Saturday, February 26, 2005

naik haji (part one) ‘the leap of faith’

Until I had performed my Haj, I was fearful that thing I write or muse on its ritual may cause me to face some form of retribution when I am there. Even those who had been there were very secretive about their personal experience. Ask too much and they will hush you into silence. ‘Awang kena gi dinung baru Awang buleh rase.’ (‘You must be there to experience it.’) Such was the mystery associated with the fifth and final testimony of Islam. After all the Baitullah is the House of Allah and the mystical stories, some chilling, were abound.

My earliest memory of pilgrimage was about an ‘orang lurus’ (a simpleton) who went to Mekah by jumping down a coconut tree.

Once upon a time, there was a village simpleton. Let us call him Si Betul. He attended a ‘pondok’ (religious school) somewhere in Besut. Because he was so trusting, so straight a character likened to ‘betul bendul’ (straight as a door frame), he was often the subject of ridicule even by the ustazs. One day, the subject was about ‘faith’. The ustaz stressed that those with absolute faith is capable of achieving anything just by a wish; nothing is impossible. Maybe because it was the Haj season, Si Betul became excited. So he asked, ‘Ustaz. Doh kalu kita yaking, kita rase nok gi Mekah, kita sapa Mekahlah?’ (Teacher. So if we have faith and we feel like going to Mekah, we can get there?) He kept repeating the question until the teacher became fed-up. ‘Ho lah! (Yes, of course)’ the ustaz said. ‘Mung naik pokok nyor, kejang mata, baca Bismillah, pah tu terejung. Sapa lah Mekah. (You go up a coconut tree, close your eyes, read Bismillah, then jump. You’ll get to Mekah.’) The next day Si Betul went missing. Days turned to weeks and weeks to months. He was almost forgotten. About four months passed. Now was the time for the ‘kapal haji’ (pilgrim ship) to return with pilgrims from Mekah. As was customary, the ustaz and most of the ‘pondok’ students were at Port Kelang to greet the arriving Hajis. Those ‘kapal haji’ days, a pilgrim was sent and greeted by at least a busload of well wishers. There, on the deck of the ship was Si ‘Haji’ Betul, in ‘jubah’ and ‘serban’ grinning from ear to ear.
Indeed, he had taken the leap of faith.

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