04 October 2007

many lives (2) - adat based

Aside from our secular and non-secular lives, we also had a life that was something not really talked about but simmered and surfaced now and then. We call it our 'adat', age-old customs and traditions that have mingled into our identities: Muslim, Asian, People of the Current, People of the Lake, et al. We referred to 'adat' in times of marriages, births, deaths, wars, and when misfortunes occured in families - close and extended.

'Adat' was called on upon when a girl in our extended family eloped and when an uncle was killed in a dispute with another clan. There was always a quiet busyness, almost eerie and sinister, when people came streaming in and out of our grandparent's house. We knew that the elderly men talked about remedies and planned retributions for honor lost. And, of course, there were peace-making gestures spoken in a language that was subtle, respectful and hopeful because it opened an opportunity or a window for face-saving and diplomacy. My father being one of the elders and who was steeped in the 'Rule of Law' usually had his way. Years later in his career, he became one of only three Muslim justices in the second highest civil court of the land and had a role in developing the Muslim family code and jurisprudence.

Faith, Adat and Hollywood. I really don't know how they worked together. But they did. In the meantime, from where I am, I hear about a continuing revivalism of the Faith sans the 'adat' and whether that's good or bad news, is really another matter for debate.

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