Sunday, April 22, 2012

MR. Red Hat And Curiosity

Ah Hong with his Red Fez, also known as Tarboosh

Every hat has its own story to tell.
One day I was shopping with my family at Penang shop lot and I was just 8 years old. I was looking at various kind of hats hanging at the hawker’s stall and then I shouted to my mom: “Mom… I want that Green HAT!!”

My mother was laughed at me and quickly pulls me away. “Don’t be silly my son, there are no one going to wear “green hat”, others will be laugh at you.”

I was getting to know that “Green Hat” is a secret code in Chinese community after I raised up. “Putting someone with a Green Hat on” (戴绿帽)is mean someone husband’s wife having affairs with another guy secretly, and the honor of  “Green Hat” is given to the husband involved. Just like kind of humiliation indirectly.

Last month I was taking exam at PICC, Putrajaya. I was having an appointment with one of my brother in Islam, Ah Hoong after taking exam. When he was show up then we were sitting at a cozy sofa that placed at hall, I noticed that he was wearing a Red Kopiah.

There are a few of Reverted Muslim I met with personally, everyone of them is very special person. However Ah Hoong is the only one who wear “Red Hat” among my friends.

“That’s a very nice red kopiah… Where did you buy that?” I asked.
“Well… I was trying to find a Songkok in red colour actually, but I couldn’t find it so I bought this red kopiah instead.”

While we were still staying at the hall of PICC, we chatted a lot about reverted muslim issue. He presented me a lot Islamic books way long from China and I am very appreciated, it’s very hard or almost impossible to buy Chinese Islamic books at Malaysia, and those books have been become important material for me to go on with my personal surveys on local muslim.

Personally I was impressed with his courage to wear kopiah publicly. Most of the time I don’t wear kopiah at public as it would putting question marks to strangers who passed by me. Especially when my face tells that I’m Chinese. Also recalled one day when I was went to mosque and praying, the first question come out from the humble uncle beside me after we finished praying was : “Are you from China?”

I was smiled and hesitated in answering him.

When we was leaving the PICC and heading to nearby restaurant, Ah Hoong wasn’t taking off his red kopiah. He was wearing it straight away from PICC till we taking his car to the nearby restaurant. Aside exchange opinions about Islam, I was whispered at him and look around the crowded people who were going in and out at restaurant.

“Is there anyone who going to look at you with strange emotion? Since you are wearing the red kopiah at public.”

“No… Not really. I was getting used to it actually. I do think this is my way to show my Muslim identity.”

“Yeah, I am notice there are one of your photo in facebook is wearing a tall Red Hat with black rope tighten on top. Reminds me of P.Ramlee was wear the same cap also… Where do you get that hat anyway?”

“Well… That’s called as Fez, also known as Tarboosh. I was asking my friend to help me buy it from Egypt. It’s a hat that originated from Turkey. In a matter of fact this Fez has a lot of historical background behind it, according to history Sultan Mahmud II was the first person who wear this Red Fez.”

This conversation was getting much interesting, I was listening to Ah Hoong explained more about the Fez and his personal story.

“Basically, I would feel proud and thankful, Alhamdulillah. This is because by wearing Fez, without saying a word, I can send a direct message to my non-Muslim friends that I am a Muslim, no doubt.

When I wore my first kopiah for first time in my life as a Muslim, I felt afraid, afraid of what others might think about me, and afraid of being Riak (arrogant/show-off). Alhamduliah, after a few try by wearing it at KL streets and inside mosques (without my family’s knowledge), I began to grow confidence in wearing it.

In this era where Muslims are discriminated because of so-called ‘terrorist’ or ‘extremist’ elements, it is not easy for me to wear it wherever I go. Sometimes I feel afraid to wear it as non-Muslims will misinterpret my negative actions as part of Islam. One funny moment was when I drove into the wrong road lane, I quickly removed my kopiah so that other drivers won’t know that I am a Muslim (no offence to Muslimah sisters).

