Friday, March 04, 2011

The choice in PERTAMA

copied from here

25-26 Feb, University Al Al-Bayt, Mafraq- The question that silenced everyone in the pink and purple decorated grand hall, “When did you choose to be a Muslim?.
PERTAMA is an annual event, conjured by the Malaysian Student Council of Jordan (or better known as MPPMJ), changing topics every year, a convention to gather students from across Jordan and discuss important current issues regarding Islam.

With its very tip top preparation from the welcoming committee, to its catering and hostel services. We, from Irbid have clearly felt the warm reception a good start to what was, a very grand program.
This year, with its topic ‘The Fiqh of interacting with non-Muslim’s’ has brought students to see from a wholly new perspective and open their minds to what a Muallaf (newly converted Muslim) feel, questions that non-Muslims frequently ask regarding our faith and general misconceptions on both sides.
Among the honored and prestigious speakers that were invited, was firstly, Brother Shah Kirit- Head of Saba Islamic Media Sdn Bhd and also worked under the Islamic information Service. Highly active in Da’wah and spreading Islam, he gave two important talks regarding Islam phobia- Is it our fault or theirs? Explaining how non-Muslims view Islam from the Mass Media’s point of view, telling us that probably the way Muslims represent Islam wrongly have affected their impression on us.
“Imagine if you were a non-Muslim in a non-Muslim country, and your source of Islam was only from the Media like CNN, BBC and your local news…and this was what you saw. You saw women beaten to death. Muslim countries dying in poverty. War and violence. And then you suddenly see a Muslim walking in your street, towards you- you’d be afraid. Right?”
He also taught us how to answer some difficult questions regarding the misunderstandings with non-Muslims. A famous example that kept the hall laughing was when polygamy.
“You see, this issue is all but a misunderstanding. Islam didn’t introduce polygamy…polygamy was practiced years before…if we take a look at the Jahilliyah period, Arab men married countless of women at one time. Islam came and limited it. Islam introduced a fairer concept of polygamy- to be fair with your four wives…or else marry only one.
“And imagine if one husband had four wives, and to be ‘fair’ one woman had four husbands…and then and then the other four husbands had another four wives…and they had another four husbands…it goes on and on…suddenly everyone is related!”
He also touched upon the ‘Intermingle between Islam and Culture’- are we really safe?
“Islam doesn’t restrict culture, as long as it does not go against Syariah law…but if we look at our custom in Malaysia, do you think there are many customs following Syariah law? Are we really safe from Khurafat (believing  and practice things that go against the faith’s belief) and wrong doings?”
Blowing out candles on a cake. Searching for meanings behind birthdays and dates and horoscopes. Practicing the ‘Adat merenjis’ during a wedding ceremony. Were just some of the many examples Brother Shah Kirit asked us to ponder upon.
“You see all these ghost films? Their all over Malaysia…and they are all endangering our people’s Aqidah (belief)….most of what they show are the real thing. Are what our people are really doing-calling upon Djinns and believing in Khurafat.”
Brother Lim Jooi Soon-whom conjured an ‘Interactive Dakwah Training (IDT), PERKIM in Ampang, and also has written countless books about Christianity and The Authenticity of the Qur’an was also another welcomed and very energetic speaker. Giving talks about the importance of comparative religion. Asking us whether we should or shouldn’t learn it.
“You’re afraid to learn comparative religion- to read the Bible or books about Buddha…because you’re afraid your faith would waver? Well let me ask you this, if Islam was so wrong…if it had any faultiness at all…would you still stay in it?”
The audience was surprised by his question. Some said yes…others were unsure.
He answered, “Well, if Islam was wrong in any way… I would be the first person to leave this religion. Why stay in a religion that is wrong? Are you nuts?? But IF anyone could find any fault in Islam. IF. And can anyone find fault in Islam? Allah has asked us to compare to search. And HE guarantees to us- that the truth will always prevail.
As said in Surah Yunus Ayah 94, ‘If thou wert in doubt as to what We have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee: the Truth hath indeed come to thee from thy Lord: so be in no wise of those in doubt’.
From this verse we can understand Allah wants us to compare!”
A born Chinese whom was a Christian before converting to Islam fifteen years ago, gave a talk also about the Authenticity of the Qur’an. His words continue to inspire us as he asked.
“I chose to be a Muslim fifteen years ago. Brother Shah Kirit chose to be a Muslim some time ago…when did you choose to be a Muslim?”
“Just because you were born in an Islamic family…doesn’t mean you appreciate Islam. The converters or the Muallaf, have gone through the process of before and after having Islam in their lives. They hold unto Islam because they have understood what it feels like to live without it. They appreciate it.
“Please… don’t be a Muslim by chance…but be a Muslim by choice.”
In his words we could see how we, as born Muslims have for so long taken the granted of Allah’s greatest gift- Islam. How many among us are like these people? Appreciate what we believe in- that is nothing but the sole truth? Appreciate the fact that we are protected by laws that are both ingenious and fair in its justice? Truly understand that we are lost and in misery without Allah?
To myself, I ask whether I have truly used His gift to me. The hijab to cover myself from wrong doers and being used by the Satan. The gift of a loving family, whom only ask I do the right thing in His way. Never trying to harm or condemn me to find His grace. The honor to indulge and study His greatest piece of art- his creations.
The shot at heaven.
“You see these Christian missionaries and they come to your house…they try to ask you to follow Christianity. And you get all angry but do you know why they do it? Because they want you to be saved, to go to heaven.And what about us? We know that no one except those whom believe in Allah- will go to heaven. Do we not pity our non-Muslim friends? Do we not feel like we have to help, have to save them?”
Adding to those two was Dr Muhammad Abdul Hamid Muhammad al-Khateeb- Al Al Bayt University’s PHD lecturer in comparative religion. He gave a talk about the general idea of comparative religion and our roles in it for Da’wah. Also, we had the chance to meet a Brother convert who lived in the United States of America, Brother Naseer and he mainly answered questions issues regarding the reality of Muslims in America.
At the end of the program, we were feasted with a forum about “The Challenges of  a Muallaf (convert) and interacting with non-Muslims”. In that forum we had Brother Shah Kirit and Brother Lim Jooi Soon, emphasizing the importance of breaching barriers and reaching out to the non-Muslim community. Even clearing the misunderstandings about the Holy Water and Murtad (to convert out of Islam) cases in Malaysia.
A special guest- a student from Al Al Bayt, Mafraq herself, Sister Najwa binti Abdullah shared her stories on her struggle as a convert and her daily challenges with her family.
‘I am sure, if we do something with knowledge, and try very hard to seek the truth, we will see…that Islam is the answer. That is why we must learn.”
Overall, it is safe to say, everyone at the PERTAMA convention had a great experience. Clearly motivating. Moving. And simple inspirational.
To myself, I have never gone through two days that completely had me thinking until now. The world is waiting for us to discover more of Islam’s beauty. As Allah’s greatest question...given the intellect, aql. Compared to His other creatures. We were given the choice…to either follow His commands…or go against them.
We were given that power- to choose. Now what is YOUR choice?

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