hadhrami bugshan kl malaysia 2013

Some weeks ago, I was at an event, where Hadhrami students (mostly from Saudi and Yemen) studying in Malaysia, met with a Hadhrami Saudi businessman that gives out scholarships. One part of the day, involved an open session where the audience could pose a question or comment to any one there.

I used the platform to bring out two points. They were about (1) the local Malaysian sentiment towards the Arabs, and (2) the Arabs bring an instrument of engagement between Malaysian Muslims to get closer to Islam. Below is an elaboration of what I said from what I remembered, which might not be quite accurate still.

*Note: I too am a Hadhrami, meaning people of Hadhramout. The Hadhrami identity, as explained by an academic who studied the diaspora which I can say is sufficiently accurate, is determined by kinship, and not (necessarily) by genealogy, geography, political, physical, etc. Hadhramout is a state in Yemen, but in terms of identity is not to be narrowly understood in terms of it’s physical/geographical location – hence why many Hadhrami Muwallads (Hadhramis born/raised out of Hadhramout, some never been there), still identify (at time introduce themselves), as a Hadhrami – not say, in terms of race like ‘Arab’, or in terms of political borders like ‘Peruvian’, or in terms of genealogy like ‘ White’, or geography like ‘Scot’, etc.

1.  In the old days, hundreds of years ago, Arabs, Hadhramis mostly, were welcomed in the Malay Archipelago for an array of reasons. They brought with them scholarship, knowledge in various areas of Islam, astronomy, language, trading, diplomacy, seafaring, a network to the international community, etc.

They were advisors to the Sultans, leaders and some were courted to marry the daughters of the people they earned respect from. Partly as a result of which, they are given casual honorific titles. For example, instead of being addressed the standard Encik (mister), the term Tuan (sir, or master if literally translated) or Wan was used for them – the same used in for other respectful people in society today.

Today, Arabs students in Malaysia are struggling to find landlords willing to rent a living space for them, even at a premium rate. Taxi drivers avoid taking them or at times have no qualms about charging a ridiculous figure upfront.

Little good is being said about Arabs in Malaysia, often seen as ill mannered, arrogant, vandals, unwilling to adapt, etc. It’s not that bad when people don’t want to loan you money, but when they don’t even feel compassionate enough to give (rent) a roof over your head, that is saying something.

How did this happen and how to move forward?

If this sentiment continues to escalate, it is not surprising if some years from now, there will be a group (NGO or otherwise), who demand the government to no longer admit Arabs into the country. The end result might not be a reality, but it is foreseeable to see a growing minority who would feel the same way.

Some feel that this is the result of how other (non-Hadhrami) Arabs behave, but admit that as far as the Malaysian eye can see, there’s no distinction. Some admit witnessing such behavior from their own Arab friends and classmates. That said, none find this pleasant and are keen to help.

Two things I put forward to them was that, albeit they are neutral – neither terrible, nor exemplary Arabs in Malaysia, because of the current climate, it is demanded of them to be great. Secondly, because of that current climate as well, doing only a little good, could be enough to show positivity. In the land of the blind, the One-Eyed Jack is king.

2. Malaysia and Malaysians are reaching an age, where they are beginning to identify their identity in both a collective and an individual context. It is also partly due to the more globalized world and the loose trans-border exchange of exposure with people from different lands and times. Therefore even new questions and considerations about identity prop up.

For Muslims who are keen (wholly or partly) to identify themselves as Muslims, thus a member of the Ummah, their contact with Arabs, the land where Islam originated from, is one of many ways for them. Others could mean to think more within the Worldview of Islam, wanting to dress in a more Islamic fashion, to conduct more dealings with Muslims, to learn Arabic, etc.

Additionally due to Malaysians generally being shy to foreigners, not to mention a slight inferiority complex for not being able to converse in a foreign language such as English, Arabic, French, the desire for more contact sometimes get slowed down by such barriers, to name a few.

It doesn’t help that sometimes their impression towards foreigners, are not as accurate. Such as some think that all Westerners are say, tall, good looking, and intelligent, or that all Arabs are knowledgeable about Islam, religious all around, and perhaps rich with money.

