Categorised | Columns

Insulting Muslims 101

HOW does one insult Islam in Malaysia? And how does one insult Muslims in Malaysia?

Over the past few years and increasingly over the past months, the state, politicians and pressure groups like Perkasa have demonstrated just how to do either one or both. For the most part, these incidents are an insult to Muslims in Malaysia, rather than to the world’s fastest growing religion per se.

Here’s my take on how these groups have been giving lessons to the nation, and to the world, on Insulting Muslims 101.

Step 1: Weak and wavering

Here’s how to portray Malaysian Muslims as weak and easily swayed by all manner of external influence:

The film Babe, about a little pig who wanted to be a sheepdog

The film Babe, about a little pig who wanted to be a sheepdog

Ban a movie about a pig because it may just convince Muslims to eat what their faith teaches them to be haram. Don’t stop there. Discipline a child for bringing to school the pork lunch his Christian mother prepared for him. Similarly, make sure alcohol can’t be sold in Muslim-majority areas.

Tell Muslims that if they practise yoga, they might be tempted to worship Hindu gods. If there is a Hindu temple in their neighbourhood, their faith might be threatened.

Ban the use of “Allah”, and three other Arabic words, in non-Muslim worship. Send a message to Muslims in Malaysia and in other parts of the world, where incidentally “Allah” is used by non-Muslims in their worship, that Malaysian Muslims are easily confused.

Step 2: Intolerant and judgemental

This is oh-so-easy to execute especially post-Sept 11 when many fear Muslims to be violent and irrational terrorists. Within that global context, adding “intolerant” and “judgemental” to the cocktail of bad traits Muslims purportedly have doesn’t require very much effort.

Projecting an image of Malaysian Muslims as intolerant and judgemental can be done in several ways. For example, show them in an 8TV Ramadan ad as being affected by a non-Muslim Chinese Malaysian who wears a sleeveless top to a Ramadan bazaar. Let them be police and judge in these TV ads who can tell non-Muslims what good, moral behaviour is all about and how non-Muslims should dress.

Step 3: Constantly needing state intervention

If Step 1 is effectively executed, Step 3 is a logical next step. Because Malaysian Muslims are purportedly so weak and easily swayed, the state must step in to protect Muslim faith. And so apostasy is made a crime under syariah law in Malaysia. Not fasting during Ramadan is a punishable offence for Malaysian Muslims. Never mind that in Indonesia, in the most populous Muslim country in the world, no such regulation is needed.

Ostensibly, it’s also because Muslims are so weak in Malaysia that should a non-Muslim marry a Muslim, she or he must convert. No such legal requirement is imposed on non-Muslim couples of different faiths who marry each other. Neither is this legal requirement in place in Indonesia where Malays can even be Christians and yet this poses no threat to Indonesian Muslims.

Yes, and because Malaysian Muslims are weak, they need a Faith Rescue Unit in Selangor and at the federal level, they need an Islamic Affairs Ministry in an already over-bloated cabinet. Without the state watching over how Muslims live out their faith and intervening in both their public and private lives, woe is sure to follow the ummah.

Step 4: Afraid of Christians and Christianity

Are Malaysian Muslims so threatened by Christians and Christianity? Apparently, they are or even if they really aren’t, they need to be.

And that’s why Christian events should not be held during Ramadan. And of course, Muslims must be shown that that it would be disastrous for them to attend any event held on church premises. Muslims who do attend such events must go for counselling so their faith can be protected.

How is this insulting? Well, I’m reminded of my own experience living as a Catholic with other non-Muslims in Third College in Universiti Malaya where the boarders and administrators were predominantly Muslim. And where the loudspeaker for the azan was just outside the bedroom I shared with a Hindu senior. Even though we were bombarded with the call for Muslim prayer five times a day, every single day, and surrounded by Muslims and their practises, that didn’t stop us from going to church or the temple or from practising our faith. Somehow, we were not tempted to apostasise.

So, if even stepping onto church premises for a community dinner can so quickly turn their faith on its head, Muslims must be particularly vulnerable to Christian influence. We must remember though, that this vulnerability may not be applicable for Muslims, including Malaysian Muslims, in other countries where Muslims can visit cathedrals and temples and not feel compelled to apostasise.

