Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Why racial background is always according to spoken language or attire?

Assalaamu'alaikum wa rahmatullah

Last Week's Experience

Last week while waiting for Friday sermon, I had greeted a Muslim Chinese brother, an undergraduate or just English language student at the language center but I had forgotten to speak in English. His name is something like Yeong Yeong but I don't normally ask people's personal name in the beginning except their surname but he told me his name so be it, haha. I just cynically tell him I am a Chinese, why I can't speak my own language? Hehehehe... Then he seems like at lost to see a non-Chinese face speaking in Chinese. He said that he thought I was a Malay. It was not weird in China or even in Thailand where non-Han ethnics speaking in Mandarin Chinese but why making that face here? Well, this is not my first time being looked like some kind of alien from Mars because our compatriots whether of Chinese descent or Malays also looked at me like that.

The Issue

I just feel weird because our spoken language does not really reflect our identity. I hate people calling me a Malay simply because I speak in Malay, pelet Kedah piao lagi. We are not Malays although many of us refused to be known differently from Malays. That's their problem but for me why should I lie????! I am aware about my origin since I began to check them with paternal elders. We speak in Malay because it is our state's national language. Our state had earlier exist in the form of kingdom and sultanate before our country (Malaysia) exist because it only exist after British gathered all of the states in the peninsula into a federal entity and giving them independence. 

It's just the same like Hui Chinese in China who does not like to be known as Han but we are different in term that both Malays and us are Muslim, the same religion. Sometimes error happens in identification during British occupation because the concept of nation-state of British was also exercised in the state's administration. I think people should acknowledge us as Arabs of North Indian sub-continent descent or Malayan Arabs in contrast to Arabs from Middle East and we are also non-Indian. I feel offended when the term Jawi Peranakan is used to also include us as Indians. We use Arabic script in all of our writings while Muslim Indians in Malaysia have their own vernacular religious studies classes. We preserve many of Arabic pronunciation though we are not fluent in Arabic anymore. Most of all, those Arabic speaking people in Middle East were not pure Arabs in majority but some of them are Kurdish, Roman descent, Assyrians, Levants (only if they admit that they are wild Arabs) and etc.

There are many Arabs associated to prophet Muhammad s.a.w family who were expelled to Iran, Turkey and India due to the war before the establishment of Umayyad caliphate. Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal and Baba Abdul Qadir were among them whose family moved to Persian empire provinces. Our people or community never really mingle with natives though our ancestors spreading the message of prophethood because of some differences but it is different today because many youngsters began to abandon their identity. This does not mean that we are bunch of boastful idiots who wanted to show off if we talk about this but it is just the matter of identity. We could see what happen if we do not take care about our identity or trying to abandon it. Example is myself where I feel so low and began to turn away to others' tradition (Buddhism) but I am lucky enough that He brought me back to the path. 

I don't know how many people like us who turned to others' path. I checked about converts to Christianity from Islam for example just to be away from comfort zone for a moment and the result I found one for example John Avaterranean/Muhammad Shukri Effandi who was baptized as a Christian because he was not aware about his family background which also includes his family religious background. He wrote a book titled a Muslim who became a Christian. The translation of this book is online so everybody could access it and check it our selves, click here to read.   

Urm, about the persatuan Syed hazzab something which comes out in the news paper I don't know from which state and I am not interested to join any organization. I am not apart of them because we are from Kedah state and we are of Gujarat Arab ancestry. Our custom apart of it is to hide our title and we never put any title in front of our names so people could not differentiate us from others. We do not associate ourselves to religion in front of people but our elders were actually very conservative and orthodox. We behave just like natives and we are very proud of our state. We love our sultan and other compatriots regardless whether they are Malay, Siamese, Chinese or etc. It's to the extend that we never really acknowledge Perlis as a different state because we only recognize it as our sultan's land. The same thing to Penang Island.

We love Kedah Malay language and we write in the language but nowadays I feel more comfortable with English and Chinese if I am not speaking in Kedah Malay (differently from Malaysian Malay based from Johor-Riau Malay). We always feel angry when people who are not from Kedah trying to speak in the language without first learning it and showing it in the national medias because it ruins our national language and mocking our state's cultural traits as to portray how patriotic we are to our beloved state. We are the descents of 17th century Arab travelers and our paternal line were from Gujarat: Ahmedabad and Surat of India. These places were the posts of Arab soldiers and some Muslim Arabs from Sindh province of Multan kingdom in today's Pakistan were also expelled there to Gujarat after Muslim civil war before they dispersed more to southern part which is Malayan Peninsula, Lower Myanmar, South Thai and Sumatera in further India. Gujarat was also the center of da'awat for Ismai'ili Shi'a Muslims of Musta'ali branch after Yemen and Fatimid Egypt. This tradition of da'awat was already exercised by our people regardless madzhab or side since before the existence of Tablighi Jama'at movement from Deoband.

Diary about Relatives

We post this not to boast na'udzubillah but just a matter of fact so that people around don't simply judge people because of their spoken language or just because they wear Baju Melayu or Chongsum. To my maternal relatives if you happen to stumble by here but you feel like recognize who is this Abdullah, stop judging my mum and dad because you know no sh*t about our life or our paternal ancestry as we were not religious in appearance but you still slander us just because maternal grandma loves us and close to us. She was close to us because we always return to the village visiting and staying with her while they rarely see her though they lived close to her. We lived in the capital and taking the pain to see relatives in the midst of pressuring life.

We don't want any money from late grandparents or anyone. As for me I even never use my dad's position to get government job when he was a contract government servant. My dad was a lowly reporter whom my cousin brother used to hurt my feeling when he said to me don't be a reporter like my dad. I was a 13 years old boy and that makes me feel alone in Perlis while studying in the madrasah. Among the reason I slowly became bitter toward Islam and its adherents is because of relatives. I began to find friends in Thai Buddhist temples due to that cousin brother was a supporter of a political party associated with Muslim brotherhood and I was just a little child. At least dad works and getting his salary with dignity for 20 years before being a government contract worker for government only to be sacked with humiliation. He does not smuggle rice from Thailand. He was our bread-winner and our hero though not religious. We are not cheap people and we have dignity! Now I am proving it by rejecting any scholarship or assistance from government. I don't take any zakat (tithe) for Ibnu Sabeel and only depending on the Lord because I know that it will be rejected without any reply and Allah made my heart feel heavy to apply any help from human anymore. I don't take sadaqah (donation) from people unless if they mention it as present or I'll dump them all or giving them to others.

Insha Allah I will return to the path and my responsibility but I will never associate myself to government or any political movement just like Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal. There is a significance why I choose his school of jurisprudence and not adhering to our Yemenite order school of jurisprudence, which is Shafi'ie school. I respect Imam Shafi'ie but I know more about Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal and how he has to face torments from leaders who were not fearful to Allah.


This is also about the history of minority ethnics in Malaysian state. Anything in the post about what I feel is just my opinion and what I personally feel... Everybody including Malays, Malaysian Chinese, Malaysian Tamils have the right to have some pride in themselves but why we can't and were demanded to stay with dual identity? If we talk about these, people would assume that we are trying to boast about ourselves. Our ancestors had also involved in defending the Kedah state for the sultan and people and preventing northern region from being absorbed by Siamese empire before the arrival of British. Mentions about this is also in researchers notes like the late Wan Saghir's researches but its just that we don't feel it is important to tell people. I just feel weird...

Sealed with prayers for mercy, peace, and love, amin!

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