Project Pesantren: Bring An Ocean Of Knowledge To The Thirsty

Ustazah Zulaikhah has dedicated her life in service to the people.

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A 1437H Rabi’ul Awwal project intending to raise SGD$5,000 for the renovation and expansion of Ustazah Z’s (Ustazah Zulaikhah) home-cum-school that is in dire need of repair.

You’ve been motivated and inspired by the #SurabayaWithUstazahZ sharings from my recent trip to Surabaya. Now it’s time to help Ustazah Z! 🙂
Ustazah Zulaikhah, nicknamed The Ocean of Knowledge by Sayyidi Habib Umar al-Hafiz, is an alumni of Dar az-Zahra, Tarim, Yemen. She teaches the Deen in many different areas of Indonesia to children as young as three to grannies who can barely walk. She too teaches in Singapore to Muslimaat and Ustazaat who testify to her ability to convey a depth of knowledge in a manner palatable to everyone, and her knack in sowing love for Allah Subḥānahu Wa Ta’Ala and His Messenger ﷺ in the hearts of those present. With what little remaining time she has that is not spent teaching, Ustazah Zulaikhah, with the help of her handful of colleagues and volunteers from Banat Zahra’, commits herself to volunteer works to improve the masjids and communities they live in.
A recent visit to Ustazah Zulaikha’s humble home which she uses as her classroom and headquarters for da’wah efforts revealed that much can be done to help intensify the efforts of this humble teacher who has dedicated her life in service to the people. The $5,000 we hope to raise with you will be used to (amongst other things): hack walls to make more room for the increasing number of students, replace uneven flooring, repaint stained walls, fix broken bathroom amenities, install carpets and cooling equipment, and purchase teaching and learning materials like whiteboard, rehal etc.
Since we are far, far, far from being oceans of knowledge, let us be the means to which The Ocean of Knowledge reaches those thirsty for the love of Allah Subḥānahu Wa Ta’Ala and His Messenger ﷺ, inshaAllah!
Below is the longer story as to why my friends and I simultaneously made the intention to help Ustazah Zulaikhah’s home/school/hq. If you wish to skip the story and just contribute, this is how you can invest in your akhirah (every dollar counts, biidhnillah).
To be the means to which water is brought to those thirsty for Allah Subḥānahu Wa Ta’Ala and His Messenger ﷺ, contribute towards the repair, renovation and expansion of Ustazah Zulaikhah’s da’wah centre by:
SINGAPOREANS
Step 1) Transferring your contribution to: POSB SAVINGS 175-46630-4
Step 2) Emailing the details of your contribution (name, date, amount) to fadhilah.wahid@gmail.com (yes, you can also PM and whatsapp me)
MALAYSIANS
Step 1) Transferring your contribution to: MAYBANK SAVINGS 1647-1717-0979
Step 2) Emailing the details of your contribution (Name, Phone number, Transaction number, Amount) to nursafiahalias@gmail.com
* All other nationalities can make their contributions via Paypal to fadhilah.wahid@gmail.com
#CollectPahalaIdeaOne: Rope your family and friends in personally, and be the collection point of all their contributions. When they contribute, you get their pahala too! 😉
#CollectPahalaIdeaTwo: Share the khayr! Share this on your FB wall, via whatsapp, instagram, any social media out there.
#CollectPahalaIdeaThree: Make many many intentions upon making your sadaqah. Many. Many. Intentions.
Total Contributions Needed: SGD 5,000.00 Deadline for contributions: 15th January 2016 (Friday)
Jazakumullah alfa alfi khayr! 🙂

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim.

In my travels to Muslim lands, I often wondered why in a country peppered with masjids and madrasahs teaching the Deen, the very basic principle that is “cleanliness is half of imaan” is not reflected in its streets. The answer, as explained simply to me by Ustazah Zulaikhah, is that while a person may memorize the entire Qur’an and books of Hadith if he be given a few months of focused, uninterrupted studying, he may not necessarily be able to imbue and practice all that he has learnt.

