a) Search for peace and enlightenment.
Twenty two years ago we felt we had had enough of living like nomads and had seen enough of the bright lights. We deliberated and decided to settle down in Kuala Terengganu, years before it was declared a world-class city with Monsoon Cup and all.
We thought it was very fortunate that we already had a plot of road-side land just south of the town and within sight of the beautiful Masjid Terapung of KT. The mosque often imports imams from overseas for tarawikh prayers in the months of Ramadan. How nice it would be to be praying there.
Plans were drawn and duly submitted; but just as we were about to get the final approval the authority decided to widen the road in front. If we were to go ahead we had to set back and down-size our house, and be happy with hardly any front yard. Life would no longer be ideal with limited space around and with the likely dust and traffic noise.
With a heavy heart we had to abandon the thought of a quiet life near a beautifully designed mosque. Further south we went in search of an ideal site; this time a land with sea-frontage. That part of the coast-line is beautiful, with the enchanting view of Pulau Kapas, and within a short distance from the taking off point to the island. We could entertain visitors to the island, a pleasant thought. Unfortunately, such land as we were looking for was hard to find for sale, forcing us to move elsewhere. We decide to go north of town.
Again we thought we were fortunate when we finally came close to clinching a deal for a two-acre ground by the sea, and this time it was not very far from the airport. How convenient it would be for us to get flights to KL, and to be receiving and sending off our guests. But this was not to be as well. Just before we decided to close the deal, we came to know that the DCA (Department of Civil Aviation) would object to any plan for a two-storey building in its vicinity. So that put paid to that plan and dream. We were back to the square one.
The search for land now moved further north and, by divine intervention, I met Ghawi, an old classmate from my days at the Madrasah Sultan Zainal Abidin (MSZA), a good forty years earlier. It was an unexpected reunion of sort, and to our delight and good fortune this old friend, a well-known figure in that area, owned some prime plots of lands in that part of town. He took us around to view at least six sites, and it surely did not take us long to fancy two plots, each about an acre, separated by a long straight coastal road. One plot faces the open sea with the view of Pulau Redang and Pulau Bedong in the distance, and the second plot is right across the dividing road.
When I informed Ghawi of our interest in the two pieces of land, he casually asked why I had wanted the second piece of land across the road as well. To that question I gave a spontaneous answer - Today, I live to wonder how the idea was put into my head - Casually and as a matter of fact I answered, “Oh, buat tempat mengajar budak budak.” (Oh, just a place to teach children). Of course I had wished to help tutoring village children in a broad sense, but never a proper building on an acre of ground.
What was to happen next was simply amazing. When I asked Ghawi what price he would put on the property, he looked straight into my eyes and with a straight face said, “Ustaz, bayarlah apa yang utaz rasa nak bayar (Ustaz, just pay me whatever you like to pay ; the term ‘ustaz’ is often used locally to address with respect a person who teaches religion.) Incidentally,I do not know of anyone else who ever called me ‘ustaz’ because I never was.
It turned out to be a strange business negotiation, I kept pressing him to quote a price and he adamantly wanted me to pay whatever I chose. Ultimately I named a price which he readily accepted without batting an eye lid.
My friend Ghawi died six years ago. He lived long enough to see what had become of his land. The man had no greed over the sale of his property. And today whenever I remember him I offer him Al Fathihah, a small way to compensate for his generosity. He has a share in my Almanar.
Because of Ghawi we are where we are, peaceful and happy. We have Nuri (our enlightenment) and Almanar (The beacon – the light house that helps to give guidance and correct direction.) And we have enough activities to occupy our time.
b) Chances and probabilities
I must apologise for writing a thesis on my search for a place to retire. With that I wish to highlight how ‘destiny’ or 'fate' works in its wondrous way. That was TWENTY years ago.
For all the length ( Terengganu has 225 kilometer of coastal stretch ) and breath of Terengganu, the religious authority of this state has chosen to site Darul Akhyar on Jalan Batu Rakit Pantai, the very road our Almanar is, hardly one kilometer away. Above all, one objective of this pilot project is to help educate needy children in the state, the very objective I dreamt of for Almanar nearly 20 years ago - except that Almanar is to restricted to serve the community in its vicinity.
As if that is no enough, a new secondary school was opened four months ago. It is about five kilometers away and has enough places to easily accommodate the bulk of pupils accommodated in Darul Akhyar.
The mathematical side of me wonders - what are the chances and probabilities for the above events to happen?
Should there not be a Great Planner orchestrating the complicated routes taken by Almanar, Darul Akhyar and a secondary school to finally be so close to one another with education as the main theme?
I have already met the first Principal/Warden of Darul Akhyar, a man with many years of experience running a large orphanage in the state. In the course of conversation he declared,“ I want to prove that these children, given the helps they need, will make good in life.” (How this reminded me of my declared objective when Almanar Trust was dreamt of 20 years ago.)To achieve what he was aiming for, he needed help. When Pakcik offered assistance from Almanar, his spontaneous response was, “ Orang mengantuk disorongkan bantal.” (A sleepy head is being offered a pillow.)
To conclude ……
Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan