In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
The Declining Day (Al-'Asr)
1. By the declining day,
2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss,
3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort
one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.
I was in Langkawi for a holiday. I was in love, but don’t get me wrong. Other than the famous Mahsuri love story or tragedy, I had the oppourtunity to compile several other episodes of love, two of them I copied from inscriptions placed at strategic locations in Pulau Dayang Bunting (Island of Pregnant Maiden).
This was the first time I was in this island even though I had been to Langkawi several times, so I was a bit excited. But also don’t get me wrong, I was not excited about love but the dizzinesss from the rough speedboat ride from the jetty in Kuah to Pulau Dayang Bunting.
On the island, one would not miss this two ‘love’ signboards.
1. Hornbill’s Love Story
When a female hornbill is nesting, she will be totally depending on its male partner for food and love. During this time (for about 4 months), the female stays in her nest, usually in the tree-hollows. The birds would use a mix of mud/clay, droppings and saliva as cement to plaster the hole.
The hole will be sealed completely except for a small gap for feeding. Everyday with great loyalty the male hornbill will come to feed the female and their new chicks. That’s why, if the male died or killed, the new family will keep waiting in their hole until they eventually perish due to strarvation.
There are three species of hornbills in Langkawai – the Crest Hornbill, Oriental Pied Hornbill and Wreathed Hornbill. Did you know that hornbills will mate and stay with only the same partner for life. – Langkawi Geopark
After climbing hundreds of steps up a hill and then moving down, before reaching the waters of Tasik Dayang Bunting, there was another signboard with this inscription.
2. The Legend of Pregnant Maiden Lake
According to a local legend, it began when a male elf (teruna bunian) named Mat Teja fell in love, at first sight, with Dayang, a female elf. Mat Teja won her heart by rubbing a mermaid’s tear drop on his face. Their romantic intimate relationship became complete with Dayang’s pregnany.
Dayang then decided to retire at Tasik Dayang Beranak (Maiden Giving Birth Lake). Nine months later, Dayang gave birth to a child but unfortunately, the child died after seven days. Saddened by the event, Dayang decided to bury her baby in the lake.
After the incident, the lake was known as Tasik Dayang Bunting (Pregnant Maiden Lake), as a way for the locals to pay their condolences to the couple.
During my stay in Langkawi, I frequented several masjids; the one I spent time the most was Masjid Nur Hidayah in Kampung Kelibang, some five kilometers away from Kuah town. In this masjid, I befriended a pensioner, 63 year old Pak Haji Lah Salleh. He was pleased to get to know me, and as a local, he provided me some latest information about the ordinary people of Langkawi.
“As I Malay and a Muslim, I must tell you the well being of our people. This is because I love Langkawi, insya-Allah (God willing) I will always be here and die here. Of course there are two sides of a coin. Development in Langkawi especially after it was declared a free-tax heaven in 1987 brought the good and the bad.
“The good news is that business especially in the tourism industry is flourishing, but the question is who benefits from it? The majority of the locals still live their old ways. I had a sad news. Recently some of my friends had been receiving letters from ‘Jabatan Hasil Dalam Negeri’ (Inland Revenue Department), asking them to pay penalties for their failure to settle taxes when they sold their lands many years ago.
“A friend was told to pay RM6,000, and another RM5,000 and another friend RM3,000. Can you imagine how they could raise that amount of money? Most of the lands sold were owned by their families (tanah pusaka) so they only got a small amount and as the years passed, the money finished. Why must thre be a delay of 10 to 20 years in collecting taxes?
“The majority of Malay/Muslims from the rural areas are still poor but now for the religious conscious residents, they have headaces in trying to educate their children in an environment they had no idea some 20 years ago. Nowadays entertainment outlets including bars and spas are just a stone’s throw away from their homes. Even tiny stores owned by Malays, have beers in their refrigerators for sale. I had seen and scolded some Malays teenagers when they tried to buy the drinks.
“On the beach, you could see ‘Mat Salih’ (English men and women) walking and lying down with only their private parts covered. I could not think how this scenario effects our young people. Perhaps after years, they become accustomed to it, but don’t be surprised if one day the Malays too act like the ‘Mat Salihs’.
After noticing I was keen in listening to the words he poured out from his heart (I had not mentioned to him that I am a writer), Pak Lah continued: “Have a look at the attendees of this mosque. We have only several congregators, all of them veterans. Where have the young men gone? I am sad with this development, are you?
Pak Lah claimed many of the successful people especially in businesses are from the mainland, it is difficult for the throughbred ordinary Langkawian to make it big.
“I don’t know what the futute holds for the ordinary Malays/Muslims in Langkawi, but for the love of this island, my birth place – I will never leave it, insya-Allah I'll die here.”