Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from August, 2011

Balik kampung: Yes or No?

The upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr celebration is a major event which takes many Muslims back to the family home. It is arguably the most important social reunion because it  allows returnees to reconnect either with family members or long-time friends in the old hometown.

Such events are called balik kampung in Malaysia and mudik lebaran in Indonesia. The other opportunities for such gatherings are funerals, religious festivals and ceremonies.

It is usually an emotional reunion between the returnees and their loved ones. After being apart for some time  -- years in the case of some -- they are coming together to honour the first day of Syawal. As they greet each other, their eyes fill with tears. You feel the affection and tenderness.

But life is never neat and tidy. Many of us have had to deal with meddling relatives and/or unresolved family conflicts. Unsurprisingly, the prospect of a family reunion fills some with dread. The interaction may unleash pent-up frustration and the scary scenari…

Big spenders from the Middle East

Gulf Arab women in flowing black robes dashing through fancy malls in the Bukit Bintang shopping belt clutching bags of cosmetics, accessories, shoes and toys with children in tow seem to have become a permanent fixture in the tourism landscape in Malaysia.

They usually go for branded stuff and locals can barely keep up with the high-spending customers from the Middle East. They are Malaysia's favourite shoppers because they have both money and taste.
Malaysia projects an air of warmth and hospitality. It has taken steps to make visitors from West Asia feel very welcome here. Besides English and Malay, arrival and departure announcements at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport or KLIA are also made in Arabic. Many hotels in Kuala Lumpur employ Arabic-speaking staff and there is also an "Arab street" in Kuala Lumpur's "Golden Triangle" which offers all things Arab.


Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen recently announced that Ramadan will be promoted …

Eat your meal before the fast

Non-Muslims often bombard me with this question: how can you eat so early in the morning? They are referring to sahur, the pre-dawn meal practising Muslims take before the fast during Ramadan. 
That is an easy one. Actually, I have no problem consuming food at that time. The tough part is getting up at 5am or earlier for the sahur meal. That's why in previous years I have always eaten this meal at around 1am and turn in half an hour later. 


I have changed the routine this year and sahur is now at 5am. I struggled on the first day; getting up at 6am is bad enough. It takes a lot of willpower and discipline to drag myself out of bed at 5am, head straight to the kitchen and fix the very early breakfast.


But as Zafar Nomani aptly puts it: "To follow the spirit of Ramadan and other fasting traditions, discipline, control and behavioural change are critical." The reason for making the switch is simple: I wanted to see if I could do it. So far, so good.


Some of my Muslim friends, w…