Part of the Do'a Iftitah

"Verily my solats, my ibadah, my life and my death I surrender to Almighty Allah, Creator and Lord of all the worlds. Never will I associate anything with Him. So am I commanded and I am of those who are Muslims."

The Muslim Bloggers Alliance

The Muslim Bloggers Alliance
Bringing Muslim Bloggers Together

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Songkok - Is it a Malay or Muslim Headgear?

Things are getting pretty interesting nowadays as more and more Malaysians are getting into the art of debating about just every subject under the sun.

Hot on the top list in our Malaysian cyberspace is the matter of the wearing the songkok by compulsion as in the case of the school prefects highlighted in Lim Kit Siang's blog and widely debated by his commentators there.

Frankly speaking, to me the songkok is a Malay headgear and used by those of us who are Muslims in prayer.

On a wider scale, we have to acknowledge that the Malay songkok is also a headgear worn by Malaysian Members of Parliament or when attending any royal function at the Royal Malay Sultanate's palaces.

When abroad, male Malaysian Ambassadors adorn the songkok as our national headgear and when officiating any function where protocol is being observed.

To wear a songkok to an official function is a necessity in the Malay traditions.

For a Malaysian to wear a songkok at an official function, does not connotate that the wearer is required to be a Muslim or a Malay.

Let's not start getting petty by questioning customs and habits which are part and parcel of our national identities.

We are Malaysians. Period. A potpourri of rich traditions and inherited cultures and heritage of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sikh, , Orang Asli, Eurasian, etc. which we must appreciate and continue to observe with pride and honor.

It's not healthy or wise to dwell on what differentiates us especially in these turbulent moments in our nation's history.

I respect each and every Malaysian's ancestral legacy and appreciate all the respective traditions that we have inherited from our forefathers.

We do however need to take note that it is entirely up to the individual concerned as to whether he or she wants to carry on his or her forefather's practices in these times.

One needs to however remember that certain good values or traditions if discontinued will die away and disappear into the annals of time if not observed and kept alive.

To me, wearing a songkok means different things at different times and occasions.

A Malaysian Chinese wearing a songkok at the Istana doesn't turn into a Malay Muslim at that very moment.

He is just a Malaysian citizen who is showing his respect to the Malay Royalty present and observing protocol.

A non Malay Malaysian of whatever ethnicity who wears the songkok at an official function remains whoever he is and his creed is not in any danger.

He is showing himself to be a Malaysian. Period.

We need to respect such wearing of the songkok as a symbol of our nation's identity. The songkok is a traditional Malay headgear worn throughout Nusantara as an identity of the Malays.

If you choose not to wear it, so be it. No one's forcing you.

In the case of the headmaster having forced the wearing of the songkok in his school by even the Non Malay students, it is an isolated case.

We learn that the said headmaster has since withdrawn that ruling following protests by the students or their concerned parents.

We have to acknowledge that we will always have our differences and if dwelt upon such cases, it can and will be a cancer that eats away into our national unity.

Learn to exercise caution when deliberating about such sensitive matters for we are all fellow Malaysians who deserve to be accorded respect and sincere considerations in going about our daily life's.

Mutual respect and courtesy can make this unity amongst us a thing to be proud of and prove to our nation's envier's that Malaysians will forever remain strong and as one people.

Don't let the matter of the songkok drive us apart!

We are surely much more mature today having survived all the turbulent years of before.

You not keen on wearing the songkok? No worries. Just be yourself.

Apart from the Sikhs who wear the turban, all other Malaysians can just wear what they like but need to follow or respect the traditions and protocols of the Royal Malay Sultanates when you are in the presence of Their Highnesses failing which you'll just stick out like a sore thumb among the dignitaries.

Isn't that so? So many issues, so many dissatisfactions running wild in the cyberspace especially in sites such as Malaysiakini and Malaysia Today.

If I didn't know better, I'd think that our nation is going to the dogs if I were to be a foreigner, reading up about Malaysia from these and other sites? Pretty scary, huh?

I now wonder whether Kit Siang or Karpal Singh will refuse a Datukship if offered and stand their grounds of not wanting to kowtow to the Malay Sultans by wearing a songkok, IF Offered?

Would they or wouldn't they is just my wondering out loud??? Hehehehehe!

What do you folks think they would do?


malayamuda said...

Mr Mahaguru ,

sometimes we dont feel the hurt and anxiousness our actions cause until we are faced with it ourselves.

Wearing a songkok doesnt make anyone a Muslim malay as you mentioned. Bravo to your intelligence and wit.

Wearing a Tudung also doesnt make a Muslim woman any more pious than a woman who doesnt use one.

A Muslim woman wearing a "Pottu" on her forehead also will not become automatically a Hindu on Thaipusam Day. Neither will a Muslim become an Indian if she wears a saree to Samy Vellu's open house. But why the hue and cry IT WOULD CAUSE in Malaysia when this happens? Any Idea?

I think it's best the majority in this country do not force their cultures and believes onto the minority just to exert their authority upon the minorities.

A school is a school and it's not parliament or the palace. The Headmaster is a Head Teacher and not the King or Speaker in the Dewan.


mahaguru58 said...

Dear fellow Malaysian,

Thank you for putting your thoughts across in a manner that is decent and fair comment.

Regarding your referring to the tudung and the pottu, it's another subject or matter of contention altogether.

"Wearing a Tudung also doesnt make a Muslim woman any more pious than a woman who doesnt use one."

Regarding wearing of the tudung, it is a command of Almighty Allah upon BELIEVING MUSLIM WOMEN!

You and me have no say about this!

