Chapter 57: The Beginning of a Journey

Ustaz, I think it’s about time for you to change your car. Hehehe…” Hasrulnizam joked while looking at the rows of impressive and large cars at the parking spaces reserved by the organizers. The cars may belong to some VIP guests or senior government officials who attended the event. That night, Zulkifli had just finished his forum with Johor’s Mufti, Sahibus Samahah Dato’ Haji Nooh bin Gadut in Malacca.

Where’s my car?” Zulkifli asked as his eyes scanned his surroundings trying to look for his Perodua Kelisa. He remembered parking his car not far from the hall. However, the cars he could see in front of the hall are just Mercedes, Honda and Toyota. Couldn’t see any Perodua parked there.

Haa… I found it. There!” Hasrulnizam said as he puckered his lips towards the car. Zulkifli’s Perodua Kelisa was hidden behind the Malacca’s Chief Minister’s official car. Both of them laughed at themselves and shook their heads. Even before the program started the security guard was a bit hesitant to let the Perodua Kelisa be parked at the reserved parking space of the panels. Maybe he couldn’t believe that it is the car of one of the panels!


On his way home, Zulkifli had a long talk with several of his students who accompanied him to his program. Their talk revolves around life and study as well as his future plans.

I was thinking of resigning from USIM. I want to focus on writing, dakwah, delivering sermons in mosques and suraus,” Zulkifli shared starting the conversation.

Hasrulnizam who was driving at the time, turned looking straight at his teacher’s face., unblinking. “Are you sure? Have ustaz thought this through? It’ll such a loss for USIM.” Hasrulnizam said.

Zulkifli giggled and continued. “Yes, I have my targets. It was fun working in USIM but my writing time is limited. In life, we have to be brave in taking necessary risks. However, you must first have sufficient planning. I’ve talked things through with Prof Dr Addul Samat, the FSU’s Dean. Initially, he didn’t quite agree with my decision. He told me that not many writers could survive on their own.

He stared far in the distance out of the car’s windows, looking at the stars in the sky. “I decided to take Prof Dr Abdul Samat’s words as my motivation. For me, whatever our aims are, we will be able to attain them if we have the right strategy. Once, we have made up our minds, don’t ever look back. Caliph al-Mansur once said to Abu Muslim al-Khusarani,

إذا كنت ذا رأي فكن ذا عزيمةٍ… فإن فسـاد الرأي أن تتـرددا

“If you are a person of vision, then be someone with a firm stand. Indeed, a vision may be destroyed just because you’re being indecisive.”

With each passing day, it is an opportunity for us to learn and always continue to learn. Enjoy each second granted by Him, facing the trials and tribulations with a positive and redha (acceptance) attitude. So true is the statement of Allah SWT:

وَتِلْكَ الْأَيَّامُ نُدَاوِلُهَا بَيْنَ النَّاسِ

“And these days [of varying conditions] We alternate among the people so that Allah may make evident those who believe,” [1]

In a hadith narrated from Suhaib radhiyallahu ‘anhu, Rasullullah PBUH said:

عَجَبًا لأَمْرِ الْمُؤْمِنِ إِنَّ أَمْرَهُ كُلَّهُ خَيْرٌ وَلَيْسَ ذَاكَ لأَحَدٍ إِلاَّ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ إِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ سَرَّاءُ شَكَرَ فَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُ وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ ضَرَّاءُ صَبَرَ فَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُ

“Strange are the ways of a believer for there is good in every affair of his and this is not the case with anyone else except in the case of a believer for if he has an occasion to feel delight, he thanks (God), thus there is a good for him in it, and if he gets into trouble and shows resignation (and endures it patiently), there is a good for him in it.” [2]

Once, Saidina Umar bin al-Khattab radhiyallahu ‘anhu said to his companions:

تَمَنَّوْا ، فَقَالَ بَعْضُهُمْ : أَتَمَنَّى لَوْ أَنَّ هَذِهِ الدَّارَ مَمْلُوءَةٌ ذَهَبًا أُنْفِقُهُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ وَأَتَصَدَّقُ ، وَقَالَ رَجُلُ : أَتَمَنَّى لَوْ أَنَّهَا مَمْلُوءَةٌ زَبَرْجَدًا وَجَوْهَرًا فَأُنْفِقُهُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ وَأَتَصَدَّقُ ،

