Faith #12722 Silence is Golden

Faith #12722 Silence is Golden

*** (This article had been published in “Harakah” BIL 1857 * 22-25 SYAABAN 1434 / 1 – 4 JULAI 2013 * PP 5878/07/2013(032524), page 19 & 20)

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Silence is Golden

After returning from performing pilgrimage in late 2010, my wife and I moved to Lembah Kelang to stay near our children.  The apartment that we moved into, was only about 100 meters away from a mosque. We liked staying here not because of the mosque per se, but the activities that the mosque conducted regularly really entertained us. Till now we do enjoy following all the programs being conducted by the mosque especially its  “Kuliah Magrib”. Kuliah Magrib is just a religious class held after the performance of Magrib (dusk) prayer  till the beginning of Isya (night) prayer time.  Other than Kuliah Magrib we enjoy following Kuliah Subuh  (class after the dawn prayer) too, held on the week ends.

Well and good, I have been staying here (near to the said mosque) for almost a year. However only two months  ago (15th May) that I witnessed for the first time a non Muslim being  solemnised as a new Muslim. May Allah bless him throughout his entire life, insya Allah (with God’s will). I feel cherished to witness anyone reverted to Islam. The first one I witnessed was at ABIM Islamic Outreach in Ampang Hilir, Selangor very long ago. The solemnisation then was conducted by a brother whom I was told later as Wardina’s father. The second and third ones were in Orang Asli villages in the district of Gua Musang, Kelantan. Then, I was staying in Post Brooke acompanying my wife who was teaching at the Orang Asli school.  My wonder here is why only then that I could witness a solemnisation conducted in the said mosque for the first time despite I had been frequenting the mosque for nearly a year. Is it a rare incidence peculiar to every mosque?

One morning  I overslept . So I missed that morning congregation prayer at the mosque.  I was awakened by the recitation of verses of the Qur’an by the Imam (the one who led the prayer) at the mosque.  The loudspeakers of the mosque were so loud and clear. This made me realised of the mosque’s practice of turning on its loudspeakers so loudly that could disturb the residents around it. The question that propped out  in my mind was, was it necessary for the mosque to turn on its external loudspeakers, especially in the pre dawn hours. Does Islam invoke the practice upon its subjects?

I did not mean the hailing of  “azan”, but what I was referring to was the recitation of  verses of the holy Qur’an before the “azan”, during the prayer itself and the long recitation of the “doa”  after the prayer.  Taking into account that the residents around the mosque were not all Muslims, my conscious mind found it very hard to concur with the practice.  I would instead feel more relieved and  comfortable if such practice were ceased as soon as possible.

I had put much thought about it before I came to that conclusion.  My rational argument was that, it had never been proven that the practice was effective for the purpose of attracting Muslim residents to come and join the congregation prayers held at the mosque. If it was effective, surely the mosques that had the loudest loudspeakers were always full with “jumaah” (mosque goers). But it was not so. Instead, the mosque had to face complaints from the residents, claiming that their harmony had been impaired or disturbed by the loud sound from the mosque. Consequently, some had even made attempts to sell off their houses and shift to other locations. What a big regret for some of them (I guessed), who had bought their houses before the mosque was there.

Being a Muslim, of course I too would feel rather embarrassed by such complaints. However as a Muslim too I have to be fair to them (the complainers) not by just throwing back the blame totally at them. As I know of, Islam is a religion of peace and harmony. Hence, If a Muslim impairs the harmony of the non Muslims, obviously he contradicts the Islamic principle. A proverb says, “ a man’s meat is another man’s poison ”. Similarly, a melody enjoyed and highly appreciated by a person might be an unbearable nuisance or noise to another person. Thus the recitation of verses of the holy Qur’an, though being highly appreciated by some earnest Muslims, might be otherwise to the non Muslims listeners.  A rational Muslim therefore should not blame his non Muslim fellows but instead should look closely first into what he was doing which had affected them negatively. What he was doing might intrude into their rightful “territory”, for instance. Their rightful territory here was referred to the undisturbed silence that they deserved or entitled to. They might wish to enjoy or appreciate the silence after returning home from their daily routine work in the busy and noisy city.

