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.