Alhamdulillah, on positive side, by wearing a Muslim hat, the curiosity I attracted from passers-by becomes a Dakwah form. I first did that while studying in Beijing, China. Again, it did make me feel Riak, but after wearing it many times at outdoor, I became accustomed to it that I forget I was wearing it. MashaAllah, surprisingly it became a conversation starter for strangers. They may ask your origin, then about the significance of your (Muslim) hat. Here, you can seize this opportunity to talk about Islam to them.” 

“So what is your thought about wearing Fez anyway?” I asked Ah Hoong the following question.

“By having clear Muslim identity (such as wearing a Muslim hat), not only a person gains confidence to have Muslim identity, but also somehow, it helps to increase spirit of Ukhuwah. This spirit is even stronger in countries where Muslims are a minority.

For example, when I was studying in Beijing, China last year, some local Muslim Chinese tourists approached me asking for directions. Besides, a meaningful incident that might illustrate this point would be during Eid al-Adha. I was walking back to campus from mosque when a woman approached me. She greeted me with a salam and asked me for directions to mosque. MashaAllah, by Allah’s help, had I not wear my Fez (or any distinctive Muslim features), she would have been in lost for hours as many passers-by were non-Muslim people. 

As a revert from freethinker to a Muslim who has found his Creator, I personally feel although wearing Fez/Songkok/Tarboosh/ Kopiah is not compulsory, nevertheless it helps us to be conscious of our identity as a Muslim, especially in this borderless secular world. Like any other Muslim features such as beard and Hijab, this may perhaps help to increase our Taqwa because we would always remind ourselves that we are Muslims and we are aware of our Creator, Allah.”

I was nodded and listening to Ah Hoong, he continues:

“In short, in my humble personal opinion, it would be better if we Muslim men are proud of our Muslim identity, rather than blend totally into non-Muslim society.”

After we were having lunch, he bring me to the mosque and we go for zohor prayers together. Meanwhile Ah Hoong sent me to nearby LRT Station and I greeted him with salam.

It’s been nearly a month I went back from Putrajaya after I met with Ah Hoong, his Red Hat is just like a strong hit that leave impression deep inside my heart. And also like a “Kick Start” that makes me rethink over my faith and mind towards Islam. Hence I decided to write about this interesting hats story from my brother in Islam.

By the way, recently I am reading a book titled as “From My Sister’s Lips”, written by Na’Ima B. Robert. I was following my hunch in picking books, and for some unknown reason I tried so hard to get one copies with my friend’s help.

As Na'Ima b. Robert profile stated in :

Na’ima defines herself as ‘Muslim, Black, mixed-race, Southern African, Western, revert and woman all in one’. Descended from Scottish Highlanders on her father’s side and the Zulu people on her mother’s side, she was born in Leeds and grew up in Zimbabwe. She went on to gain a first-class degree from the University of London and began writing when her first child was a toddler. Her frank and honest autobiographical celebration her adopted Muslim faith, ‘From my sisters’ lips’ was published by Transworld Publishers to much acclaim.

There are few paragraph inside this book captured my attention:

PART ONE: Finding Islam

One evening, we were performing at a concert in a village out of town. After our set, I remember seeing a young woman, the organizer’s wife, who was wearing a creamy coloured headscarf- a hijab. It framed her face and then fell in folds over her neck and chest. I looked into her face – she was beautiful. It seemed to me that her face was glowing and, somehow, in some way, the hijab only accentuated that. I was so taken with that sight that I stopped to speak to her. After that had been burning in my brain since I had arrived in Cairo: “Why do your cover yourself? You are so beautiful.” To this day, her answer hits me with its clarity and simplicity.

“Because”, she said,

“I want to be judged for what I say and what I do, not for what I look like.”

