Monday, January 19


"Invitations to this.. invitations to that.. but I haven't promised them anything," he came home and told me.
And I swore under my breath.
Heck, I'm only human. And the news received was not a welcoming one. Rather, it's a bother in this Chinese festive season.

And I don't like people asking me, "So you celebrate Chinese New Year too?"
Of course I do, and I intend to.
Do they think that just because I'm now a Muslimah, I can simply forget about this festival which I've celebrated for the first 35 years of my life? Chinese New Year is not a religious festival; you can forget the Tao/Buddhist prayers and still celebrate it. Christians and free-thinkers celebrate it too. It's a time for the gathering of family members under one roof once a year. That's why the Chinese would sacrifice time and money to travel from one end of the country to the other end just to be present at the festive dinner held on the eve of the New Year. Being present at home, with your elders is a sign of filial piety, respect and a show of 'giving face' to our elders.

Don't even think about taking turns to go to which spouse's family home for the New Year eve dinner. It's always the husband's family on the eve and first day of Chinese New Year. Unless of course, the husband is an orphan. Tradition dictates that a married couple will spend the first day of CNY with the husband's family and the second day with the wife's family. Actually it's a fair arrangement because it allows both sides of the family to meet the couple during the festive season, unlike Malays who take turns and one side of the family will have to wait for another year to celebrate Aidilfitri with the children and grandchildren.

I had planned some activities for this year's Chinese New Year but as my house isn't ready, I'd have to postpone everything until a later date. As I'm writing now, I'm still not sure how this year's celebration will be. Naturally there won't be any "questionable" decorations in my house. InsyaAllah, there'll be a halal Chinese cuisine for lunch. That too, if I'm not alone this 26th. It's no fun cooking for myself alone. And yes, I'd most probably be alone.

I miss the fun and catching up with the rest of my extended family members during this festive season. Honestly I haven't met them since I reverted to Islam. Usually after the giving of angpows (red packets with money) and gifts, we'd sit at the lounge and exchange the latest news, to be continued the following Chinese New Year. I wonder how frail my grandmother is now, how big my nieces are now and where my cousins are studying now. I'd love to meet them again but I can't meet them alone; it's too risky, emotionally draining (in case I'm snubbed or scolded) and I doubt I'd be able to drive home after the meeting. As everyone is home only on Chinese New Year, if I don't meet them this year, it'd have to be postponed till the following year. I'm such a coward; I don't dare to face my still-negative-towards-Islam relatives alone. Reverting to Islam has caused me to be shunned by relatives. A small sacrifice? You tell me.

My first Chinese New Year as a Muslim saw me alone in my hostel block during the festival, as I didn't have anywhere else to go to. Don't even ask I coped that year.
My second year was alhamdulillah much better. I plucked enough courage to invite my mother and brother for a steamboat dinner on the eve, and had a quiet celebration with my husband at home.
This year? Thanks to the festival held on Monday and Tuesday, and plans that do not involve me but my husband, I'd most probably be alone at home. I don't even know what to do now. I certainly don't want to be alone during this festive season. It's not good for me, emotionally and spiritually. I know my self.

Oh sure, some will argue, "It's not compulsory for you to celebrate it now, you're a Muslim now."
"Yeah, right. I'm a Muslim and I'm a Chinese too. Chinese New Year is not compulsory for me to celebrate but it's still not wrong for me to do so. I miss celebrating it as a non-Muslim. Yet I know the limits; what I can and can't do as a Muslim. Sadly, due to circumstances I shan't disclose here, I haven't yet experienced the warmth of a real family celebration during Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji, so please don't blame me for wanting to celebrate Chinese New Year the Muslim way with my husband."

So don't blame me for swearing under my breath. As it is now, I leave everything to Allah swt. I'll seek help from Him who is all Knowing and All Fairness. I don't believe my hope to spend CNY with my husband and my family this year is too much nor too selfish, but each person has his or her own perspective. If I'm seen as complaining, so what? If what I see as injustice and there's nobody to help to set things right, what other channel do I have but to express my thoughts in writing? If anyone reading this don't like it, well.. don't continue reading.

As a revert Chinese Muslim, I don't want to be reminded of the sacrifices I've made to be a Muslim, espcially not during this season. Not when everywhere I go I hear festive songs, everywhere I go I see happy faces but I'm to spend the first day of CNY alone in my house? Those who arent' reverts won't understand. Not unless it happens to them themselves.

Put yourself in my shoes.
Walk a few miles in my shoes, and tell me how you'd feel.

I know I trust Him to set everything right.
But I can declare now - I don't want another big test..not this CNY please..but it seems I'd be tested as well.

(note: Sorry, I am not against any Malay Muslim NGOs, which I know, have their own agenda. My husband has his own personal agenda this CNY which unfortunately doesn't include me. I'm just disappointed with the way things turn out this CNY, and with the way plans are made. As I mentioned, I'm only human, and am specially sensitive come every Chinese New Year. You'd know if you're denied spending your Hari Raya with your spouse or your family. And I stand my ground. I resent being left alone on the 1st day of Chinese New Year until the 3rd day, but as a wife I will obey. However, I know that what goes around comes around.. justice will prevail in the end )


  1. Kak Aleya..I think u should celebrate it with ur family la.. =)...It's only once a year..I'm sure that many of your cousins, aunties, uncles wanna see u as well..Give it a thought k..=)..

    These are the times,when the family mean the most..

  2. Thanks Ayie,
    Hope so, but I can only do it with husband beside me. If he's away with the NGOs, I don't think I can do it alone.

  3. Be strong, my dear kak Aliya. Or how about solat istikharah to seek an answer from Allah? =)

    Surah Al-Baqarah, ayat 216: But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.

