Saturday, November 28, 2009


Alhamdulillah, this year I had been blessed with being able to celebrate the eiduladha with my family. I think for the past 2 years , it was not so.

however, celebrating the eid at KL was nonetheless, a far cry from that in Kota Bharu. It seemed to be like any other day.

Being that I do not have the pleasure as to dwell in numerous holidays, I had taken this opportunity as to pay a visit to the book store. Something was disturbing my mind and my heart, and books have been an endearing way for me to release the pressure that was buiding within me.

I had come across a book that I had read more than 10 years ago and had touched me deeply. It was written by Daniel Keyes, entitled Flowers for Algernon. It revolves around Charlie, who was not so bright and was later given a leash of life when he undergone an experiment whereby his intelligence was heightened. It depicts how his life had changed as he honestly tells it in a diary and subsequently how he suffered when the change of IQ lasted only for a while.

i had thought of buying that book when I had come across another book that caught my attention. It was called the Hadj, written by Michael Wolfe, an account of an American's pilgrimage to Mecca. He is an author and had embraced islam and since then had written a lot about ISlam, mostly regarding the Hajj.

I'm halfway through right now and the book had enchanted me in so many ways. And it also brought about memories and previous conflicts that I used to have regarding the religion. It honestly puts up questions and wonderings by someone who is in search of the right religion.

During my childhood, I had the opportunity to live in the US, in which I feel that it had changed my life forever .

I used to be such a quiet girl, as to the extent I had been labelled taciturn by my teachers there.
It felt hard fitting in. I was only 11 years old back then. Moving to a different country did not bode well at first. I had come from a small town in Kelantan,..not even used to going to the K.L, but then totally drift to an altogether different culture and country was a nervewrecking experience.

I had worn the scarf at the time, but not completely covering my aurah at the time. When I had arrived there and had to enroll in the primary school, I was the only one wearing the scarf.

I had felt like an outcast. Many of them would cast glances at me, but many of them were nice enough. The thing about American is that they are friendly towards you.

I had enrolled in the 4th grade, with Mrs. Sallee as my class teacher. The classroom were cosy and had a library-esque kind of feeling. It was fully carpeted and there were arrays of books stacked in every corner. The chairs were colorfully painted and there were games stashed inside the cupboards.

Initially I had trouble fitting in, of course. They had never seen anybody wearing the scarf before. What more is that, oklahoma, where I was living at the time, is considered part of the christian belt. There were few Arabs or Malaysians at the school, but none of them wore the scarf. I also suffered language problem, in which I was not able to converse in english.

That had made me a certified prey for bullying. Every afternoon, during reccess, I had to suffer a few namecallings and interrogations from a boy next door.

And then I felt more alienated as I had to creep back to my classroom in the afternoon to solat. I had explained to my class teacher regarding our duty to perform the solat 5 times a day. During that tiem , zohor would end by the time I arrive home from school. Thus, I needed a place to perform the solat at school. The only time available, was during the recess time where the class would be empty.

It had become a problem later on when some students had lost some things and they had accused that it was stolen. The thing is, I became a suspect somewhat since i would go back to the classroom during which nobody was in side the class. Nevertheless, the teacher was nice enough as not to point out this fact to everybody else.

Primary school was still peaceful and I had been able to go through it rather nicely. ..Only to suffer much more so as I enter the Middle school. In oklahoma, Middle school consists of 6th and 7th grade. There was only one middle school in stillwater, thus all the primary schoolchildren from stillwater had to go to the Stillwater middle school.

Thus began another journey for me..At the time, I was 12 years old.

Middle school was much more larger and difficult to adapt for me. Now there were students from all the primary schools of stillwater. IT starts all over again. I was still the only one wearing the scarf. This time around, I had to wear the full gear,covering my aurah. My elder brother did not suffer much, as there was nothing to distinct him from others.

At this time, I had become more paranoid and felt much more out of place. Middle school was burgeoning a different kind of atmosphere. During these years, the students were much more social. There were dances, datings and the popular groups.

I fared well in the academic side, which then became a somewhat of a savior to me during this period of my life.

luckily enough I had founds friends that would become my staple group. They were above average students but socially apt.

But something -- someone had come way of that changed the scene of my life at this time.

His name was Joel. He was in the same language arts and science class as me. OF course, being the only person wearing the scarf there attracted much attention from the students there. And again, I became the prey of many jokes there. Including him.

They did not understand much about Islam. THey thought I had worn this because of culture. Especially when there are also muslims in the school , but did not wear properly.They even wore shorts to school.That had created a bit of a problem for me to explain it to the students.

During this time, I had suffered severe low self esteem. I was a foreigner of course, of different religion and the only one wearing the hijab and covering the aurah. I did not mix well with the opposite gender.

I was also having trouble to find time and a place to perform the solat. Here we have to move to 6 different classes each day. I performed my wudu' during reccess and would perform the solat whenever there was free time. In between breaks, and most of the time, it was during class or in the bus. Because Zohor would end during my trip home.

I was 12 at the time, and at some point I began to question myself as to why I need to do all this obligations - wearing hijab, not mixing with the opposite gender, perform solat..Whereas all my other peers are having the time of their life.

I began to question my religion. I began to question their religion.

All of us were born into the religion that we were in right now.

Thus, who to saywhich one is right?

There was not an ustaz or ustazah there which I could seek help.

There was an Islamic center in which we sometimes would learn the quran, and situated just a few houses away from where I was staying.

Internet was still new at the time and there were not much sites that I could really look for.

At the same time, I felt so guilty as to question my own religion.

I had found solace in observation.

The fun and freedom that I was envying them..what was it?
I finally realized after some time of observation, that our life needs a rule. We can't just simply do whatever we want, or else it would be chaos.

Take for example, the school's ruling, that a student is now allowed to dress inappropriately, in which they are not supposed to wear apparels that is see through or exposing much skin.

In Islam, we have a specific rulings already regarding aurah.

If not for the regulations by the Islamic law, our life would be in hazardous state, i realize that. Islam teaches us how to be a good person with a balance between the spiritual and worldly aspect.

The struggle to keep steadfast to my religion had shaped me to become a stronger person.Alhamdulillah, it is with Allah's will.

La hawla wala quwwata illa billah...


Safi ArRahman said...

Salam. seems to be similar case as mine. but i lived in uk until 10years old and i couldnt really remember how i have to be in rush for the prayer. either i didnt pray at that time (oooppss...pecah rahsia) or i did manage to perform my zuhr prayer at home.

anyway, it is indeed a valuable experience we should ponder about.

btw, what does HADJ stands for? sori im a bit curious here (0_O)

Azhani said...

oh, the Hadj simply means the Hajj..for this entry purpose, it's refering the book's title by Michael Wolfe..