Wednesday, April 30


"Kena tumbukkah, makcik? Bukan kerisik tu goreng saja?" Makcik Nah ketawa.
"Nak masak lauk ni kena tumbuk kerisik tu sampai keluar minyak."
"Ooh begitu.."
Saya angguk. Tugas pembantu dapur jatuh ke tangan saya semenjak saya menumpang di rumah Makcik Nah yang tidak pernah berkahwin itu. Bosan dengan bilik asrama, saya diketemukan dengan Makcik Nak yang baik hati. Itu juga kali pertama saya buat kerisik. Maklum sahaja masakan Cina tidak mengandungi kerisik; saya memang tidak pernah belajar memasaknya. Di situ juga bermulaya episod saya belajar memasak masakan Melayu.

"Ikan ini nak buat apa?"
"Bagaimana masak?"
Pening apabila ke pasar pagi. Kalau dahulu saya ke gerai orang Cina kini selepas memeluk Islam saya berkunjung pula ke gerai orang Melayu. Masalahnya saya tidak pandai menamakan ikan-ikan dalam bahasa Melayu. Saya lebih banyak menggunakan bahasa 'tunjuk ini itu' dengan penjual ikan. Tambahan pula dalam keluarga saya ikan jarang menjadi hidangan utama berbanding dengan ayam atau daging. Yang saya kenal hanya ikan bawal dan ikan kembung. Keluarga saya pula pantang makan daging lembu, jadi saya memang tidak tahu tentang cara memasak orang Melayu. Selama ini saya hanya tahu menjamu selera, tidak pandai pula menjadi chef.

Saya bukannya hendak masak masakan Melayu setiap hari, tetapi bosan juga asyik masak masakan Cina yang serupa. Oleh kerana kebanyakan masakan Cina yang saya tahu melibatkan daging khinzir, saya terpaksa mencari alternatif lain untuk memasak ikan dan ayam. Sekali-sekala hendak menukar selera. Sekali-sekala hendak mencuba masakan baru.

"Orang Melayu Penang bukan pandai memasakkah?" usik pekedai itu.
"Memang saya dari Penang tetapi saya bukan orang Melayu."
"Adik ni orang apa pula?"
" Saya orang Cina."
" Alhamdulillah... dah lama memeluk Islam?"
"Baru saja. Erm, jadi bagaimana nak masak ikan kering ini?"
Saya pelajar yang baik. Formulanya mudah sahaja. Kalau hendak tahu resipi memasak daripada orang Melayu, mengaku sahaja diri bukan orang Melayu, hehehee. Selalunya saya akan mendapat petua memasak secara percuma.

"Apa ini?"
"Makan dulu," saya duduk sambil melihatnya makan.
Sup rumpai laut yang dimasak itu asing bagi suami tetapi itulah yang saya sering makan. Teh wolfberry yang dibuat itu sering diminum oleh orang Cina tetapi juga asing kepada orang Melayu. Dessert daripada gingko nut satu hidangan khas orang Cina juga baru kepada suami yang dibesarkan dalam keluarga Melayu.

Memasak masakan Cina yang halal bukannya susah tetapi kena kreatif. Daging diganti dengan ayam. Kicap dan ramuan yang biasanya digunakan terpaksa digantikan dengan kicap dan ramuan yang disahkan halal. Rasanya berbeza lalu terpaksa pula mengagak sukatan kicap dan garam supaya mendapatkan perasa yang diingini.
Di samping itu, ramuan kering seperti jintan putih, jintan manis, halba, kunyit dan sebagainya pula agak asing bagi saya yang lebih kerap memasak cara stir-fry daripada memasak kari dan gulai. Oleh kerana tinggal jauh daripada keluarga, saya tidak mempunyai sifu untuk mengajar cara memasak ala Melayu. Suami walaupun pandai memasak juga sibuk dengan kerjanya. Terpaksalah saya melakukan eksperimen secara sendirian. Jikalau tidak berapa sedap pun, telan sahaja. Mujurlah sudah banyak buku resipi yang diterbitkan, maka tidaklah bosan asyik makan masakan yang sama :P

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I've never thought that my presence has caused a lot of interest among the students. They still don't know how to address me, or to categorise me.

The whole class stood up as I walked in briskly into the room.
"Assalamualaikum.... (pause) cikgu.."
"Waalaikumussalam and good afternoon."
"Good afternoon...(pause) teacher."
It then occurred to me that they usually use the Muslim greetings for Malay teachers and the normal greetings in English for non-Malay teachers. As I am a Muslim as well as a non-Malay, they've become confused. A simple greeting became complicated and took longer than necessary. Haiyah... will have to reteach them how to greet a person like me.

" Are you a Chinese?"asked a cheeky Chinese boy who was supposed to be doing his essay.
" Yes, I am."
" Are your mother and father Chinese?"
"Well, if you want to interview me, you may see me after class," I replied, and his friends laughed. I was firm with them and they already know that they have to complete every given task before they could leave the room. I chose not to entertain their personal questions because some students will try any tricks they know to avoid doing written work.

Teachers too have started to ask.
"Are you of mixed parentage?"
A Chinese teacher asked me after realising that I understand Mandarin.
"No, I am a Chinese."
" Really? I thought you're only half Chinese."
"I can assure you that I'm 100% Chinese," I laughed.

Great, there goes Aliya again, causing curious stares wherever she goes. My presence in school can be considered a revelation to some who used to think that all Chinese are either Buddhists or Christians. I am a living proof that there are Chinese Muslims in this country. Well, I have to be careful and project a good image of Islam. Being an ambasador for Islam can be both fun but challenging. I'm enjoying myself :)


"Where are your classmates?"
"They have gone out."
"Do you know where they are?"
Several shook their heads. Others just smiled. Nobody volunteered to answer.

I looked at their young and eager faces. All intelligent young men and women. They can read and write well. However, they don't always go to school to learn academic stuff; some want to be popular, others are interested in the opposite sex. Their favourite past time in school seems to be testing the teacher's patience to the limit.

"All right, let's not waste time. We'll start now."
And immediately I became the manager and facilitator for a group of fourteen-year-old adolescents whose only way to keep them from mischief is to make them busy with learning tasks.

Playing truant is one of the disciplinary problems in secondary schools. The lack of space in some schools have forced schools to be held in two sessions, with the lower forms in the afternoon. As the afternoon session begins at 1pm and ends at 6.30pm, the Muslim students need to perform their zohor and asar prayers at school. Unfortunately the education system doesn't seem to have any special allocation for prayer times because to do so would mean forcing the students and teachers to leave for home at 7pm. It is difficult to control the students who give the excuse of performing their prayer to skip lessons. They enjoy the thrill of cheating. They thought that they were smart but they aren't. The 'rotan-logy' (caning) and expulsion from school don't seem to work with these naughty ones. They aren't afraid. I suppose in their minds, if they can't be popular by being the A-scorers, they can be well-known by being the naughty ones.

"Where were you yesterday? Why weren't you in class?"
" I went to the surau (prayer hall) with my friends."
"Oh really? What were you doing there?"
Silence and a sheepish grin from the tall Muslim student. " Smoke."
"You smoked at the surau? Is the surau the place for smoking? Tell me, what is the real use for a surau?"
Another sheepish grin.
"What a shame. You are actually an intelligent boy but you have misused the intelligence God give you. Your friends in class learnt something new yesterday while you were trying to ask for an early death by smoking at the surau which is used for Muslim prayers. Who is the loser here? Does your mother know that you skip lessons?"
"Yes, she does and she scolded me yesterday. Teacher, I promise I won't do it again."
"Don't make promises to me. Make them to yourself and to Allah. You've cheated your own self by skipping your lessons. I don't stand to lose if you are not in class. You lose because your friends will be getting cleverer as I'd be teaching them."
"Teacher, I won't do it again, I promise."
"All right. However, you cannot leave the classroom during my lessons, you hear? You lied to me once, you'd have to gain back my trust."
He was a good student yesterday. He was in class and did his work properly. . For his own good, I hoped he will continue to be so.

Monday, April 28


I'm going back to school today. Well, not as a student- student but a school ma'am. Three years of being away from the crazy world of textbooks, examination papers, PTA meetings and paperwork has been fun and interesting but it can't last forever. It's time to face the real working world again, and start earning my salary..hehehe.

It will be interesting how the general school community, especially the students, reacts to a Muslim revert. They'd be dealing with a lady who looks like a Malay and thinks like a Muslim, but understands Chinese and speaks English. Students tend to have a stereotyped image of teachers, so I'm going to have fun slowly pealing off each layer, and make it a learning process for them.

Already a senior teacher had asked me," Are you a Chinese or a Malay? You look like a Chinese."
I had smiled and said,"Muslim Chinese." The next question was also predictable: "You converted because you married a Malay?".
Again I smiled, "Actually no, I converted on my own accord. Later HE married me."

It'll be the first time I'm entering the classroom with my aurat fully covered. I'm still getting used to being called Pn. Aliya, the name and title I have just adopted just a year ago. Initially I had wanted to continue using my Chinese surname but after considering all factors, I decided not to. It'd confuse everyone who'd probably be looking for a free-hair, blouse- and-skirt-wearing Chinese lady instead of the real person in a tudung and loose-flowing robe. After two hours dealing with hormon-raging fun-loving adolescents in the classrooms, I'd rather save my strength for more important things to do than to yell, "It's me! That's my Chinese surname! I'm the one you're looking for!"

Nonetheless, I'll be breaking down a few 'walls' along the way. There aren't many Muslim Chinese educators in local schools, so perhaps my presence will be good for the students; it's hard to be certain. However, I'm going to enjoy my short stint there.

Wish me, and the students well :)

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Sunday, April 27


This story is sent to me by my friend, Gina.

What would you do? You make the choice. Don't look for a punch line, there isn't one. Read it anyway.
My question is: Would you have made the same choice?

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question: 'When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?'

The audience was stilled by the query.
The father continued. 'I believe that when a child like Shay, physically and mentally handicapped comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.' Then he told the following story:Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play?'

Shay's father knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but the father also understood that if his son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps. Shay's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.'

Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. His Father watched with a small tear in his eye and warmth in his heart. The boys saw the father's joy at his son being accepted. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game? Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher. The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates.

Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to first! Run to first!' Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled. Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!' Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball ... the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head. Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home. All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay'

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, 'Run to third! Shay, run to third!' As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, 'Shay, run home! Run home!' Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.

'That day', said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world'.Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making his father so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

AND NOW A LITTLE FOOTNOTE TO THIS STORY: We all send thousands of jokes through the e-mail without a second thought, but when it comes to sending messages about life choices, people hesitate. The crude, vulgar, and often obscene pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion about decency is too often suppressed in our schools and workplaces. If you're thinking about forwarding this message, chances are that you're probably sorting out the people in your address book who aren't the 'appropriate' ones to receive this type of message. Well, the person who sent you this believes that we all can make a difference. We all have thousands of opportunities every single day to help realize the 'natural order of things.'

