I am writing this article from deep inside my heart to share with you my journey in discovering islam. My search for truth begin nearly 20 years ago. As a young chinese, I am more a free thinker rather than following the usual chinese Ancestor worship. Most chinese are mistaken to be Buddhist. Those who choose to become Christian at least make some thinking and spiritual questioning. To believe in God is easy. But how we deal with religions with its varois people and institutions. This is more difficult. Are not they are almost similar or very different from one another. It also involved race ,language and the society around us. So I define myself as seeker. I am a shy person but also brave to undertake this journey to discover Islam. I begin to read a lot about the great religions and teaching of the philosophers from east and west. I still remember in the 1970s where a magazine called Nuggets of Wisdom really illuminated my life. It contains various aphorisms and teachings from the sages and prophets of God .
First , because I know the malays very well due to my malay educational background, I separate the malay beliefs and culture from the spiritual truth of Islam. I read directly the Islamic teaching by scholars such as Imam Ghazali, Jalaluddin Rumi, Iqbal, Muhammad Asad, Maryam Jameelah, Pickthall, SH Nasr, Martin Lings and a lot sufic stuffs. My three years in University of Malaya was full of reflection, research and interaction with people. I also prayed secretly in my heart to God that He help me and strenghten me on the path of Islam. Please give me trusted friends. Open me to encounter with people of Allah.
When you are becoming mature around 18 to 20, the attraction toward women take a new dimension. You feel the need to love and to be loved by the other half. Your heart yearn to be confided. You see the beauty and subtle care of the feminine half. You think you must prove your manhood. You are a hero without friends. As seeker, you begun turning to God. You begin to question- oh God, why I am without a true religion ? Why the ancestor chinese beliefs cannot suit me. I am educated. I am enlightened by the modern literatures. I must roam free and be brave to find my own destiny.
The hardest thing now is who we can communicate and relate our feelings about God. It is so intimate and precious. Of course, only a respectful and understanding woman can share your concerns. Why , because a woman when she trust you, she really think you are a great guy. She know you can become a hero and challenge the world. She do not want a weakling or a coward dealing with life and death. There are no free love today. You must pay with genuine cares, tricks or worldly attachments. That why your diplomas or degree really help. It ensure you get a good job and ways to find money to support your own life.
To Be Strong
In the beginning, I keep my interest on islam secret from other friends while I am in the campus. I wanted to build the solid knowledge and confidence before becoming a muslim. At that time, I know the inward certainty about islam but not the muslims around me which still not trusty or helpful enough. Who is this chinese guy ? Why should I speak or befriend him ? It is very impolite for a muslim woman to communicate with a chinese student ? What about the muslim guys outside there ?
In 1979, there are only Perkim which deal with new muslims or potential seekers. There are no Abim Outreach, JIM, Darul Fitrah or Macma. I don’t believe in Perkim. So I prefer my own way of learning Islam mainly through books. And a lot reflection, meditation and inner musings. I kept a personal diary on important spiritual encounters. I feels that many of the Quranic messages and Hadiths were addressing to my special needs.
What about my family, how will they react if I became a muslim ? This fear have to be addressed properly. If you know they love and trust you, they will sympathise with your choice of Islam. They need some assurances. How will you cope with your muslims friends, your job and your surrounding. Who will help you when in trouble ? A steady job will almost assure them that you can survive on your own. Answer that you will continue to respect and help your father or mother. Islam teaches all the good ethics as the chinese tradition requires. If you read about Confucius, this is a strong point.
With so many chinese muslims today who openly doing dakwah and speak on Islam, you will feel happy and very safe to be among them. Macma as a jemaah give a big boosters. They are many knowledgable and committed chinese muslims leaders ready to guide, teach, counsel and support us whenever necessary. To find and win a new chinese muslim friends is a bonus. They are so few of us around. Brotherhood is blessing of Allah. We need to be united by the hearts and by our collective ibadah.
In those 20 years, I had been learning and interacting with the jemaah of Abim, Tabligh, Arqam and many ulama or ustazs. Until today, I still urge myself to attend kelas pengajian kitab / hadis and tasawwuf or the sufic gatherings. Yes , almost three times per week. Fisabilillah. Travelling for seeking the pleasure Allah. Sitting and remembering Allah together with those blessed by Allah with greater taqwa and adab. Today , the muslims have lost or abandoned this sufic way. They created new organization or modernized islam which stressed on information rather than transformation of the inward. The chinese classics gave emphasis on taking the Way of the Sage/ Sheng Ren or the Superior Man / Chun Tzi. They are the people blessed and guided by Heaven because they followed the principle of Tao. For the muslims, this is the path of sufic masters who purify and elevate the seekers. And make them free and firm on the Deen of Allah.
Embrace The Tiger
I quoted the saying of I Ching : Embrace the tiger and return to the mountain. Embrace Islam- the gift of Allah for us to recover to our adamic being / nature. Hui jiao – the Way of Return to the ancient primodial teaching of Fitra and Tawhid.
Thanks and praise to Allah, now I am able to teach and guide others to Islam after went through all the process of fear, rejection, humility, learning, travel and meeting with all kind of muslims and ulamak. I must thanks many of my teachers who taught me how to respect and love Allah and His Rasul. Taqwa is nothing but adab-proper behaviour toward the inward and outward Reality. Remember, we also have enemy the Shaytan who always ready to whisper and suggest the sweet and wrong things for us to pursue. The weapon against shaytan and nafs is zikrullah and to be a jemaah/ company of mu’minin. Knowledge is a light / nur that will protect us from danger.
Knowledge and Remembrance of Allah
Those who can read, please read a lot about the various teachings of islam . surely you will find that vast literature exist. Only a little scrunity at book shops will show you the right stuffs. But don’t stop with books. You need real teachers or fellow seekers to make your journey safe. Until now, I still spend 3 nights per week to attend class and gathering of knowledge and also special night of zikir where we recite many wirid, doa, Quran, salawat, qasidah/songs of praise and the sufic practices. I cannot bring you to this unless you are ready and brave. Unless your 5 salat/prayers are being fulfilled/performed then we can go further. Many people are afraid being labelled as deviant/sesat/ tak betul when actually they do not have knowledge about the vast tradition of Islam.
So like today, who can tell me what is the teaching of tasawwsuf or sufism ? What are its aims and methods ? Who are the past greater Masters and Guru / Shaykh in these matters ? Any standard reference books on this sufic way ? Alhamdulillah, in Malaysia, I had been into these various sufi groups . Some with pleasant encounter, some with sour results. Not all people are aware of their own weaknesses. Without himma nothing will benefit this people who is clouded by their own limited intellects.
Now I want to give you a few precious doa or ayat Quran that I had memorized for your amalan. This zikir/doa are my companion which I recite whenever free to polish my heart, uplifting my awareness and asking Allah Taala for His vast gifts upon this poor little seeker. I would to end with this beautiful doa’of Prophet Yusuf alaihi salam from the Quran:
Inna Rabbi latifun li-man yasyaa’.
Innahu huwal Alimul Hakim.
Rabbi qad atai-tani minal mulki
Wa allamtani min ta’wili li-ahadis
Fatiiras samawati wal-ardh
Anta Waliyyi fid Dunya wa fil-Akhirah
Wa alhiqni bis-solihin.
(Verily my Lord is merciful-caring
to whom He choose,