When that lovely woman told me that she was not interested in being judged on her appearance, but on what she said and thought, I had to sit up and take notice! What did she mean? Remove physical looks from the equation? I felt nothing but admiration for this woman. What is it about Islam, I thought, that can make a woman so strong that she no longer strives to be noticed by men, no longer needs the admiring gaze to feel attractive, no longer puts herself on display when the rest of the world is doing just that? These questions affected me deeply. I began to think about my life, about my own self-image and how I wanted to grow and develop. I asked myself whether I had the courage, the confidence, and the self-esteem to get by on my character and intellect alone.

Well… I guess this is my second hits, literally.
Both stories from Ah Hoong and Na’Ima b. Robert would be different, but they do striving to convey the same message towards public: I’m Muslim and I’m proud of Islam.

And Allah has extracted you from the wombs of your mothers not knowing a thing, and He made for you hearing and vision and intellect that perhaps you would be grateful.

( Surah An-Nahl  16:78 )

Occasionally we have been forgotten the most simple and normal things around us. We don’t feel shock when the sun is raised up from east, we don’t feel impressed when the flower blossoms at garden, because we have seen the same thing too many times till we forgot their amazement.

When something strange jumped into our vision and our reaction might be goes into two ways only. Either we create a self assumption (probably negative) then forget about it, OR we go to make things clear that caused by our own curiosity. Curiosity brings human to know each other differences and exchange opinions. That could be turn out to be something less important that we might forget about it anytime, or it could be a “Kick Start” to realize there are Hints from God Himself.

As the surah al-Quran stated above, very less people feel grateful with the hearing and vision they have. Because we all raised up with normal vision and hearing, Alhamdulillah, till we don't even think about what it’s going to be if we can’t hear and see anything while living. Yes, you can try to think about it now…. What would you feel if you lost your vision and hearing for whole life?

Curiosity save a cat!

Behind The Scene 

Specially thanks Ah Hoong brother for allowed me to write down his "Hat Story" with few photos attached.
May Allah SWT blessed his journey towards Islam

Youtube Video : The Non-Muslim Hijabi- Why wear Hijab

Fez/Tarboosh about

Who is Sultan Mahmud II?

Na'ima b. Robert Official Website

You may order the book "From My Sister's Lips" at Kinokuniya Bookstore


  1. Peace be upon you, As Salam Bro, I'm very proud with yours faith. Your a luckily to reverted bcoz only the narrow Chinese have it.

    I'm just wondering almost Chinese waz successfull in the career and life unfortunately their failed to defined the creator.

    Frankly said i look great outside but empty inside but ALLAH knows best. What their search for their had what for?

    I wish all of us will have guidance from ALLAH till our last breath.

    Anyway just gentle reminder wassatiyah was a better.

    Praise to ALLAH,


    1. Peace be upon you too and walaikumsalam.

      Everyone are born to be Khalifah on earth, which means Representative of God in managing a lot on earth. Most people have been forgotten what is the main reason of living and faith.

      I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam. (Muhammad Abduh)

      This is the most imporant message from Muhammad Abduh. Yes we may admit part of the community have been successful in carrier, yet they are not muslim. In the end what we should do is live our life as muslim, and keep on persuade carrier for living and Jannah.

  2. love to visit and read ur blog again soon!!

    1. Thanks very much, if you would like to receive updates by email, please leave your email at here : )

    2. Asalamualaikum Brother Ikhwan, i would like to receive update through my email :

      thanks n wasalam, Muhammad Jefferson, Riyadh KSA

  3. Assalamulaikum Brother,

    Alhamdulillah...Allah has chosen you to His path. I love to learn about other people's culture and the Chinese has quite a bundle of it.

    visit me read my post on Death and tell me if I was wrong.

  4. Walaikumsalam sister,

    Thanks for visit my blog. Yes chinese is very rich of culture and words if we refer to the history. Especially the chinese word itself is transform from "object" alike into specific word.