Being a regular mosque goer, I too faced dilemma sometimes. As much as I could, I did not wish to be implicated with any practice which would cause problems to any individual or party. To me, any kind of action that could offend others was considered as un-Islamic. Actions that were invoked by Islam were those supported by evidences from the authentic Islamic sources. An example was the “azan”. Hence, to me the hailing of the “azan” was acceptable since it was invoked by Islam. However, playing the recitation of the verses of the Qur’an loudly through a full blast loudspeakers was not equitable to the hailing of the “azan” of five times a day. Moreover the “azan” had been tolerated sportingly by almost all non Muslims in Malaysia ever since, but not so for the latter (playing of the recitations).

The reason why I use the word playing to refer to the recitations is because very often than not, the recitations did not come from the reader of the recitations in live. Instead it was just from an electronic device such as DVD player, cassette tape player etc. Sorry to say, even the one who turned on the player himself did not listen to the recitations attentively. So could we aspect that those residents around the mosque would lend their ears to listen attentively to the recitations of verse of the holy Qur’an. Thus, what benefit had the society reaped so far from the practice that had been going on for decades.

Using loudspeakers as public address system (PA system) is of course more than justifiable. The prayer hall of any mosque is usually big. In performing a congregation prayer, the Imam who leads the prayer is supposed to read certain stipulated verses clearly and loudly so that his followings at the furthest ends of the hall too could hear him well. Unfortunately, by the present standard, we could hardly find an Imam who could emulate the audibility of a parade commander who is capable of delivering his commands very loudly and clearly just with his own natural voice. Hence, a PA system is the only solution. It is almost inevitable now that every Imam would have to be assisted by the PA system in order that his recitations are audible by all his followings in the congregation prayer that he leads.

However, it is quite odd or excessive if a mosque engages the external loudspeakers for the Imam to lead a congregation prayer.  External loudspeakers should instead be fully dedicated for hailing azan only or any announcement deemed very important for the whole residents. They are not meant for those who are already in the mosque. If such discipline is observed strictly by the mosque, I am quite optimistic that no one outside the mosque would feel offended. Why should they feel offended then if they are not disturbed unnecessarily. As for short azan, again I am quite sure that every citizen irrespective of race and religion had already taken for granted as a phenomenon in the country, whose official religion is Islam. Hence it is no more justifiable for any Malaysian citizen to oppose it .

Let me share with you two relevant experiences that I had come across before. On one fine evening I was about to enter a mosque when a late middle-age couple approached me. One of them was holding a letter to be delivered to the Imam of the mosque. Probably because I had a little skill of communicating in English, they seemed comfortable to converse with me. They frankly confessed to me that they really felt disturbed by the loud sound from the mosque, especially at critical hours. They claimed that their young children were always awakened by the sound and they had to face hard time to put them back to sleep. So they were hopeful that the mosque could tone down the volume of its loudspeakers or just turn away the speakers  from facing their home. Upon asking them whether they could tolerate the azan, they replied to me that they did.

Prior to that incidence at the mosque, I had already faced a similar one at a surau a few months earlier. A different non Muslim couple came to the surau while I was there. I was not as a resident of the area but just as a visitor. I heard the couple were complaining verbally about the intolerable sound of the surau loudspeakers to one of its officials. As an outsider, I just kept silence while observing their conversation very closely.  Since that very incidence, my mind began to open up to think about the implications of over application of loudspeakers by mosques and suraus.. The incidence at the mosque in fact confirmed to me that there were residents who were not tolerable of the sound from the loudspeakers of the mosque or surau. The two couples who brave themselves to come forward and lodged their complains, was a manifestation of the existence of many more intolerable residents around the mosque..

