Asar was fast fading, yet I had failed to answer to the call for prayer. “Takkan nak jamak zohor dan asar kepada maghrib pulak?”, I asked myself, which in essence means “Tak sembahyang langsung!”
There I was in the middle of nowhere. Well not literally ‘nowhere’, but the fact that I was alone in a busy train station located in the middle of Hamburg, Germany surrounded by non-English-speaking crowd made me feel isolated. The environment was somewhat similar to that of Puduraya, noisy atmosphere with the bustling crowd going about getting to their destinations, with cafés and eateries by the side of the walkaway, and of course a McDonalds restaurant. I imagine KL Sentral would look something like this had it been built in the 80’s, and the railways and the trains reminded me of the old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station.
I got to find a mosque. An Arab who owned an eatery (where I had falafel for dinner the day before) told me I’d never fail to spot one of the 15 (some say 20+) mosques built in the middle of the city, and yet I managed to find none. The only mosque that I did discover was the largest mosque in Hamburg called Hamburg Islamic Center, near the Alster Lake the day before Apparently, the center was built for the sole use of the Shi’ah Muslims (as told by the Arab restaurateur). It hadn’t occurred to me that Sunni and Shi’ah were (and still are) killing each other in the Middle East. Boy was I naive!
I stood at a corner and I thought of halting any guy who looked like a Muslim. Muslims make up less than 10% of Hamburg's 1.8 million population, but it wasn’t that hard to spot them. The men usually wear the jubah and put on the kopiah lebai and the women are free to wear the hijab. I saw a man, about 5'5", wearing a jubah with a kopiah lebai on his head. He wore a beard which length you’d expect grown by an Arab, or like worn by Osama bin Laden, to be fairly precise. I never knew where his home country was, neither his name, but at a glance you’d say that he’s an Arab. He seemed to be in a rush, but nevertheless, I stopped him.
“Do you speak English?” I asked him.
“ Hal Tatakallam Lughah Arabiah? Ainal masjid fi hazal makan?” I asked him again, with my broken (really broken gile) Bahasa Arab which loosely translates, (or what I thought it translated as) – Do you speak Arabic? Where is the mosque in this area?
“ Kamu dari mana ya? Indonesia? Malaysia? Kamu mahu cari apa? Urusan apa kamu di Hamburg? Bisnes atau Libur?”
After introducing ourselves we had a little chat. He was an Arab, and he travels frequently to Muslim countries as a Da’i (pendakwah). He picked up Bahasa Indonesia during his stint in the country. He gave the direction to a nearby mosque – a makeshift mosque to be precise, which was a renovated shop house. He offered to take me to the mosque but seeing he was in a rush, I politely declined the offer, and head to the mosque on my own.
When asked about the Hamburg Islamic Center which i visited earlier he exclaimed, almost frantically, "Oh kamu tidak usah ke sana! Itu masjid puak Syiah! Syiah sahaja yang pergi ke situ! Kamu jangan solat di sana!"
I finally arrived at the mosque, after taking a train, right on time to answer the call.