Thursday, January 02, 2014

Of mad mullahs and mangled muftis

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.

5 comments:

Irene Chin said...

Sir Azly Rahman,

You are one of the few Muslim men and women who seem to have the required grey mater and be able to use it intelligently.

I must admit that I feel so frustrated and unable to believe that the number of Malay men and women who rise up against this (excuse me for my language) stupidity are not even equal to the number of my fingers.

How is that and why is that? (Please excuse my ognorance). But are Muslim men and women who have been so 'educated' through the NEP or whatever, that they can not think what is a simple right, decent, just?

Sixty percent or so of the twenty million Malaysians are Muslims. Only a handful or less of them are able to think? These people are trying to show that they are extremely holy but is everyone else think the same? Isn't what these so called holy not making Islam seems so unjust?

Truly and honestly, I just can't understand. I suppose it is because when someone says that their religion, their royals and their country are threatened, everyone foams at the mouth. They will stand up and fight because it their brother/sister in Islam. Leaders of other religion seem to be always asking their followers to be kind and humane, but somehow not in Islam.

Excuse me for my ignorance. But that is the impression I get especially only a handful of educated Muslims seem to be bothered with what is going on in Malaysia. Is it because they feel Malaysia is equals to Malays/Muslims?

Anonymous said...

Dr Azly, it is indeed a crazy way Malaysians started the New Year.

The politicizing of religion is reaching new levels. Christians are not allowed to use "Allah" as AS IF it will easily confuse the Malaysian Muslims.

We call our mother "Mak" and our father "Papa". I hope our fellow Malaysian Muslims have not been confused that our "Papa" is not their "Papa" or our "Mak" is not their "Mak".

The BN government woul have us believe they are so confused now that they do not know their own "Papa" and "Mak".

Anonymous said...

Dr Azly:

I think the problem is with you. You are trying to use reason, and based on reason, what has been happening should not be, and your articulately expressed why. But on the other side we have people who run on hysteria, worse than mob rule. They believe that if they cannot reason something out they can still use all their power and might to enforce their non-existing logic. Not just to oppress those who they are trying to gag but to justify their oppression of those they rule by hiding the oppression or cloaking it as reason.

So they commandeer the education system you studied under and replaced it with faith in the godfather who must needs protect them from the hantu-hantu bent on overpowering them. And this godfather must invent new enemies on behalf of the people they misrule and oppress so that perchance they will be blinded of the oppression they face and be convinced of the devils created by them.

The answer, as you have pointed out often, lies in education. Starting with untruthful politicians (meaning at least that I do not believe all politicians to be automatically untruthful) but then how do you educate not the masses but these politicians?

Somewhere along we made the wrong turn and gave the helm to these lie mongers? It cannot be done, as you are trying, by appealing to their unreason. (Sorry for using this non-existent word. Doing something reasonable derives from reason. But these people do the unreasonable, so they must practice unreason. I propose this as a new word and we attribute it to Malaysian ruling politicians).

Who ever told you that you can fight unreason? Where have you been? Let me guess. Outside Malaysia?

Kaypohchee

Anonymous said...

The politicians and those in office are the ones who will always create disharmony to retain power. I was in bosnia during the war and carnage in 1994 and school teacher said to me this; " The war will not end because you have bigots, scum and racists who were nobody yesterday but are in power today who will endeavour to make the war last as long as possible so that they will reap the profits and enjoy the power because the moment the war ends they will be a nobody again!

Siva Prasanna Krishnan said...

The days of my youth - the late fifties and sixties - are nothing but a dream that has no likeness to the nightmarish activities of the clowns of today. Our late Sultan brought the statue of Mother Mary and she stands proudly in front of my old school. And he was a Muslim. I respected the Bible, the Chapel and the Christian prayers and I am a Hindu.

I learnt about Islam from Sister Xavier during our Civics lessons and she was a Catholic nun and our principal.

My closest friends have been Lucy Tan, Suseela Menon, Fauziah Ahmad, Zaharah and my favourite teacher remains my Standard One teacher Miss Maria Harun.

Those days we spoke about God and Godliness and God united us, no matter how we prayed or in which language. Today we speak about religion and words, not God and deeds.

Where are we heading? God does not need a court of law to protect Him - He is above the court or law of Man.

Let us come to our senses and not fight shadows. Let us fight poverty, hunger, crime and let us tell our brethren that we disagree with what he says but we will support his inalienable right to say what he believes in.

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