ثُمَّ قَالَ عُمَرُ : تَمَنَّوْا فَقَالُوا : مَا نَدْرِي يَا أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ، فَقَالَ عُمَرُ : أَتَمَنَّى لَوْ أَنَّهَا مَمْلُوءَةٌ رِجَالاً مِثْلَ أَبِي عُبَيْدَةَ بْنِ الْجَرَّاحِ ، وَمُعَاذِ بْنِ جَبَلٍ ، وَسَالِمٍ مَوْلَى أَبِي حُذَيْفَةَ ، وَحُذَيْفَةَ بْنِ الْيَمَانِ.

What are your ambitions?One of them answered, “I want this house to be filled with gold so that I can donate it on the road of Allah and in charity!” Another companion said: “I want this house to be filled with emerald and diamonds so that I can donate it on the road of Allah and charity!”

Then Umar radhiyallahu ‘anhu said: “Tell me more about ambitions.” They answered: “We don’t know of any more O Amir al-Mukminin.” Then Umar radhiyallahu ‘anhu said: “I want my house to be filled with men like Abu Ubaidah Ibn al-Jarrah, Mu’adz bin Jabal, Salim Maula Abi Huzaifah and Huzaifah ibn al-Yaman.” [3]

Such is how high the ambitions of Saidina Umar al-Khattab radhiyallahu ‘anhu are and the companions of the Prophet PBUH. They dreamed of success not just in this world but also in the hereafter. It is as though this world is the land for them to harvest the rewards for them to attain paradise in the hereafter.

Saidina Umar’s dream clearly shows how far and great the horizon of thoughts of Saidina Umar in developing human capital who will change the world and make it prosper following the shariah. Thus, the dream of Saidina Umar is far greater than the others. The names stated by Saidina Umar such as Abu Ubaidah Ibn al-Jarrah, Mu’adz bin Jabal, Salim Maula Abi Huzaifah and Huzaifah ibn al-Yaman are special and superior figures in upholding Islam. They are bright, intelligent, wise and have high patience in elevating the shariah of Islam.


During the speech given by Tan Sri Dr Mohd Yusof Noor as USIM’s chairman for the farewell event of Zulkifli, once again he asked him in front of everyone, “Dr, have you thoroughly thought your decision through? It is such an immense decision you’ve made! If you ever have a change of heart, we are more than happy to accept you back.

Zulkifli just smiled back as he sat at the table in front of Tan Sri, his body may still be there in the event, but his thoughts is elsewhere, deeply planning one by one of his next steps and life’s plan starting the next day.

He arrived home nearly 11 p.m. that night. Zulkifli slowly entered the rooms of his children, tucking them snugly in bed. He stared at their faces one by one. Ever since he was gifted with children of his own, he performed the tahnik of all of them himself from his firstborn. He also referred to books and seek the guidance of Allah SWT when naming his children.

From Abu al-Darda’ RA, Rasullullah PBUH said:

‏ إنَّكُمْ تُدْعَوْنَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِأَسْمَائِكُمْ وَأَسْمَاءِ آبَائِكُمْ فَأَحْسِنُوا أَسْمَاءَكُمْ

“On the Day of Resurrection, you will be called by your names and by your father’s names, so give yourselves good names.” [4]

Some scholars explained that there is a clear relationship between a name and the person named. Among them is as stated by Imam Ibnul Qayyim rahimahullah who said: “To conclude, character and bad actions is related to his name. Likewise with good names motivates good character and conduct. And Rasullullah PBUH isn’t named as Muhammad except for the numerous characteristics and commendable attributes of the Prophet PBUH. And indeed, the owner of a good name will sometimes feel ashamed of his name and sometimes due to his name it motivates a person to act appropriately with his name and leaving what contradicts it.” [5]

Due to this relationship, scholars discussed the ruling of changing a person’s name, its details are discussed by Imam Ibnul Qayyim in the third chapter of his book Tuhfatul Maudud when he explained the encouragement of changing a person’s name to another name due to maslahah. [6]

Among the evidences which showed the encouragement of changing a name with a bad meaning is a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah RA:

عَن أبي هُرَيْرَة أَن زَيْنَب كَانَ اسْمهَا برة فَقيل تزكي نَفسهَا فسماها رَسُول الله صلى الله عَلَيْهِ وَسلم

