I got an interesting SMS (that's a text message to you Americans) yesterday from a young friend of mine. It read:
"In the knowledge of silat, is there an 'amalan' (spiritual practise) to have the girl that we love, love us back sincerely and honestly, followed by marriage and be together until the hereafter? Is there an 'amalan' to have her express what she keeps hidden and what she truly feels? How does one remove doubt in what she feels?"
I expect my international readers should be scratching their heads right about now. Allow me to try explaining. The Melayu view their culture as an integrated whole, religion, customs, dress, martial arts, all included. For many, it's difficult to draw the line between them.
Young Melayu are socialised in this culture through various different channels. Parents, the masjids, old folk in the villages, etc. However, the strongest and most organised channel is Silat. If you asked a traditional Melayu what silat is, be prepared to get a definition that covers every single thing under the sun.
Manners, customs, dress, religion, philosophy, spirituality, medicine, magic, music, dance, weapons, combat, life. Long time practitioners of Oriental and Japanese martial arts will recognise this concept. It exists the same way in Silat. So, don't be surprised that my young friend actually asked that question.
I was just surprised it came from a city boy in an SMS over my handphone. Then it hit me. This is exactly how I began. A city boy with searching for his lost heritage, and I found my first footing in Silat. This is true for so many of us now in Malaysia. Cut off from our roots by the rise of globalisation, we are forced to find dependable channels to help us rediscover them.
Ironically, the many things I found in Silat are hardly what I found in it, but through it. I am no where near my journey's end, but I feel that I have passed that stage where Silat is an all-encompassing field of study. It is to me, now, a key to open those other doors. Doubtless, those young Melayu who are taking their first steps in Silat would still view it the way I did.
No problem there. Just make sure you don't miss the point.
As to my young friend, I told him no, there isn't such amalan in Silat. But there is in Islam.