So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a choice: Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do we pass up those opportunities and leave the world a little bit colder in the process?

A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it's least fortunate amongst them.

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Saturday, April 26


"Nak tau la.. erm, awak dah buat tu...?"
"Buat apa?"
"Tu laa... malulah nak cakap.
"Habis malu nak tanya lagi? Cakaplah apa hal?"
"Awak dah... sunatkah? Berkhatankah belum?"
Aikkk! Itu yang buat kawan saya tersipu-sipu malu rupanya.
Saya cuba menahan ketawa tetapi tak mampu. Akhirnya saya ketawa terbahak-bahak.

Isu ini memang menjadi tanda tanya. A big question mark di kalangan kawan-kawan saya yang bukan Islam. Umumnya semua mengetahui bahawa lelaki Islam wajib berkhatan atau menjalani circumcision. Amalan berkhatan atau 'masuk jawi' memang satu upacara wajib untuk semua lelaki Islam dan telah disebut di dalam al-Quran.

Perempuan bagaimana pula?
" Perlukah wanita yang masuk Islam berkhatan atau bersunat?"
" Saya akan memeluk Islam. Bakal suami saya menyuruh saya supaya berkhatan tetapi setahu saya, perkara ini tidak wajib bagi perempuan. Lagipun saya risau akan implikasinya terhadap kesihatan saya kelak. Perlukah saya berkhatan juga?"

Kebanyakan orang Melayu Islam di negara kita beranggapan berkhatan wajib dilakukan kepada kedua-dua lelaki dan wanita. Menurut mazhab Syaf'ie dan Hambali, ia wajib tetapi bagi mazhab Maliki dan Hanifah ia hanya sunat bagi wanita. Tidak ada satu pun ayat al-Quran menyuruh wanita berkhatan atau hadith yang menyatakan Rasulullah s.a.w. sendiri mewajibkan amalan berkhatan untuk wanita, sebagai satu syarat menjadi umat Islam. Sekiranya berkhatan untuk wanita Islam wajib sudah tentu baginda mengarahkannya sebagaimana mengarahkan wanita Islam untuk menutup aurat.

Daripada pembacaan saya, berkhatan ialah memotong selaput kulit yang menutupi kepala zakar lelaki atau memotong sedikit hujung daging yang ada di sebelah atas faraj perempuan. Amalan ini sudah lama wujud sebelum zaman Rasulullah lagi. Para ulama Syafi‘e mengatakan bahawa jika berkhatan itu tidak wajib, nescaya tidaklah diharuskan membuka aurat ketika berkhatan dan tidaklah diharuskan tukang khatan melihat aurat orang yang dikhatan, kerana kedua-duanya itu adalah haram. Jadi apabila kedua-dua yang diharamkan itu diharuskan bagi tujuan berkhatan, ini menunjukkan bahawa berkhatan itu hukumnya adalah wajib. Asy-Syirazi, al-Ghazali (kedua-duanya dari ulama mazhab asy‑Syafi‘e) dan sebahagian ulama pula berdalil dengan qiyâs. Mereka mengatakan bahawa berkhatan itu ialah dengan memotong anggota yang sejahtera. Jika berkhatan itu tidak wajib, nescaya tidaklah boleh memotongnya (memotong selaput kulit zakar) sebagaimana tidak boleh memotong jari, kerana tidak harus memotong anggota yang sejahtera melainkan jika kerana dijatuhkan qishâsh.

Cara bagaimana berkhatan itu, yang wajib bagi lelaki ialah dengan memotong selaput kulit yang menutupi kepala zakar sehingga nampak (terdedah) kepala zakar itu keseluruhannya. Jika dipotong sebahagian sahaja daripada selaput kulit itu, wajib dipotong bakinya sekali lagi. Cara berkhatan yang wajib bagi perempuan ialah dengan memotong daging yang ada di sebelah atas faraj yang seakan-akan bonggolan atau jambul di kepala ayam jantan. Yang lebih afdhal ialah dengan memotong sedikit sahaja dari daging itu. Satu hadith menyebut, “Apabila engkau mengkhatan maka khatanlah (dengan memotong sebahagian al-bazhr) dan jangan engkau berlebih-lebihan (dalam memotong), kerana yang demikian itu menjernihkan air muka perempuan dan mendatangkan kesukaan kepada suami (boleh menambah kelazatan bersetubuh).”

" Orang Melayu tak pandai dakwah , sikit-sikit potong lanciau (berkhatan)."
" Sebaik saja ucap syahadah, sudah ada yang menariknya ke klinik untuk dikhatan."
" Lu tak ada perempuan lainkah? Lu kawin dengan dia, Lu kena 'pergi zap' "
Aduh! Mengapa perkara itu juga yang dirisaukan dan selalu diketengahkan oleh orang yang sudah sedia Islam kepada saudara baru? Isu itu juga yang sering menjadi bahan jenaka untuk mematahkan hasrat lelaki bukan Islam untuk memeluk Islam.
Ada pendapat yang mengatakan bahawa solat tidak sah sekiranya lelaki itu tidak berkhatan. Apakah dalilnya daripada hadith atau al-Quran? Belum pula saya temui.

Seorang saudara baru mempunyai banyak perkara yang perlu difikirkan dan diuruskan selepas memeluk Islam. Penentangan oleh ahli keluarga yang tidak menerima agama barunya merupakan satu masalah besar. Sekiranya anda adalah dia, adakah anda akan memikirkan tentang bab berkhatan sedangkan banyak perkara lain yang tidak kurang penting perlu diberi perhatian?

Saya hairan mengapa bab ini begitu dititikberatkan oleh sesetengah pihak.
Mengapakah harus disuruh seorang saudara baru yang belum bersedia dari segi emosi dan psikologi untuk menjalani pembedahan kecil itu?
Sedarkah mereka-mereka yang menyuruh itu bahawa yang menjadi subjek sekarang adalah orang dewasa, bukan lagi kanak-kanak yang belum baligh yang boleh berehat beberapa minggu di rumah selepas berkhatan, dan diberi penjagaan kesihatan yang rapi. Sebaliknya saudara baru atau mualaf dewasa perlu mencari nafkah hidup terutamanya yang sudah dibuang keluarga. Memang berkhatan amalan yang dituntut oleh Islam akan tetapi mengapa tidak diutamakan dahulu penghayatan Islam di kalangan saudara baru serta memastikan mereka benar-benar memahami cara hidup sebagai orang Islam terlebih dahulu sebelum menasihati mereka untuk pergi berkhatan?

Bagi yang wanita, hormatilah haknya sebagai individu yang mempunyai pilihan. Perlu diketahui bahawa amalan berkhatan bagi wanita Islam masih menjadi bahan perdebatan di kalangan ulama-ulama Islam sendiri sama ada ia sunat atau wajib. Ramai wanita Islam di negara-negara Arab yang tidak dikhatankan. Namun begitu, sekiranya mualaf wanita sendiri mahu berkhatan, bawalah beliau kepada doktor wanita Islam yang pakar dalam sakit puan dan sudah mahir menjalani pembedahan berkhatan untuk wanita dewasa. Bukankah haram bagi seseorang
wanita untuk mendedahkan auratnya kepada lelaki yang bukan muhrim, tambahan bahagian yang paling sulit sekali? Perlu diingati juga bahawa sunnah Nabi mengarahkan supaya hanya sedikit sahaja hujung daging sebelah atas faraj wanita berkenaan yang boleh dipotong. Oleh yang demikian, dosa turut ditanggung mereka yang membawa mualaf wanita tersebut ke klinik dan menyusahkan hidup dan masa depannya apabila pembedahan kecil itu lebih memudaratkan kesihatannya daripada keadaannya sebelum itu.

Islam agama yang sederhana. Islam tidak pernah menyusahkan umatnya.
Syarit Islam telah pun sempurna, namun tidak menjadi satu kesalahan jikalau ia dijalankan secara berperingkat-peringkat, sebagai menjaga keadaan manusia serta mengikut petunjuk Rasulullah s.a.w. yang telah bersabda:' Sesungguhnya Allah menyukai kelembutan di dalam semua perkara."
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Friday, April 25


Ini kisah benar, berlaku di sebuah kem untuk bakal guru pada tahun 1991.

"Can I join you?"
Kami yang berbual-bual di meja terkejut.
Jejaka Melayu itu tidak ke surau bersama-sama peserta kem yang lain. Sebaliknya dia duduk semeja dengan kami yang sedang melakukan aktiviti berkaitan agama Kristian.
Kami berbual dengannya.
"Mengapa tak ke surau?"
"I told them I was sick."
"You bukan beragama Islam?"
"I am a Muslim but I don't get to choose my religion. I am born into Islam."
" You don't sound happy."
" Do I look happy?"

Rupa-rupanya jejaka kacak itu mahu menjadi penganut Kristian. Saya tidak berapa faham ketika itu kerana masih kurang berpengalaman. Bagi saya yang baru berusia 19 tahun, Melayu semuanya beragama Islam. Maka pengakuan jejaka Melayu bahawa dia tidak mempercayai ajaran agama yang menjadi ikutan keluarganya susah hendak diterima akal.

Kami terus menemubualnya.
Di samping jejaka Melayu itu, hanya kami peserta bukan Islam yang masih berada di kantin kerana semua jurulatih dan peserta kem yang beragama Islam sudah ke surau untuk mengerjakan solat subuh. Terdapat dua kumpulan lagi ahli kem iaitu yan gberagama Buddha dan beragama Hindu tetapi mereka berada di hujung kantin. Oleh sebab itulah, perbualan kami tidak dapat didengari kumpulan lain.

"Boring jadi orang Islam," katanya.
"Tidak bebas melakukan apa sahaja. Terlalu banyak larangan dan halal haram. Tidak seperti agama Kristian."
"Apa yang istimewa dalam agama Kristian sehingga awak hendak meninggalkan Islam?"
"Seronok dan bebas jadi orang Kristian. Macam awak, tak perlu ke surau untuk sembahyang pada awal-awal pagi. Boleh minum dan makan apa sahaja, berkawan dengan siapa-siapa sahaja. Saya tidak suka diri dikongkong dengan ritual yang banyak dan menyusahkan."

Kami terkejut mendengar kata-katanya.
"Mengapa tidak memilih memeluk Kristian?"
" Saya tidak boleh."
"It's not fair, " kata jejaka kecak itu. " You get to enjoy life but I can't because I'm born into a Muslim family.
Dia segera bangun meninggalkan kami kerana peserta mulai keluar dari surau berdekatan.


