Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A young Muslim's empathy in the mosque

This article was first published on Openseam.


Every day, I commute to work on my motorcycle. It allows me to avoid the traffic jams that Kuala Lumpur is notorious for. Last week though, it was raining in the morning, so I waited for the rain to stop before setting out on my journey to the office, which is about 25km away.

After about a kilometre or so from my home, a car suddenly came out from a junction on my right and caught me by surprise. I reflexively applied the emergency brakes -- which caused me to lose control of the motorcycle, which slipped on the wet road.

The next thing I knew, I was still sliding on the road while the motorcycle had stopped. After I managed to stand on my own, I tried to move my motorcycle and myself to the side of the road to avoid being hit by incoming vehicles. It was rush hour, so everyone was heading to work and traffic was heavy.

Any pain had not yet set in, so I managed to get my motorcycle to a workshop while I dragged myself to a nearby clinic to have my wounds cleaned and bandaged. I had scraped the lower part of both my palms, right knee and toes. The pant leg that covered my right knee was totally torn away, leaving holes. 

For the next few days, I had to pray in a sitting position. I was given a few days off by the doctor, but by Friday I was back to work. 

During my lunch break, I usually pray my zohor (midday) prayer in the surau (prayer room) of a nearby shop. Surau Nurul Hidayah in Taman Putra Damai is also where I perform my Friday prayers. There are about 200 people who pray there, so it has been given special dispensation by the local religious office to host and conduct Friday prayers. (Normally only mosques can host Friday prayers).

There's no special place for people with special needs to pray as it is only a small surau. So as usual, I chose an empty spot and listened to the khutbah (sermon). After the sermon, a young Malay man joined my row. He glanced at my bandaged hand. He was praying on my right. 

The prayer started and we didn't say anything to each other. Because of the injury to my knee, I could only bend it a little. Part of my leg slightly jutted out to the side. 

Despite this, I noticed that with every ruku' (bow) or sujud (prostration), this young man moved only after I had positioned myself -- presumably to see where my knee would end up, so he could avoid jostling it. I noticed that he had been doing this from the beginning of the prayer.

In my heart I was thinking, here's someone whose Islam berbuah (is bearing fruit)...

When we gave salam after the prayer, he apologised if he had accidentally jostled me during the course of the prayer. My heart warmed, thinking that people nowadays seem to put themselves first, putting aside basic societal values such as politeness and consideration. This young man had made the effort to make me comfortable, and still had enough humility to apologise in case he did hit me, despite everything he had done.

In a time when I feel that there are a lot of selfish and inconsiderate people, this young man, barely 20 years old (since he has more hair than I do!), stood out by showing values that all Muslims should have: empathy, consideration, compassion.

After we parted, my heart sent out a sincere prayer for him. 
"O Allah, there goes one of your servant whose Islam is sprouting well. Please give him more knowledge and understanding of your religion and elevate him above his peers. Amin."

By MHSA. MHSA is 38 year old Chinese Malaysian who converted to Islam about 24 years ago. He currently works as a senior programmer at a small software house in Klang Valley.

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