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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Our Hari Raya breakfast conversation

It is beautiful how we can sit around the same table and discuss matters of a sensitive nature without ending up throwing chairs and cutlery at each other.
COMMENT
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Muslims all around the world celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri according to their own traditions and customs. My family has our own too.
While the common ritual of many Muslims in Malaysia is to begin their day at the mosque in new clothes as they seek forgiveness, peace and blessings for everyone, women in my family, on the other hand, stay home.
This is a tradition passed on by my late grandfather, who believed women played a vital role in managing the household and caring for the young ones.
He therefore taught us to leave it to the men to attend to the special prayers and khutbah sessions (sermon) on the morning of the first Syawal.
My mom, my sister-in-law, my daughter and myself spend our Raya mornings ensuring the idiappoms (string hoppers), mutton dhalcha, chicken varuval and other typical Mamak delicacies are well prepared and the children are up from bed, showered and dressed before the men return from the mosque.
Once they are home, everyone sits around the dining table for a wonderful Hari Raya breakfast. This in fact, is what I look forward to most during the celebration – our Hari Raya breakfast conversation.
And every year, we kick-start this session the same way – over plates full of idiappom banjir and glasses of teh tarik, someone asks the million dollar question – “What was the Hari Raya khutbah (sermon) about?”
With just that one question, our discussion which will begin with the topic of the khutbah, will move on to other religious issues, and before we know it, branch out to politics, our personal experiences and sometimes end up in rather serious discussions.
Truly, there is no topic too taboo when my family sits down together during the morning of Syawal.
The person who introduced this Hari Raya breakfast custom was none other than my dad.
You see, my dad as the head of the house, never set boundaries and limitations on what we were permitted to talk about on any occasion.
Throughout Ramadan itself, we have debated the various interpretations of Quranic verses, fatwas and other Islamic practices.
We have questioned the authenticity of certain hadith and even the need to have four mazhabs as a base of religious practice.
We freely debated different schools of thought based on fact, knowledge, opinion and experience. Even my teenage children were not left out during these discussions.
In an era where politicians, the authorities, scholars, teachers and parents tell us what to believe in and how to carry out our beliefs, my dad has always been intrigued to know our own opinions and sentiments on almost everything.
Being a staunch conservative Muslim, my dad’s way of cultivating such habits that promote free interaction and discussion, has resulted in all of us gaining a deeper understanding of Islam. It has also helped strengthen our iman (faith).
Instead of force feeding, we were encouraged to think, challenge and understand.
It is amazing to note how my dad, being a man who taught himself to read “alif ba ta” at the age of 40, who possessed limited knowledge of Islam prior to that, has brought together a family of liberals, conservatives, extremists, new converts and young Muslims.
It is beautiful how we are able to sit around the same table and discuss matters of a sensitive nature without ending up throwing chairs and cutlery at each other.
My father has trained us well I’d say, that until today, at any point of disagreement, we’ve mastered the skill to at least agree to the fact that my mom makes the best string hoppers, dhalcha and chicken varuval in the world.
Selamat Hari Raya!
Fa Abdul is an FMT columnist.

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