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KUALA LUMPUR — Following the hate spewed out online these days among some social media users against Rohingya refugees in Malaysia, it has been seen transforming into physical harassment, as another video emerged of a man believed to be Rohingya refugee being interrogated by a man speaking local language about his Islamic knowledge.

I would like to advise the interrogators that failure to answer correctly to your questions in the local context should not lead you to the conclusion “dia orang bukan Islam.”

Others who watch those videos may wonder or look down as how a Muslim can’t answer those questions about very basic Islamic knowledge or what locally known as “Fardhu Ain”, the ordinance obligatory on every Muslim.

Actually, these are not the first and second videos, I came upon several old videos as well, where the interviewer simply concludes negatively.

Here you have to consider some differences in basic Islamic educational methods between Malaysia and Arakan. First of all, the school of jurisprudence followed by Arakanese Rohingya is Hanafī, whereas the school followed by the Malaysians is Shafiʿī with, of course, some preferential differences.

Secondly, the short chapters of the Holy Quran are not known with its original names such as Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, Sūrah al-Fīl, Sūrah al-Quraysh, etc. Instead, these are locally named after their opening words, for example, Alḥamdu for al-Fātiḥah, Alamtara for al-Fīl, Li’īlāfi for al-Quraysh, so on. If you ask a Rohingya to read Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, very few of them will understand your question, rather, they will be confused, as we have seen in the recent video. So, say them “baca Alḥamdu”.

In our tradition, Fātiḥah means Muslim minor holidays other than Eid al-Fiṭr and Eid al-Adḥa like 27th of Ramazan, 14th of Shabān, 10th of Muḥarram, 12th of Rabī Awwal, etc.

As for the daily Ṣalāh (prayers in Arabic), we don’t call them as such, but we call them Namāz. So please ask us about ‘Ṣalāh’ to certainly fail in your interview. In the counting of Ṣalāh units as well, the traditional difference may also force you to misunderstand our lay people. If you ask about the number of rakʿah units of Fajar prayer, from Rohingya context, the answer will be ‘two niyyat, four rakat,’ which means two rakʿat for obligatory part and another two for optional part. The same example applies on other daily prayers.

Before asking about the Qunūṭ recitation, please keep in mind that there are several versions in the authentic hadith and the Duʿa Qunūṭ taught in Malaysia is a version different from what we are taught.

The tashahhud is also known as attaḥiyyah. Even the most important utterance Kalimah Shahādah is not known as such, but merely ‘kalma’ or ‘Lā ilāha’.

There are many other superficial or terminological differences between you and me, and these should not cause us to misunderstand each other as different in the core.

The foremost and strongest means Myanmar adopted to exterminate Rohingya racially throughout the last seven decades is the denial of their right to education. Student movements were restricted. Education was not properly facilitated. Muslims were discriminated against in schools. Islamic education was not recognized.

In the last step, the Muslims were totally denied access to education. Students were banned from joining educational institutions. Islamic schools were totally locked down, even the study circles insides homes were criminalized.

This is what resulted in confusion in such a random interrogation on the street. I am so sorry.

Simultaneously, It is also possible that the members of the young generation may be weak in Islamic knowledge because at the time of their school age, they faced mass destruction and destabilization of their societies. Imagine a child who was five to seven years old in 2012, the year schools were totally locked down and the final stage of genocide commenced, he might have in the middle school in 2020 but in fact, he doesn’t know what book is and what pen is. Due to the total lockdown of schools and madrasas and destruction of his village, he is risking his life in the crazy waves of the Indian ocean.

Instead of holding a pen, he is forced to hold the cleaning broom or grass-cutting machine in alleys and backyards in the SEA countries.

The only reason why I chose Malaysia is SAFETY, not any economic purpose, as some alleges us of. We used to be landlords, businessmen, professionals, etc. but today we are made sub-human.

It is your privilege that you can shelter a fellow human being seeking refuge in your home and you are not forced to do so in others. How lucky you are that any member of your family is not shot dead, raped, burnt alive, or imprisoned for a lifetime.

If that was not the situation in Arakan, 90% of a minority of some 3.5 million population would not have left their homeland to be refugees in other countries and live in squalid conditions begging for justice. I would like to invite those accusing us of being baggers or economic migrants to visit Arakan and refugee camps in Bangladesh.

How a big kind-heartedness it is that you allowed someone in your home to share a room, the kitchen and sustenance Allah has bestowed you with! I always thing of the refugee issue as greater picture of this scenario.

We assure you that the Rohingyas in any country (save Myanmar) acknowledge our status as refugees allowed for a temporary stay on a humanitarian basis. It never came to our mind to upgrade this status into the citizen of that country. Stronger than this is the belief that you will kick me out if I ever think of rights equal to yours even mistakenly, wherever we be.

As such, don’t you think the sincerity of the campaigners who want to persuade you or instigate you against this fact is a question mark and they want to defame your nobility or to hinder you from being front-liners in the contemporary issues of the globe like Syria, Palestine, Yemen, and others?

It is just a clarification on behalf of my fellow Rohingya refugees everywhere available. It is not meant to interfere with ongoing public order in any host country.

We owe you, Bangladesh, Malaysia and other host countries!

By Juairia Jinan
Rohingya Refugee Camp, Cox’s Bazar

NB: The article is solely the writer’s opinion. It doesn’t represent Rohingya Vision’s editorial policy.