Monday, 17 October 2005

Tales from the Surau

There’s trouble brewing in Taufiq’s surau. The latest I heard is a conspiracy to topple the imam. Yes, it is that bad. ( I love this chit chat with Taufiq after sahur and while waiting for subuh. It reminds me of his constant whispers into his Dadddy’s ears, telling stories while Daddy drives. Always something interesting and always something funny.)

During Ramadan, his school has provided a room for prayers. That is all good and fine. But it transpires that a week into Ramadan, there were many different schools of thoughts with many different interpretations and beliefs that I fear will lead to a mutiny in the surau today. Taufiq, always, always in his quiet diplomatic way, is determined to nip the problem before anything happens. He found a compass and is hoping that that will solve the problem once and for all.

If not for the seriousness of the matter, I would have been rolling on the floor laughing. You see, for the past few days, two groups in the congregation of what must have been less than 10, were praying in two different directions, each claiming that theirs is the correct one facing Mecca.

While Taufiq stuck to one direction, it must have been quite disconcerting, to say the least, to see that others who came in later, started praying in another direction. And even the teachers were powerless to do anything about this dispute. Taufiq’s compass will hopefully show the right direction, Insyaallah!

Anyway, these tales from Taufiq’s surau has taken a new dimension, but by no means as political as those we read or hear about from home.

When Taufiq started fasting at the age of seven, I was approached by his headmaster who told me that he was too young to fast. I told him that he was merely practicing and it was up to him to break his fast when he felt hungry. The headmaster proceeded to tell me that some parents had told him that other Muslim children only started fasting at the age of 13. Well, I kept quiet because we were taught differently and well aware of the many different Muslim communities in the school, I thought it best to keep quiet. But I did impress upon the headmaster that hunger aside, it is a practice for self discipline, management of anger, and also appreciation of what God has given us. The following year, the same headmaster provided a classroom for Taufiq and friends who were fasting so that they could spend the break there doing school work or pray while other non Muslim school friends had their school dinners. I really appreciated that and told him so. In fact, he invited a parent a week to give a talk to the children or simply to read the Quran with them. That was wonderful.

But it was not always that a parent could find time to be with them and that was when trouble would start. Once, for instance, there was a dispute as to how many rakaats to do for zuhur. And mind you, these were children around seven and eight. But Taufiq was unhappy but he continued to do what he was taught by us at home. He merely came back and grumbled. “Aah, just because Adam (a boy of nine) is from ......., he thinks only he can be the imam!!" On another day, another younger boy wanted to be the imam and trouble would start – hmm! doesn't this sound so familiar about what is happening in the adult world!

Anyway, one day, the headmaster happened to be passing by the classroom when he saw them praying – imamless and each doing their own prayers.

With all the best intentions in the world, he cried “ Stop! Stop! Stop! You are all not doing it at the same time. Stop and pray again, together!”

He thought, like a PE drill, you can just stop in the middle of a prayer and start again, like synchronise dancing! But at least, I thank him for he tried to understand and I think by now, he is coping even better.

In my own surau at the uni, things are not much different either. Coming from Malaysia, when we are used to seeing everyone in white telekungs, doing everything exactly as we were taught since the age of six, it was quite a surprise for me to see the different kinds of practices in that one small surau. We accept the fact that there are people who pray a little bit differently from us...but not THIS different. And as I tell this story, I pray to Allah to accept my prayers. I was somewhat distracted when I saw the lady beside me praying with her long flowing hair exposed right to her hips. And like Delta Dawn, she even had flowers in her hair.

Anyway, we will hear the outcome of Taufiq’s surau dispute today. And hopefully it'll be bloodless.



38 comments:

bergen said...

We are never going to come together as one.

Anonymous said...

even in prayers, we couldn't even come to one agreement.

how sad can that be?

-rafthah-

Jiwa Rasa said...

Kak Teh,
Look at it positively. That's the beauty of Islam. God created us differently, so that we make friends with each other. Life is so dull if everyting is standardised.

There are so many ways to Heaven.. Choose which one you like.. :)

Kak Teh said...

Bergen and Darftah - yes - sad when we cant come to an agreement.
Jiwa - hehe - yes, i do lok at things positively. Its how we treat the issues that can be a problem. And children are so vulnerable and the impressions are shaped at this young age. Hopefully with our guidanc, they do the right thing, the right way.

Queen Of The House said...

It is so easy here, yet people still differ. Then you go overseas, and you see totally different forms of Islam coming from all over the world. I guess that is where we start practising tolerance .......

bergen said...

