In November 2007, I joined a jamaat of 40 days bound for Northern Thailand. Our jamaat consisted of 10 persons including me. The others were Haji Julaihi and Haji Muhammad Kamal of Brunei; Haji Sabaruddin of Melaka; Abdul Samad of Pahang; Zulkefli of Johor; Haji Harun, Nor Azha, Yuzli, and Farak Khan of Kuala Lumpur. We spent the first ten days of our chillah doing the dakwah and tabligh effort in Shah Alam while making travel arrangement to Thailand.
Prior to that, I had sat in tafakud (which is a screening and interview process conducted by the appointed responsible old workers of the tablighi jamaat) twice in the same year and passed both tafakud. The first one, in a jamaat scheduled to make effort for 4 months in Madagascar. And the second time, in a masturat jamaat (husband and wife) bound to India and Pakistan for 2 months. Sadly in both occasions, I had failed to join the intended journey.
We arrived at Bangkok International Airport at 9.35pm and arrived at Mimburi Markaz at 11.05pm. Thailand has two main dakwah and tabligh markaz. The markaz for Southern Thailand is Yala and the markaz for Northern Thailand is situated at 2/1 Moo.8 Ratuthit Rd, Khwaeng, Saensab, Khet. Mimburi 10510, Bangkok, Thailand. As usual, one of the first thing for us to do when traveling abroad is to note down the local solah time: Fajr 4.56am, Dzuhur 12.30pm, Asr 4.00pm, Maghreb 5.48pm and Isya' 7.45pm.
Mimburi markaz is a large double-story building near an open field. After registering as guests, Harun and a student at Yala Markaz, Yusof, served us delicious late night meals.
The majority of people of Southern Thai are Malay-speaking Muslims, whereas Northern Thailand people are predominantly Budhists who only speak Thai language. At the time, Yala syura consisted of Haji Abdurrahman Patlong, Haji Man Golok, Ustaz Mahmud and Haji Zakariya whilst Bangkok syura consisted of Babu Bhai, Haji Abdurrahman and Haji Musa. Babu Bhai, one of the syura of Mimburi Markaz met our jamaat the next day, taking ehwal of and making consultation with our jamaat and gave the routes for our jamaat. We were given the task to make effort mainly on the immigrant Pathans who had become the citizens of Thailand and their second generation, since one of our jamaat members, Farak Khan, spoke Pushto language fluently. It was also decided that three Thai brothers from Yala markaz would join our jamaat, mainly as our guides, assistants and translators. Alhamdulillaah, it served us well and good as none of us could speak or understand Thai language, though I had to remind the Malaysian brothers in our jamaat not to use bombastic words or sentences, and to only stick to plain simple Malay language since our Yala brothers only know Kelantan Malay dialect.
The Mimburi markaz provided us with a driven 13-seater van to our first route - Masjid Baitul Nur, Nakhon Sawan. Alhamdulillaah, here we managed to tasykil Fasal Maula to join our jamaat in the journey through a lot of convincing by Farak Khan. Fasal Maula was a huge man in his 40s with a thunderous voice who unintentionally manage to scare a few fragile soft-spoken Malay brothers in our jamaat. It was funny really.
After three days, we moved to Masjid Muhammadeeyah, Chainat. It was one of the few Shafi'e masjids in Northern Thailand. Most masjids were built by the early Pathan who were Hanafis in the school of jurisprudence. We were in the company of Imam Muhammad, Ya'kob Khan, Fandi Ahmad, Sulayman, Haji Abdullah, Shayahan, Ibrahim, Mubin and Lala Jahangir Khan, to name a few. I've visited a Pathan by the name of Sayid who lived nearby the masjid. He was a butcher and cow breeder. The Pathans in Thailand are known to control the halal livestock industry. They are breeders and own halal slaughter houses. At times they export live cows across border to Malaysia. They take pride in their work. It is common that the word "PATAN" is ingrained on the steel gate of a Pathan's house or a large skull of cow is hung on the gate.
We then moved to Masjid Nurul Islam, 25/1 Soi Promnakon 2, Taklee in the province of Nakhon Sawan. Usually after mesyuarah upon arrival at any masjid, we would disperse in pairs going near and around the masjid to meet as many Muslims as possible as a mode of announcing the arrival of jamaat at their masjid and that the effort of dakwah and tabligh was actively taking place in their area. Saud Khan, Abdullah, Imran Khan, Dawud Khan, Nawaz Khan, Mahmood Cha, Abdul Aziz, Lala Tuti Khan, Mahyuddin (malay Bangkok), Abdul Latif (caretaker) and Imam Usman are a few names that I could remember.
Somehow the word "tien shierg" in Thai language or "khaat" in pushto language is written in my notebook. Perhaps in the guest area of the masjid there was a couple of traditional woven bed used in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or charpai as they called it elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent.
