Posts Tagged ‘ surau ’

My First Visit to a Surau

This morning I went into a surau for the first time.

This morning I got kicked out of a surau for the first time.

After going to a post-rock gig in Bukit Bintang and missing the last train home my friends and I wandered the streets of Bukit Bintang and Changkat. I found out where all the tourists and inert masses come to get drunk just like they would on George St. I also got to sit in the gutter and eat durian.

At about 6am or thereabouts it was time for fajr. We found a surau for my friend inside the some super fancy hotel on Jalan Bukit Bintang. Usually when she goes to solat she tells me to wait in the men’s surau. I’m not sure why but I’d never actually gone with this suggestion and usually just go for a walk or sit outside. This time, however, I went in.

I took off my shoes as I entered and looked around. So this is what a surau looks like! I had an excitement that any Muslim or Islam-apostate would probably consider absurd. I looked at the bathroom first. It was just an ordinary bathroom. I opened all the cupboards and draws. I inspected the rack in the corner. It was like one of those racks in libraries where they hang newspapers attached to big wooden sticks that make reading the paper really awkward. But instead of newspapers it had prayer mats. And the prayer mats weren’t attached to big wooden sticks, just resting on top of them. There was an arrow on the roof. Mecca was in the same direction as the window looking out of the street. If you wanted to, you could probably pray and check out the sex workers out on the street at the same time.

I was looking at a calendar and prayer timetable sponsored by an Islamic bank that was stuck to the back of the door. A man wearing a fluorescent yellow vest on top of his clothes had walked in. His vest said ‘SECURITY’ on the back of it. Had someone alerted him that a kafir was hanging out in the surau and he was coming to investigate?

He hadn’t noticed me yet. I was behind the door reading the bank-sponsored prayer timetable as he entered. I quickly put my shoes on to make my exit. But as I did this, he turned in surprise and saw me.

Oh, sorry.

Its ok. Dah. Dah solat. I sudah solat.

Dah solat?

Ya. Its ok. Dah, dah, dah.

Wait, you Islam?



Um.. I tak beragama.

Oh, tak ada agama. You buat apa?

Tunggu kawan.

Kawan kat mana?

Kat situ.

I point to the door of the surau perempuan.

Kawan kau perempuan?


Kawan kau orang Islam.


Boleh ke?

I don’t even understand what he’s trying to ask me with that question. I just be quiet and watch him open the door of the surau perempuan. Without knocking. Without even saying, “Sister, you covering your aurat? Brother Security wants to ask some questions about your kafir friend.”

My friend explains to him that I’m just waiting for her to solat. I assume that’s what she’s saying, I can’t really hear her from outside the surau. The security man turns to me.

Tak boleh tunggu sini! Tunggu bawah!

I say nothing. I turn around and walk back to the elevator and take it to the ground floor. I sit on a chair in the lobby for about two seconds. Fuck this place, I’m going outside.

I find a place in gutter out the front of the hotel to sit. I watch the sex workers hang out, talking with each other, talking to men in cars, talking to men walking by. I think about qadar. I wonder if Allah had willed for me to get kicked out of the surau. I wonder if Allah has willed for me to be an atheist.

If that’s the case, alhamdulillah?!