Saya pernah mengaku menganuti agama Kristian.
Ketika itu saya baru berumur 14 tahun. Ramai kawan rapat saya yang beragama Kristian dan mereka kelihatan sangat gembira. Bahan bacaan kegemaran saya juga banyak mengisahkan keluarga orang putih yang beragama Kristian. Maka saya beranggapan alangkah baiknya jika saya turut menjadi orang Kristian.

Mudah sahaja menjadi penganut Kristian. Berbekalkan sebuah Bible, sekeping kertas yang merupakan pengakuan menerima Jesus sebagai 'Lord' atau Tuhan, dan kawan-kawan beragama Kristian menjadi saksi, saya sudah dikira memeluk agama itu. Saya hanya perlu mengikut setiap patah perkataan yang diucapkan oleh kawan saya, bahawa saya mengaku Jesus sebagai anak Tuhan, dan penyelamat roh saya. Selepas itu kami berdoa bersama-sama. Saya masih boleh membayangkan meja pelajar dan kerusi kayu di sebuah bilik darjah di sekolah, tempat berlakunya peristiwa itu.

Mak mengesyaki tindakan saya mendekati agama ini tetapi dia tidak membantah, tidak juga menyokong. Saya dari awal-awal lagi merahsiakan daripada ayah kerana tahu ayah akan mengamuk. Malah saya tidak menunjukkan apa-apa perubahan di hadapan keluarga saya. Apabila saya diminta bersembahyang di hadapan berhala, saya condongkan sedikit badan saya dan sekadar menghayunkan colok beberapa kali sebelum memacakkannya ke dalam bekas colok. Pada waktu malam sebelum tidur, saya akan berdoa seketika dalam keadaan duduk.

Saya juga menghadiri kelas Bible Study untuk kanak-kanak dan remaja di gereja. Biasanya kelas tersebut dijalankan pada waktu pagi hujung minggu. Sebuah van akan ke rumah untuk mengangkut penumpang. Kepada Tok saya katakan saya ke kelas tuisyen. Hanya Mak yang mengetahui segala tindak-tanduk saya tetapi dia tidak menghalang. Mungkin bagi Mak, tindakan saya tidak membahayakan. Saya bukannya bergaul dengan budak-budak jahat. Kehadiran saya sebagai orang baru di gereja Baptist diterima dengan baik. Saya tidak pernah ditanya mengapa saya memilih agama Kristian. Walaupun saya tidak pernah menghulurkan walau sesen pun untuk membayar tambang van ke gereja, perkara itu bukan penghalang bagi mereka terus mengajar saya tentang ajaran agama Kristian. Saya pula berasa seronok kerana dapat belajar 'Bible Study' bersama-sama kawan-kawan saya. Kelas dikendalikan oleh orang dewasa. Selain daripada belajar, kami turut diajar menyanyi lagu-lagu gereja yang menarik, serta diberi makanan dan minuman sebelum dihantar pulang pada waktu tengah hari. Saya dilayan dengan mesra.

Dua tahun kemudian, saya beralih ke gereja Methodist mengikuti kawan-kawan lain. Saya menyertai Methodist Youth Fellowship atau singkatannya MYF. Keahliannya terbuka kepada remaja. Kami bertemu pada hari Sabtu petang. Sekali lagi saya menipu dengan memberi alasan ke kelas tuisyen, sedangkan saya berjalan ke gereja. Dalam MYF kami bertukar-tukar pendapat, berkongsi masalah, menyanyi beramai-ramai, berdoa, dan membuat lawatan ke tempat-temat lain. Saya turut menyertai dua ekspedisi sambil belajar agama Kristian kelolaan gereja. Kami melawat gereja di bandar berdekatan, mengadakan aktiviti kerohanian dan lawatan ke tempat-tempat menarik. Saya hanya perlu mendaftarkan diri; semua perbelanjaan dibiayai pihak gereja.
Mereka melayan saya dengan mesra sehingga saya sendiri kekok kerana tidak pernah dilayan sebegitu rupa. Gereja sentiasa dipenuhi dengan pelbagai aktiviti seperti 'usrah', makan bersama, latihan koir untuk persembahan setiap hari Ahad, perkahwinan, dan sebagainya.
Saya turut menyertai beberapa aktiviti yang dijalankan seperti memberi risalah Kristian dari rumah ke rumah. Kami satu kumpulan remaja akan membawa risalah bersaiz poket dan memasukkan setiap risalah ke dalam pos-box di hadapan rumah orang bukan Islam. Di samping itu, saya juga menyertai nyanyian choral pada musim perayaan Krismas. Tidak pernah kami dimarahi, dihalang menyertai segala aktiviti yang dirancangkan, atau ditegur dengan kasar oleh orang Kristian yang lebih dewasa. Sebaliknya mereka sentiasa membantu dan menasihati kami dengan cara berhikmah. Setiap warga gereja bertanggungjawab menyampaikan ajaran Kristian kepada orang lain. Berbanding remaja Melayu Islam, remaja Kristian kelihatan lebih bersungguh-sungguh dalam usaha dakwah mereka. Malah saya diajar bahawa menKristiankan orang lain bermakna kita sayang kepadanya, kita memberi peluang kepadanya untuk bersih daripada dosa dan dapat pergi ke syurga; begitulah fahaman mereka. Tidak hairanlah apabila kawan-kawan saya bersungguh-sungguh dalam usaha mereka mendekatkan saya kepada ajaran agama mereka.
Walaupun memang seronok menjadi Kristian, saya masih belum bersedia dibaptiskan. Tiga buah gereja dengan fahaman Kristian yang berbeza saya lawati. Saya hairan mengapa agama Kristian begitu rumit sedangkan penganutnya mengaku menyembah tuhan yang sama. Mengapakah rahi dan paderi gereja Katolik tidak boleh berkahwin sedangkan pastor atau paderi gereja lain boleh berkelurga? Mengapakah gereja Katolik mempunyai patung Jesus pada salib manakala gereja-gereja lain tiada? Mengapakah pula terdapat patung Mary ibu Jesus dalam gereja Katolik sedangkan Bible melarang Kristian menyembah berhala?

Saya keliru. Banyak persoalan yang tidak berjawapan. Bible yang dibaca sehingga ke muka surat akhir lebih mengelirukan saya. Akhirnya saya berhenti pergi ke gereja.

Thursday, April 24


"Lucky you are with us, so we can be considered a balanced group. One Indian, one Chinese and one Melayu Celup (Fake Malay)!"
Susie suka mengusik saya.
Saya hanya ketawa apabila dia menggunakan istilah itu. Dia pun tahu bahawa saya masih belum mengamalkan sepenuhnya budaya hidup orang Melayu. Malah Susie banyak membantu saya semenjak saya memeluk Islam, dan mencari-cari teman untuk membuat projek berkumpulan bersama-sama.

Masyarakat kita memang suka melabel. Pantang lihat orang lain, cepat sahaja memberi label kepadanya - lawa, seksi, kacak, kaya, gemuk, kurus, sombong, egoistik, rajin, malas dan sebagainya.

Kita bukan sahaja suka melabel bahkan mudah berprasangka. Kita suka perkara yang mudah dikategori. Sekiranya terdapat orang yang tidak memenuhi kriteria umum, mulalah kita memberi komen. Kadang-kadang tabiat ini berlaku tanpa disedari.
"Dia Melayukah Cina? Cakap Cina tetapi pakai baju kurung."
"Amboi seksinya! Tak malu betul! Mesti banyak teman lelaki."
"Mak oi tudung litup, baju kurung labuh. Mesti pengikut parti dot-dot-dot."
" Tak senyum sikit pun. Sombongnya!"
"Rajin dia tu, mesti hendak bodek bos kita."
"Dia peluk Islam, mesti sebab nak kahwin."
"Dia berkopiah dan bertasbih. Mesti orang alim."

Saya tahu ada yang menganggap saya ini sudah meninggalkan budaya Cina kerana sering berbaju kurung dan menutup aurat. Namun begitu, bukan semua wanita berbaju kurung adalah Melayu, dan bukan semua yang menutup aurat adalah Melayu. Terdapat juga wanita Melayu yang berpakaian lebih seksi daripada yang bukan Melayu, dan melepaskan rambutnya mengerbang macam pontianak. Sebenarnya pakaian hanyalah sebagai penutup badan, dan pakaian yang paling baik terutamanya kepada seorang wanita Islam ialah yang menutup auratnya. Kalau terdapat baju tradisional Cina yang sesuai, murah dan menutup aurat untuk saya sudah tentu saya akan memakainya. Malangnya tiada yang sesuai setakat ini, maka baju kurung juga yang menjadi pilihan untuk tujuan rasmi.

"Tak payahlah pakai tudung. Nanti orang fikir saya dating dengan wanita Melayu."
Adik saya masih hendak testing kakaknya ini apabila saya mencari-cari tudung yang sesuai sebelum keluar dari rumah.
Saya diam sahaja. Kalau keluar dengan Mak dan Adik, baju kurung bukan pilihan saya kerana identiti keMelayuannya. Jubah pun dianggap KeArabian. Hanya blause panjang, atau T-shirt lengan panjang yang akan saya pakai, sekali dengan tudung, stokin tangan dan stokin kaki.
Adik rimas. Mak juga rimas tengok saya hanya menampakkan wajah dan tapak tangan, tetapi mereka tidak menyuarakannya.
Saya pun tidak peduli akan pendapat mereka.
Tentu mereka menganggap saya berpakaian begitu kerana takutkan suami. Sebenarnya suami saya bertindak sebagai penasihat dan pendorong untuk saya hidup mengikut cara Islam, dan dia tidak pernah memaksa saya. Saya sudahpun menutup aurat sebelum menikahinya.

Saya bukan Melayu. Juga bukan Melayu celup. Saya tetap Cina. Wanita Cina beragama Islam.
Malah sehingga sekarang saya tidak dapat memikirkan apakah budaya dan cara hidup yang saya amalkan sekarang yang boleh mengkategorikan saya sebagai orang Melayu.

Memakai baju kurung? Sudah lama saya pakai, malah amoi-amoi lain pun ramai yang pakai sekarang.
Makan dengan jari? Keluarga Mak saya sudah lama makan dengan jari kerana hidup lama di kampung.
Makan sambal belacan? Nyonya Cina memang kuat makan sambal belacan yang pedas-pedas. Batu giling zaman moyang masih disimpan di rumah Mak.
Bercakap Melayu? Semua rakyat Malaysia tahu bercakap B.Melayu pada hari ini.
Berkain batik? Nyonya Cina memang secara tradisi berpakaian kebaya batik. Malah dalam keluarga saya, batik digunakan sebagai kain basahan.
Apakah budaya dan cara hidup orang Melayu yang sebenar-benarnya Melayu?

