Sunday, 13 October 2013

Indian Sub-Continent in Our Memory

Assalaamu'alaikum wa rahmatullah

Well, I speak in Chinese while I was in the USM. Many people thought that I am a Chinese myself especially when I speak in Northern Chinese accent the first time I met those Chinese national brothers. I did not speak in Chinese for nearly whenever it was while I became an interpreter for Chinese passengers in the airport only in working hours. I began to speak in the language again when I met brother Idris who happened to walk alone to the USM mosque during Ramadhan 2010. Just for brothers information especially those who had met me. My father family is of mixed ancestry from both Yemen and Indian sub-continent. We have special interest in Punjabi and Ordu poetry. Actually the Punjabi poetry is not like the Punjabi in the sense of the Punjabi-Punjabi. But it is a language known Saraiki something like that. I have got this information from elders with hardship until they threw out all the facts that they keep in themselves.

My late great grandmother on my father side was known as Zaynab. Her family were of Gujrat origin while the men of the clan who married among each other were of Yemenite Arab ancestry. This is how we were known as the Jawee Pekan and calling our fathers as pak in Classical Malay. Differently to nowadays identification of Jawee Peranakan with Southern Indians like those in Penang Island though it perhaps also refer to the Keralites. It is a common thing in Northern Malayan Peninsula or nowadays Malaysian Peninsula part that people in the city were of foreign ancestry but by time people began to adopt Malay language as their mother tongue. When people ask me with some racist questions about whether I am a Chinese or a Malay, I would have to deny both association because I prefer to be identified as an Arab as we still can trace our paternal clan which is an Arab clan. Zaynab is the name of one among the mother of believers which refers to lady Zaynab bt. Jahsh and also the name of the daughter of Ali r.a and Fatima r.a. Our people would mostly name their children with the name such as Ali, Hassan, Hussain, Zayn al'abiddin, Zaydi, Ja'afar, Hanbal, 'Adnan, Haydar and others because it reflects our religious and cultural identity. Only for myself, I have the name which is different to others but still with the initial Muhammad like other Muslim boys. And I use the identification Servant of the God when people trying to get to know me as I wanted to be known as anonymous.

The area Gujrat is not the Gujarat in India. But it was the Gujrat which was a city in Punjab province in nowadays Pakistan. Still, people there were in contact with those from Gujerat in the nowadays India because of the similarity in jurisprudence school, the school of Shafi'ie and they spread out from the area through the sea port in Gujarat. Back then, there were no Pakistan. So, we only identify the place with India. The first language that we were taught were Arabic and Indian Urdu, of course with some Dari (Hill Persian) words infiltering the vocabulary. And I could understand Urdu or Hindustani without even have to go and stay in Pakistan or India but I pretend like I did not understand it when the kids who introduced me to Tabligh Jama'at in the Bengal mosque simply because I am offering an honor for them to introduce me to their movement. I did not even follow the elder brother of my mother to his Tabligh Jama'at markaz because my father did not allow me to be there but I follow the kids because I see something in some of the kids. I mean I do not see something like paranormal but it is more to the premonitions. It is more to logic and scientific though I am not good in academics nor studying in science stream. I hate it when some other kids talking to me like I am some kind of an exorcist! That's hurt!   

Many people especially from the JT movement would be thinking that the respective Hanafi school of jurisprudence is associated with people in Pakistan today or India. Perhaps that is mostly true. Well, let me tell people something. Sindh which was opened again by the Umayyad caliphate troop is also an area populated by the adherents of Shafi'ie jurisprudence. When the Fatimid Da'ie al-Mutlaq took over the area in 9th century as the Fatimid were the Ismaili Shi'a government, they still adhere to the Shafi'ie jurisprudence while some were the adherents of Maliki and Hanbali jurisprudence. The school of jurisprudence is not something which people can be proud of. It is a branch of science itself where the scholars doing researches in order to help the public in performing their religious duties while living a life as a worshiper of the God the Highest. When we study something, we have to respect the science by finishing a "lesson" first before turning to other lessons.  

Indian sub-continent also left a print mark in our identity and history. One of the Hussain r.a grandson, Zayd bin Ali Zayn al-'Abiddin was born of an Indian mother. His mother was from Sindh. And he was killed by an Umayyad governor in a battle with Umayyad caliphate after a revolt. His skeleton was burn to ashes under the order of caliph Walid bin Yazid bin Abd al-Malik bin Marwan around 126 H (745 CE). Many of our people (Arabs) fled to India since 10th century while some were soldiers stationed in 17th century Mughal empire before being employed again by southern kingdoms which also includes the Muslim kingdoms in Malayan Peninsula. And that is how our ancestors arrived in Northern Malaysia today few hundred years mingling among the clans or marrying other North Indians with Arabian ancestry (Umayyad, Abbasid or Fatimid Arabs) before the British came. Only today, especially our women become very very modernized and they neglect the customs which opposes them to marry people out of our religious and cultural background. Some married the Malays, some married Indians (Southern Indians), some married Chinese men just like the men married women of other racial background in the previous years.

Back then there was no Pakistan nor India. There was no Bangladesh. We only got the news about British India before the partition of the sub-continent happened. I grow up in Chinese surrounding Kuala Lumpur, while at home I was exposed to 60s Hindustani movies as my father loves it so much... hehe..

I sometimes would listen to these oldies songs. They remind me to my bedridden father. He loves these Hindustani songs especially of the late Muhammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. Sometimes when I feel bored and only smile at my father face because he cannot speak anymore. Other than that I just pray to the God the Highest may He helps and protects everyone....

Sealed with prayers for mercy peace and love, amin!


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  2. hemm...really intresting to know that u are mixed ..some kind of Yemen and Indian sub-continent and chinese?err...or what?


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