Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Malays Let Down Their Own Side.

The article below is an interesting look on the social aspect of the conservatives Malay Muslims during the controversial "touch a dog" program, by one my favorite writer and social critics. 

by Mariam Mokhtar
The Malay is an enigma. He claims to know Islam, but when his brethren is threatened, he refuses to speak out. He fears the mob will hound him, even though neither he nor the person he would like to protect, have done anything wrong.
When a preacher tells him of a shortcut to heaven, he is all ears. His morbid fascination with the afterlife makes him forget his moral obligations and his responsibilities to his fellow man, because he believes that his life on earth is to prepare him for the afterlife; but at what cost? 
He would rather not use his brain to think, especially when it concerns moral issues. He would rather some other body does his thinking for him, perhaps, the ulama or the government. The gift which God gave him, his brain, lies idle because he is fixated on the afterlife more than life on earth. His siege mentality is reinforced by the Umno-Baru government, so that he feels helpless without the government to tell him what to do.
The Malay mentality is stuck in a time warp. If only his intellect and compassion could increase at the same rate, as his love for material goods, perhaps, we would not have massive problems in Malaysia, today. The Malay feels and acts like he is superior to people of other faiths and cultures.  He is not. His lack of humility fails him, in the eyes of many.
The Malay depends on the government to spoon-feed him and when he does not get his fix, he gets upset. He is like a child who should have been weaned a long time ago. Democracy, human rights and rule of law mean very little to him. He wants to get ahead, and if cheating will give him an advantage, then so be it.
There is one group which is unlike the Malay. They do not want you to sell them anything, nor do they want you to give them a commission. They do not demand that you give them all of your time, they do not want your riches or your belongings. They do not expect you to give them a datukship or to betray others for them. They do not tell you how to behave or make you fearful, by invoking God’s name. All they want is companionship and for that, they will go to the ends of the earth for you. “They” are dogs, another of God’s creatures.
When Syed Azmi Alhabshi organized a “I want-to-touch-a-dog” event on Oct 19, he was surprised that his idea was well received by Muslims and non-Muslims. There was nothing sinister behind his motives. He did not have a follow-up event to touch pigs, or for people to have free sex.
After the furore caused by the event, a forum was arranged by Umno-Baru Youth, in which Syed Azmi explained how the seed for the event was sown, when he saw a blind man and his dog being mistreated. All he wanted was to overcome his and his fellow Muslims’ fear of dogs and to encourage Malays to have compassion for animals.  
At this forum, Muslims showed their lack of intellectual depth. Most of the questions directed at Syed Azmi were about his motive for organizing the event and if gloves had been made available.
Despite being given the go-ahead by the state religious authorities, its runaway success must have alarmed them. Perhaps, the insecure men who run these religious authorities, did not think that such an event would be popular. They should know that not every Malay, has tunnel vision, like them.
At the forum, Islamic scholar Dr Fathul Bari Mat said that Islam promoted discussions and respected differences. Is he blind to the happenings in Malaysia, where discussion is not tolerated and dissent not respected? This session may have been an anomaly where discussions are allowed, perhaps because Khairy Jamalluddin (KJ), the Umno-Baru Youth leader and sports minister was present.  
KJ added his “voice of moderation” and said, “What kind of society do we have that some have to resort to death threats? This is not the Islamic way. You do not manage disagreements by telling people you want to slap or kill them or that you don't belong to this country.” 
One wonders why KJ does not appear to be as vocal, when the likes of Ibrahim Ali of Perkasa wants to burn Bibles, or other extremist Malays want to hound the non-Muslims out of Malaysia.
The greater question is, why did KJ not lend his full support to Syed Azmi, instead of allowing him to apologize for his actions, when he had clearly done no wrong. That is why, Malays as a group, are cowards at heart. When they should speak out and support others, especially those who have not committed a sin or crime, as in Syed Azmi’s case, the silent Malays, refuse to come out of their comfort zone.  
Syed Azmi did not need to apologise. His life was threatened. We must wonder if he was made to “apologise”, to avoid an extra-judicial execution.