Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Eagerness to Learn

Assalamu'alaikum wa Rahmatullah!

I just took a circulatory bus in the university to the language center. I have to check the venue for the German language test. It is in Lang. Lab 3 and 6 at 9.00 in the morning. I do not know what to answer tomorrow. Maybe I would just hantam (shooting answers), and leave the room early. Thank God, higher degree students do not have to register the course for examination grade as it is only the requirement for us according to our field of study related to European studies. Or else it would be a disaster for me. 

I wait for the bus at the bus stand near the center after checking the venue and time for the test. There I met my German language classmate. A Chinese girl from China. In the beginning I thought that she is ethnically Manchu or Korean because she looks like a Northern tribe girl. Well, Chinese everywhere still remember about Manchurian invasion.

It could be seen even in HK and Taiwanese movies about the Jiang Shi (jumping zombies) being described as wearing Manchurian style garments. I love watching the late Lum Ching Ying movies. He was among famous names in Cantonese film industry during my childhood time before he passed away because of liver cancer in 97'. We were so sad, because we love his movies.

I lived in Cheras Kuala Lumpur when I was a kid and my father worked in a press media company particularly as a reporter getting news for a Malay language paper. If you could notice this, people with western (arab and indian) origin always attached to newspapers, writings, and some in politics or business through their connection with feudal lords be it in the old time or recently. That is what these people were last time. My father being a reporter because of his passion to Malay language and literature. He did not get formal education after his father passed away when he was 12 and was sent to Singapore when he was 14. 

Malay is the language my father was raised with in northern state of Malaysia since he was born in 1948. Undeniably it is an important medium for our ancestors transmitting the knowledge about Allah to natives through books written in Arabic script taught in traditional madrasas in Malaysia and Southern Thailand.

In 1948, our beloved Kedah Sultanate was reluctantly merged By British through the threat from Siam (former Thailand and our former rival) into the Malayan Peninsula Federation to give way for other states and kingdoms under British rule and administration their way for independence. In 1948 too, British left Palestinian British Mandate in Jerusalem and Israel declared its indepence as a nation-state. 

As to say, we especially children were so much influenced by Chinese environment around us in Kuala Lumpur. I do not even know how to talk or mingle with Malay kids when I was a kid. I am not familiar with them although I tried to befriend them when I was a little kid. My parents sent me to a mosque to be educated according to Islamic way but I never make any friend there. I just have neighbors at home as friends.

Eventhough not a pure Hua Qiao (overseas Chinese), but I do aware about some points in the history of Chinese empires and states from discussions with other Malaysian Chinese compatriot from Chinese Private Education like the Confucian School in Kuala Lumpur or other Chinese National Type education. I borrowed their books to read, hehe.

I thought that the Chinese girl is a non-Muslim because in the class her name is just a combination of two sounds and it sounds like 'objective' or 'motivation' in Mandarin if we play with the words articulation, haha. I feel sorry to her now when I chuckled at her when listening she told me her name. She does not know I understand Chinese.

We talked about how tough German class. Our German teacher has high expectation on students because she is a native German. I believe Frau Myer is a good teacher, because she never takes students problem in her class easily. She always tries to know what is her student problem if they could not understand her teachings in the class. 

She told me that she is a Muslim. That is fine with me. I know many Muslim Chinese brothers and sisters before, be they from Malaysia, China, Taiwan or Thailand. What stricken me was that the girl said that she could not read some parts of Quran because she does not really familiar with Arabic script. So she also wanted to take Arabic class at least for the beginner level. I also found her Malay is quite impressive when she said "saya boleh cakap sikit-sikit Melayu" (I can speak a little bit Malay). I don't speak with her in Chinese anyway because no one would expect a 'Malay' speaking in 'dialectical' Chinese. I consider it as impressive because she tries to speak in the language that she learned in classes. 

I could understand her intention when she wants to learn Arabic. I know how China is. We also heard about Cultural Revolution. I could not offer her my help because of the difference in gender though sometimes I could be quite open minded but since she is a Muslim, I am respectful to her. If my sisters are there, I would certainly ask my sisters to volunteer helping her without she have to waste her money registering for classes in the center. We were all educated using Arabic script Malay before we learned Malay with Roman script. I had also seen other Chinese national friends and brothers who are eager with Arabic learning and they are taking the opportunity while studying here.

Although I personally do not like how the university language center is 'making' money by pressing students' money because I was also a student under the center. I know how they work, and I sympathize first degree students for that. However, I still admire these students when I see how eager they are to acquire the knowledge which would eventually connect them to Allah 'Azza wa Jalla and as we know they live in non-Islamic environment. China is still a country with Communism as its ideology although I could see now it shifts little by little toward capitalism without we realize it. 

