"Be careful, she's crazy, don't believe what she says," the Malay lady whispered to me.
"She has been coming here frequently and once, I saw her singing alone loudly, she's abnormal," said another.
I looked at them but didn't reply. When a young ustazah said the same thing to me , I looked at her straight in the eyes and said,"I've been asked to come here to help someone understand Islam. I'll do my best, the rest is up to Allah."
I had decided to change plans. Instead of asking her to come over to my area as we initially planned, I went over to meet her right after school hours today. Alhamdulillah the trip was smooth and I managed to solat zhohor in a friend's room before meeting her.
Mei(not her real name) was friendly and looked younger than her actual age. I found out that she is quite illiterate, having undergone formal education for less than a year. She can understand basic Malay language but can't express herself fluently in that language. Therefore the Muslim Malays who had tried to revert her to Islam have failed to make her understand who Mohammad was and the teachings of Islam.
Alhamdulillah Allah swt arranged everything for us. I who was nervous and worried that alone I might not be able to explain well for Mei's needs with my still limited knowledge of Islam, had prayed for an assistant. Alhamdulillah a few minutes before my scheduled appointment with Mei, I met a kind Malay lady, Kak Nor who agreed to help me help Mei. We took Mei to the washroom at her request and showed (and taught) her how to perform the ablution or wuduk. I explained in Hokkien language to Mei about the need to wuduk and bless her, she was a good student, eagerly following everything we did. As Mei was very ignorant about Islam and can't read Malay, Chinese nor English, I decided to explain everything in the simplest term. I told Mei that as Allah swt is the greatest and only God, mightier than even the king (we always dress well to meet the king and other VIPs) we have to be clean when we pray to Him. She asked if we need to bathe each time we pray, so we told her that doing ablution is enough.
"Oh, I feel good," she said after she had performed the wuduk.
We helped her to put on her telekong(she brought one) as she had asked to know how to pray to Allah. As it's just Asar, Kak Nor suggested that Mei joined us in our solat. With Kak Nor as the imam, we performed the solat with Mei following our steps.
Mei was sobbing during the solat. I felt sorry for her. She had waited for many years for somebody to teach her how to solat. In short, we performed solat asar, maghrib and isyak together in a small room.
Mei had many questions to ask. She had many strange dreams. She felt Allah communicates to her. She confessed that despite praying to other gods, her own heart was not in peace. She has been searching for the only and only God for many years but nobody could explain to her in her own language. Alhamdulillah for Kak Nor, who with her deep knowledge of Islam and a commendable command of Mei's language (she learnt Hokkien before) and with me as a translator and assistant, Mei finally began to understand the true teachings of Islam.
"She's not crazy, Aliya. She's just lost and unable to express herself well. She looked so beautiful in the white telekong that I can't help feeling touched with her sincerity to learn Islam. Imagine what would have happened if we refused to help her?" said Kak Nor with tears in her eyes as we took our late dinner.
I looked at Mei who was busy entertaining Kak Nor's children. The children took an instant liking to her and kept telling their mother what Mei told them. They knew that she's harmless and sincere.
I realised just how illiterate Mei is when she mispronounced the name of the mamak restaurant she took us to for dinner (Kayu becomes Tajul). She mispronounced many words in Malay but alhamdulillah as Kak Nor understands some Hokkien and I could confirm the meaning with her, we manage to help her understand the concept of Allah, kiamat, syurga, neraka and malaikat, using a lot of analogy and examples that Mei could relate to. Alhamdulillah as I've taught little children before and as Kak Nor is also a mother, we managed to reach down to Mei's level of understanding. Nothing Arabic, nothing too difficult.
Astaghfirullazim. I had been selfish. I had planned to return home by 7pm for fear of driving alone in the dark of the night. Allah swt decides otherwise. I spent 6 hours with Mei and Kak Nor, explaining explaining and explaining and arriving home at 12.30 am on Wednesday morning. Kak Nor too, sacrificed her time to help Mei understand Islam. At midnight, I drove all the way across the Penang bridge under very heavy rain, relying only on Allah swt to protect me (Husband is away attending a course). And indeed He answers all prayers.
Thanks to Mei, I've learnt a great lesson today. Alhamdulillah for Allah swt has brought us together - 3 strangers who had never met one another before - in the name of Islam.