It must be this special vulnerability to Christians in Malaysia that forms the reason for Perkasa wanting Christian teachers to be barred from teaching in national schools or at least, to have them monitored. Never mind that our prime minister and other notable Malaysian Muslims attended Christian missionary schools and today remain Muslims. Or that Datuk Seri Najib Razak was at the Vatican with the head of the Catholic Church and did not recant his faith. The prime minister must be in a league of his own compared to other Muslim mortals who don’t hold such high office.

Najib

Is Najib's faith in danger after meeting the pope? (source: insightsabah.gov.my)

The sting of the insult

Why are these insults really insulting?

Well, because Malaysian Muslims, at least most of them, are far more certain about their faith, and less susceptible to non-Muslim influence and lifestyles, then they are made out to be.

During Ramadan for example, I stayed in a Muslim household for a week to help a good friend with her new-born. Guess what happened when I had breakfast and lunch in front of the fasting Muslims? Was I chastised for tempting these Muslims and endangering their faith? Not at all. Even though they could not eat, they made sure food was available for me, even cooking for me.

On another occasion, a non-Muslim friend who was dressed in a spaghetti strap top didn’t receive stares or rebukes at the Ramadan bazaar we were at in Section 3, PJ. The Muslim vendors and customers weren’t interested in looking at her bare arms and shoulders, nor did they find it offensive. They were more interested in the food so that they could break fast.

So who are these people who would insult Malaysian Muslims and make them out to be so weak and so much in need of state support? And why would they want to do that?

The politics of fear

Do we really need saving?

Super Straw Man: helping you solve the problems he made up?

One way to answer this question is to ask: Whose interest would it serve to have Malaysian Muslims believe they are weak and under threat from non-Muslims, and hence need constant rescuing?

Seems to me it would serve the interest of the politicians and state and non-state actors who insist that without them, Muslims in Malaysia would indeed be lost souls.

Who might these be? Well, Umno and PAS for certain, who demonstrate repeatedly just how much they would like to control the lives of Muslims — even to the point of disrupting the lives of non-Muslims — in Malaysia. That Utusan Malaysia, TV3 and TV1 — all of which fall under Umno either through ownership or government control — have published and broadcast inaccurate reports about Christian proselytisation of Muslims is yet another sign of what is at stake. The possibility that the religious beliefs of the majority in Malaysia are being threatened by the minority is surely one of the easiest ways to fester disharmony and distrust in multi-racial Malaysia.

And of course, there’s Perkasa which, in the name of Islam, would emasculate all Malaysian Muslims with their politics of fear and animosity, and threat of violence against non-Muslims and non-Malays.

If Muslim and non-Muslim Malaysians were to believe everything that is done from Steps 1 to 4,  this country would have crumbled a while ago from the strain of having a fearful, besieged Muslim majority reacting to every external influence as a threat.

That we haven’t become a Humpty Dumpty nation suggests that we are all far more resilient and respectful of each other than what has been portrayed. And yes, that includes the Muslims who live among us. Question then is, what will we do to stop this campaign of insulting Muslims in Malaysia?

Jacqueline Ann Surin wonders just how the revived Inter-faith Relations Working Committee will address the phenomenon of Muslims insulting Muslims and Islam in Malaysia.

Post to Twitter Post to Google Buzz Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to StumbleUpon

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

52 Responses to “Insulting Muslims 101”

  1. Bk tan says:

    Kudos to Jacq for highlighting this issue. It is true. Our Malay political party wanted to elevate themselves, but apparently, they are doing stuff that is stopping them from moving forward.

  2. aw says:

    This is a good post that has been waiting to be written by someone, and you took up the challenge.

    However, the readability may be improved. The content suggests satire, but the writing tone halfway through goes to indignation. You have to choose one or the other. I get confused. If you’re going for satire, go the whole hog (hehehe) with the tone, and more comedic effect. Trust your audience a little to get your satire without having to point out every single little thing. Your points will stick in the mind better if you let the reader’s mind do a little bit of thinking?

    Brevity would also be the soul of wit and would have made this a much stronger post. Would you consider an edit, to flesh out your excellent content?

  3. cl says:

    Something like this should be rewritten in BM and published in Harakah if one were serious to lighten up the Malay-Muslims. Sadly, many see it as a big risk to do so.

  4. Kong Kek Kuat says:

    I think the ultimate question is rather: “What will the Muslim-Malays do?”

