Friday, February 8, 2013

THE SUFIS OF SARAWAK - life, death, family and the pursuit of happiness

68. Death’s Door
Though you see me eating and walking,
Working and sleeping, breathing and living,
In truth, I am standing at Death’s door,
Waiting to meet my King.

As planned (and happily) as fated, today you will not find me in Kuala Lumpur, but instead in Kuching, Sarawak on the Island of Borneo. I am here to attend the tahlil (assembly of close kin and friends of the deceased) and a special mawlud (songs praising the Lord and venerating His Beloved Habibullah Muhammad (s.a.w.s.)).

The deceased in question is Abang Haji Bohan Abang Haji Osman, the centenarian father (101 years old this year!) of my partner, Abang Ariffin. He asked me to come for a good send-off for his saintly father and witness how the Sarawakians mourn, venerate and ultimately, celebrate the passing of a father, grandfather and great-grandfather. 

I took some pictures of course, and here are some of them.

It was a warm overcast sky beneath which I arrived in Sarawak, the Land of the
Puteri Santubong (one of the 7 princesses of King Solomon).
Myself,  little Ashman, the only son of Ariffin and his doughty
cousin, Naim. Ariffin just bought them those skateboards. Initially
Ashman was reluctant to ride it outside the house. "But the wheels are
gonna get dirty and the board scratched and dented, Father!" 
He he he, the innocence and beauty of youth.
The Tao of the Cat. Two mangy young cats were sleeping next to me.
Being the Chinese New Year celebrations this weekend, I thought
to myself, "Hmm. How apt." I often have this brilliant epiphanies
of the blinding obvious. He he he.
A little tired I returned to the small hotel where I am staying just a walking distance
from the house. I overslept and missed the evening Maghrib prayers, but
rushed over just in time for the night Isya prayers. But not before I was able
to take this picture of the Imam leading the faithful congregation. Man...
the things I do for this almanac. He he he.
This trip is not just about saying goodbye to an ancient soul, but to also meet
old buddies from my umrah pilgrimage in 2011. It was such joy for me to see all of
Ariffin's friends and brothers and sisters. Here is Ijan (aka Yul Brynner)
and Ariffin himself, or Haji Ipen as his own late father used to refer to him. The night
before he passed away, the father asked Ariffin, "So when are you returning back
to Kuala Lumpur?
" To which my partner replied, "No... I am not going back. I am
here for good. Balqies, Sareah ad Ashman are all starting school here."
The father nodded and smiled his best smile ever.
But that night has not ended yet. For after dinner, and as promised to me by Ariffin,
the Sufis of Sarawak, consisting largely of Ariffin's family and friends gathered once
more in Abang Bohan's house... For a special mawlud in honour of the Prophet
Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) and in remembrance of the indomitable Abang Bohan.
Perhaps I did not mention to you that Ariffin's family is particularly Sufi?
Now you know. God bless you, God bless me, alhamdulillah
(Praises be unto God)!!
And so the mawlud begins... and pretty much best of all is that the passion and
power of the music, in the playing of the darbukas and clarinets are all coming from
young men, as the little kids sing the hymns and sonnets venerating their Prophet
Muhammad (s.a.w.s.). How excellent is God's creation, are all children.
Then the tempo began in earnest as Sufyan, the younger brother of Ariffin stood up
to commence the hadra (spiritual dance) and two little boys stepped out from the
crowd to whirl like the magical Sufis of old. This time, even the elderly stepped up,
including Abang Matasan despite his slip disc which he got when he carried his
father last week. He had to be assisted off the dance floor soon after though.
God bless all courageous men whose heart is filled with love.
Allahyarham Abang Haji Bohan Abang Haji Osman.
Before he died, he was still amazingly lucid and clear minded. One night
he suddenly stood up amongst his worried wife, children and grandchildren
and suddenly declared, to the seen and unseen...
"I do not worship any idols or statues!
I do not fear death! I only fear God!"
On that note, I must end the almanac. But before I do, wonderment comes to me as to what I have done to deserve such luminaries and loving spirits in my life. In my own book of account for this life, I have really no debits, only credits granted to me by Allah (s.w.t.) and His Muhammad (s.a.w.s.). I believe this to be true.

Have a beautiful Friday, sunshine. May your life be filled with beautiful and good people always. Especially that person looking back at you in the mirror.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way


Anonymous said...

Al Fatihah. My deepest condolonces to the late families. Hj Ipen is my senior in UITM Sabah.

Milky Tea said...

Salams Hayyat,

I will pass your salam and al-fatiha wishes to Ajipen and family...

Tq wasalaam.