Saturday, 19 February 2011

An Overnight at Masjid Benggali in Georgetown


Last Thursday, I was invited by Ridhwan to join the activity in Tabligh center in Georgetown. He is my neighbor hostelmate and he is also a Tabligh Karkon. It just happened that I joined their Taklim (Tabligh book readings) in the musalla. He told me to call or contact karkon Firdaus if I want to join their activity in Bengali Mosque or their center. 

Well, last few weeks, Firdaus had already invited me but I turned it down because I have my own personal prayer service and recitation of Quran in Friday night to Saturday. But since my new roomate moved into my room, I have to stop everything because he is quite sensitive with sounds. Even he can't tolerate some sounds screeching out of my earphone although I had already turned it lower near mute because some audios can't be lowered anymore as the uploader had set the sound as it is. 

I guess he thinks that I am not aware about Islamic practices although I am myself a born Muslim, being an infidel for a while when Allah took away the guidance from me and later giving it back to me, and a Hadrami descent. This is the problem of people from Arab world including some Palestinians. They are not aware about other brothers and sisters around the world although global medias keep highlighting them. 

I believe that not all of them are aware about Hadramis migration to South East Asia and their preaching of Islam to the native kingdoms around under sunnah and sufisme framework. About Muslims in Southern Thailand, Myanmar, and other places hidden from any coverage. I personally think that it is so selfish.  

So, for this reason I had giving a thought to join the activity at the mosque that night. Why not? Because staying in a mosque is also a good opportunity rather than staying in the room doing nothing and having bad thoughts because of my roomate and later flawing my mind. I can learn how Jama'at-e-Tabligh work and experience is not something that can be gained easily. 

So, I messaged Firdaus, the karkon guy and told him that I am going to join them. I am sure that he would be glad as he had been successive in his Tasykil (persuasion of new member). These are some Tabligh terms that I had learned and being aware of after few talks with them, hahaha. 

However I have no intention to be attached to this Jama'at (movement) nor any Jama'at. I believe that every Muslims are my brothers and sisters, we are already a Jama'at ourselves. We already worked together in different fields for one reason, for His pleasure. We just need to establish connection among each other and establishing more close relationship whenever opportunity reaches us.  

At 18:30 pm I went down to the musalla and saw Firdaus having a big burger while waiting for the transport. He told me someone gave him that. I don't feel hungry at all at that time so, I don't think that he has to be so polite with me. 

We went to the mosque by a car driven by a guy whose name is Syafiq. They called him Atok. I heard those two guys were astonished when we passed by a small tokong with Natu Kong statue in the shrine at the side of the road. Firdaus said, that statue wears songkok and he looks Malay. He must be a Malay. I stayed in silence although I feel that I should explain to them what is Natu Kong but never mind. They will know about it sooner or later and I think that it is a good exposure for them, at least they should also learn others belief and culture before preaching to others.

We arrived at the mosque near Maghrib. We prayed Maghrib together and there were many people in the mosque. They came for the mosque activity and I could also see some Tabligh members selling things like miswak, perfumes, clothes, and many things in front of the mosque entrance. 

They also served the dinner that night but I can't accept anything from sidqa and zakat. I had checked the hadiths that we were forbidden by prophet (saw) to take those things from Muslim and we must obey that. Those are the rights of our Muslim brothers and sisters which we could never take advantage at. 

After the Maghrib prayer, we listened to a bayan (lecture) being delivered by an old Tabligh teacher in Tamil and translated into Malay. They have many translators in the mosque for other languages too like Urdu, Arabic, Bengali, and English. I also met a Chinese young guy too whose name is Yunus from Xinjiang. I approached him but I spoke to him in the beginning in English because he might not understand Malaysian Chinese. I found that he lives in Restu, which is the same area with me just our hostels are different. We have some chat there after he speaks in Chinese because he feel comfortable with it. He asked me whether I could read and understand Quranic verses written in Arabic? He expressed his opinion that he had seen Malays could read Quranic verses very well but  he was so surprised to know that they don't really understand what they are chanting about.  He also asked me whether I learned Islamic education at school in Chinese or Malay? And of course we learn Islamic education in Malay as the medium, I was a product of national system school and later being registered into religious school for three years before I shifted to a technic school in Kajang.

He then asked me to translate to him what had been delivered when we meet again in the mosque next time if Allah permits it but I was like... hurmmm thinking that my Chinese isn't really good enough. I can only talk about common ordinary things around me or colloquil speech but not highly academic speech. Well, I can but it would take me a long time delving into dictionaries, and that would be good only if I am writing them because sometimes in speech, I tend to mix with Cantonese and Malay too if it is a highly academic speech like in the religious lecture. 

I began to feel hungry but because I can't eat the tray food. Well, I am also not a tray eating type of person, hahaha. So, I told Firdaus that I want to go to the 7E in front of the Oriental Hotel. Just close to the mosque and buy a bread and a mineral water. He accompanied me, and he asked me to join them in the mosque although I wasn't eating with them in the tray but I refused because I'm afraid people will think that I am an arrogant. We can't keep telling everyone about our problem, it is shameful anyway. I had few chat with Firdaus in front of the 7E sitting on the bench while chewing the bread trying to know him better because it was only they who asked me this and that but I asked them nothing in return. After that we leave that place because a weird girl trying to approach us and she seems weird, and it is in front of hotels and bars.

