Malay, Muslim and Cross

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I am not the first one to say this nor will I be the last. Many Muslim Malays are like the vampire. They are afraid of the Christian cross. They are too paranoid of having or seeing a cross near them. I remember someone complained that there’s a cross on top of the church…really guys?! Really!

I guess this paranoia stem from the fear of being “convert” into religion other than Islam by some non-Muslim agenda and agency just like the story passed down from generation to generation. Seriously, if you are afraid that you suddenly “convert” into other religion due to a small symbol, it screams a lot of how weak your iman (faith) is.

From the way I see it, this issue has created some tension between the Muslim and non-Muslim in Malaysia. Let me tell you this, here in UMN-TC, us Muslim sometimes conduct our Friday solat (prayer) in a church.

You read that right. We did our solat in the church.

It is not because all of us are convert or what so ever. It is because the relationship between the Muslim community and the Christian community are so close that most of the time, we help each other. The Muslims will help to clean their church and the church community will participate in our events and provide us a place to pray whenever there is no place for us to conduct our Friday prayer.

We look more into our similarity than our differences and we work together to create peace and harmony.

In the end, I guess since Islam is a minority here in the USA, it is a bit outside of our comfort zone compare to other Muslim nation. We are challenged with many tests in our daily life, so a mere cross won’t affect us any longer.

By Amar Hasshim

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Swimming

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One of my favorite hobby, since I was a child, is to swim. I am grateful that UMN-TC is well equipped with great aquatic facilities. Unfortunately, I am not a great swimmer due to my stamina of being “big.” The best I can do is to swim slowly while the rest near me practice for Olympic.

By Amar Hasshim

Coffee Drinker

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I have a confession to make. Coffee is not my cup of tea (yes I’m trying to make a pun). I rarely drink them and when I do, it is usually to boost me up while studying for exams. As a result, I might need a  cup to stay awake while my housemates need more. Unless you are a coffee addict then you need a direct injection of caffeine straight to your blood.

By Amar Hasshim

Same But Different Temperature

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I guess only those who experienced the four seasons will understand this but if you aren’t and yet you do understand congratulation. Seriously, even though the temperature between two specific days or months can be the same, it can also be very different. A zero Celcius in November will freeze your bone while you can run around with just a t-shirt in the same temperature in April. The reason of that would be tolerance because you’ll build tolerance of the cold in winter and loose them in summer.

By Amar Hasshim

Hiding From Racism

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So this happened to me once but while I was travelling. I do not want to say when and where because I don’t want my readers to associate people with stereotypes.

I guess I am lucky that my body is “big” and add my brown skin color into the equation, many assumed that I am a Pacific Islander like a Samoan or a native from either Hawaii or New Zealand. Because of that, I can easily pretend to be them when I am too lazy or afraid of facing this type of racist person. Manage to fool them easily due to their ignorance of other culture.

By Amar Hasshim

Wallet Size

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One major difference between living in Malaysia and living in the State would be my wallet size. In Malaysia, I am used to having cash in my wallet even when there were only a few Ringgits. But here in the USA, everything is handled via cards. The only time I ever held some cash in my wallet would be when I went travelling solo as I need them to pay for the public transport.

The good news is that people will never know if you are “pokai” (broke) or not. But the bad news would be that unless you really keep track on your spending, you can easily overspend.

 

By Amar Hasshim

Eating Pork

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I’m not going to lie, out of four years living in the state, I ate pork four times, and none of them are intentional. American put pork, mostly in the form of bacon, in almost everything. This story happens during my freshmen (first) year in one of the student events. I was told it was a vegetable spring roll so I ate it. But when I tried to joke with Kak Vic, a Malaysian Chinese Ph.D. student about it, I learned that there’s ham in it. Never felt so disgusting ever in my life*.

By Amar Hasshim

*Majority of us Malay are Muslim so we do not eat pork or drink alcohol. Additionally, the pig is considered as something dirty in our culture thus the disgusting feeling. I apologize if anyone felt disturbed by it. Peace =)

Notification

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One issue of living abroad and away from your family is communicating in different time zones. When it is morning in Malaysia, it will be night in Minneapolis and vice versa. So when my entire family chats on our family chat groups, I would be sleeping at that time and by the time I woke up, the conversation got so long that I didn’t bother to read them. And when I send something, most of them are already asleep.

By Amar Hasshim

First Job

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My first job was not all that glamorous. I was a custodian a.k.a cleaner at UMN’s health center, Boynton. So almost every day I had to wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning because my shift starts at 6 am.

The job was cool unless when it is winter. I rode my bike to work so at 5.45 am in winter, the road wasn’t yet plowed so riding a bike was impossible. So in winter, I had to wake up an hour earlier and left the house at 5 am to walk to my job site.

By Amar Hasshim

Midnight Hunger

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One Malaysian thing that I really miss the most would be the Mamak or any 24 hours restaurant. Imagine this, you are studying or doing any shenanigans late at night and suddenly your stomach started to sing “Feed Me!” The kitchen and fridge are empty and unfortunately, the shops are all closed. So you just had to bare it until morning.

Seriously. There are many times I pray that we have a Mamak shop here at Minneapolis.

By Amar Hasshim