There I was, sitting beside my grandma inside our car. I usually take front seat so it’s like the first time in years for me to sit beside her. Then I noticed her behavior: she did salam and whispered prays when we passed a mosque near our home.
If only my grandma is a moslem, I won’t be bothered to write about this. My grandma is a native Chinese who came to Indonesia in its early independence day. She even got married in China that she had to bring two out of her three children to Indonesia. She never stated she was moslem, neither did my late grandpa – who was ashed and buried under Chinese custom in Lampung. Her 6 children, whom one of them was still “left” in China, have different religions – Khonghucu (Confucianism), Catholic, Christian, and then Islam.
She mainly stays with her only one son’s family in Indonesia – Lampung. As far as I know, my grandma and my uncle’s family are practicing Khonghucu belief. It was said that my uncle’s family has to preserve our family tradition because he’s the only one son available in Indonesia (but funny because their daughter is a Catholic while their son has to be a Confucian).
She’s always uncomfortable upon staying in my family house (we’re moslem). One of her reason is that she could not conveniently do her praying rite, which involves praying desk and burning hio (incense). Moreover, it seems that my Chinese family still can not forget our late President’s treatment to Chinese people (they’re considered as third class citizen, does not have any rights especially in practicing their belief and forced to be localized) that being known by the moslem environment as a Chinese is their greatest fears*. But she ought to do it anyway. So, every time she went to pray, she went missing to the open roof with her hio.
Later on, I caught something interesting. My grandma’s praying time, lately, is almost the same with Subuh and Maghrib prayer. I’ve been accidentally went to roof when she prayed, and she’s doing Shalat like movement – although not precisely the same – with burning hio in front of her. I also remember that she told me once, “Although I cannot pray like you, I believe in Allah and always pray to Allah so your family will always be blessed”.
All of those events are not connected in my brain until yesterday when she said salam upon passing the mosque. I’m not writing you this story to tell you that my grandma perhaps already converted, no no… I’m just saying that, for old people like her with death awaits, do religion really matters? The most important thing to her about faith is to pray from heart to whoever considered as her God.
My grandma is almost 90 years old, and it’s already a bless that she’s healthy until now. She’s just experiencing hearing loss, but her memory is still good (not to mention that lately she uses Chinese more often, making me difficult to have a conversation with her. Maybe she can only retain her strongest memory, which is Chinese as her native language as one of it). Alas, learning something at their age is a very difficult thing to do. So it is very understandable that although (maybe) she could not become a Moslem fully when she dies, all the she can do is to treasure her belief that Allah exists (or perhaps coexists with another God and Goddess concept in Khonghucu, hehe).
Well, at least when she’s not here in this world anymore, there will be at least 4 kind of prayers chanted to her by her descendants. Statistically speaking, my grandma will have 4 times bigger chance than us – monotheist – to be pardoned according to a specific religion. Hahaha…
So the moral of the story is, breed a lot of children and told them to have different religions… *Kidding* I think, what lesson my grandma give is independence in faith. You can give your children freedom in choosing their belief, you can also accept that your children trying to convert you to their religion, but at the end, a religion is something that you have to choose yourself. She never states what kind of faith she’s currently having now, she does her praying rite by herself without bragging others to come with her, yet she harmoniously lives with our religion difference and accepting each religion customs.
She’s the one who taught me about respecting other’s difference in silence or reflect it in daily behavior. Having a divergence family is a bless, alhamdulillah. I won’t force them to follow my faith. All that I can do is to pray that Allah will bless them, whatever faith they have**.
*Well, my mother often told me to silence whenever I talked about our Chinese thingy. Even a conversation in Chinese has to be conducted in almost hissing way so our neighbor could not overhear. I’m proud to be half Chinese, but our Chinese tradition is not passed to my main family that I really do not know about it. I even had to take Mandarin classes to increase my Chinese identity (which turned out to be useless since I could not absorb anymore language – I’m naturally bad in languages).
**The context in this post is about theist (at least, believe in God). I’m not talking about atheist nor I want to mess with discussions about that. That’s a whole different level than this story.