I used to have a girlfriend. Oh man, only God knew how much I loved and cared for her. We even promised each other that we would get married and happily live ever after. Not just here in this world, also in the hereafter. Because of that, we did things that we were not supposed to do, because we were so confident that we would eventually be together. We were so in love that our hearts became blind. We thought we owned this world. We thought nothing could stop and separate us.
I used to smoke. A lot. Just name me all the brands that you can think of. Dunhill? Marlboro? Salem? Gudang Garam? I’ve tried them all. I was even the hero amongst my peers. They themselves couldn’t believe their eyes, seeing me smoking like crazy. It was as if, my mouth just couldn’t stop producing smokes. In the morning, after breakfast, brunch, before lunch, after lunch, tea-break, before dinner, after dinner, supper. You name it. All day long. I could afford not to have any meal for the day, but I’d die if I didn’t smoke a single butt.
Until one day, a doctor told me, that if I’d continue with my current life-style, I’d live just long enough to see my eldest child (if I have any) graduating from his/her primary school. He even jokingly told me that smokers will never get old, because they can’t live long enough to be old! That made me think. Deep. What’s the purpose of my life in this world? To be wasted just like that? Nah, I must change. My life ain’t going into the drain like dirty, murky water. It is meant for something greater.
And that’s when I said, “Oktengsbai jahiliyyah!”
I used to shop like there’s no tomorrow. If you’ve watched ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic,‘ yeah, I think I was triple worse than that. No, make it quadruple. Anything, and I really mean anything and everything, that caught my eyes, would be certainly mine in the next few seconds. I didn’t even bother to look at the price tag. If I liked it, I grabbed it, paid for it and tadaaaa! It’d be officially mine. Money was never an issue. I had a credit card that practically had no limit at all, because it was my dad’s. Haha. The best part is, I didn’t even consume or use whatever I bought! It was the thrill of buying new stuff that dragged me so far. It gave me this, inexplicable satisfaction; it was almost like a drug.
Then I got to know about Palestine. About Somalia. About Kashmir. And suddenly I felt so cruel and naive at the same time. I just couldn’t believe that shopping was like my daily routine, when my brothers and sisters out there were struggling to have even a glass of clean water. I felt like banging my head to the wall; they couldn’t even eat or sleep or study at peace, not until somebody shot their father or their house was bombed or someone they knew were butchered. And me? Happily surrounded by my Anya’s handbags and Prada’s shoes and Marc Jacobs’ shades. Eerrrgghhhh!
I, thus, decided, “Oktengsbai jahiliyyah!”
Movies and games, those two things were inseparable from me. During my free time, you could easily find me at only two possible places; either in front of my flat screen TV playing the latest games with my Playstation or at the nearest cinema watching any newly released movies. I loved Ramadhan. Why? After terawih, while waiting for sahur, I would do a marathon on movies or series. I didn’t even mind watching the same movies all over again. If others would khatam their Quran during the holy month, I usually khatam-ed my collection of movies. And games. Sweats. If my friends wanted to watch a movie, they’d ask for my review first. If I said don’t watch it, they won’t. I was practically the celebrated pro in the field.
Until a friend managed to persuade me to attend this talk. Or brainwashing session I’d say. And to think about it, it must have been His plan after all. I was supposed to go out with another friend to watch this new installment of X-Men, when at the last minute he couldn’t make it. As angry as Wolverine I was, I accepted the invitation to attend the talk, as I had nothing else to do. At first, I was rather skeptical. Then, it opened my eyes. And heart. I could see the ummah was suffering. Hard. It struck me that there were still a lot of works to do, to revive the deen, to build the foundation of the ummah, and yet, what had I done so far? Nothing. Besides watching movies and playing games. Pppffffttt.
It wasn’t that difficult for me to declare, “Oktengsbai jahiliyyah!”
I was already joining tarbiyah dan dakwah, or ‘the’ coach if you like. But something was not right. Somehow I felt big. I was proud. I thought I was the best among all. When I was invited to give a talk, I thought people liked me very much, for my eloquence, for my jokes, for my ability to ‘psycho’ others. In my circle, I was very sure my mad’us loved me greatly as I was good at conducting it. And I thought other hadek-hadeks were envious for not having somebody like myself as their murabbi. It was very hard for me to accept criticism. Yet, I was always eager to criticize others. I thought I was always right. I was so confident of myself.
Until one day, a dear al-akh of mine, came to have a pillow talk with me. Initially, I didn’t suspect anything fishy. Then at one point, he looked at me, his eyes were all watery, he smiled guiltily and suddenly started it off with “Akhi..” Then I knew what was coming. I was defensive. I didn’t want to listen. I thought he was being unfair and irrational. Then it hit me. He said, “Akhi, I won’t stop this, until I’m damn sure that we will enter paradise together. He, SAW, once taught us, ‘He who as in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise…’ And what was he meant by ‘pride’ akhi? That is, when you think you are better than others and you look down upon them. That is pride. And for that, you won’t be allowed to enter jannah! And I…I won’t let that happen! Ever!” I hugged him. I cried my heart out.
That was when, deep in my heart, I knew it, “Oktengsbai jahiliyyah!”
To change, is never easy, my friend. But it is a must. There is nothing to be worried or feared about, but yourself. Do it, slowly but surely. The choice is yours. The decision is in your hand.
Let go of your past. However dark it is, a brighter future awaits you. However dirty and murky it might be, it will always remain a past. Live for today, and plan well for your future.
Take the risks, and conquer your fears. Your unknown fears. And He, the Almighty, the Most Loving of all, should guide you until you can smell the sweet scent of jannah. He, the Most Forgiving, shall await you at the door of the eternal paradise.
Change today. Change now. Say, “Oktengsbai jahiliyyah!”
“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided.”