Based on the two experiences, I had tried to share my opinion with some friends including one or two of the mosque officials pertaining to the over application of the loudspeakers by the mosque. I told them that the practice was not in tandem with Islamic aspiration since it did not respect the basic right of the residents around the mosque. Moreover there is no convincing evidence as a proof that the practice has produced positive result in inviting Muslim residents to the mosque. I had been to Mecca and Medina for three times. But as far as I could remember such practice was not observed at all in both of the holy lands, despite their population were 100% Muslims.

I guess, not all Malaysian Muslims concur with the said practice by the mosque or surau. They too might have different personal perceptions, backed by their relevant religious knowledge and rational thinking pertaining to the matter. From my point of view, I saw the practice as an overdoing of a religious obligation. I wish to assert here that the mosques and suraus should only engage the internal loudspeakers for performing congregation prayers and in conducting any religious activity in the mosque. Otherwise it would go against the principle as implied in the following quotations:

Worship Allah and join none with Him (in worship); and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, Al-Masaakin (the needy), the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbour who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet) and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. Verily, Allah does not like such as are proud and boastful ”      Qur’an, surah 4 verse 36

There is no compulsion in religion. Verily the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-hearer, All-knower Qur’an surah 2 verse 256

In the first verse above, though there is no elaboration about how a Muslim should treat and entertain his neighbours, there are hadiths (traditions of the prophet Muhammad pbup) that discuss the issue quite comprehensively. Islam requires its subjects to treat their neighbours amicably whether the latter are Muslims or otherwise. Under an Islamic government, the rights of non Muslims are fully honoured and protected. Thus, if something unfavourable to the non Muslims is let loose such that it intrudes the territory of non Muslims, such action is considered as ill treating the non Muslim neighbours. Loud sounds that could disturb them too could be considered as ill treating  them or trespassing their rightful territories.

Though most Muslims sincerely like to attract and influence the non Muslims to revert to Islam, the second verse of the Qur’an (as quoted above) warns them not to apply any compulsion in so doing. Forcing others to listen to what they don’t like to, is of course tantamount to compelling them to accept our teachings, views, ideas, advices etc. To me this is against the aspiration of Islam and contradicts to the said verse of the Qur’an. What worries me too is that the institution of the mosque might not be seen with any respect by our non Muslim neighbours. Consequently, instead of feeling comfortable staying near the mosque, many would choose to quit and move to somewhere else, further away from any mosque or surau.

I prefer to apply the term  “revert” rather than “convert” to refer to the adoption of Islam by a non Muslim, after I attended a talk by a young American who turned to be a Muslim a couple of years ago. According t o him everyone was originally a Muslim by “fitrah” or nature. However, what turned him to other than Islam was the process of upbringing that he received from his parents. Hence “revert” is a more appropriate word to mean a person who returned to where he originally was. This statement of his, reflected that he did strongly believe a tradition of the prophet (pbuh) which said so. If the Muslims generally had strong faith in the inherent meaning of the hadith, I think they would have more confidence in propagating Islam to non Muslim citizens in Malaysia in particular. Unfortunately we had failed to realise this potential for the last few decades. If the Muslims in Malaysia had capitalised this fact, I believe that by now thousands of MCA and MIC members were  Muslims.

I think it is important to emphasise here that, if one is to learn about Islam merely by looking at what are being practised by the Muslims, then he might be deceived. Several Muslim reverts that I had come across confessed that they reverted  back to Islam after they had done their own research on Islam. Actually Islam is a very simple religion to understand by any layman. What had made it seemed complex were the Muslims themselves. The above controversial practice by the mosque and suraus could be considered as a tip of an iceberg. There are many more which I do not intend to list them down here. Whatever  they are, the implications caused by them are often counter productive to the efforts of propagating Islam to the non Muslims. Hence I wish to remind all non Muslim friends (especially the potential reverts) to learn about Islam by own readings of the translation of the holy Quran (eg. By Abdullah Yusuf Ali). Of course also by consulting some Islamic renown figures like Dr. Daniel and the equivalents. It is great to mention here that my beloved aunty and my son in law are reverts. May Allah bless them throughout their entire lives and make them as exemplary for the Muslims and the Muslims to be, insya Allah (with God’s permission).

