this post is inspired from a friend’s post
I suppose this kind of incident is no way peculiar to us, especially the one who study/reside oversea. We, judgmentally look and decide on people appearances and our prolonged, internal perception.
In my class “Understanding the Muslim World” back in 2007, 90% of the students were non-Muslim (Australian).
The first time in my life i encountered a Muslim (read: the lecturer, Mohamad Kamal) questioning skeptically his faith. He is socialist-communist by the way.
The first topic i argued with him by emailing him, was the issue of Sayyid Ghulam Muhammad, the so-called Muslim revolusiner of 1800s.
The second one was when he found out how Islamic (read: extreme) I was when we were in character-playing session. I read the speech of Tariq Suweidan regarding the issue of Prophet Muhammad’s cartoons.
The third one when he knew my third name is Alwi (read: Alawi). My lecturer is from Iraq, a Sunni. Alawi is the family name of Ali ibn Abi Talib’s descendants. He probably thought i was a Shiite.
It was a good experience.
So why Darwin then?
It happened 3 years ago, in 2006. My flight transit at Darwin, before continue to fly to Melbourne. It was New Year’s day.
I flew from Singapore, taking Tiger Airways at 3pm, and arrived Darwin at 8pm approximately, could not really remember.
The Darwins were partying for New Years. Beers and fire crackers everywhere.
The aborigins, the one i most feared, appreared on the street greeting everyone. So, i was like the only Asian there took their attention.
“Hey Japanese!” they shouted. Then they gave me a give-me-five. I had to return that give-me-five, or else i would be in trouble.
The scenario was really scary to me. I decided to burn my AUD60 to rent a backpacker’s room.
And that was the real story began.
“Hye, is there any more rooms tonite?” I asked, desperately.
“Oh yeah, sure..”. while checking his computer, the receptionist, Philips replied.
“Can i have your ID please, license etc..”.He then asked.
“Yeah, of course.” I gave him my Oz license.
“What is this, Mohd. How to pronounce it?”. Philips asked, politely.
“Oh, thats the short form for Mohammad. My name is Mohamad Zul Alwi, Adam is my surname. If you dont know how to pronounce, just called me Adam.” I replied.
“Mohammad?….So you are Muslim?!”. Philips started to ask thus made me shiver a bit.
“Yes, i am a Muslim.” brief answer came out from my lips, dont know what to expect.
“Mohammad is the only Arabic word that i know after Islam. You know, i am studying Islam now. Try to consider to make it my faith. There is not much Muslim around here. I really need some, you know guidance before i really jump in..” Philips confessed.
“Oh really…..Assalamualaikum then…” I gave salam to him.
“What was that?” he curiously wanted to know more.
“Assalamualaikum, means, Peace be upon you. And you should reply, Wa alaikumussalam warahmatullahi wa barakatuh….” I told him, tried to make a friendly perception of a Muslim.
“Ahaaaa…..wa the a lay kum selemmm……”he smiled.
Thats the story goes. For me, it is a really beautiful experience. I did not expect in Darwin, where i was like trapped the condition of people partying for New Year, my feelings were so scared and hopeless, then met a nice looking guy, fresh, simple but in the gate of embracing Islam.
I asked him to give me the best room available. I got a room with 4 beds, 1 bed occupied by a couple. I thought his definition of best room might be wrong, but considering that night was New Year, i admit that was the best room. The couple did not disturb me anyway.