Therefore I put it to the Hadhrami students there, to understand that what the locals think of them can be premature and presumptuous at times, and when they see the true colours, they may get disillusioned and disappointed.

At the same time, they do also want to get closer to Islam, sometimes purely for wanting to have more contact with Muslims from different lands. However, it is not as probable to expect them to make the first move to establish a connection. It would then, be the burden of the foreigners, Arabs or Hadhramis specifically, to make effort to break the ice, assuming they felt if this was within their interest.




In 2009, when RandomAlphabets was organizing Glee Flashmob Dance, I noticed that the young people who attended rehearsals had difficulty going home.

So we organized a system where, those who need transport home would pass their name and location. We’d then flash it on the projector for all to see. Then whoever is going or, passing the location, could offer a free ride. As a result, not just those in need were helped, but friendships were born and the energy for the project was even more positive.

Last year, I introduced the same  system to Darul Murtadza. A weekly Majlis Ta’lim (Gathering of Knowledge), at Muaz bin Jabal mosque in Setiawangsa that takes place every Friday night. Ganee, also from Peace Meal did the prototype with them and those guys improved it even more in time for Beta testing. Click here to read more about that project.

It was finally time to introduce the same concept to Peace Meal and we finally did so few weeks ago. For the size, we didn’t need a Google Docs like system. So during a discussion with Ai’syah Mei Chen, also a Peace Meal volunteer, we came up with the card you see above – which we distribute at the beginning of the event.


Perhaps to add, this is what is meant by finding solutions for real problems. In today’s age of active participation in the social public sphere, there needs to be an increase in the thinking and exploration to solve real problems faced by the Muslim community too. Adapting with times is not just about fancy posters, or discussing gender issues, but can be as simple as sorting out something that people need.

I think this similar thinking is what is meant when he says Islamization of knowledge as propounded by Prof Al-Attas, although I could be quite inaccurate.

Saya Mahu Picnic


So earlier this week, 2 days after the election, Utusan Malaysia writes ‘Apa Lagi Cina Mahu?’ as their headline as a response to the immediate analysis of the results indicating that a large percentage of that demographic did not vote for the winning side.

Public outrage ensues, albeit at the same time some people didn’t get what the big deal was with the headline many deem racist in nature. I don’t intend to discuss that issue or my stand on it.

But myself and some others are doing an event via RandomAlphabets, to bring the good vibe back in KL after tiring and eventful month, preceding the elections. Click here to know more.


Looking at a number of things, including the Contemporary Western Christian Background, and the genrally the why and not just the what of Islam. Click on image above to enlarge. Based on a world renown book, find out more about this project here.





Kasian Manuskrip Jawi - Islam Dalam Sejarah Kebudayaan Melayu UTM

This should be interesting.

Pendaftaran boleh dibuat secara atas talian di pautan berikut: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1GW4boYHvXPsqY0yqHD2IGXXzcL5bpWuPue6sjnKner8/viewform

Sila kemukakan bukti pembayaran kepada emel kami:
klasika.media [at] yahoo.com - sertakan dengan nama dan nombor telefon pada resit pembayaran.

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keretapi sarong 2013 official video random alphabets

Video from a recent project I was part of. Glad to see it go a little international this year.

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yahya rhodus mukha peacemeal kuala lumpur

I received multiple requests for this poem from those who attended the event on Wednesday 4  April 2013, at Mukha – Poetry with Percussions and Tea with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus that Peace Meal organized with the support of Radical Middle Way Asia. Click here for details, and for pictures click here.

The event did 5 qasidas (poems/hymn) with accompanying hijr marawis (percussions), and in between each Shaykh Yahya would expand upon its author – Imam Al-Haddad (1634-1720), the poem and other relating topics. Before the close, someone requested that Shaykh Yahya himself did a qasida, which is how this blog post came to being.