Then we moved back to Nakhon Sawan town to Masjid Pakistan, Nakhon Sawan. The masjid was established in 1380H/1960 or 1961. It was situated at the town centre. Among the brothers that gave us nusrah were Lala Saiful Rahman who was born in Buner-KPK, Imam Ahmad Myanmar, Umar Farouq Myanmar, Ishaq, Farhad and Sardar Khan.
Then we travelled further north to the next route - Masjid Pakistan, Pitsanulok. As the journey was far, we arrived quite late after Dzuhur. Zul and I quickly went to the market to find some ingredients for fast cooking meal. We prepared nasi goreng or fried rice. It turned out as the hottest fried rice that I had ever tasted because we underestimated the Thai chillies. Tablighi brothers are thought not to complain but pity them all who had to eat with grimace and tearful eyes. Picture someone wrinkling his nose, squeezing his eyes shut, and twisting his mouth and you'll have a solid mental image of a grimace...haha. After that our jamaat was not allowed to cook by the locals and food was abundant from the nusrah. Abdul Basit, Bacha Khan, Ali Khan of Pichit, Muhammad Khan, siblings Yusof Khan and Hakeem Khan and also Mullah Shafiqul Nabi were among the local brothers that jointly making effort with us, completing the two main element of dakwah and tabligh effort ie. hijrah and nusrah. Mullah sahab was an aalim from Swabi-KPK. I've gain much benefits sitting in his company.
Yusof Khan and Abdul Basit joined our jamaat to the next route further up north - Masjid Ad-Dai'e, Tha Sao, Mueang, Uttaradit. Abdul Basit's parents lived in Uttaradit. The weather was very cold over there, especially in November and December. The masjid had been built on his father, Zamalak Khan's land. The whole family of Zamalak Khan embraced the effort of dakwah and tabligh; his sons Abdul Basit and Muhammad Yassin and his son-in-law Muhammad Zarim. Zamalak Khan owned and operated a small studio for licensed local radio-broadcasting on his land. I remember the local DJ announced our jamaat's arrival to Uttaradit during her broadcast. There were also other brothers, namely Jamal of Chieng Mai, Romli of Yala, Ariffin a committee member of the masjid and Ziarad Khan who accompanied us during our stay at Uttaradit.
We thought of going even further up north to Chieng Rai but decided to travel back south to Masjid Diya ul-Islam, Phichit. Ali Khan and Abdul Basit drove us in two vehicles to Phichit. Nuruddin of Nakhon Sittamarat, Yassin, Imam Ismail and Lala Mama were the locals that joined us at the masjid.
"Zuuh" (let's go) "Zarur para zey" (you must come), were repeatedly uttered in Pushto language by Farak Khan in making cash tasykil to a Pathan man who was a butcher in the wet market to come the masjid. And the man came straightaway leaving his stall. Earlier on, the same man shooed off a couple of Malay brothers from our jamaat who went to his stall for khususi mulaqat. I then sent Farak Khan and another person to him. The moment he saw a fellow Pathan from Malaysia came to him, he immediately turned into a more mellow personality and pleasantly greeted Farak Khan, free from harshness. I realised that it is an important mode of dakwah which had been practised and taught by Rasulullaah SAW that whenever circumstances required, an Aws might be better accepted by his fellow Aws tribe, a Khazraj might be better accepted by his Khazraj tribe, similarly applicable to other tribes and nations. There are numerous examples of the Sahabah radiyalaahu anhum regarding this as well.
At this stage I feel compel to write briefly but specifically about the Pathans in Thailand. It is believed that hundreds of Sunni Pathans left their motherlands for Thailand, then known as Siam, in the early 1900s. In 1970s, Siamese Pathans were infamously well-known for being ring-leaders or their mafia-like involvement in vices and criminal activities. A Pathan ring-lord might ruled three or four changwat or provinces in the sense that the mere mention of his name brought fear to the people in those provinces. The first generation of Pathans that married local Thai women eventually have children who are called luk khrueng. In a narrow sense, luk khrueng is a Thai term referring to a person of mixed Thai and foreign origin. A large number of Pathan's luk khrueng were raised as Muslims but later converted to Buddhism. There are numerous sad stories about daughters of Pathan who got married to Thai men and later lost her faith in Islam. Even some first generation Pathan men were not spared of the fitan for not being able to hold firmly their faith and practices of Islam. We've been told by the local brothers that it had happened many times that a Thai wife and family of a Pathan man brought the dead body of her husband to the masjid and left to be buried. They returned home leaving Islam behind. Islam died in the family with the death of the husband.
Nevertheless, alhamdulillaah, when many Thai Pathans started to embrace the effort of dakwah, Allah Ta'ala changed their way of life and the way of lives of their family and many others back to the true way of lives of Rasulullaah SAW and the Sahabah radiyaal laahu anhum. All praise only to Allah Most Merciful. One of such person who had been blessed by Allah Most High is a Pathan who is well-known by many as Lala Abdul Wahab.