In Malaysia, we learn everything sometimes without having to be burdened with costs. Especially religious education is actually everywhere and those in the mosques are usually free because the mosque usually pay for the teachers transportation costs and others to deliver teachings.

Masjid Zubair al-Awwam, this was the place where I received my early education. I do not have any good memory here, most of the teachers there were women when I was taught religious practices and other things like reading and writing. I remember I was slapped by teachers and humiliated in front other 'malay' friends. I noticed that only me who was humiliated and left alone. My perception too was formed since these early times. I stopped from going to the nursery in the mosque for about a year and just staying at home until I was registered in standard one (7 years old) in a national school just under our flat house in Cheras. When I was in the class in standard one, I do not even know how to read alphabets anymore and have to learn again. I hope parents, teachers, and others learn from this. Do not humiliate little soul but handle them with care without spoiling them. They might not know how to describe how they feel but they have feelings too. - Picture by Nawuzah 

Mosques are everywhere and we have musalla even in shopping complex in the area with majority Chinese community. We have broadcasting like religious lectures in the TV and radio. It is the matter we realize it or not. Whether we have the desire to get it. Whether we want to get benefits from them or not. Last time, I myself did not realize about this.

I began to slowly get this understanding when I live with Zaidi. He was my roommate from Kelantan when I was in second year doing my first degree. He was the same age as me but he came from religious school where he had to be stranded for one year for Arabic preparation. In some madrasas, students have to take Arabic preparation class before moving to i'dadi level. The highest level in a madrasah is the thanawi

He used to listen to Kedah state radio where they have religious lectures aired around 14:00-14:30 and also another radio which is the radio of Pulau Pinang from 14:30-15:00. These radio also have many other religious lecture and spiritual program. When I heard he tuned in these radios, I also get to learn many things. I am also imitating him when I return home. This is also a good method to get religious knowledge.

I also recall back my experience when I listened to Thai radio and getting some knowledge about Buddhism practices when I live with my grandparents when I was 13. The broadcasting is aired from Chanak, Thailand. Just nearby my mother's hometown. I listened to the Thai radio because that is the only channel that I could get at my grandparents' house and visiting temples when I feel bored to talk with monks there. There was no TV. Nobody to play with. Sometimes my uncle who is a member of Tabligh-e-Jama'at would come to visit my grandparents with his wife.
I will always have to apologize to respective brother Zaidi. Last time I had scared him with strict practices and had waken him up for pray fajar prayers everyday in the mosque. We just walked because I have no transport and the mosque is quite far from the hostel. I did that because nobody calling for prayer early in the morning and my voice is not so loud to bangk (calling people to pray).

I can not just leave him alone and wake up late. I have to wake him up because it is for his own good. I didn't get anything by doing that except helping him to perform his responsibility as a believer. That is why I do not want to live with any roommate now considering that most of phd students are too old and I could not cope up with their way. I am also afraid that I would scare people away or I would burden them and make them feel uneasy.

As I had already encountered many bad experience, I just tested brother Zaidi in the beginning because I wanted to know with whom I lived with and after that I felt sorry to him. I think that I had done evil things to him when I tested him or perhaps I had bullied him. It might not be a good way to test others, but after that I get to learn many things from him too when I observe him.

He showed me the importance of religious lectures. I had seen religious lectures everywhere but I never realize its importance because last time, I just like other youngsters thought that only elders listen to religious lectures. It is boring and lame. My mother had also dragged me and my sisters to mosque last time, but we were so stubborn and only care about playing around or spending times in front of TV. Such a waste of time, and living in the frame of time we could be sliced to pieces if we do not realize it.

After I talk with the Chinese girl, watching uncles, aunties, grandpas and grandmas from China in their way to hajj pilgrimage in the airport when I was a temporary worker in immigration center in the international airport. And also after few months observing other Muslim brothers from China here. I felt so ashamed of our selves.

Their elders were pressured after Communists took over their states. Even some of them like in Yunnan have to flee south during Manchurian rule because in Northern Malaysia there are few descendants of these Yunnanese refugees who fled Yunnan. Some remnants are still there in Myanmar and North Thailand called as Panthaiy.

I could not even put my self as a comparison to them because their eagerness to seek knowledge strucks my heart. Through knowledge and revelation, Allah will guide us to imaan. Let us together seek knowledge, the knowledge that would bring us to know Allah no matter in what field we are working or studying : )     

Sealed with prayers may Allah bless beloved brothers and sisters and tahiyyat (respect) to all of you regardless nationality and languages : ) Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'ala aali Muhammad, wa ahlihi wa sahbihi ajma'in. Under a nation banner and wings of peace!  

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