As the conclusion for this comment of mine that entitles Silence is Golden  I would like to call upon the authorities of all the mosques and suraus throughout Malaysia to emulate the mosques in the holy lands of Mecca and Medina. During my visits there, the mosques there did not play any recitation of verses of the Qur’an, neither before nor after the azan. Thus Muslims in the holy lands who performed their religious rites individually were not disturbed whether they were at home or in the mosques while waiting to perform the congregation prayer.  Here in Malaysia, we do not seem to enjoy enough respect as much as we deserve it. For example, we just arrived at the mosque and start performing our mandatory prayer (solat fardu) just a short distance away from the Imam who had just finished leading a congregation prayer.  The Imam did not seem to pay any heed to us. He did not bother to disengage the loudspeaker that is attached to him, as a show of respect to us who were performing our mandatory prayer though it deserved a greater priority than the recitations after a prayer.

Similarly, we did not seem to honour the right of a Muslim to perform his individual religious rite without being disturbed by any external factor such as the loudspeakers. We do not seem to appreciate and value of silence appropriately as a right of every individual, universally.  Whilst, Islam does enjoin the Muslim to perform “tahajud” prayer in a very silent situation, that is during the time after the mid-night.   In short, let us recognise and adopt the popular caption of SILENCE  is GOLDEN”. I think it is high time for the mosques and suraus to adopt a paradigm shift, that is to discontinue the said controversial and futile practice. Let this year’s fasting month of Ramadhan be the month of silence, instead of extending the engagement time of the external loudspeakers (by the mosques and suraus) from 9pm to 11pm every night.

Let us (all Muslims) not disturb any of our neighbours by the sound of our religious recitations during the odd hours specifically at the pre dawn and late evening (after  9pm).

 

A noble call: please CLICK below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qtQCkaUa64

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Tanyalah Ustaz Don BUKAN Uz Don’t    #12724A

Soalan 1: “Uz Dont, kenapakah azan dilaungkan dengan sekuat-kuatnya hingga dengak sampai ke hujung kampong ?”

Jawapan 1: “Pertama supaya tidak ada seorang pun orang Islam yang tak dapat dengak azan itu. Kedua sebab lebih kuat azan maka lebih ramai yang akan datang ke masjid berjemaah”

Soalan 2: “ Uz Dont,  kenapa masjid suka sangat bukak spika deras-deras sampai satu kampong boleh dengak ustaz sedang berceramah di masjid ?”

Jawapan 2: “ Adapun tujuan membukak spika deras-deras ialah untuk memberi peluang kepada suri-suri rumah tangga turut sama mengikuti kuliah yang diadakan di masjid sambil masak atau lipat kain di rumah

Soalan 3: “Uz Dont,  kenapa pula lepaih kuliah dah tamat pun masih bukak spika deras-deras juga sampai satu kampong boleh dengak Imam sedang mengimami solat jumaah di masjid ?”

Jawapan 3: “ Ini satu soalan yang sangat power, terima kasih. Memandangkan ramai orang Islam tak minat datang ikut Imam solat berjemaah di masjid, maka biarlah mereka ikut Iman solat berjemaah di rumah masing-masing. Bahawasanya tidak ada paksaan dalam agama”

Komen 1: “Tak kan macam tu kut Uz, biaq betui !”

Respon 1: “Jika hang tak setuju dangan Uz Dont, tanyalah pula Ustaz Don

 

OPajar    #12726

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~ by OPajar on 2012/12/22.

One Response to “Faith #12722 Silence is Golden”

  1. Reblogged this on 4uni2c and commented:

    Semoga Ramadhan ini merupakan bulan yang lebih HARMONI dari bulan-bulan lain

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