Thursday, January 10


“Hah? Teach nasyid?”
“Please, you have a good voice and nobody else can sing those high notes.”
“We can teach you the song, then you can teach NorAziana.”
My first posting as a teacher in a rural school in Trengganu back in the early 90s was full of strange but exciting events. One of the challenges was to teach a group of Malay girls to sing songs for a local nasyid competition.
With only four lady teachers in the small school, I was roped in to help. My vast experience as a choir singer during school and college days was considered an asset. Although I was the only non-Muslim in the kampong area, I was treated with respect by the community.

And the nasyid song?
It’s called Maal Hijrah.

Satu Muharam detik permulaan ( first Muharam is the beginning)
Perkiraan tahun Islam Hijrah (of the Islamic calendar)
Perpindahan Nabi dan umat Islam (the migration of prophet and Muslims)

Dari kota Makkah ke kota Madinah ( from the city of Mecca to Madinah)
Atas keyakinan dan iman yang teguh ( with strong faith and beliefs)
Kaum Muhajirin dan Ansar bersatu (Muhajireens and Ansar were united)
Rela berkorban (willing to sacrifice)
Harta dan nyawa (their properties and lives)
Demi menegakkan Islam tercinta ( for the sake of Islam)

Hijrah itu pengorbanan (Hijrah is sacrifice)

Hijrah itu perjuangan (Hijrah is struggle)
Hijrah itu persaudaraan ( Hijrah is brotherhood)
Hijrah membentuk perpaduan (Hijrah builds ummah)
Oleh itu mari semua (Therefore let us all)
Kita sambut Maal Hijrah (celebrate Maal Hijrah)
Tingkatkan semangat ( Be strong and enthusiastic)
Tegakkan syiar Islam ( spread and strengthen teachings of Islam)
Untuk sepanjang zaman (until end of time)

I was totally alien to nasyid. No non-Muslim in their right mind in Malaysia would listen to nasyid songs without being accused of wanting to revert to Islam, so teaching that song was my first experience of actually listening to nasyid.
Also, it was my first understanding of Hijrah, and about the journey taken by prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Madinah. Teaching my students how to sing that song had not made me decide to be a Muslim at that time, but it gave me a new understanding about Islam and why Hijrah is considered important to Muslims.
I always believe that the events in our lives are interlinked; the past will have an effect on the future. Little would I know that teaching that nasyid song would have a lasting effect on me. Each Maal Hijrah I’ll definitely recall that song, the lyrics, and the hospitality given to me by the villagers who were materially poor but spiritually rich.

And what is Hijrah to me now?
I’d say that all reverts to Islam undergo some sort of personal hijrah themselves. The journey from being a kafir to a Muslim is a tough one; a journey that only Allah Almighty gives to the ones He choses. To be willing to leave everything behind for the sake of Islam requires personal strength, humility and patience; in others words, to have taqwa. Yet it doesn’t end there when one becomes a Muslim. Hijrah should be a continuous journey that each Muslim undergoes with the aim to be a better mukmin, a better person, and a better member of the community. It is not easy to put Islam before self interests. To control our ‘nafsu’ or desires and put the teachings of Islam as the pillar of our lives needs self-discipline and constant monitoring. We should never give up during hard times, be patient during personal trials, and always strive to be a good Muslim. As for me, I always aim for self-improvement, while at the same time, asking Allah s.w.t for strength and guidance for all things are possible with His help.

Well, there have been many contrasting views about bid’aah and what-to-do’s during the month of Muharram. I shall not delve into that. Personally, I prefer to do self-reflection at the end of Zulhijah and pray directly and sincerely to Allah swt at the beginning of the Muslim New Year, ‘cause I’m terribly bad at memorising prayers specially written by others.


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