A non Muslim LoyarBurokker’s journey in understanding Islam.
Dear friends, I am not a Muslim, however I feel compelled to share my experience in understanding Islam due to the recent furore over Teo Nie Ching’s visit to a surau, the backlash in Nga Kor Ming’s recitation of verses from the Al-Quran, and the decision to ban the usage of “Allah” in non Muslim publications not so long ago. All these have caused much tension between the Muslims and the non-Muslims in Malaysia.
A lot of misunderstanding is going on in the process of understanding each other. This is a most welcoming development actually, as it has never occurred before. People from both sides are actually interacting and trying to understand one another.
The recent outburst from fellow LoyarBurokker Syahredzan Johan, on the various issues affecting Islam in Malaysia and the many racial problems arising lately pushed me to revisit this piece. Being a non-Muslim in this country, Islam has affected me so deeply that it has become an integral part of my thinking faculty.
The person I am today is largely credited to the impact Islam has had on me; it has in many ways liberated me. Islam is affecting the lives of many non-Muslims around the world. From 9/11 till this very minute, Islam is rapidly influencing the way of life of many non-Muslims, Malaysians in particular. I wish the Muslim community could see that Islam is no longer exclusive to them.
I wrote this piece about a year ago, however I think it is still relevant considering the weather of our national politics.
My journey in understanding Islam begun a long time ago. As a child, I had always been curious as to why the Malay kids kept insulting the Hindus in school, accusing them of being demon worshippers. I was angry that the kids ridiculed the Hindus and Buddhists by accusing their religions as the work of the devil, that only Muslims deserve heaven, and that all non Muslims were condemned to hell for eternity. This is what I first came to learn about Islam, that it is the only true religion, and all those that do not profess it are condemned to hell.
Years later I came to know that the Christians were pretty much the same, especially the protestants. The Catholics however had much love to share, and in 1998 the declaration by the Pope that heavens grace is not just limited to Christians but all those who do good drew me closer to Christianity (however that is for another day). The connection between Islam and Christianity were the first pillars of my personal iman. As time passed by, I comprehended the concept of the Only One God.
By this time I was beyond yakin that there was only one Al-Khaliq(The Creator), and I could see the works of Al-Musawwir(The Shaper of Beauty) in everything. I learned to appreciate Al-Mumin’s(Inspirer of Faith) greatness – to the extent that I am able to see the beauty of HIS destruction.
My fascination of Al-Azim(The Magnificent) grew immensely. Be mindful that at this point I had not read the Quran yet, and every time I spoke to a Muslim with regards to Islam, they only managed to push me away from Islam. Every claim they made about Islam had to put the non Muslims down. It made me feel dirty being a non Muslim. It made me feel that I do not deserve the love of Al-Wadud(The Loving One) just because I am not a Muslim. It made me feel as if Ar-Razzaq(The Provider) only cared for Muslims.
Somehow Al-Alim(The Knower of All) had much planned for me. I entered Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia where Arabic and Islamic studies became a part of the subjects that I had to pursue. From then on, understanding Islam liberated me from my narrow mind. I realised that there is so much more to life then the dogmatic acceptance of things. Islam has taught me to think, to read, to cherish, to appreciate, to respect, to guide, and to be free. Islam has taught me compassion, love, humility, justice, but beyond all Islam has liberated me.
During my second year in UKM, I had the chance to meet Ant, a convert who was previously a Christian. By Al-Majid(The Majestic One) I swear that this was the first person who spoke to me about Islam and made my heart feel peace and love. Every word that came out of Ant assured me of the majestic beauty of Islam. The description of Islam that came from Ant was nothing like those that came from all the other Muslims in my life. Ant drew to me the greatness of Islam under 15 minutes. It was flawless in every way, it was perfect in every way, he didn’t put anybody down, he drew the perfect Islam. Not one moment was his intention to convert or even to call on me to embrace Islam – he just wanted to explain the words of Al-Khabir(The All-Aware). Just like The Phrophet’s sabdha(Peace Be Unto Him) ballighu ‘anni walau ayah.
It was since then, that I realised how beautiful the commandments of Al-Muta’ali(The Supreme One) was, and how badly many Muslims have portrayed it, it hit me then how could hatred come in my heart when I heard all those people preaching the words of Al-Barr(The Benign, The Source of All-Goodness)… then I realised they were not preaching Islam, for they do not even know Islam. They were preaching arrogance, pride, and blind faith.
This I can say without one moment of fear, that Al-Muhsi (The Reckoner) is beyond religion, that the Quran belongs not to Muslims but to all of Mankind, it is for the benefit for all Muslims and non Muslims alike. It’s high time Muslims realise that Al-Hay(The Ever Lasting) is beyond Islam, that HE is present in the lives of every being, for HE is the lord of the Universe and beyond. Al-Wahid (The One) is as intimate with each and every being, Muslims and non Muslims alike. Al-Sammad (The Eternally Besought) regulates the life of all.
For this, no one will stop me from knowing Al-Khaliq(The Creator), no one will stop me from preaching the words of Al-Haqq(The Truth), and no one will stop me from uttering, writing, or declaring Allah Akbar, and no government will ban me from publishing the names of Al-Warrith(The Ultimate Inheritor). For those who ban the usage of “Allah” and recital of Al-Quran by non Muslims, I pray to Al-Tawwab(The Granter & Acceptor of Repentence) that your sins are forgiven and that your mind and soul is enlightened, that you will soon see that the magnitude of Dhul Jalal Wal Ikqram(Possessor of Majesty and Honour) is beyond Islam. May Ash-Shakur(The Appreciative) bless upon you the grace and strength to appreciate Al-Wassi(The All-Encompassing, The All-Embracing).
I hope that Muslims in our country will be more open in understanding that Islam plays a huge role in shaping the future of Malaysians, be it Muslims or non-Muslims. It has already influenced them in various ways, from moral, to dietary taboos, to what is good and bad, and to some extent even influenced the way they understand their own religion. Islam is now the connecting bridge between Muslims and non-Muslims, and I hope no bridge is burnt for political mileage.
Peace be upon you.