I had a lunch at Mamak Khaleel restaurant just near our hostel in Bukit Gambir here. I coincidentally bumped with the Chinese national Phd student at the elevator while walking down my sorry ass to the restaurant. We walked together to the restaurant because he wanted to have lunch too. He talks a lot with me and for the first time I found suitable person to talk in our level but he is a non-Muslim Han from Hebei. Again I had forgotten to ask his name which I always do to address people though name might not be important for some people.
He asked me about Sarawak state and its special rights in Malaysia. His friends actually planned to visit Sarawak for sightseeing. I am actually scared to be critical about the food at Indian Muslim restaurant to him because he might like the food-style but it seems that he also not comfortable with the food, hahahahaha. Urm, sorry lah mamak-mamak Penang, I am not going to call you people Malays. Malays are different people and our ancestors had long mingled with them. Even when some of our people calling themselves Malay in front of me, I would just frown my face to them and isolate them for lying. Allah creates them in an appearance of an Indian and why they are shy to admit that they're Indians? It is a sin to be an Indian? If these people are Malays, why do they eat curry all the time and selling Indian style food and not sambal belachan based food like Malays? Their Malays sounds Tamil in slang and they speak Tamil or Malayalam when no people around them and reading Tamil newspaper watching Tamil movies and listening to Tamil songs. Listening to Tamil Islamic lectures in radio and I know about this because I am also tuning to their radio channels though I don't understand their language. They marry South Indian Muslim ladies imported from there and some of them are still holding Indian passport as in the case in Federal Territory. These are not wrong for me and nobody will be commenting if these people don't over-reacting.
We just discussed about Chinese community in Malaysia and I choose to speak in convenient simple English because some people might not also fluent in English and I am not talking in Chinese anymore. I don't tell him that I understand or speaking in Chinese too. It is enough with feeling down when I speak Chinese and Malays or non-Chinese around looking at me like an alien. I am also afraid I might using wrong words or perhaps using rigid Confucian style of speech with people or mixing up with Arabic terms which actually not good. His thesis is about Chinese Newspaper in Malaysia and he is curious to learn more about Chinese publishing in Malaysia which I think is quite an interesting and good topic too as compared to what I have to study. I asked him, do I look like a Chinese? I don't think I have a Chinese face. My eyes are not slant and I have double eyelids. Maybe my skin is a bit yellow but that is among the characteristic of our ethnicity. We are yellow Arabs as some Arabs are also yellow. Maybe I could pass for a Nepali or an urban Japanese but not a Chinese. Actually when Dora sister from Beijing in women studies center asked me whether I am a Chinese or not, I was like wtf??? Yea I speak Chinese also but I am not a Chinese, also not a Malay though speaking in Malay and sometimes wearing in their attire.
He asked me further about our ethnicity and I just tell him we are more minority than Indian and Chinese immigrants. Some people might try to absorb us in the case of Malays or Indians. Last time in our state our people were quite rebellious and British master were afraid of our people. So, they might also ordering the rumah pasung (police station) suppressing our identity as to contain us. We also talked about pork, hahaha. In the beginning I was like, why do you have to apologize to me when talking about the pork??? For me as what I had been thinking, I had already being a "filthy" guy before. When I had once lose my faith to our faith, I had actually already consumed all of those things including the thing that he apologized to me when mentioning it. I hope brothers and sisters please do not judge me or anyone who encounter this kind of problem in life because I was ignorant and not patient at that time. I don't have time to feel myself as a "holy" man anymore.
I just said to him, I am a young and progressive Arab descent guy. I am way more open than Malay guys or other pure Arabs though some of them might be playing around with girls behind their wife, groping young guy in case of homo-pedophiles, drinking, not performing daily obligatory salat or gambling and etc. I even went to temples and still is now going to Chinese or Buddhist temples but now with different intention. I do not pray there anymore. I just visit the temples and recite blessings for the inhabitants there or talking with people during temple festivals. If normal traditional Malay people looking at what I am doing now when I was alone perhaps they would fell down and stricken with epilepsy or assuming that I am from a deviant sect but I am actually now very orthodox and already changing to Salafi/Hanbali school of jurisprudence, hehehe.
