Sunday, 2 February 2014

A Sunday Service at Rochester


"Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The Grace of God is glue"

Back in the year 2010, I was torn between applying for a scholarship to pursue my studies abroad, or to stay in Malaysia instead. Not that I was really confident that I can get one - because this particular scholarship, to me, is a challenging one to get -, but you know, the what if's that built in my heart and mind; what if I got this scholarship, where will they send me to? What if I didn't get it, where should I study then?

Alhamdulillah, as if it was fated, I got the scholarship and now here I am, at Buffalo, NY.

There are of course, the pros and cons of studying abroad. It's not always rose petals and creme brulee, some days we also have to endure pointy thorns, some days we also have to swallow sour plums.

Life is like Red Velvet Cheesecake. What a lie. - Photo credit 

I mean seriously, which Malaysian student doesn't miss the warm roti canai and the old bubbly, extra sweet teh tarik for breakfast? Dude, you don't know how we suffer every day, craving for those Malaysian version of manna and salwa.

A very dear INTEC memory, from Rafi with love

For Muslim students, who doesn't miss the adhan, calling out loud from the masjid's speaker, by our bilingual muaddhin. Or who doesn't miss pasar Ramadan, one of the few places where people can really, literally, go crazy for food?

Yes, my friend, being abroad makes us, and me in particular, to be more appreciative of our religion, Islam.

Prophet Muhammad pbuh once mentioned in a hadith, that we should spread good stories that we have, and leave all those sad moments, those very unpleasant to the ears and souls, in our closets. Responding to this call of doing a good deed (because Muslims are rewarded for following the Prophet's actions (sunnah), even as small action as eating with our right hand), I went to a church today.

Wooooo wooo wait. Never have I came across any legal narrated hadith that says the Prophet went to a church. I'm not saying going to a church is a sunnah.

All that I'm saying is that the act of going there, my intention, was because to spread a very very good thing that I posses - Islam.

I was invited by my friend, Sophia Fretter, of whom I met when she couchsurfed at my house back in summer 2013, for a church discussion at the First Universalist Church of Rochester. She was really into this topic - 'How to Communicate with Muslims', and I was one of the people, perhaps, who came to her mind, who can help her facilitate this discussion.

The discussion was a short one, I'd say it was about 25 minutes. We watched a short film "No Apology" by WNYMuslims, and we were literally bombarded by questions from the church members after that. The attendees were mostly lovely 'golden-age' adults,about 8-11 of them, of which I really respect their effort for having this discussion, attending it, and participating in the discussion about a very popular-in-a-negative-sense religion with an enthusiastic manner.

During the discussion - Photo credit Sophia Fretter

Most of them wanted to know just the basics - is it okay to give salam to a Muslim, the rules of entering masjid, the so-called oppression of women in Islam (which doesn't exist, really), and the idea of wearing a hijab.

Perhaps you are saying to yourself, "Whoa, this kid went to a church to preach about Islam, she must be really pious". Nope. I'm not pious and not dare to label myself as one either.

The task or obligation of spreading Islam is actually on the shoulders of every Muslim. You don't have to wait until you became a hafiz (one who memorize the Quran) to spread Islam. The motto of our religion, other than Peace, is Modesty. Remember the story of the blind Jew in Madinah?

Saidina Abu Bakr r.a. is Prophet Muhammad's best friend. After the Prophet pbuh passed away, Saidina Abu Bakr went to see his daughter, Saidatina Aishah r.a., who was one of the Prophet's wives. He asked her the Prophet's actions at which that he can continue doing , as he really misses his old buddy and by doing so, he can convey his love for the Prophet pbuh. Saidatina Aishah r.a. recalled several actions. One of them was the Prophet used to spoon-feed a blind, old Jew in the city. So one day, with the intention to follow the footsteps of his beloved friend, Saidina Abu Bakr went to meet this old man. The old Jew was so happy as the person who he had waited for a few days finally came, and ready to spoon-feed him again, and treat him with love and care. Without knowing that the person was Saidina Abu Bakr, the Jew asked him about Prophet Muhammad, and began to criticize his actions of dividing the Arabs as he brought a 'new' religion in town. Saidina Abu Bakr didn't say a word at first, he just kept listening while his tears began to pool on his eyes. When Saidina Abu Bakr fed the Jew, the old man suddenly spit out the food and said "You are not the same person who used to spoon-feed me! The person who fed me used to crush the food for me, and he will feed me gently. Where is he?" Listening to that, Saidina Abu Bakr can no longer hold his tears. He told the man, "The person who you just criticized and condemned was the same person who fed you every day. He was the Prophet pbuh. He just passed away a few days ago". The old man was dumbfounded. He accepted Islam at that moment.

Don't you realize by wearing your hijab, you are actually spreading to the world about Islam? No word needs to be uttered, the actions are what matters the most.

Or don't you realize, by acting all-gentleman, you are actually following the footsteps of the Prophet pbuh? You can hold a door for someone, or maybe hold someone's book(s)/bag(s) in a crowded Stampede.

Welp, the discussion went well. All that my friends and I hoped was that we had more time to talk about our religion.

I hereby want to give my bountiful thanks to Sophia Fretter for giving me a chance to talk about my religion, to my ex-supervisor, also a very good friend of mine, Amani Abuhamra, for allowing us to show "No Apology" short film, to my 2 good buds Kilala and Tini students of RIT, for accompanying me and also for facilitating the discussion, to my dear dear friends, Uchi and LemLem for allowing me to crash your house (and bed. p/s: I made myself a cup of tea this morning, just so you know. Mintak halal, hehe), to my housemate, for having to listen to Nidji and Peterpan's songs to and fro Rochester encore and back-to-back, and to all the people who spiritually and financially, supported our journey. Thank you. Jazakumullahu khairan kathira. 

A challenge worth taking, a weekend worth sacrificing, an experience worth gaining.

Okay, should get back to Bioseparation Techniques.

"O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted"

(Al-Hujurat [The Rooms], 49: 13)

p/s: If you found any wrong fact, while disregarding my pain-in-the-eye grammatical errors (I'm working on it, no kidding), please please do inform me via any humanly possible mean.
Thank you.

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