Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Happy Holidays | Inclusive


It's Wesak day today, for our Buddhist friends. It's a Public holiday in Malaysia and another long holiday for me. Alhamdulillah.

I guess the photo below says it all. LOL.

Yes, when in Penang, eat like the Penangites do. Upon arrival at the Penang toll exit plaza, you gotta make a pit stop at the Hameediyah before getting on the Penang Bridge. Ask Mr. Waze for directions. Well, that's my balik kampung "ritual" anyway, as they say, do what comes naturally ; )

I have been reading quite a bit about Habib Nuh Al-Habshi (1788-1866), the grand saint of Singapore. I think we have a lot to learn from him with regards to being open-minded and tolerant towards non-Muslims. Habib Nuh was a sociable person. He mingled with children and kept company with friends from other faiths too. It's little wonder that his tomb is visited by the Chinese and Indians too, up until today. According to a booklet of information about his life by Ustaz Ghouse of the Al Firdaus Mosque Committee in Singapore, Habib Nuh loved watching the Chinese Opera. He would sit on the front row. He understood the moral of the stories despite not knowing the language.

Habib Nuh was a highly spiritual man who migrated from Penang to Singapore in 1819 to spread the tariqa, as recommended by his guru. He was blessed with clairvoyance. He could teleport to Mekah every Friday. The British put him in jail for petty crimes yet he could miraculously leave the prison. He could walk on water. He was obviously way super-talented than any sufi or scholar there is out there today, yet he was not apologetic about watching the Chinese opera or going around dressed as an ordinary person (shirtless sometimes!). I may be wrong, but I don't think any of the celebrity scholars would want to be seen in public watching Chinese opera, topless. LOL.

Habib Nuh Al-Habshi is unique and extraordinary. One hundred and fifty years have passed, yet hundreds of people from all faiths visit his tomb on a daily basis. Even in his death, he teaches us about being inclusive. That Islam and Muslims should remain friendly to all, that we are broad in orientation and scope, we are not exclusive. Prophet Muhammad was sent as a mercy to the worlds, not just the Muslim world. Yet, many of us Muslims are still secretly racist. Yes? No?

Yesterday a Chinese friend brought me and colleagues one delicacy I so love (and missed cos they are hard to find these days). I remembered every time I went for a picnic at Batu Ferringhi, it's a must to buy it from one Chinese vendor. It's basically a "fried sandwich" made of a slice of sweet potato and a slice of yam with a slice of Kuih Bakul (Nian Gao) in the middle. Nian Gao is a traditional 'Chinese New Year' cake made of glutinous rice and brown sugar. I felt kinda proud being able to explain about the delicacy to my Muslim friends who had it for the first time. But I am sure many of them were quietly wondering if it's halal. LOL.

"We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves." 
- Buddha

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