Friday, November 29, 2013
Street Dakwah – A New Leaf
As you walk through Jalan Bukit Bintang or Pasar Seni, if you are lucky, you will come across buskers (with a container in front) performing by the streets. What is your perception on them? Is it a public disturbance? A waste of time? They’re brave and bold?
Whatever the perception might be, one thing is for sure, they aren’t shy to showcase their talent. Buskers are famous with playing instrumentals or singing notable mainstream songs for charity or maybe for their own pocket money.
Looking at the potential of street performances/busking to be something viral on the World Wide Web, why can’t it become an alternative for dakwah?
Fear of “the people” and A Blind Person Selling Tissue
I was been inspired both by Boona Mohammed (a Muslim Canadian spoken word poet) and Joshua Bell (an American Grammy Award-winning violinist) in terms of their works in street performance.
With the inspiration I got for them, I said to myself, one day, I shall try the new genre of Dakwah that is “Street Dakwah” via Spoken Word Poetry in Malaysia but I didn’t know when to start.
I am neither a master of dakwah nor somebody knowledgeable in Quran and Sunnah but what I believe is that, whatever you have that can benefit Islam, just go for it.
But one thing was in my mind can obstructed me to proceed in the execution of street dakwah. What obstructed me? I was afraid what might “the people” think. What might “the people” say. What might “the people” this, what might “the people” that.
Fear of “the people” is repeatedly played in my mind for so long. But then one day, I had to go to Masjid India with my friends to find several things at the pasar there. As we were browsing the pasar to buy things, a blind person helped by his wife (she isn’t blind) asked us to buy their tissue.
I’ve come many blind-tissue sellers before, but this time the feeling was different. Previously, it never came to my mind that I would buy the tissue, but this time I did. I bought the tissue not because I wanted it, I bought the tissue because the blind tissue seller inspired me.
Why is the blind tissue seller brave and bold enough to sell tissue to people? Why can’t he just beg by the streets? I believe because “I blind person is better off selling tissues by the streets than begging for a living.”
And more importantly, blind people can’t see “the people.” If they can’t see “the people”, why should they be afraid off? Why should they care about what “the people” might be thinking or saying? The blind doesn’t care whether you buy the tissue or not, what they care is that they have tried to earn a living.
The same thing goes to blind people who perform wonderful rhythms using their keyboard. Nobody is obliged to put money in the container in front. Blind people don’t care whether or not there is money in the container, what they care is that they have played well.
Fear of “the people” is just a perception, it may not be true.
Street Dakwah – Why should we be afraid?
Why do we have to do dakwah at the streets? Because Dakwah in the masjid is too mainstream.
Dakwah should not be done by sheikhs with beards or by saints with kopiahs or Muslims with wide hijabs, dakwah is for all. Dakwah entertains all talents.
I’m just afraid that since Dakwah is abundant in the masjids, people will perceive that “this is dakwah” and “other than that is not dakwah.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the mainstream dakwah is overrated but I’m saying there are lots of dakwah opportunities to be explored.
I’m afraid that people might not go out from their comfort zone and innovate new ways of Dakwah.
Imagine you do busking by playing music and sing or do spoken word poetry with the lyrics that focuses on Islamism, humanity and truth about life, who knows some people might be given spiritual awakening from your performance.
LRT, KLCC and IIUM HS Cafe
My dream came true.
So some juniors of mine from the IIUM Psychology Department approached me and presented me their project to study the perception of the public on Street Dakwah.
Our plan was to perform at KLCC while my friends distribute survey questions while I performed my spoken word. The public shouldn’t know that the person distributing the survey knows the person performing.
On the way to the KLCC, my friends suggested me to perform poetry at the LRT. Boona Mohammed once performed his spoken word at a train. So I performed my “Youth of Dignity” there.
Despite performing in the noisy LRT, I managed to hear good feedbacks told by my friends afterwards. A Chinese old woman said “this guy is concerned about youth.” A guy almost forgot his stop. Some of them recorded my performance.
I did notice the LRT security guard was looking tensely to me as if he is going to take me down if I happen to do crazy things. The LRT workers were alarmed by my presence, a female worker radioed her male security (who watched intensely at me) “Ni ada orang buat show plak kat sini” taken verbatim from the female worker.
But after my performance was over, the LRT muted as if nothing happened. My friend texted me “I think you should leave” as the security guard watching fiercely like he was about to apprehend me. Luckily nothing happened.
A good experience to me. Well, we didn’t know that spoken word poetry about Youth and Islam could be a public disturbance.
After we reached KLCC, in order to avoid any ‘apprehension’ by the KLCC authorities, we approached the security KLCC office beforehand. But the reply was disappointing. The office said they would not allow such thing.
The last resort was performing at IIUM Gombak’s Human Sciences Café. I performed an extension of my “Youth of Dignity.”
Alhamdulillah. Everything went well, no one was there to stop me. I was surprised to see people applauding and welcoming my performance from the beginning. About five brothers to ten who were walking at the upper level above HS Café stopped to listen. Some of them shouted takbir once my performance was over. Very different compared to the people in the LRT.
Be creative and innovate in dakwah. Just because people haven’t done it before, doesn’t mean you can’t do it.
Talking about innovation, many people say that games are a waste of time, but imagine an addictive game like the “angry birds” style that depicts a Palestinian boy struggling his way to fight the occupation by Israel. Should that be a waste of time?
Many people say cartoons, animes, mangas are nothing but cartoons are very good instruments to instill in ideologies since kids. I’ve yet to see an alternative of Naruto Shippuden (maybe a fan-made-anime: Naruto Saifuddin – Naruto the Sword of Deen) that represents a boy as he understands Islam through his “Ninja Way.”
Well, there are lots of creative ways to innovate Islamic dakwah through media. It’s just that Muslims have to go the extra mile to produce innovative media.
Why Batman Arkham City received the Game of the Year? Why not an RPG game with the title Mehmed Fatih The Conqueror?
The point here is be creative and innovative. What talent you have, share with the world.