This is my second trip to KL, the first trip being part of my honeymoon in 2014. My husband is Singaporean-Malay and has family connections in Malaysia. Being our second trip, we aren’t as pressured to fit in all the typical tourist activities and have enjoyed more casual exploration of the city. Being hosted by family has been the ultimate blessing. It reinforces my belief that a traveller should strive to develop local connections wherever they travel. It facilitates greater appreciation of richness of cultures and can liberate you from some of the boring consumerist aspects of being a tourist. In the last few days, I have found the much needed relaxation and retreat I have been after when planning these travels. There is so much wisdom in organising personal or familial retreats from your busy schedule. Provided you have the privilege and opportunity to do so, there is nothing quite like having the space to refocus, rejuvenate and reflect on where you are heading in life, especially in environments you feel closer to Allah.
Given the current political tension surrounding Muslims in western countries, it was incredibly refreshing to walk out of the airport, see the bustling KL central full with a vibrant Muslim culture. Although I am not Malay, I felt more ‘normal’ and comfortable in my Muslim, hijabified, South-Asian skin than I do in my hometown of Sydney. I admired the beautiful, confident Malay women with their unmatched style. I just wanted to go up to them and become their friends, connect with people who share similar religious and cultural values. Waking up the morning after my arrival to pre-fajr Quran recitals as well as the athan softly wafting across from local masjids, was incredibly soothing.
Highlights of the trip so far:
- Visiting Masjid Putra in Putrajaya – A rose tinted mosque located in KL’s government district, next to the Malysian Prime Minister’s office.
- Going to a local “Pasar Tani” – an open market held once weekly across the city for fresh produce straight from the farm, along with the most authentic food stalls featuring your favourite Malay culinary delights and a fantastic assortment of tropical sweets and beverages.
- Discovering the café, “Mukha” – shown to us by our family here, this café is an excellent concept café blending Malay/Arab influenced coffee and beverages, topped off with a selection of Islamic books for sale and a youthful hipster ambience. We thought it was a great way of reaching out and making Islam accessible. One of the owners of the café is a descendent of the Habaib from Yemen, which explained their inclusive approach.
- Meeting Ustadh Masood Yusuf – Originally from Guyana, he teaches Shafi’i fiqh and is undertaking post-grad studies in KL. We engaged in fruitful discussion around seeking sacred knowledge and obtained advice on dealing with community issues.
- Last, but not least, getting some errands done at a fraction of the price we would in Australia, i.e. dentist appointments, purchasing glasses and other shopping/self-care needs.