A series of unfortunate events
Life as a housewife and mother of four was all smooth sailing; until the family was struck with a predicament.
Mdm Jamaliah Abdullah, 42, lives in a 4-room flat with her husband and four schooling children. Her husband, Mr Ismail Razali, 44, who was also the sole breadwinner of the family, worked as a storekeeper and delivery driver to make ends meet.
In 2015, he suffered a heart attack followed by other health problems that crippled him from carrying out heavy duties.
Mdm Jamaliah found herself struggling to cope with the unexpected challenges.
"At that time, my whole world came crashing down. All this while, my husband was a diligent worker and the family’s sole breadwinner. When he fell ill, it felt like I was drowning," said Mdm Jamaliah.
Mr Ismail is currently unfit for work. He has been doing light work, but his heart is still weak, and this prevented him from working full-time.
Mdm Jamaliah herself suffers from diabetes and underwent a 'sleeve gastrectomy' surgery in 2017 to control her food intake and at the same time, regulate her illness.
Pillar of strength
Luckily, her eldest son, Mr Muhammad Irsyad Ismail, 20, rose to become her pillar of strength through trying times.
"I’m sad that at such a young age, he (Irsyad) has to shoulder many responsibilities and at the same time, stay by my side to give moral support," said Mdm Jamaliah.
Sought for help
Overwhelmed with various challenges, Mdm Jamaliah became distraught. Fortunately, a social worker from the National University Hospital (NUH) advised her to seek help and financial assistance from the Social Services Office (SSO). SSO then referred Mdm Jamaliah to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).
In 2016, Mdm Jamaliah’s family started to receive Zakat from Muis. They also now receive financial assistance from ComCare, a government social assistance scheme.
When asked what crossed her mind upon finding out that her family was eligible to receive Zakat assistance from Muis, she replied:
"Frankly, I'm ashamed. I thought Muis will only help us financially, but I didn’t expect that they would help us in ukhrawi as well and that we felt was what we needed most," said Mdm Jamaliah.
Reconnecting with the religion
Since then, with the help of mosque officers, Mdm Jamaliah’s family began to follow an Islamic study programme, Pelita Kasih, organized by Masjid Alkhair in Choa Chu Kang. This programme was crafted for families who receive Zakat assistance from Muis.
That was the starting point for Mdm Jamaliah and her family – her husband and four children – to connect with the mosque and seek ukhrawi knowledge through its various programmes.
Mdm Jamaliah herself had joined Iqra’ classes in 2016 and is now in the Al-Quran class.
This is on top of her fardu ain, prayers, funeral management, and various other courses. Today, she also contributes as a volunteer with Nisaa'ul Masjid Alkhair and frequents the mosque up to four times a week.
Together with his wife, Mr Ismail Razali also actively attends religious classes at the mosque. All four of their children aged between 12 and 20 years old also go to madrasah and iqra’ classes at the mosque.
According to Mdm Jamaliah, following these mosque programmes has given her and her family strength to remain resilient in these trying times.
Bouncing back and contributing back to community
"Because Masjid Alkhair has helped my family in terms of ukhrawi and has given us so much support, I feel obligated to contribute back. If there are classes at Masjid AlKhair, my kids and I will attend."
Today, Mdm Jamaliah is relieved that her dark days have passed. Her family now strives to practice a healthier lifestyle by going for brisk walks during the weekends.
"Now, I'm happy to see my family and husband healthy - though it may not be 100 percent. I know Muis and Masjid Alkhair are always ready to help. Alhamdulillah," said Mdm Jamaliah.
"I can smile once again. Alhamdulillah. The period of darkness in my life when my husband fell ill has passed, "said Mdm Jamaliah.
Urge others to seek help if in need
Mdm Jamaliah urges members of the community who are in need to not feel embarrassed to seek Zakat assistance from Muis.
"Do not be ashamed. I was ashamed back then too. However, Alhamdulillah, I am glad that I sought Zakat help from Muis because it has not only helped my family financially but also in acquiring ukhrawi knowledge, "said Mdm Jamaliah.
Madam Aminah’s family falls in two of the categories of 8 asnaf who have rights over Zakat – asnaf fakir and miskin.
Asnaf Fakir and Miskin refers to one who has insufficient means of livelihood to meet his or her basic needs and the Zakat disbursement includes monthly financial assistance, special assistance during Ramadan, and supportive programme grants.
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