by Azly Rahman
When I was very young, learning how to fast in the month of Ramadan, given all the lessons on how to be a good human being and go to Heaven, taught how to calculate and compute the good deeds I do, including walking a mile to the village masjid counting the steps I take, eliminating evil thoughts, praising my parents, my villagers and God in every breathe doing and all those a good ol’ Johorean religious education accorded me, I was always told that in the holy month, the Iblis/Mr Shaitan/Monsieur Diablo/The Fallen Angel/The Jebat-Malaikat reincarnate or whatever one calls as the Evil Guy who challenged The God to a game of finding followers (like the US presidential campaign for votes) - I was told that he would be imprisoned.
Ramadan - month of Imprisonment. I walked and talked - I’d count my steps and said my mantra “O’ God O’ God’ at every breathe, in hope that the Devil with Bling-Bling of the Seventies would not jump into my inner space.
Only on the first day of Hari Raya, the end of the fasting month and the day of the Great Victory, Mr Satan, probably wearing baju Melayu Telok Blangah Johor with a Gangsta Punk Rocker-Death Metal-Satanic Grunge Rock-Donald Trump-tattoo-inspired embalmed on his forehead would be released and allowed to have his ball of a-golfing and pole-dancing Prime-Ministerial Colombian Cartel-ish Hellish private-jet-setting time possessing me and my friends and those who are Muslims.
In three-piece suits and red tie and the Malay songkok, he’d be free to do his job creating chaos again. Hooray - free at last! Free at last! like Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s battle cry, Mr Iblis would sing his solo-a capella aloud, with a Muhammad Ali gusto. That gusto seen in Ali’s 1965 historic victory over Sonny Liston.
He’d be going into human hearts and whisper into our hearts to lure us into doing evil - stealing bicycles, playing ‘Tikam Tikam’ (Johor Chinese lotto and scratch-scratch gambling game,), and even drink shandy (low-dose alcoholic beer sold widely in JB), and continue to steal rambutans from neighbours.
I struggled thinking about how the Prince of Darkness looked like. But I know during Ramadan he would be incarcerated for at least 29 days - much longer than the British paedophile if you multiply every second on Earth equals to 1,000 years in Hell, making it many years of imprisonment - if you do the Maths.
I was happy the Havana Cigar-smoking Mr Devil-wearing Prada carrying a US$10,000 Birkin bag walking like a Ziggy-Stardust looking transgender from Jalan Bukit Timbalan, Johor would not be running around annoying humans of JB.
Then as I grow older I began to have serious doubts if indeed he was put away. I figure that if Hang Tuah was said to be put to death and was put away instead and did not die, I began to panic knowing that aspect of my belief would be shattered. A Kuhnian paradigm shift of a devilish magnitude was about to happen.
The great bard Shakespeare once said “Hell is empty and all the Devils are here (on Earth).” Wow - I began to get more scared. Maybe the ustazes who told me that were just parroting others before them who did not know much about the phenomenology and the politics of the Iblis or Devil-dom. Maybe, like many of my History teachers, they lied, too.
My History teacher told me that the Malacca sultans originated from Alexander the Great but when I read the Sejarah Melayu/Malay Annals, those folks did not even come out of human wombs but from foams and bubbles or foamy bubbles (buih buih) from some mystical Sanskrit-sounding ocean somewhere in a Hindustani Lala-land.
That was one big lie they told. I discovered more - stories juicier that just the foaming origins of the Malay sultans - creation myths crafted by some mentally and intellectually-slithering scribe named Tun Sri Lanang who perhaps was paid a truckload of durians by the Malacca sultan then. So, if Frank Zappa was the Father of Inventions, Mr Lanang was the Granddaddy of Lies.
A time for self-reflection
So - is Mr Satan Esquire shackled or not?
Ramadan, for the Muslims is supposed to be a time for reflection, self-reconstruction, and inner-revolution. It is supposed to cleanse the Muslim self-yearly of physical, emotional, as well as spiritual toxins. It is supposed to be the month of fasting practised as an extremely private act and that life has to go on as usual.
In Malaysia, after almost 60 years of Independence, we are supposed to see the fruits of inner sensibility, ethics, and humility of those fasting, displayed in public life.
But after 60 years, why have leaders we elect - especially Muslim leaders observing Ramadan - becoming allegedly more corrupt, arrogant, and abusive when power to rule others (and make lives more bearable) are given to them temporarily on the Earth?
If indeed the sixty Ramadans were supposed to make our country better, if we assume that sixty times a year leaders and the led have become more spiritual, why are we seeing the country turning devilish and those in power engaged in corrupt acts to the max diabolical? Why are we seeing the nation destroyed after three generations?
Why the massive loss of money, those political murders unsolved, those installation of newer acts that guarantees the crushing of good dissenting voices, and finally as of yesterday the gazetting of an act that ensures national security meaning the implementation of Draconian measures in full-force ready to crush, like the production of ayam penyet (beaten-to-a-pulp flattened-Indonesian originating-spicy chicken), anyone and even any leader or ruler trying to bring their state of Malaysia.
And to add to the list of diabolical signs and symbols of the times of the unshackling of the fallen Angel of Ramadan, we have religious-political leaders insisting that corruption, however massive and murderous at the most extensive of all scales, and however much the rakyat have suffered and will continue to do so for generations - corruption is not punishable by the hudud? Why? Why, why, why, Delilah?
Why - because the Devil was never shackled. Because it is a myth of Ramadan. Because he never was and never have been and never will. Because he has reincarnated - not as protons and neutrons - but as leaders in our midst.
Maybe those leaders in their old age still destroying the nations need to be, like the Fallen Angel, imprisoned. Or, the angels, like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s in A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, should be clipped of their wings and be sent back to where they belong, if not turned into ayam penyet; that flattened chicken.
Read more: https://www.malaysiakini.com/columns/344753#ixzz4B8ebHYwZ