Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Family Reunion Lunch at Chinese New Year Eve (新年团圆饭)

I was standing at outside of parent’s house and not dare to step in.
It was late night already, their reunion lunch already finished. Every year my family would prepare steamboat at house at CNY eve, it’s very important for Chinese community, no matter they are staying at the other side of world also have to come back and have a reunion lunch with family. It would be not forgiven if any of the family member dare to break this traditions. 

“Come in.” My father says to me at door
I was silent and don’t know what to say.

“Just come in.”
Moments later, I stepped into my parent’s house. My mother asked me a lot of questions, why I dare to embrace Islam without telling them first, and lots more. I believe that my family totally lost their mood in celebrating 2009 Chinese New Year. 

“So you are not going to eat anything that I cook anymore right?” My mother asked
I was still remaining silent, I don’t know much to talk. I know that my decision may broke their heart into pieces, but I have to embrace Islam too because I realized that Islam is the right path. I was not inform my parents while register at Pejabat Agama because I afraid they would try anything to stop me.

“Are you feeling comfortable to live your life as Malay?”
“Why are you doing this to me? My heart feels like being stabbed by you.”
“I told your father that I don’t want to live anymore. I am already lost my son”
I tried to explain with my mother, but it seems like didn't make sense to her at all. How do I pick up my mother’s heart that broke into pieces, and stick it together? I know gaps would never disappeared after it’s stick up, but It’s much more better than I let it be.

At year 2009 is my first time ever that I was not having Reunion Lunch with my family. There are a lot of problems in finding the suitable steamboat restaurants, my mother wanted the “Chinese Taste” steamboat too no matter how I tried to recommend some Thai’s halal steamboat. It was so frustrating that my father still insist to ask me have a lunch and stay overnight with them. (In Chinese tradition, every family member should be stay overnight at CNY Eve in welcoming new years.)

Till this year CNY, my mother told me that she want to prepare steamboat at my family house. “I will not put pork inside it, why not you bring your wife and daughter to join us?” Of course I can tell her about samak or buy whole new set of steamboat pot, but there’s some problems I still need to beware of. CNY was getting closer and closer, I was still can’t figure out how do I solve this Reunion Lunch problem.

I can’t simply explain to my mother the beauty of Islam in speech but action. It need takes lot of effort in showing her that what I can and can’t do as a muslim. Then I would let her judge and understand how I live my way including how I talk with them. Before I getting know about Islam, I always shouted at my parents and not respect much.. I never appreciate what I have and being rude to everyone, until after I embraced Islam.. I am learning to talk gently and treat them well, I understand I broke their heart in my selfish decision so I want to show them that I am not ignorant son.

“I have a relative who married with malay and embrace Islam, after he embraced Islam hor.. His whole family very angry with him, they kick him out and never see him anymore for few years. Till now I am never know where is him.” I recalled my ex colleagues sharing her relative’s story in year 2008. I was remain silent and eating my vegetarian food with them.

“Yes lo yes lo.. I also don’t know why Islam law is so forcefully, it’s ok la if girl want to get marry with anyone or any race, girl would follow husband la but for the boy how come he need to follow girl’s religion and tradition??”Another colleague is arguing in this issue.

In Chinese community, girls who get married would need to follow husband’s every order, including religion status, tradition, surname and lots more. Husband have the total right in controlling everything, so called in Chinese Idioms “Follow the chicken or duck once married to either one of  it”. Including reunion lunch issue, wife have no right to celebrate it with her own family but follow husband back to his family living place.

So it’s become an weird issue that why husband must be the one who bowed down and follow muslim wife’s religion? According to surah Al-Baqarah : 221 :

Dan janganlah kamu berkahwin dengan perempuan-perempuan kafir musyrik sebelum mereka beriman (Memeluk Islam) ; dan sesungguhnya seorang hamba perempuan yang beriman itu lebih baik daripada perempuan kafir musyrik, sekalipun keadaannya menarik hatimu. Dan janganlah kamu (kahwinkan perempuan-perempuan Islam) dengan lelaki kafir musyrik* sebelum mereka beriman (memeluk ugama Islam). Dan sesungguhnya seorang hamba lelaki yang beriman lebih baik daripada seorang lelaki musyrik, sekalipun keadaannya menarik hati kamu. (Yang demikian ialah kerana) orang-orang kafir itu mengajak ke neraka (2), sedang Allah mengajak ke Syurga dan memberi keampunan dengan izinNya. Dan Allah menjelaskan ayat-ayatNya (keterangan-keterangan hukumNya) kepada umat manusia, supaya mereka dapat mengambil pelajaran (daripadanya).
* Lelaki yang berugama Islam diharamkan berkahwin dengan perempuan kafir musyrik, demikian pula perempuan yang berugama Islam diharamkan berkahwin dengan lelaki kafir musyrik.

