The story of Pakcik Bidin and child marriages

pakcik-kahwinBy Fa Abdul

Pakcik Bidin lives in a village located far from the city with his wife and five children. He was born and spent all his life in that same village. In fact, so did his parents and all his six siblings.

Pakcik Bidin also works in his village. Having struggled to complete his Form 5 years ago, his late father taught him how to slaughter the chickens they reared behind the house and sell it at the village morning market for a profit. In no time, he started a small business selling fresh chicken – a business which helped him settle down and raise a family.

Every day during the call for prayer, Pakcik Bidin and his sons would visit the mosque located a stone’s throw away from their house. After performing the solat, he would indulge in religious discussions with the other elderly in the mosque.

This was not something he observed only as he grew older – just like his sons who accompanied him to the mosque, Pakcik Bidin too used to do the same with his late father. Today, performing the solat, visiting the mosque and participating in religious discussions were routine to him.

In his free time, Pakcik Bidin enjoyed relaxing at home with his children. He taught them to read the Al-Quran and accompanied them when they watched “Upin Dan Ipin”, their favourite cartoon show. When time permitted, Pakcik Bidin would catch up with current issues on TV9. And almost every week, he would look forward to watching “Ceramah Perdana” on TV1 – listening to religious talks gave him a sense of peace.

Sometimes late at night, Pakcik Bidin would hang out with other village folks at a friendly coffee shop. Over a cup of Kopi O kaw-kaw and a few ondeh-ondeh, Pakcik Bidin would get into deep conversations with the rest – the topics usually ranged from the latest episode of “Tanah Kubur” to the recent sermon by the village Ustaz. These coffee shop chats was his version of “social media”.

One day, during their coffee shop sessions, Pakcik Bidin met Saladin, a son of his good friend, who had just returned from studying abroad. During their conversation, Saladin said child marriages should be banned and everyone in the city was talking about it.

Pakcik Bidin however, could not fathom the need to do such a thing because as far as he knew, even the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) married Aisha when she was nine years old. In his mind, supporting the call to ban child marriages was the equivalent to resisting the sunnah of the Prophet.

Confused, Pakcik Bidin visited the village Ustaz a day later. He wanted some clarification from someone wiser than him.

The Ustaz explained that when young girls come of age, they are ready to be married. With a deep sigh of relief, Pakcik Bidin told the Ustaz about the conversation he had the night before with Saladin – pointing out how worried he was that Saladin may spread false teachings to the village folk.

The next day, Saladin and his father were called to the mosque by the Ustaz.

In Pakcik Bidin’s mind, he had done the right thing by talking to the Ustaz about his worries. He felt a foreign education had led Saladin away from the truth. He genuinely hoped Saladin would get help and clarity on the matter.

That same night, Pakcik Bidin and his entire family performed a special prayer for everyone in Malaysia who was against child marriages. He prayed everyone would be given hidayah so they would receive Allah’s love and blessings.

Pakcik Bidin is a simple man who lives a simple life. His thoughts, mindset and perception of things are based on his upbringing, knowledge and life experiences. Unlike those exposed to an education and contemporary thought, Pakcik Bidin subscribed strictly to the teachings of his village Ustaz.

Like Pakcik Bidin, we too are products of our upbringing. The need to acquire knowledge, to improve on that knowledge and to challenge that knowledge has been instilled in many of us since childhood. Unlike Pakcik Bidin who was trained to listen and comply, many of us have had the liberty to ask questions and voice our opinions.

Today, we feel confused and upset over people like Pakcik Bidin – simply because we cannot accept that there are individuals who are incapable of rationalising something that we view as common sense.

However, we fail to realise that people like Pakcik Bidin, are confused over people like us – they cannot understand that we are incapable of accepting a divine message and complying with it without raising our objections.

Sadly, while this state of confusion has left many folks like Pakcik Bidin sad, it has caused many among us to resort to bashing, criticising, accusing and shaming people like him.

We must instead reach out to people like Pakcik Bidin and develop some sort of rapport with them in our search for possible solutions. If not, we will drift apart. The more we drift, the longer it will take to build that bridge and the more difficult it will be to bring people from both sides together.

Fa Abdul is an FMT columnist.

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