After the Thanawi examinations are over, hence, it also concludes the school years for Zul in SMAASZA. How did he do? Alhamdulillah, he and several of his friends successfully obtained Mumtaz just as predicted by their teachers. All of it was thanks to his effort, his parent’s supplication as well as his teachers’ hard work and perseverance in teaching them.
“Zul, Shohor, where are we going after this?” Zaini asked suddenly one fine evening while they were lazing around at the sidelines of SMAASZA’s football field. It is said the acting Terengganu’s Sultan, Tengku Mizan Zainal Abidin Ibni Sultan Mahmud Al-Muktafi Billah Shah Al-Haj would also play football with his team at SMAASZA’s field.
The calming evening breeze in Batu Burok blew over them. Zul picked up a pebble in his hand and threw it with all his might, watching it disappear into the horizon.
“Did you see the pebble? Now we can no longer see it right? That is just like our future. I have no idea where you or I’ll be in twenty years time…” he said glancing at both Zaini and Shohor Bani.
“And just like that pebble, that’s how we should live our lives. When I threw it, it flew far in the distance. We should go far too, striving and giving our best. Why did Allah SWT restrict us from knowing our futures? He wants us to work hard. Go as far as we can. Do the best we can. Don’t be a coward. We have to believe that Allah has the best plan for us.” Both his friends nodded agreeing with him.
Believing in qada’ and qadar is the basis of the perfection of iman. This is as stated in a hadith narrated by Umar bin Khattab RA. Jibril alaihissalam asked him regarding iman, the Prophet PBUH said:
أَنْ تُؤْمِنَ بِاَللَّهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ، وَتُؤْمِنَ بِالْقَدَرِ خَيْرِهِ وَشَرِّهِ
“Believing in Allah SWT, His angels, His Books, His Messengers and the Day of Judgement and believing in whatever has been fated whether they are good or bad.” 
Allah SWT explained in the Quran, for everything that happens in life, it is as determined by Allah SWT, this is as stated by Allah SWT:
إِنَّا كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقْنَاهُ بِقَدَرٍ
“Indeed, all things We created with predestination.” 
Syeikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di stated this verse includes all living creatures on this earth. Indeed, Allah SWT is the Creator and there is none like Him. Likewise, everything that happens is in His sovereignty and knowledge. 
“I bet Zul went to Al-Azhar University just like you did, right grandpa?” Sarah teased Grandpa Aki.
“Haha… you’re wrong! At first, when he had just finished his Thanawi, Zul, Zaini and Shohor Bani did enrol in a preparation course to go to al-Azhar at Nilampuri Arabic Centre, University Malaya. However, at the time…”
In front of them, there were lecturers from the Islamic University of Medina ready to interview the students who have come from all over Terengganu for the new student recruitment for the Islamic University of Medina for the 1989 academic year. Zul who is together with his friends Zaini and Wan Shohor were peeking over the shoulders of lines other students in front of them to catch a glimpse of the interviewers who were all dressed in a white jubah with red or red and white syimagh. Some are wearing a brown or black bisyt / misylah . From the far end, the interviewers are Syeikh Dr. ‘Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Sulaiman al-Muhaysini, Syeikh Dr. Muhammad bin Muhammad al-Mukhtar al-Syinqiti, Syeikh Prof. Dr. Fayhan bin Shali al-Mutayri, Syeikh Dr. Mahmud Qadah and several others that he did not recognize.
My beloved teacher Syeikh Dr. Muhammad bin Muhammad al-Mukhtar al-Syinqiti
The Islamic University of Medina is a public education institution in Saudi Arabia under the Higher Education of Saudi Arabia which was founded on 6th September 1961 or 29 Rabiul Awal 1381 Hijriyah on the order of His Royal Majesty King Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. There are five faculties offered in the field of Islamic Studies namely; Syariah, al-Qur’an, Hadith, Da’wah and Usuluddin and Arabic.
For the purpose of academic quality monitoring, especially for Islamic Studies there, The Supreme Advisory Council of the Islamic University of Madinah is established and among the esteemed members among the famous scholars are Syeikh Muhammad bin Ibrahim Aal al-Syeikh, Syeikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Baz, Syeikh Hasanain Muhammad Makhluf, Syeikh Muhammad Bahjat al-Baitar, Maulana Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali al-Nadwi, Syeikh Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani, Syeikh Abdul Muhsin al-Abbad, Syeikh Muhammad al-Amin al-Syinqiti, Syeikh Muhammad Tahir bin Asyur, Syeikh Abul A’la al-Maududi, Syeikh Ali al-Tantawi, Syeikh Abdul Razzaq ‘Afifi and others.