“What the community needs desperately is not an abundance of ‘ulama who can give fatwa, but more Muslims who practice what they learn – even if it be a little – with much sincerity” – Ustazah Zulaikhah

Streets of Surabaya

In the several days my friends and I spent traveling through Surabaya, Gresik, Batu, and Malang, we witnessed both the immense beauty of the land and its people, as well as the ills that plague them. While the masjids are beautiful, its toilets are not befitting as places for wudhu’. While the majalees are big in numbers and beautiful in their messages, the rubbish left behind intentionally leaves but a stink for residents and little-paid cleaners.
The irony is not lost.
The situation is a heavy burden for Ustazah Zulaikhah, one that she carries together with her hopes and determination for change. When we asked why this was happening despite Islam flourishing in the country as reflected by its number of madrasahs, religious teachers, and Huffaz of the Qur’an, Ustazah replied,
“What the community needs desperately is not an abundance of ‘ulama who can give fatwa, but more Muslims who practice what they learn – even if it be a little – with much sincerity”.

Beyond Just Knowledge

Throughout the trip with Ustazah Zulaikhah, it became apparent to me that she is not just any teacher. To be able to get such a nickname – The Ocean of Knowledge – from Sayyidi Habib ‘Umar al-Hafiz already shows just how much she understands the intricacies of the Deen; a friend told me that in her first class on Tauhid held in Singapore, she spent the entire lesson just explaining the meaning of “Bismillah”!
It is, however, not just her knowledge that makes her – to me – amazing; it is her strong determination to both teach and serve the community, her perseverance to bring about change, however small, consistently, and an open mind that is able to see beyond what is apparent.
One of the many lessons I learned from the trip was from a conversation we had with Ustazah at her home. As we were reflecting on the past few days, Ustazah Zulaikhah said something which stuck with me,
“Today, the knowledge of the Shariah is available everywhere. It is the knowledge on how to deal with one another – to be human – that is missing. But you see, if you leave just one Sunnah of Rasulullah ﷺ, its repercussions will be felt everywhere, and it will affect everything!”

Beyond what is seen

Ustazah shared how, in a recent mega majlis (not organized by her), attendees left their cardboard mats lying on the floor as they made their way home. The rain poured in torrents that night, and the cardboards disintegrated – some stuck to the ground stubbornly, others flowed with rainwater and clogged up drains by the roadsides. Who is left to clean these the next day? Residents of the area, road sweepers, and the government who all have to fork time, energy, and money unnecessarily. And guess how many involved in the clean-up will feel happy each time a majlis as such comes around? Already, the government has begun denying permits for majalees in certain areas, citing the rubbish they would have to deal with.
How does this reflect on the perception of Islam? How does this reflect on the Messenger ﷺ? Whereas our Prophet ﷺ teaches us that cleanliness is the beginning of faith!
In another mega majlis held weekly (also not by her), roads were closed to give way to the throng of attendees. While police have granted permit for the road closures, Ustazah began to notice that residents of the area were growing discontent – one of the roads blocked is the only road available for public transportation. Those who relied on that road for their income were increasingly displeased.
When she had garnered enough evidence how that closure was more detrimental than good, Ustazah firmly pushed for that one road to remain open despite the opposition she faced from the organizers. After rounds of discussions, they finally conceded and made alternative arrangements. The road remained open, public transportation resumed, and the majlis continued.
Everyone was happy.
“We need to learn how to be human again so that our attempts to do good do not unknowingly evolve into an impediment to goodness,” Ustazah Zulaikhah reminded. “If you leave just one Sunnah of Rasulullah ﷺ, its repercussions will be felt everywhere, and it will affect everything!” – Ustazah Zulaikhah

