Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
Mine is filled with fragrant flowers. Welcome.

Monday, September 21, 2015

this post is not suitable for extremists

Peace be upon you to whoever reading this. May this little snippet of what goes on in my mind reach you in wellness and love. 

I am a young, Muslim woman in this beautiful country of 2.6 billion, I mean, 28 million people and I'm suffering from a deep sense of helplessness in the prospect of this peace-loving, Muslim-majority nation propelling into a regressive state of intolerance, extremism and chauvinism. 

26-years of being a Muslim taught me well that Prophet Muhammad; whose life and teachings comprised the backbone of this religion, had never tolerated racism and separation. In fact, his calling was always to unite people and abolish the bloody tribe wars that engulfed the Arabs for generations. And it grieved me when fellow Muslims who called themselves leaders and enjoy media time more than anyone else fail to portray this reality. Instead, they delude the country and the rest of the world into thinking that we are exactly the opposite. I wouldn't be surprised if one of these days the media will start putting up a disclaimer that its content are not suitable for people with low-blood pressure, impulse-control deficiency and lack of logical thinking. 

A couple of weeks ago, there was a huge rally of people in yellow shirts that swarmed half of Kuala Lumpur in 48-hours, demanding for the government to end corrupt practices. Even though the so-called ‘Bersih’ movement first started as a cry for a cleaner electorate with a dash of opposition-led narrative, it grew to become more exclusive of anything anti-government and anti-Barisan Nasional.  

The rally was defined as a reaction to the infamous line uttered by our dear prime leader in 2014 as he described the most humiliating GE performance of the ruling coalition in history when almost all Chinese electoral rejected his leadership as being--'the Chinese Tsunami'--adding another entry into the ‘Encyclopaedia of things a politician shouldn’t say'.

Two weeks later, the media went abuzz when a suspicious group of Malay men donning red shirts want to riled up the Malays for a rally they are planning for on September 16. As if they couldn’t be more ironic on the day Peninsular Malaysia and part of the Borneo embrace their differences to form as one, the group incited racist and provocative cries against the ethnic minorities, especially Bersih rally goers who are mostly Chinese. 

In a nation where you can find people in almost every shade and culture imaginable, anything laced with chauvinism should be met with a decent shade of ‘Uh Uh’ and casual brush-off-shoulder. Why? Because unity is supposedly a foolproof concept. But politicians know far too well that divide and conquer is an easier route to take, that appealing to all races by standing up for bread and butter issues do not get you votes and most importantly, favour of the ruling elite. One needs to be seen and noticed and the way to be 'seen and noticed' is to be controversial or crude. So they bend their backs and tongues for the greater good of their bank accounts, political mileage and at times, vain media time at the expense of our society. 

There is nothing Islamic about the red rally goers dehumanising Bersih goers by calling them ‘Cina Babi’ (Chinese ae pigs) and rationalising their punk behaviour as a ‘show of bravado’, a palatable reaction to Bersih supporters indecent show of stomping pictures of the nation's prime leaders (both the secular and Islamic one) (most probably, people were angier that they stomped on the photo of the Islamic leader because he didn't have anything to do with the Chinese tsunami). I understand that the Malays felt insulted. I understand that some people felt uncomfortable looking at a large group of a single demographic demanding change of government, especially when one's own leaders lack leadership and strength to hold the fort. However, this reaction only make the highly uncomfortable situation even more uncomfortable for the rest of us. 

Watching the drama unfolding on the news made my stomach turns and I feel misrepresented as a Muslim when the red rally goers decided to use religion as their offense weaponry. Using religion might be the quickest way to fan anger and passion in people but it is riled in falsehood and yes, the thing the prophet hated most, hypocrisy (munafiq).

What was the prophet’s reaction when he was insulted by his own people? Remember the time when they, including children, threw rocks at him until he bled? Did he called them with any vile names? No. The man with the most direct access to god, when asked by the archangel if he wants the people to be destroyed, instead expressed a beautiful supplication that only a human being with a divine heart as his could muster. 

