Friday, June 29, 2012

Spasiva mai brazia

Assalamu Alaikum

Spasiva mai brazia

It was in this beautiful Russian city sandwiched between the banks of the river Volga and the shores of the Caspian Sea that I was anointed a “scholar” by my Chechen, Tartars, Kazakhs, Dagestan and Russian Islamic Finance Course students. A reluctant ‘scholar’ I was for no less than a Mufti was amongst my participants. Fortunately the question was more finance than fiqh so I was able to satisfy the enthusiastic minds of this engaging people.

I always loved the opportunity to visit countries off the beaten track. I remembered the same thrill when I landed in Belgrade and Libya for the first time in days gone by. Before that it was Kampuchea and more recently Korea and Sri Lanka. Europeans with names like Arif, Kassim, Muhammad, Murad and Ruslan is such a thrill for the ukhwah of Muslim brotherhood. They looked upon us as expert brothers from Malaysia whilst we easily reciprocated as only Malaysians can. The hospitality of the Chechen race is legendary. A long training day yesterday was rewarded with a remarkable twilight barbecue and picnic on the remote banks of the beautiful Volga. The skewered barbecued lamb was simply out of this world washed down with cherry juice, spiced with generous helpings of fresh village salad. Our Islamic finance seminar was also an important political statement by our Russian Muslims hosts and they ensured we created quite a stir on national TV and press. It was exhilarating to be pushed to be interviewed by foreign TV; short serious sentences by me belied the thrill of being a feature of the night’s main business news. The following morning the interpreters whispered to us we were on TV the previous night but I didn’t know any better having retired early to prepare for day two of the three day training. This evening’s dinner was fish and caviar on a river boat restaurant. Grilled sturgeon, smoked salmon and red caviar the main fare. We bonded further over dinner and I have a premonition of truly fruitful and exciting days ahead for this partnership of Muslim brothers insyaAllah.

I offered to conduct a two weeks visiting lecture to teach Islamic Finance as an elective subject at the local University this December. It was enthusiastically received; now just awaiting confirmation from the rector. Sms to the wife that it will be such a thrill for the kids this December school holidays God willing; they can literally swim in the snow for it is regular fare in their very, very cold winter.

Day three tomorrow will be on Takaful; then it will be an early morning flight to Moscow enroute to Abu Dhabi and KL to reach in time insyaAllah for a three day Course in KL beginning on Tuesday. May Allah give me strength to continue to deliver. I do look forward nonetheless to Ramadhan for a much needed rest from being what Ruslan calls a Professore.

Do svidania mai brazia will be my parting wish as I leave my Chechen brothers on Saturday. Spasiva for a memorable trip to your beautiful city.


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