Of mad mullahs and mangled muftis
by azly rahman
When will we ever see people respecting each other for what they believe in and to pray by whichever way they feel safe, at peace, and connected as what "religion" derived from the Latin "religio" means, i.e. "connectedness" (to a higher and greater consciousness)?
Why can't the Shiites and Sunnis stop fighting? Why can't we focus on larger issues such as the future of our children through the fixing of our education system, or to make sure that our streets are safe, to bring back local elections so that our democracy will be stronger, or to ensure that our leaders are doing what they are supposed to be doing since they are servants to the people they begged votes from?
But what do we still have? Pathos, thanatos, and the loss of eros. Of hubris and hamartia. Of poetic injustices year after year. That's what we have. Another year of diabolical doings left undone.
Malaysians are ushering into a new year not with renewed hope to make things better for intercultural, inter-religious relations, nor to make it a time of reflection and reconciliation but to read more of the ridiculousness of ethnocentrism and religious bigotry renewed with bigger dose of insanity, threatening to make 2014 another Malaysian year of living dangerously.
Why do we see Christians being persecuted more and more these days, in regard to the recent threats to arrest those who give their sermons using the word "Allah" to refer to the Almighty those of the monotheistic faith share in reverie?
Why must we read about the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) threatening to raid churches that still want to use the word "Allah" in the prayers they had been using even before the country gained independence?
And why must we read about the raid in the Bible Society of Malaysia and the confiscation of the holy books that will help Malaysians too become less and less violent, corrupt, and living a life of immorality, having "Allah" too as a guide to the "siratul mustaqim" or the path of righteousness of the followers of the teachings of Isa/Jesus?
Utterly ridiculous raid is it not? Or because it is Malaysia, that anything ridiculous can happen in this half-baked modernised society?
Is there a secret plan to drive the Christians underground so that they may then pray to the same god only in secret? I hope there is none - because there will still be sane Muslims who will protect the rights of the Christians from being trampled by insane Muslims.
Why must we read about Umno Youth's plan to protest in all churches that are suspected of using the holy word to designate God; words used by Christians in the Arab land, even before Muhammad declared Islam as a renew religion and use the word "Allah" too, to unify the Muslims and to craft a campaign of empire-building the world over?
‘What a way to start the new year’
And more ridiculous, as recent as yesterday, why are we reading yet another reiteration of a fatwa by this mufti from Perak who has nothing better to do than vomit nonsensical declaration that those who protested against the ridiculous price hikes can be called traitors and should be waged war against in the form of "jihad fisabilillah" (holy war in the name of Allah).
The protesters were not armed with bombs strapped on their waist, were they? The protesters weren't running around amuck-latah carrying machetes, parang panjang, kapak siam or machine guns, were they?
Weren't they armed with anything dangerous except the call for the government not to further trample them with more hardships so that few in power can enjoy celebrating New Year with more champagne worth thousands of dollars to blow just that one night?
Isn't jihad supposed to be about speaking truth to power and wishing for a peaceful change through such a peaceful and legal gathering as what was demonstrated on the night the rakyat came down - to "turun and turn" so that everything, prices and people intoxicated with power will bow down to the will of the rakyat?
Isn't that what Islam and all religions promoting the peaceful middle path call for?
What a mufti Perak has and what a way to force him to resign before he does any damage to Muslims too. But what will it take to force him to do that?
What a way to start the new year!
As in a play in a French absurd theatre ala Oriflamme' and Metamorphosis, looks like another Kafka-esque year of sweeping dead corpses under the national carpet and shoving more skeletons in the closet of a sinking ship as we see more and more filth being revealed in the way the leaders-elected-on-a-minority-mandate try to hide their massive secrets of corrupt practices, conspicuous consumption, idiotic pride, nauseating arrogance, and sub-intelligence at a time when the rakyat is getting more and more impatient with everything they see, read, hear and feel about the way the country is governed.
Instead of Auld Lang Syne, at the stroke of midnight, we Malaysians should have chanted these verses in Dataran Merdeka:
Tahun Baru Gila
Tahun Kegilaan Baru
Crazy New Year!
Renewed Crazy Year!
Let us remain hopeful though and in our own way, work towards peaceful change. We must continue to light the candle and not curse the darkness.
DR AZLY RAHMAN, born in Singapore and grew up in Johor Baru, holds a Columbia University (New York City) doctorate in International Education Development and Masters degrees in four areas: Education, International Affairs, Peace Studies and Communication. He has taught more than 40 courses in six different departments and has written more than 350 analyses on Malaysia. His teaching experience in Malaysia and the United States spans over a wide range of subjects, from elementary to graduate education. He has edited and authored four books; Multiethnic Malaysia: Past, Present, Future (2009), Thesis on Cyberjaya: Hegemony and Utopianism in a Southeast Asian State (2012), The Allah Controversy and Other Essays on Malaysian Hypermodernity (2013), and the latest Dark Spring: Ideological Roots of Malaysia's GE-13 (2013). He currently resides in the United States. Twitter, blog.