It seems like in this country, the only way to respond to provocations it to provoke the provocateur. In hope, that the provoked would continue to make stupid mistakes and eventually led themselves up to flames. Like a game of tic-and-toe, both sides are unsure which of them will be swallowed first but fight we must, I guess. This is not the teaching of the religion I subscribe to and I never agree with the ways of these extremists. When some media with an agenda of their own play the events up in a ‘I told you so the Muslims are dangerous’ fiesta, while some others became mouthpiece for these extremists, there is no middle ground for the regular people to subscribe to. We feel unrepresented not just by our politicians, but also the media. If this isn't a troubling state to be in, at a time when Muslims are globally facing prejudice on a day to day basis, misrepresentation and suffering, then I don't know what is. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

19 September

When the prospect of a miracle laid itself in front of me I was more scared than excited. I have been a wallflower my whole life. When someone, a stranger, which such colourful background suddenly takes interest in you, you are bound to ask yourself—what is going on? what did he see?—and honestly there is no more time that I find myself spinning the question in my head like a yarn than this moment. 

A lot has transpired in the past year. I was elated, I felt on top of the world and just as I was about to extend my arms to embrace the galore, a sudden gush dumped me to the ground, stupefied to the curb, kicked and bashed. In it, invaluable lessons of life for me. I had to wonder for awhile to see the wisdom behind the fall and the fall out. Truth is life will sometime gives you a good punch in the stomach and push your back at the same time. There is no way of resisting but to let yourself take the fall and learn to get up again. 

As the storm calms, I realised all these while I was taking cues and mimicking the demeanour of someone I looked up to but was naive enough to think that it was the right way for me to become the person I was ought to be. It was not and I learned, from even the worst to the kindest characters around me at the time that I was only deluding myself. As I take the fall, there was no other moment in my life that I feel the worst for being me. I felt like apologising for not being (insert word here) enough. I was being wicked to my soul as if I had never understand the struggle I went through to even be where I am today. I am a process. I am a continuous process of becoming. 

It was a whirlwind of emotions while it lasted and I found myself scrambling to escape the fire. I had never feel the need to stroke anyone's ego to get ahead in life nor to flatter, fake and tell lies just to achieve a goal but I know now that some people do that and that in some situations it is smart to do so. Lesson learned. With the ample time I will have soon, maybe I can start working on my relationship with people—to do all that but 'my' way—there is no need to fake and lie if I take genuine interest and mercy for others and so from now on I will put on that cape and roam around to practice my new found skill. Awkward? Oh well, I have always been. But don’t worry, I never intend you harm. 

Sure, I can’t blame this on my horoscope for being born in the year of the Snake, but I regard my sensitivity or the overtness of it must have come from somewhere. I mean, when Lilian Too said your ideal career is to be a psychologist and fortune teller--y'know you're connecting too much to people (or taking). The heart of a sensitive cotton ball. I am. Overbearingly so. And perhaps I should take the crassness around me as a cue from god that I should stop being such a soppy. Like, go ahead and give someone a piece of your mind or something, you know?.

No one likes to be anyone’s punching bag. I was someone’s literal punching bag at one point and remember dragging myself back to my dorm with bruises on my leg. No one volunteers to be another person’s problem solver either.  

Love. Sometimes that’s all I want to do. That’s all I want. Love. I know that at times it peeked into my life and showed me how wonderful it can be. I would always be so scared to take it in the moment. I was so unused to it. Now, some nights wrenched its claws and soaked me into a teary slumber. I truly missed the way you once looked at me, the softness of your voice and that irresistible childish smile. My heart says I need love to heal from this turmoil but my mind tells me that if I truly love someone, I should let him heal too. 

I am a process. A continuous process of becoming. Just like the builder of a statue, a temple, a house, a castle, I’m laying bricks by bricks that will eventually make up an entity I can proudly call my life. Some days, I concentrate on the wall and some days I realised that the window is slanted and I repair it, along the way. I wish that there are kinder ways to be guided to build but I guess my story is such that I need a different approach. this approach. And with my belief in god’s wisdom I will embrace it with an open heart.