30 September 2017

And that was how I developed a very high level of religious tolerance

(Part 2)

(I sent the link of my blog on part 1 of this entry to Arielle. Just now, after her Account tuition, she asked me when is part 2 going to be written. So here goes)


So I mentioned in part 1 how listening to the recital of the Holy Quranic verses made me feel safe as a child during those pitch black nights especially when the weather was scary. And my eldest brother, the one now known as Fr Wilfred through his profession as a Catholic priest commented that he was in full agreement with me. He even added that he can still recite the 'azan' and 'takbir raya' very well  to this day. It's obvious that both he and I had developed a high level of religious tolerance via the same process. It so happened that we both attended SBPL (now known as Sekolah Sains Labuan) when we were in form 4 & form 5.

Back to the story... my childhood experience was mainly sensory in nature. I heard the Quranic verses recitation and I felt safe and protected. Upon entering high school, the environment further played an important role in shaping my tolerance.

In form 1 at SMK Mat Salleh, Ranau, I had my first experience of having an ustaz teaching in my class. This particular ustaz came from West Malaysia. He told us all, Muslims and non-muslims to greet him with 'asalamualaikum' each time he came to our class.  I didn't find that weird at all, and I am very sure others felt the same too. Life went on peacefully for us all.

After we finished our form 3 exam, (known as SRP), there wasn't that many exciting things to do at school. So we spent most days doing 'gotong-royong' and that included carrying bricks for the school's 'surau' building. Again we did it cheerfully, Muslims & non-Muslims, without any negative feelings.

Form 4 came and both my brother and I ended up in SBPL. There, we immersed in yet another new environment which reinforced our high level of tolerance.

(And that is part 2...tbc 😃)

28 September 2017

And this was how I developed a very high level of religious tolerance

Originally written as a FB entry

(this one is for my daughter, Arielle who deactivated her FB account till SPM is over, but I will post this on my blog later. She asked me to write more about 'the olden day' (read: my childhood) so that she knows more about the past)


There is this little cafe I frequent most mornings, mostly because it serves my favourite Tawau-style mee tauhu, but also because of its outdated boombox, it plays either songs from the 80s (era kegemilangan lah katakan), and recital of Holy Quranic verses. Now, many people find me unfathomable because of the way I can sincerely appreciate Quranic verses reading or Buddhist teachings and such things while being very comfortable with my own religious practices.

I've been reflecting about me too and come up with this conclusion: the current me is the results of significant childhood experience and teenagehood environment. And I have to say I am thankful for those.

When I started primary school, my dad was the headmaster in this school in a beautiful little village tucked away somewhere in a lush forest. It was as kampung as could be without electricity and without a lot of other facilities. At one point, there were only dad, my eldest brother and me because my mom decided to be in my grandparents' house in another village with my other younger siblings.

At that time, we didn't go to church. Or should I say there was no nearby church to go to. And although our parents taught us the basic prayers, there were often occasions when I felt very very scared at night especially when the weather was horrible. Imagine the sound  of howling wind and pattering rain on a zinc roof. Not pretty at all, I tell you.

Despite the lack of technology then, we still had a radio that connected us to civilization. And the little me had it on most of the time because it gave me the illusion of being surrounded by people. In the  evenings (dark and gloomy to my selected memory), the radio would play the Quranic verses recital for a certain period of time. I remember feeling safe to hear that...and that was how my childhood was shaped. Long after I had learned more Christian prayers and songs, I still appreciate the recital. Apparently,  things like these get stuck at a person's heart that 35 years later, I still appreciate it...

(And this is part 1 of the entry 😃)