Letters from Grandpa: Muhammad Ariff Ahmad – Be Fruitful

Dr Haji Muhammad Ariff Ahmad, aged 84, is a renowned expert in the world of arts and culture. He is a grandfather of six – five girls and a boy, aged between six and 16 years. After contributing to the development of Malay culture, literature and the arts for most of his life, he now writes a column on Malay language in the newspapers, Berita Harian and Berita Minggu.


To my six beloved grandchildren:Muhammad_Ariff275

Siti Aisyah Humairah, 16;

Siti Nur Adilah, 14;

Muhammad Ali Safiuddin, 10;

Sabrina Sng, 8;

Sofiah Sng, 6; and

Salmah Sng, 6.

I believe that at this moment, you are not yet able to understand my advice completely. But as you grow older, Insha-Allah, your mind will be more open and you can ponder over and think about what I am saying. As you gradually become an adult, please seek the help of your parents, teachers and religious teachers so that you will understand my advice in the future.

According to research reports, the average life expectancy of Singaporeans is 85 years. With your respective ages, you can expect to live another 70 years. What events will you encounter throughout your life until you reach that stage? Remember this traditional advice: “When the tiger dies, it leaves its stripes, when people die they leave a name.”

My grandfather had this advice for me. He said: “The life of a tree bears fruit; let the life of humans be fruitful.” We are human beings. Our lives must be useful to ourselves, our parents and our neighbours regardless of race, community, religion and nation.

What should we do to be useful people? Said my grandfather again: “Life is enshrined in tradition; death is enshrined in earth.” People must live by traditions. Those with traditions are knowledgeable and wise. The tradition of life is found in this advices: “People are kind, we are civil; people serve, we serve.”

My final advice: every one of you must have knowledge. When you want to be kind and civil, do so with knowledge; when you want to serve, serve with knowledge. Insha-Allah, you will achieve the saying that a human being leaves an excellent name.

Wabillahit-taufiq wal-hidayah

Wassalamualaikum wR wB.


This letter has been translated from Malay, and is featured in the Malay version of this book.

This letter is republished with permission from the National Library Board. Letters From Grandma and Grandpa (2008) is an initiative to create opportunities for youth and seniors to strengthen ties, enhance understanding and appreciate each other. Singapore grandpas and grandmas share their stories from the past, their hopes for the future, their love from their hearts, and their values for the soul. The letters capture their thoughts and feelings on important values, such as family and heritage, respect for the elders, generosity, love, courage and responsibility.

First published on 14-02-2011.


Categories: Letters from Grandpa

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