Kak Nor and I had decided not to listen to others who told us that there's something wrong about Mei. We had refused to judge her. Instead for Kak Nor and I, Mei is a person who seeks Allah swt and we are determined to show her the right path.
"Kak, I didn't want to say anything when ustazah told me to be careful about Mei. We should give her a chance. We should listen to her, really listen. They, the ones who call her crazy, are born Muslims who have never searched for the true God. What do they know?"
"Yes, it's true. A crazy person would never have survived the long heavy task of performing solat with us. Imagine, how many rakaat had she done? Asar, maghrib and isyak? And she was so eager to learn, she even taped my voice when I recited the verses during solat. She asked to see our legs to find out how we sat during tahiyyat, something I had forgotten to show her. I was speechless."
"It's bad to prejudge a person, especially someone like Mei who is actually searching for the true God. And spreading such "talks" to convince others to think bad about her, I think, is really sinful. We have no proof that she's mentally disturbed. Of course she does certain things unpredictably but perhaps that's because she's actually ignorant. Her Chinese culture is different from Muslim's, the way she thinks is different. It's up to Allah swt to give hidayah to whomever He wants. We should help people like Mei, not push her away or ignore her because we are tired of her "weird behaviour or persistent questionings." For all we know, that's how Allah swt test us, by sending someone like Mei to us, to test whether we are honest in our work for Allah or not."
"It's true, Aliya. When we judge others wrongly, we commit sin. Allah may have forgiven that person's sins but our own sin against the person we slander may not be forgotten by Allah swt unless we go and apologise to him or her. Imagine if we had ignored Mei just now, we'd be pushing away a potential Muslim."
Kak Nor and I asked Mei a few times if she wanted to be a Muslim. We taught her to recite the 2-kalimah syahadah,Kak Nor explained in Malay and I translated in Hokkien. Mei had repeated after us. Only Allah swt knows what's in her heart when she recited it. As it was almost midnight, I had to return home. As I left the carpark, I saw a happy Mei eagerly taping Kak Nor's recitation of Allahuakhbar. She wants to listen at home and repeat everything.
I'm happy today. I've found a new friend and sister in the person of Kak Nor. Mei has many of her questions about Islam answered. We had asked Mei to return to see us so that we could explain more and to arrange for more witnesses to Mei's recitation of the 2-kalimah syahadah one day in future.
It'd take time. How long will Mei need before she's ready to live as a Muslim? Only Allah swt knows.
Please pray for Mei. InsyaAllah our prayers will help Mei to cross over faster. She's halfway through for now she truly believes in the one and only God, Allah swt.
Mei has been misjudged by many Muslims who have rejected her, just because she's different. Not many can understand her statements and her dreams are treated like belonging to a mentally disturbed person.
I dare not call her "crazy". She's illiterate. Learned scholars learn Islam by reading the al-Quran and having discussions with Muslims but what can an illiterate person who can't communicate in the language used of many Muslims, do?
My work in this world is to explain Islam to those who seek Islam. I dare not pass judgement. Only Allah swt can judge a person. And I have found a good ally in kind and patient Kak Nor who confessed to me that she had prayed that she'd be given a chance to bring someone to revert to Islam(insyaAllah), for she felt in her life she had not done much for Islam.
Remember? Rasullullah s.a.w himself was once accused by the Jahilliyahs as being crazy, and we know that he was not.
There're many people like Mei who eagerly seeks the true God, but is frustrated because they can't get the answers they need to help convince them that they're making the right choice. Talks by other non-Muslim about being unable to change back to original religion adds more confusion and fear. And they're misjudged, rejected, looked down on, and ignored by those people who are supposed to help them. And yet we wonder why there're less Muslim reverts in Malaysia than the total number of people in drug rehabilitation centres, despite more than 50 years of independence ?
Alhamdulliah I'm glad I had agreed to meet Mei. I'm thankful I met Kak Nor. She's not an appointed ustazah but she's wonderful. Our paths crossed on this fateful day because He, the best of all planner has decided it'd be so.
It's been a long day bt my heart is light.
May Allah swt bless Mei.She has told us that if she is a Muslim, she wants to bring the unfortunate ones to join her in Islam. Kak Nor and I had advised her to take care of herself first, by reciting the 2-kalimah syahadah. Let's pray for her deliverance.