    I hope this verse from the Quran will give you strength. ;)

  4. Ask your husband if he can accompany you for this CNY this time around. One day pun takpe. He can go to the event the second day.

    To me this is a big step towards strengthening ties between the Muslim you and your family. I agree with you... it's about being with your family. The reverts here in Australia still celebrate Christmas with their family because it's not a religious event; just cultural. And since we don't relinquish our culture or race when we embrace Islam, I don't see the reason why we should shun these cultures if they don't go against Islamic teachings.

    I hope things work out for you

  5. I agree with Ummu Layth... family first. I'm sure they miss you too, although they might not want to admit it. And I'm sure things will get better and better through the years... I wish you all the best :-)

  6. Muslimins & muslimahs who're married to an Islam revert should always bear in mind his/her spouse's roots and origins. They should remember and appreciate the sacrifice their spouse went through and experienced. Sad to say, some might forget this after a few years of marriage, and tend to take for granted that their spouse has become a "Malay". Sorry if this is a bit sensitive. Just my thoughts.

  7. Salam,
    Thanks for the suggestion, Adawiyah. InsyaAllah I will.
    Ummu Layth,I've emailed him this article.
    Madam Markonah, hope so. One false move may jeopardise everything we've worked on.
    princess, InsyaAllah I'll remain a Chinese but it's difficult to know other people's perception of me.To born Muslims raised in Malay homes and only celebrate Malay festivals their whole life, celebrating CNY is unnecessary. This will only cause resentment in the 'neglected' spouse and the loss of a sense of identity for the revert, and an injustice for him or her. Of course some reverts especially married to Malays, have a tendency to abandon their roots after married for a few years. What a loss when this happens.

  8. Salam!! Happy Chinese New Year Aliya .. hope u can make it this year with yr family .. blood is thicker than water!! I understand d difficulties. I doakan you diberi kekuatan dan kemudahan oleh ALLah.

  9. salam..
    hm, I just wonder, do muslims in China celebrate CNY too?..
    Regards.. =)

  10. Dear Kak Aliya...I cry when i read about this posting..Its true and it can't be denied that...Its all about being with family..Surrounded with all the loved ones..Dear sis, tradition vs religion is what everyone need to differentiate and be rational..What's wrong if u wanna celebrate it..Its all about being with family..Happy chinese new year! Be tough ok...

  11. Assalamualaikum wbt.

    I think you should talk to your husband, bring him together to celebrate CNY with your family.

  12. My emphathy. I wish I could speak to your husband and your mum to help u overcome this emotional problem. U know that islamic teaching does not require you to cut your ties with your root family afer you revert. If your husband could prove to your family that he is a good son in law to your parents I am sure your relationship with your family will improve tremendously. Perharps their perception about muslims and Islam will improve. Right now I just can pray to Allah that everything will be better for you. Be strong Alya. Mengadulah dan berdoa lah kepadaNYA.

  13. Hi Aliya, let me guess. You're the first convert in your family?

    Nothing wrong in Celebrating Chinese New Year. I'm married to a Christian Convert, still celebrate Christmas. Not because for religious reasons, but because of getting together and the presents. :) Why care about what other people may think? Allah knows what's truly in your heart.

    Tell you what, why not call up those uncles and aunties and ask how they are... If their reception is okay then maybe it would be safe to attend the CNY dinner. You know, it's scary no doubt, but tell yourself this, it's sooner or later you will have to confront your fears (being snubbed or scolded). The sooner you get over it, the better. These are my 2 cents. :) Good luck.

  14. Aliya...

    Happy Chinese New Year eventhough your post is quite sad. You're a strong woman. I know you. Sometimes we have to accept that we cannot get what wished to come true. Ada hikmah tu...Be strong k!

  15. Assalamualaikum

    two things kak Aliya

    first kung hei! kung hei!

    second. much more serious thing. our beloved Rasul S.A.W. has said about the sweetness of Iman, 'Halawatul Iman'. one of the sign of those who taste the sweetness of Iman is the 'feeling of hatred towards reverting back to kufr as he hate being toast into Jahannam'.

    kak Aliya, to celebrate cny is one thing. but the sense of missing to celebrate it as non-muslim is another thing.

    just want to say that for you, my dear sister in Iman. its my advise to you. hope you will understand. remember, shaytan always capitalized our weaknesses.

    what is Adawiyah is telling you is right.


  16. Waalaikumussalam memBesar, ahmad, Ereen & Masri,
    Thanks memBesar. InsyaAllah there'll be a dinner with my mum on CNY eve, other than that, still unsure.
    Ahmad, most Muslims in China are not Han Chinese who traditionally celebrates CNY(Malaysian Chinese are Han descendents) but are Hui Chinese and Urghur. They have different traditions so I'm not sure.
    Ereen, thanks. I think with more exposure through the media, people have realised that we can celebrate Chinese New Year, with some adjustments of course.

  17. Masri, Tikmidina, Syari, Faizal & Azla,
    Masri, it's too late unless there's divine intervention.
    Faizal, huhuhu, you've only seen the strong side of me. I've been denied many things after my surgery (the only comfort is the hols in China)so I' tryign hard to push myself back on the high board, if u know what I mean.
    azlan, toh-cheah, toh-cheah.. I don't miss celebrating CNY as a kafir but the sense of belonging to any family is empty now, even after marriage. I do know the limits of celebration - no cny songs,no gambling, no forecasting, no fengshui reading, no pictorial decorations. It's only my 3rd CNY as a Muslim, and my 2nd after marriage. Iman? Been an all-time low since beginning of this year, been trying to push myself up, but being left alone will not help. Husband is responsible to guide me, so I'm trying to ask him to stay back this CNY. Sometimes you can't do alone, and I know where I stand now.. on red alert. So you understand why I don't want to be alone this CNY? Still I can't convince my husband to be around.