    You can argue whether it is so, but when the bad weather stops, it is clear that what we non-Muslims (and Muslims) experience here in Malaysia today is a result of the decision taken by the majority of Muslim Malaysians who decided to accept, or at least acquiesce, to those who dreamed up or imported so-called “Islamic gold standards”.

    Imagine being told as an eight-year-old in kelas agama that you cannot buy or eat food prepared by a Chinese Malaysian because of certain things (among them, that you cannot trust a Chinese). My cousin was so disoriented that he went back home asking his Chinese mother what it all meant to his world. My uncle was so worked up he had intended to go bash up the ustaz, but was stopped by my Chinese aunt. For some reason, I wish that it would have happened and made the news on the front page.

    To a lesser extent, it´s like that 8TV ad. Imagine the emotional wound inflicted on my cousin and those who´ve got Chinese mothers – it’d be like telling Mahathir that he´s nothing compared to Lee Kuan Yew on the international lecture scene because he simply is congenitally not good enough, and that people can´t be bothered about what he has to say because of his genes.

    My point is that until such Muslim-Malays as my uncle finally make the news, people like Ibrahim Ali will continue to be embolden [...]

    What was the final solution adopted by my uncle and aunt? My cousin was told to continue attending classes conducted by that same ustaz – because of kiasu.

  5. CU says:

    It has nothing to do with God. Those in power use or abuse God to ensure that they hold on to their powers. It happened during the final days of the Ottoman empire; it happens again today in Malaysia.

  6. Haz says:

    As a Muslim, I agree with you that Muslims are generally not easily insulted. And the majority are pretty much tolerant as we have co-existed in Malaysia peacefully for a long, long time.

    I have non-Muslim friends who are very understanding and respectful, e.g. a Chinese friend who buys totally new utensils and chicken from Giant to ensure I had something to eat at her BBQ.

    But I also see examples of the non-Muslims disrespecting Muslims, which I am sure 10 to 20 years ago I wouldn’t have seen. For example, a Chinese couple recently buying kuih at the Pasar Ramadan. There’s nothing wrong with that – in fact, do come and buy and help the hawkers get more money for Raya. But what is disrespectful is for the lady to be holding her slobbering pet dog in her arms and looking over the kuih-muih. Tell me, should I or the Muslim hawker be insulted?

    For example, several breaking-fast gatherings at the office/hotel. Surprisingly, the Muslims hang back as the non-Muslims “battle” for food once the azan is played. Hmmmm, should I be offended?

    I was raised to be respectful of all, regardless of whether Muslim or non-Muslim. I hope our future generations are raised the same way too, because if we don’t ensure that, then the peace we’ve enjoyed thus far will disappear, leaving just hostility.

  7. Kamilia says:

    Brilliant article, Jacqueline =) Very well-articulated.

  8. Amos says:

    Nicely written. Straight to the point … hopefully other Muslims will read this with an open heart.

    PS: I’m a Catholic … from UM … and from 3rd Residential College as well! =D

  9. JW Tan says:

    It’s about power. Firstly, if you can control minor aspects of the behaviour of your co-religionists by decree, eventually they will be sufficiently accustomed to your edicts to obey you when you ask them to do something major – like voting for a particular party. Secondly, if you can whip up the fear of a bogeyman, like how their faith is endangered by the mere presence of non-religionists, they are more susceptible to obey your edicts in the first place.

    It’s not particularly subtle, but it works.

  10. MK says:

    Gotta agree with Aw. The article is too descriptive to be a satire, I lost interest in the first paragraph.

    Good points, nevertheless. Keep it up.

  11. me says:

    Hey, this is one good article written properly without sounding pretentious and you hit the nail on the head. I like this one. You’re the least pretentious-sounding author who writes about contemporary issues. Very cool!

  12. TSM says:

    Well done. I love this article. I hope the Malays will read this.

  13. Archibald says:

    Well articulated! I know quite a few of my Muslim friends feel the same way about the gutter politicking of the Islamic faith in Malaysia. Spreading baseless fear/suspicion and intimidation through controlled media. Islam is indeed a beautiful religion, alongside Judaism and Christianity – ask anyone who’s been to Jerusalem, and hear the azan, the church bell and the loud chanting at the Wailing Wall – all at the same time. Pray for peace.