Apabila saya memeluk Islam, tidak pernah terlintas dalam minda saya untuk bertukar dari bangsa Cina menjadi bangsa Melayu dan mendapat "hak-hak istimewa" bangsa ini.
Apalah sangat itu semua sedangkan yang berharga sekali merupakan syurga yang menanti bagi yang bertakwa kepadaNya.

Ramai yang menganggap saya kini Melayu, tambahan selepas bersuamikan orang Melayu.
Biarlah, masyarakat masih perlu pendedahan dan pendidikan, walaupun kini sudah hampir 60 ribu rakyat Malaysia terdiri daripada orang Islam yang bukan Melayu.

Tuesday, April 22


I couldn't write yesterday. I couldn't do much of anything.
The reason?
The news about posting to schools is out. From 4pm yesterday, I'd been receiving SMS informing me about the news. I tried calling up the Education Ministry but was unsuccessful. By 7pm I was a nervous wreck.

Posting is eagerly awaited by all teachers. We had applied for the places and schools that we think are suitable for us, but at the end of the day, those at the Ministry and State Education departments decide.
" I got the state of Kedah," said a friend.
"I got Selangor, my second choice," another informed me.

I am praying hard. I had applied to teach in the mainland of the Penang, as I've gotten tired of travelling daily to and fro over the Penang bridge. InsyaAllah if it's near my house, I'll be able to spend more time with students rather than being stuck in a traffic jam on top of the bridge (happens once a week, sometimes more).

With Mum presently alone at home since Brother has moved out to stay on his own at a place near his office, I have to be on standby just in case Mum needs help. My little Viva (car) is ever ready to give its service. The place I'm staying now is quite strategic as it is near Brother's house, twenty minutes from Husband's office, and just half an hour from Mum's house. However, there'll be a lot of adjustments to do if I am posted to a place far from my present area. I am hoping for the best.

"Here's the list. You may check if your name is there."
The friendly lady clerk passed to me the list of new teachers in the state.
I was at the Penang Education Department this morning. I scanned the first page. None. Second page. None. Third page. Alhamdulillah.
My name is there with my particulars.
"We've just received the list yesterday, so I can't tell you the name of your school yet. But you can write your name, address and contact number here, so that I can tell the officer-in-charge that you've met us personally."
I could have hugged her.
After having to deal with rude clerks and beauracratic officers in other states, it's so good and heart-warming to be treated courteously.

I didn't ask for any specific school. I'll leave it to Allah Almighty for the final decision, as to the best place for me to serve, the best environment for myself, my family, my faith, and my future.

Allah subhanallah wa'taala has lead me so far. Since the day I've applied for the course, He has charted the course my life very well. I've been able to embraced Islam, learn to live a Muslim life, marry a good Muslim, and in everything it's been a good journey.
I won't worry anymore.
He knows what is best for me.
I'll tawakkal. I'll pray.
I know that out there somewhere in Penang there is a school that needs me, students who need me, colleagues who will welcome me, and awaiting the positive changes that I might bring with me when I arrive there, insyaAllah.

Monday, April 21


10pm yesterday.

It flew in through the open window.
"Oh no!"
I didn't want another colony of bees or wasps entering my little apartment and causing a ruckus.
My instant reaction was to grab the bunch of roll-up newspaper.
It flew around the living room.
"I'll wait until it lands on a surface," I said to myself.
It landed on the soft white cloth covering my Koran.
I decided to let it stay.
"Well, you stay there quietly and don't disturb me," I told the bee.
It moved its tiny legs in response.
When I checked the Koran this morning, it was still there. Immobile.
I shook the cloth gently to check if it's still alive.
"Why are you still here? What are you trying to do?"
The bee moved its legs slowly as if to answer.
Was it hurt?
I walked away from the Koran.
Suddenly it flew from the top of the Koran and straight out of the window!
I suppose the little bee is also telling its story to its own family on top of one of the trees near my apartment building.

Sunday, April 20


"I asked her why she left me, and she looked at me sadly.
"She said 'For all the months that we've been together, you've never once said 'thank you' to me. You've never shown a hint of appreciation for all the things I've done for us. You can buy all the expensive things for yourself and show them off to me, but you never bothered to give me even a single stalk of flower'. I just wanted to be loved, cared for and appreciated. I didn't feel it from you.' "
"And she walked away."

And the man at the rostrum paused, trying to blink back his tears.
The hall fell silent.
I could feel a lump in my throat.
He had gone to the stage to give a speech about 'Love'.
It was the story of his first love and how the girl he fell in love with had left him.
Why did he want to share such a sad story with us?

The man at the rostrum did what most of us do when we fell in love. When in love, we think about the one we love all the time. Yet, as time passes by, the warm hot feeling may become lukewarm and alas, to some it may even become cold. We may start taking him or her for granted. We say the famous longed-to-hear three-word-sentence "I Love You" and then think that all is well. Then we may even stop saying the "I-L-U' magical words to him or her.
"He or she should know that I love her!" We reason.

The man at the rostrum did that. He truly believed that he loved with the girl but the girl didn't believe so. Truly a woman's soft heart asks for tenderness, care, appreciation and protection from the man she loves. Do you know that the phrase "Thank you" means a lot to all men and women? Tell me which wife and mother won't feel happy when she's thanked by her husband and children after a tiring day of cooking, washing and cleaning of the house to make it a home? An inexpensive flower plucked outside the house and clipped to her ear will be long-remembered after the flower has withered. And a sincere apology of "I am sorry" instead of silence due to one's ego will heal most wounds. A warm hug given freely without asking, to one's spouse or parent is more rejuvenating than a cup of ginseng or a cup of chicken essence.

Well, the man at the rostrum has learnt his lesson.
He's never repeated the same mistake.
His first girlfriend may have left him long ago but she has given him an important lesson which he had been courageous enough to share with the audience that night.

So, don't just say "I Love You" but learn to also say "Thank you" often. And don't hesitate to say "I am sorry" when the need arises.
Love is a feeling. Love is action. Love is appreciating and forgiving.
We all need that; all men and women.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Mr.Ulaganathan.

image photo:

Friday, April 18


"Huh? Really?"
I received an email stating that the late gambling tycoon, Tan Sri G.T.Lim had been declared a Muslim by the court and that his only Muslim convert son is eligible to inherit his gambling empire?
Something just doesn't sound right.
In this age of internet hoaxes and downright trickery and lies, it's better to find out more before you totally believe in something.
I did an online search and my hunch turned out to be true.

The whole news story was a satire. In other words, it wasn't true. The late tycoon was never a Muslim. It was written in response to the corpse-ownership disputes that lately had occurred between the deceased's family and the Islamic religious department that claim the dead person had converted to Islam and needed to be buried as a Muslim. As the non-Muslim family protested, the corpse was buried in a Muslim graveyard.

Now I'm not going to go into corpse-snatching issue. That can wait another time.
What I am more concerned about now is how easily people tend to believe in rumours.
Certainly the person who sent me the e-mail must have believed in the story to take the trouble of forwarding it to me.
I do wonder how many people have been tricked into believing this satire - people who believe everything their friends send, people who have no access to the internet, and people who are too lazy to verify for truth and clarity?
Please check that the news you receive via the internet is actually true before you inform other people about it.
Don't be tricked. Don't be fooled. Don't get all hot and stuffy underneath the collar over an issue that does not actually happen.


Waktu rehat di sebuah sekolah rendah pada hari ini.

"Mengapa menangis?"
Budak India Tahun 1 itu menangis teresak-esak di tepi tangga. Waktu itu waktu rehat dan pelajar-pelajar sedang berkeliaran di kaki lima bilik darjah.
"Saya berak dalam seluar. Saya tak boleh cuci, tandas tak ada air."
Alahai... patutlah dia menangis. Kesian.

Saya melawat ke sekolah.
Riuh-rendah pelajar dan masalah sebegini bukan lagi asing kepada saya.
Dua minit lalu, saya sudah terdengar kawan-kawan Dinesh riuh memanggil cikgu di dalam bilik guru bahawa dia menghadapi masalah. Saya tunggu berdekatan kerana tidak mahu terlibat. Pelik. Tidak seorang pun guru yang keluar menyiasat.
Si Dinesh terus menangis.

Bayangkan kalau anak yang sedang menangis di tepi tangga sekolah itu anak anda.
Bayangkan pula sekiranya anda ialah Dinesh.
Seluar kotor. Busuk. Malu kerana kawan-kawan riuh memperkatakan keadaan anda.
Nak duduk tidak selesa. Nak basuh tidak tahu bagaimana.

"Nak tisu?"
Saya menghulurkan satu paket tisu kepadanya.
Dia menggelengkan kepala.
"Saya tak boleh basuh. Tandas tak ada air," dia terus merengek.
Dalam kasihan, saya turut kagum dengan kefasihan berbahasa Melayunya. Lancar. Tidak tersekat-sekat sepertimana yang sering dihadapi oleh pelajar India Tahun Satu.

"Ok, teacher bawa Dinesh ke tandas, ya.. kalau betul tandas tak ada air, kita pergi ke tandas lain."
"Tapi cikgu kata, tandas lain tak boleh pergi."
"Teacher bawa Dinesh. Jangan takut."
Dia berhenti menangis. Kelegaan terpancar di wajahnya.
Kami berjalan ke tandas murid di belakang sekolah.
Saya membuka pintu tandas pelajar lelaki. Kosong.
"Ha, tandas ini ada air. Tengok!"
Saya menunjukkan air yang mengalir daripada hos getah di dalam kubikel tandas.
Dinesh segera masuk ke dalam kubikel. Saya menyuruhnya menutup pintu dari dalam.
Dia menguruskan keadaan dirinya tanpa meminta bantuan saya.
Berdikari sungguh pelajar ini.
Rupa-rupanya dia hendak membasuh dengan air di dalam tong besar tetapi tong itu kering tanpa air. Mungkin keadaan rumahnya begitu. Dia tidak tahu bahawa paip di dalam kutikel tandas turut mengalirkan air bersih maka dikatakannya tandas tiada air.

Alahai pelajar zaman sekarang.
Menjadi cikgu yang sebenarnya lebih mencabar daripada tugas mengajar di dalam bilik darjah.
Menguruskan pelajar sekolah rendah amat memerlukan empati, simpati, kasih sayang, kesabaran dan keprihatinan.
Berapa cikgu yang sanggup membantu mencuci seluar pelajar yang kotor dengan tahi?
Berapa cikgu yang sanggup membantu pelajar dengan bajunya yang kotor dengan muntah?
Berapa cikgu yang sanggup mengangkat dan membantu menyedarkan kembali pelajar yang jatuh pengsan?
Berapa cikgu yang sabar menguruskan pelajar berkelakuan pelik di dalam kelas tanpa mencemaskan pelajar-pelajar lain?
Kes-kes seperti di atas sudah lazim berlaku kepada pelajar Tahun Satu yang baru memasuki dunia pendidikan formal di sekolah.