Ironically, I found that the mosque is in opposite to two night clubs. I didn't bring camera with me so that had caused me a great regret but I was advised by the karkon guy to just bringing things that I really need like clothes for change, towel, small pillow, and blanket in a rucksack. It is also not safe to leave valuable stuffs unattended in that open mosque. Maybe next time when I have other opportunity that I will consider to bring it along together planning safety plan.

Then we pray 'Isya prayer and those people began to spread their blanket to sleep. I can see some of them were chatting among each other, some were doing additional prayers, some were reciting Quran, some were just laying down on the carpet, some were sleeping. I was just counting my prayer beads for evening ma'thurat because I had forgotten to to recite it after Maghrib. They immediately began their bayan and name-taking of course for 'religious work.' I certainly can't write my name because I would do it whenever I feel free without any constraint nor acknowledgement, just like what my ancestors did.

I am thankful that the karkon guy didn't leave me alone. Or else I would like feeling foreign in the midst of Tabligh-e-Jama'at members. I can't really sleep well. I feel not comfortable sleeping in the middle of prayer hall. Around four to five in the morning many of the people began waking up. They performed night prayers and witr I guess. The karkon guy is still sleeping, I don't want to disturb him so I walked slowly and passing people's sleeping to the shower to avoid waiting in que when all of the people began to take the shower.

Then after Fajr prayer, they had another Taklim. But they keep focusing on their Indian members because their outing for few months usually being done to India. What I heard is that, the Taklim guy told the crowd in the prayer hall that people in Bihar, Bangladesh, and Uttar Pradesh are so respectful to them during their visit to their centers in India. About a Tabligh member died in India  due to heart-attack and his face is full with light because of 'religious work'  during the burial process being performed by other members.

Concerning hospitality of Tabligh members in Indian continent, I had read an Indian saying in my Sanskrit notebook (I learned Pali-Sanskrit and Thai when I was a silent Buddhist for religious purpose) where it says that 'athithi deivo.' It means 'the guest are gods.' It implies that, treat your guest like your god. I think those people in India were simply like that. Not really because of the similarity or their adherence to what had happened during sahabah (companions) period like what had been referred by the Taklim guy as high Ikram (honoring guests). I somehow feel that it has been exaggerated by the Taklim guy about the treatment of the people to them because we know how Indians are at hospitality and they also have their own philosophy concerning that. The Taklim guy is also an Indian anyway.

Later we went home to our campus but first we stopped by at Sardon to have some breakfast. I just had a plate of fried beehoon because I didn't really feel like eating anything although I was hungry because I just ate a loaf of bread and plain water last night. There was another guy whose name is Fitri, a Kedahan who gave us a ride back from the mosque with his car. Through my observations at these karkons, it seems like many of them are quite loaded. They have cars, they come from good courses like architecture, physics, chemistry, and education. Most of them are from the same courses, they have lecturers who are also the members of Jamaat-e-Tabligh so they kind of having good relationship and ties with their lecturers and could maintain their study life with their 'religious work.' I also found that most are from Western coast of Peninsula but that might be my narrow observation because I also met few Tabligh members from Kelantan in my neighborhood.

Compared to me, I was like an outcast in my course during degree. Because I was so stringent with my principles until I had clashes with my lecturers during my third year. I had performed my hajj pilgrimage with my beloved mother before I went to my degree and I have to protect my efforts that I had done but my lecturers didn't understand me and simply taking me as a rebel for not joing their parties and others. 

Even now, I am struggling because I'm shifting to other course, far more different from what I was taking in degree and have to begin from the scratch but in a higher level. Most of my lecturers are not really religious, they are females in which it would be different, in term of having good relationship because we are not from the same gender (mahram stuffs), some of them are feminists, and some are non-Muslims. My faith, affiliations and religion is only kept to myself. I also have to listen to different views, being extra-tolerant and some more, being patient and praying to Allah to give me strength.

I was so tired and I slept for few hours after reaching my room at around 10 in the morning. Luckily I didn't miss my Friday prayer, praise Allah. This is my experience when I follow the Tabligh guys to their markaz (center) which is the Bengali Mosque in Georgetown last Thursday. 

It is quite new for me because although my maternal uncle is also a Tabligh but I never follow him. Last time, he did tried to persuade me or even my dad to join them but never succeed. I am still I am,  I would never join anything but I just assume that I am learning the way people interact and how their movement functioning. It is quite interesting too : )       

I close this post with the prayer may Allah forgive us our sins, our evil thinking, and may Allah forgive us our bad words and replacing them with the good ones. Anything that I posted wrongly, please forgive me those are just my weaknesses and my personal opinion. Allah bless our prophet Muhammad (saw), his companion, his family and may Allah bless his beloved faithful followers. Amin!

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