    InsyaAllah I am visiting sis blog and there are a lot interesting article : )

  5. salam.

    1.bagi sy pemakaian songkok semacam sudah menjadi pembudayaan kepada masyarakat m'sia, melayu umumnya rasmi ataupun tidak.

    2.kalau dari sudut agama, sy tidak pasti, tetapi mungkin saranan untuk menutup kepala dengan cara pemakaian songkok, serban, kopiah, d.s.b-nya muncul kerana untuk mengelakkan dari anggota sujud yaitu dahi daripada ditutupi rambut.

    3.oleh kerana pembudayaan di m'sia ini songkok sinonim dengan beragam Islam, nawaitu teman saudara ikhwan ng untuk mempamerkan pemakaian tarbus untuk memperkenalkan dirinya sbg beragama Islam, sy faham.

    4.tetapi disesetengah tempat atau negara lain, pemakaiaan songkok dsb.nya tidak semestinya melambangkan si pemakai beridentiti Islam. sy ambil contoh yg paling dekat, di indonesia. menurut satu sumber yg saya baca, ada penduduk beragama Kristian, Indonesia yang memakai songkok (juga dipanggil Peci di sana) untuk ke Gereja pada hari Ahad. jika rahib perempuan mereka juga memakai seakan2 tudung oleh wanita Islam.

    5.bagi saya ini lebih membuktikan bahawa ajaran yg dibawa oleh nabi Isa terdahulu adalah ajaran tauhid yg meng-Esa-kan Allah swt. dan pembudayaan pemakaian penutup kepala ini adalah kronologi terkemudian yg menyerap dan terbiasa kedalam sesuatu budaya masyarakat dan agama.

    1. Walaikumsalam. Terima kasih atas komen mae.

      Saya pernah cuba mencari maklumat mengenai songkok di nusantara, tapi saya masih tak jumpa lagi.. mohon bro kalao masih ada apa2 maklumat sila share di sini, sedbab saya pun agak berminat juga dengan sejarah songkok di Malaysia.

      Setiap topi mempunyai cerita di sebaliknya... Kadang2 ia juga menjadi tarikan dakwah pada mula2.

  6. Assalamualaikum,

    Alhamdulillah...Syukur kerana Allah menemukan saya dengan blog saudara. Penulisan yang baik dan mesej yang ringkas dan padat. Hingga saya tersipu-sipu malu membacanya :)terima kasih kerana sudi berkongsi.

    Menjadi tanggungjawab kita sebagai muslim untuk menonjolkan Islam dalam diri. Bukan sahaja pemakaian, malah, cara bercakap, cara menulis, cara berjalan. Senang kata, segala perkara dalam kehidupan kita perlu menepati ciri-ciri sebagai muslim. Tapi, ramai juga yang lupa...

    semoga bahagia :)

    1. Walaikumsalam.

      Cerita mengenai saya dan kawan2 saya sebenarnya tidak diketahui oleh umum, alhamdulillah Internet mempermudahkan kita berkongsi cerita tanpa kos dan masa yang tinggi.

      Semoga Allah SWT mempertingkatkan takwa kita menuju Allah SWT..

  7. I ever gave a kopiah to my chinese friend as a gift for being able to fast almost 30 days during ramadhan in 2011.
    I didnt meet nor contact him for quite a long time n i'm not sure if the kopiah is useful to him or not, but its a sincere gift from me for his determination to experience fasting in ramadan.
    Hope admin n all readers will pray that Allah choose this friend of mine to get His hidayah. Amin.

    1. My friend's name is Kenji Teh Chi Kang.

    2. Please pray to Allah SWT that he may still on the path of Islam. Only Allah SWT is Al-Mighty in helping His servants. insyaAllah.

      I think if he have the will to fast 30 days, that should be strong enough for him to continue his journey.


Assalamualaikum wbt and welcome to my blog...
May contact me via 012-3979998 or email if you have any private message.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...