Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What is wrong by having a Chinese mosque?

The so-called religious advisor to the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Othman is strongly against the proposal to have a Chinese mosque in Malaysia. His comments to support his stand are simply shallow and narrow-minded.

As a former minister in-charge-of Islamic affairs under former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad before he was rejected by the voters of Sik, Abdul Hamid's stand is questionable and a stab in the back to PM Abdullah Ahmad's much publicised "Islam hadhari" approach.

The proposed Chinese mosque is not exclusively for Chinese Muslims as stated several times by leaders of the Chinese Muslims. It is for all Muslims.

It seems that Abdul Hamid and several Malay political and religious leaders look at the proposal from narrow racial lines. Islam is not the exclusive right of the Malays. Not all "Malays" are Muslims and not all Muslims are "Malays".

There is a Indian Muslim mosque and a Pakistani mosque in Kuala Lumpur. In Penang one can find Indian Muslim mosque (Masjid Kapitan Keling), a Pakistani mosque, a Malay mosque, Achenese mosque and Arab mosque. They are not exclusively for the Indian Muslims, the Pakistanis, the Malays, the Achenese or the Arabs, they are for all Muslims.

So why the big fuss over the proposal to have a Chinese mosque? Mosques are for Muslims irrespective of their names. I do not foresee any problem by having a Chinese mosque.

Sad to say that Abdul Hamid has not grown up.


zaki tok tam said...

Pak Tuan Syed Imran,

I would think that this golf-loving ulama was confused. Yes, among his favorite pastimes is golf. And yes, I think he is confused.

What is the subject matter? A Chinese-designed mosque or a Chinese-speaking (means either Mandarin or Cantonese as a medium of communication) mosque in which the sermons are delivered in languages other than Bahasa Melayu.

If Chinese-designed mosque should be the issue, then please take a drive down to Historical City Melaka and one will see many mosques there already in such design. Even the state mosque Al-Azim was of Chinese architecture.

Is he worried about the Chinese characters on the inside and the outside of the mosque that will pose a threat to one's faith? Well, I have prayed in Havana's Al-Medina Mosque which conducted its Friday sermon in Spanish.

What is his fear?

And if the sermon in other language than Malay is the issue then please visit the Masjid India downtown Kuala Lumpur on Fridays and listen to the qhatib who will deliver his sermon in Tamil, unless they have changed this practice.

It was so since I was going there during my schooldays (I was a St John's Institution student, hence the distance from Bukit Nenas is nearer than to Masjid Negara). Or the Pakistani Mosque in Chow Kit or like you said the Masjid Kapitan Keling in Penang? I am sure the sermons are not in Bahasa Melayu.
Just for your information, the other reason that most of us schoolboys who were from not-so-well-to-do families frequented the Masjid India located at its namesake enclave was that on every Friday then there will be some rich Indian Muslim businessmen who will sedekah at least 200 packets of nasi bungkus to the mosque. We schoolboys were always game to free lunch! Then there was such a term.

Now what is the issue? Like you eloquently said, Islam is for everybody and a certain language does not exclusively defined with Islam, a universal religion and one of the three religions of the world, hence the People of The Book. The others being Christianity and Judaism while the rest are mere beliefs.
I am not a scholar but from what I read that the Muslim community in China outnumbered Malaysians as a whole and Islam in China was already there generations before it came to our shores, yes?

In fact there was confusion as to who were the ones that had actually brought Islam here, either the Chinese merchants or the Indian traders. Either way, they were Muslims earlier then us here in Tanah Melayu.

Whatever it was and however, the Chinese and Indian converts here are called "Saudara Baru" when their ancestors were already Muslimin and Muslimat ages before us Malays (oops!, Pak Tuan bukan Melayu, tapi of Pak Arab punya keturunan). I don’t know whether this is fair or just?

If I shall advise the adviser, then I would say "please do not worry about a Chinese mosque because a mosque is a mosque, regardless in what design and language there are.

If he should want to worry, then please do some readings of the articles written by the vogue and contemporary mufti of a small state up north. I think his "liberated" mental faculty worries some people.

The mufti's unorthodox thinking and ideas warrant some real thinking on the part of the so-called religious adviser to the ulama prime minister whom I should think need not have one in the first place.

Zaki Tok Tam
Anakbukit, Alor Setar, Kedah

Taufiq Khalid said...

Your comment brings to mind a story about a friend of mine. A couple of years ago he visited Peshawar, Pakistan. One day, he strolled down the road to buy a pack of cigarettes from a street vendor. The vendor greeted him in Urdu, and my friend replied in English that he doesn't speak Urdu. The vendor, who knew English, then asked our friend where was he from. To which he replied, Malaysia. Next he asked, "Are you a Muslim?" My friend said, " Yes, I am a Muslim". The vendor however protested, "If you are a Muslim, how is it that you cannot speak Urdu?"

