05 August 2011
How fast time flies. It's Ramadan again. It seems only yesterday when I celebrated Hari Raya with family and friends...
Ramadan evokes a memory of childhood, one that I can never forget till now. We were living at a remote village in Ranau when my father was the headmaster in that village school, way back in the late 1970s/early 80s. Like most villages in Ranau, it was a mixed-faith village. A third of the population was Muslim, another 1/3 was Christian, and the rest continued with the traditional Dusun belief.
One day my friend told me that it was the Muslim's fasting month. Of course then I didn't know anything about fasting month. I didn't even know anything about Christianity save for the fact that we made the sign of the cross upon waking up, before meals, before leaving the house and before sleeping (such was my simple faith then), let alone about other religion. Anyway, the friend said that her father was tired working the farm during the day, so he replaced his fasting at night. Seriously, I thought it was normal.
Years later when I was in high school, I participated in Islamic religion lessons and began to understand that fasting for the Muslims involved a duration of before the break of dawn till the sun set, or something like that. I often thought of the childhood friend, her father and even the Muslim community in that village. I do not know for sure when did they convert to Islam, but if it was anything in the 60s or 70s, chances are, they didn't receive the right guidance then. (It is a well known fact that a lot of mass conversion happened in the Dusun community in those years, and that a lot of the new Muslims did not really understand their new faith. Just like a lot of Christians did not understand their faith).
I guess those times were history. I'm glad to think that the Muslim Dusuns are more knowledgeable about their faith now, just as those who claim to be Christians are also making an effort to understand their faith. Most importantly, we still live together in harmony, and we acknowledge that despite the religious differences, we descend from the same source. I guess this quote applies to the Dusun people in general, that "All systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth"(Thich Nhat Hanh). May the Dusun people continue to live together in peace.