After he listened to my view only he feels comfortable to speak out, hahaha. I further said : "Just say out whatever you wanted to say to me or asking me about my view on society or politics here. About headscarves or purdah (hijab)? I already know what you are going to say. I was in your position before because last time I was not observant too although I was educated in Islamic schools and madrasah." He said in the beginning here he arrived in Penang, he said that he could not accept the scene here and the climate is extremely hot even hotter than Southern China. He said it is Chinese (Han) custom that when they have feasts, they would also serve pork. I am familiar with Chinese culture but I listen attentively to his explanation maybe I have other things missing or any difference between northern and southern Chinese culture. He said he saw sections for pork and other things in Tesco and it is very weird. He said they could actually be tolerant to Muslim but why not Muslim also be tolerant and having dinner together in the same place with them when they are having pork? It's not like they are going to thrust those pork-chop into their mouth because for him, he is aware about the 'customs' of Muslim.
He said he does not like southern Chinese cuisine because their style of food in northern part is more of flour. They eat noodles and bread. After having their meals they usually would have hot soup and they do not drink cold drinks. I told him I am also not accustomed to rice. We are poor people in urban area. We usually take vegetarian foods or fishes but last time I was restricted from taking fish. In our house only few people take fish and its only restricted to scaled fish and not non-scaled fishes because they are haram (illegal). Usually those who consume fishes would have more well-build body but not us who only have vegetables. If we can't take vegetables now, we would be dying because we can't take other kind of food as much as vegetables. Penang mamaks do not eat vegetables and vegetables they cook is not fresh. I guess that is why they are lack of manner.
I also asked him who is his roommate? Don't say to me the management office placed him with Chinese national too. He said unfortunately yes. He stays with a Chinese national master student. I told him, last time when I was an undergraduate, they had already placed local students of different races together in a room. For example, when I was in the first year, I already stayed with a Malaysian Chinese student but later they shifted that guy from the room because he is a non-Muslim and I am a Muslim. Actually I don't care much about whatever religion is my roommate to profess. I am also familiar with Chinese people as I mingled with both Malays and Chinese.
My experience when I was a 19 years old Malaysian guy dear brothers and sisters, I went to a private school in Kuala Lumpur behind the Mahamariamman Hindu Temple at Central Market when I was about to take my A-Level after I returned from pilgrimage in Mecca. Every morning I took Metro bus after Fajar prayer services and I counted the prayer-beads and reciting maa'thurat by heart in the bus while the driver which I was familiar with is a Hindu, tuning to Hindu mantras in Sanskrit and Tamil to bless his morning according to his religion. When I went to washroom in the morning at my school also I could listen to Hindu temple bells ringing and the sound of trumpet from the temple just behind the school. My classmates in majority were Indians and they speak Tamil in the class. Few Chinese students and some Chinese students actually are of mixed parentage between Malay and Chinese so they speak in Cantonese in the class with other Chinese friends who also understand Chinese dialects. Malay and Christian students are minority in my class. Teachers who taught me Higher Malay and History papers are Indians. When I see some students especially in undergraduate level in my hostel, also others who are Muslim from countries like Indonesia I actually feel quite bottled up and contained. Because I can't be like them. I was already familiar in multicultural environment and seeing it as nothing peculiar or strange. I know countries like Indonesia also have people of different faith but the way they mingle with people is different because they only have one language policy but in Malaysia we are not like that.
Both of us agree that it is a sad thing that students becoming not adventurous. How are they going to understand different customs or culture if they are separated according to religion, nationality, language differences, and etc? What if they like it to stay with people with differences with them or enjoy because they could get more benefit as what they assumed? Why not giving a try and be a man if they are men lar? As for me I am actually not afraid of these differences but I am afraid with judgmental people who actually are not religiously well-educated but simply because they mingle among "holy" congregation. I mingled with religious teachers always right now. I ask and sending emails to Shari'a officers and checking my jurisprudence school laws when I am going to do something. Before I stepped into a certain restaurant be it of Muslim or non-Muslim I will first looking at the cleanliness, the food served, the kind of people and many other criteria which actually denotes that I am very orthodox but I don't show it to people as we also listened to the kitab al-Hikam and al-Ghazali regarding the purification of heart. We must be clean both external and internal parts.
And other thing is yea, we "bad-mouthing" mamaks, ahahhaa. I don't like mamaks just the same like Penang Chinese don't like them. I don't like them because they lies to people that they are Malay while their appearance and culture is obviously not. They are not grateful to Allah for creating them as they are, being Indian and Tamils. Some of them are manner less and speaking in impolite way to people. The one in our masjid here actually tries to approach me too but I teach him a lesson. Speak in a polite manner and make sure the sound of the voice is not harsh before greeting me or other people. If not I don't care about people status, older or younger, rich or poor whatever race they are. I will ignore them and assume them as not exist.
Sealed with prayers for mercy, peace, and love, amin!