** Haramnya orang-orang Islam berkahwin dengan orang-orang kafir musyrik, bukan sahaja kerana berlainan ugama tetapi juga kerana pergaulan mesra dengan mereka yang terjalin dengan kasih sayang sebagai suami isteri, akan mendorong orang-orang Islam melakukan sesuatu yang bertentangan dengan Islam, yang kesudahannya membawa ke neraka.

In this verse Allah SWT is not command “Paksalah mereka memeluk Islam sebelum berkahwin” but commanded this “Dan janganlah kamu berkahwin dengan perempuan-perempuan kafir musyrik sebelum mereka beriman (Memeluk Islam)”. Which means Islam is not forceful in religion issue, but it is partner’s self decision whether he/she want to embrace Islam or not. Being embrace Islam under self decision and awareness is much more better than forcing partner to follow Islam blindly, because partner will be playing important role in leading family at the future.

Tidak ada paksaan dalam ugama (Islam)*, kerana sesungguhnya telah nyata kebenaran (Islam) dari kesesatan (kufur). Oleh itu, sesiapa yang tidak percayakan Taghut**, dan ia pula beriman kepada Allah, maka sesungguhnya ia telah berpegang teguh, yang tidak akan putus. Dan (ingatlah), Allah Maha Mendengar, lagi Maha Mengetahui.  (Surah Al-Baqarah : 256) 
*salah satu dari asas ugama Islam ialah tidak adanya sesuatu paksaan. Yang perlu ialah memberikan penerangan dan Da’wah Islamiyah kepada orang ramai dengan cara yang baik dan bijaksana serta dengan contoh-contoh amalan yang baik menurut ajaran Islam yang sebenarnya. 

** Taghut: ialah Syaitan, berhala, dan apa sahaja yang menyesatkan.

In this two verse of Surah Al-Baqarah already explained that Islam is never forceful. But it’s more to community tradition being crashed with Hukum Allah S.W.T. It’s never easy to persuade family members to accept their beloved son being embrace Islam, however it’s son’s responsible to explain Islam in gentle or direct way to them. Getting run away from family never solve anything, but they should be taking initiative to prove that Islam is the righteous Religion.

Two weeks before Chinese New Year, my wife show me a newspaper published about Chinese Muslim Steamboat at Perak. That restaurant name is Jade Nusantara Steamboat, surprisingly the location are very near to my parent’s house (Less than 1KM). Thus I tried to call my parent and tell them that I can have steamboat reunion lunch with them, my mother’s first reaction was: “Are you sure that’s Chinese restaurant? It seems have a lot of malay waiters at there, and you know I prefer to Chinese taste steamboat only.”

“Of course mother, that’s really chinese’s restaurant. Why not you try to go there and take a look?”
At the same day I called my parent, they went to that restaurant at night and agreed to have Family Reunion CNY lunch at there, Alhamdulilah. I believe the restaurant boss have been talk with them in Chinese language, which makes them feels more confident that their steamboat would be more suitable to their taste. This would be the first time ever in my whole life celebrating CNY with family at Chinese Muslim Restaurant, which record a whole new historical day in my family tradition.

It was a wonderful family gathering in my whole life, I spent more than 2 years effort to enjoying this Reunion Lunch along my wife and daughter. Alhamdulilah.

Restoran Jade Nusantara Steamboat

Gong Xi Fa Chai... 

Waiting to be served... 

2 different soup for different taste..

Beautiful Quranic frames

Damia being holded by her grandfather 

This article also shared at Open SEAM


  1. May Allah bless you for standing firm on your principe. Please continue to do so and keep on reminding your parents on the Do and Dont's in the islamic law. if you dont, they might think that u have become linear as years pass and will star to invite you on religion based occasion (like 清明节).. always say no in the beginning whenever u felt no right... trust me.. a No in the beginning will make a huge difference in your latter life.. good luck bro!!! salam

  2. AssalamAlaikum,

    This is heartwarming! =)
    Thanks for the post!


  3. Ermmm..menarik tulisan ni...doakan mereka supaya diberikan hidayah...
    Saya mempunyai ramai kenalan non muslim tapi tak mampu untuk mendakwahkan mereka. Bimbang jugak akan ditanya di akhirat nanti. Oleh itu saya letakkan nota di profile facebook saya tentang Islam, moga mereka membacanya dan harap di sana nanti saya tidak ditanya dan didakwa.....

  4. red chopsticks :

    Insyaallah.. Honestly I found out that Islam is not about who win in debates but to show how the way of live in Islam. I did went to my grandma burial with family just I don't pray and bow at grave. Do hope they would accept muslim way of living, Insyaallah.

  5. Khadijah C. :

    Walaikum salam..

    Just write out my true feeling in celebrating CNY this year, hope you like it.