Has Islam in Malaysia become similarly so provincial and race-centric that the chinese can't even have their own mosque? There is no reason to object and many reasons to support their ambition. I am ashamed if Malays do nothing but stand and look on as our brethren of the faith suffer this profound insult by our own people.

This faith, this Islam, is not ours to own as a property. It is for all humanity. I cannot believe that we need even to have this discussion. It is clear as the sky is blue. Oh man...

bakaq a.k.a ~penarik beca said...

Pak Tuan

Saya tak tau orang Penang panggil macam mana. Tapi kami belah Tepen (Taiping) pangil orang India Muslim tu Kelin.

Saya tengok ada berlambak Masjid Kelin, bukan sahaja di Tepen, di tempat-tempat lain pun. Kadang-kadang lebih makmur dari masjid orang Melayu. Masjid Arab tak dak la, walaupun di Tepen pun ramai Syed.

Tapi, tak dak la pulak kita berpecah-belah dengan puak-puak Kelin fasal depa ada masjid lain.

Kadang-kadang manusia takut dengan bayang-bayang. Jadi paranoid tak tentu punca.

Syed Imran said...

Sdr Bakaq,

Kita orang Utara panggil orang India Muslim sebagai Keling atau Kelin. Perkataan ini tidaklah sekeji seperti yang disangka oleh sesetengah Keling dan orang Tamil di KL. Mereka pernah saman Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) semata-mata kerana memasukkan perkataan Keling dalam Kamus Dewan.

Mereka lupa bahawa di Pulau Pinang ada sebuah masjid yang diberi nama Masjid Kapitan Keling atau orang Tanjong sebut Masjid Keling. Jika benarlah perkataan Keling itu keji, takkan orang Islam keturunan India sanggup mengabadikannya pada sebuah masjid. Perkataan Keling berakar umbi daripada sebuah empayar tua di benua kecil India bernama Kalinga, iaitu pada zaman maharaja Asoka.

Di Melaka pernah wujud Tanjong Keling.

Selesai bab Keling, saya nak tanya Sdr Bakaq, pasai apa gelark penarik beca? Penarik beca wujud pada awal tahun 1880-an dimana beca roda dua ditarik oleh orang Cina (Sinkek) yang bertocang. Beca itu ditarik oleh tenaga manusia dan yang digelark penarik beca. Tetapi beca itu telah digantikan dengan beca roda tiga yang dikayuh dan pengendalinya disebut sebagai pengayuh beca, tak lagi penarik beca.

Beca roda tiga kini lebih bersifat sebagai satu pengangkutan unik untuk industri pelancongan, terutama di Pulau Pinang dan Melaka. Saya kira bilangan beca di Taiping juga hampir lenyap ditelan zaman sama seperti di Alor Setar dan Kangar. Beca atau disebut sebagai teksi masih banyak di Kelantan dan Terengganu.

Syed Imran said...

Sdr Zaki Tok Tam,

Thank you for your inputs. It is correct, the Chinese reverted to Islam very much earlier than the Malays.

The ancient record of the Tang Dynasty describes a landmark visit to China by Sa'ad ibni Abi Waqqas, one of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in 650 A.D.

This event is considered to be the birth of Islam in China, nearly 500 years ahead of the then Hindu and Buddhist Malay world.

The Chinese Emperor Yung-wei respected the teachings of Islam and considered it to be compatible with the teachings of Confucius. To show his admiration for Islam, the emperor approved the establishment of China's first mosque at Ch'ang-an, which still stands today after more than 1400 years. I visited this unique and beautiful Chinese architectured mosque in 2001. The Chinese maintained their architectural heritage and, unlike Malaysia, did not copy Moorish, Turkish or Central Asian architecture. A mosque is a mosque, irrespective of its shape or design.

kerohi said...

Pak Tuan,
dah lama dah masjid india kah, masjid pakistan kah, masjid kelingkah dok ujud di malaysia, di thailand dan lain-lain negara. harmoni - takdak apa yang kalut. tok mid sik ni nampaknya dan bercelaghu fikiran. orang sik dulu-dulu kata, pak mid ni memang lagu tu.. dia suka buat cempera

ismailkhalidomar said...

Salam Pak Tuan,
Why don't we ask TS Hamid Othman the real reasons for his disapproval of a Chinese mosque. I am curious about it. Maybe my mind is not up to specs. to rationalise his arguements. Anyway, please find a way to ask him.

