Jumaat, 23 April 2010
ISLAM AND CULTURE
Last year, I accompanied my husband for Jumaat prayer at the Masjid. It is very common to see women during Jumaat prayer here which is rarely or weirdly practiced by us in Malaysia. I met few muslimah from various countries including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi, Bosnia and Pakistan. My pakistani's friend, Maria, crawled into the Masjid with her unfamiliar friend. I never saw her before, yet I thought that this middle-age lady is probably interested in Islam. She is a chinese, with strong chinese accent, thin and pale. She smiled at me when our eyes emerged.
Maria broke the silence between us.
"Aisyah, this is Bright. She is from China". She politely introduced her to me.
"Hello, how are you" I asked her nicely.
"Yes, I am fine, thank you". She answered nicely and smile.
She studied everything surrounding her. This place must be very different for her. But she looks ok, and feel safe, I guess.
"Are you a christian?" I asked her again.
"No, I didnt believe in religion" she replied.
I felt strange. I thought that she must be a buddaism or christian. By the way, Maria told me that she is a finance professor from one of the top university in Shanghai. I feel impressed. She was not dressed the way she is supposed to be. People probably will think that she was just an another street bum.
"Emm, can I know why?" I asked further.
"For me, religion is just a part of culture". She answered sarcastically. Then she smiled again. She felt overconfident with her answer.
It's time for me to laugh! Its actually my turn to laugh at her! I laughed hard! and long! I dont know, but I feel that what she said was sooooo funny until its very hard for me to control my voice. I felt that as if that i am watching the best joke ever.
Her smile died. She suddently turned to be serious. Probably she didnt expect that a long laugh would be a response to her answer.
"Religion is not a part of culture. I disagree with that". I replied.
"I give you one simple example. Maria is from pakistan and I am from Malaysia. We both speak different languages. She is speaking urdu, and I am speaking Malay. I eat lempeng and she eat pakora. I am wearing an embroidery scarf like this to cover my head, but she prefered to use pashmina. Our skin colours are different. She has her own culture in her community and I have my own which totally different each other. But we are muslim, and Islam is our religion and we are very proud of our religion. So, it seems that your opinion was wrong".
Maria was nodded. She smiled.
I hope that my argument and example would be convincing enough so i can pass my viva
"You know Bright. Islam is not a religion for one specific nation. I know that you are from china. You probably think that Buddism is only suitable for Chinese, Hindu is only for Indian, or etc etc, but Islam is universal. You can go to china and meet a group of Muslim there. You can go to America and you can see millions of muslims work and live there. In Canada, in Russia, in Middle East, few friends here are from different countries, some are from Dubai, Saudi and Egypt, Bosnia. There are billions of Muslim all over the world and we are all from different races, TOTALLY DIFFERENT CULTURES (i stressed the word since she said that religion is just not more than a culture), different skin colours, different foods, hobbies, ethicities and occupations, but we are all same in one thing - in religion. We are all worship the one true God, that is Allah". I continued.
She looked uncomfortable. I didnt bother about that. That was what I want her to be. I want her to understand that Islam is a religion for all and it has no connection to our culture, or nations, or ethnicity or whatsoever.
"Are you sure there are lots of Muslims in all over the world?". She asked me.
Oh no, which country you are coming from? Go to google and search for that information! I dont think a professor should ask me that question.
"I am pretty sure about that. You can get this information every where from the internet". I smiled. This time i was being more polite.
We were nearly reached our prayer time. The Khutbah was about to start.
"Why both of you are wearing scarf like this?