“Zainab used to be called “Barrah” (good), and it was said that she was praising herself. So the Messenger of Allah(ﷺ) changed her name to Zainab.” [7]

Furthermore, there is also another hadith which states:

عَنِ ابْنِ المُسَيِّبِ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ: أَنَّ أَبَاهُ جَاءَ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ: «مَا اسْمُكَ» قَالَ: حَزْنٌ، قَالَ: «أَنْتَ سَهْلٌ» قَالَ: لاَ أُغَيِّرُ اسْمًا سَمَّانِيهِ أَبِي قَالَ ابْنُ المُسَيِّبِ: «فَمَا زَالَتِ الحُزُونَةُ فِينَا بَعْد

“That his father (Hazn bin Wahb) went to the Prophet (ﷺ) and the Prophet (ﷺ) asked (him), “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Hazn.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “You are Sahl.” Hazn said, “I will not change the name with which my father has named me.” Ibn Al-Musaiyab added: We have had roughness (in character) ever since.” [8]

Muhammad Hasanain, his first child is named after Egypt’s former Grand Mufti, Syeikh Hasanain Muhammad Makhluf who acted as the Mufti from 1846 until 1950. A truly respected scholar and his fatwas are acknowledged by all. Zulkifli’s second son was named Hammad, the name of Medina’s hadith scholar which is Syeikh Hammad al-Ansari. Many scholars in Medina studied under him. Sofia, Zulkifli’s third’s child name was an inspiration from the name of Rasullullah PBUH’s wife, Safiyyah binti Huyay as well as the name Aya Sophia, a church built during the Justinian I rule in the Byzantine era which is then changed into a mosque under the rule of Sultan Muhammad al-Fatih. As for his fourth child, he is named ‘Abdul Syakur, after the name of Syeikh Hammad al-Ansari’s teacher.

When war broke out in Syria, followed by the incident of numerous martyrs, Zulkifli’s fifth child was born. Syria is the land close to Zulkifli’s heart and he was greatly saddened by what was happening there. As he stared into the faint eyes of his youngest child, he thought of the name “Istisyhad”. Istisyhad originates from the wazan istif’al which contains the meaning of hoping or asking. It is similar to the word ghafara (غَفَرَ) which means forgiveness or forgiving and then it is changed to istighfar (إسْتِغْفَار) which means asking for forgiveness. The word syahid becomes istisyhad that the meaning becomes “hope of becoming a martyr”

After the birth of Hasanain and Hamamd, Zulkifli wrote the book Wasiat Untuk Anakku (Bequeaths for My Children), while after the birth of Sofia he published the book Puteriku Nasihat Abah Untukmu (My Princess My Advice for You). Just like when Imam al-Ghazali wrote one of his great writings Ayyuhal Walad, Zulkifli wanted his books to act as a reminder and guide his children when they grow up in the future.


The monsoon season has just ended on the East Coast. The rain started to sprinkle drenching the state of Terengganu.

It felt as though time just flies when you tell me the story. From when Zul was born until he’s married and has children. Will there be more stories to come?” Sarah asked excitedly jumping up and down. Rarely does a small child like her enjoy stories such as this.

Grandpa Aki repositioned his sarong, taking his semutar (head coverage) neatly folded on his shoulders. “Zul’s story is long. But I’m hungry. It will be so good if we eat something hot when it rains. I’ll continue the story later. But this will be the last one. Just like on Netflix, this will be the last episode of the first season. I’m going to tell you the story of Zul’s mother, Hajah Ramlah.” Grandpa Aki said as he walked briskly into the house and Sarah follow behind him closely.

Oh my god, grandpa, since when did you watch Netflix? Hahaha…,” Sarah said, surprised. Grandpa Aki just smiled at his granddaughter and closes the windows. The wind continued to blow violently, hitting his face.


[1] Surah Ali Imran: 140

[2] Narrated by Muslim, no. 7692

[3] Narrated by al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak (5005), and Abu Nu’aim in Hilyah al-Auliya’ (318)

[4] Narrated by Abu Daud, no. 4948

[5] Tuhfah al-Maudud, pg. 25

[6] Tuhfatul Maudud, pg. 129

[7] Narrated by Al-Bukhari, no. 6192

[8] Narrated by al-Bukhari, no. 6190

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