Problem is, Jiwarasa, when you disagree it's difficult to look at the disagreement in a positive light because each side considers his/her view is more correct than the other. Isn't that what Shi'ah and Sunni is all about? And isn't that the bombs never stop killing fellow Muslims praying in a mosque?

Look at thing positively is a nice concept and a nice phrase but it will remain just that the moment we disagree. Unless of course we devote our energy to finding the similarities and work around the differences.

Kak Teh said...

QOTH - yes, you said it , the magic word, TOLERANCE!
Bergen..yes, there is such a thing as agreeing to disagree..but sadly not many people can do that positively and not get too emotional about it. Children are of course shaped by their parents beliefs, attitudes, etc and as for me - I will go back to that word - and teach children tolerance. thanks for the second visit!

born-again drama queen said...

there's a lot of grey areas in islam..that's when we are allowed to disagree with each other. the best thing to do is to take the middle path, like what prophet taught us, kan?

izyz said...

Kak Teh,

Thanks for dropping by my blog, and yes, I'll be honoured to be included in your sentral blog.

AdieJin said...

I say yay to jiwarasa. It is the "holier than thou" attitude that makes people shy away form religion.

Uja said...

Stop! Stop! Stop! Ini surau is in a secular school?? How neat!

Restless said...

How cute! Small children praying - that's something to look for after a busy day at work.

By the way, Kak teh & bergen, I've included both of you in my blog within get your consent first. Hope you guys don't mind! It's great to have links to other great reading spots. Thanks in advance!

Cheers!

Restless said...

Kak Teh, I've changed my address fyi. It's http://jejarihalus.blogspot.com/. I've got some unsettled issues with a jealousy ex-bf. :(

ailin...in aalborg said...

Kak Teh, the first thing that Imad and I had to establish after we were married was, Islam is Islam, and being of different mazhabs should not be an imposition to the main tenets in Islam: syahadah, pray, fast, zakat and haj.

Nadia said...

kak teh hahahaha this is funny but of course under all that cute humor is the problem we adults are facing. well....I don't know what the problem was with trying to find the qiblat LOL..sounds funny but as for the different ways of praying, the differences shouldn't be a cause of disunity (though unfortunately it is)...even the 4 imams dulu when they prayed with each other, one would adapt to the other out of respect..the differences are due to their own understanding of the sources and since the prophet SAW at times did something and also something else..they each have sound basis for the differences(well, generally that is...but now we have the mazhab itself veering so far from the imam's own teachings that simply relying on the mazhab itself is not necessarily sufficient to be sure we are even right)

but yes the problem is when we think we are right and other ppl are wrong. the spirit in which we deal with one another is wrong...but since I have lived here among all the differences, I've also seen the beauty and to me, I find that living amidst differences pushes me to seek the truth more compared to if I live in homogeneity...and all praises to Allah for that, because i have learned so much, religion wise, culture wise (not to mention those wonderful middle eastern recipes ) LOL...

but then again...the prophet SAW has said,
It has been narrated by Abu Hurairah (R) * in the Hadith Books (At Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Abu Dawud) that the Prophet said: "The Jews and Christians were divided into seventy-one or seventy-two religious sects, and this nation will be divided into seventy-three religious sects - all in Hell, except one, and that one is the one on which I and my Companions are today [i.e., following the Qur'an and the Prophet's Sunnah (legal ways, orders, acts of worship and statements of the Prophet )]."

so it is a fact of life..what we can do is keep on praying that we are guided on the right path.ameen

anggerik merah said...

Kak Teh, interesting topic...that is the power of diversity. We observed more of that here..Suni and Shiah berlainan tertib sembahyang. Pulak tu Iranian Shiah pun ada dua jenis kat my office nie...

Walauapapun kita doakan Allah terima ibadat kita mengikut mazhab kita dan apa yang kita pelajari..

Ely said...

it is a cute story, dont forget to update us on this!

yup like here too, some arabic parents of masturah's friends would call and ask how long has mas been fasting as in, since what age. we said 7-8 and they said 'wow, thats very young'...now thats why we dont have a problem with the kids fasting during this time of the year.

EM&EM said...

Kak Teh
After all, we as human beings are formed of frailty and error. We should pardon reciprocically(spelling?) of each other's folly. That's the beauty of differences.

shidah said...

kak teh: they really did that in UK school? Impressed. Memang fahaman/mazhab tak sama, but we can never say wrong to another fahaman, unless perkara yang terang lagi bersuluh, macam mengucap syahadah etc. even kalau kita refer to diff ustaz/ustazah kat msia ni pun, sometimes you'll get diff opinion on a particular matter. sebab tu lah ditubuhkan badan untuk mengeluarkn fatwa dsb. hanya allah s.w.t shj yang dpt menilai dan memberi markah.