Syed Imran said...

Bro Ismail,

Tan Sri Hamid claimed that if the request by the Chinese Muslims is allowed, it will lead to disunity and segregate Muslims in Malaysia.

He further said that the request was unthinkable and carried wide political connotations.

I do not subscribe to his argument. It is very shallow and narrow-minded.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad's grandfather is a down-to-earth Chinese Mulim from Kwantung (Guandong), China who was much respected by Malay Muslims of Bayan Lepas, Penang.

There is no segregation between Muslims irrespective of race and colour, if one truly adheres to the teachings of Islam.

ismailkhalidomar said...

Pak Tuan,
Thanks for the reply.looks like not a rationale areguement.

Anonymous said...

Pak Tuan,

Pasai beca. Saya rasa nama dia Lanca kot...Beca is beca dan lanca adalah lanca.

Beca adalah yang beroda tiga manakala lanca adalah beroda 2 yang ditarik dengan kuasa manusia. Beca is synonymous with the Malay and Chinese communities but Lanca is only exclusively for the Chinese, well...I mean only them are lanca or rickshaw pullers. Beca is trishaw...

Lancas are gone elsewhere but right infront of The Stadhuys in Historical Melaka probably tourists can still find this ancient mode of transportation. And yes, those days rickshaw pullers spotted long and tocang-ed hairs!

Saw these pullers aplenty in most HongKong flicks including "Fist of Fury" in which Bruce Lee had posed as a puller to sandbag a British talibarut.

I have taken rides in beca many times before but most of the times i cukup2 kesian pakcik dan abang2 beca yang dok cuba mengayuh dengan saya di atasnya. Depa punya la pulun sampai naik melengkung sabdu tapi jalan dia slow-slow saja, mungkin sebab badan saya sasa dan tough ni!

Kesian jugak tapi bila kita tanya depa kata "eh..takpa...tak berat, saja roda ni berat pulak...selalu tak macam n!". Nampak macam tak makan nasi lagi!

Kes macam ni juga mengingatkan saya kepada filim P.Ramlee bila ada sorang pengayuh beca kena bawa bujang lapok -- Ramlee, Aziz dan Sudin. Bila sampai ke Studio Jalan Ampas dan bila si bujang lapok berkira bila nak bayaq, si pengauh beca tu kedengaran merungut "Kalau ada lagi 3 macam ni, kami kena buat union!". Masih ingatkah lagi dialog2 evergreen dpd filim P.Ramlee?

Kalu naik beca di Alor Setaq mulut kena jaga2 sikit, jangan sampai kutuk Pak Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Nasib baik kalau dia stop di tengah jalan n suroh kita turun, kalu nasib tak baik nanti dia boh sebiji penyepak kat muka! Pasai apa?

Pasai semua pengayuh beca di Alor Setar dah pi buat haji atau umrah atas biaya peribadi Pak Tun kita dan tak payah tanya pasai apa lah kalu depa ni hostile sikit bila Pak Tun kena kutuk di depan depa! Depa ni emosional sikit bila mai pasai the Grand Old Masta. Sayang depa kepada dia Allah saja yang tau.

Semua depa dah pi Mekkah, ada yang dah pi sampai dua kali, setidak-tidaknya p umrah dulu dan kemudiannya p buat haji tapi bukan semua orang tau pasai jasa Pak Tun ni.

Dia pun jenis yang tak suka dabik dada bila buat amal jariah. So, the next time...pandai2 la jaga mulut! Dan kalu puji Pak Tun nanti depa cerita panjang lebaq kebaikan orang tua tu sampai ke destinasi kita.

Pasai Hamid Othman? Tak payah la cakap...

Cuma yang saya nak tanya ialah pasai apa Pejabat Perdana Menteri masih mengekalkan jawatan Penasihat Agama sedangkan Perdana Menteri kita adalah ulama, bukan ka? Pasai dia ulama, Imam Besar Islam Hadhari dan cucu ulama jadi pasai apa masih nak ada penasihat agama? Tidakkah redundant?

Dan bukankah disebabkan ada Menteri Di Jabatan Perdana Menteri yang mengawalselia hal ehwal Islam, jawatan beliau juga adalah bersifat penasihat agama kepada Perdana Menteri? Tidakkah begitu?

Menteri Agama seperti yang selalu disebut peranannya, tidakkah cukup untuk memberi nasihat kepada Perdana Menteri yang sudahpun bersifat Imam? Justeru, apa pasai mau ada lagi penasihat agama yang kegemarannya cukup suka main golf. Ulama dan golf, bolehkah bercampur?

