I HAVE ONLY travelled to Thailand thrice. My last trip to that ‘Land of Smiles’ was in 2003. I spent over a month in the southern Thai provinces, spending my Ramadan and Hari Raya there then.
Last night when I saw the TV news about the confrontation between the Thai Police and protestors which claimed a couple of lives and hundreds others injured in Bangkok, I shook my head in disbelief. The worst is yet to come given that Islamic uprising in the south and political instability in the Thai capital could lead to double jeopardy in the country. I don’t know if the all-powerful King Bhumibol Adulyadej would have to intervene yet again to quell any disastrous turmoil. The Thai Army has dispelled any hopes of a military coup since the last time an Army General ousted the Thai Prime Minister, it didn’t really do the country any good.
During my visits to Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani near the Thai-Malaysian border five years ago, I was taken aback by the serenity of its natural beauty and generous spontaneity of Thai hospitality. I envy the faithful Muslim community in southern Thailand who still uphold strongly their Islamic identity amidst their backward countryside environment. Their slow pace of lifestyle in the south is compatible with the common Muslims’ humility.
In fact, I had never experienced such a wonderful time fasting and celebrating the Eid Mubarak away from home. One tradition that impressed me was in Pattani where almost all the Muslims there celebrated the Hari Raya Aidil Fitri on the first day and continued with the “Sunat” fasting for six consecutive days starting on the 2nd day of Eid ‘ul Fitri. They still continued the customary ‘Open House’ in the evenings after breaking of the ‘complementary’ fast throughout the week. Such a ritual had been practised by the beloved Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wassalam, thus Muslims are encouraged to do likewise at least on any six days within the Syawal month, except the first day. It is forbidden (“Haram”) to fast on Eid Mubarak day itself.
The Thai society and culture are fascinating in their own unique originality. Thai people are well-known for their soft-spokenness and gentle mannerisms, particularly their “Sawasdee” greetings with both hands clasped as a sign of respect. But the recent demonstrations in Bangkok showed the tenacious side of the Thai personality, who can be doggedly determined to fight for their social and political causes. It is no wonder then that Thailand is the only Southeast Asian nation which had never been conquered by invading foreign armies, historically speaking. Perhaps, Thai boxing fighter skills must have something to do with that too? 😉
But seriously, I for one hate to see the current political situation in Thailand escalating into worse crisis than it already is now… 😦