Pesantren Zulaikhah: Learning How To Be Human

As days went by on our trip, we began to see just how much work Ustazah Zulaikhah and her handful of colleagues and volunteers from Banat Zahra’ do for the communities they are in. They do not just teach classes for women and children of all ages, nor do they just carry out projects related to improving the conditions of the masjids. More urgently, they too battle the mindset of a community that resists the discomfort of change. When they offered to wash and replace used prayer garments in masjids and musollahs for free, for example, they faced pushback, for the people were conditioned to think that “free” came with a hidden price.
Added to that resistance for change is an economic direction that pushes the younger generation towards a me-first mentality. The result? A potent combination towards further fragmentation of society. One that Ustazah Zulaikhah hopes she can neutralize.
“During the time I was studying in Dar az-Zahra’,” Ustazah Zulaikha recalled, “Habib ‘Umar always made sure that a couple of the elderly who needed care lived with us. Between us students, we would take turns feeding the grannies, accompanying them to the toilet, and just generally serving them in whatever way they needed to be helped. One granny couldn’t even walk, and that was a time without wheelchairs.
Looking back, serving those women taught us the knowledge that no books can teach. The grannies were not even our grannies, and Habib made sure we set our wants aside to learn to serve them despite ourselves.”

Ustazah Zulaikhah, her colleagues, and volunteers of Banat Zahra’ Indonesia

It is knowledge like these – the kind that cannot be learned exclusively from reading books but from a teacher – that Ustazah Zulaikhah wants to instill in her students: Adab, akhlaq, khidmah.
“If one day, inshaAllah, Allāh Subḥānahu Wa Ta’Ala gifts me a pesantren,” Ustazah Zulaikhah chuckled, “I’ll make sure I’ll invite the poor aged to live with us so that students will learn the same lessons Habib ‘Umar wanted to teach. Education, combined with lessons such as these, will inshaAllah allow these students to graduate as daughters, sisters, mothers and educators with both the mind and heart to nurture a new generation of healthy, contributing Muslims.”
In the stories of Layla and Majnoon, it is narrated that Majnoon used to kiss the walls of Layla’s home. When people asked him why he did so, he replied that it is not the walls that he kissed, but the memory of the one who lived within.
While there are pesantrens all over Indonesia, not every pesantren is the same. While any brick can, together, form four walls, it is the teacher within that shapes the pesantren and its students to what it is and what it could be.
It is Layla that made her walls precious to Majnoon. It is Ustazah Zulaikhah who will, inshaAllah, bring the ocean to a community who are in dire thirst.
My friends and I, our long relationship as hosts and students of Ustazah Zulaikhah has caused us to truly believe in her vision and mission for the Ummah… To truly believe in her.
We hope you’ll believe in a better future for everyone too, one woman at a time. As the song goes, it is the hand that rocks the cradle that would shake the world.
Today, you and I, we will together raise SGD 5,000 to renovate, repair and expand Ustazah Zulaikhah’s home-cum-school.
Tomorrow, who knows if we can raise SGD50,000 to build a pesantren for the Ummah? 😉
To be the means to which water is brought to those thirsty for Allah Subḥānahu Wa Ta’Ala and His Messenger ﷺ, contribute towards the repair, renovation and expansion of Ustazah Zulaikhah’s da’wah centre by:
SINGAPOREANS
Step 1) Transferring your contribution to: POSB SAVINGS 175-46630-4
Step 2) Emailing the details of your contribution (name, date, amount) to fadhilah.wahid@gmail.com (yes, you can also PM and whatsapp me)
MALAYSIANS
Step 1) Transferring your contribution to: MAYBANK SAVINGS 1647-1717-0979
Step 2) Emailing the details of your contribution (Name, Phone number, Transaction number, Amount) to nursafiahalias@gmail.com
* All other nationalities can make their contributions via Paypal to fadhilah.wahid@gmail.com
#CollectPahalaIdeaOne: Rope your family and friends in personally, and be the collection point of all their contributions. When they contribute, you get their pahala too! 😉
#CollectPahalaIdeaTwo: Share the khayr! Share this on your FB wall, via whatsapp, instagram, any social media out there.
#CollectPahalaIdeaThree: Make many many intentions upon making your sadaqah. Many. Many. Intentions.
Total Contributions Needed: SGD 5,000.00 Deadline for contributions: 15th January 2016 (Friday)
Jazakumullah khayran jazaa! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or personally message me 🙂

 Republished with permission from Fadhilah Wahid’s Facebook notes.
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