Seperkara lagi, nasihat saya ialah seandainya Kerajaan Malaysia beriltizam tinggi akan perkembangan Islam Hadhari, bukankah tiba masanya ditubuhkan atau dinaik taraf Jabatan Kemajuan Islam atau Jakim kepada Kementerian Kemajuan Islam atau Kementerian Hal Ehwal Islam Malaysia dengan menteri di JPM itu dipertanggungjawabkan sebagai peneraju kementerian itu?

Kita namakan Malaysia sebagai Negara Islam akan tetapi taraf kemajuan Islam di sini belum sampai ke tahap sesebuah kementerian?

Dan apakah tidak molek di Kementerian Hal Ehwal Islam atau Kementerian Kemajuan Islam itu wujudnya jawatan penting Mufti Negara? kerana wujudnya Mufti Negeri di setiap negeri justeru tidakkah ada justifikasi perlunya Mufti Negara?

Kalau di era Pak Tun Dr Mahathir kita fahamlah pasai depa kata dia bukan ulama akan tetapi saintis akan tetapi di era Perdana Menteri Abdullah yang mengelar dirinya Imam Besar? Macam mana?

Kita ada peguam negeri atau disebut sebagai penasihat Undang-Undang dan bila di kerajaan pusat ada pula jawatan Peguam Negara akan tetapi mufti hanya sesuai di peringkat negeri dan tidak di peringkat persekutuan? Begitu juga dengan ketua polis negeri dan ketua polis negara...

Macam mana Pak Tuan?

Zaki Tok Tam
Anakbukit, Alor Setar, Kedah

Syed Imran said...

Sdr Zaki Tok Tam,

Orang Penang rujuk kepada kenderaan itu sebagai langcia (atau lancia). Orang Penang tak sebut beca. Saya guna perkataan beca kerana ia telahpun diterima pakai sebagai istilah rasmi untuk beca. Di Pantai Timur dan juga di Kedah (dulu), ia disebut sebagai teksi.

Langcia adalah perkataan Cina tempatan (Hokkien Penang). Yang saya pasi perkataan "lang" rujuk kepada orang. Ia bertepatan dengan langcia yang ditarik orang sebelum ia digantikan dengan yang beroda tiga dan dikayuh oleh manusia.
Ia masih dipanggil langcia.

Di Penang pada satu ketika dulu, ada sebuah pejabat di Penang Road, sebelah balai bomba, yang mendaftar dan mengeluarkan lesen langcia. Tempat itu kini telah bertukar wajah menjadi Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak.

Mengenai Penasihat Agama kepada Perdana Menteri, setahu saya apabila Pak Lah, Imam Besar Islam hadhari, menjawat jawatan PM, KSU Sulitnya (Datuk Thajudeen) ada mengeluarkan surat pekeliling yang memuatkan senarai nama pegawai, penasihat dan kakitangan di Pejabat PM. Saya masih ingat nama Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Othman tiada dalam senarai kerana jawatan Penasihat Agama telah dimansuhkan.

Tetapi, si Tan Sri ini tidak mahu mengosongkan pejabatnya di Aras 3, Bangunan Perdana Putra. Pak Lah serba salah dan sebagai seorang yang diketahui tidak sampai hati nak suruhnya kosongkan pejabat itu, dia terus menghuninya dan mengisytiharkan dirinya sebagai Penasihat Agama. Itulah cerita sebenarnya. Kata orang Kedah, dia hemoi, cukup hemoi.

Menyentuh perkara berkaitan mufti dan JAKIM, saya dah naik malas nak sentuh. 14 orang mufti ada 14 karenah dan sering tidak sepakat, lebih-lebih lagi mufti muda dan kurang berpengalaman seperti mufti Perlis yang diberi tempat dan ruang oleh Utusan Melayu sedangkan Perlis adalah satu-satunya negeri yang tidak berpegang kepada Mazhab Shafie.

Bab pentadbiran agama di Malaysia agak bercelaru. Setiap negeri ada kuasa sendiri. Penguatkuasaan Undang-Undang Syariah tidak selaras dan tidak diiktiraf antara negeri-negeri tertentu. Ini semua kerana wujudnya Undang-Undang Pentadbiran Agama Islam (Syariah) yang berbeza-beza. Penyeragaman masih belum dapat dilaksanakan kerana setiap negeri yang beraja mahu mempertahankan kuasa masing-masing. Penyeragaman agak mudah bagi negeri-negeri yang tidak beraja.

Tak tahulah sama ada di bawah pendekatan Islam hadhari masalah ini boleh diatasi. Saya kurang yakin kerana Islam hadhari itu sendiri menimbulkan tanda tanya dan mencelarukan lagi keadaan. Entahlah!