Di dinding sebuah sekolah tertulis kata-kata peringatan:
Sekolahku duniaku
Kelasku rumahku
Pelajarku anakku

Dalam pada saya membantu Dinesh tanpa pengetahuan cikgunya, saya terfikir juga:
Apakah akan berlaku kepada Dinesh sekiranya saya berniat jahat terhadapnya?

Thursday, April 17


'All outgoing calls are blocked as you hv utilised r credit limit. Pls make pymt immediately to hv yr line released. Disregard this msg if pymt has been made. TQ.'

Sunday April 13.
I started to receive this SMS on Sunday morning.
"Well, I've paid on the 5th of April, so I can't have exceeded my credit limit of RM100 yet," I told myself, so I relaxed.
Then on Sunday night, after all the shops are closed and the Celcom telecommunication officers have gone home, the SMS above appeared again in my handphone.
Then ringggg!!!
"Dear valued customer, your outgoing call have been blocked bla-bla-bla... Please make your payment bla-bla-bla....."
There was no warning informing me that I've reached 70% of my credit limit or whatever that they used to send via SMS before they block my outgoing calls. None at all.
I was furious.
Nursing a sprained and bandaged ankle, and staying alone in my high-rise nest (husband was away on business) didn't make me a cheerful person that fateful night.
I dialed the Celcom Careline number and reached the customer service officer.
I was told that I owed them RM105. Ok, fine..

"Where's the bill? "
It's on the way if you haven't received it."
"Why wasn't I given any warning?"
"Oh, you didn't receive any? "
"No I didn't (you potato-head) other wise I won't waste my breath asking you this question."
"And why the heck is my outgoing calls blocked when I haven't received the bill?"
"Oh, our computer system automatically blocks the calls once you exceed your limit. "
"Well, on the 3rd I was told that I only owe RM30.36 through your Customer Service SMS. So now you're telling me that I owe Celcom RM105. My call to your computer stated that I only owe you about RM63. So how's that?"

Monday April 14.
The next morning, I paid the bill of RM105 so that I could call out and reply SMSes again. I seldom make calls and SMSes so my normal bill was usually less than RM70.
The same afternoon, the same SMS appeared on my phone. My outgoing calls were blocked again.
Idiots! Just when I was going to make an important outstation call.
I dailed the Customer service line again.
Ok, they'd check.
Seconds later.
"You have exceeded your credit limit, Puan."
"But I've just paid the bill of RM105 this morning."
"Sorry Puan but it usually takes 3 days for the system to unblock the calls again."
"What?! 3 days??? Who in the world wants a telecommunacation company that unblocks its customers outgoing calls 3 days after they've made their payment? The officer at the counter that I paid said that I can use the service again 2 hours after payment."
"Look, I've paid my bills and I want you to unblock my calls now. My outgoing calls have been unblocked 30 minutes after I've paid my bills so I see no reason why you people in KL have to block my outgoing calls again 3 hours later. If your computer system is faulty then get it repaired. Don't shift the blame to your customers especially when they've settled their bills with your company."
The guy at the other end kept mumbling something in Malay. Fed-up, I hung up and dailed again. This time I got another guy.
"Your outgoing calls aren't blocked, Madam. You can call out."
Good. Somebody must have been smart and press the release button. I let the matter rest.

Tuesday April 15.
The next morning. The same SMS appeared.
I was getting P.O.
I dailed Customer Service again.
"Miss, there's nothing wrong with your bill and your outgoing calls. Your calls haven't been blocked."
Fine. Apparently the computer system is faulty.

Tuesday evening
I needed to make a few important calls.
""Dear valued customer, your outgoing call have been blocked bla-bla-bla... Please make your payment bla-bla-bla....."
I almost flung the handphone at the wall.
I pressed the keys quickly. Ok, one more false call. I could still call out. No more I told myself.

Wednesday April 16.
Tonight 7.30 pm.
I was getting ready for maghrib prayer when the hated SMS appeared again. I checked. Couldn't call out again.
Taking care not to swear like I used to, I called Customer Service again.
And what excuse did they give me this time?
"Your current bill is RM163."
"I've just paid RM105 on Monday."
"Oh, that's the bill before April 8. Between April 9 till today, you have exceeded your credit limit."
"Why haven't I received any warning? Why was it that when I paid my bill on Monday, there's no mention about this outstanding bill?"
"Oh, that's because the computer system tracked down that you have reached the limit. "
"And may I know how much was my outgoing calls since 9 April?"
"Let me check.. er, it's RM1.80."
"Less than RM2.. so what are the other charges?"
"You have used GPRS that costs RM161."
"But I'm using an old handphone without 3G to make calls and SMS. How can I use GPRS service using a non-3G handphone?"
"May I know your model?"
"No, I don't know what model. It's old, but I'm still using it due to its sentimental value.
"I will complain at the Celcom office tomorrow. Right now, can you unblock my calls since there's doubt as to whether I actually use the GPRS as you claim or somebody has been using my number and charging me for the GPRS usages? It's very unfair to block outgoing calls without prior warnings. Besides it's very dangerous to block outgoing calls after office hours because there might be customers who can't call out due during real emergencies. We can't pay at the automatic tellers and have the calls unblocked immediately, can we? I want to see my all my bills in written form before I pay each time. You can't simply charge me some amount and expect me to pay up promptly without allowing me the chance to check and clarify. It's very unfair to the customer."
"All right. Please give me your name and your identification number so that I can make a report on your behalf. I'll unblock your outgoing calls in 30 minutes."
"Fine, thank you."

10pm same day.
I tried to answer an SMS. Fail
Again can't call out.
I have a lot of free time. I called the guy again.
This time another man answered.
"Look, I've already lodged a complaint, and your colleague have agreed to allow me to have access to outgoing calls using this number. Why is my calls blocked again?"
"Let me check."
"What should I do to be able to call out again?
"Well you'd have to pay the outstanding bill of RM163 first in order to have your outgoing calls activated again. Then you'll need to file a report at the nearest Celcom office. If out technician discover that you didn't use the GPRS service then we will give you rebate in the coming months."
Hell. I still have to pay first.

The self-help customer careline computerized system stated that my current total bill is RM62.86, and my bill due date is March 2nd 2008. What a joke. I have paid for that bill with an amount of RM65 on February 26, another RM30 on April 5 and another RM105 on April 14. Today is April 16th. Are they going to block my calls again on April 20 and demand another RM100?

If it were not for the fact that I have been using this current rather easy- to-remember phone number for several months since my husband went for haj, and have distributed it as my contact number to hundreds of friends, relatives and government departments, I would have cancelled the service. I'd rather donate the money to charity than to pay to a company that appears to bully its postpaid customers into paying up, no matter whether they have actually used the claimed service or not. It's grossly unfair and seemingly unethical to demand prompt payment when the official bill has yet to reach the customer. Being busy people we seldom check our phone bills and merely pay up.

I'm weighing my options. Common sense tells me that I can wait and not pay up until the coming May 8, the date the monthly bill will be issued (usually arrives a week later on the 15th or 16th). RM163? Heck, for RM160, I can a prepaid card and use it for RM30 per month, buy two thick bestseller novels, go for a movie, and dine at my favourite restaurant. Maybe it'd be good to have a prepaid number for outgoing calls and a postpaid number for receiving calls. Hahahaahaaahaaaa... looks like I'd have to carry two handphones with me wherever I go. It's time to reactivate my prepaid number again.

Monday, April 14


Ramadhan 2006.

Ramadhan pertama saya sebagai Muslim.

Saya menoleh ke belakang. Gina dan Alice tersenyum.
"This is for you," Gina menghulurkan sesuatu.
"Selamat berbuka puasa."
Rupa-rupanya sekotak kurma.

Saya terharu. Tidak pernah saya menyangka akan menerima hadiah sebegitu daripada kawan-kawan bukan Islam, sedangkan yang seagama dengan saya hanya menyepi.
Kotak kurma itu saya buka perlahan-lahan.
Manis dan sedap.
Tetapi tidak semanis tali persahabatan yang dihulurkan.

Sejak hari itu, saya jadi penggemar kurma.
Pantang tengok kurma, pasti saya makan. Dan sudah pasti saya ingat akan Gina dan Alice.

Kawan-kawan bukan Islam.
Dahulu saya menyangka bahawa mereka akan menjauhi saya setelah saya memeluk Islam.
Ternyata sangkaan saya meleset.
Kadang-kadang kita orang Islam salah anggap terhadap mereka.
Sebenarnya mereka begitu prihatin.

"Makan depan kamu."
"Eh, tak apalah. Teruskan makan, saya tak ada masalah pun tengok kamu makan. Inikan kantin, tempat makan."
"Tak adalah. Ada orang yang muka masam bila kami makan di depan mereka yang berpuasa. Kononnya kami tak hormat mereka dan bulan puasa. Saya tak nak kamu turut terasa. Ini agak sensitif."
Saya tersenyum.
"Yang puasa kami, bukan kamu. Tak ada masalah untuk kamu makan di depan kami. Lagipun itu hak kamu. Don't worry la."
"Ya. Sepatutnya melihat orang bukan Islam makan dan minum tidak akan menjejaskan iman orang Islam, juga tidak akan menyebabkan dia hendak berhenti berpuasa. Kalau dia marah kamu, dialah yang bermasalah bukannya kamu."

"Aliya, nak join kami ke bazaar Ramadhan tak?"
"Ok, bila?"
"Sekarang. My car."
Yang memandu kawan Cina bukan Islam yang tidak berpuasa. Yang jadi penumpang kawan-kawan Muslim yang berpuasa serta seorang lagi kawan Cina bukan Islam. Seronok keluar beramai-ramai.
Oleh kerana kawan-kawan yang bukan Islam itu tidak berpuasa, mereka yang dapat merasa makanan yang dijual. Secara tidak langsung mereka menjadi QC (quality controller) kami.
"Cuba rasa ni, sedap tak? Kalau sedap saya nak beli banyak."
"Hmmm... sedap. Manis."
"Ok. Kak, bagi saya tiga ringgit!"
Kakak di gerai tersenyum melihat telatah kami.

Sunday, April 13


The Malays have a saying 'Malang tak berbau' ( You cant detect misfortunate)
It's the second time I landed myself in a drain.
The first time was quite an experience. I had actually kept myself floated in a deep monsoon drain in the middle of a downpour as I had fallen into it unsuspectingly. Helped myself up again. My shocked and amused roommate opened the door to a drenched tudung-clad woman, shopping-bags in both hands who was laughing hysterically. Thankfully there was no injury.

