Praying, the Malaysian way

Muslims in Malaysia always share their beliefs and social aspects openly. I wish Pakistan was the same.

Asif Mian January 12, 2012
"Baba, I want to offer prayers with you," my daughter said to me one day.

I treated the words quite casually and told her that she could join me. Nevertheless, I was amazed when she started reciting 'Surah Fateha' and a few other Quranic verses on the prayer mat. I lost my concentration and started listening to her. Tears came to my eyes and I was grateful to the Almighty.

In Malaysia, my daughter had accompanied me to the masjid (mosque) a couple of times before. I used to join the jamat (congregation) as she ran around the spacious halls. As soon as she realised that I was about to finish my prayer she would come and sit beside me. The system worked perfectly. I liked that no one objected my daughter's activity. After her routine run in the mosque, she was a calm and silent observer like many other children who came in with their parents.

The way Malaysians follow Islam not only brings harmony but also eases one’s life. After finishing salat (prayer) with the jamat, people shake hands with one another, enquire about each other’s health and try to find ways through which they can help one another. This behaviour is unique and had a positive effect on my personality. I felt quite relaxed when offering prayers in Malaysian mosques as compared to mosques in Pakistan.

A Malaysian community has only one mosque in an area but there can be lot of  'surau'- which are also praying places, but are smaller in size with clean ablution areas. Anybody can be the imam (religious leader) of the surau.

During Ramazan, the mosques are full of people and the imam's beautiful recitation of the Holy Quran echoes in the halls, touching the heart of everybody present there, engulfing them in a state of amazement. Most people usually leave after the eighth taraweeh (special prayer offered during Ramazan) but some stay and join the imam for another 12 taraweeh. The affluent ones arrange and distribute food amongst the crowd.

Children also accompany their parents and females coming to the mosque is a norm. People greet one another when they enter the mosque. There is harmony, nobody dislikes anyone and dinners are frequently arranged by Muslims to strengthen their unity. Every part of a Malaysian mosque is clean; the ablution area, the bathrooms, the carpets. Children are taught in schools how to perform ablution, offer prayers and recite duas (small prayers) on different occasions.

I have always felt like a part of the Malaysian community. Whenever there is a discussion in the mosque, someone used to translate it and share the crux of the matter with me. They always invited me, shared their beliefs, norms and social aspects with me openly. The Malaysians love to share ideas and  listen to everybody's opinion.

In Pakistan, I have attended a few gatherings organised by the Tableeghi Jamaat in different mosques which did miracles. I strongly believe that these gatherings bring people closer; the young and the aged, the regular visitors and the occasional ones. The topic of the khutba (sermon)  should focus on the basics of Islam and should not be the reflection of any particular sect.

I have offered salat  in many mosques in Kuala Lumpur, mosques which are meant for Muslims. You will not find any Deobandi, Barailvi, Ahle Hadees, or a person belonging to any other sect - everyone is Muslim.

I hope this culture prevails in Pakistan and we can offer prayers in the masjid without any criteria set by the large number of sects we have here. The sharing of views and ideas should be allowed in a constructive manner.
Asif Mian A postgraduate student at International Islamic University Malaysia
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Doel | 12 years ago | Reply As a Malaysian, obviously, I am pleased with the writer's positive impression of Islam as practiced in Malaysia. The views I noticed are shared by many who had visited, mingle with Malaysians overseas or live in Malaysia. Unfortunately many negative views about Malaysia and Islam in Malaysia originated from those who has not been to the country and also from those who has no in depth knowledge of Islam. Therefore I will refrain, as most Malaysians do, to digress on the different strain of Islam. It is ridiculous to suggest that there is a sectarian violence in Malaysia when only about 55 percent of the populations are Muslims. Officially the country has adopted the Shafii school of jurisprudence because most Malaysians traditionally are the followers of this mazhab. However where there are sizeable followers of other mazhab, or other Ahli Sunnah wal Jemaah, the state will allow the establishment of its own congregation. The state do not prosecute the Shiah, but they are not allowed to propagate their strain of Islam to Malaysians, and why would they want to rock the boat? Similarly the wahhabis are also officially prohibited from propagating their strain of Islam. This is one of the main reasons why there is greater unity among Muslims in Malaysia, and it has also contributed to its political stability and hence its prosperity. Malaysians greatest wish is to be left alone in peace and not be messed up by militant Islam and other strain of Islam that has plagued other Islamic countries.
rokhanghalib | 12 years ago | Reply She has raised a great point. i went through her article and it was impressing. Actually people are divided here and one thing more she should have discussed is that "imam" who lead prayers doesn't lead prayers but teach people of terrorism. The sad thing is that mosque and madrassa in Pakistan these days are used to teach people terrorism. The innocent kids who are being sent to mosque by their parents to become Hafiz are made terrorists by mullah. So mosque here has not been used for the purpose of prayer but it is used for something else...
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