Ms.B said...

I was going to refer to the Prophet's hadith on this, but Nadia has already done that. THanks!! Agree with her, we KNOW it's a fact, just as we know that the world WILL end, and we WILL die, but we can just hope and pray that what we do in worship and in life is accepted by Him, kan? Insha'Allah!

But whatever it is, I commend people like Taufiq's headmaster. Taking the extra effort to ensure that his Muslim pupils are comfortable in a secular school. So nice to read that.

And that Ms. Delta Dawn!! Hahaha!! I can understand the distraction!! :D Reminds me also, of the time when Amina Wadood led a mixed congregational prayer in NY last year, I think. Hmm.

BTW, I think this is the first post on your blog to generate mixed opinion eh? :)

Jiwa Rasa said...

kak teh,
jiwa sambung sikit ye...

to appreciate our differences, we must be knowledgeable. we must learn continuously.
the problem with some of us, we are ignorant but we do not know we are in the state of ignorance..

the keyword is learn...mengaji..:)

Lollies said...

sedih betullah kita ni

Ordinary Superhero said...

Mutiny at the Surau.

That's gonna make a bestseller!

Frankensteina said...

I get distracted reading your blog because of your banner hehehehe.. I keep looking back at the banner...it looks sooooo tasty. Jiwas terseksa rasanya esp. now its fasting month...

*salivates*...

Lydia Teh said...

Interesting insight for me.

Kak Teh said...

Salam and thank you everyone for so many insightful comments. Indeed we can learn so much from each other.

Restless said...

Dear Kak teh,

Can I have your email pls? Can't seem to open the one that is linked to your site.

Kak Teh said...

anim - my email is zwan_uk@yahoo.co.uk

faux diamante said...

manusia memang berpuak-puak...

saya pun setuju, mengaji dan minta doa Allah tunjukkan jalan yg benar

Kak Teh said...

nazeah - banyak jugak kak teh belajar dari komen2 ni saja! Alhamdulillah!

auntylela said...

kak teh,
sebenarnya saya nak tukar topik sikit. Tadi baru baca blog ely, frisco. Dia kata selalu lepak kat Sentral station, i rasa pun banyak yang lepak situ juga.
So, apa kata masukkan chatbox situ, sesiapa lepak boleh chatting dgn geng selepak situ, betul tak?
We don't have to go into any particular blog to lepak, Sental station is a good place.
Make it our International ChatRoom!!

RojakBuah said...

sama kt sini...sunni lain..syiah lain..tp ultimately kita semua mengadap Allah...mula2 sy pelik..tp boss dr India ni bgtau..mcm mana cara sekalipun...tuhan cuma satu....pk punya pk..betul gak kata mamat ni...

KC said...

kak teh,
I've seen a foreigner performing her solah here in Malaysia with her cutex/nail polishing on her fingers....terkejut sungguh....
and to echo you, semoga Allah SWT menerima amal ibadah kita, InsyaAllah...

MakNenek said...

what's the result???? let us know!

dr in the house said...

Kek Teh, sorry for being late in commenting. Havent the time to read the many comments (some very long :) but I hope what I am writing is not a repetition. What Taufiq is going through has been going on for many yrs amongst us Muslims. In fact I myself am in this personal debate of whether an amal is bid'ah or not, at times it gets so exasperating. Imagine if even the use of 'tasbih'is considered bid'ah! But you praying next to someone dressing like Delta Dawn, that's a diffrent story altogether! hehhe
Solution? We need to be more tolerant of each other and more accepting,whatever our madzhab is!

CikNi said...

kak teh, respect to the HM.

Can imagine Taufiq punya frustation tapi itu jugaklah yang akan mendewasakan dia kan? Dan training juga untuk dia menghadapi 'dunia' yang penuh dengan pelbagai dugaan bila dia dah besar nanti

suriyati said...

Kak Teh,
Perhaps, there's no one to inform her about it.. Similarly, it happen here too, so I took the courage to inform the lady, furthermore, as muslims we have to remind each other or inform one another.. Insha Allah, we'll be blessed.. ;)

Anisah said...

Salam Kak Teh,
I seem to be the 38th to comment. I should have kept quiet, but do allow this line.

I've been living in the UK for several years. To our Malaysian friends who haven't been to a British school, can I just say that schools/colleges/universities here will do their best to provide Muslim prayer facilities, if there are none, we need only to ask nicely. Taufiq's headteachers concerns are not unique. I would say that a headteacher who doesn't care would stand out.