However the second fall yesterday was not funny at all.
I lost my footing and my right foot landed in a small drain.
I was alone. I screamed for help.
The ankle was swollen, the other leg bruised and I couldn't walk like normal.
Really bad timing.
With ongoing exams and important things to do this week, I can't afford to be hopping about with a painfully-sore swollen ankle. But a swollen ankle it is.
Will have to pray in a sitting position again, which I don't enjoy doing. Difficult to concentrate or be khusyuk doing solat on a chair.
Another test from Allah swt.
Alhamdulillah that it's only a swollen and painful ankle that I have to deal with. Not a broken one.
Sabar, sabar, sabar.
Patience is most needed, I keep telling myself.
Whatever the outcome or how tough it's going to be, life has to go on.
May He give me the strength and patience during this tough time.

"No kind of calamity can occur, except by the leave of Allah.. "(64:11)

Friday, April 11


"Mum, I want to be a Muslim."
"What?! Are you out of your mind?"
"No, I'm perfectly sane. I just want to believe in another God called Allah."
"You must have been charmed or under an evil spell. Who is your Malay girl friend?"
"I don't have a Malay girl friend. I don't even have a girl friend at all."
"Then why on earth do you want to be a Muslim for? Don't you love your family anymore? Why do you want to put us to shame by being a Muslim? Isn't being a Buddhist/ Taoist/ Christian/Hindu good enough for you?"
"I don't believe in that anymore."
"Well you can believe in anything you want but don't be a Muslim."
"Can't we talk without you raising your voice?"
"I'm angry with you. I am your mother. I have every right to raise my voice! You are going to disgrace me and your family."
Minutes later.
"Mum! Why are you taking my stuff from the cupboard?"
"I'm throwing them away. They are making you crazy."
"Mum, those are my translations of the Quran and my prayer mat. They are my things. You have no rights to throw them away."
"You dare to talk to me like that? You ungrateful son! After everything I and your father sacrifice to bring you up, give you an education? Now you want to bring shame to us by being a Muslim? What's so good about being a Muslim anyway? You can longer take part in our religious ceremonies, and you can never turn back and be a Buddhist/ Taoist/ Christian/ Hindu again."
"I am still your son, and will continue to be even when I am a Muslim."
"Go! Leave this house if you want to be a Muslim. Be a Muslim and you are no longer my son!"

"Dad, I need you to sign this form."
"What form?"
"This form will prove that you have been informed about my intention to be a Muslim."
"Dad! Why did you tear the form?"
"Do you think I'd be crazy to allow you to convert into Islam? Over my dead body!"
"But... but I'll still be your daughter even after being a Muslim. Perhaps I'll be a better daughter to you later."
"If you love me as your father then don't even dare to bring up this issue again. I will never agree to have a Muslim for a daughter. I'll disown you rather than to have people say I don't know how to raise a daughter properly."
The next day.
"Here, drink this."
"What's this?"
"It's for your own good. The temple medium said that you have been under an evil spell. This drink will make you well again (and forget about your wish to convert)."
"I'm not thirsty."
"Drink it! If you consider me your father then drink it."

"I am going to convert to Islam next week."
"So you finally confess that you have a boyfriend."
"Look, I'm telling you that I'm going to be a Muslim, whether you like it or not. It is the new requirement that non-Muslims have to inform their family members before converting. And for your information, I don't have a boyfriend."
"Good then, go ahead and be a Muslim. I will contact my lawyer. The children will belong to me." "Why do you have to bring the children into this?"
"Because they will have to know that their mother deserts them for a Muslim man."
"I've told you, I don't have a Muslim boyfriend. And I am still their mother, and I have my rights towards them too."
"Then why do you want to convert to Islam? Why can't you be a free-thinker? I have never forced you to pray before the gods?"
"I want to live my life as a Muslim. I've waited long enough. It's about time I come out from the closet. You can choose to follow my footsteps and be a Muslim or you can remain in your religion. If you don't, we will divorce."
"I will not divorce you. And when you convert to Islam, you no longer have the rights to divorce me under your Syariah law. Don't think I don't know about Islamic laws. Only I will have the right to divorce you in the civil court. Now that you confess about wanting to be a Muslim, I'll never consent to a mutual-divorce. You can wait three years for the marriage to be dissolved in the civil court if you still want to go ahead with the divorce before you convert to Islam. if you convert now, hahahaa... we'll see how you live your life without a husband (since you can't remarry if I refuse to divorce you) and your children. I will make sure you lose your visitation rights to the children, so that you can't convert them along with you."
"Look can't we be civil to each other?"
"Civil? You stop this nonsense, continue your life as a non-Muslim and we can forget about this whole conversation."

"Alhamdulillah... syukur kerana saudari diberi hidayah olehNya untuk memeluk agama Islam."
"Cik sila isi borang ini."
"Cik sudah beritahu ahli keluarga Cik tentang hasrat Cik hendak memeluk Islam?"
"Sudah. tapi..."
"Tapi apa?"
"Mereka membantah."
"Oh begitu... mana borang persetujuan daripada ahli keluarga Cik?"
"Minta maaf Tuan. Saya gagal mendapatkan persetujuan mereka. Keluarga saya telah membantah hasrat saya untuk memeluk Islam. Malah borang yang saya serahkan juga telah dikoyak."
"Kalau begitu Cik tunggu sebentar. Saya perlu menghubungi pihak atasan untuk mendapatkan nasihat."
"Tuan, tak bolehkah saya memeluk Islam sekarang juga?"
"Sabar Cik, sabar... kami perlu ikut peraturan. Kami tidak mahu berlaku masalah pada masa hadapan."
"Tak bolehkah pihak tuan membenarkan saya memeluk Islam dahulu, baru memberitahu keluarga saya? Apa akan jadi sekiranya saya keluar daripada pejabat ini dan mati dilanggar kereta tanpa berpeluang mengucap dua khalimah-syahadah?"
"Sabar Cik... Ini peraturan baru."

If non-Muslim have to openly declare their intentions to be Muslims to their family members or spouses before they convert, there should also be a law requiring any Malaysian Muslims or of other religions who wish to convert to another religion to openly declare their intentions before the Syariah courts or their own religious bodies before they are allowed to be baptised in a Malaysian church or married in a temple, etc.
I rest my case.

(PUTRAJAYA: The Government will soon introduce a regulation requiring non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam to inform their family before doing so.)

p/s: Please pray for sis Puisee who had written a comment for this post. May Allah makes her journey easy and smooth, ameen.
There are many brothers and sisters who are waiting for the right moment to officially embrace Islam as their religion even as I am writing this. Spare them a thought and please include them in your prayers so that they'd find strength and comfort in their journey to be Muslims. Thanks.

Thursday, April 10


November 2005

"Moga bermanfaat dan berbarakah."
Itulah kata-kata yang tertulis di muka hadapan buku.
Kawan saya yang juga bertindak sebagai mentor menghadiahi saya buku ini.
"Tujuan saya beri buku ni, supaya kamu baca pengalaman orang lain..memang semua orang tak sama pengalaman, but ambil pengajaran atau ‘ibrah daripada cerita. Kadang-kadang masalah orang lain lagi teruk. Walaupun cabaran hebat tapi mereka berjaya atasi dan capai hasrat masing-masing. Mereka kini gembira & bahagia."
Saya terharu.
Itulah hadiah buku pertama yang saya terima daripada seorang kawan. Kawan yang mengetahui niat saya hendak memeluk Islam.

Saya ulat buku. Daripada kanak-kanak sehingga dewasa,bukulah teman karib saya. Saya sanngup tak keluar rumah kalau ada buku yang menarik untuk dibaca. Banyak buku yang sudah saya baca. Banyak juga buku bercorak keagamaan yang sudah saya hadam. Bible atau kitab Injil, Kitab Taurat yang kebetulan Pak Su simpan di rumah lama, Kitab Fahaman Tao tentang keadaan di neraka yang diberikan oleh seorang pendakwah Tao, dan buku fahaman Buddha. Saya mencari-cari Tuhan tetapi tak jumpa dalam buku-buku yang saya baca itu. Hati saya tidak terbuka untuk menerima doktrin mereka. Terlalu banyak isu yang saya tidak setuju.

Akhirnya buku agama Islam saya buka dan baca. Saya beli secara sembunyi-sembunyi, kerana tidak mahu diketahui oleh kawan, dan keluarga. Kedudukan sebuah kedai buku Melayu yang jarang dikunjungi orang Cina berdekatan dengan tempat kerja memudahkan tujuan saya itu. Saya sorok di dalam kotak di rumah, tanpa pengetahuan suami (bekas) dan hanya membaca tanpa kehadirannya di rumah. Kira-kira 5 buah buku tentang Islam, fardu ain, dan sebagainya. Apabila keadaan agak genting selepas keluarga mengetahui niat saya itu, saya simpan pula di dalam almari surau di sekolah saya mengajar ketika itu. Oleh kerana saya tidak berani menulis nama dalam buku-buku itu, akhirnya ia hilang dari surau.

Januari 2006.
"Saja nak baca, tambah ilmu," saya berkata kepada perpustakawan ketika hendak meminjam buku yang bercorak agama Islam. Dia kelihatan terkejut ketika meluluskan pinjaman buku itu.
Pelikkah orang bukan Islam hendak meminjam dan membaca buku tentang Islam?
Mengapa pula saya memberi alasan begitu?
Kerana takut tindakan saya meminjam buku agama Islam akan dikhabarkan kepada orang lain sehingga mereka menganggap saya bertujuan hendak memeluk Islam?
Saya sendiri tidak pasti.
Sekali lagi saya terpaksa sorok buku-buku dalam almari. Teman sebilik di asrama merupakan kawan saya yang beragama Hindu. Tuhan Hindunya disembah dalam bilik kami, menghadap ke arah timur. Saya tidak dapat menjangkakan reaksinya jika dia tahu bahawa saya hendak memeluk Islam, maka saya merahsiakan daripada pengetahuannya. Apabila rindu hendak baca buku agama Islam, saya akan balut buku itu terlebih dahulu dengan kertas pembalut hadiah yang tebal agar kulit buku tidak kelihatan. Barulah saya akan baca di dalam bilik ketika dia ada.

April 2008.