Syeikh Hasanain Muhammad Makhluf are among those who are involved in the establishment of the Islamic University of Medina
Zul brought along a book which details the stories on the virtues of the land of Medina. He deliberately chose the book so that he can read it to prevent himself from getting nervous and at the same time to prepare himself if he is asked regarding hadiths related to the virtues of Medina.
Rasullullah PBUH once supplicated:
اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ بِالْمَدِينَةِ ضِعْفَيْ مَا جَعَلْتَ بِمَكَّةَ مِنَ البَرَكَةِ
“O Allah! Bestow on Medina twice the blessings You bestowed on Mecca.” 
Imam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani said: “It holds the meaning of worldly blessings based on the Prophet’s statement in another hadith, “O Allah! Bless our sa’ and mudd.” 
Iman starts to spread from Medina and the hearts of the believers and will always yearn to return to Medina. From Abu Hurairah RA, Rasullullah PBUH said:
إِنَّ الإِيمَانَ لَيَأْرِزُ إِلَى المَدِينَةِ كَمَا تَأْرِزُ الحَيَّةُ إِلَى جُحْرِهَ
“Verily, Belief returns and goes back to Medina as a snake returns and goes back to its hole (when in danger).” 
Imam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani explained: “It is like a snake that leaves its nest to search for its necessities. When it has found what it was looking for, it will return to its nest. Likewise, for iman (belief), it will spread and expand in Medina and for every believer, he will want to go to Medina for his love for the Prophet PBUH. Hence, it covers every lifetime, for during the time of the life of the Prophet PBUH it is for us to learn from him and during the time of the companions, tabiin and tabi’ tabiin it is the time for us to follow their guidance and afterwards to visit the grave of the Prophet PBUH and pray in the Nabawi Mosque and tabarruk by watching the athar of the Prophet PBUH and the athar of his companions.” 
Zul continue his reading on the warning of Dajjal (Antichrist) of whom will not be able to enter Medina. From Abu Bakrah RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
عَنْ أَبِي بَكْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، قَالَ: لاَ يَدْخُلُ المَدِينَةَ رُعْبُ المَسِيحِ الدَّجَّالِ، لَهَا يَوْمَئِذٍ سَبْعَةُ أَبْوَابٍ، عَلَى كُلِّ بَابٍ مَلَكَانِ
“The terror caused by Al-Masih Ad-Dajjal will not enter Medina and at that time Medina will have seven gates and there will be two angels at each gate guarding them.” 
Imam Ibn Battal commented on this hadith saying, “If a person asked, “What is the meaning of the Prophet PBUH saying that Medina will be shaken thrice (due to the arrival of Dajjal) with the hadith from Abu Bakrah stating Dajjal is unable to enter Medina?” Then the answer is, indeed Medina will shake but not due to the terror caused by Dajjal, or the fear it brings with him, but Medina will be shaken because the hypocrites will go and follow Dajjal and Ahlu Medina will exile them from Medina, just as stated in a hadith Rasullullah PBUH said: Indeed, Medina will be cleansed from filth. This is the evidence that the believers will not be influenced by the terror and fear towards Dajjal.” 
He ends reading his book with a supplication from Rasullullah for Medina and its citizens:
اللَّهُمَّ حَبِّبْ إِلَيْنَا المَدِينَةَ كَحُبِّنَا مَكَّةَ أَوْ أَشَدَّ، اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِي صَاعِنَا وَفِي مُدِّنَا، وَصَحِّحْهَا لَنَا، وَانْقُلْ حُمَّاهَا إِلَى الجُحْفَةِ
“O Allah! Make us love Medina as we love Mecca or even more than that. O Allah! Give blessings in our Sa and our Mudd (measures symbolizing food) and make the climate of Medina suitable for us, and divert its fever towards Aljuhfa.” 
“The only one I know is Syeikh Mahmud. That’s because one of my friends told me he’s from Kedah,” Shohor Bani whispered, patting Zaini’s shoulder. Zaini just nodded whilst flipping through the books, revising the topics that he thought might be asked by the interviewer. As for Zul, he’s busy observing each of the lecturers individually. “Oh, Syeikh Prof. Dr. Fayhan is actually blind. That’s amazing, although he’s blind, he’s a professor.” Zul thought to himself when he saw a man – probably an assistant – guiding the Syeikh who was wearing sunglasses to sit on the chair.
