It was a nearly 8-hour journey for him to arrive at Subang International Airport. Zul’s return was welcomed by his families and villagers of Kubang Kekura. “Alhamdulillah, since Zul has returned home, we can drink Zamzam water and eat dates,” Pok De who came together with Mok De to visit Ustaz Mad said happily.
“Please help yourself, have some more. I brought a lot of them home. Mok De can have some wrapped up to bring home with you. I have to leave now. I’m scheduled to give a sermon in Merbau Patoh Mosque.” Zul said as he shook hands with Pok De. Ever since his return from Medina, Zul receive numerous invitations to give sermon and lead the scheduled monthly sermon of Kampung Merbau Patah Mosque, al-Muktafi Billah Shah Mosque, Surau Kampung Kubang Kekura, Surau Kuala Bedah and Surau Pasir Panjang. Even Kuala Terengganu Fire and Rescue Department once invited Zul to deliver a sermon through Abang Li Simpang Empat. Zul was greeted with a fire truck parked in front of his house to take him there. It was quite a commotion when their neighbours panicked thinking that there was a fire at Ustaz Mad’s house although there wasn’t any sign of smoke or fire in sight!
Once in a while, Zul will go and visit SMAASZA to meet with the younger junior Thanawi students. He just wanted to ask how they were doing and motivate his juniors to continue and further their studies overseas. “Ustaz Zu, was it really fun studying in Medina?” Mad Esa Deraman asked him one evening after Asar. Zul and several Thanawi students were just leisurely talking at the football field at the time. “Wherever we go to study, it will definitely be fun if we have the right intention. Although, it’s undeniable that there are special blessings when we go to study in Medina. There are many scholars there. It’s such a waste if we have the opportunity to go there but we didn’t try to grab it.” Zul said as he took several pebbles and throw them far into the distance.
Zul smiled to himself and said to Mad Esa Deraman, Ali and Hasan, “I’m suddenly reminded of 5 years ago. I was sitting right here with my friends, Shohor Bani, Zaini, Megat, Buhairi, Anuar, Kamaruddin, Wan Rosli, Rosdi and Mokhtar. Zaini asked me, where will I go after Thanawi? I took a pebble and throw it as far as I could. I then asked them, can you see where’s the pebble is now? They answered, no. I then told them, that is our future. This is how our lives are. It is obligatory for us to strive, but why didn’t Allah let us see our future? The reason is He wants us to try our best. We have to try to go as far as we can, just like the pebble. Give our utmost best. Don’t be a coward. We must believe that Allah has planned the best for us.”
“Do you understand what I’m saying?” Zul asked Mad Esa Deraman and his friends. All of them nodded as they looked at each other. Everyone went quiet, lost in their own thoughts.
Zul get up and said, “That’s it for now. Go back to your dorms. Tomorrow let’s go to Rusila Mosque with me to listen to the sermon by Tuan Guru!”
After about a year Zul spends his time at home, Zul and Zaini applied for lecturer positions offered at KUSZA. “We should contribute back to our home state Tranung. I’m confident we can pass the interview, insya-Allah. Once we got the job, we can then apply for scholarships to continue our Master and PhD studies. This interview offer letter is the first step for us to get into KUSZA!” Zul said brimming with positivity. The interview offer letter that he’d just received was grasped tightly in his hand.
A day before the interview, Zaini spent the night at Zul’s house for his house in Kuala Berang is far from KUSZA. Coincidentally, that night both of them were invited as a panellist in a special forum organized by Kampung Pulau Musang PAS Youth. That night, Markaz PAS Kampung Pulau Musang was filled with villagers who came to attend the forum. Al of them came to listen to the two young ustaz who just returned from Medina.
“Allah SWT states:
إِنَّهُمْ فِتْيَةٌ آمَنُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ وَزِدْنَاهُمْ هُدًى
“Indeed, they were youths who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance.”
“Imam al-Qurtubi said, their youth (الْفُتُوَّةُ)according to the explanation by al-Junayd is doing good, never burden others, and avoid complaining about others. It is also stated that al-futuwwah means avoiding the prohibited and hasten in doing good…” Zaini states in his sermon passionately. The title for the forum that night was The Role of Youths in the Fight for Islam.