"Kalau ikut hati, hendak dibeli dan diangkut semua buku tu balik ke rumah. Tahun hadapan kita bawa van ke sini, ya."
Suami saya ketawa.
Itulah pertama kali saya ke Pesta Buku. Saya teruja. Wah, banyaknya buku. Pandang kanan nampak buku baru yang menarik. Pandang kiri jumpa buku yang lama dicari. Bajet yang kecil menyebabkan kami terpaksa berhati-hati membuat pilihan.
Alhamdulillah murah rezeki saya. Dapat bergambar dengan penulis terkenal, A. Samad Said pada hari lahirnya yang ke-73. Dapat bertemu dengan penerbit PTS, Pn.Ainon Mohd yang luas pengalamannya dan mendengar cerita-ceritanya yang menarik. Berterima kasih kepada En.Faris yang muda dan segak, turut menjadi orang kedua melalui PTS Publications menghadiahkan sebuah buku agama Islam (Biografi Muhammad bin Abdullah) kepada saya.
Dalam hati saya berdoa.
"Ya Allah, izinkanlah saya datang lagi ke Pesta Buku tahun hadapan dengan rezeki halal yang makin bertambah. Bolehlah saya turut bantu menyumbang di samping menambah koleksi buku-buku terutama buku-buku agama Islam di rumah."

Monday, April 7


"Lapar la, orang Islam di sini tak makan di kedaikah?"
Pelik. Sudah hampir 20 minit meronda mencari kedai makan. Di tengah-tengah pekan tidak kelihatan walaupun sebuah kedai makanan Melayu mahupun kedai Mamak. Kiri kanan jalan kelihatan kedai-kedai Cina belaka.
Sebenarnya kami tidak ambil kisah kedai apapun asalkan kedai itu bersih dan menjual makanan halal untuk orang Islam.

"Kak, di sini tak ada kedai Melayu. Kak kena patah balik, ada Medan Selera di belakang bangunan Tabung Haji," jelas seorang atendan di stesen minyak yang kami singgah.
Aduh, Medan Selera yang menempatkan gerai-gerai Melayu sudah ditutup.
Jam menunjukkan 2.30 petang.
"Sudah tiga kedai makanan Cina yang kita dah lalu dengan nasi ayam terpampang di depan kedai, tapi mana kedai Melayu? Takkan orang Melayu di sini berhenti berniaga pada pukul 2?"

Kami sedang bermusafir. Keletihan.Dahaga. Lapar. Kedai yang dicari-cari masih belum dijumpai. Itulah kali pertama saya berasa betapa susahnya hendak mendapatkan makanan halal semenjak memeluk Islam.
Hairan. Siapa sangka betapa susahnya mendapatkan restoran makanan halal di tengah-tengah sebuah pekan di Malaysia.
"Jomlah kita singgah saja di KFC," saya memberi cadangan.
"Itupun kalau ada."

Akhirnya kami tiada pilihan lain. Kami makan di KFC di tengah-tengah pekan yang mempunyai majoriti penduduk Cina.
Kelihatan beberapa orang Melayu yang turut menjamu selera di situ.
"Apa agaknya orang Islam di sini makan dan minum pada waktu petang? Kasihan juga kepada mereka, hendak mendapatkan makanan yang dimasak panas-panas tentu susah di tengah-tengah pekan ini. KFC agak mahal; kalau orang miskin apa yang mereka makan? Kedai yang menjual roti canai pun tak ada di sini."
"Ya, mungkin mereka makan roti dan minum air mineral saja."

Kami menyambung perjalanan.
"Oh, di sini rupanya kedai Melayu!"
Kelihatan beberapa buah kedai makanan yang didirikan di tepi jalan menuju ke lebuh raya.
"Agaknya beginilah cara orang Melayu berniaga, kerana kekurangan modal untuk menjalankan perniagaan di tengah-tengah pekan. Lagipun sewa kedai di pekan mahal."
"Mungkin juga semua orang Islam datang ke sini untuk makan, kerana di tengah-tengah pekan seperti tak ada restoran orang Islam."
"Benar, kalau kita tahu di sini ada restoran Melayu tentu kita terus datang dan makan di sini, bukan makan di KFC tadi."
"Masalahnya kita tidak tahu. Tidak ada notis yang memberitahu kita di mana letaknya restoran halal. Masih laparkah? Kalau masih lapar, bolehlah henti di kedai depan tu."
"Tak payahlah... dah kenyang. Lain kali saja kita singgah."
Kami meneruskan perjalanan.

Rupa-rupanya masalah yang hampir serupa kami alami lagi di bandar seterusnya. Meronda-ronda 10 minit selepas maghrib untuk mencari kedai makanan orang Islam. Aduh!
Lain kali kalau bermusafir, saya akan menyimpan makanan yang banyak di dalam kereta, insyaAllah.

Saturday, April 5


"Bila operation mak? Mak di wad mana sekarang?"
Saya berkejar ke hospital. Mak dijadualkan menjalani pembedahan dalam masa sejam lagi. Syukur kerana pembedahan dilakukan pada hujung minggu, maka saya boleh menemani Mak selepas pembedahannya.
Mak sudah hampir setahun merana kesakitan kerana kakinya yang patah tidak sembuh seperti yang dijangkakan. Pembedahan awal gagal dan doktor menasihati agar pembedahan susulan untuk menggantikan besi dilakukan setahun kemudian, kerana badan Mak lemah.

Saya kerap berhubung dengan Mak melalui telefon. Kami bersembang tetapi Mak masih tidak mahu dilihat bersama saya. Dia tidak suka saya bertudung. "Macam perempuan tua, rambut cantik ditutup pula," dia bersungut. Dia masih susah menerima hakikat bahawa saya sudah memeluk Islam dan mengamalkan cara hidup Islam. Mungkin juga dia malu dilihat bersama saya.

Adik yang menyampaikan berita pembedahan Mak itu. Dia tidak dapat menjaga dan menemani mak di wad pesakit khas kerana dia lelaki. Kami tahu bahawa malam pertama selepas pembedahan amat kritikal kerana sebarang komplikasi yang berlaku boleh menyebabkan maut. Sudah menjadi kewajipan saya sebagai anak untuk menjaga Mak. Saya sanggup, tetapi sudikah Mak menerima kehadiran saya yang bertudung ini? Entah-entah lagi marah dia melihat kelibat wajah saya.

Lega. Mak hanya tersenyum hambar melihat saya yang mengangkat beg baju berjalan masuk ke biliknya. Bilik pesakit khas itu mempunyai sebuah katil pesakit, sebuah kerusi pelawat dan sebuah meja kecil, dan ia disambungkan ke sebuah bilik air. Bilik Mak agak esklusif kerana Mak pesakit istimewa. Umur Mak yang lanjut dan penyakit yang mak hidapi meningkatkan risiko jangkitan kuman, dan doktor amat berhati-hati.

Pembedahan mengambil masa hampir 5 jam. Saya mengajak Adik makan di kantin.
"Hmm, mereka sedang memandang ke arah kita," komen Adik dalam bahasa Cina. "Tentu mereka sedang mengagak apa hubungan kita. Tentu mereka fikir saya makan dengan perempuan Melayu."
"Biarkan," saya menjawab tenang. "Awak takutkah dilihat makan semeja dengan saya yang bertudung ni?"
"Eh, tak takutlah," jawab satu-satunya adik saya itu. Nampaknya dia sudah semakin matang. "Cuma kalau awak tak menutup kepala lagi senang laaa."
Oleh kerana Mak masih sensitif akan tudung, saya berselendang menutup kepala agar kelihatan lebih moden dan bukan terlalu kemelayuan. Selendang panjang yang tebal dan blaus dipilih dengan teliti untuk mencerminkan wanita Islam yang moden tetapi masih menutup aurat. Syukur juga kerana Adik sudah banyak berubah. Kalau dahulu dia mempunyai tanggapan negatif terhadap Melayu dan Islam, kini hasil daripada pergaulan adik yang semakin baik dengan staf perempuan Melayu di pejabatnya menyebabkannya lebih bersikap terbuka terhadap perubahan penampilan diri kakaknya.

Sebenarnya menjaga Mak di hospital sudah menjadi satu rutin bagi saya semenjak dia patah kaki. Saya sudah biasa keluar masuk hospital terutama di HUKM. Urusan dengan pihak hospital dan menunggu giliran mengambil ubat di farmasi bukan lagi satu perkara luar biasa bagi saya dan Adik. Bezanya semenjak menjadi Muslimah, saya bertambah satu tanggungjawab, iaitu menunaikan solat 5 waktu sehari semalam. Saya terpaksa bertanya jururawat bertugas tentang lokasi surau di hospital berkenaan.
"Nak pergi ke mana dengan beg plastik tu?" Mak bertanya apabila melihat saya menuju ke pintu. Beg plastik yang saya galas mengandungi telekong, serkup tudung dan kain sembahyang.
" Nak sembahyang," saya menjawab ringkas. "Nanti saya balik ke sini, 10 minit saja."
Mak mengangguk faham.

Bilik Mak dingin pada waktu malam. Saya tidak berani tidur lama kerana perlu menjaga keadaan 'drip' Mak supaya tiub itu tidak dimasuki udara. Tiba-tiba mesin di tepi katil Mak berbunyi.Saya melompat bangun. Beg 'drip' mak sudah kosong. Mak menekan butang kecemasan. Tiada respon walaupun tiga kali tekan. Saya terus bergegas ke meja kaunter pada jam 3pagi untuk memanggil jururawat bertugas. Cemas. Tiada jururawat di kaunter! Ke manakah mereka?
"Nurse, mesin mak saya berbunyi. Tolong datang tengok," saya meminta salah seorang
jururawat yang memberi ubat kepada pesakit lain di wad umum.
Syukur. Keadaan terkawal. 'Drip' baru diberikan dan mak tidur semula. Saya duduk menunggu fajar menyingsing. Jantung masih berdenyut kencang.

Keesokan pagi, Mak bersembang dengan saya sementara saya berkemas. Nampaknya dia tidak marah saya lagi kerana memeluk Islam. Sebagai bekas jururawat yang lama berkhidmat di hospital itu, Mak masih mempunyai ramai kawan dalam kalangan staf hospital. Saya tahu Mak tidak akan kesunyian di situ tanpa anak-anaknya di sisi. Selepas solat subuh, saya pun ke kantin untuk bersarapan dan membeli kuih untuk Mak.
Saya kembali ke bilik ketika beberapa jururawat Melayu, kawan-kawan lama Mak datang menziarahinya.
"Eh, siapa ni?"
Jururawat-jururawat itu memandang saya yang bertudung dengan penuh tanda tanya.
"My daughter, anak saya" Mak menjawab selamba.
Mereka terkejut.
Saya tersenyum.
Syukur alhamdulillah, akhirnya Mak mengaku juga saya sebagai anaknya di khalayak ramai.


"Ustazah, camne ni? Bolehkah saya buka tudung?"
"Saya tak pastilah tetapi kalau bertudung bererti dia tak nak jumpa saya."
Tudung. Tudung hanya sehelai kain penutup kepala. Bagi yang tidak memakainya atau memakai sekadar kerana disuruh atau sebagai uniform kerja, mereka tidak berasa apa-apa kelainan tanpa tudung di kepala.
Saya mengambil keputusan bertudung kepala seminggu selepas memeluk Islam. Kawan-kawan terkejut dengan perubahan ini. Ketika menyarungkan tudung di kepala pada pertama kalinya, saya telah bertekad tidak akan keluar di khalayak ramai tanpanya.
Namun Allah swt menguji jua.

