It was at the end of July 2015 when I was getting ready to go to Hatyai for a three-day “So Real English Camp” organized by Thai Muslim Students Society (TMSS). Excited as I was to be a facilitator of this program, upon my arrival, one of the committees pointed out that educational or English camps were already abundant in Thailand and that we had to set our own English Camp apart from the rest. Well, I was there to prove that you can be a good Muslim and speak English at the same time which consequently was one of the goals of the camp too.
Language does not define imaan. There is no sole superior language that can increase your level of faith nor there isn’t one that specifically decreases it. You can learn and speak many languages, read books by scholars from various backgrounds and nationalities, or dive into Western theories, ideologies, and philosophy; and it still won't aggravate your development of imaan. In fact, it may strengthen it. You will gain so much knowledge of this world that nothing can prevent you from ignorance. Iqra! Read! It was our first revelation after all.
Some would say we should not focus so much of our time and energy to learn English when we should have master Arabic instead. The thing is, it is important for us to be proficient in English so that we can stand and compete on a global scale since English is a medium that is transmitted and consumed by almost everyone on Earth. However, I do not deny the importance of that fact that we must stay true to our roots by using and speaking in our mother tongue for if it is not us who will pass down our beautiful language to the next generation, then who?
Whatever slang, accent, dialect that you speak, be proud of it, embrace it, use it. No language is perfect, and no language is easy. Malaysia itself utilizes different words to convey the same message; saya, aku, patik, cek, kamek, and beta are just some of the different pronouns that most of us use daily! This is what makes Malaysia infinitely beautiful and diverse. I have only recently come to the realization that your language is truly your identity but it is not the only thing that defines you. After careful considerations and deliberations, I’ve come up with a few methods to enrich yourselves and be free of the confinement of one single language.
If you don’t know what to do, travel.
If you don’t know where to go, volunteer.
If you don’t know what to be, teach.
You see, traveling enables you to spread your horizons, meet new people, get out of your comfort zone, and help you understand the world better. Who knows, maybe you pick up a language or two. If you don’t have the means to travel, I would like to suggest for you to read. Insert yourself into someone’s life and you too are traveling. “There is no frigate like a book,” said American poet Emily Dickinson.