Zul was just as passionate. “Ladies and gentlemen, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. An Indian scholar, Maulana Abu al-Hasan al-Nadwi stated, the word youth have a deep meaning. In truth, Allah SWT wanted to state that youths who are willing to leave the materialistic aspect, worldly matters, ease and wealth are very little in every generation.” The audience was mesmerized with the eloquence of speech of both Zul and Zaini in discussing the topic of youth and the fight of Islam in a simple language and relaxed style, but, packed with impressive points supported by al-Quran and hadith. “This feels as though we are watching Prime Forum on Islamic Affairs. The only difference is it is held at Markaz PAS Kampung Pulau Musang! Kikiki…” one of the audiences whispered to his friend beside him, chuckling to himself.
The next morning, Zul and Zaini attended the interview confidently. Both wore a shirt, black shoes and kopiah on their heads. “People will think you’re already a lecturer!” Ustaz Mad said teasing his son and Zaini. Both Zul and Zaini just smiled sheepishly at him. “Please don’t forget to pray for me and Zul, Ustaz Mad. Hopefully, both of us pass the interview…” Zaini said to Ustaz Mad before riding the motorcycle with Zul before they headed to KUSZA.
The interview went very well. All the written and oral questions were answered by both Zul and Zaini with ease. “Ni… I think we will get this job insya-Allah. Maybe we could stop over Payang Market to buy some new clothes. We should dress properly as lecturers. Hehe…” Zul said to Zaini. “Yeah, I agree. I think we will get this job. But I think we should go and meet YB of the Education Exco in Wisma Darul Iman. He may be able to help ease the process. I’ve called the YB’s PA and she asked us to come to their office this afternoon.” Zaini told Zul of his plans. Zul agreed and they quickly set off to Wisma Darul Iman.
The exco smiled as he greeted their arrival. Before Zul or Zaini had the chance to speak, he asked them the first question, “Why did two Medina university graduates like yourselves end up as the panellists in a PAS’s forum?” Zul and Zaini looked down as they don’t know what to say. “I can’t believe the news about the forum reaches Wisma. Here, I thought it was just a small simple forum.” Zul thought to himself. Both of them were speechless.
The weather in Kuala Berang that morning was peaceful and calm, after the passing of the overcasting shadow of what happened at Wisma Darul Iman last month.
“Mom, dad… Zul is coming here with Brother Mi this afternoon. He’s coming to tell us the results for the interview we took together,” Zaini informed his parents. “Oh… that’s great. I’m going to slaughter ayam kampong (free-range or indigenous chicken) for Zul, he loves it. Then your mom can cook it.” Zaini’s father said. Both Zaini’s parents were excited about Zul’s visit. They love how Zul are always polite and kind towards them.
That afternoon, Zul arrived together with his eldest brother Mi. Both were warmly greeted by Zaini’s father and he invited them in. “Zul, what’s the result? I know we’ll surely get the position. But I still want to ask. Hehe…” Zaini chuckles lightly. He’s so positive about the results of the interview they went to last month. Zul just gave his friend a small smile and said, “I’ll tell you after we have lunch…”
After their lunch, Zaini quickly pulled Zul aside outside of his house. “Come on, just tell, what’s the result of our interview. I can’t wait anymore I want to go and buy a new tie and shoes!” Zaini slapped Zul’s shoulder playfully. Zul’s face turned red. His ears felt hot. He pursed his lips tightly holding back his growing anger. He starts to heave heavily trying to calm himself.
The evening wind blew softly but it just somehow just flamed the anger in Zul. Zaini became nervous, waiting for the answer from Zul.
“We failed Ni. KUSZA’s director was informed that we went to Markaz PAS Kampung Pulau Musang that night…” Zul answered regretfully in anger. He was furious!
Zaini’s heart fell in his stomach upon hearing the result. He can’t see straight anymore.
Zul’s face is still red from him trying to contain his anger. His hands were shaking. Zaini was completely shaken up by the situation. Zul then composed himself and said, “Ni, I’m sorry but I can’t just let what happened to us go. It’s sad, disappointing, frustrating. KUSZA rejected us even though we answered all the questions correctly. But it’s fine, for now. One day, mark my words, one day I’ll return to KUSZA. And that time KUSZA will be the one who invited me as their honoured guest!”
His eyes were red from anger and emotions, Zul turned to look Zaini straight in the eye and asked Zaini a sudden unexpected question, “Do you want to follow me and study in Syria?”