  14. JL says:

    This reminds me of a quote by Herman Gohring from WWII. Some what different, but the idea is the same.

    “Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. …voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

  15. didi says:

    I think the only people who are insulting Muslims and Islam are UMNO and Perkasa. Other Malays have no issue and are happy with their non-Muslims.

  16. Adam says:

    Religion has been politicised to divide and control the people along religious and racial lines. The majority of Muslims and Malays are very sensible and nice people. It is mainly Muslims in authority who are playing up the many controversial issues to serve their agenda of control and holding on to power for the sole reason of enriching themselves. In the process, they bring disrepute to their religion. They have also tarnished the image of the religion in the eyes of fellow Muslims as well as the others.

    All rational and peace-loving Muslims together with the other citizens should and must stand up against such divisive and controversial antics by our so-called leaders and work towards a progressive and united Malaysia.

    Hidup Malaysia.

  17. razorblade says:

    Re: marriage between non-Muslims and Muslims – non-Muslims must convert to Islam. It’s been said by Rasulullah pbuh. So we have no choice. Your other points, I can’t help but to agree with them.

    • Adam says:

      There are always choices. Life is full of choices. One should be given the choice of partner, belief, ambition, friends, etc, etc.

      • JW Tan says:

        Indeed. One of the least attractive points about religion in general, and Islam in particular, is how monolithic it is when it comes to dealing with dissent, or even minor disagreements.

        The choice is always framed thus – if you do X, you are a good Muslim. If you don’t do X, you are not a good Muslim, or even a Muslim. And if you are not a Muslim, then you may suffer a list of severe penalties, simply for not agreeing. A cynic might say that this sort of structure simply preserves Islam against competition from other ideas, better those ideas might be.

    • meezal says:

      The Quran allows Muslims to marry Christians and Jews without them needing to embrace Islam. The word of the Quran is the word of God; the word of the Prophet; the word of man.

  18. JD says:

    A very interesting article with good views on the issue. But for the sake of argument, I think it is biased and one-sided. It’s only natural for one to write on [what] they know best. In my opinion, you should learn more about Islam first before you write about it. For one, you are describing a typical Malay, not Muslim. Secondly, the things you write about [do not necessarily] reflect all Malays. The things that are done by them are sometime cultural practices, not religious. Don’t blame the religion or other [followers] for the actions of one believer.

    Each religion has the same problem. Do Christians keep quiet when people accuse them of being a drink- and sex-before-marriage-loving religion? Do Indians keep quiet when people provoke them for not eating beef? No, they surely react to the insults, only the actions they take are different from that of Jabatan Agama Islam. Hindraf is one example that applies here, with their rally and everything – is this any different from the Jabatan’s actions?

    I believe the authorities are just trying to do their job. It is the politicising of religion by the politicians that should stop. This, you have already covered, so no argument necessary.

    • love the article says:

      I totally agree with JD [...] For me, the only way to understand Islam is to become a Muslim. I think the government has done a good job in preserving Islam. We aren’t like certain neighbouring countries that are Islamic but do not regulate the teachings of Islam, not to mention the law, way of dress, lifestyle, ethics and morality.

      • Siti Sara says:

        Dear love the article: to become a Muslim is not the only way to understand Islam. The government has done a devastating job in ‘preserving’ the religion and I cringe everyday thinking about what else they would do to make the Muslims of this country look foolish and weak. I am now a Malaysian living in the Middle East on a job assignment, and I cannot tell you the differences in terms of how open people are to many things we Malaysians are not – being a Muslim is about embracing a universal philosophy and above all, fiercely guarding the rights of minority religions and respecting diversity of opinion among the Muslim ummah as our history proudly records – and not ‘preserving’ religion by creating an oppressive state based on foolishness. Inshallah we have to deliver ourselves from this onslaught of small-minded politics.

        • JD says:

          Agree on “to understand Islam, you don’t have to be a Muslim”. This is because many good scholars who been writing and translating Islamic scripture (e.g. Islamic philosophy by Ibnu Sina) don’t necessarily convert to Islam, thus concluding that ‘hidayah’ is God’s choice to give. Nevertheless, if writing about Islam, one should first learn to see its true value, because not “every Muslim practice is Islamic practice”. We are practising more on our ethnicity rather than our religion.

