New-look surau brings cheer to Pos Balar community

Within 24 hours, the surau was given a facelift

By SHANIKA ABDULLATIB

ONE must have an adventurous spirit to take a road trip to Pos Balar, located 90km from Gua Musang, Kelantan.

Last month, the writer had the opportunity to join a group of four-wheel drive (4WD) enthusiasts from Team X4 Adventures, who went on a trip to Pos Balar to carry out a community project for the Orang Asli people there.

Their convoy of four 4WD vehicles took over six hours to travel from Gua Musang to Pos Balar, which included an arduous drive over 60km of logging road where the vehicles got stuck in the muddy terrain four times.

It was a huge relief for them when they got to their destination. Pos Balar consists of several settlements where about 1,200 Orang Asli from the Temiar ethnic group live.

The Pos Balar surau, situated next to SK Balar, is the focal point for the local community. Built in 2005, the single-storey structure looked worn out, while its signboard had faded, and the lawn was filled with overgrown grass and puddles of water and sludge as it had been raining over the past few days.

And that particular trip to Pos Balar by 12 volunteers from Team X4 Adventures was to spruce up the surau and give it a fresh coat of paint, much to the delight of the villagers. The volunteers even repaired the toilet and completed the electric wiring.

Teaching Islam

The 12 volunteers from Team X4 Adventures spruce up the surau and give it a fresh coat of paint, much to the delight of the villagers (pic: Bernama)

Within 24 hours, the surau was given a facelift and Ustaz Alwi Ismail was the happiest person there. The 37-year-old religious teacher, who has been teaching Islam to the Orang Asli children at the surau for 10 years now, did not expect the building to be spruced up so speedily.

“I’m so happy to see the whole place look- ing so cheerful. Despite the uncertain weather and limited equipment and workers, they (volunteers) still did it. All the residents here are delighted, especially the children,” he told Bernama.

Alwi said he and three other religious teachers, who are from Gua Musang, have been teaching Islam to the Pos Balar Orang Asli community since the surau was built 15 years ago.

He said the community’s interest in Islam has grown over the years and the number of them converting to Islam keeps rising every year. So far, 300 Orang Asli from Pos Balar have embraced Islam.

On the day the Team X4 Adventures volunteers completed their community project, several Orang Asli children were seen eagerly making their way to the surau for their evening prayers and to recite the Quran under the guidance of Alwi.

Challenging

Commenting on the religious classes conducted at the surau, Alwi said fardhu ain (religious obligations binding on every Muslim) classes are conducted every evening after Maghrib prayers.

“We emphasise on cleanliness because it is fundamental to our religion. The response from them (Orang Asli) has been very good, although in the beginning, it was challenging for us to give them advice,” he said.

According to Alwi, the most effective way to teach them is to show them examples of how to be a good Muslim.

“They find it easier to understand the religion through the examples we set to them,” he said, adding that he communicates with the local community in their native Temiar dialect.

Datuk Azlam Shah Alias, who is a member of Team X4 Adventures and advisor for the Pos Balar community project, said the idea of giving the surau a facelift came about after a group of members made a trip to Pos Balar in August for another project.

“After talking to Alwi and raising funds for the surau project, we returned to Pos Balar,” he said.

Azlam Shah, who is chairman of Mr DIY Group (M) Bhd, said besides being a centre for prayer and religious education, the surau also serves as a community and transit centre, while the nearby SK Balar uses the space there to carry out various activities.

Azlam Shah said the multi-functional role of the surau indirectly inspired him to have the building repainted in terracotta red and beige colours, adding that he was also inspired by the Nabawi Mosque in Madinah which has always been the focus of Muslims from all over the world.

It was easy for Azlam Shah and his fellow volunteers to carry out their community project in Pos Balar as the local Temiar community, Kelantan Islamic Affairs Department and SK Balar management gave them their close cooperation.

“They were open-minded and wanted to learn from us, as well as share their ideas with us,” he said, adding that he also hoped that the authorities would improve the condition of the dirt road leading to Pos Balar as it is challenging for the locals to travel in and out of their settlements, especially during the rainy season. — Bernama