A test of perseverance for Muslim migrant workers

Foreign workers, barred from visiting mosques, perform Aidiladha prayers in Taman Setiawangsa, Kuala Lumpur. NSTP/FATHIL ASRIForeign workers, barred from visiting mosques, perform Aidiladha prayers in Taman Setiawangsa, Kuala Lumpur. NSTP/FATHIL ASRI

KUALA LUMPUR: Muslim migrants, who are celebrating Hari Raya Aidiladha thousands of miles away from their homes, were sad that they could not perform prayers in mosques this year.

Mainly from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and Myanmar, the migrants said this Hari Raya Aidiladha was nothing like they had experienced before in their lives.

Apart from the Recovery Movement Control Order, they said other measures to combat Covid-19 such as the barring of visits, hugging and foreign congregation dampened the normally joyful day.

Nevertheless, they took the restrictions in good faith, calling them a test of preseverance from Allah.

Muhammad Mokhsin Mia from Bangladesh said his plans to return home to celebrate Aidiladha was dashed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 35-year-old car wash worker said it had been two years since he saw his wife, two children and parents, and was looking forward to seeing them this year.

The joyful reunion, however, never took place, instead he celebrated the auspicious day in a sombre mood surrounded by a handful of friends.

“This Aidiladha is a very sad one for me because I am supposed to be celebrating it with my family.

“I was looking forward to the trip and had even saved up to spend there. But my plans never materialised.

“I am stranded here due to the Covid-19 restrictions, spending Aidiladha on my own,” said Mokhsin, who looked visibly moved, in Setiawangsa, near here, yesterday.

Since he could not visit his family, he said he sent them the money he had been saving up for a year.

“That’s the best I can do in this situation. I will continue to pray for their safety.”

Mokhsin said what he missed the most was performing Aidiladha prayers in the mosque.

“The camaraderie of praying together in a big group and spending a little time with familiar faces mean a lot when you are in a foreign land.

“Every Aidiladha, I would get up early to go to the mosque but this year, it is different because we (he and five other housemates) know we can’t pray at the mosque together.

“So we came up with a plan to perform solat at a convenient place,” he said, adding that it helped to lift their Aidiladha spirit since all five of them were from the same place.

They performed prayers at a restaurant next to his workplace. Mokhsin said he started his day by calling his family in Bangladesh.

“We had a long video chat before I helped with the food preparation.”

Another immigrant celebrating Aidiladha far from his family is Muhamad Habib Chouldri, 38, also from Bangladesh.

He said the hype and excitement surrounding the auspicious day were hardly felt this year.

“We couldn’t perform prayers with our friends from other places at mosques. It’s a bit disappointing for me.”

“The government’s restrictions in disallowing foreigners to pray at mosques have dampened the Aidiladha spirit and excitement for many of us residing here.”

Habib said at first, he felt the restrictions were unfair when they were first announced but later he understood why such drastic measures had to be enforced.

“I wasn’t aware of the severity (of Covid-19) and felt the government was wrong to stop us from fulfilling our religious obligations, but now all that thought has changed and I am grateful to the government for keeping us safe.”

As for 52-year-old Muhd Khusaini Samin, not being able to perform Aidiladha prayers at the mosque like he used to do in the past 10 years was disheartening.

The father of two, who is married to a Malaysian, said he came to Malaysia from Palembang, Indonesia, in 2009 to work before he met his wife, Norhayati Khamis, in 2012.

“We have two sons, aged 8 and 12, who I took to the mosque for prayers without fail.

“But since the lockdown, none of us have been able to perform prayers in the mosque. The spirit of Aidiladha that we normally experience is just not there.”

Khusaini, who is a permanent resident card holder, said for this Aidiladha, he led the prayers for his family at home.

“It doesn’t feel like Aidiladha at all.

Hopefully, the world will be free of this virus soon, so we all can go back to our normal lives.”

By Kalbana Perimbanayagam.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/08/613181/test-perseverance-muslim-migrant-workers

Comments are closed.