KUALA TERENGGANU: Being a Muslim convert is no obstacle for a young man in continuing with his family's tradition of celebrating the Chinese New Year.
Hafiz Por Jia Chuan, 24, and his wife Nur Shahida Fildzah, 25, and the their two children Salwani Fakhirah Por, three, and Shakeela Felicia Por, who is just four months old have never missed out on celebrating the festival.
Hafiz said the bond he shares with his family is very strong and it remains even after he embraced Islam three years ago.
"I will make sure I return home to my parents' place in Kampung Gong Pak Damat in Kuala Nerus to celebrate it every Chinese New Year. I also make the trip back to where my mother grew up in Gua Musang, Kelantan every year.
"The tradition of the big feast among family members is symbolic of the Malaysian Chinese community during the Chinese New Year.
"Each year, I continue with this tradition of getting together with the rest of the family because it is not against the teachings of Islam," said Hafiz, who is the eldest of four siblings and works as a reserve firefighter at the Setiu Fire and Rescue station.
He said he is proud to be part of the Chinese tradition. He said his relationship with his family is still strong as ever.
"As the eldest of four siblings, I have a duty towards my parents and my three younger siblings," he said.
He and his three siblings were exposed to Islamic teachings from a young age thanks to them taking up Kelas Asas Fardu Ain (Kafa) subjects in school.
He said his father Por Kim Sin, 67, and mother Yeap Bee Fai, 50, encouraged it because they felt that learning about Islam would broaden their horizons in terms of knowledge.
Hafiz's younger sister Por Hui Ling, 17, obtain 8As in her Ujian Penilaian Kelas Kafa (UPKK) in 2018.
"All this is something normal for me because my siblings and I have been exposed to Islamic teachings before I chose to embrace Islam. It cannot be denied that my parents were shocked when I informed them that I had already become a Muslim.
"However, they have given their blessings for my choice. In fact, my mother advised me to be a good Muslim that practices all religion's teachings.
"My beloved mother advised me that since I have chosen to embrace Islam, I should be a good Muslim who abides by Islam's teachings and adheres to all that is permitted and to stay away from what is prohibited," he said.