After the briefing, the interview commences. One by one the students were called in for the interview and finally, it was Zul’s turn.
“Zulkifli bin Mohamad,” one of the committees called his name. His heart dropped and he begins to have butterflies in his stomach, but he braved it through and went forward.
During my visit to Syeikh Dr. Mahmud Qadah in 2015
“How are you? Don’t be scared. May Allah SWT ease your affairs and help you in answering our questions. For the first question, please tell us the full name of Rasullullah PBUH up to ‘Adnan.” Syeikh Dr. Muhammad bin Muhammad al-Mukhtar al-Syinqiti begins the interview.
Zul state the following with ease, “Muhammad SAW bin Abdullah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib bin Hashim bin ‘Abdi Manaf bin Qusay bin Kilab bin Murrah bin Ka’ab bin Lu’ay bin Ghalib bin Fihr bin Malik bin al-Nadr bin Kinanah bin Khuzaimah bin Mudrikah bin Ilyas bin Mudar bin Nizar bin Ma’ad bin Adnan!”
“Alhamdulillah, that’s good. For the second question, Syeikh Qadah?” Syeikh Dr. Muhammad bin Muhammad al-Mukhtar al-Syinqiti beckons his spectacled colleague beside him. Syeikh Dr. Mahmud father is from Kampung Kubang Saim, Yan, Kedah.
“How are you Zulkifli? Ok, for the next question, please continue my recitation.
مَرَجَ ٱلۡبَحۡرَيۡنِ يَلۡتَقِيَان بَيۡنَهُمَا بَرۡزَخٞ لَّا يَبۡغِيَان فَبِأَيِّ ءَالَآءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ
Zul resumed the recitation from Surah Rahman verse 19 to 21 with fluency and great fasahah and tajwid. None of the questions asked can’t be answered swiftly by Zul. The lecturers interviewing Zul looked at each other nodding.
“Next, who are the Imam of Ahli Sunnah wal Jama’ah?” Syeikh Dr. Muhammad bin Muhammad al-Mukhtar al-Syinqiti asked while repositioning his syimagh. “Imam for Ahli Sunnah wal Jama’ah are Imam Abu al-Hasan al-Asy’ari and Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi!” Zul promptly answered. The interviewers note something on their pads and nod their heads.
Syeikh Dr. Mahmud Qadah placed his pen on his paper and said, “Our final question is, how many times is the name Zulkifli mentioned in the Quran and brief us regarding the name the Prophet Zulkifli.”
“This last question is quite hard. But, insya-Allah…” Zul contemplates before answering.
Allah SWT states:
وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِدْرِيسَ وَذَا الْكِفْلِ ۖ كُلٌّ مِّنَ الصَّابِرِينَ
“And [mention] Ishmael and Idrees and Dhul-Kifl; all were of the patient.”
Ibnu Kathir rahimahullah said, apparently Zulkifli according to the evidences is definitely a prophet. There are some scholars such as Ibn Juraij who states that he is not a prophet but a pious and wise and fair judge. Abu Hayyan al-Andalusi concluded that the majority of scholars said and held unto the opinion that he is a prophet. The name Zulkifli is mentioned twice in the Quran in Surah al-Anbiya’ verse 85 and Surah Sad verse 48.”  Zulkifli’s answer was brief and concise.
“Alhamdulillah, congratulations. Your Thanawi results are great too, Mumtaz, right? Insya-Allah, the result of the interview will be announced soon. We pray that you’ll get to study in the blessed land, of which the Rasullullah PBUH supplicated for as well as where the body of Rasullullah PBUH is buried.” Syeikh Dr. mahmud Qadah said to Zul, smiling.
______________________________ Sahih Muslim no.1  Surah al-Qamar: 49  Taisir Karim al-Rahman fi Tafsir Kalam al- Mannan, 1/827  Outer jubah  Sahih al-Bukhari no.1885  Refer Fath al-Bari 4/98  Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1876  Refer Fath al-Bari, 94/4  Sahih Fath al-Bari, 94/4  Syarh Sahih al-Bukhari, 10/64  Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1889  Surah al-Anbiya’: 85  Al-Bahr al-Muhith,7/460