Mak sakit. Ubatnya dari Hospital UKM sudah hampir habis. Dia pula tidak dapat turun ke KL kerana kecederaan kaki masih belum pulih.
Akhirnya saya dipanggil pulang.
Tugas saya ialah menemui mak, mengambil segala dokumen yang diperlukan dan pergi ke HUKM untuk menguruskan pemindahan data perubatan mak ke hospital berdekatan.
Mak tahu saya mampu melakukannya. Saya sudah biasa menemani mak ke HUKM sebelum saya memeluk Islam.
"Tapi jangan pakai tudung ketika balik ke rumah." Itu pesan mak.

Dilema. Nak berjumpa mak kena buka tudung. Tak berjumpa mak siapa lagi yang boleh diharap untuk menguruskan perubatan mak itu. Adik bekerja sementara saya ketika itu masih bercuti panjang.
Saya cuba memujuk tetapi tidak berjaya. Adik juga enggan memandu saya ke rumah jika saya bertudung dalam kereta.
Pelbagai nasihat diberikan oleh kawan-kawan dan ustazah.
Ada yang kata pakai terus walaupun tahu mak akan marah, ada yang benarkan buka ketika berada di rumah, ada pula yang berkata boleh buka hanya ketika di depan mak.
Ada yang menyifatkan tindakan yang bakal saya ambil itu sebagai darurat.
Solat tahajjud. Solat isytikarah.

Akhirnya saya mengambil keputusan berjumpa mak.
Saya bertolak ke kampung halaman. Menutup aurat. Sampai di pekan, saya menelefon adik. Masuk kereta, saya berselendang panjang tanpa serkup kepala. Apabila menjejak kaki masuk ke rumah buat pertama kali selepas memeluk Islam, barulah saya menarik selendang menampakkan rambut dan memenuhi syarat yang dikenakan oleh mak.

Walaupun itulah kali pertama berjumpa setelah sekian lama, mak tak marah saya. Tak tanya langsung mengapa dan kenapa saya memilih untuk meninggalkan agama dan kepercayaan keluarga. Mak sekadar menyatakan keadaan kesihatannya sendiri dan menyerahkan dokumen perubatannya untuk saya bawa ke HUKM.
Saya melihat mak terhenjut-henjut bergerak dengan tongkat besinya. Hanya Allah swt yang Maha Mengetahui perasaan saya melihat mak dalam keadaan begitu.
"Cepat pergi sebelum bapa kamu pulang," Mak mengarahkan kami berdua meninggalkan rumah. "Nanti bergaduh pula kamu berdua anak beranak. Silap hari kamu dipukulnya pula."

Selesai berbincang, adik memandu saya semula ke stesen bas.
"Hentikan saya depan tandas awam," saya memohon kerjasamanya. Adik mengangguk faham.
Saya menyarung kembali tudung dengan kemas, barulah saya menaiki bas untuk pulang. Beg berisi dokumen perubatan mak saya genggam dengan erat.
Semoga itulah kali pertama dan kali terakhir saya membuka tudung di khalayak ramai.
Semoga diampuniNya.

p/s: Saya berjaya membawa pulang segala yang diperlukan oleh mak dari HUKM. Syukur alhamdulillah bekalan ubat yang diberikan oleh pakar perubatan sana melebihi jangkaan kami. Mak tersenyum puas.


Friday, April 4


My first encounter with a Muslim revert was in 1991. One of my college coursemate Sha, a Chinese, was getting married to her Malay boyfriend. We knew that she'd be a Muslim soon, and we never tried to stop her. We respected her decision for it is her life. The only difference was that after embracing Islam, she had a new name. Nobody stopped being her friend, and nobody questioned her for leaving her former religion for a new one. What's important was that she's happy.
"Shhh... she's praying," said Ling when I knocked on the hostel door.
Sha and Ling remained roommates even after Sha's conversion to Islam. Naturally Ling had to make some adjustments. We sat in silence as Sha prayed.
"How do you feel after praying?" we asked Sha.
"Tenang... peace," she replied. "Can't explain it but I realy feel at peace after my solat."

My second encounter was with a Chinese teacher who also married a Malay man. She too was a happy-go-lucky person. Like Sha, she didn't cover her aurat. Muslim women around them simply accept them as they are and have never forced them to do anything they are not ready for. Some gave hints and kind advices but there's no compulsion for them to dress like the born Muslim women. Many other encounters with Chinese Muslim reverts seem to show similar trends. They are often married to Malay men, and most if not all, willingly chose to embrace Islam before their marriage. Strangely enough, these married-to-Malay men reverts are often spared from having to face oppositions from society.

Outsiders who already have a dislike for Islam tend to judge. Point fingers. Accuse that non-Muslim women are being forced to convert into Islam in order to marry their boyfriends. Say that these converts have shown disrespect and disregard for their own religion and culture. Turn one's back on one's family. Give a bad name for one's family. And my answer to all those accusations is, who the heck are you to judge? Have these "moral police" actually gone through what these reverts have undergone and understand their reasons for embracing Islam? Do they watch everything these reverts do and the efforts taken to explain Islam and the Islamic way of living to their non-Muslim family members? Of course not!

It's double standards. Muslim reverts often face obstacles from their own kind/people/race after embracing Islam officially. The fact that they have chosen to live life as they see fit and are happy seems to escape those 'moral police'. While other people convert to Christianity and stop from taking part in Buddhist and Taoist rituals, nobody raised an eyebrow. However if you are a Muslim revert, you are open to such narrow-minded accusations. More so if there's one who dares to write about one's experiences in a blog, like me :P

I can't help laughing each time I receive comments given by reader(s) of this blog, who prefers to hide under the pseudonym of 'Anonymous'. He or she has accused me of being disrespectful, of rejecting my own Chinese culture, and of being an Islamic fanatic :)). I suppose he or she has never joined a Muslim revert family celebrate Chinese New Year to know the difference between culture and religious practices. Well, I pray to Allah The Amighty that he'll be given the opportunity to experience everything himself soon.

My past experiences have revealed that some Christian churches actually forbid the eating of pork, holding the josssticks and bowing at ancestral altars, as well as requiring the boyfriends/girlfriends of their church members to convert to Christianity before allowing their members to marry. My former brother-in-law(ex-husband's brother) actually converted into Christianity in order to marry his young wife. And today he's also unable to take part in Chinese cultural rituals like sending off the gods, worshipping the ancestors, gambling, and having lion dancing in the house because his Christian wife and pastor say it's against the teachings of Jesus Christ. Well how's that? Looks like Islam is not the only religion in Malaysia that forbids ritual and cultural practices that contradicts with its teachings.

p/s: There are a lot of similarities between Islam and Christian teachings i.e no participation in religious rituals but why do some people like to condemn only Islam as the religion that segregates its followers from their non-Muslim families?

Wednesday, April 2


May 2006.
"Ya Allah, what shall I do now that I can't have access to Islamic books?"
I was forced to stay in my family home after my divorce. No house, no car, not much money. All that's left is my freedom. And along with it, a great hope that in two months' time, I'd finally be able to embrace Islam officially as my religion.
In the meanwhile, I had to keep my plan a secret from my family.
One word out, and all hell will break lose. I'd face more obstacles in my quest to be a Muslim if my family were to find out about my plan.

Staying at Mum's meant not being able to learn more about Islam.
I couldn't read Islamic books openly.
I couldn't watch Islamic programmes on tv.
I couldn't just walk into a Islamic religious department with Mum and Brother following behind.
Mum is always at home with me.
I needed sustenance.
I prayed long and hard for a solution.
Alhamdulillah, the answer was just a click away.

"Can you connect?"
"Got it! You no need use my computer any longer. Just click from your laptop."
Thanks to Allah. Brother knows a lot about computers, and with some tinkering, he managed to link my laptop to his desktop. I no longer needed to use his desktop to read my emails.

I finally had internet access connected to my own laptop. Yet looking for good information about Islam, and how to be one in Malaysia is more difficult than I had thought. I didn't know where to start. Typing 'how to be Muslim in Malaysia' led to nowhere. Finally I entered forums where most Malay Muslims participated. One thing led to another and I finally found a kind and sympathetic Muslim brother online. With his help, I downloaded some e-books which I'd read when Mum or Brother wasn't looking over my shoulder. I entered Islamic websites that helps to explain about Islam. I spent two fruitful months learning about Islam through the internet, and my conviction grew stronger that Islam is the true religion.

Of course, my secret was almost revealed incidentally.
Brother returned home early one day and saw me reading a page about Islam. "What's all those Arabic words for?"
Quick thinking saved me. "Oh well, I have to learn about Islamic Civilization next semester (it's a true fact, I got a B+ for that paper). Am learning what I can about it." I replied nonchalantly. Brother shook his head but as he wasn't interested, he walked away. Fuhh!

Through the internet, I became friends with helpful Muslims who became my mentors and online friends. They became my anchor. They prayed for me. They wished me well. And when I officially became a Muslim, they rejoiced. They kept in touch with me during the difficult phase every new Muslim faces, and showed concern about my well-being when Muslims around me didn't seem to care.

April 2008
I am one of the lucky ones. 10 years of journey into Islam. 10 years of waiting, searching, learning and re-learning. Some may think that a 10-years-journey is a waste but alhamdulillah, for me, 10 years late is better than never. Come to think of it, I am actually spared of 10 years' worth of sins. Alhamdulillah.

When books are not available for me, Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala opened the door of technology for me to learn about Islam. I didn't even have to step foot into the local Islamic religious offices. All the information I needed was just a click away, thanks to online friends who provided them to me. There are many people who are undergoing the same adventure as I do. There are those who are not computer literate and need to rely on Muslim friends as well as on any available books for information about Islam. There are those who want to learn more about Islam but do not want to reveal their identities for reasons best known to them. All they need to do now is to open the right doors.

And alhamdulillah, the doors to information about Islam are available more than ever now. There are now many good international websites such as Free e-books about Islam can be optained from For others who want a fresh perspective on Islam and immediate response to questions, they may want to try, the brainchild of an enthusiastic and friendly Muslim brother.

It is hoped that by providing such information readers will gain a new perspective and knowledge about the true teachings of prophet Muhamad. It is also hoped that through the sharing of Muslim reverts' experiences we would be able to show that it is possible to be a good practising Muslim despite opposition from family members. For Malaysians, it is also hoped that providing the correct information will help to dispel the notion that being a new Muslim means having to adopt another culture.

We are all servants of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala. Therefore if there is anything that I could do to help in the cause of Islam, may He help me to do it now...amiin.