CHAR­ITY BE­GINS AT HOME

He went vi­ral on so­cial me­dia for of­fer­ing free fuel to mo­tor­cy­clists, but Abdul Ghani Haron has been help­ing the needy in his com­mu­nity for decades. ADIE SURI ZULKEFLI and EMBUN MAJID write

New Straits Times - - News -

ABDUL Ghani Haron is not a mil­lion­aire or cor­po­rate fig­ure. He is a re­tired teacher and well-known in Tikam Batu, a small town be­tween Sun­gai Pe­tani and Pan­tai Merdeka.

In Novem­ber, he be­came an overnight sen­sa­tion when he an­nounced that he was giv­ing away free petrol to mo­tor­cy­clists. His Face­book an­nounce­ment went vi­ral, with some Ne­ti­zens won­der­ing whether it was real.

Many peo­ple found out the next day that it was not a joke.

In the early morn­ing of Nov 4, more than 1,500 mo­tor­cy­clists thronged a petrol sta­tion in Tikam Batu to get a full tank of petrol for free.

Since then, Ghani has be­come a hero of sorts to the peo­ple, in par­tic­u­lar low-in­come earn­ers who ben­e­fit from his ex­tra­or­di­nary char­ity ef­forts. He also has strong sup­port from well-wish­ers who chip in to help his noble cause.

Ghani also dis­trib­utes es­sen­tial items such as rice, chick­ens and cook­ing oil to the needy monthly.

At least once a month, peo­ple swarm his fam­ily home in Kam­pung Masjid, Tikam Batu, to re­ceive the items. Not only lo­cals get the aid as even peo­ple from Se­berang Perai Utara and the Pe­nang main­land drop by.

De­spite his “fame”, not many know that Ghani has been in­volved in small-scale char­ity work for decades.

The phi­lan­thropist has in­spired many oth­ers to be char­i­ta­ble.

Said Ghani: “I was born here in Kam­pung Masjid, Tikam Batu, in 1956. My late fa­ther, Haron Nyan, was a padi farmer, while my late mother, Salasiah Abd Rah­man, was a house­wife.

“I am the third of five sib­lings. I started my school­ing at SK Tikam Batu, at­tended sec­ondary school at SMK Tikam Batu, and later SMK Khir Jo­hari in Sun­gai Pe­tani. I then fur­thered my stud­ies at Univer­siti Malaya.

“Upon grad­u­at­ing, I started serv­ing at schools in this dis­trict. It was for­tu­nate that I was based at a lo­cal school when I started my teach­ing ca­reer here as it al­lowed be to be close to my par­ents.

“My fa­ther wanted me to stay near him so that I could look af­ter him and my mother.

“I am mar­ried to Che Su Desa and we are blessed with nine chil­dren and six grand­chil­dren.

“I started teach­ing at SM Sul­tan Mo­hamad Jiwa in 1980. In 1988, I was trans­ferred to SMK St Theresa, Sun­gai Pe­tani, be­fore go­ing to SMK Aman­jaya in 1999.

“I be­came the prin­ci­pal of SMK Bukit Se­lam­bau in 2006, fol­lowed by SMK Sun­gai Pasir a year later. In 2010, I was made the Kuala Muda and Yan Dis­trict Ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cer. I re­tired in 2011.

“Af­ter re­tir­ing, I ven­tured into cater­ing, which I still to do to­day.

“I got in­volved with char­ity af­ter be­ing in­spired by my fa­ther, who served as a siak at the Kam­pung Masjid mosque. As a mosque com­mit­tee mem­ber, he looked af­ter the mosque’s clean­li­ness and other daily af­fairs. Af­ter univer­sity, I helped him with most of his du­ties at the mosque. He was al­ready in his 70s then.

“From then, I be­gan do­ing char­i­ta­ble work by col­lect­ing and dis­tribut­ing used clothes and giv­ing out free wa­ter and ice cubes. I also started giv­ing out free cook­ing oil, rice, chicken and free fuel for mo­tor­cy­clists.

