Deep inside the hearts of inhabitants of any tropical or hot country lie that childish wish for snow; to be sunk in the depths of waist level thick snow, snowball battles or quite simply to catch a gaze of icy flakes falling down from the gloomy sky. I was practically a snow virgin when i arrived : never been touched, kissed or hugged by snow, and so were most of my friends. It's just one of these images hung inside the head of those wanting to study overseas. The other image is probably the picture of yourself, feeding pigeons in a large city square somewhere unknown, somewhere foreign with historical buildings as the backdrop. Well, i saw the snow and even got bored of it at one stage, but there were no pigeons here in Volgograd, probably because there are no city squares to feed them.

Me? I imagined watching my beloved Liverpool FC at Anfield week in and week out. I would describe that as a 'not-so-noble' intention to study overseas and eventually i got to study here in Russia. Of course i would have loved to study in Liverpool, but i am lucky enough to be where i am today.

After 6 years of Russian winter, it should be enough to qualify us as modern day eskimoes. They should hand me a certificate or something, with such proclamation :

‘Congratulations for being part of the Eskimo brotherhood. May the thought of the extreme weather remind you of us wherever your legs take you to on this planet.’

The sun becomes a little shy and the rays of light penetrate the clouds only a few hours a day. At times the sun ablazes itself on a cold winter day, but even the slightest slice of warmth could hardly be felt.

So you have a Malaysian trying to adapt himself in an alien environment. He wears a thick jackets to make himself look extra cuddly. He fashions a snow cap to so that his brain won't freeze. Earmuffs don't apply with his taste. Gloves and socks to prevent the frost from biting his fingers and toes. A decently thick pair of shoes And that custom made beard would be an extra help to make yourself warm, well a bit at least. He steps out of the hostel, and the breeze enters his allergic rhinitised nose, and that makes it extra hard to breath. Some surfaces are better left for skating purposes, but he has to try to balance himself on them because at times it's the only route.

At times, it was pretty much challenging to go to class, but it was all compensated by the beauty of observing the seas of white and the endless stretch of snow. There was this moment, in my last winter when the snow, trapped and hanged on tree branches melted and afterwards crystallized to become tree shaped diamonds glistening, reflecting the sunlight as it stood there in between the seas of snow. Unfortunately, i forgot to bring my camera and the crystallized trees disappeared the next day. And if you are observant, you will realize that the snowflakes have different shapes, as if there were thousands of moulds for these snowflakes up there in the sky.

However, winter has always been pictured as a time of distress, the delicate balance of night and day lost with a predominance of the moonlight over the sunlight. But it's actually a 'spring' for Muslims, as mentioned by the Muslim theologian Hasan al-Basri, “the best time for the Mu’min is the Winter. Its night is long so he does Qiyaam, and its day is short so he fasts it.” As a guy who loves his home more than the outdoors, i can't give a better reason of not going out for any kind of invitation while winter's pouring through the window pane. Hibernation is the word commonly used.

Legend has it that during the second world war, the Russians were up against a much superior force in the form of the Nazi army. They were no match for them in terms of war machines, the Germans were more sophisticated, equipped with weaponary Russians could only dream of having at that time. But winter struck, and it was a wicked winter in Stalingrad (now known as Volgograd), which the Germans were invading. They never had such extreme weather there and with nature's help, the Russians fought back and eventually the Nazis were defeated. It's amazing how weather is able to affect such an outcome in history.

Above all else, i remembered a khutbah in the mosque a few years back here in Volgograd, of the allegory of the four seasons to life itself. Spring is compared to childhood when everything starts to bud out from the trees, summer as adult life full of responsibilities, and autumn as the time when we are already old, waiting for the death to come, which is winter, when the nature appears to be dead. So if you have not prepared yourself for the impending winter; by buying jackets, gloves and thick socks, you will be facing winter with difficulty. The same goes to life. If you're prepared thoroughly by performing the good deeds and leaving the bad aside, then God willingly, you will have a good time in the hereafter after death has been prescribed upon you. Winter is followed by spring, when everything will come back to life again. The trees which were better prepared, the ones that stored the bulk of food for them to survive the winter comes back to life happily.

Of course, death is not the end of the journey, and it's the same for us humans, when we will be raised back up to face the Creator after death, to be judged by Him, whether our lives were fruitful or we were just quenching our desires. Most people question the realities of life after death. And it's nothing new. There are verses which the Prophet Muhammad would have probably recited to the unbelievers of life after death, of resurrection, for them to reflect and think.

41 : 39 And among His Signs in this: thou seest the earth barren and desolate; but when We send down rain to it, it is stirred to life and yields increase. Truly, He Who gives life to the (dead) earth can surely give life to (men) who are dead. For He has power over all things.

Another verse which interests me regarding the resurrection is the Prophet Ibrahim A.S and his request to observe resurrection directly from Allah.

2 : 260 And (remember) when Ibrahim said, "My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.'' He (Allah) said: "Do you not believe'' He (Ibrahim) said: "Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in faith.'' He said: "Take four birds, then cause them to incline towards you (then slaughter them, cut them into pieces), and then put a portion of them on every hill, and call them, they will come to you in haste. And know that Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.'

There are a few theories of why the Prophet Ibrahim would ask such a favour. Some say he stumbled upon a dead body or a donkey carcass or a dead fish; some theorize that it was because Namruz or Nimrod had denied his claim of life after death. But humans are reckless beings, and some would not believe that such event would take place. And regret would eventually engrave them when the time finally comes.

32 : 12 If only thou couldst see when the guilty ones will bend low their heads before their Lord, (saying:) "Our Lord! We have seen and we have heard: Now then send us back (to the world): we will work righteousness: for we do indeed (now) believe."

Some things happen for us to reflect as to why God had planned something in a particular way. And in this case, we could take heed from nature's advice, that's spring comes after winter. That life exists after death.

4 comments:

hazreen hensem said...

salam afiq fikri.

aku suka gila post hang nie. terasa keindahan dan kebesaran Allah bila baca ayat2 yang poetic tu. but in my case i don't think i'm all that fond of winter and winter especially the russian one keeps me reminded of gloomy and dark psychiatric wards one typically sees in movies. tends to get me quite depressed sometimes but I guess I'm only one of the ungrateful bunch.

happy graduating by the way.

QifA said...

Waalaikumussalam Hazreen.

Yes. Kadang2 terasa jugak kesunyian dan kegelapan winter itu. Tambah teruk lagi bila snow cair dan kotoran-kotoran melekat di seluar.Comot habes.But in the end, we are lucky enough to observe winter kan.

Good luck exams Hazreen. All the best.

PS : Kadang2 aku tulis panjang2 komen kat blog hang, in the end aku decide tak publish. Aku rasa komen aku tak cukup matang.haha.Tapi aku konsisten baca blog hang.

What was done said...

Here is a kind of life after death you can be sure of...
http://www.whatwasdone.com/Age.php?&Age=-1

QifA said...

Hello What was done.

What you pointed out were posthumous recognitions, from the living to the deceased for their contributions in history.

I must say, there are no concrete proofs of life after death, no one ever came back and told us of their experiences upon death. So in that case, what is the purpose of life and existence itself? Don't take this as a view from a religious perspective, but keep on questioning what is the real purpose of life itself.

The journey does not stop when you die and pass away and people 6 feet above you applaud you for what you've done in your life.

You need faith in such things, the unseen things of life, the ones that could not be explained by mere scientific research.

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