Over the past few weeks since the beginning of Ramadhan, the Moslems in Malaysia had been challenged by events that no doubt tested their faith or rather the lack of it. Unless you’re one who is ignorance or lack of sensitivity , you cannot help but notice that of late, there seemed to be a concerted effort to push Islam into a closet, meant only to serve the followers in mosques or at homes, just like some of the religions that have been successfully pushed to the corner of human civilization.
This stem from the great misconception that Islam is nothing more than a theological reflection confined to the realm of personal worshiping. Far from truth, the very essence of Islam as taught by Prophet Muhammad SAW dictates that Islam encompasses all spheres of life, from etiquette to commerce to good governance of a country.
As a moslem, you cannot help but notice that of late, there seemed to be a concerted effort to push Islam into a closet, meant only to serve the followers in mosques or at homes, just like some of the religions that have been successfully pushed to the corners of human civilisation.
One good example is the furore over PAS-led Kedah Government order to ban all entertainment outlets from operating during the fasting month last July. It smacks of Islamophobia within MCA, DAP and Malaysian Chinese Hall, and deep resentment towards Islamic governance for Moslems who form 70% of Kedah population, the figure as reported by Dr Ismail Salleh, The Kedah State Exco.
One could understand if this was to happen in Penang or Ipoh, but to reason that the fate of 300 nightspot operators’ businesses was of greater importance than the interest of the Moslems majority who are trying to observe their Holy Month, is a severe mistake of judgement for any one could do the math. Financially speaking, these operators would have amassed quite a fortune throughout the rest of 11 months as it was reported that the one month closure was expected to involved millions of ringgit of losses.
Furthermore, it was all too obvious that there is lack of respect to the governing body, no less by PAS’ own coalition partner DAP, despite the party claims to work hand in hand with PAS. The move made by Kedah Pas should be the litmus test for the Pakatan Rakyat component to exhibit mutual respect and harmony, but DAP had portrayed their arrogance at the highest level and could not even tolerate a month of entertainment-free out of respect for their Moslem counterparts.
PAS should have known better the kind of friends they are sleeping with and remain steadfast with their party policies. The Malaysian Moslems aspiration that have over the years lent their support for PAS to uphold Islamic principles should not be forsaken for political mileage.
The more recent issue concerning JAIS, Datuk Dr Hassan Ali and Damansara Utama Methodist Church further underlined the effort to reduce Islam to merely ritual worship devoid of its ‘syumul’/holistic concept. The fashionably ‘human rights’ and ‘moral policing’ terms quickly make their way to the fore condemning the authority, when Islam has outlined its principle clearly that apostasy is one of the biggest sin and any conduct that leads to this effect should be arrested immediately.
This rule has been held dearly for more than 1400 years ago despite the effort to force Islam to embrace the stance opted by other religions in apostasy matters. The word ‘raid’ in place of ‘discussion’ that actually occurred between the church authority and JAIS showed that certain quarter certainly leaves no room to paint a bleak picture of Islam.
These two issues reflect that there is a long journey for Malaysians to understand each other. The distorted view that prevails is that in order for Moslems to fit in the multicultural society, he/she should remove their identity as much as possible, leaving behind the Islamic says in their day to day business, and only proceed with their 5 prayers in the mosques, wedding ceremonies and Raya celebration. For good Moslems, the tenets of their religion are embraced as a whole and not selectively chosen.
It also doesn’t help that certain parties fed the wrong facts on Islam. Mariam Mokhtar, in her regular column is keen on making sweeping negative statements regarding Malaysian Muslims and the Syariah Law. The refusal to deal the subjects with any reference to Quran, hadith or valid resources will of course lead to inappropriate comparison, with anecdotes and testimonials offered as the best evidence of argument.
In her most recent article for example, she questioned the ‘obsession’ of Malaysian Muslims on halal food. Either she has forgotten or simply being ignorance, ‘halal’ is one of the most fundamental tenets emphasised by the prophet in one of the authentic hadith. The provision of Syariah allows Muslims the room of how one observes their halal food depending on whether they are in a majority non-Muslim country wherehalal food is scarce, or in a Muslim majority country. In the latter, where alternatives are abundant, Muslims are required to be more cautious in choosing halal food.
The comparison of how some Indonesian Muslims go about observing their halal food fails to impress any right-minded Muslims, as the culture there is not considered as the gold standard of Islamic practice. Furthermore, the generalisation humiliates my Indonesian friends who are ones who place great care in halalmatters.
The multiracial components of Malaysian society have lived together in harmony for many years and they must accept the fact that for Muslims, Islam is not simply a theological scripture confined within the space of the mosque. It translates into their everyday life.
Just as the Quran says in Suratul Baqarah verse 208:
“O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.”
Prof. Madya Dr. Rafidah Hanim Mokhtar,
Ketua Ahli Jawatankuasa Biro Kebajikan,
Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia Daerah Hulu Langat (ISMA DHL)