“Is­lam teaches us to take care of those around us, es­pe­cially the needy. Prophet Muham­mad had set the high­est stan­dard on how one could do good things for oth­ers with­out be­ing wealthy.

“His com­pas­sion and love for oth­ers made Is­lam a great re­li­gion, and we are duty-bound to fol­low in his foot­steps al­though we are far from be­ing as per­fect.

“I was born to a poor fam­ily. My fa­ther owned a small padi plot (half a re­long, or 0.1ha), which he toiled to sup­port the fam­ily. He also worked at other padi plots to earn some ex­tra in­come. My mother sold laksa to sup­ple­ment my fa­ther’s in­come.

“Dur­ing my child­hood, I sold nasi lemak to school­mates to help my par­ents. De­spite our poverty, my par­ents told me to work hard in my stud­ies so that I could give back to the fam­ily.

“My par­ents de­cided that I must fur­ther my stud­ies to the univer­sity level even though my sib­lings had to stop school­ing af­ter pri­mary school as my par­ents could not af­ford to sup­port their school­ing.

“My sib­lings sac­ri­ficed their fu­ture so that I could fur­ther my stud­ies. It was a huge sacri­fice

Do­ing char­ity puts in mo­tion a chain of good deeds.

and my mother of­ten re­minded me to help my sib­lings.

“So, when I started work­ing, I be­gan pay­ing my dues to my sib­lings and helped the needy.

“Upon re­tir­ing, I ven­tured into cater­ing so that I could con­tinue to fund my char­ity work.

“Is­lam teaches that in ev­ery per­son’s rezeki (sus­te­nance), a part of it be­longs to the needy. The needy are helped through

za­kat (alms), sedekah (do­na­tion) and other means.

“With this in mind, I started help­ing my rel­a­tives, then the peo­ple in my com­mu­nity.

“For me, char­ity can be done in many forms. That is why I use so­cial me­dia to urge oth­ers to join me in this quest.

“I strongly be­lieve that there are many kind peo­ple who wish to do char­ity. I de­cided to make my ini­tia­tive pub­lic so that I can get more peo­ple to help other needy peo­ple.

“Do­ing char­ity puts in mo­tion a chain of good deeds. If some­one does a good deed, he or she in­evitably cre­ates a chain reaction that will en­cour­age oth­ers to do the same. And it goes on.

“I was sur­prised with the at­ten­tion I got from Ne­ti­zens. I am touched and hon­oured by all the sup­port.

“I shared my ex­pe­ri­ence in

Bicara Hati books, which is in its fourth se­ries. I did not fix a price for the books be­cause my fo­cus is on shar­ing my ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge and not on profit.

“I am grate­ful that the amount I raised through the books has reached more than RM100,000. I have chan­nelled all that into char­ity work.

“My jour­ney had its chal­lenges too. In Is­lam, we are told that the path to­wards right­eous­ness is full of chal­lenges. There are peo­ple who ac­cuse me of try­ing to gain pub­lic­ity.

“I have also been ac­cused of try­ing to lay a path into pol­i­tics, with some say­ing I plan to con­test in the next gen­eral elec­tion. I have no idea how they come up with such things.

“My son re­cently died from can­cer. For two years, my wife and I took care of our 21-year-old son. Dur­ing that pe­riod, we or­gan­ised dona­tions and did char­ity work from our own home.

“His passing was a great loss. It touched my heart to know that his fi­nal wish was for his be­long­ings, in­clud­ing his wheelchair and mo­tor­cy­cle, to be do­nated.

“I have to un­dergo dial­y­sis three times a week as one of my kid­neys has failed. I hope God gives me strength to con­tinue the work that I do.

“I pray that peo­ple who come for­ward to help me with my char­ity work are re­warded by God in this life or in the here­after.”

PIC BY AMRAN HAMID

Phi­lan­thropist Abdul Ghani Haron look­ing at the used cloth­ing that peo­ple have do­nated to the needy at his home in Kam­pung Masjid, Tikam Batu.

PIC BY NOR FARHANI CHE AD

Peo­ple come from afar to get the cook­ing oil, chicken and rice that Abdul Ghani Haron gives out ev­ery month.

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