Saturday, November 27, 2004

Repentant Muslim

coming home
to a younger brother
ah, the taste of red wine

This haiku, which I wrote months ago, has become more relevant to me recently.

In a forum at Miriam College held on November 20, the parish priest of Pikit, Cotabato, a war-torn community in Mindanao, spoke of reconciliation. He said that reconciliation has four elements: truth, repentance, forgiveness, and justice. During the discussion, I asked a few questions, including one which I think he missed to answer: what is the Muslim concept of repentance?

Almost a week later, a teacher from the college asked me through cellphone: “Do Muslims drink red wine?” She said that she wants to give somebody, who happens to be a Muslim, a bottle of red wine for a token.

Because I didn’t know the answer myself, I texted four Muslim friends and asked that question. The first to reply was a male Muslim professional from Iligan City in Mindanao. He said “Some do”, and he does, too, during occasion. The second one, an alim or a religious leader in Lanao del Sur, not far from Iligan City, also said “yes”, but I remember it was in the context of red wine as a medicinal drink.

I concluded therefore that Muslims drink red wine. But I received a third reply from a Muslim lady, who is also a professional and residing in Metro Manila. She said “No. Muslims are prohibited from taking alcoholic drinks.” And she ended her text with a wonderful blessing. Puzzled, I asked: “But two said yes. How’s that?” And she replied back,"Their answers are lax and untheological.”

The fourth and last response was from a male Muslim friend, a public school teacher who resides in Kauswagan, another war-affected town in Mindanao, not far from Iligan City also. This man, whom I have not met for quite a long time but who is still very close to me like a brother, said: “No. Muslims are not supposed to drink alcohol, including beer.”

Very much surprised by his answer, and recalling our happy hours in some bars and karaoke down south, I texted back: “What?? but you drink beer a lot!”

He answered: “That was past. During those times, I was living more as a non-Muslim, enjoying a worldly life. Now, I want to spend the rest of my life as a Muslim.”

Okay. Back to work...But I’m not fully satisfied. I texted him again and asked: “What made you change?”

He said: “We are getting old. In our journey, we must have something to bring with us and give to our Creator.”


Blogger Christopher I said...

An arresting story, almost like a biblical parable.

4:52 PM  
Blogger pureplum said...

enjoying your writings
i'm exploring tanka more, even going to a reading of tanka tonight!

9:04 AM  

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