By: RaY KinZoKu

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Thursday, 27-Sep-2007 04:02 Email | Share | Bookmark
KELANTAN : Wishing You A Happy & Blessed Ramadhan

Wishing You A Happy & Blessed Ramadhan

( * Yawn * Ha ha ha, I'm back ! )

Hope that it is still not too late to wish my dear visitors,
brothers and sisters in Islam, a happy and blessed Ramadhan !

here we are, halfway into Ramadhan.
The other half will lead us to the next month, Syawal, the first day of which is specially reserved for those who emerged successfully from the trials of Ramadhan, to celebrate the joy of completing the special task, bestowed upon us by the God Almighty - a month of fasting.

being overwhelmingly Muslims,
is probably where the gravity of Ramadhan is most felt than any other state in Malaysia.

In Kelantan, when Ramadhan sets in, things would take a different twist.
Mosques would organize more religious sermons - more often than any other months, with more Quranic recitals flowing out from loud-speakers at specially selected times of the day. State civil servants would be allowed to leave as early as 1545 hrs every working day ( except Thursday, at 1530 hrs ! ). Eateries would cease operating during most hours of the day. The sight of adults eating at public places would become extremely rare, even most non-Muslims hesitate to do so openly ( except in the confinement of their own eateries ). But when time is close to breaking fast, food stalls of many sort would appear along the main roads or at any strategic intersections. From normal housewives selling packets of typical Kelantanese fare - solok lado, kerghabu perghuk, kerghabu sarghae, achar pissae to Tok Nyaddak with their exotic Air Tuak of Nyor and Nipah palm ( hahahaha .. not that alcoholic stuff, in Kelantan, air nira is called air tuak ! ).

Also in the month of Ramadhan, the locals would step up on charity.
Hands would be much " lighter " in this month, with Zakat ( tithe ) and sedekah ( charity gifts ) going from hands to hands, more frequently than any normal days ( I was informed that there are many non-Kelantanese paying their Zakat in Kelantan ! ). The rich would go out and look for the needy while the needy would also go out and look for the rich ! There would be feast after feast for breaking fast sponsored by various persons, here and there. People would congregate at nearby mosque at dusk to break fast and perform the dusk ( maghrib ) prayer service together. Socializing with friends and family over Chollaek after the Tarawikh and the list goes on.

* Ramadhan & Daytime :
A Ramadhan scene in Kota Bharu, Kelantan.
Where else could you see Mokchik in batik sarong walking down the town streets ?
( Pasar Malam " Belakang Flat ", Jalan Pintu Pong (?), Kota Bharu )

* Ramadhan & Dusk :
Breaking fast feast at Masjid Mukim Panji, Kota Bharu, Kelantan.
Though very humble in volume and variety, the joy of breaking fast together exceeds everything.

* Ramadhan & Night Life :
( Recycled Shot From My Past Entry )
A stall selling Chollaek in Jalan Dato' Lundang, Kota Bharu with customers, including a woman complete in white " kaing kanno " ( prayer garment ) probably on her way home from Solat Tarawikh, waiting patiently for the takeaway. Another typical Ramadhan scene in Kota Bharu, Kelantan ( click photo for the original entry ).

Those are the things that I never felt or experienced during my life abroad.

There was a time when I was asked by a Japanese friend, while patiently observing my Ramadhan fast amidst scantily clad Japanese high school girls, parading with their food and drinks :

" Ramadan to iu danjikitzuki tte taihen yan na "

( Ramadhan, the fasting month, must be terrible, right ? )

" Iie, sonna koto nai. Boku tachi ni totte ichiban ii toki nan da ! "

( No, not at all. For us, it is the best time of the year ! )

I started explaining to him the idea of fasting to Muslims - how it is a commandment from God and that to obey wholeheartedly is an article of faith. I went on explaining to him the joy of socializing during Ramadhan, the joy of breaking fast together with friends and families, all at the same table and occasion, the Tarawikh, late night eating out with friends ( over Chollaek, Ikan Bakar and stuffs alike ), the Bazar Ramadhan thingy and all other little things that we joyfully associated Ramadhan with. I went further explaining the joy of fasting itself - how it is actually great for health, how it makes us a lot more alert and mindful than in any other normal month, how it reminds us of those who have so little to feed themselves or those taken away by the Almighty, the joy of eating and so on. All perfectly trimmed to suit his logic and very limited knowledge on Islam.

" Hontou ni nani mo tabehen no ka ? Noman no ka ? Mizu itteki demo ? Usso yaro !?
Dai-jyou-bu ! Koko wa Nihon ya. Sen de ii !

( You really don't eat ? Don't drink ? Even a drop ? You must be joking !
It's okay. This is Japan. You don't have to fast here ! )

Errmm .. I didn't think that he got the idea of fasting nor the other stuff that I just explained. He thought that fasting and so does any other religious stuff is just something confined only to one's own country law. He thought that if you left your home country, you don't have to heed to the laws anymore. Yes, that's true but religion is a DIFFERENT thing altogether. Surprised at first with his reply, I quickly learned to live with it when almost everyone I met later on, gave out the same statement. When they did, I also got my own reply line ready ( which often made them to change topic almost immediately ! Hahahaha .... ).

Well, can't blame them.
Out of 120 million strong Japanese population, less than 70,000 are Muslims, and 90% of them are in fact foreigners ( Indonesians are the largest, followed by Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, and Iranians etc ), scattering all throughout Japan ! The biggest factor would be the entire Japanese population itself. Much of the population is staunchly secular ( but they still treat traditions as having nothing to do with religion hence you still could see miniature Shinto shrine at some workplaces ), with more than 85% of the youth, believe and interested in nothing but materialism. Thus, the very low awareness and knowledge on Islam among the people. To conclude, fasting in Japan was a very lonely experience indeed ....

Now, I am given a chance to meet Ramadhan again, in the most " fasting friendly " environment so far. I have taken for granted the joy of fasting in Kelantan for a long time and being back here in Kelantan, I shouldn't continue to be so. With all those stuff, unique to Kelantan, some I had already mentioned in my past entries, I should by now find myself proud to be able to fast in such place that I also call home.

Ha ha ha ha ....
still, Japan was fun and worth an experience ( Osaka was " home " years ago ! ),
but Kelantan is just one of its kind and worth a self rediscovery.

That reminds me of why

I love Kelantan so much .....

* Truly, uniquely, distinctively Kelate ?
Fasting feels so good without scantily clad models on the advertisement billboard ! ( KB Mall, Wakaf Siku, Kota Bharu )



" The trip down was long but interesting. I enjoy watching people come and go from the train. Coming from Thailand that is 95% Buddhist, 4% Muslim and then into Malaysia which is overwhelmingly Muslium. The clothing attire and attitude are obviously different. I was thinking about it today on the train. Why do I like being around Muslium people so much? Don't get me wrong Thai people are really lovely as well. And then it came to me. Because they are really relaxed. A lot of people I come across traveling are overly aggressive with tourist because they seem them as $$$! It makes me nervous when someone is being aggressive with me in a language I do not understand. But with Muslims besides the odd taxi driver do not bother tourist. They are a real pleasue to be around! "

From :
The Johnnynomad's Travel Blogs :
Kota Bharu, Malaysia : " U can't eat your puddin, If U don't eat your meat! "

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