It is Almighty God Himself telling the Believing Women to cover her modesty.

The modesty of a Believing Woman is all over her body save for her face , her hands from the wrists downwards and her feet from below her ankles.

The question whether a woman is chaste or otherwise is not based just upon her tudung?

You and me know that even nuns and priests can go do things that many out of the frock will not do.

So is any other follower of any creed or belief under the sun.

Let's stick to the topic at hand and discuss just about the songkok here sir and not stray away.
"A Muslim woman wearing a "Pottu" on her forehead also will not become automatically a Hindu on Thaipusam Day. Neither will a Muslim become an Indian if she wears a saree to Samy Vellu's open house. But why the hue and cry IT WOULD CAUSE in Malaysia when this happens? Any Idea?"

Again, you have touched on something that is out of topic but I will explain just to satisfy your mind.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad Sallalahu Alaihi Wassallam forbade us Muslims from following the Ways of the Kaffirs @ Disbelievers for it will affect our Aqeedah in the long run.

As such, Muslim men and women are discouraged from adorning anything that has religious connections or forms of apparel that will portray them as Kaffirs.

Sadly, many amongst us Muslims today do not realize the long term effects by such association and today, you see all kinds of behavior amongst the so called Muslims.

I have read about the pottu to be a symbol of the 3rd eye according to Hindu lore!

As such, if a Muslim woman is to go and adorn that pottu or tilak , that Muslim woman has sinned and is held accountable for that deed and will be judged accordingly in the hereafter.

If she had done so out of ignorance, then any Muslim who is learned and is aware of that slip up, is held responsible to go correct her and to do so in a manner full of wisdom and commonsense.

There are ways to help explain such sensitive things without making a hue and cry over it!

That's why it is important for me as a Muslim Caller to Islam to share here with my readers as to what I have learned to be right and what is wrong?

To err is human ; to forgive is divine they say.

To me , to just idly stand by and watch many uninformed folks speak about Islam just goes against my principles and I will speak up for my fellow Muslims in the best manner of language and choice of words possible.

At times, even I slip up and will give way to my bloody temper! :P

I'm only human and thus every now and then, you'll see me apologizing for my mistakes, etc.

I do ask however that in the future, you keep to the subject matter at hand and not go traipsing along the boundaries as you please.

Hope that you will start writing as a blogger and not remain as an anonymous commentator as you are at the moment!

From your comments, it shows that you have some fine views to share. Do that in your blog.

All the best to you sir!

tankiasu said...

Hi Mahaguru. I gotta admit I do not agree with most of your postings here on your blog. But this time I would have to say you got it spot on.

It is this kind of fair, unbiased and constructive postings that we need to "debate" or discuss sensitive issues that are plaguing our country lately.

May God bless this nation of ours.

mahaguru58 said...

Hello there Brother Tan,

Thanks for your comment.

It is good to know that there are still some levelheaded folks out there who still know how to appreciate what we do have with us instead of being a whining, always complaining sore ass citizen!

I for one am not asking for each and every one out there reading my blog to totally agree with every posting that I publish.

I write according to what I hold to be true or feel strongly about.

As a Muslim Malaysian Blogger, naturally I will watch out for my faith and fellow Muslims.

As a fellow Malaysian, I write about anything that warrants my attention and share my opinions here as I see fit.

Sometimes I whack the BN and Abdullah Badawi, sometimes I take the Opposition to task and even criticize my fellow Muslims in PAS!

I speak my mind as I see fit.

That's the very purpose of blogging, sharing one's viewpoints upfront on the global scale.

I's just natural to have those who agree with us, hate our guts for daring to state whatever it is we are feeling strongly about and there are also the fence sitters.

It makes no difference to me for I write purely for the sake of Allah the Almighty and to feed my bloody ego! :D

I try my level best to not make personal attacks against those who have done me no harm but I will speak up for my fellow Muslims and Malaysians, just like you.

Being a blogger doesn't mean that we are out to garner support or sympathy to our cause, whatever it may be?

We are just putting words and visuals to our feelings and sharing them online.

That's about it.

We all love our nation and as long as I am able to, I will do my part to defend it and our inherited values from our ancestors.

Feel proud to be Malaysians and watch out for each other and our nation!

We criticize our leaders because we care and they ought to appreciate our sincere advices or admonishments!

Learn to seek for the good and correct themselves in the process!

No one's perfect save Allah!

As Malaysians, we must do our bit for our nation and fellow citizens.

Bloggers do that by writing and discussing about such things that need our attention.

If the authorities have any commonsense in them, they should learn to tap into all these feedback and get a better picture as to how things really are in this country and stop acting like 'know it all's and be bloody arrogant' saying that since they are the government, they can do as they bloody well please for they've got the 'power'?

All it takes is for Malaysians to vote out the corrupted ones and bring in better leaders!

If they too screw up, we can screw them out of office in the electoral process.


Makkal Sakti said...

FYI, the songkok was actually introduced by Traders from Gujarat, India when they came to Malaysia in the 1600's.

My grandfather who came to Malaysia from Gujarat at the age of 12 was also seen sporting this headwear in photographs. He even had a man making this headwear in his shop in Melaka to be sold to customers who were largely Malays.

MAHAGURU58 said...

Brother Makkal Sakti,

I believe that might be true. The Malays used to wear tengkoloks in the Istana and common folks just wore toned down headgears.

The songkok has its root from countries like India and also from Turkey.

The Indonesians have their version of the songkok too.

Whatever it is, it is here to stay and for Malaysians to adopt, preserve and wear.

It's a part of our national identity.

Thanks for the info.