  6. studioukm :

    Dakwah bukanlah suatu perkara yang senang, tapi Insyaallah dari segi percakapan dan perbuatan kita boleh menunjukkan kepada orang apakah perbezaan orang Islam dan bukan Islam secara tidak langsung. Saya juga suka berkongsi sedikit pengalaman saya sekiranya ada kawan yang ingin mengetahui kehidupan saya, supaya mereka meengetahui Islam yang sebenar bukannya melalui persepsi manusia.

  7. Alternatively you can buy a whole new set of pots, bowls, plates and other utensil to your parents house. Tell your parents to wash and keep it for next round. Then find excuse to create more rounds! In time, the bonding will resume, and hopefully you'll be re-accepted. After all, blood is thicker than water.

    Don't create an atmosphere of fear and unknown. Fear drives people away.

  8. Andrew:

    Yes I plan to do that at next year.. Because I hope what I do is show to my parent that's I am still their son who eat chinese food. Just very hard to explain in speech..

  9. brother how are you today i dont feel good nice blog

  10. nice blog and a nice place....anyone has tis jade nusantara steamboat contact? i wan to make a reservation!

  11. subhanallah.semoga Allah memberikan kamu kekuatan.

    dan berkenaan peralatan makanan pula, dr fahaman saya, kita boleh je gunakan walaupun pernah digunakan untuk memasak benda yg tidak halal. asalkn kita basuh dgn bersih, hilang zat, bau dan warna. dan kita yakin dia bersih. ini kalau peralatan itu diperbuat dari besi, aluminium, plastik, kaca, kita boleh basuh sehingga bersih dan gunakan nya.
    contoh cawan kaca yg pernah digunakan untuk minum arak, kita boleh je basuh dgn bersih dan gunakan untuk minum air biasa.

    tetapi kalau peralatan itu diperbuat dari kayu, tanah liat, yg boleh menyerap rasa atau zat2 makanan yg tidak halal.takut sisa2 itu masih ade lg.
    contoh, masyarakat cina slalu pakai periuk tanah liat, claypot untuk 炖肉. jadi periuk itu akan serap zat2 daging tu.jadi tak sesuai kita pakai untuk masak.

    islam itu mudah, dan tidak membebankan.insyaAllah.
    kalau kurang pasti anda boleh lah rujuk pada ustaz2 untuk kepastian sebenar2nya.
    ini dari ilmu yg saya telah pelajari dan fahami.

  12. izzudin :

    Hmm berbagai2 pendapat mengenai hal bekas makanan ni, tetapi mengenai peralatan yang menyerap rasa atau zat2 makanan ialah kali pertama saya terdengar. Sehingga sekarang saya pun masih confuse sama ada boleh atau tidak makan di rumah orang tua saya.

    Islam ialah agama yang universal.. InsyaAllah suatu hari keluarga juga mendapat hidayahNya jadi isu makanan pun boleh diselesaikan.

  13. Alhamdu lillah! Very interesting story depicting the difficult and pitiful situations faced by many Chinese muslim converts. Many Malay brothers or ustazs may not understand how difficult to face this challenge and to strike a balance between keeping good relation and caring for our parents' feeling and observing Islamic syariah and advoid the doubt of our suspicious muslim brothers.

    1. Alhamdulilah, that was my first time ever encounting difficulty in celebrate reunion lunch. Indeed not many people know hot it feel to be the one who face these challenges, however I do pray to Allah SWT for ease my heart and soul in following His right path. Ameen.

  14. Assalamualaikum,

    Alhamdulillah...you remain steadfast in Islam...be the BEST son your mum ever had...that's the only way you can "collect" her broken heart. Visit her or call her almost everyday, make sure all her needs are met...who knows InshaAllah Allah may give the light to her too...

    Kalau saudara kenal Brother Ir. Fuad Yeoh, my husband's classmate kat STAR dia always bawa balik disposables and bawa his own food, air kosong pun dia bawak balik, susah juga nak jaga makan ni sebab hati kita boleh jadi keras...kerananya...

  15. Walaikumsalam,

    My neighbor's son have been left away for years and never come back. But I don't want to do the same thing although it's very hard for me. Because I understand in Islam as son are not allowed to hurt mother's feeling as long as she not threaten my Iman. So I pray and do whatever I can, till now she is still muttering about my muslim identity, alhamdulillah she is not give up on me.

    sekarang saya pun dah pindah keluar dari rumah, sebab risau nanti mak saya terasa hati pula. tapi kalao saya balik rumah, mak tetap tolong belikan nasi briyani dari kedai mamak.

  16. Assalamualaikum,

    Your situation is one that most of us reverts face, or rather used to face because nowadays, it's very easy to find Chinese Muslim Restaurants. Syukur Alhamdulillah. Back in my time, in 1995 it was difficult so I brought all my utensils, even the dishwashing sponge to make steamboat at my mum's house. The 2nd year I cooked at home & brought it over. After we had children & knowing her grandchildren loves pizza, my late mum was open enough to agree to Reunion Lunch at a Pizza Restaurant! She said 'the food is not important, eating together as a family is what's important'


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