Moslem in Chiang Mai, Adapt in Harmony

Posted on August 25, 2011 by

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Story and video – Fann Sim, Khun Nayheak, Hanh Nguyen, Afiif Ardani

The delicious and sweet smell of the rotee canai, a Moslem Indian traditional food, with egg and honey spread around the Charoen Prathet Rd.

Charoen Prathet Rd, Chiang Mai, a Moslem area in the Buddhist dominated city.

There are a lot of Moslem stalls in that street, including food and daily need stall, and there is even a Moslem hotel named Al Farooq Hotel.

There is a 102 years old mosque in Charoen Prathet Rd, where every Moslem in that area usually do their prayers.

A big gate with Chang Klan Mosque written on it in Thailand Languange, greet every person who want to go inside the mosque.

There’s a big open area with some tables and chairs, people use it for break fasting ceremony together with the other Moslems.

When you go inside the praying room, you will find a big hall with a Imam’s chair in the centre of the hall, ussually used for the Imam to sit when he’s preaching.

Friday is a special day for the Moslem, because all of the men do the Friday Special Prayer in the afternoon, it’s compulsary prayer for all Moslem men.

According to Thai Government’s National Statistics Office, in 2007, there is only 4,6 % citizens of Thailand is Moslem, but 94,6 % of them are Buddhist.

“There are about 30,000 Muslims in Chiang Mai,” Imam Sholeh, the Imam from Chang Klan mosque, explained about the number of Moslem people in Chiang Mai.

It’s very interesting to see the Moslem people’s activity here, Chiang Mai is a Buddhist city, so there are a lot of different religion’s culture between the Moslem people in Charoen Prathet Rd and the Buddhist people in Chiang Mai.

For example, Moslem do not eat pork and there are a lot of food stalls that sell pork in Chiang Mai.

“There is no difficulty. Everyone here is considered Thai people. All the cultures are the same as Thai people. The only difference is in religion. There is no hardship in daily living. If there’s something that Islam prohibits us from doing, we won’t do it,” Imam Sholeh explained it when we asked about dificulties that they found when live in Buddhist City.

In Imam Sholeh’s view, in a religion culture, the Moslem have their own rules and live in their own rules, and they will not break the rules.

Even there are a lot of conflict between Moslem and other religions outside Chiang Mai, Imam Sholeh said that if they are no conflict in Chiang Mai because they can adapt to the society without losing our own muslim identity.

Gade, 25 years old Moslem girl said that she has a non-Moslem best friend and does not have problems with that.

“When I go out with my friends, I can go out to non-Halal restaurants and my friends will eat but not me. Sometimes my friends will go to Halal restaurants,” she said.

Imam Sholeh explained that “About 1km away from the mosque, there is also a church. And there is a Buddhist temple next to it, we all live in harmony together.”

Suracahai Sweephong (62) said that they can live in harmony because they grew up together since they were was a children.

Not all of the Moslem people have Islam as the religion since they were born, some of them convert to Moslem when they are adult, like Surachai.

“I’ve converted to Moslem since I was 25 years old,” he said.

Imam Sholeh believes that moderation is another key for Moslem people in Chiang Mai to adapt with the Buddhist society.

“Secondly, we walk a middle path. Don’t be too strict but also not too loose like doing forbidden things,” Imam Soleh said.

He feels that no matter what religion you are from, at least we are brothers and sisters who live in the same world.

“In our (Islam) belief, every human was born from Adam,” Imam Soleh explained it later.

At 12.00 pm, Imam Sholeh told us that he must go to lead the Friday Special Prayer, as an Imam of Chang Klan Mosque.

The Muadzin start to broadcast the Adzan, it’s a arabic sentence which used to call everyone who can hear the adzan to go to mosque and do the prayers ceremony.

Moslem people nearby start gathering in Chang Klan Mosque to do the Friday Special Prayer.

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Posted in: Culture, Thailand