Thursday, January 10, 2008

Give Till It Hurts.

While emak and I were having lunch today, I noticed TV3 1.30pm Buletin was airing the 'Tokoh Ma'al Hijrah' for 2008. Apparently, Tan Sri Syed Mukhtar Bukhary was named as the recipient of the award for this year. My heartiest congratulations to the man as I've heard from quite a number of people that Tan Sri is a philanthropist and deserving of the award. I have no qualms there at all. However, it reminded me of a story I read as a young boy of 10, and if I remember it well, is with regards to a remote village somewhere in either China or Taiwan. Though names of the characters and even places are completely forgotten now, the gist is not.

In a place where modern medical science was still viewed suspiciously and even thought to be a spawn of witchcraft, many children and elderlies succumbed to various ailments and many die to lack of medical treatment. The Village Elders, held a meeting and realise the need to build a hospital catering to the village need. But realising on the matter and the want to build can be 2 different things altogether as the huge majority of the people there are poor and live on day to day sustenance. Though there were several well-off families, and a particularly rich man, this was a community project and needs the contribution of everyone, be it large or small. Thus, the Village Elders later announced of their intention to collect funds from everyone for the purpose of this hospital. This, was received well by the people of the village.

As the VE went around each house, the contributions they received began to grow. Many gave without thought, while few were calculative either to the use of the fund or the benefit it would bring. Still, they gave. Despite collecting a large amount, the VE found it still insufficient and continued on collecting until only 2 houses remain.

They went to the first of the last 2 house which belongs to the richest man in the village and were greeted kindly. When asked by the rich man on the amount collected, the VE said it was still insufficient and needed at least double of what they already have. The VE reply had the rich man thinking a long while and then asking "What or after who will this hospital be named?"
The VE were stunned by the question which in the very first place, had never crossed their minds. Then the eldest of the VE replied "We will name the hospital after the best donor," to which the rich man gave the amount needed without further thoughts. Jubilated by the generous act of the rich man, the VE made their way back to the Town Hall. But on their way there, they pass by the only house which they have yet to collect donation from.

Looking at the condition of the house, the VE initially thought of not asking any. But then as it is a community project, they decided it should involve the occupants as well. The head of the poor family greeted the VE with a thin smile. As soon as he was told by the VE of their intention, he immediately the rickety wooden steps up to his house and disappeared behind the thin walls made of flimsy plywood. The poor man reappeared a short while later and without further question gave them an old leather bag containing his life savings. Without a word, he then turn back to his task of chopping firewood meant to be sold later.

Back at the Town Hall, the VE began recounting their collection and were very happy to note that it in fact, had exceeded the amount needed. Then they were reminded of the donation by the poor man in the leather bag and opened it only to find the amount contained within was a mere fraction when compared to the rich man. Yet, this was the poor man's life saving and he gave from his heart. The VE felt humbled and decided to include it to the collection.

The building of the hospital did not take long as it was small 2storey building suffice for the village need. And when it was completed, the whole town gathered for the official opening ceremony. The rich man, befitting as the main contributor, was invited as the Guest-of-Honour, and was seated on the dais together with the VE. When the time came to unveil the name of the hospital, the rich man was given the honour. And he stood proudly beside the unveiled name as the villagers, including the poor man, gathered around. And when the shoving and the noise died down, the rich man pulled the small curtain to unveil...the poor man's name.

The Village Elders, it seems, had not lied about naming the hospital after the best donor. For in their eyes, the poor man had given his best - his entire life savings - towards the success of building a hospital for the village. His unselfish act had humbled the VE, and in their eyes, he was the best donor.

Now, before anyone even think that this story have anything to do with Tan Sri Syed Mukhtar, know that it does not. As mentioned earlier, I was reminded of this story when I saw the news and thought of sharing it. Perhaps I should have written about Saidina Ali r.a. and the mango fruit. But it is a story I believe most Muslims are well aware of. Both stories anyhow, are with regards to the unselfish deeds of individuals towards their society, no matter how small one may think of them otherwise. And perhaps that very act of looking down on a contribution by others is one of the flaws of our society today; both the poor and the rich have their roles to play.


tokasid said...