      • JW Tan says:

        The Malaysian way (the Islamic way?) is not the only, or even the best method of ensuring compliance with an ideology. After all, enforcing compliance from without makes people unhappy, requires resources, and foments tensions.

        I’ve always liked the solution of Reform Judaism – anyone who is a Jew, behaves like a Jew, eating kosher food, observing the Sabbath, etc. If you don’t behave like a Jew for some reason, it’s worth finding out why, and updating the rules to come to a sensible solution. In other words, you find and adopt the compromises you believe are personally necessary to bring religion into 21st century life yourself. Behaviour is everything, belief is not. Therefore you can be an atheist and still be a Jew. This has the advantage of avoiding hypocrisy.

        Maybe the neighbouring Islamic countries you speak of are further along this path than Malaysia. They might be happier, and more secure in their faith too. This is worth examining.

    • JW Tan says:

      Ah, the no true Scotsman fallacy.

      In any case the difference between Islam in Malaysia and other religions should be clear. Jabatan Agama Islam is an arm of the government. Any other religion in Malaysia does not enjoy an equivalent power of enforcement. Where religion becomes the province of the government, it becomes politicised; there is no need for the politicians to step in.

      Before you say that Malaysia is an Islamic country, justifying a Jabatan Agama Islam, I would like to point out that Malaysia is an Islamic country by way of history only. I do not believe it should be an Islamic country. No citizen should have to live a life on sufferance by the majority ethno-religious group.

  19. Jess says:

    The next step with the religious mafia in Malaysia is to institute anti-”blasphemy” laws, if they haven’t already done so. Once they do that, it would be easy to take down their enemies both political and personal. Criticise them and you will be accused of criticising Islam. Voila! – Blasphemy. Easy. Better still, attach the death penalty to blasphemy. Like they do in Pakistan. Then the religious mafia will have attained God-like status, accountable to no one but themselves. Free to attack individuals, minorities and other religious groups with impunity. All the while hiding behind the charade of being the ulitmate “protector/enforcer” of Islam.

    That will be the final chapter in Malaysia’s short and checkered history.

  20. peony says:

    I am Malay, and I love living beside all of my friends who are of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. May Malaysia continue living in peace till the end of time.

  21. kanchil tua says:

    Strangely, Perkasa thinks Islam is superior to all religions. Ibrahim Ali is the substandard result of the NEP, where Umno is hell-bent on producing millions of substandard graduates in every field as evidence of doing everything possible for Malays. Even the Krian Valley has become a dust bowl instead of the rice bowl it is supposed to be because the farmers believed that Umno would take care of them until death. The farmers then sold all the fertiliser instead of using it, while the few Chinese farmers were hounded out of the area. That in essence is what ketuanan Islam/Melayu is all about.

  22. amir says:

    Brilliantly written article… so clever… just continue provoking… good luck! May all Malaysians live with hatred and prejudice. Thanks a lot!

  23. PURE MALAY says:

    This article [leans] towards bias, with more focus on politics rather than social relations. I wonder if [the writer] has forgotten that Malaysia is an Islamic country.

    • JW Tan says:

      The mantra “Malaysia is an Islamic country” has been co-opted to fit nicely with the Ketuanan Melayu ideology. In any case, Islamic countries come in many flavours, and I’m sad to say, none of the ones currently existing actually allow true freedom of worship.

      • Bel says:

        re: “none of the ones currently existing actually allow true freedom of worship”

        If you’re referring to the fact that Muslims can’t change their religion (generally, because there are exceptions and it depends on which school of thought one belongs to), it’s because Muslims have a different understanding of what is freedom of religion. In Islam, “freedom” is limited to what has been set by God and not based on one person’s idea of freedom is. And so that freedom of religion is limited; i.e. when one is a Muslim, he/she can’t change religions. I know it sounds “not nice” but I’d end up with a long blog if I comment on your comment completely :-)

        • Kong Kek Kuat says:

          @ Bel

          From your comment, I have questions and hope you can help me learn about Islam:

          1. How does one know if a person is a Muslim?

          2. If a Muslim completely does not believe in Islam, is he [or she] a Muslim?

          3. If a Muslim completely believes in Islam AND he completely believes in another religion, is he [or she] a Muslim?

        • Adam says:

          Bel,

          You also know it does not sound nice if Muslims could not change religion. In fact, it does not sound right too, no matter from which angle you look at it. The essence of belief is faith and when one loses faith in his/her belief, the essence is gone. Of course, one could re-capture the faith one loses but it cannot be forced nor coerced.

