philosophical background, I suppose, shaped him into a person with impeccable integrity, demonstrated thorough his public service records thereafter.

Throughout his public service life, he assumed many important positions with the Federal government, as a teacher, leading the Anti-corruption agency, being the officer at the ministry of education and ministry of public enterprise and was in charge of Islamic affairs, to name the few. Later in his life, he was involved in the setting up of the International Islamic University and became the first Registrar. When he retired he went back to teaching English to school leavers who were pursuing their Quranic memorisation certificate at an institution set up by the Federal government.

Being honest and living what he believed were his trademark. Off course, such conducts may not necessarily be appreciated by the power that be, resulting in him being passed over when it came to promotion. Many of his juniors bypassed him in the civil service hierarchy  He never felt upset and never regretted his decisions and conducts, until the end of his life. He always reminded us to be honest, say Bismillah (the name of the supreme God) and do what we think is right and let Allah determines the outcomes.

He related to me a number of incidences which he experienced which later on became the guiding principles in my life in being truthful to myself. When he was serving a state government, it was customary in those days for senior civil servants to enjoy wine and spirit after meetings. Being one of the junior officers, he was asked to prepare cocktails for the senior civil servants. Knowing that this was against his principles, he mixed everything up to the extent that the drinks became in consumable. He was never asked to do that job again after that.

There was once an occasion when he brought a number of Muslim scholars to Europe to see for themselves modern ways of living and realities. When they passed the red light district he could see the embarrassment on the faces of the scholars. That was the person he was, always want Islam to be understood in the context of its surroundings, not just from parochial perspectives as what many of us would normally do.

Due to his integrity, there were many instances that he did not carry the instructions from his superiors, which at times came from the highest level of leadership then, which he did not agree due to his principles. This resulted in him being in their bad books. That was an occasion when he was cold storaged with just a desk and a chair at Masjid Negara. People were hoping that he will give up and resigned. He persisted to stay on and eventually prevailed.

From his dying bed he reminded me "not to be afraid of people", meaning only and only Allah can determine my fate. Such a simple advise is really a heavy task to follow through. In the world where we seek worldly pleasures, not being liked by those who are in power in unthinkable. This is something which I am still struggling to apply.

People like him are very rare nowadays. Apart from financial gains, being popular and doing things asked from those higher ups, irrespective of the principles behind the instructions, would result in many other rewards such as titles and honours. We forgot that the ultimate stakeholders are those who are affected by the decisions we make and that finally all our conducts will be scrutinised in the hereafter (this is what Muslims are supposed to believe and their conducts should be consistent with ultimate test).

In my book, this uncle of my mother is a hero, notwithstanding that he is not a household name and many of his deeds are not known to the many lives who he had assisted.

May Allah forgive all his wrongdoings and place him with those who enjoys success in the life hereafter.

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