Islam today is at a stage where the more it is being scapegoated for the excesses of a few, the more people who are Non Muslims flock to it.
I met a few of such people recently when I was at the Masjid Jamek Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur.
As per my routine when I go to pray at this mosque, I will spend some time to talk to the visitors about Islam and answer their questions.
The top question that always is asked about Islam is why the Muslim ladies have to cover themselves with the scarf or hijab?
Will answer this later.
Let me introduce them. Besides me is Mr.Dario, a Director of Projects from Madrid, Spain. Besides him is Miss Elken from Belgium, a Lab Technician and Miss Mikke, a Pharmacist, her fellow Belgian.
They were just about to go on the usual tourist thingy that is take a slow walk around the mosque, snap a few pictures of the surroundings, smile at the Muslims looking at them and then make their way out , saying to themselves 'Hey! I have visited a mosque and made it out alive!'
Hehehehehehe...nahhh...it's just me putting words into their minds! Not really! But that is what I imagine goes through most westerners minds when they do just that. Visit a mosque and come out in one piece!' :P
Actually , I made the first approach. It's natural to me. I have been inviting people to Islam since I met this chap called Kamarudin bin Abdullah, a former Roman Catholic Indian revert to Islam who was distributing leaflets about Islam to visiting Western tourists at the Kapitan Keling Mosque in Penang, when he got assaulted by the committee members for doing what they all should!
To cut the story short, I who was working opposite the mosque as a Gold & Diamonds Jewellery Sales Exec at Berkat Jewellers got the nod from my boss to go see what was the problem?
I rushed over across the road and saved the bloke from being thrashed by the 6 to 7 committee members who were out to teach him a lesson for not getting their approval and consent to carry out dakwah activities in the mosque's area!
I asked them why did they beat up the fella? When they said it was because he didn't ask them for approval before carrying out the dakwah activities to the tourists, I took them to task and reminded them that they themselves should be helping him, a revert to Islam in the first place!
I then challenged them to go through me if they wanted to harm the fellow any further!
Being a tough guy back then, I must have seemed a bit formidable because they backed off and returned to the mosque. I was 29 back then and was in my best shape physically after having taken up bodybuilding during my 6 years working stint in Singapore from 1980 to 1986!
I then offered my hand in friendship and support to Kamarudin and from that day onwards, did Dakwah activities together with him and were soon joined by another dedicated brother, Haji Yassin, who worked as a Despatch Clerk with Standard Chartered Bank Penang.
Hj. Yassin could speak Italiano and thus was indispensable when it came to attending to visitors from Italy!
We grew from strength to strength and were joined by other likeminded brothers. Realising that we needed a proper place to carry out our Islamic Information Services, we decided to ask for permission from the authorities to use the vacant space at the ground space of the minaret building and turn it into a center for our activities.
It took us several years of cutting through the redtape and official bureaucracy to get our plans through. A JKR Penang lady engineer by the name of Puan Ratna helped us to gather the necessary funds for the renovation works and also through Kamarudin's efforts managed to engage a contractor to turn the former drug addict's haunt to become a beautiful airconditioned Islamic Propagation Centre International branch modelled after South Africa's most famous Caller to Islam, the late Syaikh Ahmed Deedat's Dakwah organisation!
Even Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the former Deputy Premier came to visit our centre as it was being built and after it's completion, we started receiving hundreds of tourists daily at our centre.
Kamaruddin was appointed to be the Chairman of the IPCI and I was the Founding Secretary. Hj. Yassin was appointed as a Committee Member and Brother Sirajudeen joined us too.
When I divorced and migrated to KL, I left the center and my position was taken over by Brother Sirajudeen, a law student.
I am the one in the blue jubah, next to me is Hj Abdurrahman from England, Brother Kamarudin and Hj Yassin with the bushy beard!
I heard that the National Archives Department took possession of the centre after a recent restoration project carried out on the Kapitan Keling Mosque. The IPCI's operations were transferred to the Kompleks Masyarakat Penyayang in Scotland Road, effectively curtailing the effectiveness of the centre catering to the needs of the visitors to the historical mosque!
Idiots in authority always have a way to screw up good work being done from the centre that has helped tens of thousands of Non Muslims to learn about Islam from the very place where it should be taught and explained.
If I was still back in Penang, I'd do my best to see to it that the IPCI (Malaysia) remained where it was built to be but since I have now settled down in KL, I can only pray that the idiots responsible for this fiasco get a reminder from God to reverse their stupid decisions!
The picture above shows a group of Christian visitors from England with my successor, Brother Sirajudeen, next to Brother Muhammad Nazim who embraced Islam through me (red shirt).
His appearance now is so mesmerising, with a big bushy beard complete with turban. Brother Nazim married a Malay muslimah from Kedah and is now a permanent resident here in Malaysia. He is a Sufi mureed and is Alhamdulillah, a very contented Muslim who has found his peace and salvation in Islam. May Almighty Allah bless him and his family, Ameen.
Will be following up on this later. Time for me to go prepare for breaking fast. The big red juicy watermelon awaits my professional touch with my trusty knife! :) It's my favourite fruit!
Have a nice iftar dear Muslims and Muslimahs! May our fasting be accepted by Ar Rahman! Amin.
To our Non Muslim friends, remember , Islam is your birthright and I will share more about this topic in my following posts, God willing! Take care all.