We are brothers.
(just a short post. All names below are changed for now -_-)
We were still waiting for brother Farhan finish his ablution while the 5 of us sit in a circle, cross-legged in the center of the musallah (prayer room). The Jamaah prayer for Zhuhur (midday prayer) had just ended when we arrived so we have to start our own congregation. The two other sisters who came with us already finished praying, but we on the other have to wait for our brother and pray together. After all, praying in jamaah (congregation) is far more rewarding than doing it alone.
Earlier this morning when I met these seven new friends from Indonesia, the first question they had was: "Are you Malaysian? You look like Malaysian." and then "Are you Muslim?". And answered them with a smile and "No, I am from Sulu, farther south of Manila, and yes Alhamdulillah, I am Muslim, born and raised, by blood and soul." They were also medstudents like me and they are now on a seven-day visit to the Philippines, touring around, visiting hospitals and schools. I think this was an exchange student program of one of the known student organizations among medstudents in Asia.
After some introductions and short talks and picture taking, we walked along the busy street of Pedro Gil under the blazing sun with a single destination: find a Musallah for them to pray Zhuhur. While on our way we talked and talked, asked questions about each other's schools. They asked me how many Muslims are there in our batch and when I told them that we were only 2 out of 158 and about only 10 throughout the hundreds of medstudents, they were all amazed. (of course it would really be different if you are coming from a Muslim country diba?)
I explained about the Muslims in the City are only a fraction of the great population of Muslims who are mostly in the south. I also told them the Muslims once had a separate country (or countries/states) and a clearly different history of origin. I happily told them that in fact, the Indonesians are among our "elder" ancestors and I kid them that they are my long lost grandparents (which they laughed at). Then they asked why there were no Musallahs or Masjid (mosque) in the college or even at the hospital.I can only give them a shrug and a "We are trying to have one built someday, In shaa Allah" and we dismissed the topic as we finally found a musallah.
After the prayers, and before we left the musallah, Hanif (one of those whom I became well acquainted with in such a very short time) approached me. We shook hands with the Islamic gesture of Salaam (peace) and he told me:
"You know what, Ahmad, I am happy and proud that you are here. You were considered a minority here but that did not stopped you from dreaming of becoming a doctor. You are now in a famous medschool in this country and you are a Muslim, Alhamdulillah. And that last one made us a family. As brothers."
I was touched with what he said. I was reminded with the verse in the Qur'an:
"The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear Allah, that ye may receive Mercy." -Qur'an Chapter 49 Surah Hujraat, Verse 10.
"Yes, indeed," I replied with a tear in my eyes "We are brothers in faith. What's stronger than that?"