I was told that during his youth time, Lala Abdul Wahab was a singer performing Bollywood songs at hotels and nightclubs in Golok, a town bordering Malaysia. Back then Golok was infamous with vices activities. A jamaat from Pakistan came to Masjid Pakistan Golok and stayed there for a few days. They visited Lala Abdul Wahab at the place where he performed and encourage him to come to the masjid. Though he treated them well, Lala Abdul Wahab gave all sort of excuses not to go to the masjid, one of which he told them he was not properly dress for the occasion to follow them to the masjid. The next day, the Pakistanis jamaat paid him another visit and to his surprise, they brought with them a set of kurta and shalwar neatly ironed as a gift for him. His heart was softened by their care and kindness. Lala Abdul Wahab followed them to the masjid and never returned to singing ever since. He had devoted his time and self to the effort of dakwah and tabligh. Many many people had their lives reformed back to the true path of Islam through the effort and sacrifice of Lala Abdul Wahab. Murderers and pimps turned to namazis. Brutal criminals turned to dai'e. I heard that he now runs a madrasah which is situated at Lumna Rai, on the way to Bangkok.
From Phichit, our jamaat went to Masjid Wang Chom Phu, Phetchabun. Here our jamaat had been made busy day and night by Hassan Khan and the other hardworking brothers - Imam Shabir Ahmad Myanmar, Idris, Musa, Roshan Khan, Muhammad Nur Khan Abdul Haq Khan, Anas the soldier, Habib Khan, Abdul Kareem, Nawab Khan, Rahmatullah Myanmar, Umar, Abdul Jalil Myanmar and Musa. Hassan Khan has a child, Matin Khan who he always brought with him to be with our jamaat. Hassan Khan and the other brothers made an effort to gather many womenfolk at a place adjoining the masjid for us to deliver a masturat bayaan. Most of the brothers in Petchabun and the places before were the fruits of labour and sacrifice of Lala Abdul Wahab.
Our last route in Thailand was Masjid Kaewnimit which is situated in the outer part of Bangkok city. This masjid is quite special since it was in the middle of Thai Malay community who originated from Southern Thai. Most of them were still able to speak Malay. In the vicinity of Masjid Kaewnimit, there were Surau Deanul Islam, Surau Nurul Islam, Surau Darul Uloom and Masjid 'Alaa. Among the many people who gave us nusrah were Abdul Karim, Jamaluddin@Sufi Sahb (Myanmar), Haji Yahya, Haji Habib, Haji Abdurrahman Adam, Haji Muhammad, Abdul Hakim Masjid 'Ala, youngsters Fadin, Yusof, Ridwan and Mansur.
We met a Malaysian man who was working in Bangkok. He never traveled in jamaat for dakwah but spent a few days with us in Masjid Kaewnimit that he frequented for Friday namaaz every week. He asked us a peculiar question as to why dakwah and tabligh in Thailand is different from Malaysia. We asked him to explain what he sees as the difference. He told us that from his observation, all the chairmen and trustees of the masjid and imams and the ulama in Thailand are actively participating or lending support to the effort of dakwah and tabligh but it cannot be said the same in Malaysia. We explained to him that just as we all make qiyam, ruku' and sajdah in solah following one imam, the same is the case of the effort of dakwah and tabligh, whether in Thailand, Malaysia or every other part of the world. All of us are trying to revive and emulate what had been the original dakwah and tabligh effort of Rasulullah sallaaahu alayhi wassalam and the Sahabah radiyalaahu anhum. They are truly our elders and our source of guidance.
Nevertheless, the Malaysian brother raised a valid point. The responsible trustees and imams of the masjids and the ulama in Thailand do get involve and participate more in the effort of dakwah and tabligh. However, through my own observation, the ulama in Thailand generally stepped down to the level of the ordinary men in order to be part and parcel of the public. When we first sat down in consultation with the local Muslims at Masjid Keawnimit, we did not realise that among them are a few ulama' who had spent many years studying in Jordan, Mesir and Yemen. They sat and mixed around with the ordinary men and became part of them. Truly you can see the meaning of what is suggested by our solafussolihin that the reformation of ordinary men could be attained by sitting in the company of the ulama', and the reformation of the ulama' could be attained by sitting with the ordinary men. Scholars and men of knowledge are tested on their characters and patience when at times they have to bear the roughness and ignorance of the ordinary men. Even Rasulullaah SAW himself had endured and tolerated patiently the crudeness of the illiterate Bedouins.
At the close of our journey, we hope that Allah Ta'ala accepted our little sacrifice of time, self and wealth for the uplifting of Deen in our lives and the lives of Muslims in Thailand and as a mean of preparation for the Thailand Ijtima' to be held on 1-3 February 2008.
Chatchuchat market, Ranchit market.
A day before we returned home, Khairon from Shah Alam, who was living in Bangkok brought us around Suanlun Night Bazaar, Chatchuchat market and Ranchit market where we bought some gifts for our dear one at home.
Our journey ended on 14th December 2007.