          You could try your very best to get them back into the fold by reasoning and gentle persuasion. If that fails, you have to let them go in peace with the hope and perhaps with a prayer that they would return one day. If force and intimidation is used to make them stay, you could literally kiss them goodbye.

          And further, it is the inherent right of all human beings to be given the choice to believe or not to believe in any religion. If you take away that choice, you take away the free spirit that dwells in everyone of us.

          Would you prefer to think that you profess your faith because you wholeheartedly believe in it or would you want to think you believe because you have no other choice by being forced into it? There is only one answer to that and I believe you know it.

          • Bisa Ular says:

            **2011 articles, oh well, 2 years later (now), things seems to get worse. So, commenting in 2013 is okay, I guess.**

            I can’t tell you how much I agreed with Mr Adam’s statement. What good is a religion when the believers are what we call “by name” only? Religion is faith, not fear. If God hates the idea of freedom of religion, then He probably would have taken the life of the unbelievers Himself. Why should His creation be the one who “performs” His job? Controlling the minds of the masses by force/fear in the name of religion makes religion look like a form of dictatorship, a political entity. And it well may contradict with the divinity of the Supreme Being if He can’t even take the life of the people who “left” Him, as a reminder for others. Stop acting like God. Believers believe that God has His reasons. So, why should anyone deny His reasons when anyone becomes an unbeliever? I may sound redundant here, but I’m trying to get to my point in every way possible. Let God decide. No one’s gonna die for leaving his/her belief. You want to give advice or perhaps persuade the ‘murtad’? Just do it once, no force. Just like what Mr Adam wrote, same principle.

            Look, here’s my view…We’re on vacation, let’s say to Singapore. You travel by Air Asia, I travel with MAS. You may save some ticket fare, in exchange for say, the food. I may have paid more on the fare, but the food is better. (No offense to both airlines, I’m just making my point). Y
            You’re probably on transit, and I’m on a direct flight. Morning flight or evening flight. Encountered turbulence or not. But in the end, we’d reach the destination. So you see, it’s not about HOW you get there, it’s about GETTING THERE, the DESTINATION, that matters. It’s your choice. Who are you to tell me that I must use this or that airline to go to my destination? Let humans be humans; without freedom, we’ll be like a caged animal. Even humans have sympathies for bound animals. Then why do that to another human?

        • JW Tan says:

          That’s quite the antithesis of freedom though.

        • Adam says:

          Bel,

          You also know that it does not sound nice when Muslims are not allowed to convert. In fact, it does not sound right too, from whichever angle you look at it. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and you would know what I mean.

          Let us say you were a Christian and you no longer believe in the doctrine and want to convert to Islam but you are not allowed to, what would you feel? Would you resign to your fate and remain a Christian in name only or would you do everything possible to change to your new-found religion, even at the risk of losing your freedom, even your life? Please answer this truthfully.

    • NoisySerani says:

      Malaysia was just recently being declared as an Islamic country not TOO long ago

      Malays are NOT the originals in Peninsular Malaysia. Most of the people who identify themselves as Malays are NOT even pure Malays. Historically and geographically speaking, Malays are actually people from modern-day Indonesia and Thailand. The originals in Peninsular Malaysia are the Orang Asli and just exactly like Australia, the Aborignals (Orang Asli) are being refused or rights and discriminated again. FYI they are not even Muslims.

      I have no problem with Malaysia being an Islamic country, but let’s not go to the extreme, ok?

  24. Farouq Omaro says:

    When Malaysia was formed in 1963, it was agreed that that this would be a secular country. It is therefore sad to see that we are giving in more and more to the radical conservatives who are slowly damaging inter-racial and inter-religious ties.

  25. Ali says:

    Good article, have always felt strongly about the matter and how sickening it is when Umno politicians and other fear-mongering ‘authorities’ make the rest of us Malay Muslims look bad.

    Re: interfaith marriage, the Quran says that Muslims are allowed to marry non-Muslims who are “pious people of the book” (i.e. Christians, Jews), but from what I understand, debatable and subject to interpretation is Christianity in its non-trinitarian form (e.g. Unitarian Christians who reject that Jesus is God but merely a prophet of God).

