Are you more Islam than anyone

I don’t have any racist intention in this writing. My goal is to educate everyone that discrimination is not something that you want to go through in your life. I have gone through many levels of discrimination in my life right from primary school until today. It is not my fault to be born an Indian ethnic, Muslim and Malaysian.

By AO Musa

If I have a choice I will choose the best. What is most painful is the way society treats you. I’ve gone through this and now my children are going through the same problem. This situation has never changed from the past 32 years and in fact is getting worse every day.  

I hope after you read this, you will better understand the feelings of a discriminated citizen. I’m proud of what I am and I prefer to be known as an Indian Muslim rather than change my race to Malay. This is my story ….

If you are an Indian in race and Islam in faith, then you will be automatically called a “convert”. That is what is planted in most of the Malays’ brain in Malaysia, no matter whether adults or children. I don’t blame the children as they learned this from their parents.

For the past 32 years, I always get this from most of the Malays that I come across in my life. A Malayalee by race and Islam in faith has dragged me into this discriminated stance for as long as I can remember. “Saudara baru ke?” “Bila masuk Islam?” “Satu family ke masuk Islam?” is something that I am used to hearing. At first, I always took the trouble to explain to them that I’m Islam from the beginning and never converted.

However, at one point of time I started to question myself “am I surrounded by idiots or don’t I have any sign of Muslim in me?” At this point, I started to do my research about my own family background. I learned that my great grandfather on my mom’s side was a dae’i migrated from Yemen to India somewhere in the 1800’s to start his life as a merchant and also to preach about Islam. Married to my great grandmother who is the daughter of one of the prominent Muslim leaders in the state of Kerala (but I’m not in any way associated with TDM!).

My grandfather was also one of the notable figures in Kerala who fought for the freedom of India as well as a highly respected religious teacher. It was told to me that when he passed away (3 days before I was born), the state of Kerala announced a public holiday as a sign of mourning and respect for his contributions to the country and the state.

My great grandfather on my father’s side migrated to Malaya from India also somewhere in the 1800’s to become a religious teacher in Rawang. Rawang used to be a plantation area and the majority of the population there were Indians. There were a number of Malay communities but further down towards Serendah to Tanjong Malim. He was invited by the Indian Muslim community who migrated earlier since there were not many religious teachers around to educate their children. I was told that during this time, the Islamic knowledge among the Malays was very poor. Mixing religion and culture is something that blended into their daily life.

The point is, I couldn’t find the point when my ancestors converted to Islam. As far as I ccould track, all of them were Muslims. This makes sense since Islam was brought to India by Malik Bin Dinar somewhere in 625 AD. The first mosque built in India was in Kodungallur, Kerala in 629 AD which was about 22km from where my ancestors came from. There are high chances that they converted to Islam during the Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime (571 – 632 AD).

Islam came to Malaya somewhere in the 12th-13th century. The Terengganu Stone Monument was found at Kuala Berang, Terengganu where the first Malay state to receive Islam in 1303, Sultan Megat Iskandar Shah, known as Parameswara prior to his conversion, is the first Sultan of Melaka. He converted to Islam after marrying a princess from Pasai, of present day Indonesia. The conversion of the Sultanate of Malacca by Rowther and Marakkar traders from Tamil Nadu into Islam is the milestone of Islamification of Malay people in Malaya or Tanah Melayu (fact from Wikipedia).

So, the Indian Muslims converted to Islam 700 years before the Malays even heard about Islam. History tells us that Islam is brought to Malaya by Indians, Arabs and Chinese and yet we are the ones called converts. Yes, we are converts and in fact all of us are converts. However, Malays should not forget that the Indians are 700 years senior than them in Islam.

Who is the “convert” now? Are you still telling me that you are more Islam than anyone else???