Situated at the corner of Holland Village is a quaint 40-years old mosque. For many years, this was the only mosque in Singapore that delivers Friday sermons in English every week. It was at this very mosque that some years ago, I had the privilege to deliver my first English Friday sermon. And the relationship between us persisted, despite the few years that I was living in the United States.
There is always a very warm 'kampung" spirit demonstrated by members of the mosque committee whenever I am their Khatib every month. The long-time chairman himself was a retired Captain in the Army, who is now 85 years old, and is referred to with endearment as "The Captain," both by the congregants and by our very Prime Minister.
You will have known by now that this quaint and historical mosque was due to be torn down by end of last year, but by the Grace of Allah, their lease was extended till the end of April this year instead. As the Chairman said to me after prayers today, we will keep on praying that our lease will be extended, but meanwhile, we will continue doing what we do. Who knows? Allah may just reply to his, and his committee's prayers, insyaAllah.
On the way back home, these words struck me. Everyone there knew of the impending closure of this mosque by end-April. But meantime, I must say, the mosque was overflowing with Friday congregants today. On top of that, I also noticed that there were many new faces that I have not seen before.
This observation taught me some valuable life lessons: how do we carry on, knowing that the end is near? For example, how would a cancer patient who was given a certain number of months/weeks by his doctor, brave the remaining days of his life? One can wallow in sadness, or take the remaining days positively - which is in reality, a test of true submission and hence, Faith.
Allah s.w.t. said in surah Al-Ankabut: "Every soul shall have a taste of death; then unto Us you shall be returned" [29:57], meaning that everything and everyone is a transient being. We will all eventually meet with our end in this realm, in one way or another. Our anxiety rests in the uncertainty of that end.
It is natural to be afraid of something that we are not familiar. But the fear of death for believers always hinges on 'being ready' for it: i.e. have we done enough to ensure a smooth passage to Jannah? But, if we really think hard, we will never be completely ready. And I am not sure that is the intent set out by Allah s.w.t. anyway.
What matters, in my personal opinion, is the quality of every single choice that we make, guided by the teachings of Faith. Every decision in this transient existence will determine the quality of that unique personal journey that we all take. In the end, was it a beautiful journey full of hopes and joys, of happiness and peace, of loving and being loved, of mercy and compassion, of having learned and being beneficial to others, of being a source of inspiration and a guiding light unto oneself and others - in that personal journey back to Him (s.w.t.). It is to keep on improving daily and making a difference. Sayyidina 'Ali (k.w.) said: "I suffer the greatest loss, if I am the same today as I was yesterday."
Ergo, living in Faith means living in the here and now, because we cannot control nor determine our future. So we should be proactive with our present. Faith is internal and introspective in nature, hence we should strive to always maintain a positive perspective in the way Life unfolds itself before our eyes, and that will shape how we respond to Life. Faith also dictates that we should always think well of Allah and His Plans, and there is always a silver lining behind every cloud. Faith is to be celebrated.
These lessons were taught to me by observing the way the committee members of Kg Holland Mosque managed themselves, despite the impending closure of the mosque. Their positive outlook, certainly as a result of the fortitude of their Faith, brings in bigger crowds I have seen in months.
So, if you have a chance, or if you are in the area, do drop them a visit and perform a prayer there. It would mean the world to those who are still hanging on to Hope.
And Hope is a beautiful thing.