    There are also multiple issues regarding interfaith marriages (http://www.zawaj.com/articles/interfaith.html) that could easily be avoided if one half converts to the other, but how much the convert truly understands of the new religion itself is another issue altogether. In the end there should be a mutually agreed-upon decision!

  26. Nafri says:

    If Muslims and non-Muslims were to cooperate with each other I think Malaysia would be like Singapore: negara maju. We Muslims should not think too highly of ourselves. We must think of other people too, and face the fact that this is a multiracial country.

    • NoisySerani says:

      I doubt and hope that Malaysia will not be like Singapore. It is only the facade that things are wonderful in Singapore. People here are not culturally aware of other religions and are ignorant to them.

      A lot of non-Muslims do not know that during Ramadhan you are not suppose to eat and drink. I am surprised by this.

      Malaysia has much more to offer than this island state. [...]

      • GlueBall says:

        But unlike Malaysia, Singapore is a secular, first world, modern developed nation where people are free to practice their religions as they wish, without interference from the government or religious ministries.

        For example, Singapore does not need the likes of Terengganu Khalwat vigilante squads, volunteers from the Youth Welfare Association, to spy on its citizens and to check on the rising cases of khalwat (close proximity) in the state – a tactic wholly endorsed by its chief, Mohd Nor Hamzah.

        Why? Because in modern, civilised societies, sex between consenting adults is a matter of personal choice. Modern, developed nations don’t need Syariah and hudud laws to control citizens’ private lives.

  27. NoisySerani says:

    I think this article is one that most Malaysians can relate to, regardless of ethnicity or religion. I have many friends but we have never had a problem with one another just because we come from different backgrounds.

    But then again, what is a ‘different’ background? We are all Malaysians, aren’t we? Our parents and grandparents are born Malaysians. So I have always been puzzled to why are we all so segregated sometimes. We learn in school that during the British rule, we were segregated, and it was bad as many did not understand one another – is it that much different now?

    I never felt disrespect or discrimination for being a non-Malay until I left school.

    My Muslim friends have brought me to mosques before, and I think it is a very wonderful thing for them to be so open and understanding that I am curious of how is it like being in a mosque. Isn’t this a way of appreciating a religion?

    I have always thought we would move forward and accept our differences in time, but it seems the government’s policies aren’t helping much. Definitely most of us are tolerant people. I cannot stand how during Ramadhan, people are walking and eat freely; as a non-Muslim I would personally not eat in front of a Muslim out of respect.

    I really hope the situation will improve and hopefully one day we will be able to tell the government to stop their little mind games. I am a proud Malaysian, but unfortunately due to all of the problems, I have been living overseas since I was 17. I still come back really often for the love of my family and country.

  28. Chandra says:

    This fear of Christians by Muslims is not just confined to Malaysia. Malaysia does not hold this unique position. In Iran a Christian pastor has been sentenced to death for converting from Islam. The Quran says let there be no compulsion in religion. In Pakistan a 13-year-old girl has been expelled from school and her mother sacked from a nursing job and are now living in hiding. Their crime was that the little girl missplaced a dot when writing in Urdu an essay on the Prophet Mohammad. In Egypt, a church was burnt down [recently]. Real Muslims must take over their faith and not be led by the so-called Muslim leaders.

  29. KY says:

    Nice write up !

    I totally agree with the “Seems to me it would serve the interest of the politicians and state and non-state actors who insist that without them, Muslims in Malaysia would indeed be lost souls”.

  30. GlueBall says:

    Organised religion is a social absurdity. It’s all about power by the elite to control ordinary citizens’ lives. People who believe in a higher authority should be free to choose and be able to worship on their own, without instructions from any religious affairs ministry. Faith and religion should be private matters. The government should be secular. In order for Malaysia to ever achieve modern, developed-nation status, it cannot impose a mandatory, retrograde ideology upon its citizens.

  31. xbrain says:

    I can’t understand why this is so as we have been hearing Muslims prayers since very young and until today we are still strong in our own [respective] beliefs!


Most Read (Past 3 Months)

Most Comments (Past 3 Months)

Advertisement


<

Advertisement


<
  • The Nut Graph

 

Switch to our mobile site