Salam Shah:

What a wonderful story about unselfishness.

If the person in the story was a Muslim, just imagine ALLAh's reward for his sincerity? Comparatively he gave his all.The rich man gave a lot but might just a pinch of his belongings. The poor chap gave witout a qualm ,he just went on with his work. The rich man wanted his name engraved on the signboard.

This is a story about keikhlasan.Abundace of keikhlasan.
If only we could do the same, without questioning what its for,to whom does it go,who benefits it and thousands other questions,before we gave our RM10.00.

This story is a good story to emulate in the year of Hijrah.

Subhanallah.Jazakallah ya akhi.
Allahumma barik fih.

waterlily said...

Salam Shah,

Sebagai seorang yang sebangsa dan seagama, saya amat teruja dan mengkagumi lelaki.

Beliau berusaha dengan kudrat yang Allah berikan. Tidak perlu politik2 atau makan bersuap. Setuju dengan Doc TA - keikhlasan itulah kata kuncinya.

Kata Tak Nak said...

Let me tell you a story of a philanthropist in Bukit Mertajam. This happened about 16 years ago. A millionaire handed an invitation to the school to attend his birth day celebrations. He specifically asked the school to send at least 10 Malay teachers to fill a table. The non Malays were given another table. He of course guaranteed that the food would be halal. The pengetua asked me to coax 9 other Malay teachers. I only managed to get 6 coz the others were not keen.

The dinner was held in a big hall. We were given very good food. In fact the Malay tables were the envy of others. There were at least 100 tables and I am sure each table caused a bundle. Brandy, whisky and beers were free flowing. The brandies were expensive ones and They cost more than the food. They were stacked by the crates. There was music and entertainment. Then came the main event of the night. The millionaire wanted to hand donations to either 11 or 13 charity institutions, I can't remember.

Press photographers crowded the stage to snap the best photos of the events. Equal numbers of mock cheques were presented. The sum RM500 per institution. I was shocked a little more than 5K for charity when he spent easily 100K on food and drinks. What the hell.

Zawi said...

Ain't how the money to be used for the philantrophy is obtained is as important? What if the money is ill gotten money? If you can spare a ringgit of your hard earned RM10 ringgit is ofcourse more meaningful than spending a few millions of the billions you robbed from the nations coffer.

cakapaje said...

Wa'alaikumusalam Doc,

Alhamdulillah. And insyAllah we will be able to, Doc. Afwan.

cakapaje said...

Wa'alaikumusalam WL,

InsyAllah kita sesama mengambil iktibar dari cerita itu.

cakapaje said...

Salam Cikgu,

RM500 per institution and 100K for the event? I'm speechless - shocked!

cakapaje said...

Salam Pak Zawi,

Hmm...perhaps this is why legends like Robin Hood came into being. Interestingly enough, a famous - depending whom you hear the story from - criminal was said to quite the legendary Robin Hood. This guy did rob from the rich and give to the poor, I was told. He was finally trapped in a wooden shed, put on trial, and sentenced to the gallows. But the prison guards looked after him well and with respect. Compare him to the ones you mentioned, this guy's name is still remembered - some with reverence - by those who got to know him. I do not know how far this is true, but I have my reasons to believe them. His name, by the way, is Botak Chin.

Kata Tak Nak said...

A paupers dollar comes from the heart, a king's million is given with a heavy heart.

Mat Salo said...

A nice fable shah. When we assemble at padang masyar, do not be kaget at the favored ones who will pass Heaven's Door --they wouldn't even need to knock. And they will be the poor, the so-called weak and destitute. It is God's promise. Because the value of their contribution is so much higher due to their disproportionate sacrifice. The once-rich (well not so rich now, ARE you, Sir?)can only look in wonder, and realize their folly.

I know the common saying goes, "I've been rich and I've been poor, but lemme tell ya, rich is better".
But eternal damnation awaits, of course.

As far as individual philanthropy goes, that great Satan Nation is the most giving. So what gives?


cakapaje said...


Yes, I believe so as the portrayed by the story.

cakapaje said...

Salam MS,

Bro, I believe what you mentioned is as the link I put at 'poor and rich' in the last line of the entry. But thank you for reminding me :)