Being in a room filled with those non-muslim wasn’t easy. As far as my mind could reach, I remembered that there were only four of us being muslim. Me, a muslim girl, always in my baju kurung or black robes; Athirah, an ex-SR Convent girl, fluent in English (it made me wondered why was she in the class), currently studying in Form 3; a guy (never knew a thing about him not even how he looked like) and the most significant of all, Abdul Haq, an English man from England, he was my English teacher in the conversation class. Oh yes, there was another muslim teacher, Sir Azhar, the principal of the Language Centre. And every single one of the other community of the Language centre were mostly Chinese, only some were Indians.
It was difficult indeed, to be among those non-muslim. Since I wasn’t too friendly or talkative to my newly-known friends, most of the time, I stared at my book, especially when I got nothing to do while waiting for the classes to start. Wasn’t reading, simply staring. (I know it was bad, but I usually need a longer time to adapt to my environment)
There was one day where a conversation class was only consisted by me and Athirah and Tc. Abdul Haq. Only we three existed in the class. I knew well why it was. Since Tc. Abdul Haq was a muslim (that is one point) he was also an English man who was very scornful at his students being timid and shy to talk. I’d seen some of the Chinese students who were too afraid to speak even a word of English getting scolded by him. Well, not really similar like scolding, the tone of his voice was high and it made he seemed like scolding the students. There was a slight taunt in his voice and he would budge his eyes.
“Why are you afraid to speak English?”
“You know, you won’t be successful in this language if you don’t dare to use it.”
“I don’t want to teach students who don’t like the subject.”
One thing about the teacher was that he always said this to me, “Oh, the shy girl is here.” And he smiled at me.
I would then avoid looking into his piercing blue English eyes, blushed and really got shy afterwards.
Because he was just so often saying how shy I was, I asked him one day, “Is it bad to be shy?”
“No, no. Of course not” And he gave me the hadis saying that shyness brings nothing but goodness..
It made me ask myself, “Then why do you keep saying that I’m a shy girl!”, though I didn’t get the answer of why he was.
Back to the conversation class. He said, “Why don’t we talk about Islam since it is only three of us. Non-muslim is not here. I like to talk about Islam.” And he got all too excited. He beamed brightly, correcting his body posture.
I said,” Oh, of course, why not?”
We did discuss Islamic matters but most of the time he spoke about his family, his life, his history. It was a very, very interesting, intriguing, amazing story after all. He told us that he came from a Christian family, converted to Islam when he was 19 in England. He joined the tareekah all along. Knew several languages including Arabic, Malay and etc. Had travelled to the Arab League. Learned from several ulama’. He’s good at Quran and Hadis. Had been married for 11 times (Wow, that’s a lot! But a wife in a time only). He also claimed to have seen Nabi Qidir when he was staying in his tareekah’s teacher’s house somewhere on top of a hill in Arab.
Another thing about him was, he always brought along his praying mattress (sajadah) and tasbih. He took these out from his backpack and showed to me while smiling (He always smiled).
He usually wore his black shirt tucked into his trousers. But he said to me, “I don’t really like to wear this kind of garments, only for the sake of going to work. I usually wear white robe and serban the way Rasulullah saw always wore.”
“There was a time where I was feverish to follow his sunnah, I used a walking stick. But, people around me was saying bad stuff about me using the stick.”
He spoke about politics. You know, UMNO and PAS. He criticized some muslim, saying “They always talked about Islam and the need to fight for Islam, but what about their ‘ibadah and akhlak? Don’t seem so Islamic.“ Generally, he was talking about his current wife and her family who were very into PAS.
He used to be a mujahideen in Afghanistan when he in his youth. But he said he won’t go there again even though there were some of his friends sending email to go for jihad. He said that when he used to be a mujahideen in Bosnia, he was forced to leave the land after they won the war.
“How are they being ungrateful.” That what he said.
And there was once he was trying to demonstrate how the mujahideen used their guns or snipers, he made hands gesture as if he was holding a gun and shouted so very loudly, ALLAHUAKBAR!. And, for real, Athirah and I jolted in shock. My heart beat faster.
I remembered one thing most about him. He gave a tazkirah to me and Athirah saying that we always need to be in whudu’. I said,”It is a good thing, but for women, it is quite difficult. We need to put off our veil, socks and stuff.”
He shot me back, “It is because of nafs, isn’t it?”
A short answer from him telling me that we always give pretext to keep oneself from doing ‘ibadah. I shall have known. It is, indeed, because of our nafs. Nafs of laziness.
If I were to write about his life here, it’d be too long. So, that’s it in brief. There’s a lot more about him, a long one. His whole story of his life made me drowned in tears the whole night. Seriously, I couldn’t stop crying until I fall asleep and the next day, I got rings under my eyes.
The other things about that Language class that I attended to was about performing solah. I always caught in the class that usually started at 7 and ended at 8.30. And I needed to perform my maghrib prayer during the class. I always needed to ask teachers, mostly non-muslim,
“Excuse me, Sir, can I go for my prayer please? Just for a while.”
And most of the time, the teachers stared at me in puzzled. A brief silence stretched, and
And ‘oh’ came out from their mouths and they simply nodded.
I couldn’t find the perfect place to pray except an abandoned pathway near the toilet that covered with thick dusk and dense spider webs.
It wasn’t easy when you needed to pray amidst people looking at you like you were a weirdo.
Especially you had to go through it all alone, it was a jihad with you standing alone. Sometimes I wonder, how that tc. Abdul Haq, Sir Azhar, the boy (as far as I knew he was a student in Bukit Jambul) and Athirah performed their prayer? I couldn’t figure it out even after I had left the centre. (Since I’d never bother to ask them then)
IT was an eventful life occurence. Though it had happened not in UK or somewhere overseas but it was an experience worth a space in my memory trunk, especially about him (Don’t worry, he is already above 50=).