14 September 2007

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at
http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com Please.
Wednesday September 12, 2007

People coming together as one


When people of all faiths gathered last Sunday for a special prayer session for the successful surgery and speedy recovery of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as well as for the continued health of the country, for peace and harmony, it was an emotional experience many will never forget.

THERE are occasions when people come together in our country as part and parcel of our custom. We come together for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, festivals and of course funerals. We also get together to give our thanks when someone has passed exams, or gotten through a difficult experience or major surgery.

In the past week many people have gathered together to give thanks to God for my father’s successful surgery and to pray for his speedy recovery. Most of these have taken place in places of worship or in private homes where members of each respective faith have given thanks and prayed in their own religious traditions.

On his way to recovery: Dr Mahathir, his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali and staff members of the National Heart Institute posing for a picture at the hospital in Kuala Lumpur on Monday. — Bernama
But on Sunday a very different thanksgiving gathering took place. Since my father underwent surgery we have received numerous messages of support and encouragement from Malaysians from all walks of life, race and religion. Everyone has offered prayers for his safe surgery and complete recovery afterwards. We have been enormously touched by this unexpected groundswell of love.

Last Friday, my family organised our own thanksgiving prayers at the Masjid Wilayah. But we were also acutely aware that in doing so, we were leaving out whole swathes of people who had no less sincerely offered their own prayers with much concern for my father. So in appreciation of that, we organised a multi-faith thanksgiving gathering on Sunday evening.

Although it was organised in only two days, it was heartening that people of all faiths responded to our invitation without hesitation. First to confirm his presence was Archbishop Murphy Pakiam representing the Christian community. Then Swami Samyam Ananda was named to represent the Hindu community. The Taoists and the Baha’is confirmed next and finally the Chief Buddhist Monk of Malaysia said he would return all the way from Kuantan just to attend.

I then had to find a Muslim imam who would be able to grace the occasion and respond to the presence of the other faiths in the warmest way possible. A moment of inspiration made me think of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, an imam from New York, who has many ties to Malaysia and who, as luck would have it, happened to be in town. He also agreed without hesitation.

Although friends had spread the word as much as possible, I had no idea who would turn up. But as friends, acquaintances and even strangers arrived I could not help but become emotional. People don’t necessarily express themselves through words, but their actions spoke louder than the thunder above our heads.

The evening began with the maghrib prayers led by Imam Feisal. While we Muslims fulfilled our obligations, the others respectfully listened quietly outside. When we were done, the religious leaders took their places in a semi-circle of seats in front of everyone. Then each in turn, beginning with the Buddhist Chief Monk, began prayers in their own way. Each also said something in English so that everyone would be able to understand that they each gave thanks for the success of my father’s bypass and for his continued good health.

After each one had spoken, Imam Feisal then ended the session by saying a few words about how, even though we each had our own ways, we all prayed to the same God and we were united in praying for the same thing. Not only did everyone pray for the health of someone they held dear but also for the continued health of our country, for peace and harmony.

I don’t think anyone was left unmoved by the whole ceremony. They had come to wish my father well and to lend me support and then experienced something that seems so rare these days, a coming-together of Malaysians for a common cause and unity but with so much respect for the diversity of beliefs.

Everyone prayed in their own way, nobody felt that their beliefs were trampled on. Nine days after Merdeka and a week before Malaysia Day, those present experienced what it felt to be truly Malaysian. If only it wasn’t so rare.

My father’s heart, which has always belonged to all Malaysians, is mending well. I truly believe that it is because all Malaysians, through their prayers, have donated pieces of their own hearts to him that he is making so much progress. I have no doubt that when I tell him what happened on Sunday night, he will be equally moved.

We need more events like these, not just when we need to show concern and sympathy, but also when we want to express joy and celebration. It is when we are able to witness how each of us worship that we are able to respect one another’s beliefs, to know that no religion wishes bad things on those of other faiths.

01 September 2007

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at
http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com Please.
Wednesday August 29, 2007

A truly Malaysian dinner


We were all mixed up – Chinese, American, French, Irish, Javanese and I don’t know what else – and we ate the same food and enjoyed the same entertainment.

MY aunt celebrated her 80th birthday recently and her daughter, my cousin, had a party to celebrate.

Held at a hotel with an eight-course Chinese dinner, the evening gathered everyone from my family as well as my aunt’s and her daughter’s.

This meant that the relatives present that evening were Malays, Chinese (because my aunt is Chinese) and my cousin’s American in-laws.

I wore a Nyonya-style sarong kebaya in homage to my aunt’s heritage while my best friend, who is married to my cousin, wore a cheongsam. There were baju kurung, sari and dresses, while men wore batik shirts or suits.

To me, that room was Malaysia. I looked around that room with pride because all these people were family or related to me by marriage. And we were all mixed up. We ate the same food and we enjoyed the same entertainment.

At the same time I felt sad because I knew there were people outside that room who would have clucked in disapproval.

There are people who think we should not greet people of other races and religions. Yet that would mean I couldn’t greet my own relatives.

There are people who think we should not share meals with people of different faiths. But isn’t it when we share a meal that the best spirit of warmth and understanding among friendly conversation is born?

In my family I have relatives who are Chinese, American, French, Irish, Javanese and I don’t know what else. But we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about race and nationality. I never thought of my aunt as Chinese until her party, at which time I felt proud.

There may be people who think well, it’s okay to accept all these different races into your family because after all, they had to become Muslim. Well, that is true.

But the foundation of our respect and love for each other is not the fact that we all have the same religion but because the same ties of loyalty and unity that every family enjoys bind us too.

After all, there are certainly mono-religious and mono-ethnic families that quarrel and break up too.

I kept wondering if families like ours would be possible in 50 years if some people have their way. Would our society be as welcoming of other races as we have been?

I worry about the type of supremacist ranting that we hear these days and think who in their right mind would want to marry into families of another ethnic group?

After all, marrying may change your religion, but it doesn’t change your race. Wouldn’t you always wonder if your in-laws thought you were inherently inferior?

I conducted a small poll recently to ask people how they felt as our 50th Merdeka nears. An overwhelming 84% said they felt sad because we were going backwards. I can well understand that.

I had to take my daughter out of a national school because I felt that she was not learning to be Malaysian there. How ironic is that?

As an impressionable young child, she was learning very early to differentiate everyone by race and religion, with the underlying assumption that hers was superior to everyone else’s.

Her friends were doing the same. It was not the environment I wanted for a child who has siblings who are only partly the same race as her.

If race and religion are the primary criteria for one’s choice of friends, what about values like honesty, loyalty and mutual respect that are normally the ones that we look for in our friends?

Do they become secondary? Do we have to assume that the only people who will treat us well and who deserve our respect are those who, by total chance, share the same ethnic genes and faith as us?

A Malay father was telling me how the Malay teachers in the Chinese school his kids go to treat them. He taught them to always greet their teachers respectfully when they see them.

But those particular teachers refuse to return the greetings. Is this what good Muslim adults should be teaching children?

We celebrate our 50th anniversary of independence in a couple of days, yet we have not freed ourselves from mindsets that are narrow, communalist and intolerant.

Some people are threatening to wipe out our entire legal history by throwing out our present legal system and substituting it with one that has rarely been applied with any true sense of justice.

Today, there are people who think our present Constitution was a mistake. If these moves mean we have progressed, then we are living a joke.

I am going to celebrate Merdeka with a little neighbourhood tea party. After all, our little street is a microcosm of the Malaysia we love. So why not get together?

Maybe in the future, gatherings such as this will be forbidden. I will surely grieve then.