La ilaha ill Allah hymn by Shaykh Muhammad Mendes La ilaha ill Allah hymn by Shaykh Muhammad Mendes 2

Click here for the PDF format of the text for the qasida (poem/hymn) - La ilaha ill Allah hymn by Shaykh Muhammad Mendes

He chose an English one ‘La ilaha ill Allah’ composed by his friend, Shaykh Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes (Abdul-Haqq Mendes) – who wrote it in English so people could understand (as most qasidas are in Arabic), secondly he composed it for his children (so that they’d have something to attached to their hearts to), hence why it is in the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Shaykh Yahya gave permission to circulate the text of the qasida, and I’ve also added in some interesting media I’ve found online on Shaykh Mendes. Peace Meal will be releasing a video recording of that qasida (La ilaha ill Allah), being recited at that event soon. I’ll put it up here once it’s ready or keep a lookout on Peace Meal’s FB page.

Travelling Light – Dakar (Film Trailer) featuring Shaykh Mendes

Part one of three video of Shaykh Mendes expanding on the history of Black Contribution to Islam. Click here to watch part two, and here for part three.


A little tied up now putting together these programs for Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Imam Afroz Ali. As well as some interviews and meetings. Do google to find out more about the speakers. See www.peacemeal.my for info. Help spread the word yo.



LifeMakers UIA LfM April 2013

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I’m joining this course in 2013, on Saturday mornings. I highly recommend it, because the knowledge and discussion is one I find not only refreshing, but absent in public discourse. It also tackles and addresses many of the questions and issues that people at large grapple with little direction to no end, in a totally different worldview – which is what makes it enlightening I suppose.

If I were to illustrate, the reason why sometimes Muslims, or its scholars, come out with a totally different answer, one that might be unexpected, when addressing an issue is because from the crux of it, the Islamic worldview is different than that is commonly perceived today, which is mostly though not necessarily, secular/Western.Because people only see the end results of answers to issues from two sides, they endup questioning or commenting on areas that don’t matter, or are irrelevant.

What needs to be recognized is that, the reason why the answers differ so much is because not just the fundamentals, but the understanding towards those fundamentals are different and at times, clash/contradict with each other.

If I were to pick a light example, there’s a common saying today’s world, that when a person commits a mistake, in defence he might say, ‘I’m a mere human being. I’m no good like an angel.’ This worldview accepts that angels are better than human beings, where as the Islamic worldview accepts that the humans were a better creation than that of angels. Many sources of Islamic text affirm this, which I will leave you to lookup with diligence.

*Click on the images to enlarge.

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Hamza Yusuf

Above is a video of renown scholar Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, explaining about the Mawlud, its reason, purpose and history. I urge those interested in the matter, and Muslims alike, to watch this. Below is a video of Cambridge Professor TJ Winter @ Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad also speaking on the matter.

As this is the month of Rabi’ulawal in the Islamic calendar, the month the Messenger PBUH was born, Muslims around the world celebrate his birth in many ways. The Mawlid (eulogy of the Prophet), is a significant tradition which has existed for many centuries across many places practiced by renown and venerated scholars and Muslims alike.

What the Mawlid is also able to do, is a tool for both the spread of the faith, and also instilling love of Muslims toward the Prophet PBUH, which they have be taught and understood to continuously make effort to be as close to him as possible, as did his Companions, people who knew the Companions, people who knew them, and so forth the as the chain works linking them one another to the Prophet PBUH.

It’s like imagine trying to get to know your favourite celebrity, and if contact with him/her directly is impossible, you reach out for his/her family and friends who knew him/her, and if not them, then the people who knew them. This of course on top of other efforts in trying to learn and exemplify the celebrity you admire. Except in this case it’s the Messenger PBUH.


Below is a fantastic video explaining the concept of Bid’ah (not just in relation to Maulud), which is often misunderstood. It’s a brief one, but do listen.

Below is an interesting video worth sharing. A response video, of a statement, against the Maulid sentiment, which is one shared by many due to silly/strict understanding of tradition and scholarship. It’s not the best explanation, but it does address certain angles which are key and puts certain modern references context.

huriya maulud

Click here to read the article above.

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